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Showing posts from January, 2016

Asterix- Film Review

This is one film where the 3-D is actually used well. The Gaulish village with the indomitable Gauls led by Chief Vitalstatistix and the warriors Asterix and Obelix, comes alive. So does the ego-maniacal Julius Caesar, who wants to raze the Gaulish village to complete his conquest.

Quite aptly, his conquest ends in Veni, Vidi but no Vici, as he fails to conquer the Gauls, in spite of a brilliant stratagem. He builds a Mansion of the Gods next to the Gaulish village, and corrupts the simple folk by converting them into money-making morons.

Full of brilliant one-liners, the film is as much for adults as it is for kids. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and wouldn't mind a repeat watch sometime. But then, I am a die-hard fan of the beautifully crafted (and named) characters- Unhygienix the fishmonger, Druid Getafix, Bard Cacofonix (we could use someone like him to defeat enemy countries), and the doggie Dogmatix. and of course, Square-of-the-Hypotenuse, and the centurions. ChristmasBonus is …

Airlift- Film Review

Who is responsible for citizens of a country who go out to make a living in another country? The host country? The Home country? They themselves? This is one of the key questions this film explores, along with that famous John F. Kennedy quote- "Ask not what your country can do for you. Rather, ask what you can do for your country."

So we have this ordinary business-minded guy, an Indian who considers himself a Kuwaiti, until Saddam invades Kuwait, around 1990. How he deals with his new-found patriotism for India and turns into a hero against the wishes of his wife (Nimrat Kaur-I wish she somehow stayed on screen longer) and opposition of some of the people he is trying to save from inavading soldiers, is the story of the film.

The first half is a bit of a drag, but the story picks up speed in the second half, and the feelings of the characters come through. Akshay thankfully underplays his role, and that works. An American style gung-ho hero would have been tough to tolera…

Bad Acting Awards

The way we praise/reward good acting, so we should bad acting. So here goes-

My nominations for Hamming Birds-Male.

1. Dino Morea- Dinosaurial skills in acting. In fact, Tyranno would have acted better.

2. Deb Mukherjee- Not sure what he was doing in films.

3. Bhushan (or was it Kishen?) Kumar- Gulshan jee was his brother, or something. Forgettable.

4. The guy who the wonderful song Chalte chalte mere yeh geet was shot on..whatwashisname.

5. Dabboo Kapoor- the wonderful RD Burman tunes did nothing for his acting. People laughed when he tried enacting a cancer patient's role in Harjaee. and laughed again when he discoed in the same film...to Tujhsa haseen dekha na kaheen, tu hogi meherbaan kabhi na kabhi..

6. Sunil Shetty. Comparable with the all time greats, such as Rajendra Kumar, Manoj Kumar, and a few others.

7. John Abraham- his abs were better than his talent- abs-olutely!

My Vote Goes To...

It's voting time...in the U.S. Since we are more concerned with McD rather than Kamat's it is quite natural that I should be concerned about their next President rather than our next PM. I have put out strong arguments for and against some of their major candidates. I don't know if betting on an election in the U.S. is legal, but you would do well to pay heed, if it is.

Hillary- In case you did not know, she is the (aggrieved) wife of former Prez Bill Clinton, of Monica fame. Going by our standards, she deserves a sympathy vote. But since you can't trust a woman with a hand on the nuclear button (American view, not mine), she is ruled out.

Bernie Sanders- He is old, and talks sense on important issues like education (instead of war)- can you imagine this in gun-lobby-controlled America? What does he think of himself? A humanist? He is fighting (pun unintended) a lost cause. Therefore, I cannot vote for him.

Donald Trump- now that is what I call a candidate. (No, he is…

Bollywood Music Directors

Lots of music directors in Hindi had a signature style, or a favourite way to compose songs-maybe an instrument, or beat, or orchestration. Here is an attempt to list out a few.

C. Ramchandra- Shola jo bhadke, dil mera dhadke exemplifies his style- melody, beat, simplicity..dance by Bhagwan and Geeta Bali is just too good.

Hemant Kumar- His signature style can be found in Bees Saal Baad; the two outstanding songs for me were Zara nazron se kehdo ji, and Beqaraar karke hamen yun na jaiye-melodious, minimalistic.

SD Burman- Folksy music/tunes, but very hummable. Yeh dil, na hota bechara from Jewel Thief, or O meri, o meri, o meri Sharmeelee are examples. All the Chalti ka Naam Gaaadi songs too.

OP Nayyar- had a thing for tanga (horse-carriage) beats, and used them well. Unique use of instruments, his tunes are very recognisable. Aaiye meherbaan from Howrah Bridge and Leke pehla pehla pyar from CID (Dev Anand film) are typical OPN tunes.

Ravi- The way I remember him is by the superb me…

Visiting Faculty

Visiting faculty are of many kinds. This is my observation based on "years of experience" with them.

1. The humble, do my job and get on kind.

2. The arrogant, I know it all kind-usually from industry

3. The crowd-pleasing types, equivalent to the populist politicians (both from industry and academia)

4. Extremely boring but technically proficient in a narrow field

5. Full of war stories-boasting about what they did (many of these are a result of wild imagination rather than fact)

6. Good blenders of theory and practice (many with modest experience of both industry and academia)

7. Good researchers with lots of publications to their credit, with little idea of how practicable any of their research is (academicians, of course)

8. Good communicators, and little else- they can speak on any subject under the sun.

That's all for now. Will be back when I can remember other types.

Diwali in North Korea

During Diwali, there used to be an array of differently named bombs attractively packaged and named. Laxmi bomb, atom bomb, hydrogen bomb, lavangi, and so on are some I remember from my childhood. It is said that (male) children grow up to play with different toys. Country heads seem susceptible to this too-male ones in particular.

So North Korea gets into its own Diwali celebration act with its recent explosion that it claims is a hydrogen bomb. This has brought the usuually soporific U.N. to an emergency meeting to discuss what it should (or should not) do. Many countries have (politically correctly) expressed outrage. But what I don't get is why that outrage is missing when any random act of war is carried out by the ex-colonial or the new colonial powers.

Anyway, to express our own, maybe we can return a few awards. Anyone game for it? Criteria-

1. You must be outraged
2. You should have won an award

If not, find someone who can give you one, and then express your outrage. Bu…

Natasamrat- Film Review

This is a piece-de-resistance (pardon my French) for Nana Patekar. He essays the role (somewhat like that of Guru Dutt in another film) of a hero of the stage, who has excelled in Shakespearean drama, who falls on bad times because he chooses to live life on his own terms. And not pay heed to what society (represented by his children in this case) tells him to do.

The film is in Marathi, with English subtitles. Though the theme is familiar, as in Do Raaste or Baghbaan earlier, this one grips you because of the exceptional writing, and a scintillating performance by Nana in the role played on stage by Dr. Shriram Lagoo. Supporting him well are his family members, the really good performances being those of Mrunmayee Deshpande as his daughter, and Ms. Manjrekar as his wife- I particularly liked the wife's role. A gem of a role as Nana's friend is by another theatre veteran Vikram Gokhale.

The dialogue (soliloquies mostly in the original play, apparently) is wonderful, and Nana …