Sunday, October 22, 2017

SECRET SUPERSTAR (2017) - HINDI

A film with good intentions and executed well.


There are a lot of films with a similar theme and they also end predictably but only few capture a place in our hearts and this film is one the heart capturing film. The content, the context, and the conflict are all on predictable lines yet the performances are heart winning and the girl Zaira Wasim has conquered mine. This is a superb follow up to her performance in "Dangal" and I sincerely thank Aamir Khan for giving us another heartful film. 

Aamir Khan is the only actor in the Hindi Film Industry who gives extreme importance to content before producing them. I must say, since Lagaan, I have watched each one of his productions and barring "Delhi Belly" I have liked all the films. He has a taste that is above par all his contemporaries and he knows how to narrate and his passion for perfection just keeps him going and as an audience, it helps me watch some great films. 

This film is good overall but the melodrama makes it stretched and tad lengthy. At least 10-15 minutes less would have done a world of good and made this film an amazing experience is what my personal opinion is. On the flip side, if anything was cut, then the conflict, the nourishment of ambition would not have been so well established. Overall, first half was stretched and the second half was a breeze (thanks to Aamir Khan's presence in the second half).

Aamir Khan as "Shakti Kumaarr" (double A and double R) has the swag that is needed for the character. He is an actor who can carry any role with great ease and style and he does the same as "Shakti Kumaarr". Just another feather in his cap, this special performance would be. Despite the presence of Aamir Khan, it's the performances of Meher Vij as "Nazma" and Zaira Wasim as "Insia" that have stolen my heart and my appreciation to them. Zaira is just 15 and she has a bright future ahead. 

This film is a musical and thanks to Amir Trivedi and the young singer Meghna Mishra. Amit has given us some wonderful music in the past and he continues to do so. Meghna is a great find and she has an amazing voice that complemented the performance of Zaira wonderfully. Thanks to Amit Trivedi for giving us few songs that shall be on my playlist.

A memorable debut by the director Advait Chandan and I hope he keeps churning and delivering such inspirational stories in his career further.

A 3/5 for a good and a memorable film. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

NEWTON (2017) - HINDI

A conventional event of elections told in a straightforward realistic way that not only provokes but convinces that a change is needed.

Acting is above par and extremely realistic in the film which made the film engaging. Watching and appreciating the actors was an involving experience in itself. The issue was handled in a realistic and non-dramatic way which may put off the conventional film-going audiences but that non-conventional approach was what made the film special.

The sound design is worth a mention. There is little background music and mostly silence and yet it was extremely effective in conveying the mood. The cinematography is actually pretty decent considering the subject and also the scale of the project. Editing is terrific I must say, there is never a dull moment in this 105-minute film and given the limited scope, it's a job well done. The dialogs hold up pretty well and there is dry humor sprinkled all over the film. Above all, it is the performances and the straightforward screenplay that take the accolades.

I have loved Rajkumar Rao in "TRAPPED" earlier this year and I have loved him as "NEWTON" now. Let me give a spoiler (from the trailer itself), his actual name is Nutan Kumar and he has changed it to NEWTON. Rajubir Yadav brings his experience and subtlety needed to his role and he has sung a song too. Anjali Patil the only girl in the camp does a fine job. But it is Pankaj Tripathi who has bowled me over with his performance as an Army officer. Others were good too.

Amit Masurkar is a director to watch out for in the coming years and thanks to the guys who chose to produce this film.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

MY RANTS ABOUT APPLE




 JUST NOT DONE APPLE!!! 😡






Before I begin ranting about Apple and it's products let me confirm that I am a consumer of APPLE products and found my love for APPLE began in 2008 with iTunes. Till 2012 or even 2014, I loved APPLE products but since then my rants about APPLE began. In this blog, I would mention a few that I have been assimilating since over a month of the last APPLE KEYNOTE on Sept 12th 2017

I have witnessed the unveiling of the latest products from APPLE this Sept 12th and I must say I am not surprised and more so disappointed with Apple despite being an Apple fan. Apple is diversifying a lot more in technology and thus losing homogeneity of the products. Here is my list of qualms which I hope somebody in Apple takes note of

1. Apple Watch - Super happy that Cellular connectivity has come the Apple watch but a question on when can we track Gym (strength exercises) sessions on the watch. As far as I know we can still only capture and track the Cardio session like walking, running or even swimming in the watch. Till the capturing of all the activities happen. Apple watch is not worth a buy.

2. Apple Health - now that I put my qualm about watch. Let me put out my crib about health app integration. It's understood that perhaps there are not enough sensors to track strength activities but there are apps where we can track and log our workouts. I hope that these are logged into the health through application integration and the respective calories burned are shown. But when would Apple do that, I doubt atleast in 2-3 years it will not be done. Till then full bloom use of Apple Health app is just a myth.

3. Unified ID for unlocking please - Before iPhone X, there was just touch id for unlocking the phone. But now we have face ID from iPhone X and this adds to the concern we have for macs. Very recently unveiled macs (from 2016) have touch id within them and with face ID seeing the light of the day, will Macs be updated with face ID too. This won't happen till 2018 October at least. Now this seems kind of redundant to me. A technological change in one platform should be cascaded to other platforms as soon as possible. I won't say I am disappointed that Apple took away my beloved touch id from the iPhone X totally. Perhaps "The future of smartphone" doesn't need a touch for unlocking but it's not in the DNA of apple to hang on to old technologies while moving to a new one. Their transitions have been radical and that's what makes Apple. So request to have a unified way of unlocking on all platforms (iPhones, iPads, Watches, Macs) as soon as possible.

4. Unified port for all the products and accessories - there can be one or two kinds of ports for the company to have it's own ecosystem but not three or four please. "USB-C" port received a lot of push since the launch of Macbook 2016 and there is the proprietary "Lightning" port for the iPhones, iPads, Airpods etc.. and these two ports should be what Apple should stick with and eventually make "USB-C" as the only port across all products and accessories but that's not what Apple seems to want or try. Instead it is keeping the "Micro USB" port alive on it's beats accessories and many supported MFi chargers. Then, there is USB-A still alive on iMacs (I hope to see this changing in 2018). Request Apple to give the push that pushes the whole industry standard rather than living with the obsolete (unwanted) ports. There is some core Apple philosophy that I see missing in keeping these legacy ports alive. No more USB-A to lightning cables please only USB-C to lightning cables.

5. About Apple TV 4k - One question is why no support to Dolby ATMOS. How is it justified that we have a great video but no great audio support. Not done Apple.

6. Apple Music - I don’t like the fact that lyrics will be seen only when there is WiFi or mobile data. When I downloaded the song and have it as offline then why is there is still a need to be on data to see the lyrics of the song. Just illogical.

These are my top rants about Apple and there a few more

a. Why cant I add location services in Control Center
b. Why can't I use find my iPhone when the location services are off.
c. Why is it not so easy adding cricket matches/sports events to a calendar as compared to google calendar
d. Why can't I customize tap controls on Airpods (yeah, Apple's latest innovation) rather than double tap default controls.

The list is on and I hope Apple fixes them sooner than later.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

WHAT'S DONE IS DONE - ENGLISH




Rajat Kapoor's 'What's Done Is Done' is Macbeth without bloodshed and full of laughs

About The Play: This is William Shakespeare's Macbeth set in a world of clowns.

Language: English
Cast: Cast: Ranvir Shorey, Tillotama Shome, Kalki Koechlin, Sheena Khalid, Sujay Saple, Jim Sarbh, Vinay Pathak
Director: Rajat Kapoor
Length: 2 hours
Writer(s): William Shakespeare & Rajat Kapoor

VENUE: SHILPA KALA VEDIKA, HYDERABAD
DATE: 13th FEBRUARY 2017

My Review:

I must say, I had great expectations but this was a bit of a letdown due to technical issues (mainly sound)

Despite having such a great cast, this play had a lot of moments where there are dialogues that are inaudible. It's a technical issue but it took the life of the play itself. This is a black comedy and the comedy mainly came from Julio and

Doesn't do justice to being featured in a 'comedy festival'. Very few comical elements. Poor sound quality in the auditorium. Dialogues were not audible, especially those of the three witches. Ticket counters were badly managed.

Of all the elements, I loved the blasphemy by Vinay Pathak at the end it was hilarious and extremely blasphemous. That's all I can say in this otherwise not so memorable play. It as too dull and dark and basically inaudible for the most part. So, in the 2 hours of play time, 45 minutes was loud and clear and it was mostly for comedy lines and not for the actual play of "Macbeth". 

JULIE AND JULIA (2009) - ENGLISH

A good film on cooking that is superbly written by a good writer and acted well by two terrific actresses.

Amy Adams as Julie Powell and Meryl Streep as Julia Child make this journey worthwhile. By the time she acted in this film, she already had many innumerable awards and nominations for her and that's why she is perhaps the greatest actress ever. Her acting in this film was terrific, to say the least, and was awards-worthy and deservingly she got many awards for her portrayal of Julia Child. Had Julia Child been alive she would have been proud. But the surprise package was Amy Adams. I saw this film for the first time in 2010 mid and I was going gaga for the performance of Amy Adams over Streep's performance. When I watched it yesterday it re-emphasized my point.

The performance of Amy Adams is relatable, straight and almost without any histrionics or aids while the performance of 'Meryl' was aided by accent, the embellishments of Paris and the period in which 'Meryl' that is Julia's life was set in. I must say I loved both the performances and perhaps Meryl's a bit more.

We meet a distressed Julie Powell in the post 9/11 America (New York) and we meet a garrulous, flamboyant Julia Child in the post-World-War 2 France (Paris). From the first frame till the last, there are parallels drawn in lives of the two people and the intercuts are well done. I don't think there is a film is last so many years that is based on food and has two different time periods being entwined in a screenplay that is based on two different books.

The screenplay is adapted from the books of Julia Child and Julie Powell and is wonderful. There are hardly any dull moments in the whole film and I give full credit to the writing and also the editing. The editing is slick and at times I was pleasantly surprised too. This is a film for the food and film lovers. Both have enough to savor from the film and Nora Ephron proves once again why she is such a romantic person. Her another film"When Harry Met Sally" is one of my favorite romantic films too.

Charming witty and full of flavor this film showed two personalities who lived their life to the fullest. Amazing to see and lot to learn from them. A 4/5 for one my favorite films on food.

My Review of "WHEN HARRY MET SALLY" here

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

THE SALESMAN (2016) - PERSIAN


Another powerful and yet a poignant realistic film from Asghar Farhadi.

There was "A Separation" and now this from the same director. Oh, there is another good film "The Past" from him too. But, "A Separation" and this film stand in a different league altogether. I have not seen any of his films prior to "A Separation" but since that film, I have watched the afore mentioned films and all the three are impressive. Here is a director that demands respect not just for his work but for the way he works. The resources (human and technical) are very few in Iran as compared to other countries like France, USA or India and yet Asghar makes the story telling so compelling that the technical aspects almost take a back seat and as a viewer, I am in awe of the power of story telling by this man.

The acting by each and every actor is amazing but amongst all the superb performances, the performance of "Shahab Hosseini" stands out. His intensity and passion are worth a standing ovation. I suppose, Iranians have a lot of passion within them and it transpires with their work. Be it the camera or the direction or the acting and for their passion, I salute them.

Strangely, no one in the film is actually a Salesman, but the title is derived from the Arthur Miller's play "Death of a Salesman". There are a lot of symbolic relationships shown through the play. There are humiliation and dejection in protagonists life as they are in the Salesman's life in the play. The relationship between wife and husband has some references and while what shatters and falls in the play, is symbolic of the faltering relationship between the main leads.  I do not want to say more and reveal the plot but I must say the last half hour is riveting and the film takes a completely new direction and ends in a surprise and this is the best part of the film.

A 5/5 for another riveting drama from Asghar Farhadi which is superbly written acted and captured.

Friday, September 8, 2017

BAHUBALI (2017) - TELUGU


An arduous effort worth acknowledging, appreciating and adoring too. An experience that I really liked.

Firstly, I should thank my friend Praneeth Jandhyala to recommend this movie. I am happy to see the second part in the Imax screen (4 times). The experience was rewarding. I missed out on the first part in theatre, so thus resolved to make Sunday 16th July, a Bahubali day.

I watched the first part, "The Beginning" on YouTube in the afternoon and watched the second part "The Conclusion" in Imax.

Few films are made with such grandeur these days like Bahubali. It is an experience that was to be seen on the big screen. From 16th July till now, I have watched "The Conclusion" 4 times in the theatre and once my mobile.

Characters were written with a lot of detail and also each of the important characters has a lot of screen time. These characters will be etched in the minds of the viewers for a very long time.

Part 1

VIEW TIMES: 1
WHERE: AT HOME ON 46" Screen through Youtube 4K

Now that I watched the second part, I must confess I did not like the first part as much as I liked the second part. The first 30 minutes of first part were about putting up an idol under the waterfall and climbing up a mountain to solve a mystery by "Shivudu". This I believe was done merely to showcase the strength of the hero and his power. The reasoning was acceptable but the imagination of "Avantika" those blue butterflies was something I felt not necessary. Also, the "item" song at the end which I perceived as filler was totally out of place for me.

Part 2

VIEW TIMES: 4
WHERE: PRASADS IMAX (Large Screen) - HYDERABAD

This is a true magnum opus. Each scene, each battle, and each dialogue seemed to have a relevance and takes the narrative forward. The connection established between both the parts was amazing. The introduction to Amarendra Bahubali was much more powerful in this part than the prior one. "Devasena" who was mostly chained and was looking old in the first part is shown as a princess. I must say I am in awe of the beauty the costumes, the makeup of "Devasena". I dare say no contemporary actress suits Devasena better than "Anushka". Also, same applies to almost all the important characters like Shivagami, Bhallaladeva, Bijjaladeva, Kattappa and of course Bahubali (Amarendra and Mahendra).

Love it or hate it but you cannot ignore a Bahubali. A 3/5 for the first part and a 4/5 for the second part. I am keeping this concise as too much has been said and written about Bahubali franchise.

Thanks to Rajamouli, you have encompassed all market boundaries and have made every Telugu person proud. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

PHILOSOPHY WHO NEEDS IT


AUTHOR: AYN RAND
ORIGINAL LANGUAGE: ENGLISH

This is a powerful book and there are few books that question our own faith and also give us an alternative way of thinking, this is one such book. A collection of essays by Ayn Rand edited by Leonard Peikoff, this books has all it takes for a must read book.

I was introduced to Ayn Rand with her novel "The Fountainhead" and in my exploration of Ayn Rand and her thought process, I supposed that this book "Philosophy: Who Needs It" would help me know more about Ayn Rand and her philosophy and also try and see if I can drive few principles that I can implement in my own life. That was 2006 when I first read this book. Even today, that is 11 years later it stands tall and has almost got a divine place in my mind. There is too much to say and how much ever I review I cannot complete the substance enough.

Ayn Rand seems to be a mix of many contemporary and also the oldest philosophers. For me, she is a mix of Nietzsche, Schopenhauer and one of the one earliest philosophers, Aristotle. Also, she rants against altruism. Rand made altruism the root of all evil in the existing world and that was a radical approach and the thoughts are put so very objectively that I could not help but heed to her words in the book.

The book begins with the chapter "Philosophy: Who Needs It" and in this, she strongly puts the need of Philosophy and also giving examples that everyone indeed has a certain philosophy of living that makes his/her own way of life. In "Philosophical Detection", she conveys that every man ought to have the eye for discrimination to understand the difference between the "fundamentals" and "derivatives". It is the fundamentals that form the core philosophy for a human.

Then, she moves onto differentiating the metaphysics and the artificiality of humans in "Metaphysical Versus The Man-Made". In the "Missing Link" she gives examples to help us understand the method by which mind habitually deals with the content in the mind. Also, I encountered a beautiful term "Psycho epistemology" which I cannot explain in a blog but is worth reading about in the book.

Then, my favorite and perhaps a powerful chapter "Selfishness without a self" arrives and here, she talks about the herd (collective mankind following faith and beliefs with irrationality). This herd has a basis for what they do and they believe what they do is right. "I did this based on an existing and well-accepted principle, so it is right" is what herd (referred to as a pack of wolves) says in the real world. Personally, this stands as my favorite in the book.

In the chapter, "An Open Letter to Boris Spassky", she writes a letter to the Russian chess champion explaining her views on Capitalism and why real world rules in soviet union are unbearable if it had to be chess game

In, "Faith and force: the destroyers of the modern world", she attacks Mysticism, Collectivism, and Altruism brutally and also reasons out how Immanuel Kant wanted to save altruism through mysticism. "From the horse's mouth", gives examples of modern philosophers who disagreed with Kant and also debates with the existing "Kantians". Again, in the next chapter "Kant versus Sullivan", she debates on how many people in the current world need the help of "Annie Sullivan" (Annie Sullivan is the teacher of Helen Keller). This chapter takes reference from the play "The Miracle Worker"

In perhaps, the most talked and rather the most controversial chapter "Causality Versus Duty", Rand kills the conventional concept of duty and says "Duty cannot be for self-interest or virtue; driven by parents, church, and government". She goes on saying that life or death is the fundamental alternative. The only obligation that matters is a personal promise as per Rand.

"An untitled letter" conveys how the ability is the biggest challenge of man. To understand whether one is "able to do" or "not" is the biggest challenge for a human being. She gives a good number of examples to put the point. Although I could not relate to many of the examples, I could understand what she was trying to convey. In "Egalitarianism and Inflation" Rand talks how these two words are tough to understand and are more often than not misconstrued and misinterpreted.

In "The Stimulus and the Response" she talks about how power/muscle without consciousness leads to destruction. In "The Establishing an Establishment" she talks about how funding through government bring an enforcement and how only a few exceptional men can withstand and break through censorship. In the chapter "Censorship: Local and Express", she gives lot more details on these points.

"Fairness Doctrine for Education" conveys that fairness cannot be applied justly. Fair in itself is a perspective and what doctrine means a set of beliefs by an Orthodox organization. This is not justifiable as per Rand. There should be fairness in teaching all ideologies as against set principles and ideologies.

In "What can one do" Rand conveys action items of which I am listing a few which I believe in doing
  • Develop own convictions
  • Speak on any scale you can
  • Express views on issues
In "Don't let it go", Rand tells to have conviction, fight for reason and to have a sense of existence and also be responsible for what we do.

To sum it up, this is a powerful book. Ayn Rand has been of great influence on me. She made me question the existence of GOD. She made me believe that above all "What we do" matters. How selfishness is the root of all good things that we do.

This book helped me shape my character and I owe some part of me to the books by Ayn Rand. A 4/5 for this. A must read for all those who believe in reason, selfishness, and objectivism.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

L A CONFIDENTIAL (1997) - ENGLISH



A cop film that unravels the suspense superbly.

The writing is crisp and filled up. There is never a dull moment in the film and it feels like too much happens at the end. It took me some time to contemplate and summarise the journey within my mind.

Three persons Russel Crowe, Guy Pearce and Kevin Spacey nailed the film. Crowe is one of the best cops America can hire is what I felt after the film. For Spacey, this is perhaps most accomplished performance after Usual Suspects in his career (chronologically).

I wouldn't say it was a fun ride as there were bumps too. Few points went above my head in the journey of the film and it was tough to comprehend too. Yet, in the mind they made sense and I could summarise and understand the relevance too. So, there are surprises that unravel well.

Technically, this is a brilliant film in narration, exemplary as a crime thriller film in terms of screenplay and direction. I wish there was an impactful soundtrack as the music lacked the punch needed for a thriller.

Overall, I am satisfied with the film and I am going with a 4/5. 3 stars for everything else and 1 star alone for the performances Russel Crowe and Kevin Spacey.

Monday, August 28, 2017

ARJUN REDDY (2017) - TELUGU


This is a generation defining film.

There are films that never nudge and there are films that try to push only to some extent and then there are films that are path breaking and defining it's time. Those path breaking films to name a few are "Pyaasa", "Pather Panchali", "Sankarabharanam", "Black Friday", "Rang De Basanti", "Dev D" and now we have "Arjun Reddy". I hope that Telugu film writing will change for good and I wish this film to be a huge success. This film deserves a lot more than the adulation it is already getting.

The character building is amazing. In one of the first scenes, after a football match fight, Arjun Reddy tells the professor who he really is and how he simply "doesn't care". That scene defines him and he maintains that character till the end. That in itself is a great consistency in narration, We have seen heroes who fall to the whims of love or emotions, but here is a man who stands up and that's what we need. Today's society needs many Arjun Reddy's (that is men who can take a stand). Also primarliy a man can become Arjun Reddy if he is excellent in what does. Mind that, Arjun Reddy was a supreme man in his profession. He is succumbed to alcoholism, drugs etc.. and that only worsens his journey as a human but nothing could touch his integrity. He gives up his dearest profession owing to his integrity and I salute that in Arjun Reddy. 

I am starting to like "Vijay Devarakonda" now and I hope he is choosy in script selection and picks up only the intense and different scripts. "Pelli Choopulu" perhaps made him a household name but this film is going to make him a star. 

The other characters are also pretty well defined and strong. The grandmother played by the yesteryear's actress "Kaanchana", the elder brother played by "Kamal Kamraj", the father, Arjun Reddy's friends have played their parts really well. The stand out performer though is "Rahul Ramakrishna" who plays the role of Arjun Reddy's friend "Shiva". He did a terrific job in the dialogue delivery, body language and conveying emotions through eyes. He is a real find and I hope more good scripts fall in his lap. The heroine "Shalini" played her character with a lot of poise and I wish she could cry more realistically. 

Narration wise, this film is 3 hours and yet it does not seem long and that is because of the intensity in the screenplay. Each scenes unravels the journey of Arjun Reddy and each scene seemed very important. Few lapses in writing are evident but the lapses are far and few while the good scenes are too many. So narration is top notch and this coming from a first time director "Sandeep Reddy Vanga" is unbelievable. I must also add that this intensity comes from an innocence and it could come only from a first time director.

Technicalities are good too. Cinematography is right in place except for few frames, Editing is great although this film is 3 hours coz there is hardly an uncalled for scene. But above all, I loved the background music, it's going to win many awards. The songs are montage songs and they are just in the right place. Overall, given the constraints of the film, the technicalities are brilliantly used and I will give a lot of applause and credit to director.

Last year I loved "Pelli Choopulu" and in this "Bahubali" year this film is the one I loved. Hope this brings the change Telugu films have so eagerly been waiting. Don't make films to appease fans but make them for the sake of making good films please. 

While "Bahubali" pushed the market and the reach of Telugu films to a new level altogether, this film pushes the mindset and the content of Telugu Films to a new level. I hope this sustains.

Before I end list of things I loved and disliked

LOVED:

Screenplay in the first half and almost up to the climax
Background music
Acting by Vijay Devarakonda as Arjun Reddy and by Rahul Ramakrishna as Shiva
Intense narration Sandeep Reddy Vanga
Hints of love (As an example, Arjun's Grandmother loves the Louis Armstrong song "What a Wonderful World" and Arjun has Louis Armstrong poster in his room even after he is separated from family. That shows Arjun's love for his grandmother)
Care a Damn kissing. There are too many kissing scenes and I felt all of them to be natural.
The interval scene, the shot is just amazing. 

DISLIKED

Simplified climax
The scene where Arjun calls the girl while she is playing Antakshari could have been done well
I wish there are no beeps in the film.

A 4/5 for this and I hope this film brings a change in Telugu Film writing, narration and the perspective of audience. Note this film is strictly for Adults, and only for open minded audience. For all those audience and film makers with a traditional mindset this is a slap on them.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

ANNABELLE:CREATION (2017) - ENGLISH


One of the very horror films, I watched and to top that, I liked it too.


I am not a fan of horror films and indeed I seldom watch them. This is my fourth horror film that I watched in a theatre.  I must say this was a better experience than my previous horror film experiences. Although, "LIFE (2016)" is the best as per me in that list. But that genre was different while "Annabelle" was a true horror film that has ghosts, spirits, dolls and what not. There are a nun, a cross, and other such aspects involved. So this is true to genre horror film that I watched in a theatre.

Let me tell you that this film is part of "The Conjuring" film franchise and I did not watch any Conjuring films and even the earlier film called Annabelle (2014) and yet I could get many parts of the film. So in that way, this film will appeal even to audiences who are new to "The Conjuring" franchise.

There are few aspects I really liked. First and foremost, the build up and the setting. The pace was nice and I hoped this did not have any interval coz there was neither space or need for it. But being in India, the pop corn has to be sold so the interval was brought on and there was some respite from the horror. The pace in the first half was nice and the second half had a lot of frenzy and scary moments. Most of the horror is gone when you actually presume and anticipate. Though, I tried to anticipate the scares most of the times there is still a lot of surprise in the film. 

The writing is apt and the dialogues were contextual which was nice. The acting by the kids and the elders was fine and appealing enough to say that they were playing characters very well and not just acting their parts. I suppose, the kids have done a lot of homework on their characters and they have brought it out really well.

The technical aspects were terrific. The production design was apt and creepy enough, the lighting was good. The soundtrack was just right up there. Of all, I loved the editing, there were almost no uncalled for moments and that is a really high point of this film.

All in all, I liked this film. A 3/5 for one the very few horror films I liked.

Friday, July 7, 2017

THINKING FAST AND SLOW



AUTHOR: DANIEL KAHNEMAN
ORIGINAL LANGUAGE: ENGLISH

A bible for those who curiously ask themselves "Why we think, the way we think"

Although, my friend Raghuveer made me acquainted with this book, my colleague Raghav put forth a question from this book that intrigued me and pulled me into reading it. It took me two weeks to complete and it may take many more years for me to completely comprehend what this book meant. Here I am trying to just summarize from my perspective.

This book is a masterpiece on thinking itself. The first of its kind book in my reading experience.
The book begins by specifying the systems in the mind as System 1 and System 2. Few lines from the book itself

"System 1 - It operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control
System 2 - It allocates attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex calculations"


There are some wonderful examples of this system and explaining how the mind works. Also, the book is filled with some clear and at times simplified, mundane examples of mental activity.

The book is filled with experiments that the author along with his friend Amos Tversky performed over the years and their learning from them. The book ignited hidden ambiguity within the mind and gave some strong reasoning. I was astonished by few answers and how these are related to statistics too.

PART 1 deals with the two systems mentioned above. To summarize this, I could say that while System 1 is driven by reflex, emotion and comfort and some cognitive bias, System 2 is takes it's own sweet time that is - it's lazy and also trying to control the thoughts. System 1 is prejudiced and hasty while System 2 is deliberate and lazy.

PART 2 gives and elaborated patterns and effects with numerous experiments. It was interesting to learn how by default mind plays the guessing game. It looks for patterns in persons, nature and almost everything in the universe. Based on the patterns it tries to guess what next or tries to help visualize the mind what is going to happen next. This is itself was an amazing insight among many other insights given Also, the book conveys the idea that gutting or trusting your intuition always may not be a good idea as intuition derives cues from previous experiences (see how pattern seekers we are).

PART 3 is named OVERCONFIDENCE and it places various factors for the same within the mind. From overlooking reality due to the effect of System 1 (prejudice) to having illusions manifested with previous consequences or by trusting the intuition. More or less, we tend to trust our senses and try to go with them and only when it does not give the desired result we are shattered and then the typical existential questions like "where did I go wrong in the first place?" pop up. The chapter "Expert Intuition: How Can We Trust It?" elaborated many aspects and throws light on some fine nuances in the thought process too.

PART 4 is where the author took Bernoulli's hypothesis (I hardly understood the technical aspects of this) and built and alternative model called "Prospect Theory". While Bernoulli's theory stated that there is the same amount of emotion involved in happiness or sadness, the "Prospect Theory" begs to differ and says the level of emotion involved in each circumstance may vary.
Simply put - find $10 is not as same as losing $10. There are many parameters that have to be considered here.

The author spoke at length about "Endowment Effect" wherein he says a person feels owed more to what he naturally possess over being owed to those that are either acquired/given/ inherited. This is a great thought I would say and this was another surprise element for me.

The chapter "Bad Events" helps us understand how the mind gives a lot of weight to the end. A movie might have a great beginning but if the climax is not good (as per our satisfaction levels) we tend to term the movie as bad. Also, another chapter "Rare Events" deals with why the mind acts in a specified manner in case of certain events. Example, people affected by Tsunami tend to be away from beached for many days.

The chapters "Fourfold Pattern", "Risk Policies", "Keeping Score" elucidate the responses of the brain in risky situations and how is risk considered understood and what it takes the mind takes to mitigate the risk.

PART 5 deals with two Selves of the mind, the experiencing self, and the remembering self. More often than not. the remembering self-dominates us. For the remembering self, it is the end that matters whether it's an abyss or peak. Experiencing in itself is a time-consuming process that demands it's own bandwidth and space within the mind and acts slowly.

So that was a summary of how I perceived the book. It was a great experience for me. For few aspects, I could map them to some aspects of Hindu Philosophy and even spiritual thinking too.

I am sure that those who have seriously read the book once would mostly have a changed rationale in thinking and also their perception towards individuals may be affected too. This book is strong, to say the least, but indeed it only makes us realize how much more powerful the wonderful mind is.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

LIAR LIAR (1997) - ENGLISH

One of the great performances by Jim Carrey. A must watch.

Jim Carrey, the man who I got to know from Mask was at his best again. When I say he is at his best, I mean he is at his histrionic best. Yes, there are many actors who can do histrionics but the way Jim Carrey pulls them off is amazing.

Despite a plot that ran for a day, it's Carrey's performance that made the film enjoyable. The concept of the film is great but plot-wise I doubt if anyone would have bought the concept if there was no Carrey in the film. The plot goes like this "A lawyer who lies every day for his bread and butter has to tell truth for a day"

The events unfold is a comical yet kind of realistic way. This is the funniest courtroom drama I ever saw and it stands right up there.

Kudos to Tom Shadyac for directing Jim Carrey in a superb way. But this is all Jim Carrey's show and I loved him. This is hilarious to the hilt and it had me in splits.

A 4/5 for the film just for Carrey. A mention to the kid Justin Cooper. too. He was amazing as Max Reede. A film that's worth watching many times and I have not got bored yet.

Monday, July 3, 2017

AMI TUMI (2017) - TELUGU


An average film that had a couple of stand out performances.

As screwball comedies have often been driven by women, this one has the same norm. The women drove the show here too. 
 
While two men (Adavi Sesh and Srinivas Avasarala) men are relegated as almost support cast, the other two men (Tanikella Bharani and Vennela Kishore) are elevated as the main men.

Tanikella Bharani, the veteran, and a seasoned actor is at ease in Telangana slang. He put up a strong performance and thanks to the director to have given a lot of screen time to him. The maid acted by Shyamala is superb in wit and timing. She is camouflaged as support cast but becomes the woman with highest screen time and holds it well. 

But this film belongs to Vennela Kishore. There was never a dull moment since his entry onto the screen. He drove, rattled and home ran the whole film. His timing and acting were impeccable, to say the least. 
Especially loved his interaction with Tanikella Bharani and Srinivas Avasarala. The conversations were extremely well written.

All others have acted commendably well despite very limited scope in the script.

Story wise, it is confined and does not have the charm of Ashta Chamma (one of the previous films of this director). Yet it's a fun film if not an end to end laugh riot. I searched for Richard Brinsley Sheridan and understood that this film was inspired by 'The Duenna'. The story itself was limited but I hoped for more punch in the writing.

I liked it and few scenes/conversations can be watched multiple times for pure fun.

The director Mohankrishna Indraganti was perhaps right up there in his first film (Grahanam) and since then he has lost some intensity. Wish to see him make an intense drama again. It seems I have seen almost all his films and that itself is an accolade for him coz I seldom watch Telugu Films and mostly dislike them too.

Overall, this is an average fun ride but a point goes up only for Vennela Kishore. A 2/5 for this film. Mediocre stuff packaged as comedy.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

UNKNOWN (2011) - ENGLISH


It left me with a question, "Why did I see this film in the first place?"

I cannot comprehend actually what all went on but most of it seemed pretty absurd. For some it may seem logical and nicely placed. For me, it was simply dumb. It begins with an interesting premise and the interesting part ends in the premise itself. There is no interesting progression in characters or plot. After seeing half, the expression and the curiosity in me wore out and my expression became bland and my mind was easily getting distracted. 

This film is just not there. It has serious drawbacks in terms of writing and narration. 

A 1/5 for this film. It wasn't worth my time.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S (1961) - ENGLISH

I wanted to watch it for Audrey Hepburn and I felt like she is the only one worth watching. All else failed me.

Okay, a woman is obsessed about Tiffany's the jewellery store and the time she spends in the store all through the movie is hardly 10 minutes. Even that is fine but there is nothing called a plot and the subplots come and go like lightning in a rain. I wished there was a strong storm or rain in this movie.

Audrey Hepburn was charismatic and elegant. The cigarette pipe was iconic and her gait was nonchalant. She was overwhelmingly lovely in the film. All others were pale in front of her. Their characters were not as strong as Hepburn's.

The film was in Eastman color so everything seemed made up. From interiors of the rooms to the make and even benches in the park. They were all setup so that's something I accepted. Technically this film is below par in writing and directing.

Hail Hepburn and this is a so so film for her. A 2/5 for this film.

Monday, June 26, 2017

PRIMAL FEAR (1996) - ENGLISH

Thundering debut by a talented actor.

I couldn't believe that this was the debut of Edward Norton. I just couldn't believe till I myself figured it out on the internet. The performance by Norton in this film is top notch and I felt its on par with a Kevin Spacey performance in "Se7en" just that it's a debut by Norton while Spacey was a more experienced actor. This film is a must watch for Norton's performance alone.

There are many good things about this film. The writing is one of the strengths here. The performances elevated the writing to a whole new level. Richard Gere was in top form and so was Laura Linney. The music was good too. The highs and lows in the drama are complemented wonderfully by music.

The editing I though was supreme. The film took pace to build the drama and once it bult up the characters well, it just went off smoothly and culminated with a surprise. The whole flow of the film was fluid and extremely engaging. Kudos to the editor.
The cinematography, though limited in scope as most of the film was shot indoors, was good too and the shots only added value to the narrative.

It's a thriller in the mask of a drama. Once the true aspect of the film comes it picks the pace and delivers a blow at the end. Truly speaking, there was a knockout punch in the end.

A 4/5 for a terrific film that has a memorable performance by Edward Norton.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

WAR MACHNE (2017) - ENGLISH

 
A film that started with a confusing narration and ended with chaos.

For the first 20 minutes there were characters being introduced one after another. Most of those were not repeated again and their true nature was hardly revealed. Felt like a pointless lengthy introduction after the first 40 minutes. As the story took pace and it began building up, there are digressions in the plot and they ruined interest for me. Others include and defeated the purpose of having troops in Afghanistan. There I lost interest. For the remaining part, I sat with hope that something would happen. Alas, nothing did.

Brad Pitt had a different voice and walking style and both were unappealing for me. Wished he had the menace and strength of the General in "Inglorious Basterds".

The most disappointing aspect was editing. In a couple of places couldn't understand why a scene is suddenly cut. Wish the scene transitions were smoother. Music too was average.

Although a lot was done for this film by Netflix I am sure this is just a start and they can make much better films than this. This is mediocre as per Netflix standards. A 1/5 for this disappointing film.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

KAAKA MUTTAI (2015) - TAMIL

This is an outstanding film that is overwhelmed with hope despite undercurrent sadness.

Never thought dreaming of eating a Pizza could be made into such a terrific issue and be so well made into a film. But here we have it, two boys dreaming of eating a Pizza and earning every Penny to make it. Their pursuit only took them forward and it's absolutely right that when we have pursue big dreams "Nothing is Impossible". This film ignites that hope although it's depicted with humility and simplicity.

Most of the movie is shot in a slum and it's surroundings despite such confined spaces the grandeur was brought in through the depiction of human emotions. I loved the way a 'dosa' scene was captured. The lighting, the expression and the angle just brought the needed emotion and elevated the scene. Reality shown really well I shall say. The music is apt and the lyrics are amazing. The music echoes the emotions of the characters very effectively

The kids Vignesh and Ramesh are the stars of this film. There are many adults and a few seasoned actors too in this film, yet these two stole the show from the word go till the last frame.

There are many subplots in this film and those are engaging too. This film shows the divide between haves and havenots. How local politicians have a high handedness in certain aspects. How an accused has to struggle to get a bail. There are many more such fine aspects that make this film a must watch.

Special thanks to producers who having the gut to make this story into a film and more-so to be able to give to audience.

After watching this, I felt wow. I hope you do too. A 4/5 for this terrific film played by kids who are more mature and intelligent than most adults shown. Kudos to the kids and writer and director.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

SPOTLIGHT (2015) - ENGLISH

Perhaps, one of the most compact and the best to-the-point movies in the recent years.

There is point to be made and there is a way of how this point was evolved and brought into Spotlight. So cut the embellishments and get straight to the point. That's what this film does in it's screenplay. The screenplay deservedly won so many accolades and awards.

Technically, I thought its the setting of the mood that was perfect. Most of the film is shot in the interiors of a press office and the lighting was perfect and it brought the needed sobriety to the mood. The cinematography was limited in scope but terrific in terms of context. The angles were right and the emotions were conveyed straight. There are no bottom angles to build up or top angle shots to show the "God's view" either. Almost all the time, camera is just a shoulder away and the character spoke to another character missing the existence of camera and I must say it was great.

The editing is precise. There is neither melodrama, nor is the case shown as low profile. 'Spotlight' means everything is on top of this story. Albeit few obstacles the story comes along at the right time.

In this amazing ensemble cast, I loved the acting of Liev Schreiber (Marty Baron). His acting was truly professional.

For me as a viewer, the journey of watching this hit all the right notes. It started slowly pulling me into it and then paced up with revelations that were shocking and ended on a high. Ah, what more can I ask for.

Thanks to the writers and director for making a poignant film in a time where action and fast pace is becoming a norm. This film deserves patience and rewards heavily with the goods.

A 4/5 for this terrific film.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

MIGHTY BEAUTY

The dawn comes to wake you
Dew drops sprinkle to make you
The sun makes tea to make you feel warm
Noon comes to your abode to find some calm
At dusk, sun gets to see your dance
Before it fades away merrily into trance
The stars now wonder while moon is praising
Its night for world, but for you the day is rising
Trees walk to serve you their delicious fruits
And sing songs that touch you hearts roots
The milky way milks you into sleep
Joyfully, it sways after stealing your peep
The universe says, "Bye Bye mighty beauty"
We shall wait to hail you again as our duty

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

HERD RULES

I've been told to do this and not that
Write this and not that
Be sane and don't go crazy
Life shall doom and the future is hazy
If I won't do whatever they asked for

In the garb of lions they are a herd of sheep
I got to know this when I got a bit deep
They frame the rules
If not followed, call me a fool

I want my space, where I won't be told
And their rights and wrongs won't be sold
Escape I shall if it's worth my freedom
I shall smile carefree and not seldom

Monday, May 15, 2017

KING ARTHUR (2017) - ENGLISH


This is Guy Ritchie at his trippy best.

I did not know of the legend of King Arthur till I saw this film. But I can safely say, there are traces of 'Macbeth' in the tale. The story as such is not a great one, it's the story that we have been seeing since ages. The quest for power, the greed of position is well known in the legends and the greed would die and a hero would emerge victorious. No surprises in the story in this film too but the taking is what made this film interesting. In the first 15 minutes of the film, the growing up of Arthur is shown with a terrific montage, editing and sublime sound. I felt it setup the film well. What followed this was just fluid.

There is humor, actually satirical dialogues that are superbly delivered by the cast. It's well written and executed. The editing is something that was crisp. The pace of the film I felt was right and this deserves a theatrical watch as in home viewing, we may miss some nuances which are worth savoring. 

I heard of  "Charlie Hunnam" in the film "Pacific Rim" but after I saw this film, I declare that he has arrived He was composed and also fluid in the role and he surely has a swag to his personality. I loved his acting and I suppose he will go a long away if he chooses the right roles. 

But the real hero lie behind the screen in the soundtrack and that's the music director of the film "Daniel Pemberton". Listen to the soundtrack below as a sample. I just loved the sound.

The visual effects are not great and the whole ambience was like "Game of Thrones". I have seen only few scenes of "Game of Thrones" and after the viewing refrained from watching "GOT". Also, my wife said few of the cast was from "GOT" so Guy Ritchie could not do much about this I believe.

Overall, a film to watch for Guy Ritchie's style, Charlie Hunnam's swag and Daniel Pemberton's sound. A 3/5 for this film that's worth watching once but worth listening on a repeat play list.

Jackseye's Tale - Daniel Pemberton - King Arthur Soundtrack (click to listen)

ALIEN: COVENANT (2017) - ENGLISH


A movie that is layered and packed with surprises.

Ridley Scott was the one who started his career with Alien franchise (Alien was his second film as director) and now he gives the prequels like this one and the earlier film 'Prometheus' to the franchise. This adds elements to the franchise and tries to answer some existential questions like 'How did this all begun?'

Of all the scenes in the film I loved the opening scene. The backdrop, the sound and the dialogues were just right to establish the characters and their journey.

Michael Fassbender is an established actor and here he unravels some layers which I have not seen in his earlier films. He is the protagonist. The film begins and ends with him and the transformation is terrifying actually.

The suspense is well kept and this demands another film to understand and seek answers for the questions raised. Perhaps, Ridley Scott is going to end his career with this franchise itself as he is nearly 80 years and if he does, he better end this revealing all the answers.

Technically, the sound design and editing is perhaps it's strongest strength I felt. Visually, it was dark and the confrontation of two characters (David and Walter) is taken in good lighting. I liked the yellow tungsten lighting to symbolize the shades of the characters too.

All in all, this is a must watch film for all the 'Prometheus' fans but other wise it's okay to give this a miss. I plan to watch 'Prometheus' soon.

A 3/5 for a good film. It's serious boss in space no fun movie this.

Monday, April 17, 2017

THE BOSS BABY (2017) - ENGLISH

Good entertainment with some good voice overs make this a watchable film.

The story line is actually refreshing for me. A baby thinking to be boss I thought was a novel idea (note - I did not see last year's STORKS). The animation was terrific but again I debate if 3D animation is always needed. A 2D animation would do for most of the stories. In the time of TOY STORY and FINDING NEMO there was no 3D but they were great films. Wish that 2D animation is back with focus solely on story and plot rather than technology and gimmickry.

Voice over especially by Alec Baldwin was terrific I felt. I saw him in few films and he unleashed himself here. He seemed to be the boss and rightly so. 

The detailing was good but there are few dull moments that come in the end. The end was a bit dragged I felt, at least 15 minutes short and this would have been greatly entertaining.

It's entertaining even now, but lacks short of some real punches. A 3/5 for this.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

LIFE (2017) - ENGLISH


A film that made did not let me relax after the first 30 minutes till the end.

This is one of those films where it was tough to blink an eye. This was a horror film masked as a sci-fi film. Before going to the film, I just knew that there was Jake Gylenhall, I did not know anything else in the film. Also, I am happy that I did not watch the trailer. There is a lot of surprise in the film and the twists are worth the money.

The best line I give to "I Belong up here. I don;t want to go back to those 8 billion fuckers".

Jake Gylenhall as "David Jordan" was poised, calm and thoughtful. Ryan Reynolds as "Rory" was adept in his job. Others were rightly placed in the job based on skills. Mind you it's a NASA space mission so nothing is taken for granted. Yet, a mistake happens that comes to haunt them with their own lives at stake.

This is a spine chilling affair that put me at the edge of the seat even as the end credits rolled in.. The background music was superb and was apt for the scene. It wasn't loud or haunting but just right to create the mood. The cinematography is stupendous to say the least. Mostly set within the space craft yet to manoeuvre camera in the confined space was brilliant.

The trills are great and yes, there were a couple of jump scares too which added to the fun. Overall, it's a film that I took back home and it's haunting me with questions even now.

A 4/5 for this. A bang for the buck.  

KONG SKULL ISLAND (2017) - ENGLISH


A purposeless film. There was no need to make and there is no reason to see it.

Yet, I watched it and lost interest after the first few minutes. It was very predictable and did not offer any "OOH" or "WOW "moments like the "KING KONG" did. The movie has it's own story line which was utterly useless in engaging or grinding up any emotions. The fights are choreographed like they used to in 1990's. The visual effects are not over the top. A 2D KING KONG was so much better than this 3D KONG any day and I stand by that. 

I was totally disappointed with just purposeless film. A 1/5 for their effort though.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

THE BOY STRIPED IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS (2008) - ENGLISH


I liked this film but I have my reservations.

Firstly, will there be a 8 or 9 year old in a concentration camp during the Nazi regime.
Secondly, was the camp border so unprotected that anyone can sneak through.
These are just two of my many questions in this film.

I liked many aspects of this very aptly made, touchy emotional film but if ever I have to cry watching a holocaust film, I would fall back on the great "Schindler's List" or the wonderful "Life is Beautiful". This is a trivialised tale of holocaust and bringing in kids into such tragedies is what I found gimmicky and I am apprehensive that ever such films are being made on children. They were too innocent as kids during the Nazis and we must keep them innocent till they are atleast 12-13 I believe. Now a days kids are too curious and it's anxiety that kills the fun and spoils them too soon. I am better off being away with such films and books.

Yet, I loved the performances of the kids. Asa Butterfied as "Bruno" and Jack Snalon as "Shmuel" were both terrific in the film. The sound, the cinematography and the production design are top notch too.

The writing is something I seriously question. The intention of writing, worries me above all else.

A 3/5 for a film that is good and I wish it won't be watched by kids who don't understand or are mature enough to sit through such films.  

TRAPPED (2017) - HINDI


An engaging film that made me invest a lot of emotion and empathize with protagonist.

This is the third endeavor of Vikramidtya Motwane and I am a fan of him already. Loved his "Udaan" liked his "Lootera" and now loved his "Trapped". The three films are radically different from each other and Trapped shows his growth as a film maker too. 

Trapped is a survival genre film but unlike the Hollywood film "Cast Away", "127 Hours", "Buried" which have been set in alienated backdrops, the setting and backdrop of Trapped is in the heart of a metro city among millions of people. It makes it an interesting as well a satirical take that makes a statement of the way of life in a busy city in India. We are too populated yet too entangled in our own lives that we seldom care about others including our immediate neighbours. 

Rajkumar Rao is terrific and the way he brings his characters to life is quite unbelivable. He did "Shahid" and then "City Lights" and now "Trapped". These three films he plays characters that are real and belivable but vulnerable and his depiction of the characters ha always pleased me. Amongst all, I loved "Shahid" and now "Shaurya "in "Trapped". 

I can sit through the film more times just to understand how he pulled such a character. There is dumbness in him, there is stupidity, there is desperation and there is fear. Wow, the writing of the character is fine but the portrayal is worth many awards and I genuinely hope he gets recognised for his performance in this film. 

Ths music is haunting and is right up there. The sound design is commendable in this film. Although this film is claustorphobic and has little scope for cinematography, it's done well I must say. The angles, the elevations, the following of objects, the detailing of nuances is done pretty well. 

Overall, I loved this entrapment and was with "Shaurya" even after walking out of cinema. This is one film that's something we are bound to take back home. Memorable affair this. A 4/5 for such an effort to the team, Rajkumar and Vikramidtya.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

तुम आओ मेरे साथ

शरमाने कि अदा आप से खूब कोई जानता नहीं 
जानता भी हो, तो उसका रहना मैं तो मानता नहीं 
चाहत है मेरी इतनी की तुम आओ मेरे साथ 
उस दुनिया में जहां हमें कोई पेह्चानता नहीं

About Me

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I firstly declare here that all the content written in the blog is exclusively written by me and I hold the copyrights of each and everything. Be it a poem or a movie review. Also, the videos or photographs I upload or attach are exclusively owned by me. This declaration is important in a world that seems so worried of piracy. The prime purpose of these blogs is to put my writings and photographs on the net. and well to start with.... I live in my mind, and existence is the attempt to bring my thoughts into physical reality, I celebrate myself, sing myself and I am always happy in my own company.....I am not the best in the world but I strive for excellence and thats what keeps me alive... Talking much about oneself can also be a means to conceal oneself--Friedrich Nietzsche