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.

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Rupees To Dollars

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Ok the Mother India posters are a bit too much but thats the image that comes to mind. So let me elaborate on what’s brewing in my head!  

Recently, I was talking to friend of mine and the topic about how far we have come in life came about. We talked about how life has changed over the years. Much after the conversation was over, it lingered within me.  It has been twenty years since I left my home country and moved to the land of golden opportunities. Opportunities were many and the outcome was golden but looking back at the journey, I realized it was not easy at all. Every aspect was an uphill task and it took a lot of endurance and determination from all of us to get to a cruising level.

All about relationships: When I first moved west, I did not know anyone, no family and no friends. Everyone I knew and relationships that were built over the last 20 years had to be left behind. In this new country, everyone was alien. Not having a job was another impediment, since there was no place to actually go out and meet people. Then slowly people trickled into our lives, a friend who introduced us to a friend of theirs and they inturn introducing us to two more, so on and so forth. We latched on to every one of them and tried to fit in. We cooked, we hosted, we played, we talked, we partied, just to have some people to talk to. The perseverance paid off, slowly we built our own little family here. Our kids played and grew up together. We helped each other out in times of need and fought with each other too just like families do!

Where the time went: We had a lot of time for each other the first few years. There was nothing much to do. So our evenings were dedicated to reruns of ‘Married with children’ or ‘Seinfeld’. I also can own up to unashamedly spending my afternoons glued to ‘The bold and the beautiful’ and ‘The young and the restless’. I remember waiting for him to come home from work so I could tell him about all the new developments in those soaps. Then one day I realized everyone on the show had slept with everybody and that I had turned into a couch-potato with a soap addiction, I decided to call it quits!! And that truly was the end of it and I never looked back again! But the point is that, it was lonely. There were not many places to go to and not much money to be frivolous.

The part about money: Yes, we started out with none. It was not an easy path. I remember that right before I moved here, he asked me if I would like an apartment with a washer-dryer in the house or a common one. I distinctly remember not even understanding what he meant and wondering, why on earth would I want to go wash clothes in a common place. He of course got us an apartment with the washer/dryer and it was only after I moved in that I realized we were paying a small fortune to have that luxury! We had to think about everything twice. We wrote budgets, planned where the money went and what we could afford. K-Mart was our answer to everything. The cheapest most affordable store. I remember that we went to restaurants/movies once  in 4-5 months. We just couldn’t afford to be frivolous. Slowly, we grew. We worked hard, saved and survived. It took us about a year to just furnish the apartment. But it taught us the value of money. Life was definitely simple with real problems.

Today when I look back, I think we did good. Our kids have everything they want today but I wonder if they realize all the sweat and toil that went into us getting where we are today. What they take for granted today was out of reach for us a decade back.

So the big question I am stuck with right now is this: Should we as parents make our kids also earn their money to teach them its value or just be parents and give them what we didn’t have so they don’t have to face the same hardships? Someone once told me, if you get your kids to enjoy all the luxuries of life, they will get so used to it that they will aim big and make sure they at least get what they are used to, if not more! While I do feel like Mother India and I am sure he feels like Father India, do we really want our kids to experience those days? I don’t think so! This was our journey and we crossed it. I am sure they will have their own journeys to make. 

Inked!

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Call it craziness, a crisis or a dare to myself. I wanted a tattoo. Yes, the permanent, non-removable, needle piercing, painful kind. It took me two years after the initial thought invaded my mind to actually get it. Over the period of two years, I did a lot of research, spoke to people, drew tattoos on my body with permanent marker to see how I feel about it and looked up symbols that I could use.

The first time I really came close to getting a tattoo was when I was on a vacation with my family and friends. A friend who was a tattoo veteran with a prior tattoo wanted her second one and so she motivated me to get my first. We went around looking for a place to get our tattoo but unfortunately the place was closed for that weekend.

Having come that close to getting a tattoo, I knew I had to get one soon. So I spent time reviewing places close to my house where I could get a good one. Since I have extremely sensitive skin, I had to find a place that used natural products, would be careful with their art and be patient with me. I did find such a place which had good reviews. My friend was in too and we both decided to get one soon.

My next step was to make an appointment. To my shock, when I called them, they said I would have to go in person to make an appointment and also pay a deposit. I instantly liked them! They seemed very professional. So on my way home that evening, I stopped at their place and made the appointment for the following day.

The final step, in preparation was to actually decide on the tattoo I wanted to get. So after much thinking, I decided to go with four stars; one for my hubby, one each for my sons and the last one for all the people who have made a big impact on my life. I signed it off with three dots which is my signature to pretty much everything I do!

The day finally came and I woke up feeling excited, scared and apprehensive. I was worried about the level of pain I was going to experience. We reached the place and soon enough I found myself on the chair with my wrist laid out in front of him. It was ready to be prodded, pricked and inked. Did I tell you I took my son along for encouragement?!

After reaching there, it was a a long process of explaining the design, the artist creating a stencil and applying it to my skin. So the longer it took, the more antsy I got and there was a point when I was ready to bolt. Fear or ridicule for chickening out was the only reason I stayed. Finally, the artist was ready and I was in his parlor with my arm stretched out.

Steve, my tattoo artist pulled out all the tools required for the work. First came out a drill machine kind of tool, next came the needle. I almost passed out looking at the needle. It was about 6 inches long and pretty sharp! I looked at Steve and said, “Why can’t you put some topical anesthetic and then start poking the needle?”. He smiled at me and very seriously said, “Sashi, you have to earn the tattoo, its not for everyone.” Okay! So I wondered what I did to earn this pain. But I wanted it. I guess the want was enough to earn it.

He turned on the drill and dipped the needle in the ink. The hum of the drill, bore into my nerves and I almost panicked even before the needle touched my skin. He said I could look away if it scares me but I wanted to watch the needle do its work. And then I felt it. Almost like a needle scratching my skin, nothing more than that. I realized I had stopped breathing. I let go of all my apprehensions. It was not bad at all. Some stars hurt more than the others but I guess it was a part of the soul behind the tattoos.

Twenty minutes later, I was the proud owner of a tattoo. I felt elated, free and accomplished. Yes, its just a tattoo. But you gotta get one to know one.

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Bajranji Bhaijaan: Being Human

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Bajrangi Bhaijaan is a sheer pleasure to watch, from the first frame to the last. The first ten minutes of the movie and the last thirty are all it takes to convince anyone that the money paid and time spent was well worth it. The movie uses a good dose of comedy to teach us a few lessons in secularism and tolerance for cultures. Many superstitions and prejudices are slowly broken and delivered to the audience with a smile. The movie truly shows what it means to be a human. ‘Being Human’ is all that is needed to make this world a peaceful place to live in.

Salman Khan as usual delivers with style. The honesty and earnestness with which he portrays his character, immediately has the audience rooting for Bajrangi all through. Special mention has to be made about his willingness to share the screen space with a six-year old. The two make a fantastic couple and their onscreen chemistry is very endearing.

On the other hand, Kareena Kapoor Khan hugely disappoints. Neither is the role meaty enough nor is her glamour quotient high. She fails to impress us in any area. The makeup looks atrocious and she is made to look like a starving raccoon all through. The zero size is not impressive anymore.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui delivers once more with another short but powerful performance. He is a born actor and the ease with which he slips into his role is commendable. He shows his comic side in this movie and instantly connects with one and all.

Finally, the real star of the movie is Harshaali Malhotra. Yes, she is just six-years old and she plays a mute child but then thats what makes her performance even more powerful. She can give any star a run for their money. The movie completely belongs to her. The way she emotes in the entire movie, is so natural and perfect. The one scene I would like to mention that is oscar worthy is the one towards the end as she runs, with Nawazuddin chasing her with a camera. Just watch the emotions on her face as it goes through myriad changes. That one scene can convince you of her stunning performance. And then let me not even start about how absolutely adorable she looks in every frame!

The first half of the movie completely unfolds as a Salman Khan Films movie, with the usual, dance, fights and comedy but the second half of the movie has the Kabir Khan Films stamp all over it. The second half is where Kabir Khan weaves his usual magic and shows what he is best at. The cinematography is spectacular with Punjab and Kashmir being presented in breathtaking shots, frame after frame. Pakistan has been shown in a good light and once again we realize that the enmity between the counties is mostly media created. The people on the other side are just like us. There are many bad ones and a few good ones. Just like the rest of the world.

The only area the movie fails in is the music. Not many songs stay with you once the movie is over. Adnan Sami’s sufi rendition being the only song worth mentioning. The chicken song is very different and stands out from the rest. It is a fun song with a foot tapping track. The rest just stay with you as long as the track runs.

On the whole, the movie constantly moves you to tears, either with the rib tickling comedy or the emotional strings it tugs at in scene after scene. Looking around me there was not a dry eye in the theatre by the time the credits start rolling. Once again Salman Khan has delivered. What a great way to say ‘Eid Mubarak’ to all his fans.

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Moment Of Metamorphosis

They say growing old is mandatory but growing up is optional. So when does one actually ‘feel’ grown up. Is it that moment when you realize Santa Claus and tooth fairies are a myth? Or when you find out Shaggy is a weed  smoking hippie that talked to a dog and ate all day? Or when you realize Bert and Arnie might be gay?  Or when you realize teenage life was much easier than leading a life full of responsibility?

It hits everyone at different times of their life…or in some cases, not at all!

Thinking about it seriously, there are some milestones to cross to get to that point when you have truly realized that life has changed for you. A change that has made you stronger and better than who you were. The hardest part of growing up is letting go of what you were used to; and moving on with something you are not.

There are some tell-tale signs that experiences bring forth that show us how much we have changed over time:

  • Life makes you stronger and you realize one day that you are strong enough to let go of your friends. You don’t need to cling to them or identify with them for everything.
  • The day comes when you stop chasing girls/boys and start chasing your dreams. When you know you have a dream and are passionate about making it come true.
  • When you realize your ‘gut’ is your true friend. Because it’s the only one that knows you, understands you and will give tailored advice for you.
  • The day  when you stop thinking about who you are, who you should be and just enjoy being ‘you’. It’s about not needing anyone to tell you how good you are, because you already know you are awesome.
  • To be courageous enough to love or tell someone you love them and not worry about getting it back.
  • You also develop a higher level of empathy towards all people around you. So much that you can listen to all sides of the story and empathize with them.
  • Then the day comes when you realize, being selfish is a good thing. Because you know now that unless you take care of yourself first, you can never take care of anyone else.
  • Learning to use social media for what it was meant; to socialize. To not use it to seek attention or gossip about others.
  • Knowing what your passions in life are and making an effort to follow that dream. To take time to pursue it everyday and feel that inward satisfaction.
  • You realize that you are strong now so you don’t have to stay and fight every little fight and argument. You choose to keep your dignity and walk away, with your head held high rather than fling insults and lower yourself to their level. You know you don’t have to prove yourself to anybody.
  • When it dawns on you that when you cry, you cry alone. Only you can wipe your tears, pick yourself up, and move on.
  • When you realize that as you grow up, you find out who you are and what you want and the friends who you have known forever don’t see things the way you do. So you keep the wonderful memories but you find yourself moving on.
  • And finally, when you are able to look back at your past and realize there are a number of things you would have done differently… if only you were grown up!

So where do you think you are? Or like Rugrats would say, “Are you all growed up?”

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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. 

  

Laws Of Attraction

Recently I watched a documentary that claimed to have the secret to  having a life that one wants. It was a very simple secret, something which most know but don’t apply it or don’t believe in. It talked about how your positive thoughts have the power to attract a positive world around you and likewise, negative thoughts would cause bad things to happen to you. In short, you will attract what you are feeling right now.

Whatever happens to you is because it’s what you wanted. It maybe something you really don’t need but by thinking about it constantly, you are willing it to happen. So if you think you are going to fail in an exam, you will because thats the kind of energy you are creating around you. If you think you will get a promotion, because you deserve it and you start feeling good about it, you will get that promotion. That positivity will make it happen. You even reading this blog is because something in you attracted you to this. There is a message here that you needed to read.

A few weeks ago, I remember watching an episode on Seinfeld which talked about how everything evens out for Jerry. He loses 10 dollars and he finds 10, he gets dumped by a girlfriend and another comes by. So I was wondering if that is true for everyone. During that week, I had ordered a pair of uggs and when they got delivered, it turned out to be a tad too tight. The store wouldn’t take it back since it was from the clearance rack. So while I was wondering how to even out my loss of over 200 dollars, the universe played its role. A friend bought those shoes from me for 50% of the price, I found a $100 note in a forgotten old bag and I got a $100 check from my college because someone joined from my recommendation! So in just a weeks time, I had evened out, actually profiting from what I thought was couple of hundred down the drain.

So how do we attract this positive energy? Here is a simple step by step process:

  1. Relax your mind and body: Meditate for a few minutes and just focus on your breathing.
  2. Write down what you want: As silly as it sounds, take a pen and actually write down in your neatest handwriting, what you actually want. If you are clear in your thoughts, the universe will also be able to understand your needs and will grant it easily.
  3. Ask the universe: Think of the universe as a ‘Miracle lamp’ that can be rubbed many times and will grant you infinite wishes. So ask. If you want a car, visualize yourself in that car driving it. If you want love, visualize being with that person and enjoying happy moments.
  4. Write a thank you note: Thank the universe for granting you the wish, even though you haven’t received it yet. Imagine you have it and are enjoying it. Express your gratitude.
  5. Feel it: This is the most powerful step. You have to actually feel and believe you have what you wanted. This is the one step that will generate that power to grant you what you want.
  6. Show gratitude: Think of all those past issues you had a few months ago that brought you down but now is non-existent. Thank the universe for removing those obstacles. Motivate it to give you more.
  7. Keep faith: This is the most difficult of all. Trust that the universe is going to grant you your wish. If you question it at any point, you are again attracting negative energy. Your wish might be granted in a day or a week or a month, you have to keep faith regardless.
  8. Be happy: Remove the negative people in your life. Let go of the ones that make you unhappy. Start your day with happy thoughts. Read a funny joke. Watch funny movies. Stay away from stuff that depresses you.
  9. Make a collage: Create a visual of everything you want and look at it everyday. Cut out pictures from magazines or photographs of what you want. Make that your motivation.
  10. A pocket full of happiness:  Store a pocket full of happy memories and whenever you sense a negative thought creeping close, pull a happy thought out. Drive the negativity away. Do fun things. Sing a song, paint a picture, play with your pet, look at happy people, etc. (Look at the pictures below)

These are some simple guidelines to train yourself to get the universe to work for you. If you have had recent moments of euphoria, think about it as much as you can, in as much detail as you can. You will attract more such episodes into your life. If you constantly think about the failures in life, you are inviting more such misery into your life. Use positive words and phrases. Avoid negations. Instead of saying, “I don’t want to get sick” say, “I am healthy and happy”.

So try this mantra. Make a wish for what you want and actually see it happen. These are the laws of attraction. It’s a science and it will happen!

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