Thursday, December 27, 2018

Two Weeks Notice (2002)

Watched ‘Two Weeks Notice’ (2002) on Netflix. (a movie in which Donald Trump has played the role of Trump! In some children's league party!)

I liked the story. Or rather, the paradigm of it. Ambitious builders razing down old buildings, even those that deserve to be preserved owing to their historical or cultural or architectural or social significance. And activists trying to save them.

Lucy (Sandra Bullock), is a lawyer who specializes in historic preservation and environmental law. A few lines of her passionate speech do the character sketching. Economic.
“When I think about how architecture can shape a community and turn strangers in to neighbours, how the right design for a park makes people feel secure, how a school building can be functional and beautiful so kids feel engaged instead of imprisoned.”

She meets the rich and spoilt George Wade (Hugh Grant) while protesting against his firm to protect Coney Island community center from his bulldozers, at a time when he was wanting to hire a lawyer.
He hires the reluctant Lucy. In course of time, he comes to depend on her advice not just on legal matters but also his personal choices.

The viewer is expected to believe that George (Hugh Grant) is a casanova, but he isn’t depicted to be one,.. he is shown indulging in some harmless flirtation but that's it.
Only after watching this movie I came to know of strip chess, because George and a woman are shown playing it. Even in that scene, Hugh Grant hardly looks casanova. More like a joker.

The traits and habits of Sandra bullock, intended to depict her as not dainty and ladylike, are agreeable - overeating, snoring, and other things.. but the scene of her struggling with pressure ‘to go', to do the big job, while in traffic, following some major overeating, and Hugh grant's carrying her to a motel having a toilet, was unnecessary, pointless, and characteristic of America's morbid fascination for the gross.

The story is set in Manhattan. I haven't done a chopper ride in new York, but this movie provides the experience.
As Lucy (Sandra bullock) remarks in the movie, God it is such a beautiful city!
The sky ride over new York skyline with ample views of the Chrysler, Empire state and wall Street skyscrapers was a real treat.
I had to note this down.. commentary between the two, while on their chopper, flying over Manhattan skies.
“My favorite building of all time (Chrysler Building)
Look, Nirosta steel, sunburst tower, gleaming gargoyles, all designed by a man called William van Alen, obsessed with beating his former partner, who was building the bank of Manhattan tower, at 927 feet, so van Alen announced the Chrysler building at 925 feet, and then surreptitiously assembled the 180 foot mast inside the tower and revealed it after the bank tower had been completed, thereby giving van Alen the tallest building in the world until of course the Empire state building.”

This song serves the movie well.

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique and a swinging hot spot
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone?

Hey farmer, farmer put away the DDT
I don't care about spots on my apples
Leave me the birds and the bees
Don't it always seem to go...

Lines I noted..

“You need someone who can write a brief instead of removing yours”

“Keep your friends close and your enemies Closer..”

“You are the most selfish human being on the planet”
“That's silly, have you met everyone on the planet?”

“I think it's immoral that any human being should acquire that much wealth. I don't know how you sleep at night”
“I have a machine that simulates the sound of the ocean”

‘I have never seen you cry. Except when Bush won.’
‘Which Bush?’
‘Both of them, so may be you cried twice’

“Philosopher yogananda says, ‘only that which is the other gives us fully unto ourselves’ !”

“You are a cause! You make Gandhi look like a used car salesman.”

Learnt that ‘Groundbreaking’is the plain Jane version of our Bhoomi Pooja

Hugh grant's has a pathetic mouth but his British accent is so good to the ears.
And how did Sandra bullock become a star with a face and a button nose like that???

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio (2005)

Watched the movie ‘The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio’ (2005) on Netflix.

It is based upon the memoir, ‘The prize winner of Defiance, Ohio : How my mother raised 10 kids on 25 words or less’, by Terry Ryan, one of Evelyn’s children.

If this movie weren’t based on true story, it would have been exasperatingly incredible and unrealistic.
Housewife Evelyn Ryan, helped support her husband, Kelly, and their 10 children by winning jingle-writing contests. Kelly failed to support his family in part due to apparent alcoholism. He had dreamed of becoming a singer but lost his singing voice in a car accident, and was often cruel and abusive. Though not mean.

Evelyn watches these contests on television and posts her couplets, little songs, one liners, etc., composed according to the requirement of the product and the contest, to a given address.

She wins a freezer, ice buckets, a washer, a trip to New York City, sleds, boots, a pony, a palm tree, a sports car!!!, a shopping spree in her local grocery store, ice crushers, a camera, dance shoes, a case of dog food, and so on…

Like I said, if it weren’t based on true story, it would have been impossible to watch her winning so many prizes, one after another, winning a household item or money just when she needed it the most, like when she had to pay the bills, or pay the mortgage of her home, or rent a new home and so on. It would have seemed like dumb predictable boring luck.
The actual jingles composed by her, presented in the movie, help the viewer appreciate the fact that it wasn’t just luck but her talent that won her prizes but then, the her winning so many of them when there were thousands of contestants, would have made it seem incredible, if it weren’t based on true story.

Not only is Evelyn shown to have been a talented woman but very wise.
When Kelly the husband turns violent, especially after alcohol in the evening, and gets abusive and damages property she has won, Evelyn just continues doing her chores or TV watching or talking to kids, calmly, just a few feet away, as if nothing has happened, allowing him to calm down all by himself, in his own time, and at times, even talks teasingly, persuasively and amusingly, managing to turn his sneer into a smile.

A patient, mature woman, she finds a way to reconcile every unfortunate incident with a meaningful purpose or outcome.
The milkman, for instance, arrives when the baby has soiled his little sister’s hands who was untrained in nappy changing and both kids need cleaning. The milkman cant wait long as he has a schedule to follow. When she finally reaches the door, she doesn’t have money to pay him though she definitely needs the milk for her children.
Just then, the mailman arrives and delivers some prize money which she uses for paying the milkman.
Evelyn then explains to her daughter, who is feeling guilty, that it was just as well that the baby soiled her hands, for, had she not been delayed, she would have reached the door on time, before the mailman was there with the money.

In an accident caused by the roughness of her husband, she collapses down spilling ten bottles of milk, with the broken glass bleeding her hands and half a gallon a milk soaking a garment on her hip. But the next day, she composes this jingle out of the episode.

Spilled milk?, don't cry, unless of course, it's hip high
I don't cry over milk, spilled or otherwise
I just wish I had spilled a smaller other size
Spilled milk can't be poured
If it's spreading across the floor
But no need for tears or sorrow
There is always more to spill tomorrow

Julianne Moore fits the role so perfectly.

However, the shopping spree, that Evelyn won as prize in a contest, looks cheap. The only time, that she falls from grace, in my eyes.
She has made a meticulous list of things she will need; she has eleven minutes to fill her cart with as much as can, the assistants at the store are ready, and she is shown running down the aisles, as if for life, pushing the cart before her, plunging things into it from the shelves and then bringing a cartload back home.
Even today, the scramble for freebies and discounts in America is disgraceful. During thanksgiving, Americans standing and sleeping in queues night long, is a definite fall from dignity and grace. And greed of vulgar proportions.

Anyway, there is dignity when she arrives home and no scrambling at the dining table that is loaded with all the goodies from the shopping; she tries to persuade her kids, saying “US army research has shown a relationship between intelligence and the willingness to eat unfamiliar foods”

As seen in some frames, she has very freckled skin, on her arms and I don’t know why the make up artist made no effort to cover it. Was it part of the role she was playing? Or something else?

The children too influenced by her, compose their own lines now and then.
Row row row your boat
Gently down the stream…
Thrown your dad overboard
And listen to him scream…

The story is set in 1956. A period in which...

…Evelyn is shown watching a beauty contest on television.
MC: “This is a presidential election year. If a qualified woman were running for president, how would you feel about voting for her and why?”
Participant: “If the men candidates running were qualified, I feel I would vote against her, my reasons being, women are very high strung and emotional people. They aren't knowledgeable…”

…After the drunken violence of the husband, the father from the parish visits Evelyn and advises her to ‘try harder to make him a better home’.

…Evelyn has ten kids!

…Milkman would deliver milk to homes in bottles everyday. Not everyone had fridge, so milk had to be delivered daily.

…Women plead with milkmen for credit, assuring him he will be paid back, which Evelyn does routinely.

…Telephone calls were answered like this.
“Is this Mrs Ryan?”
“Yes, this is She”

Evelyn and her husband address each other as Mom and Dad.

Here are some more from her genius. Even her diary entries were poetic, out of beauty of sheer habit.

In Dallas, Texas,
It was the first time that I ate
A meal I didn't have to cook,
On a plate that I didn't have to wash.
Or soaked in a tub
That I didn't have to scrub
Or slept in a bed that I didn't have to make

Every time I pass the church,
I stop and make a visit.
So when I am carried in feet first
God won't say, who is it

Interesting trivia from the movie.
"Queen Elizabeth, they say, invented ladies stockings"


Friday, December 14, 2018

Clueless (1995)

Watched the movie 'Clueless' (1995) on Netflix.

This is a charming movie that I could watch again.

It’s about Cher, a sixteen year old college girl in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, born to a rich dad and adorably full of herself, full of ideas about how others should live their lives, and about how she tries to help other people, mostly classmates, live their lives the way she thinks they should live, only to be surprised when things don’t pan out according to her plan.

Josh (Paul Rudd), Cher’s step brother, who is in love with her, is very endearing. All the while she ignores him and even tries to avoid him, he watches her with mature patience and understanding, just being there for her whenever she is in need. After being done with her futile chasing and wandering, Cher realizes that Josh is the one she is in love with. His love is requited at the end of the movie in a satisfactory climax (I mean the climax of the movie).

I realized that Aisha, the Hindi film, where Sonam Kapoor played Aisha, was ‘inspired’ by this movie. Suffice it to say, I wouldn’t watch it twice. Though it was one of the better Bollywood films.

Only Alicia Silverstone, with her angelic face could have fitted in the role. Anybody else would have evoked feelings other than adoration. I think.

It is loosely based on Jane Austen's 1815 novel Emma (I havent read it yet), updating the setting to modern-day Beverly Hills. The film's director, Heckerling studied real Beverly Hills high school students to get the lingo and feel for how real teens in the 1990s talked. The quote "as if!" came from Heckerling's study of these teens. I didn’t know it was a quote, and also that it came from Beverly Hills.

Cher plots to get her school teachers, Mr. Hall and Miss Geist, interested in each other, since they are both single and hence perhaps give the students a tough time and their falling in love should soften them. Their actually falling for Cher's tricks is very Bollywood like.

I was taken by surprise by the scene of father and stepbrother Josh rebuking Cher for a dress she is wearing while just about to head out to a party, ‘that looks like underwear, wear something on top of that’.
I didn't know that in America, there were any rules about ‘proper dressing’ other than those dictated by fashion. I thought ‘modesty’ was non existent in America, in the modern times at least.

This is epic! Cher, when asked for money by this guy, takes it from her blouse and gives it to him! I thought that was a typical Indian lower middle class Behenji thing.

A sixteen year old mocks at another sixteen year old for being virgin and for failing in driving test. ‘Why I am taking advice from a virgin who cannot drive’
This kind of peer pressure, characteristic of the western society, is both pitiable and dark.

‘I am only 16. This is California, not Kentucky.’ (marriages don’t happen at such an early age, unless you are in the bible belt?)

I love this dad. I wish I had one like that. Look how proud he is of his daughter. And how supportive.
‘Dad I like this boy and he likes someone else’
‘How could that be??!!’
‘I don't know but I feel wretched’
‘This boy is a complete moron, you are the most beautiful girl in Beverly hills; I don't want you with a stupid fellow like that’
‘He is a do-gooder types,… my after school commitments are not good enough’
‘Who said that? Who takes care of the little things at home? Who makes sure daddy eats right?’
‘Yes(smiling), now get back to work’

Interesting lines that I noted, below.

‘Daddy is a litigator. He gets 500 dollars per hour for fighting with people. But he fights with me for free because I am his daughter.’

“Street slang is an increasingly valid form of expression. Most feminine pronouns do have mocking but not necessarily misogynistic undertone”

‘I want to do something good for humanity.’
‘How about sterilization?’

‘He said you gave him a toothache.’
‘How did I?’
‘You are so sweet.’

‘Play suck any blow’

‘Is she pretty?
‘No, she is a Monet
‘What's a Monet?
‘It's a painting. From far away, it's okay, but up close, it's a big mess
I didn’t know this was the perception about Monet among people.

‘Do you see any positive changes in her?’
‘Under your tutelage, she is exploring the challenging world of bare midriffs’

‘I can't believe I am taking advice from someone who watches cartoons’

‘I needed a complete makeover. Except this time, I'd make over my soul’

I learnt some cool new phrases and colloquial.
Are you being ‘Couch commando’? so saying, Cher takes the remote away from her step brother sittting next to her.
Are you suffering from ‘Buyer's remorse’? asks Cher’s friend in the mall, seeing her sullen face
There is a serious ‘babe draught’ in the place where he lives
Looking at this shoddily dressed new girl in college, they remark ‘Fashion victim or ensembly challenged?’
‘Hymenally challenged’, perhaps, says this girl of a classmate who is still a virgin at sixteen.
‘I was riding the crimson wave, I had to haul ass to the ladies (room)’ says a girl referring to her monthly period
‘Post adolescent idealistic phase’says Cher sarcastically of Josh, her step brother who watches her cluelessness with understanding and patience, trying to correct her now and then.
‘Hey, granola breath’ says someone addressing a classmate whose breath smells always of granola
‘You are a snob and a half’
‘He is a cake boy. Gay’ says Dionne’s boyfriend of this cute guy in class Cher is interested in.
‘To go postal’ is to go crazy
Ralph - vomit; I feel like ralphing
‘Icky’ means repulsive, distasteful
Montage is the same as collage
‘Damsel in distress’ act
I have been going down a shame spiral
Footsie - play footsie with someone
Ditz - you think I am just a ditz with a credit card?

New words.
Infomercials - a long commercial that informs or instructs, especially in an original and entertaining manner
Brown nose - to curry favor; behave obsequiously
Space cadet - a person who appears to be in his or her own world or out of touch with reality
Joint custody (of children of divorce)

I liked the words of this song.
If I could see into your heart
Then I would know just where to start
Cause I am lost, and I need to be found
Crazy as it sounds, I need you around
If I could stand, to be on my own
Then I would probably, Just leave you alone
But I am going to feel this way
Till I am 6 feet underground
I need
Tossing and turning
My love is burning me down
If I could change one thing in this world
I'd change your mind and make you my girl
Because I am lost I need to be found


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Watched 'Catch Me If You Can' (2002) on Netflix.

Its based on the true story of Frank Abagnale (Leonardo Di Caprio) who, well by his 19th birthday, has embezzled millions of dollars through forged checks, and through posing as a pilot, doctor and a lawyer.

Tom Hanks plays Carl Hanratty, a cop out to get the bad guy, but quite fatherly, trying to help the guy because he is just a child.

The movie should have focused a bit more on the methods of the fraudster, that’s where all the spice is and that’s the most challenging part of movie making; but there are just a few scenes showing him removing company logos from souvenirs and sticking them on bank checks after which he is shown making his millions rather easily. I mean, you have to believe it without seeing it.

The movie is credible because it's set in the 1960's.
When information was confined to one file in one place. Not easily available, not shared. When the guy you were looking for was standing right before you but you could not identify him before you hadn’t seen his picture. Because his only picture that was a passport size black and white was on an old newspaper in the possession of his mother who lived in a different city.
I mean, the forged medical certificate of Frank is accepted by the hospital, without cross verification with the university. Today it would be impossible.
The movie would be laughable today. In the age of Google and smart phones and universal connectivity.
But the irony of it is, fraud has gotten bigger and better than ever before. New loopholes appear faster than you can close the older ones.

The most remarkable thing about the movie is the viewing lens.
It seems unjust and unfair.
A fraudster is depicted as this smart charming fellow cleverly eluding the nuisance of a cop.
The choice of Leo for the role was the first wrong step. He is a popular star and hence endears himself to the audience - despite being a felon who has swindled millions of dollars.
All along the movie it is the bad guy whose side you take and that's not right.
It's called glamorization of evil. Trite but that’s alright.
To keep the balance, the story should have shown the plight of an old couple who had lost all their life savings to this unthinking unscrupulous cheat.

The baddie transformed in the end alright and helped the FBI catch hundreds of fraudsters, but to depict him as a charming hero right from the beginning was a flaw in the lens.
It would have taken more talent to depict him as the criminal that he was, evoking resentment from the audience and then change that resentment to sympathy towards the end, as the boy transformed to a lawful citizen.

That apart…

Leonardo looks so young, so boyish in the movie. He plays a sixteen year old. I don't know if he really looked that young then or it is thanks to the make up artist. I love that look of his, especially his hairdo.
Perhaps they made him lose weight for that role.

A nice analogy.
“Two little mice fell in a bucket of cream. The first mouse quickly gave up and drowned. The second mouse wouldn't quit. He struggled so hard, that eventually he churned that cream into butter and crawled out”

The past is incredible. For being so far removed from the present.
A story of the 1960’s. Frank’s dad opened a checking account and put 25 dollars in it for his sixteenth birthday.
Frank, is asked if he is Lutheran. When he reveals to Brenda(Amy Adams) he is not, she is devastated.

New words learnt
- a person who attends a performance, sports event, etc., or travels on a train, airplane, etc., without having paid for a ticket, especially a person using a complimentary ticket or free pass.
- a train, railroad car, airplane, truck, or other commercial vehicle while operating empty, as when returning to a terminal.

2.Paperhanger - a person who passes worthless checks


Friday, October 26, 2018

Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)

Watched 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' (1961) on Netflix.

It’s the story of Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn), her life as a socialite, her naive ways, her pursuit of rich successful men, and her eventual choice of the not-so-successful writer Paul Varjak (George Peppard).

The movie is very light. So light that it is superficial. The woman is a socialite, attending parties, and such, so there must be superficiality, but showing parts of her personal life and the workings of her mind behind her make up would have helped to make the movie touch the audience in some way.

You go through the whole movie without ever being touched by it slightly, even once. I wouldn’t call that a great formula.
It ends with moral victory and that's a redeeming factor.

Holly (Audrey Hepburn) is endearing because of her naivete. If not for it, perhaps she would have come across as a gold digger, quite repulsive.

The tone in which the actors deliver their lines makes it seem more like theatre than cinema.

The movie has been deemed ‘culturally, aesthetically, historically significant’ and that’s a good reason why you may want to watch it.

The Japanese owner is a caricature with buck teeth, and thick spectacles. Running into walls, doors, just about everything, providing comic relief. Typical of the movies of those times - when humour was usually crass.

Women in parties are shown smoking using a long stick with the cigarette at the far end.

The social etiquette seems queer.

Paul touches his cold glass of drink to the bare back of a woman in the party he doesn't even know.

Another man lifts up a woman and seats her on his shoulders with one leg dangling on each side of his face.

Another woman has what looks like a watch tied around her ankle.

Holly and Paul with their limited means look for something below ten dollars to purchase at Tiffany’s, a Jewlry store in New York, and are offered “a sterling silver telephone dialler for 6.75 including federal tax”

So there used to be ‘telephone diallers’, and as other utilitarian objects, they were made stylish and fancy, such as ‘sterling silver telephone dialler’ and they cost 6.75 dollars in those times.

An interior designer was called the Decorator.

New York taxis weren't yellow.

Holly is shown whistling like a man, for a taxi. Perhaps it was an attempt to show how naive she was.

There is frequent mention of the powder room and Holly’s getting paid 50 dollars by men for the powder room, I am not sure what that means.

Holly is allowed to visit a convict Sally Tomato in his prison every week to provide conversation or light talk and gets paid a 100 dollars by his lawyer.

The actors are shown eating ‘Cracker Jack’ and pocketing the little prize that came with it. Paul chooses to have his cracker jack prize, a ring, engraved, as a present for Holly.

Cracker Jack is an American brand of snack consisting of molasses-flavored, caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts, well known for being packaged with a prize of trivial value inside. Some food historians consider it the first junk food.

All of these, characteristic of that time period, not prevalent today, are what make the movie culturally, aesthetically and historically significant, I presume.

Paul is ‘kept’ by his ‘decorator’, Emily, a rich older woman. When Paul, finding himself in love with Holly, tells her towards the end of the movie, he has another woman on his mind, she says,

“She would have to be someone rich, someone who could help you.”
To which Paul answers “Curiously enough, she is a girl who can't help anyone, not even herself. I can help her and it's a nice feeling for a change”
So true, while we like to receive help, care, presents and love from other people, we have a deep seated psychological need to be needed, to be of value, to be of use to someone - so I thought. The scene of this conversation depicts that truth very well.

I noted these lines for they seemed interesting.

“You could always tell what kind of a person a man thinks you really are by the earrings he gives you”

“People in New York never get to know their neighbours”

“That's the trouble. It's a mistake you always made trying to love a wild thing.

You mustn't give your heart to a wild thing. The more you do, the stronger they get.

Until they are strong enough to run into the woods, fly into a tree, then to higher trees and then the sky”

“She is amusingly and superficially talented but deeply and importantly, no”.

“It would be tacky to wear diamonds before I am forty”

“He is too prim and cautious to be my ideal”

“There are certain shades of limelight that can wreck a girl's complexion”


Sunday, October 21, 2018

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

Watched 'Sleepless in Seattle' (1993) on Netflix.

Tom Hanks is a widower, whose eight year old son goes live on radio one day and wishes for a new wife for his father. Among many many women who upon listening to this on radio write to him wishing to date him is Meg Ryan from the other coast.
She has never seen him, met him, spoken to him but feels connected strongly enough to make attempts to meet him inspite of being engaged to a man she likes.

The story is about how the two finally meet through a series of coincidences and conscious efforts.

I would not have been able to appreciate this movie if I had not myself experienced a similar feeling of being connected with someone living in a faraway land who I had never seen nor met before. This was last year.

Given how much I love New York and the Empire State building, this movie was a treat. It showed empire state in all its glory, even with heart shaped red lighting on valentine's day - something I may never see in real life. The last scene is shot on the observation deck and brought a flood of memories.

Initially it's a bit slow but gets interesting later.

Meg Ryan was likeable. But Tom Hanks - I didn't like his face in this film.

The movie could have been made more realistic if kid were ten or twelve instead of eight. For not only does the kid find a match for his dad but also travels all alone from Seattle to New York by airplane and then through taxi and foot from the airport to the Empire state and all...

I noted these beautiful lines.

"People who loved once are far more likely to love again"

"Winter must be cold for those who have no warm memories... We have already missed the spring..."

During dinner date. Really funny.
"Do you have kids?
Do you want to have mine?"

This is super funny because it comes from an 8 year old boy persuading his daddy to take interest in Annie.
"Dad, I was talking to Jessica about reincarnation. You knew annie in another life...
I know this because I am young and pure and in touch with cosmic forces"


And oh, exactly 11 years ago, the October 21st weekend, which was a long weekend in the US, Barbara McPherson, my colleague, had taken me to her home in Seattle. we had toured some scenic places around, and I had stood there on top of the Space Needle! Its serendipitous that I should have chosen this post, this movie summary for posting today.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Crazy Stupid Love (2011)

Watched 'Crazy Stupid Love' (2011) on Netflix.

This is an entertaining movie.

There is a long married couple that is breaking up, a casanova who suddenly find himself becoming serious about a girl, a teenage boy in love with his adolescent baby sitter, the adolescent baby sitter in love with a middle aged man, a woman who has cheated on her husband of long, but still loves him.

The threads remain separate for a long time, and then suddenly they all converge and during the scene of the scuffle, you will find yourself laughing aloud, and falling off your chair.

There is a flaw in the script, in the opening scene itself, which you will perceive only later in the movie.
Emily (Julianne Moore) asks for divorce, following a one day fling with David, her coworker. Cal (played by Steve Carell) agrees without a word but right from that point on she misses him, and wants to keep him somehow.

When David reaches out to her, she shows no particular interest.
If Emily wasn't in love with David, and if this thing just happened between them incidentally, why would she ask Cal for a divorce? That was an overkill.

The script should have shown their separation to have been a consequence only of her confession to Cal about her fling with David. That's it. Her asking for divorce is inconsistent with the story that follows. Just doesn't fit in.

As the couple drives home, his wife refuses to stop explaining her decision to part ways, in spite of his insistence that she shup up. Cal drops off the moving car after. It is something I have so often thought about while being seated on the window seat and imagining my imaginary fears. I have never seen such a scene before, of a man opening the car door and rolling off. Its the first of its kind.

Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling) though a casanova doesn’t evoke disgust or disapproval because he is sincere about what he is doing. Though he is using little tricks, he is only using them to charm the ladies, he isn’t creepy.
“You are wearing that dress as if you were doing it a favour” is one such charming thing he says to Hannah (Emma Stone) while trying to woo her.

I can so relate to Jacob, the casanova, becoming serious about Hannah. During my days in Jain college that was full of flirtatious young boys and girls, I had heard someone remark that these same guys are the ones capable of becoming very serious when they find the right one. I think its true.

In western movies, the sight of children that are not children enough is a painful one.
A 13 year old boy falling in love with a 17 year old girl would be perfectly alright if it were shown to be puppy love or calf love. Just an emotional thing.
But no, even at 13, the boy doesn't know to love with only his heart; he is shown doing adult things like touching himself while looking at the girl's photo and even discussing it with the girl later. Disturbing. Gross.

A 17 year old girl falling in love with a middle aged man too is understandable. But taking naked photographs of herself for showing them to the man is gross, something you would expect from a woman soliciting, not from someone in love. Kind of coquettish, slutty. The cherry on top, in the last scene, she hands these photographs to the little kid in love with her, as a present, to ‘get him through high school’!


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Intern (2015)

Watched 'The Intern' (2015) on Netflix.

The sheer variety of themes and story lines that these movies explore is impressive, inventive and speak of courage. I mean, I know they have themes other than boy meets girl, but some themes will take you by surprise.

Jules (Anne Hathaway), the CEO of a Brooklyn based fashion retail company ‘About the Fit’, is assigned to work with graying and wrinkling Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) who has been hired as part of their senior citizen intern program. She is initially skeptical about him, but it turns out he has value to offer and lessons for her from his experience.

Ben is a widower, retired, but not tired.
“Freud said, love and work, work and love”
“Retirement? That's an ongoing relentless effort in creativity”
“Musicians don't retire. They stop when there's no more music in them... Well, I still have music in me”.
So saying he applies for this job. The jargon of the modern digital world is Greek and Latin to Ben, but he is going to try.

Jules, the efficient CEO who has taken her company forward at rocket speed(“she works on all cylinders all the time”) is initially skeptical about Ben and does not assign him any work of significance.
But Ben tries to be of help to her in small and big ways, from clearing up a messy desk to summarizing loose data into a meaningful report about buying patterns of user segments in the USA, from driving her home and picking her up for work, to breaking into her mother’s house to hack a computer and delete a stinker email that Jules had sent accidentally. The movie is about how he wins her confidence, how the job improves his life and how he stands by her through the hardships of her life and motivates her not to give up her position at work, out of various compulsions.

Woven into this story are threads of their personal life.
Her spouse is a ‘House Husband’ who sacrificed his career to support hers. “They prefer to be called stay at home dads”, she corrects Ben in the course of a conversation.
There is the scene of her household, the child, his short affair with another woman and ensuing sadness.
On the other hand there is this in-house masseuse who becomes Ben’s lover.
The scene of the massage she offers him while at work, the unexpected ‘tent effect’ it causes to his trousers, the newspaper offered by a colleague sitting next to him to ‘cover up’, with a smirk on his face, surprised me. The sheer possibility of forbidden excitement, that too in offices as depicted in these movies - is it real?
The choice of pleasant faced Rene Russo for the role of Fiona, the masseuse, makes the old couple look charming. It would have been hideous if it were the other woman who was shown to take interest in Ben. Yes, looks make all the difference.

In the massage parlor another day,
Ben: “Hmmmmmmmmm…”
Masseuse: “All I have done is take your sock off.”
Ben: “No one's done that better.”

The movie offers plenty of views of New York and San Francisco, two of my favourite cities in the USA.

It's astounding that in these movies depicting the fashion industry and the 'careers' of people therein, whether it is 'The Devil Wears Prada', or this one, 'The Intern', there isn't a hint, not a moment of the much warranted and naturally expected disillusionment about the nature of their work - that it all boils down to selling footwear, handbags, shoes and watches to people who don't really need them, that underneath all kinds of business jargon, it is just promoting consumerism.
Women in these movies 'celebrate' their 'careers', sacrifice relationships and precious life itself for these ‘careers’, pat each other on the back with tears in eyes when they have 'succeeded' in selling more shoes with the euphoria that would only befit a doctor that saved a human life.
It makes me pity the western people and their culture for being so hopelessly lost, for the complete absence of a basic perspective on materialism.

It is only decent that their sense of success and pride have a limit and beyond that limit, any pride and sense of accomplishment be knocked off by disillusionment about the essence and meaning of their actually meaningless jobs.
Euphoria in such careers, I find almost vulgar.

Lines I felt like noting down.

“Gray is the new green” (remarks someone seeing Ben doing well)

“Sitting is the new smoking”

“The best reason to carry a handkerchief is to lend it. Women cry, we carry it for them. One of the last vestiges of the chivalrous gent.”

“You are never wrong to do the right thing - Mark Twain”

“They say, you can't put the genie back in the bottle, but we can try. Right?”

Look at this use of proposition.
“Are you Happy at me?”
“I am happy at you.”

Notes to myself:

English phrase - to curry favour - behave obsequiously, fawn over

Jules (Anne Hathaway) pronounces data as daata and not as dayta.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Supreme Prisoner

I was a bit worried when told we would have to climb the Hill on bare feet. But then I was assured, there were wide steps all along, and that they were very well maintained, cleaned and swept. There was shelter above all throughout. No exposure to the Sun.
And sure enough, when I started climbing, the steps below felt clean, there was no grit, for all those smudged remnants of turmeric, vermillion and camphor.

There were shrubs and trees on both sides. Vendors selling fruit, bottled water, juice and more. Water dispensers every 50 meters or less.
You still sweat but mainly because of the effort of climbing.

If you are the kind who savours life and not just hurries on towards destination, you would stop and look behind. The green hills nearby and blue ones faraway were a sight.

After 2000 steps, I thought it was over and hopefully, my relatives, who had chosen to drive up, were there on the other side, with my shoes in the taxi.
But no, the walking continued. We reached the main road, the kids called up the father to find out where they all were.
It turned out we would have to take a bus to some point.
So we walked on the tar road to the bus stop. On bare feet.

As I looked around, I noticed that everyone was walking barefooted. The pavements were neatly laid with stones or tiles and even when you got off the pavement on to the road, you didn't feel any dirt beneath your soles.
We got on a bus, the floor of which, covered with the usual aluminum like sheets looked shiny and felt smooth under our feet. Everyone inside was barefooted.
That's when it struck me. The cleanliness of the place. To the extent of being outstanding, extraordinary, incredible and un-Indian.

We got off the bus and continued barefooted. After a few phone calls we found our family, all smiles inside the air conditioned taxi. We jumped in, and drove off to our accommodation, a short drive away.
The pavements looked polished and I noticed that people were squatting on them, reclining, relaxing as if seated on granite or marble finished floors.

There were sweepers and sweepers and more sweepers all around, working as if, round the clock. Keeping the place spotless, dustfree. Simply put, clean.
This must be one place where at least half the population was made up of sweepers and cleaners I thought. Where did they bring all of them from, when labour everywhere is hard to find?

The drive was scenic too. They had created beauty in all spaces. Gardens, parks, lawns, flower bearing shrubs. Trimmed hedges.
Though there were huge trees providing a canopy above, there were no fallen leaves below. There were statuettes here and there. Mostly black.
Very aesthetic. For a hill top, it was vast and sprawling.

The accommodation was spotless too.
We had already booked tickets, all we had to do was walk towards where the line began.
We entered the area where the enclosure began. One hall to another, one line to the next, one room to another.
There was no way you could get lost or move to the wrong line or accidentally take an exit. It was all so well thought out that every few meters there were restrooms and drinking water.
There were rows of wooden benches to sit on in case the queue stopped moving and wait was long.

What was initially a single file of people turned to two and then a mass filling up a room.
The jostling and pushing began.
I no longer had control over which way I turned or moved. I was being carried forward by the crowd that was pressing me in from all sides.

We walked and walked on and snaked closer and closer to the sanctum but the gopuras or domes were no where in sight. At least some glimpse of it would have been reward enough for the otherwise empty journey through the queue.
But the administrators had other priorities. Order, organization and control. Over our movements.

After a very brief glimpse of the gopuras or towers plated with gold, we found ourselves heaved to the dark sanctum.
There was a frenzy of shouting 'Govinda', 'Govinda' in response to the same being shouted into a mike somewhere.

The crowd had now turned to a single file that had to move fast. We turned right, saw the statue of Garuda when my relative prodded me and said 'look there!'
The file turned left, I looked straight and lo behold! there was Balaji in the innermost sanctum of the Tirupati temple quite a distance away.
I remembered not to close my eyes in prayer as people sometimes foolishly do, when they stand before temple deities. I kept them wide open and fixed on Him as I moved. I was being prodded, pushed and shoved quite unnecessarily by the female guards on both sides but I was not going to be provoked this one time, and kept my eyes fixed on Him as I moved closer to Him.
And then suddenly, I was thrown to my left, and it was over.

There was no going back though I did for just two seconds more, after haggling with the guards who for some reason spoke to me in Hindi. As they all d everywhere I go. Even at home.

A grand frenzied anti climax it was.

It gradually dawned on me what a futility the whole thing had been.
The cleanliness, the order, the gardens, the spotless rooms, the neat buildings, the tasty laddus that were to come. Everything was a futility when the most important thing, the darshan, the view of the deity, was made so scarce by those who governed the place.

Literally, cleanliness here was greater than Godliness! In an ironical way.

They could, by all means, allow the file of people to the inner sanctum before forcing a U turn so devotees would get a good view, from up close, but no, they had to make him scarce.

They could at least avoid the shouting of Govinda into the mike but no they had to create a frenzy to maintain the hype and even increase it.

Clever hyenas feeding on the god hungry people.

The self appointed custodians of Him, were money minded goons and willfully kept Him from us all that had travelled far and wide to meet him.
They could sell fewer Darshan tickets so those who availed it got to stand before the sanctum for a few seconds longer.
Selling fewer tickets per day would mean longer wait times for people trying to book, but that was okay, at least you had a satisfactory Darshan.

Whether you avail the general free darshan or the special 300 rupee Divya darshan, the only thing that's different is the time to spend standing in the queue. The darshan once you reach the sanctum is the same. Unless you are a VIP or a VVIP.

I hear the Brahmins have all been removed from the administrative body and the SC and ST have taken over. (I don’t mind the admittance of the lower castes inside, but it is the systematic removal of the Brahmin that I resent)

The experience is made worse because of it's location. The Andhra people are a rough, boorish materialistic people in general (yes I dare speak politically incorrect generalizations). The shoving, the prodding, the frenzied shouting... It couldn't get more unaesthetic.
Had the same temple belonged in TN or Kerala, it would have been a different experience altogether.

If we unitedly boycott such temples then the management will be advertising on TV but what do we Hindus know of unity?

You will not hear me saying such a thing often, but here I go.
The churches are better. There is silence there is space there is dignity there is peace.
Shame on the Hindu temples for such shoddiness, for their barbarity and shame on Hindus for allowing themselves to be shoved like cattle.

I have walked down the aisle of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, the largest catholic church in the United States. I have ambled within the Trinity church famed for its precious tinted glasses. They weren’t crowded alright but had they been, silence would have given way for whispers, may be a buzz, but dignity would have stood firm in its place.

This barbarity in Hindu temples is why so many Hindus are irreligious, disillusioned and averse to Hinduism.

How ironical that Govinda allows this …
We believe HE will deliver us but alas, He is the Supreme Prisoner.
Others are 'most wanted' until they are made captive, but He has been made captive because He is most wanted.

Tirupati, the most sought after temple in the world, was all sound and fury no significance.
The curse of the persecuted Brahmin? Must be. What else?

Let me say this. Someone please drag the Tirupati temple to the court and restore the right of devotees to enter the inner sanctum for a good view of the deity. Break the arrogance and sense of entitlement of the administrators and the politicians behind them. If you do it, whether you are muslim, christian, communist or anti national, I will vote for you!!!

Well, that's how pissed off I am.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Today's Special (2009)

Watched 'Today's Special' (2009) on Netflix.

It is an American movie involving many Indians in the make.

It tries to be Hollywood but does not even get close. It's closer to a plain Bollywood movie with predictable ending. The one good thing about it is, it is not the usual boy meets girl movie but has a novel theme that’s not at all Bollywood like. 
A chef who revives a dying restaurant.

All of the characters are plain, dull, boring and insipid, except Akbar played by Nasiruddeen Shah.

When your chief protagonist Samir (played by Asif Mandvi) is plain, dull, ordinary.. when there is no strength in his character, nothing to endear him to the audience, you must at least compensate the character with great looks, otherwise he just does not connect with the audience and the attraction (towards him) felt by the woman of the movie looks like a lie, unconvincing to the audience.

I felt sorry for the beautiful Carrie who had to kiss this ordinary looking guy Samir.

The movie doesn't explain why an excellent and accomplished cook like Akbar (Nasir) agrees to serve a B grade restaurant and an ordinary boss like Samir.

Samir's father is an excess. He looks hideous, has over acted, with shouting, all unnecessary lines and unwarranted histrionics. All you viewer do is wait for him to shut up and for the screen to show something else, anything else.
They have gone too far in depicting his foul temper and his disgruntlement.

Samir’s mother too. Totally lacks flavour. Someone you don’t look forward to seeing, and someone you want to go away, soon as she appears. Couldn’t they at least find someone better looking?

The parents could have been made to possess some distinct character - amusing, comical, even tragic or evocative, but they are so plain…

A good movie must make use of every inch of screen space, every minute of screen time and every one of its characters to convey some meaning or purpose or entertainment just like a good architect must make use of every every inch of available space while constructing a building.

The group of old men gathering at the restaurant and their chit chat, too, is a waste of screentime. They could have been made to provide some amusing or curious chatter. It’s the little things that take a movie a long way.
The following lines are examples, but these are delivered by Akbar (played by Nasir)

“Pondicherry,... The only French colony in India.
It's one of the great tragedies of history that the French in India never made it further up north… two of the finest cuisines in the world, the French and the Indian coming together for an epicurean meeting of the minds... Instead we end up getting colonized by the bloody British whose greatest culinary achievement in 2000 years is the fish and chips”

“The shah of Iran visited India once and was heard to remark that eating with a utensil was like making love through an interpreter” - I love this one for I am not a fan of the fork nor spoon.

Do you remember Ranjit Chowdhry? Was a little boy in the old Hindi movie Khatta Meetha and a few others during those Amol Palekar days. I was surprised to see him in this movie, now an old and frail man. Where was he and why did they dig him out now?

He is one of the old men and relates the Tea bag, sugar bag joke. (a restaurant staff when found cutting open the tea bag and pouring its contents into hot water was advised to immerse the bag itself. After sometime, he was found by the same man dipping the sugar packet into the water instead of cutting open the bag). Good joke but delivered poorly, you hardly notice.

There was enough room in the movie for such food talk. Indian cooking is so diverse, there are so many cuisines within the Indian cuisine, so much variety in spices used, so many different methods of processing the same combination of ingredients, stories and anecdotes behind recipes, their medicinal values, vegetarianism,...

The novelty, charm and skill of explaining, describing food and tastes in words is quite something. It is the thing that’s unique to movies abut cooking and makes them interesting.

“You can't tell about the Masala until it's in the oil, the Masala is the Symphony and the oil is the orchestra”

“The dosa texture…, It's the stone...
A griddle has a will of its own,
but with a dosa stone, you can determine the character of the dosa according to your mood”

There are some charming analogies.

“Clove and cinnamon, very opinionated, a little goes a long way”

“Turmeric, the golden spice that makes everything glow. We used to use turmeric to colour the Delhi circus”

“With Indian cooking, the recipe is like a raga. It's just a template. The important thing is the interpretation, the improvisation”

And then there are lines that are not so charming and don’t make much sense.

“Cumin is a saucy wench, gives you great pleasure but she herself is never satisfied” 
“Coriander seed like a young girl walking through a lemon grove by the ocean, what her future holds…”

“A man who measures life, never knows his own measure”

The song kabhi kabhi is playing in Mukesh’s voice when Farida, Samir’s mother meets Akbar in the restaurant kitchen. For some reason, its is so very soothing. Makes the otherwise plain scene, bearable.

Most of the recipes being finished and garnished in the chef's kitchen were vegetarian and that was a mercy. Unlike in Julie and Julia, where huge fowl and ducks are being shown stuffed with filling and stitched together. But that was a brilliant movie otherwise.

A new phrase I learnt from the movie - sous chef, pronounced as soo-shef. An assistant to the master chef, but he is the one that manages the entire kitchen’s operation.

As usual, I noted some beautiful lines.

“Hurry up the garnishing” 
“You can't hurry up a work of art”

“Told your folks about this?”
“I am waiting…”
“The last minute”

“People don't know what they want, they know what they have had”

“A person who has been in love knows he has been in love”

My favorite of all lines and the one I completely agree with from my own experience is,

Of Manhattan lights... “In a place with lights like that, any dream can come true”!


Sunday, September 09, 2018

of Hope...

The reputation of hope will distract you from the poignancy and the tragedy of it, if you aren’t thoughtful enough.

The thing about hope is, for all the high pedestal accorded to it, for all it’s glorification, for all it’s indispensability in this journey of uncertain life, hope does not live up to its reputation. Most of the time. There is too much hype abut hope.

While its easy to see that hope is anaesthetic, that it numbs you to pain, distracts you from it, its difficult to see that hope is a drug like poison that prevents you from living life fully, from reaching your full potential, because it wastes much of your precious time promising the attainment of those that are out of your reach, that were never meant to be yours.

Hope is not an unconditional good. The tragedy is, no one knows, at what stage and what point in time, to give it up and to move on. How late is too late, whether its high time or no, no one knows.
Years pass you by and that which you have been hoping for, waiting for, has drifted beyond the nether side of the horizon. What of those precious years? What of that hope that should have died but did not?

Hope makes you see signs from the universe, where there are none. Hope misleads.
Because of hope one must suffer tantalization.
There must be light at the end of the tunnel but how long the tunnel is, hope does not tell. If it were too long, I would rather light a match and discover a treasure or enjoy the stars in the dark, instead of waiting forever for that light.

Hope makes you tenacious and you cling to that silken yarn long after its has torn itself away leaving only threads and shreds between your tired and bleeding fingers.
Most of the things we hope for are like the clouds. You sight them at the horizon and your gaze follows them across the skies. You wait and wait even as they drift towards the other horizon and disappear without raining a drop.

Hoping and Moving on, belong therefore, to the same league of legendary dichotomy, as Freewill and Destiny.

Knowing all about it, it’s devious ways, it’s falsehood and flamboyance, some like me, are just not able to kill hope.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Bambi (1942)

Watched 'Bambi' on Netflix.

Made in 1942. Walt Disney production.
This must be the oldest movie I have seen, ever. It's thrills me to think about it.

It's a story of a deer in a jungle.

The movie is a visual treat of painting in pastels.

It's beautiful because of it's simplicity.
Without the sophistication of our present time, the visuals are limited to a few colours, the finish isn't photographic, smooth and seamless, but gives away the strokes of a paintbrush, in soft, dull, pastel shades, distinguishable from one another; the speed and the sounds are all simple and soothing.
It is basic and doesn't suffer from the problem of plenty.

The antagonist is man, the hunter whose gunshots are heard once or twice, but is never shown to the viewer. I mean there aren't the scary, ferocious, mean looking beasts in the negative role, nor bloody gory fights and deaths. It's easy on your nerves. It's a good choice for one of those days when you just don't have the stomach for violence, even a single streak of it and you feel like watching something soft, cute and tender.

The movie will remind you of Lion King. It begins and ends with the birth of baby deer, just as Lion King begins and ends with the birth of a lion cub. All the creatures of the forest gather from everywhere to greet the young one, just as in Lion King, they gather to pay their respects. The young one loses a parent in both movies. The young deer has a female playmate, the two become separated and meet again as adults and become lovers. Just as in Lion King.
True, every great thing of the present is what it is because it is riding on the shoulders of it's predecessors.

In 2008, the American Film Institute presented a list of its 10 top 10, the best ten films in each of ten classic American film genres. Bambi was placed third in animation.

This is the song that plays at the beginning and at the end.

Love is a song that never ends
Life may be swift and fleeting
Hope may die yet life's beautiful music
Comes each day like the dawn
Love is a song that never ends
One simple theme repeating
Like the voice of a heavenly choir
Love's sweet music flows on...


Thursday, August 30, 2018

Ujala (1959)

Watced the movie ‘Ujala’ on Netflix.
1959. Shankar Jaikishan (music), Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri (lyrics)

Being old school, I love anything that takes me back to old times, good or bad...anything that has a grounding effect on me.
And this movie had the effect of grounding me. Devoid of all pretense and ostentation, humble, simple, sincere and down to earth.
Took me back to Doordarshan, Vividh Bharati, and may be a part of my childhood…

It was a bit of a test in endurance though. Poverty, hunger, starvation, children dying. Made endearing all the more because of the simple joys of life and humour even in the midst of such threadbare existence.

Ramu (Shammi Kapoor) is the sole breadwinner of a large and poor family. He is sincere, hard working. His penury and hardships cannot move him astray to dishonest ways but the hunger of his little siblings and the burden of his old widowed mother prove too trying and for their sake, he allows himself to heed the tempting invitation from Kaalu, a blackguard, a petty thief and joins his gang. To return to his moral path but to be swayed again by a blow from destiny.
Until at last, he makes his final return to the home of honesty.

You can feel the compulsion of Ramu as you watch him surrounded by hungry siblings, a sister to be married, house owner demanding seven months rent of 14 rupees and a kid sister dying in the hospital waiting for an operation.
Just when he resolves he will quit pick pocketing, there is fresh trouble at his door, on one side and on the other, that gangster, alluring him with the ten rupees on which his life depends, for one last crime in a dark narrow alley.

As you see, with a wrench in your heart, a person beg and plead in helplessness, not for his own sake but for his kid brother crying for milk, or his sister run over by a speeding car, you rethink the qualities of self respect, self worth, self esteem and their rather exotic nature.
What would it mean to to starve your 5 year old children to uphold your lofty ideals that mean nothing to them? It would be selfish. Cruel. It would be like someone enjoying at others’ expense.
It also makes you see how easy, cheap and meaningless our own ‘self respect’ and ‘esteem’ are, in our present time.
Clearly, they are no big deal in times of financial well being and material abundance.
But how difficult and impossible they must be for those neck deep in poverty, whose only hope is the mercy of some generous soul, some kind hearted savior.

It takes a movie like this to appreciate the strength of character of those of our forefathers who tread the right path in the face of the compulsions of poverty, wretchedness and desperation.

My own grandfather walked on fire but did not stray from the path of honesty and uprightness.

The Acharya in the ashram who appeared on the scene at a crucial moment offering sixty rupees, would appear like too much of lucky coincidence, and unrealistic, if not for the fact that there really existed in those times, people of such noble nature full of lofty ideals though they would seem an oddity in these times.

The ending could have been simpler without all that circus and such far fetched extra ordinary complications.

A trivial and insignificant thing that I have to say a lot about, is the water tank, in the outskirts of the town.
The top of the tank is the bad guy Kaalu's place of dwelling. It is the scene of a scuffle between Ramu and Kaalu in the climax. Ramu falls down while crossing over to the other end of a rope that connects the tank and another building and nearly dies.
The thing is, this water tank from which a fall is supposed to be fatal is actually only about eight or ten feet tall.
It's endearing to see the gentlemanly understanding between the movie makers and the audience, the understanding that the audience will appreciate the movie makers' limited resources and will ‘get the message’, never mind the simple humble inaccurate visuals.
When today's moviemakers use all their resources and take you to Switzerland and Paris and exotic locations but there is no sincerity in their movie making, the sophistication of the visuals doesn’t matter.

A bunch of songs that I grew up listening to are now strung together by this movie.
Duniya walon se door, jalne walon se door,..
Jhoomta Mausam, Mast Maheena,…
Ho Mora Naadan balma na jaaane dil ki baat…

A beautiful song I discovered was ‘Suraj zara aa paas aa, aaj sapnon ki roti pakayenge hum’. Its poignant because its gay; a happy, children’s song, sung by Ramu to divert his little siblings’ attention from their hungry stomachs towards hope and dreams of fun foods that he promises to bring them one day. And the group of hungry children led by Ramu sprint down the streets, spring in their step, twinkle in heir eyes, singing of fun foods, roti and ghee and curry they will have one day.
Just how poignant!
It is a song of those yesteryears, of almost all households…
The very down to earth Manna Dey’s voice is tailor made for the 'threadbare' theme of the movie and particularly this song.

Another song that I hadn’t heard before was - Ab kahan jaye hum,… I must listen to it again.

Mala Sinha, ‘Chabili’ in this movie, is a cowherdess, a 'gwalan'. Double or triple chin. Awkward was her 'Rrrrraaaaaam kasam' at the beginning and end of every line. Boring exchanges between her and Shammi. The love story is hardly there. You have to believe it without seeing it.

A pocket picker had picked a 1000 rupee note from the territory of a rival gang. That reminded me of my father who had said, he had seen a 1000 rupee note those days, I forgot where...

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

To play or Not to Play

Should India play cricket with Pakistan? Or no?
Every time I hear this debate, I ask myself whether it should.
This is one of those subjects regarding which I don’t have a strong opinion, one way or the other - very rare since I usually have my confident opinion on almost every subject.
With time, some have grown, some have gone and some are born. Others have remained the same.
Those that have remained the same have grown from poorly founded to well founded. On books, movies, conversations and endless reflection.
But not on fashion. Never.
Not political correctness. No peer pressure. Never.

One of these days I decided I must develop an opinion on this subject too. Our exchange with Pakistan. And I did.

Here I am, logging it.

As long as the players, be they artists, singers, actors, painters or musicians, are individuals, and not representatives of the state, and visit us in their individual capacities, there should be no objection to cultural exchange. Oh! How I love Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, and those few gems from Adnan Sami, and what I would have missed if…

However, if they are representatives of the state, batting for their state, literally or metaphorically, which cricket players are, we must not have anything to do with them.

There goes my stand. Done.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Ladhak & Kashmir 2010 - Day 15 - Return...

It had been a journey of disillusionment. The shattering of an illusion that I would, at least this once, make my parents happy.

They didn’t like the food. ‘Everything has onion garlic in it’, they made faces before the polite gentle Ladhaki waiters in the restaurants and embarrassed the hell out of me.

They didn’t like the Buddha. ‘It is the same Buddha, the same Gompa everywhere you go’, they said, refusing to climb a few steps to some of the famed monasteries I urged them to come to.

When they did come to a few of the Gompas, it was as if they were doing me a favour. They made faces, blaming me as if, for all their exhaustion.

My mother kept clucking her tongue every time I slowed the taxi down, for a photograph.

Everyday they kept harassing me to cancel the visit to Srinagar and to make bookings to return to Delhi via the Manali bus. The valley had been in the news again.

When a young and rash driver, driving us to Nubra valley, turned nasty and uncooperative, refusing to slow down or to go to this spot or that, I told him to behave better. My dad took the driver’s side and shut me up and kept praising his efficient driving.

After ten hours of journeying to Padum in the Zanskar valley, the taxi finally stopped. I got out and went looking for the guest house owner who was not to be seen. When I returned after several minutes, they snarled at me, “How long? How much more do we have to wait?”, not mindful of the truth that I had journeyed the same distance as them, I was exhausted too.

Eager to reach the moon valley in Lamayuru before evening so I could take some pictures when it was still sunny, I begged them not to break for tea and to allow me to continue journey until we reached Lamayuru. ‘We will have as much tea as we want anywhere anytime, who the hell are you to stop us’ barked my father.

‘Any other cousin of yours would have sit their parents down and poured a cup of tea herself, look at your face in the mirror’, he taunted again that night. Yes, they would pour a cup of tea, nothing more, they would certainly not take their parents to Ladhak, I thought.

Whoever said there are ungrateful children but never unkind parents was wrong.

A few days ago, I received a whatsapp forward about happiness. It said there are four hormones which determine a human's happiness - Endorphins, Dopamine, Serotonin, and Oxytocin. When we exercise, or read or watch funny movies, the body releases Endorphins. When we accomplish many little and big tasks, it releases Dopamine; so we must set goals and achieve them. Serotonin is released when we help others - giving back to society, you know.
And Oxytocin, is released when we become close to other human beings, when we hug our friends or family.

Very easy and simple, it made it sound.

I replied to the message that the first three are in our hands, sure, but Oxytocin is pure destiny.

Because there are some people who exist solely to resent and disapprove of others. When you go to them and hug them, they will whiplash you. And if you have very bad karma on your head, you will be born to two of these people.

There was curfew in parts of Srinagar. Our taxi ride to the airport was uneventful. At security, my nail-cutter was taken away, my father had to give up a bunch of bananas. Srinagar was special.

The Delhi airport surprised me. There were pigeons inside walking all over the lounge, perched up on the beams, I don’t think I saw them flapping wings though…

It was a quiet and bland journey back to Bangalore.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Ladhak & Kashmir 2010 - Day 14 - Srinagar - Sights on the way back...

On the way back, the auto stopped at a garment shop and I purchased 2 salwar kameez material with Kashmiri embroidery. One black and one cream. The salesman said it would be 500 less without the bill or the sales copy. I said I wanted the bill.

As we came down, and met our father who had been waiting downstairs, my mother promptly reported what I had done with her usual ‘smile of the invalid’ on her face. And he yelled at me like a madman. Which Kashmiri pays tax to the government? What difference does a bill make???

I refused to get into the auto with them. And started walking back to the hotel. Soon as I sighted that beautiful road flanked on both sides by walls of poplar, there was a change of mood.

I turned left and walked on that street taking pictures. I walked back not having the courage to continue on that desolate. I got into a Shikara and sailed back to the banks by my hotel. I remember reclining completely on the bed, one foot raking the water surface. But before i had let go, I had taken some last pictures of the Shankaracharya temple, the TV tower and the dal lake. It was goodbye Kashmir, until next time.