The Power Of Staying In Control

 

I woke up this morning to a chat with a friend in Chennai about the magnum opus ‘Baahubali – The conclusion’ that was recently released. He started by telling me how magnificent the movie was. He then proceeded to tell me that there was some technical difficulties and they did not play the second half of the movie. Needless to say, riots broke out in the theatre, the screen was torn, seats were ripped and theatre trashed! I was truly shocked and disturbed.

How can educated people in this age and time behave like this? More alarming was the fact that he tried to convince me what he did was right. Reason being that they had paid for the movie, and the theatre owners did not inform them of what was going on. My only argument was; if the movie could have been played, wouldn’t they have? There is no reason why anyone in their right mind would stop a movie midway to incur the wrath of the patrons. Obviously there were technical difficulties which they were unable to resolve and they were working on it. There was also a lack of communication protocol that has to be followed in such emergency situations. But nothing can condone trashing a theatre for an unexpected error. The producers still made their money and got away but the theatre owners who have paid huge amounts of money to bring this piece of entertainment to you has been made to incur a huge loss that he may never recover from. The other hundreds of people employed by the theatre will also go jobless until the theatre is fixed and up on its feet again. Was the release of the anger worth this much of financial loss? Was there no real solution to this?

Yesterday, at my school, following the usual protocol we had a fire drill. The alarm was pulled, classrooms were evacuated, students counted, and the teachers were asked to take the students back to the classrooms. But there was a glitch. Much to our annoyance we couldn’t turn off the fire alarm. It was was still blaring all over the school! We tried every trick possible, called a bunch of technical people, and everyone worked fervently to get it fixed. Meanwhile, I asked the secretary if the phones were ringing off the hook from teachers demanding to know what was going on, especially since we had many special education students for whom the blaring sound would have been a problem. She said: None! I was truly surprised. After about 15 -20 minutes of no success, I shot out an email to staff, telling them we were working on fixing it. Eventually we did fix it, but that’s not my point. Later on the union leader stopped by and we asked her if the staff got restless about the alarm situation and if she got any complaints. She said, “Not at all, we knew you would be working on it. Why on earth would you put us through that pain?” Yes, it’s obvious but it made me happy that they were so patient.

Going back to the Chennai incident, I was truly shocked that people took it to that level. This a state that is constantly screaming that it is ignored by the centre and as much as they try to intervene, it is the people that impede the progress of the state. It is time people take charge of matters into their own hands and turn things around. People need to realize how much power they have, especially the youth. There are many countries wherein the youth have taken charge and are turning things around. India now has a prime minister who is so supportive of positive change and is a huge inspiration that one person can make difference. A few months back, it was the youth who showed their unity at Marina beach and put up a united front and forced people to give attention to some issues. Sadly, the message was again lost and misused.  Tamil Nadu is a state that has produced the most brilliant minds of the century and if they put their minds together, I am sure they can revolutionize the state of affairs much beyond a technical error at a movie screening. Chennai is an example of just one incident but people do need to wake up in general and start taking more responsibility and be aware of the decisions they make.  Exercise that power of control; sometimes it can make a bigger statement than actually losing it!

 

Dear Zindagi: It’s not so complicated

This is not another movie review from me. Let’s just call it a review of my thoughts post watching a movie! The movie in focus here is the latest offering from Gowri Shinde; Dear Zindagi. I will not go into much details about the movie but I will sum it up by just saying that it forces you take some time and look at the youth today and somewhere you might end up connecting with your own youth. There are a few moments from the movie that sparked some discussion within me and my family. One of my kids loved the movie and the other didn’t. The spouse would have much preferred a song-dance-fight routine. Nevertheless, the ride back from the movie was not silent. There were questions flying around from everyone, spouse included and any movie that can spark an animated conversation, in my eyes is worth a thousand stars!

Some salient points from the movie that we were teased into discussing were as follows:

  1. Only 2% of the world is good looking and it’s important to have a good looking face to look at when you wake up. A friend and I were discussing the movie and we were arguing if that was a shallow thought. But the truth is that’s how the world functions. Looks are important. If you have the looks, the initial path is made easy, sustainability is completely a different ball game and that is where substance matters. But if you already have the looks, your first impression is a cake walk, the red carpet has already been rolled out. All you have to do is walk without tripping!
  2. If you do not hesitate to go to a doctor for a physical ailment, why hesitate when you have a mental ailment. This is something society has still not come to terms with. How easy it is to tell someone, I am going to see the doctor for a colonoscopy or a pap-smear but how often do we hear someone say, ‘I am going to see a doctor because I have anxiety and depression or anger management’. Nil. It is still considered a taboo topic. The truth is it’s a rough complicated world out there. People live in a nuclear world. We bond with ourselves. We keep others away. We carry many burdens and we have no time to share it with others. Result: Utter chaos in the mind! It needs help and it’s important to recognise that need and handle it accordingly.
  3. The inability to express our true feelings. The lack of expression. I am going cultural here. In the south asian culture, it is not considered prudent to express your feelings. Its an unsaid, untaught rule that you should keep your feelings in. Do not show your anger, even if you are burning inside. Do not laugh loud. It should be subtle and sweet. Do not hit anyone even if they deserved it. Do not…do not…do not lose control. End result: Botoxed faces! You learn not to share your true feelings. You fail to express your love, or anger or disgust in a timely manner until it’s too late and everything explodes!
  4. Why look to one person to fulfil all your needs. Really why? Let’s take our body for example, you eat carrots so you can see better, fibre to poop easy, okra to grow some brains, onions to keep the testosterone up (breath mints a must!), Spinach to keep the blood clean…so on and so forth. So when we use so many different foods to supplement our body needs, why do we look for all qualities in one person. Why burden him or her so much? They are not made to order, they are what they are even before you met them. Don’t try to change that. One person alone cannot be handsome (remember only 2%), be humorous, be sensitive, be courageous, be an intellectual, be polished, be rich and so on. Manage your expectations. The result will be a fairly simplified life.
  5. All tough paths are not always the right paths. Somehow we are trained to think that life is supposed to be difficult. The easy paths are wrong and the difficult ones are right. Not at all. Not everyone wants to swim across the dead sea with salt stinging their bodies to make a point. Some just sit behind their laptop, write a blog (like me!) and feel satisfied they did their piece for the world. I am totally using Dr. Khan’s words here because I can’t say it any better than him. Sometimes it’s not necessary to chose the difficult path, especially when you are not ready. Why set yourself up for failure. Take the easy path, grow, learn, toughen-up and then take the tough path. You will have a better chance at success.

These are some of the churning thoughts that we were discussing. In talking with the kids, I told them an important takeaway for life. The importance of self-awareness and communication. You can easily tell when your head hurts but you need self-awareness to realize your heart hurts. The reasons can be many and not important right now but accepting and respecting those feelings is extremely important. Do not ignore it or push it away. Treat it as you would a physical pain. Once you recognize it, the most important final step is communication. Yes, talk about it! Choose your person but choose someone who will make you feel better not worse. Someone who can tell you there is an issue without judging you. And when you find that person amongst the other 98%, treasure them. They are hard to come by. In fact statistics says that, in a lifetime you will only meet one or two (if you are extremely lucky) such people. Just learn to communicate your thoughts and feelings, clearly and in a timely manner. Not just to that friend but also to the person who is the cause of those feelings. This will help mitigate any future arising issues and nip the molehill from becoming a mountain.

Yes, life is not easy. But there is no need to complicate it any more than it already is. I have a favorite quote, ‘You live life only once and if you live it right, once is more than enough’. So celebrate what you have, exhale, just smile and say hello to life itself.

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Ae Dil Hai Mushkil: A tale of unrequited love

Love. It is the most written about topic. It is what most movies are made about, especially Indian movies. A love that wins and a love that fails. Stories depict characters falling in love, going through hurdles and either surviving to tell the story or not so someone else can tell the story. But that is not the reality that most people experience. Most people fall in love, feel that tug in their heart but don’t confess to it. They love silently, from a distance. Most people hold it in their heart forever and just move on. Then there are another set of people who manage to confess their love but turns out it’s one-sided. The latter two is what really happens in the world out there.

‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ celebrates this one-sided love. The theme of the story is unrequited love and its power. Millions of common people will identify with it because that’s what love is about; broken promises, broken hearts, weaknesses, anger, madness and a lot of solitude. If you ever fell in love, even if it was brief, you are bound to identify with atleast one of the characters in the movie. The nostalgia and melancholy will set in and tug at your own heart until all those memories come flooding back.

The movie shows you the power of loving alone. Shows you that you are not alone as long as you have your love with you and not really needing the person to be with you. If you are looking for a feel good movie, this is not for you. This is a movie that shows what mature love looks like. Karan Johar has come out of his comfort zone of candy floss pink romances and embraced a more realistic greyed aspect of love. He manages not to succumb to dictated plot lines of love that wins. Instead his movie celebrates love failing again and again.

The lead pair, Anushka and Ranbir have done a fabulous job. They have truly matured in their acting. Anushka looks beautiful and Ranbir has managed to give a subdued but powerful performance without the histrionics of Ved in ‘Tamasha’. Aishwarya as usual looks artificial and lacks the depth and passion the other actors are able to portray, especially relevant because her role is all about passion and she fails to scorch the screen. Fawad has a brief role but leaves an impact.

What kills the movie is the pace. Although important, Karan takes a long time to develop the characters and you are left waiting for the story to begin until you realize there is none. You have to view it just as pages from an incomplete diary. The last fifteen minutes of the movie is also a spoiler. Karan could have done without that bit. He stepped away from realism and ended it on a melodramatic twist that was just not needed.

The music and dialogues are definitely a plus. Channa mereya is a personal favorite, along with Bulleya and the Break-up song. Being a lyricist the title song is the best with lyrics so profound that every line speaks volumes. One such being ‘Mujhe aasmati hai teri kami’.

Few other dialogues from the movie worth thinking about are:

Boyfriends na filmon ki tarah hote hai … kuch time pass toh kuch blockbusters

Rishtey ke alava aur bhi rishtey hote hai

Love teda hai … lekin us tede love mein bhi sukoon paana sirf kuch logon ko aata hai

Pyar mein junoon hai par dosti mein sukoon hai

Kisi ne kabhi aapko suddenly chaata mara hai … phaat … us chaante ko ishq kehte hai … aur woh chaanta aur zor se padta hai jab koi teesra aa jaata hai

Main kisi ki zaroorat nahi … khwaish banna chahti hoon

Aasaan hai kya aisi mohabbat karna … jiske badle mohabbat na mile

Mohabbat karna hamare bas mein nahi hai … us mohabbat se door chale jaana … woh hamare bas mein hai

Ek tarfa pyar ki taqat hi kuch aur hoti hai … auron ke rishton ki tarah yeh do logon mein nahi bat’ti … sirf mera haq hai ispe

Finally, the movie leaves you with the question, would you sacrifice the peace of friendship for the madness of love? Love can be tough. Can you handle it?

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Spectre

007 is back! Spectre shows you what Bond is all about, the cars, the chases, adrenaline pumping action and picturesque locations. Having grown up on the Connery and Moore kind of Bond movies, I often wished they would bring that era and style back. Sam Mendes does that in his final film. He manages to bring back the old fashioned action packed film and also a style that is more representing of today.

The first few minutes of the movie is what gives you a sense of the experience the next two and a half hours will take you through. So even before the opening credits roll, you are hooked. The movie begins with a scene that looks like a moving painting, that shows what Mexico is all about; the vibrance, the culture and the celebrations in some  panoramic breathtaking shots. The celebration is rudely interrupted and your attention is captivated by the first building blowup of the movie and a chase on the streets of Mexico that ensues. Finally what makes it worth the money you paid for, is the fight on the helicopter. Amazingly shot with the day of the dead parade going on below, a fight in an out of control chopper above and nail-biting action that pushes you to the edge of your seat, the movie continues. It everything Bond movies have come to represent: sexy, thrilling, action and suspense.

Another captivating sequence in the movie is the car chase. The villain’s Jaguar C-X75 chasing Bond’s Aston Martin DB10 around the midnight streets of Rome makes for a spectacular chase scene that keeps you riveted. The eye-gouging villain driving the Jaguar makes the chase even more gripping. Of course, you find yourself swallowing the lump in your throat when you watch the Aston Martin sink under water.

Talking about the characters, Lea Seydoux manages to leave a mark as a Bond girl although she doesn’t have much to do. Craig as always delivers with style but looks a tad too worn out and tired. The one person though that is thoroughly missed in the movie is the beloved Dame Judi Dench as M. Ralph Fiennes just does not do justice to the role. In fact he looks like he might change sides at any moment and become the villainous character that he looks like. Christoper Waltz sends some shivers down the spine but the role could have been developed better. He is just not cold and sinister enough to be the antagonist, and sometimes even manages to look comical.

Sam Mendes’ story borrows heavily from Craig’s past movies and this almost comes across at a part two to his own Skyfall. By keeping the antagonist alive, there is a hint that he is to continue in the future storylines.

All in all its a good watch and you come out definitely feeling you watched a Bond film! Beautiful women, good locales, nail biting action, fast cars and a handsome Bond.

Dil Dhadakne Do …and it surely does!

This movie is a buffet of emotions. It caters to one and all, with its very relatable characters and stories. The director Zoya Akhtar has done a great job bringing an entire society of people together…on a cruise ship. The ship serves as a bowl, where in the director mixes up the characters, adds her spices and doles it out to the eager audience. 

The story is something most people would relate to. Nothing new and totally predictable. What makes it interesting is the fact that there is no pretense of making it anything but normal. There is nothing unexpected and the audience is always a step ahead and knows where the story is headed but the way the scenes have been treated is a treat to watch. The story is about a dysfunctional family that looks perfect on the outside. It’s about a society where money is all that matters. A story where relationships are made and broken like a business deal. A story where a progressive society is just about dressing and partying, but is still ancient when it talks about fairness and equal rights.

The characters in the movie are again a treat to watch on screen.  Let’s start with Anil Kapoor who has done an amazing job as a shrewd businessman but who has no idea how to be a dad. His new look in the movie matches up to the character very well. Shefali Shah as the mother, delivers another brilliant performance as the sometimes caring, sometimes gossiping, sometimes cold and sometimes broken character. Her eyes speak all the emotions that her character goes through. Anushka has a brief role but manages to shine in the bit, although her role could have been completely done away with. Even briefer is Farhan Akhtars role but he is dashing as ever and does not disappoint one bit. The two actors though who are a surprise package are Priyanka Chopra and Ranveer Singh. They were always good actors but the level of maturity and their controlled performance in this movie shows their growth as confident actors. They shine in every scene and appear extremely secure and confident in every frame. They look great, act great and deliver a perfect 10! Notice the two-minute dance that Priyanka partners with Anushka and one can feel the electric presence of the star. It is impossible to take your eyes off Priyanka. The way she conveys her strength and weakness together is amazing. One one side she is this entrepreneur who runs a successful business and on the other handshe is this vulnerable wife and daughter. As Farhan sums it up by asking her how a woman so smart in life can be so stupid in love. 

This could have been an amazing movie if the script was a little tighter. There are some scenes and story lines that only added to the length of the movie. Also it was not necessary to turn every emotional scene into a comedy. The movie is kept light and funny throughout but sometimes even when seriousness is required the story lines turn comic and you feel cheated that for a moment you felt emotional for nothing. 

On the whole, Dil Dhadakne Do definitely makes your heart beat. It’s a feel good movie that very subtly brings a lot of family issues to the forefront and forces you to think. Makes you question yourself if we have really moved forward as a society or is it all a sham that hides behind the glitz and money. It’s definitely a movie worth watching and then to ponder a bit about how far you have come in your own growth as a person. 

  

Review: Two States

Is love enough to start off a happy life? Or better said in the ancient Hindi proverb “Jab miya biwi raazi tho kya karega kaazi!” (If the bride and groom agree then what can anyone do to stop them) Well the ‘kaazi’ plays a very important role in this movie 😉

 

This is the tag line the movie rests itself on. It is a movie that a south Asian audience can particularly appreciate because, we know…that just love between a boy and a girl is not enough! Chetan Bhagat’s semi-autobiographical story of how he tried to bridge the cultural divide between two families, as he sets out to marry his college sweetheart is the basic premise of the movie.

The movie reiterates how a south Asian marriage is not just a marriage between individuals but a marriage between families. It’s important for a bride’s parents to like the groom, vice versa and for the respective families to like each other too. The south Asian parents wield too much power in making the right choice for their sons or daughters and when this power is threatened in the form of the kids making their own decisions, it is taken as a defiance of authority.

The male protagonist Krish(Arjun Kapoor) and his counterpart Ananya(Alia Bhatt) too break away from the mold of arranged marriages and make a choice of being with each other. Only problem is that he is a Punjabi and she a Madrasi. So the two worlds collide, along with the people, feelings, customs, traditions and culture. Both do their part in bringing the worlds together but it’s not an easy task. The most endearing moment in the movie is Krish making his ‘intent-to-wed’ pitch to Ananya’s family in a restaurant. Very original! The movie exposes the various differences in cultures very neatly without stereotyping it too much or hurting the sentiments of any particular community. The message is sent across in a subtle and comedic manner that’s not so hard to accept.

The movie by itself, reminds you of the previous movie from the same production (Dharma productions) house ‘Hansee toh phansee’. The emotions in the movie are same and you do get a sense of Déjà vu as the reel unrolls. The editing slacks in some places, especially in the mid-parts of the first and second half. One would be tempted to press the fast forward button if it was being watched on DVD at home. The songs don’t add much to the movie and in some places seem like a distraction. Some go unnoticeable as they are played in the background. The most endearing song is the one picturized on Revathy for many reasons and you need to watch it to feel it! The story though seems under developed in certain parts, especially the track between Krish and his dad, or the problems between the Malhotra couple itself. There are quite a few loose strings in the screenplay.

About the cast, Arjun seems more like a brooding south Indian than a bubbling Punjabi, so the stereotype fails right there, especially since Alia is depicted as a fair, bubbly and strong girl. Arjun looks depressed and somber all through the movie. Alia walks away with all the accolades for her performance. The power performances of the movie also come from the parents of the bride and the groom. Amrita Singh particularly rocks it in a super ‘Mard’ role!

In a nutshell, the movie is like a yo-yo. Some good parts but just when you think its going good, the story turns bland and seems never ending and when you get too fidgety, it picks up and engrosses you again. Definitely worth a watch in a home theater but nothing more than that. You won’t be bored but it is not something that would stay with you after the credits start rolling.

The movie does leave you in two states of mind….like it? or not??!!

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Review: Shaadi ke side effects

1. Lies are an important part of a successful marriage.
2. It’s a good idea to lead two lives simultaneously; one with your family and the other with yourself, just to keep from going insane.
3. You have to have a strategy in place for any road block that might come across in married life. Planning is key.
4. A man should say sorry if he is wrong and say it more sincerely if his wife is wrong.
Now This is the premise the movie begins with.
Shaadi ke side effects  is more like a documentary than a movie. It is like a five paragraph persuasive essay about the pros and cons of being in a marriage. It starts with an introduction to what marriage is all about. Then quickly moves into what the husband does to keep the wife happy and marriage running. Continues with all the things that goes wrong with the marriage. Onwards to what a man can do to keep himself from going insane and keeping his marriage intact. Finally, ending with why his fool brained ideas didn’t work…realizations…repentance and acceptance.

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What works for the movie is the characters that are very real and believable. Farhan as Sid, as usual is amazing and sincere in his work. His lean boyish frame looks a tad too young for Balan as Trisha. On the other hand, in terms of physical attributes, this role seems to be a continuation of the ‘Kahani’ role for her. She looks like she has just delivered and is seen in the movie with post-pregnancy weight. Not to mention her outfits in the movie which are nothing less than atrocious. I digress. I was talking about what works. Among other things are the jokes that are evoked as the characters go through their learning as wannabe parents and later as new parents. The struggles Sid and Trisha go through are moments I’m sure all parents would relate to. Especially endearing is Sids plea for help to the audience to decipher his babies cries!
What does not work? Well, many but the most important being that the movie entirely is from a mans point of view. When you are going to talk about marriage, it’s a no brainer that it should be about both participants. Marriage is not about an individual but about two people. The way the problems/conflicts were outlined was good but the attempt at conflict resolution is feeble and watery. The ending in particular is pathetic. Oh, and the lack of a plot also stands in the way of trying to make sense of it all.

Vir Das and Illa Arun have been used well in the story but one cannot understand, why Rati Agnihotri choose to do the role. The music is not well placed, in fact it hinders the narration, considering it is a documentary. By itself, there are a couple of foot tapping numbers and the rest forgettable.
One thing I do agree with Trisha is that, there is a right side and wrong side to a towel, dammit!!

The premise the movie ends with is:

1. Be honest always with your partner for a successful marriage.
2. Talk to each other about your feelings openly.
3. What goes around comes around! (Oh ya!)

The side effects that you might experience while watching the movie are yawning, drowsiness, itchy fingers from wanting to fast forward certain parts, body aches from suddenly realizing the seats might be uncomfortable, headache and nausea. The few laughs that you get throughout the movie may not be worth the side effects you might get. This medicine can be best avoided.