Tuesday, August 27, 2013

We are Infinite

Wondering what this is all about? Well, Don’t. This is the tagline of a movie and of a good one too. I am just done watching ‘The Perks of being a wallflower’, a romantic drama weaved around some high school teens trying to sort out their mess; trying to figure out a way. And I must say it isn’t about getting a girl, finding place in some school team, giving in to crazy hormones or another American Pie kind of run-of-the-mill production. It would be unfair to even compare. I was starkly reminded of the likes of Dead Poet’s Society and Good will hunting. Now you can understand where I am putting this one. And if you see it, you will realize why it deserves a place among the classics.

The movie revolves around the life of an introvert freshman who finds it extremely hard to make friends. Like all of us, he has his own mess to deal with. He counts the day he will have to spend in high school. He eats his lunch alone because he cannot find anyone who would like to be with him. He feels like a lost cause, carrying the burden of his past all around. But there is always light at the end of tunnel. And for this young man, it comes in the form of two seniors who are ready to accept him for who he is and make him a part of their world. There is nothing like acceptance and finding people who are as crazy as we feel we are. Our protagonist feels the same way.

But, what is life if not a big irony, a big mash-up where everybody is trying to figure out something or move away from something instead of moving towards something. As ‘The perks of being a Wallflower’ unfolds, it probes the deepest of human emotions, joys, fears and the games that our mind plays with us. It tells us how important it is to have a good teacher; to feel moments filled with life; to embrace our past for what it is; to share our insanity with great friends and to feel worthy of love. And also; not all of those high school seniors are bullies. Well, things might not work out as we planned. But our ability to let go and accept things as they are holds the key to what we do with our future. If you are one of those who believe that let the silence make the loudest of sounds, give this movie a go. I am sure you will not regret your choice. Subtle and yet so profound. This is what good cinema is all about.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Ship of Theseus – An intellectually stimulating ride

Those of you who know me well will also know that Bollywood and I are not the best of buddies. Well, we have had our differences. I have always complained that Bollywood does not provide enough movies that compel one to think; that compel one to use the grey matter. Bollywood, on the other hand, has tried to prove me wrong once a while. But the attempts have been lacking in number. Though, I should not entirely blame it on Bollywood. In the end, we usually get served with what we demand. Any art is partly a reflection of the society that the artist lives in. Anyways, that is a discussion for some other day. This post is not about the ideological differences that I have with Bollywood. Instead, this is about a movie that might usher many new precedents in an Industry that badly needs a change. This post is about ‘Ship of Theseus’, a movie that challenges you and honors you for being there.

So many distinguished industry veterans, movie critics, international reporters have given their thumps up to the movie that words such as astounding, brilliant, breathtaking seem over used. I dare not go the same path. For a change, I will keep it absolutely short and simple. SOT won’t give you a sensuous dancing scene or an action filled car chase or a hot item number or the usual stuff. It isn’t designed to do so. Simply put, SOT isn’t an everyday project. It will not insult your intelligence. On the contrary, it will reward you if you are open to thinking about the ideas that it presents. Though one will have to be patient. SOT takes its own sweet time but the experience is surely rewarding. The richness of ideas presented is the highlight of the movie. I am sure that if I watch it again I will pick something new. And to me, that is a sign of a classic. There is a lot that deserves a mention here but I am choosing not to do so for two different reasons. One, I would prefer the viewer to form its own opinion on this piece of art. And second, there are certain interesting developments that compel me to write about them.

SOT has triggered a new phenomenon that might interest a lot of tech-savvy people out there. The use of Social media and Internet for movie promotion is not a new concept. But with SOT, UTV seems to have experimented something new. Realizing early that SOT is not a movie for the masses, UTV has tossed the ball to the viewers. Initially, they released it only in six cities and started an online petition on their Facebook page to bring it to other cities. Viewers can choose to vote if they want SOT to be screened in their city. This is helping UTV target the cities for subsequent screenings. UTV hopes to rope in more cities in next two weeks as more and more movie viewers get to know it by word of mouth publicity. Intelligently enough, UTV has minimized the use of mass media such as TV trailers and hoardings for promotions. Not only this, twitter is being aggressively used to reach out to more and more people. For the first time, I have seen an official movie account retweeting most of the common tweets about the movie to connect with movie viewing community. According to SOT maker Anand Gandhi, Internet holds the key for future of movie promotion. The way movie makers are using internet to reach out to their target audience without investing heavy bucks is exemplary. In a way, this augurs well for low budget movies that are not made for the masses and are denied production because of concerns on their commercial viability. It still needs to be seen that how much SOT will be able to impact the future of artistic cinema in India. But surely enough, it is a welcome development.

Well, that would be my two cents on an interesting and important project coming out of Bollywood. If you are one of those folks who likes to try something different, feel free to go online and vote for SOT in your city on UTV Facebook page. An intellectually stimulating journey of SOT won’t disappoint you.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Iron Man 3 – Fighting the demons within

Enjoying an eventful ride of Iron Man 3 was a good start to movie watching in Pune. The hopes were definitely high and I was glad not to feel disappointed. With Iron man 3 serving entertainment beyond action and witty one-liners, one could not help but appreciate the fact that, time and again, Hollywood respects its audience more than Bollywood does. 

Yes, Iron Man 3 was not a Christopher-Nolan-intellectual-masterpiece. But the point is, it was never expected to be one. Even then, it does manage to fit in an idea into a thrilling piece of action entertainment. To me, that is something that gives the movie longevity; the reason for audience to appreciate it even when they are out of the cinema hall. That idea is like true love which is much more sustainable than an infatuated state of mind represented by action alone. Iron man 3, at its core, represents simple ideas such as ‘The biggest battles are raged within and it takes courage to do the right thing’, ‘Love is the most powerful weapon to fight insecurities and fear’ and ‘At times, we all need to take a break, relax and be the common man’. Ideas such as these always help in reducing the inherited disconnect that an overloaded Sci-Fi flick inevitably brings with it. One can always argue that bit and pieces of technology cannot match and are way beyond the realms of reality, but it gives me a satisfaction to know that the human part is not. The fact that superhero is not devoid of emotions such as fear, insecurity, love makes the whole deal more humane at some level.

As far as the rest of pieces are concerned, the plot was more engaging than the previous edition of Iron man series. The action was definitely intense. There was no dearth of breath taking sequences that kept one glued to the seat. This installment definitely did not perform as well as the first one in terms of wit quotient. But did not disappoint a single bit on the style. As you can expect from an Iron man movie, this one had its own share of gadgets and innovative techniques. Though there were some parts where things do seem to go over the board but it was always expected from this franchisee. Overall, Iron man 3 was an enjoyable experience. If you keep your expectations right, you will definitely have a great time watching this piece of cinema. I will go with 7.5/10 for this one.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

When Nostalgia Hits....

What would I not do..

To go back to those college days again
To take another walk in that picturesque campus
To share those wonderful times at hostel ramp
To go on unplanned treks with amazing friends
To be emotionally strong and vulnerable at the same time
To dance uncontrollably in CultCom parties
To celebrate special birthdays in unique ways
To stare at the main gate from flag post and wonder..
To go to PB for unplanned lunches and dinners
To feel hope, passion, ambition to the fullest
To get high and talk my heart out to friends
To photograph overwhelmingly beautiful landscapes
To enjoy those never ending night long discussions
To savor that fresh rain in campus grounds
To hit the ball over the boundary again
To feel the craziness of footsteps again
To express myself in a batch address
To fool around with that golf club again
To appreciate different opinions of 104 souls
To fight, yell and make up for your mistakes
To cook in hostel mess again with friends
To pursue perfection in tasks close to heart
To plan a few more photo shoots around the campus
To hold a friend who needs a hug in bad times
To share the happiness of getting placed
To enjoy that late night Maggi and Pasta
To have another group meet without much to arrive at
To participate in another competition with zeal
To appreciate weather and nature like never before
To enjoy the MBA Gyan from seniors
To be enthralled on saving that goal in BPL
To wait for that night canteen mail
To organize another toatmasters session and see people grow
To interact with juniors on variety of issues
To solve puzzles of life with intellectual friends
To learn from a batch mate while having a random talk
To relish watching shooting stars one after the another
To enjoy that morning parantha and poori after a night out
To curse that bad internet connection and yet download movies
To experience pressure and performance at the same time
To travel from Guwahati to Shillong and stop at Makhan Bhog
To discover more about myself in challenging times
To experience unconditional love of friends
To live that mundane yet fulfilling life day in day out
To celebrate a life full of experience­­­s – good and bad
To earn a few more friendships for life
To say a few unsaid sorries and appreciations
To share a few more laughs that will always remain
To experience countless memories once again, if only for once….

What would I not do to get a short go at that life again? A life, that for all its ups and downs, was the best at being new; being fresh; being challenging; being lively; being full of laughter; being full of pressure and yet, being fulfilling to the core.

This is dedicated to each and every individual with whom I have interacted at IIM Shillong. Walt Whitman wrote, “That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse”. The play of my life will go on but it has been influenced and enhanced by the contribution of every individual I have interacted with at IIMS. Having said that there will always be those who had a larger share to contribute, influence and change. Those people have left their footprints in my life and have made me feel special in their own ways. Some of these people are:

Ankita Shah, Apoorva Shukla, Chandan Gupta, Mayur Kumar Lakhmani, Nidhi Agarwal, Nimesh Nair, Neetisha Arya, Priya Agrawal, Rahul Singh, Shantanu Mital, Shubhi Bansal, Sonal Jaju, Sushil Shwetabh, Sunayna Agarwal, Swati Nidiganti, Vishal Goel, Urvashi Roongta

(Spare me if I missed some name)

My dear friends, this is for all those unsaid things, to tell you how much you all matter. Without your presence and support, these memories would not have been as beautiful as they are. Thank you for being a part of my life.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Kai Po Che - Engrossing, Intense and worthy

When I last wrote on this blog, I made no attempt to hide my disdain for a Bollywood flick. I did so because I knew that it was a disgrace to movie viewer community, an attempt to insult their intelligence and a piece of poor than average cinema. I felt good after giving it what it deserved. But I know that I will feel even better when I am done writing this. Because I am going to write about something good today, something genuine, something that raises the bar and something that deserves the accolade and all the attention that it is getting. Today, I am going to write about “Kai Po Che”, an intense and worthy movie.

Kai Po Che (KPC), based on a novel by Mr. Chetan Bhagat (3 mistakes of my life), is a story of three young individuals belonging to middle class India in the city of Ahmedabad. Saying that they are good friends would be an understatement. They are aspirational in their own ways and their life stories can resonate very easily with an average Indian. But if you think that the story is just about friendship or you are going to see another Dil Chahta hai or 3 Idiots, then you are in for a surprise. Though it strongly depicts and weaves itself around theme of friendship, but KPC is much more than that. It is an intense movie which intricately blends friendship, love, religious politics, passion, entrepreneurial spirit, cricket in a way that any Indian can easily connect with. And in the last part lies the beauty and the power of the movie. It is a movie about India, the real one where all the drapes that cloud our vision were ripped apart. And all that stood in front of the viewers were aspirations, values, problems and passion that define India.

Talking about specifics, I am more than convinced that director Mr. Abhishek Kapoor has pulled off something special here. His directorial debut went well with ‘Rock On’ and with KPC, he has raised the bar. He has been able to capture the psychology of Indian youth and deliver it in simple cinematic language that can be easily comprehended by the viewer. Also, KPC is characterized by such an engrossing screenplay that not even once during the movie, I felt the need to have a look at my watch. As far as acting is concerned, most of the cast has done justice to the roles. All the three protagonists were able to get underneath the skin of their characters which helped them put up a great show. But If I have to choose only one actor out of three, then I will go with Mr. Raj Kumar Yadav who portrayed ‘Govind’, the character that works as a glue to hold the plot together. Lastly, it would be highly unfair to Mr. Amit Trivedi if I forget the background score. In essence, the screenplay also looks engrossing because of background score. It complements the screenplay unlike traditional Bollywood movies where it becomes more of a commercial activity instead of becoming a part of the screenplay. In nutshell, KPC has all the elements of a good watch because there is something for everybody, although I would have preferred a not-so-rushed ending.

If I felt obliged to save mortal souls from Race 2 last time, I feel an even stronger urge to recommend this piece of good cinema to every movie lover. Mr. Masand said that it’s only February and the best movie of the year seems to have arrived and I could not agree with him more. It’s a 4/5 for KPC.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Race 2 - Cheapness and trash combined & served cold !!

If you appreciate good cinema and art, you will remember “Race 2” for a long time. Not because it is one of those gem of movies that take your breath away and makes you wonder about things that you might have missed out in your busy life or it was a piece of thrilling cinematography that kept you on the edges of your seats. But because you got a new benchmark on how worse it can get and what all not to do if you really want to appreciate the art that a movie is.

I wonder from where I should start. I guess, the makers knew that they wanted a few action scenes in exotic locations, a couple of hot girls in outfits that reveal more than they hide, an item song, a fight sequence, some raunchy stuff, some stolen dialogues and a couple of window shattering shots. Apart from this, they had no idea what to do with these parts. They might have sat over a cup of coffee and decided to randomly put together these parts to make a movie. The result is a confusing piece of cinema that cannot be classified as any of action, thriller, suspense, drama, comedy or a “B-grade film”. It was such a job that they themselves would not have wanted to see it again. Needless to say that there wasn’t a script.

I wonder am I being too harsh and then I think about the movie again and all my doubts vanish in an instant. I cannot talk about the acting because there wasn’t any. Starting alphabetically, Amisha patel tried her best to look like a desperate young girl who wants to devour on (literally) her boss and in return, Anil Kapoor horrendously tried to be cool and funny at the same time. All the time, they both seemed like the extra baggage that the movie was carrying. Deepika Padukone and Jacqueline Fernandez did not have to do much except flaunt their curvaceous figures in order to woo the audience. Their roles were a testimony to the fact that the days of real acting are probably behind us and what and how you speak is simply irrelevant. I will leave the rest of the main cast for the sake of avoiding repetition. With acting and scripting out the way, one would not expect much. But hang on, it is not over. We have to copy style and dialogues from other movies in order to look savaging and serious in action sequences. This is one thing where the makers have done really well. Why watch “Kill Bill” if you can get the same intensity of revenge in this movie and why watch other Hollywood action flicks if the amalgamation of their action can be served in one movie?? I would just watch Race 2 to amuse myself.

Life is all about taking events as experiences – good and bad. Well, Race 2 was also an experience. I am sure that you would get the gist of what kind of an experience it was. If you are a masochist and want to punish yourself for some of your wrongdoings, I highly recommend Race 2. You cannot get something more suitable. But I can assure you this is not a movie that I would recommend to the worst of my enemies as it would be a crime against humanity to do so.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Half way through the Journey@IIMS

The memory, of the day I walked in at IIM Shillong campus, is still afresh in my mind. Even though it was a welcome change from a corporate life of unfulfilled desires, I had my apprehensions. ‘What and whys’ of those apprehensions were ambiguous. The only thing that was clear in my mind was the expectations on the fun quotient of my life. And it was really simple, nothing extraordinary. I wanted to meet some amazing people, find some critical few to hang on to, get drunk, shout, dance, party hard, use a few cuss words, go out on lots and lots of treks, do random things, study a bit and enjoy each and every little moment of student life. Because this will, in all likelihood, be my last shot at it and I did not want to miss out on any single moment.

If I look back, nearly half of my time at IIM Shillong has passed. And the questions that I ask myself today are: “Did I make the most of it?” “Were there any moments that took my breath away?” “Did I find a critical few?” When I close my eyes to reflect, I can feel a wave building inside me which is about to defy my composure. I open my eyes only to realize that they are a touch weary and probably a touch moist. There is a realization that whatever ‘Chris McCandless’ found out after travelling the whole of Alaska had made a lot of sense back then and is perfectly true even in today’s world. He wrote:

“Happiness only real when shared!!”

Of course, sharing is one of the best ways of expressing one’s joy. I remember asking for a critical few with whom I can share ups and downs of my life at IIMS. Half way through life@IIMS, I have got many more than that. I expected a few special moments but got tons and tons of them. And it is not a matter of saying. A lot of memories were created at a frenetic pace. I did not even realize the time as it went by. Come to think of it, I am happy that I have a folder named “IIM Shillong pics” that has all kind of subfolders that have names such as ‘Shillong Peak and Elephanta falls’, ‘Mawphlang Sacred Grooves’, ‘Cherrapunji Trip’, ‘Double Root Trek’, ‘Bonfire’, ‘Diwali’, ‘Independence Day’, ‘Kopda Cup’, ‘Cloud9 after effect’, ‘Sustainability’, ‘Morning Errand’, ‘Outing Bistro and PB’, ‘Winter Campus’, ‘Cult com party’, ‘Ice breaker and PDP pics’, ‘IIMS Bdays’, ‘Golf cup’, ‘Freshers’, ‘Footsteps’, ‘Talent show’, ‘River Island’, ‘Liatlum’, ‘CulCom Super 93’, ‘Guwahati’, ‘Convocation’, ‘Farewell’ and ‘Random’. Of all these memories, the last one is probably the most unplanned, the most unexpected and the most cherished one. These are the ones that constitute time spent at ramp; on the roof top; while campus walks; with best buddies; in stupid fights; in discussing the goods and the bads of relationships; in discussions of deeply sophisticated and yet simple issues; over a cup of tea; in preparation of frustrating exams; in unplanned night-outs; in preparing a PPT for a competition; while playing TT or during a trip to PB for nothing. These seemingly commonplace and mundane activities never get the credit they deserve and yet, they are the ones that make any student life special. I am happy that my time at IIMS was no exception and I got a fair bit of them. Credit goes to ‘Super 93’ and ‘Incredible 106’.

After a two month stint at corporate life, my journey of IIMS life will resume. This time there will be a realization that journey will finish soon. Interestingly, this is something that means different to different people. For some it would be a signal to go out raring to conquer the mighty corporate world. For some, it would be just another step in an always moving life, a step that would improve their lives economically, in all likelihood. Some would like to hold on to this time without realizing that they cannot stop the sand from slipping through the fingers. For me, it will mean some more memories to cherish, some more time to spend with people who are really special, some more time to crib about how life is not fair and some more time to appreciate life at the same time and some more time in the heart of nature in a wonderful place. For there will come a day when I will have to say good bye to my friends at IIMS and close the chapter named ‘IIMS journey’. There would be a void. But hopefully, I will have an interesting and challenging chapter to fill the void. Whatever that might be, the new chapter will never be an isolated one. As always, it will have the best of footprints from a reminiscent past. It will have a few more characters, a few changes in the outlook of the protagonist and a fresh story. In the bigger scheme of things, the chapter of IIMS will definitely rank among the best ones and that is what makes me look forward to the rest of the journey @IIMS!! Hopefully, some things will sort themselves out and speed breakers or the potholes will not be big enough.

Signing off for now,