Saturday, December 16, 2006

Got into a film school!! Yipeeee...

Finally after almost a century of effort, I have got into a school for cinematography....Yeah, baby....The coolest part is that it is owned by one of the top cinematographers today, Rajiv Menon. Was lucky enough to interact with him immediately after getting admitted. Must say that I am totally floored by his humility and openness. I am so looking forward to interacting with him on the practical is so gonna be rocking!!

I am free from the shackles of the IT job now....can't describe how great it feels now...the flavor of freedom is the tastiest....hope that it stays in my mouth for a lifetime....

From now on, the blogs will describe my experiences with film school and shooting, so watch out this space for more.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

The lyrical 'Piano"

One of the only 3 movies, directed by women to be nominated for the “Best Picture” Oscar, The Piano is a lyrical journey of a mute woman’s life in New Zealand where she is packed off and sent to along with her 9-year daughter and her beloved piano as an on-order bride. The woman, Ada (Holly Hunter) begins her story by saying that the voiceover that we hear is not hers but that of her mind for she was dumb for as long as she can remember. The movie starts by her being stranded on the beach with her daughter (Anna Paquin in a tremendous break through performance as the highly imaginative and unintentionally cunning Flora) till her husband Alistair(Sam Neill) can find the time to go and fetch her.

When he finally does, his entourage consists of George (Harvey Keitel with freakish Maori tattoos over his face and body) and other natives. Disregardful of his wife’s pleadings, he lets the piano be left behind on the beach because he doesn’t want to pay a little extra to the help for carrying it. But he can’t keep her from going back time and again until she strikes a deal with George, for the piano in return for lessons on the same.

But George isn’t interested in the lessons as much as in Ada and before long is making advances towards her. At first she resents it and acts repulsed by it, but slowly his passion overcomes her. When the affair is exposed, Ada’s existence is threatened and her choices questioned. All throughout, the piano becomes her voice and expresses her innermost desires as she is excited, enraptured and then deeply grieved by the way the affair goes. The end is both a little tragic and surprising but you should watch the movie for that.

More than anything, this is a movie about a woman’s heart torn between her duty and her passions. The ‘mute’ Ada is a metaphor for most of the women in the world whose voices are limited to the confines of their minds and hearts and who often find their wishes and opinions silenced by the bastions of male authority and societal norms. Cinematographed beautifully in the haunting wilderness of the gorgeous New Zealand, the images linger long after the movie is over. It might not be such a good idea to watch this movie with conservative crowds for it contains intensely passionate and all-clothes-barred scenes. However it is integral to the story telling and not just an excuse to parade some good bodies.

Jane Champion has superbly managed to portray the varicolored nature of a woman’s wants and elicit excellent performances from each of the characters. Hunter is in top form, communicating layers of emotions through her body and sign language, and of course the piano pieces which she has herself performed for the movie. Sam Neill is adequate as the disregardful and lousy but jealous and hopelessly possessive husband who needs to have control of Ada. Keitel, inspite of his ugly tattoos, attracts with his irrepressible charms and his passion for Ada is so scorching hot that it ignites the screen. But the most surprising package of the movie is the little Anna Paquin, who is the onscreen interpreter of her mother’s sign language, her constant companion and friend, and whose mischief leads to an unintended tragic consequence towards the end. She has played this part with an understanding, unusual for a child of her age. She is truly the discovery of this movie.

The Piano is for those who need to feel rather then see stories…it is poetic in the language of its silence and beautiful in its expression of that which is unspoken.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Craig Ferguson: Weekend Discovery

The Britney - KFed breakup is the talk of the day and there is so much mud slinging in the papers, the magazines and especially on the internet, that both the parties have come out looking like shit. Mostly, Brit has managed to walk away with the sympathies for having been manipulated by the opportunistic gold-digger KFed (who has been newly coronated as Fed Ex after his speedy delivery from the Brit camp) and the custody case is expected to raise a lot of helluva over the next few months, as the entertainment weekly chews and swallows and ruminates over this high-profile split following the Reese Witherspoon-Ryan Phillippe and the controversial Paul McCartney-Heather Mills split. Looks like the divorce season is in....and rocking....

Anyways, I wanted to get the inside scoop on what really happened in the Spederline affair so I looked up Yahoo for the details, while surfing this weekend. There I learnt that K - Fed had also added the distinction of being divorced (dumped actually) over a SMS, in his long line of dubious crowns such as worst debut album "Playing with fire", worst dad for having abandoned his two kids with model Shar Jackson and ofcourse that of a no-good husband living off his superstar wife's wealth. And the worst part is that the dumping has actually been caught on camera. It was during his shooting of a reality series on Much.Com TV that he was supposedly dumped and even though you cannot see the actual message, his reaction to one of the SMSes provides enough evidence that there was "the ONE" that must have taken the wind off his sails. He looked "down in the dumps" after that and had withdrawn to his trailer supposedly for about half an hour before making an appearance again.

Looking for the video that captured it, I came across a "Late Late night show with Craig Fergusson" clip that spoke about the split. Obviously this is such a huge opportunity (and promises to be as dirty as possible) for satire and sarcasm that it has to be the butt of the most outrageous jokes in the talk shows and stand - up comedies and Craig's show was no exception. He was pulling on major cracks at the expense of Brit and Fed, but what was infectious about that clip was Craig himself, dancing around like K-Fed, giving an impersonation of Britney and her "butter fingers in the baby department" and basically enjoying most of the jokes himself too, while he had a go at it.

This was the first time I was watching him, but I couldn't help liking him more than any talk show host I have seen before. I mean he was hilarious, classy, with a unique British-Irish accent that brought sophistication to the humor and his delightful persona was just charming. There is a spontaneity about him that is endearing and he looks like he is cracking jokes on his own, instead of having rehearsed them off some other writer's material, minus those typical, well - timed gestures and breakpoints. I went on to watch a few more clips of his, with the funny-as-hell "Dear CBS" and the rollicking "Virginity". Then there was his interview with the upcoming star Piper Perabo, small but delightful and very spontaneous. He was flirty but still very much dignified. I also noticed how he chose to pull up his chair right next to the couch on which she sat instead of having the desk between, bringing comfort and intimacy to the talk without offending the guest's private space.

I also found out that he had quite a large fan following who had created videos from his edited clips with popular songs in the background. A little birdie also told me that he was an Emmy winner for the show. Well, no wonder!! The one with the ninjas is a little ridiculous but then it is ok once in a while.

Here are the links to his videos on (Virginity) (Dear CBS)

Watch and enjoy!!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Children of Heaven : The delight of innocence

This is a delightful story of a little kid, Ali and his younger sister, Zhara whose lives are thrown into unexpected difficulties due to the loss of the latter’s shoes. Charming in its wholesome innocence and beautiful in its portrayal of human emotions, this movie engages right from the first scene where the cobbler mends the little girl’s shoes.

The movie brings back the warmth of the childhood, when such little things mattered so much and when we were blissfully unaware of the greater problems in life. It made me wanna forget who I had become and escape to those days in the past when everything was just what it looked like – simple, uncomplicated. The children in the movie are so refreshingly natural and shorn of pretenses that it feels like you are actually watching their real life. It is wonderful to actually see children acting out their own age rather than being some kind of stand-up comedians, acting like they are grown-ups with a heightened sense of humor and urgency to display the entire plethora of emotions, while desperately trying to look ‘oh-so-cute’.

Other than the childhood vagaries, we also get a glimpse of the Iranian lifestyle, their customs, traditions and beliefs, presented in a non-judgmental fashion. Apart from the two little protagonists, the other characters have also been acted out minus any loud ‘character’ acting, powerful one-liners and so-called sizzling chemistry. I feel short of words to describe how refreshing that is - to see a movie that so closely resembles life, ordinary yet special, uneventful yet important.
Look out for these two scenes that are nicely done:

Ali and his sister Zahara, playing with bubbles while washing the shoes.
The last scene in which the red fish collect around Ali’s feet in the pond.

Give yourself a break from the extravagant Hollywood and Bollywood brouhaha and watch this low-budget, emotionally satisfying charmer…

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Dreaming Insomniac

Lying awake all night
I dream of things impossible and far away
that beckon me to come their way
and fight and struggle come what may

Sometimes a little wink that steals me for a while
Leaves me with images of broken dreams
of life filled with terror and screams
with strife ridden plains and famished realms

Once in a few moments of suspended conscious
A faint glimmer of hope shines
through the pitiful cries of the present and its untolerable whines
a reassuring voice speaks to me, almost divine

Putting me to some rest for the infinity of a moment
at peace with myself, frozen in a spell
wishing that it all goes well
as I lie, waiting, longing in my eyes...balancing between heaven and hell

A Clockwork Orange

Stanley Kubrick’s bold and theatrically dramatized version of the future perfect delinquent and maniacal “adventures of a young man whose main interests being rape, ultra-violence and Beethoven” is a revelation of the sort of bravura film-making that excites, disgusts, scares and awes at the same time. After watching this movie, I knew why Kubrick is so revered amongst directors of all ages and races and why he is amongst the greatest directors ever born. The unflinching quality of his vision and his absolute determination to keep its artistic integrity alive without any compromises or concessions to his perspective is what makes him one of the towering artistes of all times.

The story is about Alex (Malcolm McDowell in the role that got him the 100th spot on the Top100 performances of all times) who is a delinquent crime-scene regular, with absolute disregard for law and society. With his band of ‘brothers’, he commits rapes and robberies with the delight and indulgence of a little prankster doing his routine mischief. One day, the mischief goes too far and Alex is imprisoned for murder. In the prison, he is given a chance to go free if he undergoes a revolutionary new treatment for complete reformation of the criminals. After the treatment, Alex’s behavioral preferences are altered but then the questions about the morality of the treatment, its torturous after- effects and choice by coercion arise. A singular incident in the end changes things again and we are left with a bizarre dream sequence of the protagonist, considering what the probable outcome of the whole exercise could be.

Saying that the movie SHOCKS is an understatement. There are rape scenes and fights, choreographed with background scores, robberies committed while ‘Singing in the rain’ and fast forwarded orgies. Most of the women in the movie are either completely undressed or pictured topless with the director never holding back on showing us the perverse and sadistic imagination of the protagonist at any point of time in the movie. Not to mention the scores of innuendos and allusions those that are carefully hidden beneath the obvious, this is one movie that deals with underage crimes, lawlessness, politics, morality, justice and surprisingly even science-fiction with thought provoking insight.

Apart from bold subject, daring direction and tremendous controversy, the movie also holds the distinction of being one of the two X-rated movies to be nominated for the “Best Picture” Oscar. There are a lot of interesting anecdotes pre and post the release of the movie, with the X-rated version being banned in UK till as recent as 2000 and the Catholic church tagging it as “C” (Condemned) when it was released.

But what really needs to be told that this kind of cinema is liberating in many ways. It depicts the truth and the possibilities of reality in the ‘in-your-face’ kind of fashion which is very rare, not to mention quite alarming and at times sickening to audiences like me who are used to having torture and crime been shown in a ‘held-back-to-avoid-hurting’ the audience’s sensibilities way. I have to admit I was completely taken aback by the rather sensational picturization of most of the scenes but along the way realized that it was important for the message to get across as memorable and hauntingly as it did. The futuristic sets, the outrageous décor, the flashy costumes and the bizarre poetic dialogues add to the ‘retainability’ quotient of the movie quite impressively. The cast does a great job too but the one thing that leaves an indelible imprint on your mind is the sheer courage of the director for creating such a visual stunner with steadfast conviction, unmindful of the business aspect and social acceptance, but extremely fastidious about the artistic integrity of the work.
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Monday, October 09, 2006

Reality or photographic illusion??

Here's an amazing pic, supposedly taken by NASA using the Hubble telescope.

This reportedly happens once in 3000 years....

Haven't verified whether they are facts, but posted this since it looks pretty dramatic and colorful to be some kind of planetary phenomenon.

The second image is that of the moon being at the closest point at the North pole. It is just too freaking fantastic to be true.

Both are beautiful, fascinating and well to a certain extent, unbelievable....Though even if they are real or a product of someone's imagination, we have to give credit for it to the artist - The Almighty or the 'Not-so-mighty' imagineer....

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The inspiration behind “Memento”

Christopher Nolan’s ambitious and ground breaking movie “Memento” was based on as short story written by his brother Jonathan Nolan called “Memento Muir”. A few days ago, I had the good fortune of reading the original story and what a story it was!! I mean, the narrative is unconventional, the idea revolting and the philosophy insightful…

Here are a few excerpts from that story

“The question is whether you want to do something about it. Whether revenge matters to you.

It does to most people. For a few weeks, they plot, they scheme, they take measures to get even. But the passage of time is all it takes to erode that initial impulse. Time is theft, isn’t that what they say? And time eventually convinces most of us that forgiveness is a virtue. Conveniently, cowardice and forgiveness look identical at a certain distance. Time steals your nerve.”

Cool, huh? There’s more….

“Every man is broken into twenty-four-hour fractions, and then and again within those twenty-four hours….For a few minutes of every day, every man becomes a genius, Moments of clarity, insight, whatever you want to call them. The clouds part, the planets get in a neat little line, and everything becomes obvious. I should quit smoking, maybe or here’s how I could make a fast million, or such and such is the key to eternal happiness. That’s the miserable truth. For a few moments, the secrets of the universe are opened to us. Life is a cheap parlor trick.

But then the genius, the savant, has to hand control to the next guy down the pike, most likely the guy who just wants to eat potato chips, and insight and brilliance and salvation all are entrusted to a moron or a hedonist or a narcoleptic.”

There are more but I think it is better if you read it within the context of the story where it makes more sense. It is available at the end of the script for Memento in most of the script sites. So check it out…this is ‘real talent’ thing. Jonathan Nolan is clearly at par with his brother’s creativity, and it would be very interesting to see what kind of story he develops for the next Batman movie.

Till then….

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Affair with the moon continues....

I am way too fixated on this heavenly to find a way to escape his charms....

Till then will be glad to keep clicking...These are few of the many taken on the night of the lunar eclipse, an hour before it actually happened. All have been taken with the same camcorder, my Sony DCR 90E Mini DV within the span of an hour, with different settings.

Awaiting your the moon, I say....till next set...

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Extraordinary Redemption

Fear can hold you prisoner
Hope can set you free

Two lines that are remarkably simple but so astonishingly powerful that I was awed the minute I looked them up at the DVD cover for the first time. I had heard a lot about the movie before, but thankfully never insisted upon reading up a review or a short summary before viewing it and after the movie was over, not only was I kneeling before my computer in sheer reverence of the masterpiece, I was also immensely glad that I hadn’t bothered about religiously sticking to that pre-movie viewing ritual of mine. In short, you don’t need a great review for a movie like this, just watch it. It is bound to change your life in more ways than one. It is one of those experiences that leaves you speechless, if not exuberant, and creates a sense of hope, if not of hardcore optimism and patience.

For those who are purists when it comes to seeking an opinion about a movie, here’s the rest of the review. It is a story of Andy (Tim Robbins) who gets a life term for being the accused in the murder trial of his wife and her lover. In the Shawshank prison where he is sentenced, he meets Red (Morgan Freeman) who becomes his closest friend there. It is through Red’s pov that you see the movie that spans for about 20 years of Andy’s life in the prison and the way he revolutionizes the lives of the prisoners and the warden at Shawshank. Along the way, we witness his struggles, trials and tribulations and his unwavering patience and conviction that top it all. The most jubilant part in the movie is towards the end, when Andy pulls off a very carefully planned stunt in a style that will get your soul to cheer for him and have your faith restored in the eternal power of good and justice.

Giving away the end won’t dilute the essence of the movie for it is not about getting to know what happens next. It is about knowing what is happening now and living that experience through the narrator’s and protagonist’s eyes. It is about influencing people’s lives in a positive way and knowing how to make yours worthwhile. Most of all, it is about the soul seeking redemption and the spirit being set free after finally acquiring it. It is about life that you get just once and it up to you how you make the best of what you got.

Based on Stephen King’s novel “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption”, this is a deeply soulful movie, beautifully directed by Frank Darabont. The cinematography is almost breath taking, especially in the aerial scenes of the Shawshank prison. Even though the content expanse of the storyline is limited to Andy and his Shawshank years, the cinematography makes us believe that the scope is much wider and leaves an after taste of an epic in our minds. The dialogues are taut and well-written just like the script and there is not a moment of laxity or slack in this lyrical saga of an inspiring life.

As for the actors, words will fall short if one has to describe Tim Robbins’ spellbinding and subtle-nuanced performance as the quiet, brilliant, thoughtful and genteel Andy. He has played the character to such perfection that for a while Andy and Tim are undistinguishable as different people in your perception. Freeman, as the crook Red, has delivered effectively and his voice over for the entire story is the best voice overs out of the countless ones he has done. It is never intrusive, and has an unusual calming effect like that of a wonderful storyteller. The rest of the cast is up to the mark and leaves nothing undone.

As for the reason why this movie never won a single Oscar, all I can say that it had to be the one of the greatest offences that the Academy committed for which God knows when they shall seek redemption.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Being me

Sanity and reasoning are way too dull for me
Let the learned have them
Rhythm and harmony are too methodical for me
Let the composers make them

Logic and interpretation are tedious to me
Let the scholars do them
Tranquility and perseverance are difficult for me
Let the sages master them

Give me the impulse of the moment, the insanity of love
The random tunes of the wind, the berserk pattern of the clouds
The noise of my thoughts, the ephemeral joys and sorrows
And let me live with them.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Death By Numbers

Just have a look at the upcoming Hollywood offerings

Spider-Man 3, The Dark Knight (Batman 2) , Jurassic Park IV,
Pirates of the Carribean 3, Terminator 4, Indiana Jones 4, Back to the Future Part IV, Daredevil 2, Rush Hour 3, Batman: Year One (Batman 3), Superman 2

The one that takes the cake is : Rocky VI.

Ofcourse not to forget the Scary Movies, the remakes of Omens and Wicker Mans (albeit hopelessly) etc.

What is going on here? There is nothing but sequels, prequels and remakes. Doesn't the most fabulous movie industry in the world have more than three original, stand-alone, prequel and sequel- less concepts a year?

All we are left with are the franchises or the tried and tested formulas - some of which can't even claim to be successful or popular. What's more to come? Let's guess

American Pie 4
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
Just your luck (Sequel to Just my luck)
Legally Blonde 3: The Seychelles
Yours, Mine, Ours and Theirs (Sequel to Yours, Mine and ours)

and lots and lots more.....

Quentin, Rodriquez - some creative oxygen please, we are dying by the numbers here...

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Dandyman - The return

They befriend. They enamor.

They enlighten. They define.

Another four from the Dandyman series. Enjoy!!!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Out of ordinary

Here are some words that I came across the other day(albeit not for the first time). And decided to trace their histories, geographies and philosophies. On, I found some very interesting, bizarre as well as creepy explanations, stories and theories about them. So check them out:




It is bound to give a nice, twisted break to the monotony of regular thought.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The 'Memento'us Citizen

Here are two 'must-see' movies that should be on every movie lovers' list


Mind blowing narrative, decent performances and a complex story that happens over different slices of time, keep you hooked till the end to reveal the twist in the tale. If you are into introspection, you may find yourself questioning your own memories and trying to separate the truth from the perceptions that you believe are true, after watching this thriller. Nerve wrenchingly intelligent at times, this is a masterpiece from Christopher Nolan, based on a short story by his brother Jonathan Nolan. Memento is so awesome that you wonder if it is the same Christopher Nolan who revived (if it could be said so) the Batman franchise last year with the very insipid and uninspired “Batman Begins”.

Teaser: Imagine having to live your life without a memory of what happened even five minutes back, a reality that is supported by a few polaroids, scribbled notes and tattoos serving as reminders of what happened in the recent past, a past that is thoroughly distorted and subject to manipulation by those who need you to go their way. How do you know who you are? What are doing here? And who really is the person sitting next to you? Is this today? What is today? What do you do today?

People with normal retention powers can answer these questions right away but what if you are one of those who can’t.

Citizen Kane

The greatest movie of all times….that’s what they say. Finishing comfortably at the top of every movie critic’s list, this movie is said to be unequalled in its concept, conviction and creativity. And that is true. But I had the unmistakable feeling of having missed out on that WOW factor that I would have had, had I seen the movie back in the 1941 when everything about the movie was must have seemed so innovative, so smashing, so experimental and so mind blowing original. But still with that missing factor, the movie stood out as bold, artistic and different.

The one thing that amazed me were the unconventional angles in which the scenes where cinematographed. Yes, for one of the few rare times, I actually felt the astounding power of cinematography as an art, with a strong presence of its own rather than just an aid to the actual story telling. This is the kind of legendary cinematography that makes the images not just impactful but forever entrenched in your visual memory. Gregg Toland, the maestro cinematographer has played around so skillfully with the lights, the shadows, the low angles, the sweeping shots, the blending and the merging and his patented deep-focus shot that it is almost unnerving to imagine what he might have done had he the advantage of our modern day wizardry.

The guy behind it all- Orson Welles, the man, the guts, the brilliance. I had read about how the movie was completed in spite of the extremely trying circumstances manufactured by the media mogul, William Randolph Hearst whose life was the inspiration for Citizen Kane and it made me even more reverent of Welles for his tenacity and spirit for standing by his work uncompromisingly, in the face of these odds. Personally I believe that Hearst and all his generations should be grateful to Welles for immortalizing him in such an unforgettable masterpiece.

There is also a famous story about how Welles unwittingly introduced the concept of controversial movie publicity to Hollywood by threatening to sue RKO (distributors) of dire consequences if they withheld his movie, under pressure from Hearst. As a result he got the audience excited about the movie and the studios to release the movie due to mounting public demand to do so. Anyways that’s just some trivia. What shines through the movie is the sheer courage and undeniable talent of the irrepressible Welles, who also gives a powerhouse performance as Charles Foster Kane, complete with all the nuances. Rest of the cast does well too. Citizen Kane does live up to the hype, but the unmistakable feeling lingers on….

Thursday, August 10, 2006

That reconstructed old photo look

If you can make your picture look like it is an old picture reconstructed, I think that adds a little touch of artistry and makes it more interesting. Look at the effect achieved in the pictures seen.

Doing this might seem tough, but with Picasa (Google's picture software), it actually becomes a cakewalk.

Once Picasa is installed on your PC, it will automatically search and find all the pictures on your system and arrange them systematically. So all you have to do is locate the picture that you want to work on in Picasa and then follow the steps given below:

1. Right click on the image in Picasa and choose 'View and Edit' option
2. Under the 'Effects' tab (on the left), choose Black & White.
3. For the image that has become B & W now, use the option 'Film Grain'
4. Then select the tab 'Tuning'.
5. Adjust the Fill level, Shadows and Highlights bars suitably.

Voila, you have your reconstructed look!!!

For free Picasa download, visit It is totally worth it.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Motorcycle Diaries - A journey worth taking

Oscar nominee in the Best Foreign movie category, this is one film that would do well even without the translation, with such an interesting and inspiring a premise as the beginning of the making of the legendary Che Guevara, the fire that sparked the Cuban Revolution. The story is about the 23-year old Che (Ernesto) and his biochemist friend, Alberto Granado as they undertake a bike trip around Latin America. Initially, it is an amusing account of their adventures and escapades but later turns on a serious note as they slowly come to terms with the suffering of the natives and identify the crisis and the vices of the capitalist domination. It was this journey that sowed the seeds for the future of Cuba and changed the destinies of the natives forever.

The cinematography in this movie is hauntingly beautiful as the camera pans effortlessly across the varicolored contours and the diverse cultural scenarios of the picturesque Latin American countries; instilling a wonderful earthiness in the movie with the sounds, the smells, the traditions of these lesser known lands. It is truly breathtaking at times.

The lead actors have done a superb job with their unassuming performances, subtle yet so real. Especially Gael Garcia Bernal, whose charismatic screen appeal and intense persona most certainly makes him a true to life young Guevara. Rodrigo De La Serna as the chubby, horny and harmlessly cunning Alberto Granado keeps you smiling throughout with his playfulness and wit. But it is really the director, Walter Salles, who has to be credited for creating such a impressive work of art incorporating the talents of not only the professionals but also of some of the natives who bring such authenticity and credibility to the movie that it almost feels like a documentary at times. He should be applauded for introducing a new kind of documentary-commercial-art kind of cinema. Kudos for a movie nicely made, with no pretensions, just all heart, soul and spirit.

Trivia: How Motorcycle Diaries is truly one of its kind

The film was an international co-production between companies in Argentina, France, Germany,Peru,United Kingdom and the United States. Ernesto Guevara is played by the Mexican actor Gael García Bernal and Alberto Granado by the Argentinean Rodrigo de la Serna.The film was directed by the Brazilian filmmaker Walter Salles. The screenplay, written by acclaimed Puerto Rican playwright José Rivera, is based on Guevara's and Granado's journals. The soundtrack was produced by Gustavo Santaolalla, an Academy award winning Argentinean composer.

Movie Tagline: Let the world change you and you can change the world.

Get a glimpse of Che Guevara’s inspiring life at

P.S. Maybe a long road trip is what I need to find out what I want to do with life; I might find a purpose to me too just like Che.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

What a song feels like…

I know of a few songs that have unusually associated themselves with the sounds, the smells and the surroundings that environed me when I heard them, maybe for the first time or maybe for the nth time. Now these aren’t those songs (mostly the romantic ones) that people tend to associate with their favorite or memorable times such as the first kiss, best date, engagement night etc because they were been played in the background when the event happened. No…no…not those. These are the songs, which for some unfathomable reason; unmistakably manage to bring back memories of a particular time that I had heard them, recreating the mood, the feel, and the emotions that I felt then, down to the last freakish detail. It is an intriguing phenomenon for I know that the songs aren’t all my favorites, or the settings in which I heard them, exceptional, but the recreation of the ambience is impeccable.

Now for example, there is this song ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams. Whenever I listen to that song, I am transported to this time when I used to work in Bangalore, left all alone at night time in the office, in the corner seat of one of the bays, working on the computer while listening to this song. Sometimes I can also hear the dull sound of the server in the background. I can see the entire office just like it used to be on those nights, absolutely quiet except for the occasional intrusion of the sweeper boy or the cleaning lady. Then I can see myself moving out of the office into the balcony. The night suffuses over me with the delicious aroma of the night queen and the gentle touch of the cool breeze. As I search the sky for the moon, it shyly peeks out from the clouds where it had been hiding and I smile at it. I feel like it smiles back at me. Then I decide to move in and take a steaming cup of Bournvita along for warmth.

It is unbelievable but I see this every time the crooner hits the ‘Angels’ note. And there’s more. I admit I have never seen what the video for this song looks like. But there are some images that come to me when I try and imagine what the video must be like. I see Robbie, walking down a lonely road, shadowed by enormous trees at its sides. It is autumn and the trees are resplendent in lovely hues of orange and red. As Robbie is walking along, a strong breeze is blowing by, showering him with beautiful leaves and as he raises his head to look to the sky, the shadows drift off for a moment to light his face with sunshine. Then he smiles, looks towards the ground and keeps walking ahead.

Why do I get these images when I hear the song? Still trying to figure out….

Find the lyrics for ‘Angels’ at and by the way, it is nice, soothing song.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The outlaw and the outlandish

First thoughts on two movies seen over the past weekend


An Oscar award winning South African venture, Tsotsi is the story of a young outlaw whose has to make life altering choices after being entrusted the responsibility of a child by a chance encounter. Along the way, he faces a lot of dilemmas and has to give up some relationships and initiate new ones, that influence the person that he eventually becomes.

Even though the sensibilities of the characters were deftly handled, I still felt the movie becoming too mushy at times. Also there was a sense of déjà vu as the lead character undergoes moral transformation, for I have seen similar storylines in Hindi movies. However Tsotsi manages to score in the acting and the cinematography departments, with all the performers giving life-like believable performances and the camera admirably portraying the glaring contrasts and striking differences between the downtrodden, dilapidated colonies of the poor and the snobbish, stylish complexes boasting of upper class extravaganzas. It is also notable how the sky is always shown to be some shade of red, depending on the mood of the scene without ever seeming artificial or contrived. The soundtrack is rap & hip-hop medley, the beats managing to get your feet tapping though I felt irritated when a track was played every time Tsotsi took a walk, like some kind of forced style statement.

All in all, a well made movie with talented artistes and smart camerawork but not something that will stay with me for long.


Capote, in one word is slow. Ok I will make it two. Excruciatingly slow. By the time the movie gets over, the characters have lost your sympathy, the script has lost its tautness and you have lost the ability to even say that it was ‘boring’ because you are too bored to even utter a word.

What, however cannot be ignored is the path breaking performance given by Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the flamboyant, gay, life-of-the-party American author Truman Capote, who invented the genre of non-fiction novel with his best-selling “In Cold Blood”. Based on the true story of the murder of an entire family at the hands of two seemingly sane men, this book went onto be a critical and popular success. But the process of researching and writing this book took a toll on the psychological health of its author, who could never complete another book in his lifetime, having fallen for the charm of alcohol and drugs under the spell of depression. Many contend that it was because Capote had betrayed the trust of the accused men, who bared their souls to him, and exposed their realities to the rest of the world through his book, garnering enough fame and money for a lifetime at the cost of their death sentences.

The camerawork is pretty neat. The sets and costumes are appropriate without being too elaborate. Katherine Keener, in the role of Harper Lee, Truman’s close friend is the other cast member that impresses with her subtle, restrained performance. Rest of the actors fit into their roles but other than Clifton Collins Jr., playing one of the accused Perry Smith, no one else gets enough screen time to make a mark.

Sensitive in its portrayal of each of the characters, including the criminals, this should have been a great movie if not for its lousy pace and a drama that doesn't really give the expected high. Eventually, it ends up becoming a showcase for Hoffman's unbelievable prowess to get into the character physically and mentally, but even with his Oscar winning performance, he is unable to salvage the movie from being the perpetual drag that it is.

For a brief on Truman Capote, visit

Friday, August 04, 2006

Enamored by the moon

One of the most lovely things in the sky....the moon. The object of most people's fancies, the inspiration for a thousand poems and a million sonnets, symbolism for love. The moon.

Captured here using a 3 MP digital Sony camcorder, over a period of an hour, using the maximum zoom settings. Out of the many snaps that I took, these four came out decently. Others suffered from distortion (when in zoom, even the slightest move can ruin the photo), excessive graininess and ofcourse cloud cover due to time delay of the cam.

A fun experience that left me with an exhausted arm (out of the effort of holding the cam for a long time waiting for the cloud cover to pass) but an enamored heart.

Monday, July 24, 2006

2nd whiff of freedom

Continuing on the ‘felt free’ series…..

Once I went to a water camp at Karwar, a few kms from Goa. I freaked out like a total water baby there, refusing to come out of the waters even after dusk for almost two days. Water just fascinates me, never mind the fact that I almost drowned twice, but still it holds a unique attraction for me that I can’t deny. Whenever I come near a water body (tank, pool, river, sea, ocean….) it is pretty hard to resist the temptation to jump in. So it was no surprise that in the welcome absence of any parental authority around and the unobserving company of chilled –out fellow campers, I let my body loose and set my soul free to sway to the rhythmic, soothing sound of the waves and literally managed to stay drenched for 75% of my time there.

Water however is not the main element of this story. After a day and half of canoeing, rafting, swimming followed by a boat ride to see an ancient lighthouse, we cycled about 5 kms to this place that had an ideal setting for rappelling. I was cycling after a long time but it felt like I had never left it. For the first 5 minutes, I was cautious but then I felt settled like I was always meant to do it right. I started picking up speed. The road, gloriously smooth and devoid of cracks and holes, edged me further. And then within 2 minutes, I raced to the front of the entire gang (about 10 of them being guys). They couldn’t believe it for a while. And then they started racing. It was fun thereafter. I never finished first, there were many too good to beat but it felt nice to make a great headstart and initiate a race that everyone joined in. Rappelling was fun too and though it was my first time, it was thankfully not injury-ridden. And then the real thing started.

Warning: Don’t try this anywhere. Not especially the place (or others of its kind) where I did it.

It was getting late to go back to the camp so the camp leaders asked those who were done with their rappelling stints to go ahead and pack (we had to leave for home the same night) while the others finished theirs. I hopped on my cycle and began to hurry back. The way back was through NH11 (National Highway No.11), the same that we had come through. But this time I was alone. I was riding in the opposite direction of the lane discipline and had so far managed to stay out of the vehicles’ way. The road was awesome. The sun was hurrying to go home and kept peeking through long stretches of fields and forests, trying to steal some last glimpses of the gold smeared earth, while creating a smattering palette of vibrant colors in the evening sky. I kept alternating my view between the heaven above and the heaven below. Suddenly a thought struck me. I slowly withdrew my left hand from the handle. The cycle unsteadied a bit but glided further smoothly a second later. I was relieved. Thought I had forgotten how to do this, but I hadn’t. The last time that I cycled like that must have been about 7 years ago.One hand free, eyes glued to the road, legs maintaining the steady speed and the mind absolutely focused on cycling. It felt good, real good. And then another thought struck me.

I began to increase my speed with fervor, trying not to unsettle my one hand free biking. But it was getting tougher. So I held onto with both my hands and started accelerating. The wind grew cold and a chilly, tickling sensation ran down my spine. The vehicles began to flash by, fast and furious, their horns blaring into my face. But I did not deter, kept going faster and finally when I thought it was good enough, I did it. For the first time in my life. Lifted both my hands off the handles and kept cycling. My heart almost popped out, my head went into ecstatic frenzy. The horns of the vehicles around suddenly stopped blaring uncomfortably and if I had felt like I was gliding before, now I felt like I was floating. All alone in this world, yet perfectly happy. Happy as a bird, let out of its cage into the open sky. Happy as a fish, let out into the ocean, after being confined to the claustrophobic water bowl. Yay!! I screamt to myself silently. There was no one there with whom I could share that feeling, but I could hear the silent applause of the motionless road, the beaming sun and the trees that seemed to sway to my side now. It was phenomenal. I was riding, hands-free for the first time on the NH11; breaking the lane discipline, having overcome my fears of failing, heedless to the safety norms, oblivious to the danger…..I…was…riding.

It was after I came to a halt that I realized what I had done and what all could have gone seriously wrong. But my elated, freshly energized heart didn’t let me dwell too long on this. The whole experience had unlocked a part of me that I was vaguely familiar with, but eager to know. A self – confessed rule abider; I had openly flouted all the warnings, all the risk factors and cycled my way to feeling FREE (all capitals justified). Nothing had felt quite like that before. Of course it was very dangerous and definitely not something I would advise anyone to do, but I will never forget the way it made me feel. I don’t know if I would get a chance or have the guts to do that again. But if I do….maybe I won’t….maybe I will….

Friday, July 21, 2006

Whiffs of Freedom

Freedom is a strange thing.

On paper, it means the power to act or speak or think without externally imposed restraints. So what about the internal restraints that we impose on ourselves? Can we call ourselves free if we are bound by shackles of those restraints that are affected by tradition, culture, habit, pride or just hesitation without even a proper justification? There can be a thousand odd reasons for why we chose to do or not do a thing, but that’s not the issue. The question is do you really feel free? Do you feel like you want to do something (of course not at the cost of hurting someone or breaking the law) and can’t do it for the fear of discomfort, mockery or just plain fear? And do you regret it later and wish you would have done it for it would have made you happy? Because if you do, then you really need to set yourself free.

I will tell you what made me feel free. Free as a bird, the kind of freedom that you want to have but hesitate to reach out to. I know the kind of things that I felt like doing just for the heck of it. So I just went ahead and did it. Made me feel free. Really free.

In no particular chronological order (the other instances to follow later).

There was this time that my friend told me that a bungee-jumping camp had come to town. Sure enough I got all excited about it. I had seen it on TV so many times, seemed like fun. But then I had also seen how many of those stunts had gone seriously wrong and people left immobilized for life. The perverseness of my brain forced me to concentrate on the ‘gone bad’ side and my initial enthusiasm began to be replaced by fear and almost an eerie vision of the rope snapping viciously dropping me thousands of feet through air, my hands wildly reaching out, head splitting with sound of my screams, my frame dashing towards the ground headlong first. And then a dull thud, meekly supported by the sound of breaking vertebrae. It became so real that I began to hear the dull thud in my hyperactive imagination. Anyways I managed to put up a smiling, relaxed demeanor in front of my friend who tried discouraging me further by giving his own inputs about the possible ways I could have a bungee diving accident (as if I hadn’t contemplated those already).

But I stayed put. Uneasy in my mind, but fixated on my dare. Finally we reached the venue and went ahead to buy the tickets. There were quite a few before me. So I had an about an hour to prepare myself mentally for the jump. I didn’t need it because it merely compounded my fears through a complete audio-visual experience of what others went through. Then my friend, in his quest of being impeccably informative, told me how one lady had injured her head seriously in another form of bungee-jumping two days ago, as a result of which the use of the machine in the adjoining camp area had been abandoned. I merely smiled at him. With friends like him, one hardly needs enemies. I was still intent to go ahead with it. Finally it was my turn. I stepped forward. My friend resignedly gave me a thumbs-up, with an expression that screamt 'Don't tell me later I didn't tell you so".After the regular rope fastening procedures, I was taken up in a lift mechanism to reach the place from where I was supposed to dive. I was beginning to hope that the ride doesn’t end. But it did. Then the instructor began shooting instructions. Dive. Don’t jump. Your backbone might snap. Don’t jump. I wish he wouldn’t stop. But he did. Then it was just me and the Universe. Did I tell you how spectacular the view was? I guess I didn’t. Well it was. Like it would be from a 15-storey building without any railings to hold onto. Great but scary. The crowds standing below seemed miniscule like a group of colorful ants moving about. Just a split second look, a deep breath and then I jumped.

Crashing through at roughly million miles an hour, I saw the ground rushing to meet me. The air was brushing thickly against my ears, but I could hardly breathe. My hands were outstretched in front of me and my vocal cords reverberating wildly without permission. I was screaming but purely out of the thrill of it, no fear at all. Then when I thought that I would hit ground in another 2 seconds, the rope snapped me up. A new reality dawned on me. The whole suspended-in-third-dimension thing, out-of-body experience. It was liberating. For the first time in my life, my body movements were completely out of my control. Felt like I was at the mercy of a superior being. But still it was not about been enslaved. It was about letting go of yourself, placing your destiny in the hands of the unknown and knowing that he would make it all ok. It was such a spiritual experience that it overwhelmed me. The screams however didn’t stop.

Then, of course, I learnt in mid-air that the first dive is not ‘it’. It is not over till the rope stops pulling you back. And what a pull it was!! I almost went back 60% of my fall and down to ground zero again. The same rush, except that now it was not new. Then once again the rope pulled back. Finally after a while it stopped and I was carefully untied and taken down. I couldn’t breathe for some time and I was sure that my face must have looked like it was hit by a crimson tide. My friend came towards me, grinning. I had done it. Yayeee!! The first thing I said to him was “Let’s do it again!!”

But we didn’t. It was way too expensive (Rs.600/- per dive) and way too much thrill to handle in a day. Especially for a person whose adventure spirit had been closeted all her life, out of her own stubborn ambition to not be herself and be bound by what the family thinks is appropriate for girls to do. But that day, I had chosen to break free. I was scared but I let myself be seduced by the charm of adventure. I realized that I had always been in love with dare-devilry but had lacked the courage to flaunt it, to do something about it.

That day I set my love free.

P.S. I still don’t understand why it is called bungee-jumping when you are actually supposed to ‘dive’.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Books.They Inspire.They Teach.

They Support. They Propel.

These photos are a part of my first attempt to create theme-based compositions and photograph them. This series is called "Books...", featuring my favorite toy Dandyman. This guy is made from copper wires, covered with purple cloth and is extremely flexible. Since the time I have got it from Pondicherry, it has been my favorite toy.
The series that you see is photographed using a 5 MP Sony Digicam and the source of illumination is just a 40 W bulb. No other lights are involved. This shoot was quite a task as I balanced the camera in one hand while holding the bulb in another, whilst experimenting with the shadows. I even got mildly electrocuted twice in my careless enthusiasm. But all in all, it was a nice one, since I had the most easy-going, tantrumless star who stood 3 - 4 hours of body-twisting (literally) hardwork without so much as a whimper....


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Basic Instinct

Reading short stories by the unsurpassed genius of Edgar Allan Poe is quite an experience. They thrill, chill, excite, interest and many a times screw your brains right inside your skull till you have the unmistakable feeling of giddiness and mental fatigue, so strong that you are ready to collapse at any place that can afford you rest. For the uninitiated, E.A. Poe is one of the most gifted writers in American literature and has an amazing range of works to his credit right from detective fiction to horror, humor to science fiction, critique to romanticism, fantasy/supernatural to crime and even musical, mellifluous poetical verses.

I started with his acclaimed collection of detective fiction. I realized that not only are all the detective stories that I had read so far, more or less inspired by this master’s work, the most famous detective Sherlock Holmes is also a comprehensive and shameless rip off from Poe’s idiosyncratic character, a noble Frenchman called Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin. Both the characters are glaringly similar and for all the Sherlock fans (I mean those who have religiously read all the 56 short stories and 4 novels) there is another shock in wait. The plots and the storylines of a few (and the smartest) of Sherlock’s adventures have been lifted (plagiarized down to the last thread of mystery) from Poe’s detective stories. Read up Poe’s ‘The Gold Bug’, ‘The Purloined Letter’ and the uncanny resemblance to Doyle’s offerings will be crystal clear to you. In conclusion Doyle’s claim to fame is a stake through Poe’s grave. And the irony of the situation is that the original genius isn’t even half as popular as the scheming plagiarist.

Anyways apart from the detective fiction, there are other stories too. What is fascinating and creepy about Poe’s work is that even the humorous tales have a hint of sadism and gothic horror, which will make your insides turn. Check out ‘Never bet the Devil your head’ and you will know what I am talking about. And the other interesting thing is his insistence that he isn’t telling anything relevant. There are a few stories that start by his disclaimer stating that the following story is almost unbelievable/unimportant/silly etc. However his insight on humans and their behavioral patterns, his close observations of the typical and the unique, his impeccable knowledge of the sciences, the languages and philosophy choose to differ with his disclaimer and soon the reader is aware that he is in the presence of the modest maestro. The language will seem highly ornamental and tedious to the average understanding (I sat with my dictionary next to me) and the grammar, archaic, very difficult to follow and keep track of, but if you pursue it till the end, I bet you will end up being satisfied and not just because it is a Herculean task to get till the end. There are many other reasons too.

I have one here. When I read his stories, especially the ones about conscience and horror, I had an uncomfortable feeling, something that made me sick inside. But something that I could identify with, yet wouldn’t dare to claim in public, lest I be considered a maniac in a civilized society. But I guess it is in each one of us, the one that makes us inherently human, capable of doing wrong for the sake of it, toeing the line to walk into the world of the forbidden and giving into temptation to do the thing that we know is a sin. I guess it is an instinct that is latent in majority of the population thankfully. Many of us are even blissfully unaware of it. There are very few who would dare to acknowledge it even in isolation for it makes us insecure, scared of our own dark side. And that’s what makes Poe’s horror so compulsively noteworthy. He doesn’t make us fear the unknown; he makes us afraid of ourselves. He frightens us with our own hidden fears and beastliness. He introduces our dormant (almost dead) sinful, subconscious tendencies to the conscious mind and leaves off gleefully as we try to fight the inner demons and make them go away. And that’s the true power of his work…..I haven’t read any other author who has had that kind of power over me, my mind, my consciousness. And that is why Poe has to be read, to feel the shadow of the dead casting its gloominess over the sunshine of the alive.

For more on Poe, check out this website, which contains information on Poe and showcases his brilliant work.

P.S. For those who need more clues as to what instinct I am referring to in the last paragraph, read up Poe’s “The Black Cat” (Tales of Conscience).

Monday, July 10, 2006

Zidane : The (anti) Climax

Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia, about Zinedine Zidane and his disgraceful exit from the World Cup Final 2006. It seems that Zidane was intentionally provoked as planned, with racist slurs about his origin.

Read on (keeping in mind that Wikipedia is freely editable….so these might just be rumors)

Zidane’s agent, Alain Migliaccio has claimed that a "very serious" comment by Materazzi provoked the attack. Reportedly, the deaf forensic lip-reader Jessica Rees was employed to analyze the video sequences with the help of an Italian translator. According to these reports, Materazzi spoke in Italian - a language understood by Zidane due to his time spent with Juventus F.C. - and first told him: "Hold on, wait, that one's not for a nigger like you." As the players walked forward, Materazzi allegedly said: "We all know you are the son of a terrorist whore." Then, just before the headbutt, he was seen saying: "So just fuck off." According to Brazilian TV Rede Globo, a lip-reader claimed that Materazzi twice called Zidane's sister a prostitute. Earlier claims about Materazzi having called his opponent a "dirty terrorist" have been denied by Materazzi, who reportedly said: "It is absolutely not true, I did not call him a terrorist. I'm ignorant. I don't even know what the word means."

As quoted in a timesonline report, the son of two Algerian immigrants, 34-year-old Zidane is proud of his North African roots, dedicating France’s 1998 World Cup win to “all Algerians who are proud of their flag and all those who have made sacrifices for their family but who have never abandoned their own culture”, so such a slur would certainly explain, if not justify, his violent response.

In the event that this is actually true, isn’t it repelling that the very spirit of sports that advocates unity, harmony and equality is openly being stabbed in full view of the world (an estimated over 6 billion people watched the final on Sunday), using the weapon of racism and hate? And that too, against the greatest soccer hero of his generation, the beloved Zizou?

There is a other side to the story too.The reasons for his unbridled anger might seem plausible enough at first, but Zidane's own dubious record of 14 sending-offs before, make his stand rather shaky. Was it a violent outcome of an unsolicited slur speech or was it his idiosyncrasy, his volatile temper, surfacing at the wrong time? But whatever be the reason, the fact remains that it was a disgrace. It is not that Zidane is any less of a legend now, but his image has been definitely tainted for reasons as maligned as the devil's desires.

Zidane, originally a street fighter from a Marseilles council block who plays football with god-like grace, was once described by one of his ardent fans; French rock singer, Jean-Louis Muratin in the words “Nobody knows if Zidane is an angel or demon. He smiles like Saint Teresa and grimaces like a serial killer.” But angel or demon - Zidane's strikingly impressive style could never go unnoticed even to the amateur enthusiast, (like me) who might be watching him for the first time. And especially in the match that began with his flawless penalty kick, I was hoping to see the brilliant artiste work at his ultimate masterpiece and finish it with aplomb. But it was not to be.

The final match, that too a World Cup final, a final chance to win the most coveted cup, once more for his beloved country and a final opportunity to justify the faith and the love of a billion fans worldwide; instead of being a fitting, grand finale of his glorious, enviable career, turned into his final downfall, and that too just before the final moments. The experience of watching the 3 time FIFA player of the year headbutt the Italian goalscorer, Marterazzi and be sent off the field under the red mist, whilst passing by the World cup, with all hopes of lifting it for the last time, dashed because of that one moment of retaliatory passion, was incomparable. There was a weird sinking feeling inside of me (and I am not even a football fan) as I wondered what it feels like to see everything in your life build up to this one moment, this one day and then see it all bite dust in a matter of seconds? And to know that you will never again have that one chance to do it....never again...

Moving on

I am at a point of time in life now when my friends, good friends, great friends and best friends are all away from me. Some are onsite (US, UK), some have started their post grads- MS, MBA, some are in different cities across India, others are busy shifting out, many have left the company to join others; it is all happening faster than I can handle and keep track of. I will have to move out sometime too and it hurts to think that it would become increasingly difficult to maintain contact after that. But I will try my best.

Sometimes I think of all the great times that I have had with each of my friends and keep wishing that things work out somehow and we get to meet again. But if wishes were horses, I’d be riding them to catch up with each of my friends. Sadly I can’t.

Yes, there are phone calls and mails and smses and yahoo chats, but the lingering feeling of loneliness doesn’t just go away. There are new people to meet, fresh relationships to be formed but the scent of old friendships continues to haunt me somewhere. And then there arises in me the crushing, foolish desire to change it all, rotate back the time and be in that place where we are all together once again. And then I wish that time would freeze then and there so that we never have to get out of that utopia again. Silly me!!

But the truth remains that we all have to move on in our respective lives to better our prospects, to realize who we are meant to be and in the pursuit of our ambitions, chance upon our true destiny and that shall come at the price of being away from each other and not finding enough time and leisure to catch up whenever we feel like.

Bound by the restrictions of time and commitments, who knows when the time shall come for a reunion? Even an occasional phone call or an orkut scrapbook entry might seem overwhelming and unexpected in a few years’ time. We will all have new people in our lives and priorities would have shifted dramatically. The emotional attachments, the psychological dependence, the mental companionship; all will become dim shadows of their former selves. The pain of separation (which I feel strongly now) would have long died by then, consumed by the vagaries of the new routines and the involvements of personal and professional nature. But what will stay and I pray it does for everyone are the memories of the little moments in which we shared our lives with each other, brought together by what could only be explained as fate.

As clichéd and boringly sentimental as it can sound...

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Dearest Sis,

I don’t remember the day that you were born, how could I? I was just a year and a half, a toddler myself. But the farthest that my memory can go, there isn’t a single day of my childhood that I can remember without you being around. You were my first playmate, my first friend, my first piggyback and my first rival. You were the one I pinched when parents weren’t looking, the one I bathed in a big tub, the one whose hand I held on my way to school, the one who always insisted on sitting on my lap and one who held my ear while sucking on to her thumb. You were the pest who cried too loud sometimes, sat on my books and never cared to study while I taught so I had to help you cheat when Dad took your tests. But you will always remain the pest that I love.

You are always the funniest and I am jealous of that. I can hardly crack a decent joke, let alone send people rolling down their chairs, with uncontrollable laughter. I wish I had that power you possess of making a dull day seem like it is full of radiance and bring joy to those worried and hassled by life’s little troubles. Though at times, I do feel that you should give others a chance to talk too. You are not the only one to be blessed with vocal chords (I must admit, yours are great) and we have the right to exercise ours, once in a while atleast.

I have seen you take life head on and grow from strength to strength, winning over both admirers as well as detractors. At times, you do go over the top with your mischief and histrionics and I still sometimes feel like giving you a nice thrashing just like good old days. But the fact remains that no one can stay angry with you for long because you always know how to make us laugh …

Life is an arduous journey but I know you will find the way, just like you did so far. And along the way, you will also find the time to make new friends, sing, and dance, shop (your favorite hobby) and make merry. You will have many mountains to climb, many battles to fight. And there will be times when you will be on the seventh heaven and others when you will be down. But through all this, there is just one little thing that I don’t want you to forget and that is, no matter where you are or how you are, if you need me, even to just talk to, I will always be there. I might seem a little busy at first but be sure that I will always find the time to come back to you.

Happy Birthday to you. You are my hero.

Just Me.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Why the world doesn’t need a “Superman Returns”

With all the unnecessary wars and the WMDs, the failed peace conventions and the abused treaties, the Bushs and the Saddams, the Blairs and the Ladens, racial discrimination and honor killings, the hate crimes and the child exploitation, the gender bias and the economic divide, the world still survives. And that is why we don’t need a Superman. We are fine without him.

With hundreds of remakes churned out every year in the name of revamped makeover for the new generation, entertainment pasted shamelessly in the face of ‘inspired’ tunes, robbed lyrics and creativity-starved albums, and the millions blown up in the superhero and spy – franchise in the hopeless attempt of combining dazzling special effects and daring stunts with the so-called ‘human’ side to their characters, the world still remains happily ‘entertained’. And that’s why we don’t need a “Superman Returns”. We are fine without it.

After a 19-year absence, the unquestionably most-popular superhero, the invincible (except for the stone Krypton and its numerous isotopes, smartly invented by the comic book authors for sheer lack of challenges for the superhero to beat) Superman makes a comeback in this strongly marketed and suitably product-placed version of the legend’s story that inspired generations of superheroes, back when it was released in 1938. But disappointingly, the comeback is all dazzle, no real body, all SFX, no real drama.

By now, everyone must know the story, so ubiquitous is the reach of this touted summer blockbuster – Superman (tailor made-to-Superman-size Brandon Routh) returns to the earth, after an absence of 5 years, during which he had been exploring the possibility of his home-planet Krypton being alive. But settling back into his ‘Daily Planet’ routine isn’t easy since a lot has changed, especially since the love of his life Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) is engaged and has a kid (the ‘Anne Geddes’ cute Tristan Lake Leabu), with fiancé Richard White (James Mardsen) and has won a Pulitzer for her editorial “Why the world doesn’t need a Superman”, obviously venting out her frustration and hurt for Superman having left her without explanation. Gist of the tale: Life has moved on, Superman has to try hard to fit in or so it seems like, at first.

But nothing is impossible for the ‘Man of Steel’ and as soon as he lands, the world with its penchant for getting into troubles from which only superheroes could save them, witnesses a crashing plane, predictably with ‘fearless’ reporter Lois Lane onboard (the only one to be tossed around in the plane unceremoniously, yet managing to retain her flawless make-up and well-set hair, when the scene ends) making it doubly, supremely important for our superhero to employ all his super-strengths to rescue this one and he does it in such style that I must say, what a comeback, dude!!!

Superman’s arch nemesis, Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) has by then, secured Kryptonites and has an ambitious real-estate plan that involves submerging the present continents and raising sea floor to float new ones. What will happen in the end, is as predictable as bread falling down the buttered side, but the 2 and 1/2 hour duration needs us to meander through the usual labyrinth of scenes involving the hero (yawn) saving his lady and her family, the heroine risking it all (her kid too) to rescue her love, the ‘other’ man in her life assisting her, the baddies succeeding at first and then failing miserably, rest of them dying leaving the main Lex guy and his catty counterpart (Parker Posey)alive and marooned etc. etc. The only exceptional and slightly surprising thing being the feat of strength that masquerades as paternity test, which also gives a little twist to the otherwise predictable plot.

The best thing about this movie is the star – Brandon Routh, who brings earnestness and old world charm to the most beloved of all superheroes. With spell – binding good looks and the right amount of sensibility needed to balance the geeky Clark Kent and the stud superhero, Brandon creates quite an impression. In contrast, Kate Bosworth pales as Lois Lane and doesn’t seem more believable than a college girl who has a crush on Superman, definitely much lesser as a single mom facing emotional turmoil as a result of a super (literally) blast from the past coming into her life again, and even less as a Pulitzer-prize winning reporter dedicated to her job. Kevin Spacey alternates between darkly menacing and unintentionally hilarious, trying hard to send shivers down your spine while you smirk at his tom-foolery, especially in the scene where he reveals his new world-building plans to Lois and the rest of his team. It seems like he wanted to give the character a hint of ‘psychotic’, gleeful, deliciously sadist feel but somewhere lost his conviction during the making. As the result the character looks strangely demented, suffering from the ‘split personality’ syndrome instead of being acutely calculative and painfully egocentric.

The rest of the casting is ho-hum, nothing great except for the few spurts of liveliness brought in by Sam Huntington as assistant photographer Jimmy Olsen. The special effects in one word are – AWESOME, all the capitals justified. The plane crash scene was fantastic; only it need not have ended in a thundering applause for what seemed like a publicity craving, photo savvy Superman. They should have had the baseball audience be left too dumbstruck by the entire spectacle of Superman saving the plane to even whisper so that the real movie audience would have filled in with their applause, for so laudable a scene. Anyways, apart from the self- congratulatory scene, the other that sets the movie apart is the surreal, stunningly magical Superman – Lois rendezvous on the roof scene, which is so classically shot and beautifully choreographed that it is bound to take your breath away just like Lois’s. The cinematography is superb and the visuals breathtaking. In the later half of the movie, director Bryan Singer tries to pull off a James Cameron, while showing the ship being wrecked but even with all the SFX magic, it is unable to bring the heightened sense of emergency and impending danger that was such an emotional hell raiser in the unforgettable Titanic. However the visual realization of the ‘Fortress of Solitude’ and the clever usage of the archive footage of Marlon Brandon (Jor – El, Superman’s Dad) stand as a superb testimony to the love of labor of the SFX guys.

Director Bryan Singer has a decent storyline but it lacks soul. With high production values, a suitable cast, mind blowing SFX, this is a decent movie, but not as great as it aspires to be. Last year we had Batman returning to the silver screen, again in a polished product that lacked the necessary depth, especially since that particular superhero is known for his gray shades. Next year, we will have Spiderman back again, superbly reined by Sam Raimi so far. Apart from that we have the Fantastic Fours, Dare Devils, the Electras and also the super spies, no less than superheroes themselves. Besides them, we have had Neos, Vampire superheroes (aka Blade), a certain intriguing ‘V’, Star War super galactic fighters, Wonder Women, Catwomen, Ninja warriors, Harry Potters, Asian tigers and dragons and so many others, each grabbing our mind space while Superman was gone. So we have had it all: the dare – devilry, the stunts, the effects, the UQ (Unbelievability quotients), the budgets, the stars, the Flo-Mos, the bullet freezing, the gravity-defying leaps and of course the gadgetry.

So the question really is with all these superheroes and their summer blockbuster machinations, do we really need “Superman Returns”? And that too in a plot that doesn’t quite bring out what this alien crusader is completely capable of?

Whatever we choose to believe, Superman is back but he has not quite returned.

P.S I still can’t understand how he manages to hide his thick, leather red cloak inside his normal, office wear ???

Thursday, June 29, 2006


I had to wait a whole year before I actually got to read this book, for reasons that will sound silly now. But the point is that the longer I waited, the more excited I got about reading the book and when I was finally done with it, I was glad that I waited that long. Glad for the simple reason that I matured a lot emotionally during that time and that helped me to identify and empathize with the intricately sketched characters in this Pulitzer prize-winning post-civil war drama.

Trying to describe Beloved in a few lines or compartmentalizing it to a restricted genre of books is not just impossible; it is an insult to this phenomenal work of the genius, Toni Morrison. So I wouldn’t attempt it. Briefly put, the story is about Afro-American woman, Sethe and her family as they attempt to survive with dignity through and after the civil war. Their struggles set against the background of racism and hate pre and post civil war, form the crux of this heart wrenching drama about surviving against the odds.

In the present tense of the book, Sethe lives with her daughter Denver. Her two sons have left her and her mother-in-law Baby Suggs has died. Paul D, a previous acquaintance and ex-slave moves in with her. Another daughter Beloved mysteriously comes back to her from the dead. At first it is about what is happening now. But as the book progresses, we keep getting glimpses of each character’s past life that builds the story, bit by bit; offering insights into the character’s psyche and the conditions that forced them to do what they did and what they do now. Morrison doesn’t attempt mere justifications; she lets us live their lives vicariously so that we don’t just empathize, we identify.

The storyline is not the kind that will generate immense enthusiasm at first go and I have to admit that for me, the first few chapters dragged on forever. I even contemplated giving up entirely, but there was something about the engaging and the down-to-earth writing style of the author that kept me going. And in the end, I was glad I did. Because as the story continued, I found myself living it in the real sense, becoming one of the members of the family, mute but capable of feeling their troubles, the hidden and the seen, rejoicing in their little happiness and praying that their woes end early.

The book is both realistic and fantasy-induced at the same time. Realistic, for its accurate, fact-based account of the inhuman treatment meted out to the slaves. I remember gasping in disbelief, several times as I read the atrocious and horrendous ways in which the whites treated the blacks, for this opened me up to a new level of torture and disregard that humans are capable of. My suffering and pain seemed so miniscule and insignificant in the face of the enormity of these people’s troubles that I felt lucky to be born as a free individual and be treated as a human being, independent enough to make my own choices and steer the course of my future. I felt lucky to be able to eat, drink and sleep by my will; to be able to work the way I want to; to have decent clothes and adequate shelter; to have use of my body and organs as I wish; to not be flogged for dropping a glass or be screamt at and whipped for looking straight into my employer’s face; to not have to be at gunpoint every minute of the day, afraid that the next shot would take my life; to know the identity of my mom, dad, my siblings; to have my family close to me and my friends, unafraid to rush to my side if I need help; to not be mistreated just because of my skin color; to be decently paid and praised for all the good work I do; to walk, talk, laugh and most of all breathe free.

The fantasy/horror element of the book is in the form of the baby ghost that haunts Sethe’s house and later as Beloved, who Sethe takes to be her own dead child, because of the similarities that are too good to be mere coincidences. However it does not distort the storyline, which essentially remains that of pain, struggle and survival. The best character in the book is that of Denver, who is shown to mature from being shy, reticent, and socially awkward to being the responsible, sensible adult, ready to take control of her life and her family. Her meticulous characterization and deftly handled transformation leaves a lasting impression. She is truly an inspiration, both in terms of the writing and the character.

All in all, it is one book to be slowly read, thoughtfully chewed and soulfully digested. Not one of the regular fast track skim-and-scan bestsellers!!

You might want to refer to the following for a better critical appreciation of 'Beloved' and many other books. (listed under the literature study guides)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Batman:The 'look' that stuns

Here are some frames from Batman's 1999 karmic adventure 'War on Crime'....check out the amazing range of color shades, not to mention a slightly brighter, slicker look given to overall plot design.The melancholic, gothic shadows have been exchanged for some neatly positioned highlights.

'Batman: War on Crime' is the second of the series of graphic novels (Superman: Peace on earth, Shazam!: Power of hope, Wonder woman: Spirit of truth) written by the Paul Dini and Alex Ross and superbly illustrated by Ross himself. A wider canvas for a realistic story visualization and a closer-to-heart, introspective tale makes this book a must-have for all the die-hard Batman fans.

I hope to get my hands on this one pretty soon!!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Love you till the end of day

Some might praise you, say you are wise
Others might rebuke you and look otherwise
Let all your admirers or detractors have their say
But I will still love you till the end of day

There will be times you will be down, in hurt and pain
And life looks morose, no joy, no gain
But let all the problems come what may
I will love you till the end of day

A time might come when we are far apart
And it looks like the reunion is never to start
Don’t worry though, I will find a way
To show you my love till the end of day

I wish you a wonderful life my friend
Let your joys and pleasures never end
Just remember one thing when you are happy and gay
There’s someone who will love you till the end of day

This is a poem dedicated to a very special friend (and ardent critic) of mine on the occasion of his departure from the rest of us for a long time....

This is for you buddy.

Try not to laugh at the contrived attempts to maintain a rhyming scheme. LOL.

Thoughts for the Day

Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow it to the dark place where it leads.

Defeat never comes to any man until he admits it.

Whether you think that you can or that you can't, you are usually right.

A love affair with knowledge will never end in heartbreak.

We are all either fools or undiscovered geniuses.

If you wish to post any counter thoughts on these, you are most for eg:

A love affair with knowledge will never end in heartbreak. Yeah, but could cause irreparable brain damage though.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Weekend Watch: Schindler’s List

My very first attempt at writing a serious, full fledged film review, starting with the unsurpassed ‘Schindler’s List’ – which I watched last Sunday.

Go and watch this one, it’s more than worth it!! Hope the review makes you do it…

Steven Spielberg is a man to reckon with and is at the height of his legendary powers in the stunning ‘Schindler’s list’, a 1993 classic that set the benchmark for all movies of its genre. A powerful visual statement on the life and the times of the Jews under the Nazi regime, it minces no frames in showing the brutalities and atrocities committed in the name of racial superiority.

It is a story of the German catholic industrialist Oskar Schindler, who begins to earn great returns by exploiting the free Jew labor, but finds an awakening of his conscience when he sees that his factory is the only hope of survival for the Jews and begins to buy as many of them as possible using all his wealth and contacts, with competent help from his able accountant Stern. By the end of the war, he manages to save about 1100 of them before he has to flee for his safety from the Allied forces.

The movie begins by showing how Oskar cleverly manages to get his voice and authority established in the upper corridors of power. He befriends German officials using the razzle dazzle of lavish parties, beautiful women, exotic food and wine and extravagant presents. Using the gift of gab and charm, he opens up doors of opportunity and wealth ceaselessly. With an estranged wife and a non existent family life, Schindler has his crockery factory, a clever accountant and a few inconsequential flings, to fill his time. He smartly recruits Jews from the labor camps, free of charge and is soon on his way to being both immensely rich and powerful. However as the time passes by, he can’t shut his eyes to the atrocities committed against the Jews: as they are looted, killed, mutilated, evacuated, enslaved and tortured mercilessly. He painfully realizes that the only way that he can save the Jews is by employing them in his company and proceeds to buy them from the corrupt German officials. The war ends and the surviving Jews are liberated, but Oskar has to escape lest he be captured by the victorious armies.

The well-scripted movie is not only a cinematic masterpiece but a fitting tribute to the man who single handedly saved more than a thousand lives. The cinematography (black and white) is flawless and unparalleled, with each frame delicately composed to bring out the drama and the character of the scene. In one of the most brilliant scenes of the movie (there are countless others too), while Oskar watches from over a hill, as the Jews are being paraded and shot, a little girl catches his eye as she moves around the city to escape the Nazi wrath. This girl is ingeniously shown in color, against the black-and-white imagery of the movie and is later shown again, lying amongst the corpses as Oskar watches the exhuming and the consequent mass funeral of the dead Jews. A master stroke delivered with panache that stays with you as the most hauntingly memorable scenes ever seen.

The graphic violence is so riveting and real that it makes you wonder if such inhumanity is possible, and sends shivers down your spine when you realize that it did happen, not very long ago. As I watched the movie, the terms like ‘Holocaust’, ‘Ghetto’, which till then were just words from the history textbook, assumed their true meaning and I gaped with increasing horror at the images that spelt 'heinous' and 'horrendous', in bold capitals. There were scenes of cold blooded murders, mass shoot outs, point blank head shots, children and women scampering to hide in the closets and secret passageways, scores of people paraded towards the gas chambers, women shorn of their hair and disrobed, men and women closeted in huge wagons like animals and sprayed with jets of water through hoses, the cruel German in-charge taking random shots at the camp from his balcony gunning down innocent people for the heck of it and so much more. Words fall short as I try to describe what only the images can convey in their entirety; such is the craft and the art of this movie.

At the heart of this engrossing story is the charismatic Liam Neeson, donning the character of the war profiteer Oskar Schindler, towering both literally and figuratively in the most powerful performance of his career. Ralph Fiennes, as Amon Goethe, the psychotic, sadist, alcoholic German in-charge who shoots Jew prisoners at will and tortures his house maid for the pleasure of it, eerily sketches one of the most hated characters to be portrayed onscreen. Ben Kingsley as the dependable accountant makes his character relatable with the ease of a pro and essays it with all the idiosyncrasies, fears and helplessness intact. Other characters in the movie do not have as much screen time for them to be memorable but they do play their parts quite effectively.

The real hero of the movie though is Steven Spielberg. At the end of the movie, when the credits started appearing, I felt like kneeling down in reverence when his name appeared. The man is an institution in himself and it is unbelievable when you realize that this guy with no formal training in filmmaking, towers above all as the greatest filmmaker that ever lived. I can go on and on about his mastery but one will only truly appreciate his genius when one sees the ‘Schindler’s List’, a movie that is bound to bleed your soul as you come to terms with the heinous crimes and inhuman suffering, perpetrated for the sake of hate.

For those interested in knowing more about the real Oskar Schindler, Amon Goethe and facts and figures from the Holocaust, including the original Schindler's list, do visit the following link