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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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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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.