Posted in Movies - General

Catching up on movies…

The past 2-3 weeks have been very productive for me. Many movies have been added to my list successfully.

Skyfall – Even Roger Moore ranks Daniel Craig up there with Sean Connery. I hate to say it – but Craig may even be better than Sean in my books. Sean Connery will always have the unfair advantage of being the first one to portray Bond. In any case, Skyfall pretty much cements Daniel Craig’s place up there. Thoroughly enjoyed the movie and for once, Bond comes to terms with his age.

JTHJ – I went in expecting it to be an out and out sappy, melodramatic, old-school, romantic thriller. And it was. Still, I enjoyed it. What else do you expect from a Yash Chopra movie? SRK looks old. Many didn’t like Anushka Sharma’s acting, but I did. AR Rahman does just enough and nothing earth breaking with BGM, while his songs are worth my visit to the theater.

Life of Pi – In my philosophical frame of mind, this should warrant a separate post by itself. But I may never get into that frame of mind in the near future and that would mean the memories of the movie may not be fresh in my mind. In any case, this was a movie that turned out to be much better than the book. Absolute visual treat from the beginning to the end. The only complaint I have about this movie is around casting. When the story was clearly set in Pondicherry with Thamizh speaking characters, why not go the extra mile and find actors who could speak Thamizh properly, especially since the characters do actually exchange a few dialogues in Thamizh..?? Why not?? Nevertheless, this is one of those movies that is a must watch. I took 4 kids to the movie hall to watch this movie and surprisingly had very few distractions on account of them.

And just like that, yet another Thanksgiving weekend passes by.

Posted in Movies - General, Uncategorized

Thuppakki

Since the time AR Murugadoss’s Ghajini (Thamizh) released, I have developed a certain kind of admiration for this director, which may be hard to describe or put in words. He continued to impress me with both the hindi version of Ghajini and 7am Arivu, although the latter wasn’t well received in the box office. Of late, I have watched Citizen and Ramana, both of which in retrospect are good movies in their own right, and pretty much reaffirm my admiration for ARM’s amazing control of the medium.

Seldom do we come across a movie maker who understands the most basic need to last long in the Thamizh movie industry, which is to provide box office hits at regular intervals. At least for a certain period of time, after which your past could help you carry you through for a few years, even if your current movies are not so successful at the BO. Shankar, according to me was the first one who transformed the approach to making such box office hots (aka masala movies). He stamped over the old school ‘masala’ films approach and created a new genre of big scale entertainers, which are not only stylish but also have certain elements that catered to the slightly intellectually inquisitive audience. And of course, with every new movie he makes, his scale keeps getting bigger. The problem with that is that at some point, he could find it hard to balance the commercial equation. Or may be, he will reinvent himself before that. AR Murugadoss came along somewhere during this period and has managed to create a niche for himself, using some of Shankar’s approach combined with his own style of making his stories work.

So, when Thuppakki was released, I had no doubt in my mind that I should check it out in theaters. Vijay, who is currently going through a rebranding phase himself, was not going to deter me and in fact, only motivated me in making me watch this movie sooner. At the outset, the movie was much more than what I went into the theater expecting. The story in summary is that of the hero, an Indian army soldier (who also is part of the intel group), who accidentally bumps into certain sleeper cell activities in Mumbai, while on his annual vacation and how he manages to outsmart the main terrorist behind these sleeper cells to eventually decimate him – all in a stylish way, which I come to expect of AR Murugadoss.

And the parts that worked much better than what I expected were:
1) The narration around how the hero goes about unearthing the sleeper cell activities. (Especially a 30 minute sequence in the script stands out as a great lesson to be learnt for filmmakers..)
2) Overall production values – Santosh Sivan made such a huge difference.
3) Vijay’s subtle performance.

Without delving deeper into the plot, I will conclude this by saying that this Thuppakki rarely fires blanks and is mostly on target.

Posted in Miscellaneous

The night before…

The anticipation.
The wait.
The smell of heated oil.
The messy kitchen floor.
The smell of sulphur (what we then knew as gun powder).
The noise.
The cacophony.
The craziness.
The joy.
The smell of new fabric.
The last minute rush to the tailors.
The restlessness of the household.
The smell of ghee and sugar.
The competitive spirit (to light the first ‘cracker’ in the neighborhood).
The occasional damp ground (thanks to the monsoon).
The happiness.
The continuous pouring in of family members.
The sharing of recipes.
The inquisitive neighbors.
The never ending discussion about new clothes.
The festive mood.
The countless heaps of sweets and savories.
The cheer.
The sleeplessness.
Ha..The sleeplessness.

I don’t feel any now. I sure have come a long way.

Happy Deepavali!

Posted in Obama, Pictures

Four more years

I would like to be Nate Silver. At least for the next few days and do the victory laps. Punditry has been punked and Mathematics / Science have triumphed. Thank you Nate.

And Congratulations Mr. O!! If your 2008 victory was energizing and emotional, the 2012 one was a lot of relief and a bit emotional. I was nervous for the first hour. By 9 PM Eastern, I started feeling confident. And finally when I heard the speech at 2 AM (incidentally, my 8 year old son stayed up to watch the same), I felt the same kind of energy I felt in 2008.
I am glad that country doesn’t have to put up with someone who is as flip-floppy as Romney is and more importantly not led by some right wing nut job.

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Posted in Politics - General

The myth of ‘undecided’ voters…

Here we are, in the final stretch. Yet, the media, in its perpetual quest to create fair and balanced news, continues to go around chasing a block of voters, whom it has popularly given a tag ‘undecided voters’. As for me, I honestly believe this block is an absolute conspiracy, specially in the last few weeks leading up to the election and has been totally created by the media, to sell their prime time ad spots to Super PACs.

Firstly, for voters to make up their minds, the American election is fairly simple. Given that I have a background observing elections in the largest democracy in the world, called India, I don’t have to think too hard to come to this conclusion. The reason is fairly straightforward. You like it or not, this is a 2 party election system still. The occasional independent candidates and those obscure third party candidates, don’t count at all. So, once you decide to vote, here are the possible scenarios:

  1. You are already a party loyalist. There is no way you can be undecided. Even before a candidate finally gets through the primaries of your party as the nominee, you know you are going to vote for the elephant or the donkey no matter which rat runs under the ticket.
  2. You are not a party loyalist but will vote by the candidate’s records. Any kind of common sense would tell you that a candidate’s record or what he/she says should matter only till you understand that candidate & that you can’t possibly decide in favor of one candidate over the other on account of a statement one made a week before the election. And finally, if you cannot understand a candidate till a few days before the election, then clearly he/she shouldn’t get your vote. Then it is obvious you will be voting for the other person. If you argue with this theory and say that you don’t understand both the candidates enough, then I have got something harsh to tell you..You must be living under a cave for you not to know what is going on around you. This is politics for goodness sake. By and large, any candidate representing a particular party will represent that party’s interests. If you still don’t understand and claim you are too naive, then you don’t deserve to vote. Period. If you are so idealistic and want to change the system instead of working within the system, then you are already doing something about it & hence you don’t quality under ‘undecided’ in any case.

So in either of the above 2 scenarios, it is clear that one cannot be undecided.

Yet, the media spins this like no one’s business and both the campaigns seem to take that cue to spend billions of dollars just to get those voters vote for them. Even in thousand years, I will never understand this. So that brings the inevitable question – What are the candidates running around the country for spending these millions and billions? Right? I wish there is a simple answer for that. This is a capitalistic economy and no one can regulate what someone should do.

After reading this, If you still say you are undecided, then it is time for you to dig a cave for yourself and go live under it because for all practical purposes, you don’t belong to this world. You are imaginary.

On a totally different note, in the context of Sandy and its aftermath, I would like to ask a simple question – Has anyone ever thought of the possibility where 50% of both the campaigns’ money goes towards Sandy’s rebuilding efforts? I can already hear one side screaming…
“Oh no. That will be wrong. Government has to spend that money…” Right Mr. Romney?