Sunday, August 30, 2009

Movie: Fast and Furious

After fleeing from the police in US, Dom(Vin Diesel) lives in the Dominican Republic with his girlfriend, Letty(Michelle Rodriguez). Here, he is engaged in robbing merchandise which are shipped by road. When Dom realizes that search for him by the authorities is yielding results, he leaves his girlfriend and his gang.

Now, he lives in Panama City. One day, he gets a call from his sister, Mia(Jordana Brewster). He is informed of Letty’s death. Letty died is in a car crash. Dom travels back to LA and watches the funeral service from a distance. He gets suspicious about Letty’s death. Subsequently, Dom examines the crash site and finds out the accident was an homicide. He also gets a clue about the murderer. While following this lead, he ends up at the apartment of David Park.

Meanwhile, Dom’s friend and  Mia’s ex-boyfriend, FBI agent Brian O’Conner(Paul Walker) is hunting a notorious drug dealer named Braga. His search leads him to David Park too. When he arrives at David Park’s apartment, Dom is already there. Even though Brian tries to arrest him, Dom escapes.

The information from David Park leads Dom and Brian to Campos(John Ortiz). Campos scouts for race car drivers to smuggles heroin across US-Mexico border for Braga. By getting into Campos’s gang, Dom can find Letty’s killer while Brian can find Braga. But Campos requires only one race car driver. All his other positions are already taken.

Now, Brian and Dom has to outrace one another to come closer to their goal. How they become friend again and also how they exact vengeance forms the rest of the story.

Justin Lin has ably directed this movie giving a fresh lease of life to the franchise. He brings in the original cast back. The action scenes are watchable.

The whole movie rides on Vin Diesel’s charm and one-liners.

Leave your brains behind and ride along with spectacular action scenes combined with bad acting and cheesy one-liners.

Genre: Action

Rating: **

Picture Courtesy: www.wikipedia.org

Tags: Movies,Vin Diesel,Michelle Rodriguez,Jordana Brewster,Paul Walker,John Ortiz,Justin Lin,Action

Movie: He's Just Not That Into You

Gigi(Ginnifer Goodwin) goes on a date with Connor(Kevin Connolly). After the date, Gigi waits for Connor to call her back. But Connor never calls. She desperately tries to decode the evening and conversation in the hope that Connor might call her back. Her friends at work, Beth(Jennifer Aniston) and Janine(Jennifer Connelly), encourages her indirectly in this hopeless obsession. On one of her attempts to locate Connor, she meets Alex(Justin Long). Alex is a friend of Connor and he runs a bar. Alex tells Gigi to abandon the pursuit as it is clearly evident that Connor is not interested in her. Very soon, Alex becomes Gigi’s dating consultant.

Janine is married to Ben(Bradley Cooper) after being in a relationship during college years. After several years of marriage, they are undergoing a stressful period as the couple is renovating their house. On inspecting the house, Janine stumbles across a pack of cigarettes. Ben, when confronted, categorically says that he does not smoke. Meanwhile, Ben is gets attracted to Anna(Scarlett Johansson), whom he runs into at the checkout counter of a supermarket.

Beth is living with Neil(Ben Affleck) for seven years. As Neil does not believe in marriage to have a great relationship, they are not married. One day, Beth, after hearing a relationship advice from Alex through Gigi, confronts Neil. There is no future if Neil is not interested in marriage. As a result, Neil moves away from the apartment and starts living in his boat.

Connor likes Anna. They were in a casual relationship a while back. Then, Anna decides to move on without any apparent reason. Connor is still holding on to the old times and wants to rekindle the romance. Connor is a real estate builder and is helped by Mary(Drew Barrymore) in placing ads for his company. Mary is single and depends on the various online social networking sites to find her match.

Directed by Ken Kwapis, this movie focuses on the lives of eight people. They are all in different stages of a relationship and are undergoing different challenges. All eight people are also interconnected. Ken has successfully brought out the relationship challenges in a fresh way.

Ginnifer Goodwin is the focal point of the story and all other stories originate from her. She is good as the perpetual loser. Jennifer Connolly is perfect as the wife who wants a perfect house( and a perfect husband) while desperately trying to make the failing marriage work. Drew Barrymore, although in a very small role, makes us laugh with challenges faced when the dating scene is moved from traditional to virtual world!

This is a perfect watch for a quiet evening.

Genre: Romance

Rating: ***

Tags: Movies,Ginnifer Goodwin,Kevin ConnollyJennifer Aniston,Jennifer Connelly,Justin Long,Bradley Cooper,Scarlett Johansson,Ben AffleckDrew Barrymore,Ken Kwapis,Romance

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Introductions

“I’m N…”. That is the way I introduce myself with hands, outstretched and ready for an handshake. This happens when I’m in the best of my moods and has successfully overcome the initial uneasiness. In the past, I was mostly at a loss on how to mingle. But, as I was extremely adept at being a copycat, I picked all these skills on the way! But they are some days, these skills can never be put to use!

But they are some who are really good at introductions. Yesterday, I came across one. In order to negate the years of neglect towards the waistline and also health, I decided to try out badminton in the morning. A friend living nearby in my co-conspirator in this venture. He had all the necessary equipment and his apartment has a club house with an indoor badminton court. This is a highly unstable venture still in it’s inception phase!

The badminton court was filled with 9 people by 6:30 am out of which seven were from Kerala. I felt at ease. It was fun to see people shouting to their partner in Malayalam, realizing you have a partner who doesn’t understand Malayalam and then switching to English!

The first match was won by my opponents! After the match, I was out of breath. As I sat down on to rest, one of my opponents came towards me and introduced, “I’m A…”. After the initial pleasantries and also the customary question about “native place” in Kerala, he took out a brochure from his pocket and presented it to me. It was a brochure of a resort. His wife is running this independent resort in Wyanad, Kerala. The brochure contained all the contact information along with pictures of the place. The brochure ends with a note “…the sad part is that the photographs do not depict the real beauty of the place…”.

I liked the way he introduced himself. Fearing inappropriateness from my side, I did not ask him what was really on my mind. “Do you carry brochure in your pocket while going for a game of badminton? It is 6 am in the morning! And how did you know that I will be here and you will be meeting me?”

Picture Courtesy: http://jobhuntdaily.com

Tags: Musings,Bangalore,Badminton

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Being Forgetful!

Being forgetful! Is this a disease or deficiency? Depending how you classify it, I’m sick or deficient! I tend to forget important dates. Luckily, my sister reminded me of the important dates when we were younger. Even today, she calls up in advance to remind me of certain dates. Luckily, she never had to remind me of my wedding anniversary! But there are disadvantages when your sister is the person who reminds you of important dates. I almost forgot her wedding anniversary! Here again, my brother-in-law came to the rescue albeit a bit late. Luckily, it was before the day was over!

Some people are blessed with the art of remembering. In school, there was a competition for “best memory”. It may sound dumb. But, yes, there was a competition for this! You are taken to a room. There are different items in the room. You are given a couple of minutes to look around and memorize the items. Then, you are taken outside and given another couple of minutes to write down the items you saw. The person who writes the maximum number of items wins! Needless to say I flunked in it and eventually dreaded this competition.

Memory helps you personally and professionally. Remember on the seventh day of seventh month at seven past seven, I let you go for that thing with your friends. Does it sound familiar? Now, if your memory is not good enough to find an alternate scenario, you are gone! The same thing works (for or against you) professionally too! Is there a remedy for the memory problem? Is there a pill available to cure this? If a remedy is not available in the market, is someone researching on the same?

I don’t want to attain the heights in which I can recall birthdays and also zodiac signs at the drop of a hat! Still, I would love to give a small boost to my memory! However, a recent incident made me realize that I’m not bad.

A friend of mine forgot his son’s birthday! Both of us have been planning a trip to Kerala to visit another friend. Mistaking our unplanned life for an important, responsible and busy work life, our friend in Kerala gave us two months of notice. This event is planned in the second week of September. But our friend in Kerala has been calling all of us and following up on our availability since July! When they are only 3 week to the event, my forgetful friend remembers his son’s birthday date falls on the same day as this event! Yes, he is a busy man and he has only one child!

Picture Courtesy: http://www.symbian-freak.com

Tags: Musings,Memory

Movie: Kandaswamy

In an obscure town in Tamil Nadu, a temple devoted to Lord Kandaswamy(another name for Lord Muruga) is gaining popularity. The people can write down their wishes on a piece of paper and then tie it on to a tree. The wish is granted in time.

A corrupt police officer(Mansoor Ali Khan) asks a huge sum of money as bribe. He reaches his home drunk and sleeps. But in the middle of night, he is awakened by a man dressed in cape and an headgear resembling a rooster. He moves and sounds like a rooster. The caped crusader is Kandaswamy(Vikram) and he is responding to a wish that was written and tied on to the tree. After getting beaten up, the corrupt police officer returns the money.

Meanwhile, a CBI officer associated with Economics Offenses, Kandaswamy leads a daring raid on the industrialist PPP(Ashish Vidyarthi). He has the blessing of the CBI Joint Director Krishna Rao(Krishna). During the raid, he uncovers bank accounts and documents related to property deals from PPP’s home. PPP feigns a stroke in order to escape from authorities. PPP only reveals his true health to his secretary(Y G Mahendran). Even his daughter, Subbalakshmi(Shriya Saran) is unaware about this. Subbu aka Subbalakshmi is hell bent on revenge after seeing her dad’s state.

The legend of Kanthaswamy becomes more popular day by day. The local DIG Parantharaman(Prabhu) gets suspicious as he believes this is not divine intervention. He starts investigating further. But, Kandaswamy is always a step ahead of him. Unknown to the local DIG, the caped crusader and CBI officer are the same. In fact, there is a group of people who is behind the legend of Kandaswamy. This group is very good at analysis, espionage and weaponry. Their aim to remove the economic disparity in India. In order to achieve this goal, they rob from the rich and give to poor ala Robin Hood.

Soon, Kandaswamy turns against another industrialist named Rajmohan(Mukesh Tiwari). Rajmohan has loads of money and travels in a van which serves as a office and an apartment. He seduces young girls by offering money. On one of such escapades, Kandaswamy intervenes and saves the girls.

Now, Kandaswamy has three powerful adversaries – PPP, Rajmohan and Parantharaman. On top of it, Subbu uses her beauty to entrap Kandaswamy. How Kandaswamy succeeds in his mission forms the rest of the story.

Susi Ganesan directs this movie. He has successfully created a super hero on paper. But he has not been able to translate this to into an interesting movie. So, barring some beautifully choreographed action scenes and breathtaking locales, nothing else stays in your mind. Moreover, he does not have a good script resulting in a barrage of songs with very little intervals between them. The songs become an irritant as the story does not move forward. He has also introduced a separate comedy track by Vadivelu which falls flat. His superhero, Kandaswamy, is also a master of disguise. But there aren’t enough instances in the movie where the audience feels this is true. In the movie, Kandaswamy dresses up an old man. But you can hardly see if it is Vikram as he is silhouetted for the most part of the two minute appearance. The length works against the movie. The movie is 3 hours and 20 minutes long. When Kandaswamy has a showdown in Mexico, I was falling asleep! Similarly, I groaned when Mumaith Khan dances on the screen before the final confrontation. Here, I’m waiting for the movie to end and Susi is prolonging the climax for another 5 minutes. A Mumaith Khan dance at this point is not going earn you any brownies! I wish you had spend those 5 minutes for reviewing your script!

Vikram puts in an earnest effort. Except for his acting, everything else in the movie works against him! Vikram is good in the fight scenes and looks handsome.

Prabhu is good as the local DIG. The rest of the cast hams and irritates.

Even a die-hard Vikram fan will have to take a pillow to the cinemas. This is sleep inducing.

Language: Tamil

Genre: Action

Rating: *

Picture Courtesy: www.nowrunning.com

Tags: Movies,Vikram,Shriya Saran,Prabhu,Krishna,Ashish Vidyarthi,Mukesh Tiwari,Y G Mahendran,Vadivelu,Mansoon Ali Khan,Susi Ganesan,Action

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Movie: Death Race

Some time in the near future, the American economy has collapsed. As a result, the crime rates go up and the prisons are filled in with inmates. Out  of one such prison, Terminal Island prison, a reality show named “Death Race” is telecasted. In the modern day race styled on the ancient gladiator fights in the Roman Coliseum, the racecar drivers battle against each other on powerful cars loaded with weapons as the world watches on the internet.

Jensen Ames(Jason Statham), an ex-racecar driver, works in a steel plant to make both ends meet. The steel plant shuts down and Jensen returns home with whatever cash he was able to get from his former employer. On the same night, he and his wife is attacked by a masked man. His wife is murdered and Jensen is framed for the murder. He is sentenced to Terminal Island prison.

Terminal Island prison is run by Warden C Hennessey(Joan Allen). Hennessey offers Jensen his freedom. In order to get his freedom, Jensen has to take part in Death Race as Frankenstein. Frankenstein was a popular racecar driver on Death Race. His legendary feud with Machine Gun Joe(Tyrese Gibson) leads him to an accident which results in his death on the operating table. Frankenstein is heavily disfigured and wears a mask all the time. So, Jensen can easily act as Frankenstein.

Jensen is put under the supervision of the Coach(Ian McShane). The Coach is an excellent mechanic and designs the cars used for racing. He teaches Jensen the basics of the game and prepares him for the race. In the meantime, Jensen gets in the trouble with the prison gang named “Brotherhood” which is lead by Pachenko. Pachenko’s mannerisms reminds Jensen of his wife’s killer.

The race begins and Chase(Natalie Martinez) is assigned as Jensen’s navigator. The race has three stages and is spread over a span of three days. What happens in the race and how Jensen uncovers the mystery behind his imprisonment forms the rest of the story.

Paul W S Anderson directs this movie.  There are good chase scenes and noisy explosions. The people gets crushed and battered in the most gruesome way. The emphasis is on mindless action and graphic detail.

Jason Statham puts in a honest performance as Jensen. But the movie do not have a good story. So, he ends up fighting well and mouthing cheesy dialogues.

Joan Allen is miscast as Hennessey. She looks out of place. So is the case with Ian McShane.

This is for cheap thrills. If you are an action junkie, this is recommended for you.

Genre: Action

Rating: *

Picture Courtesy: Yahoo! Movies

Tags: Movies,Jason Statham,Tyrese Gibson,Ian McShane,Natalie Martinez,Paul W S Anderson,Drama

Movie: Revolutionary Road

Frank(Leonardo DiCaprio) and April(Kate Winslet) are a married couple living in a quiet and beautiful community in the suburbs. Frank and April met a few years ago in one of the night clubs and hit it off. At that time, April wanted to become an actress and was going to acting school. Frank was not sure what he wanted to do with life although he had a job. Now, Frank and April are married and has two children. They moved to the suburbs before the first child was born.

The Wheelers – Frank and April – are admired in the neighborhood. They are a perfect couple for the outside world. In reality, their marriage is in trouble. April does not like the life in the suburbs. They have frequent arguments. During these arguments, Frank is pushed to the edge that he almost uses his fists.

On his 30th birthday, Frank is bored. He seduces a young secretary and spends the day at her apartment. When he returns home, April and kids surprises him with a birthday cake. The family parties. After the party, April suggests moving to Paris. Hearing this, Frank becomes uneasy. But, April convinces him. The family will move to Paris and April will find a job as a secretary since it is highly paid. Frank can find his true interests while April supports the family.

Frank and April announces Paris plans to their neighbors. Shep Campbell(David Harbour), who lives next door, and his wife are puzzled. But, they do no express their bewilderment in front of the Wheelers. Instead, they discuss it privately. Frank and April also tell their plans to Helen Givings(Kathy Bates). Helen is the realtor who sold them their house. Helen visits the Wheelers with her mathematician son, John Givings(Michael Shannon), who is undergoing psychiatric care. John is delighted to hear about the Paris move.

Frank also submits his resignation. But, his latest proposal has already got the attention from his boss and his boss offers him a new position, more prominent and also high paying. Frank has second thoughts. Meanwhile, April discovers that she is pregnant.

The rest of the movie tells us if Frank and April will be able to move to Paris or not.

Sam Mendes directs this drama. Like his earlier movie, American Beauty, this also focuses on life in a beautiful American neighborhood. He presents us with characters and slowly peels the layers to show us their inner self. When the characters are introduced, he successfully makes the audience believe there is more to them. But, the audience have to wait as he shows you what really drives these characters.

Leonardo DiCaprio is excellent as Frank. Frank wants to help his wife. But he ends up antagonizing her. He is frustrated for not able to console his wife and this fuels his anger. This is not an easy role to play. But, DiCaprio succeeds as Frank.

Kate Winslet is good as April. April is bored with the life in suburbs. She wants peace to think! She never gets it as Frank talks constantly. This drives her mad. But, she repents after the fight.

This is a serious movie and a good watch. However, some scenes are not suitable for kids. So, watch it at your discretion.

Genre: Drama

Rating: ***

Picture Courtesy: Yahoo! Movies

Tags: Movies,Leonardo DiCaprio,Kate Winslet,David Harbour,Kathy Bates,Michael Shannon,Sam Mendes,Drama

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Danger Light

Boy 1: Have you noticed a couple of new faces in the other project?

Boy 2: Yes. Couple of eye candies.

Boy 1: Especially that one who is walking in the cup of coffee.

Boy 2: Yeah, man! But, the danger light is on.

It was a lazy afternoon at work and I was overhearing two of my colleagues engaged in a conversation. As the conversation progressed, I was interested and disinterested in alternating cycles. My interest spiked up on hearing the word “eye candy”. Then, it dipped down as these boys were young enough to be discussing school going girls. Finally, the levels spiked up on hearing the word “danger light”. Unable to contain the curiosity, I walked up to them and enquired.

Me: Well… Excuse me for overhearing.

Boy 1 & Boy 2: Tsk Tsk…

Boy 2: Bad man with bad manners. You should not be doing this.

Me: *sheepish smile and meekly* You guys were loud.

My colleagues gave me a cold look as I defended myself. Realizing this to be a wrong move, I decided to ask the question that was burning me.

Me: Tell me what did you mean by danger light.

Boy 1 & Boy 2: *laughing*

Boy 1: Aren’t you married?

Me: Yes.

Boy 1: Then you know.

Me: No, I don’t know.

Boy 2: It is the thing on their forehead.

Me: You mean the bindi?

Boy 1: No! It is the red thing they wear on the parting line of their hair.

Yes, it is sindoor. It is red in color like the danger light!

Picture Courtesy: http://www.webindia123.com

Tags: Musings,Bindi,Sindoor

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Bus Ride and Masks

I felt like an alien after stepping into the red Hi-Tech bus, Vayu Vajra. Most of the people around me were wearing masks over their nose and mouth. After initial awkwardness, fear possessed me. I do not have a mask! I’m without protection! It was too late to turn back. The automatic doors shut behind me and the bus moved forward.

The conductor and the driver sported masks too. My fear turned into pity as these two Samaritans, on government payroll, are more prone to the risk of flu. A couple of days earlier, I happen to lend my ears to a person in the whining mode. He feared catching flu because he lives in an area dominated by a certain religious community. I asked what is the link between a religion and flu. The people from that religion travel a lot! Trust us to bring a religious flavor at the unexpected moments! I wonder what would the conductor and the driver whine about?

The bus was cooler because of the air condition. I began to suffocate as I imagined flu viruses floating around. I did not open my mouth fearing they will enter my body through my mouth. But I left my nostrils open because I didn’t want to die of asphyxiation. Gathering courage, I decided to take on the consequences in my usual style – my usual style being without a plan. On second thoughts, without a plan is exaggeration. Without even an “outline” of a plan would be apt.

I examined my fellow passengers while settling down on the comfortable seat. There were two types of masks. One was light greenish masks which was a popular model among my fellow passengers. The other type was a white mask with a small circle sticking out from the mouth. This looked like a more expensive brand for it wasn’t very popular.

The bus stopped at an intersection. While waiting for the green signal, the driver lowered his mask and lowered the window. Now, he looked like a doctor who came out of an operation theater. Although he looked cool, he was susceptible to the flu now - just like me and a handful of other unmasked travelers. Then he performed the most despicable act. He spat outside! Whoever decided to make the mask never thought about our birthright while designing this thing!

Picture Courtesy: http://new.aol.ca

Tags: Musings,Bangalore,Flu,Vayu Vajra

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Movie: Kaminey

Charlie(Shahid Kapoor) and Guddu(Shahid Kapoor) are twin brothers. Charlie lisps while Guddu stammers. They lead separate lives and don’t interact with each other.

Charlie is in a gang which makes money by fixing horse races. The gang is headed by three eccentric Bengali brothers. Charlie is very close with third brother, Mikhail(Chandan Roy Sanyal). Charlie loses all his life’s saving on a race. He interrogates the jockey and finds out a man named Francis was instrumental in fixing this race.

Guddu is shocked to find his girlfriend, Sweety(Priyanka Chopra), pregnant in spite of all the precautions. Guddu does not want to marry Sweety now as he has planned his life very carefully. Instead, he wants to marry in 2014 when he has a good job and saved enough. Sweety persuades Guddu for an immediate marriage. Sweety reveals that she is the sister of Bhope Bhau(Amol Gupte), a gangster who loves and preaches Maharashtra. Bhope would not be kind to Guddu. After carefully thinking, Guddu relents for the marriage.

Meanwhile Charlie tracks Francis and reaches a posh hotel. In spite of warning from Mikhail for not interfering before the Bengali babus make a decision, Charlie breaks into Francis’s room and attacks him. After ransacking the room for petty cash, they run into a fight with Francis’s partner and gang, who suddenly show up in the room. Charlie steals a jeep from two gentlemen in order to escape.

The two gentlemen are corrupt anti-narcotics cops who are also brothers. They had come into a hotel for stealing cocaine for a gangster named, Tashi(Tensing Nima). They hid the cocaine in a guitar box and loaded the guitar box on to the jeep when Charlie stole the jeep. Now, the corrupt cops are searching for Charlie.

By this time, Bhope knows about Guddu and Sweety. He sents his henchmen to Guddu’s office. One of his henchmen identifies from Guddu from his picture and tells everyone about his connection with Charlie. Now, Bhope sends his henchmen to stop the wedding. But, the wedding is over. Sweety escapes with Guddu after an altercation with Bhope’s gang. But, Guddu is picked by the two anti-narcotics cops who is searching for Charlie.

Charlie decides to sell the coke and raise cash to become a bookie. So, he approaches Mikhail. Mikhail tells Charlie that he is sitting on a gold mine and agrees to buy the coke. Charlie and Mikhail goes to Charlie’s home to get the coke and finds Bhope waiting for him.

Now, the brothers have to help each other to get out this mess. How they help each other reluctantly and finds peace with their old differences forms the rest of the story. All the characters converge at the end of the movie to bring us a never seen before violent and thrilling climax.

This UTV production is directed by Vishal Bharadwaj. Vishal is the music director and also handles the background score in addition to the songs. Vishal pays a fitting homage to Quentin Tarantino with this movie. The colorful characters, the thrilling background score and multiple story telling with suspense are all tributes to Quentin. The movie demands an attentive audience because the pace of the movie is very fast. The brilliant use of background score heightens the suspense and thrill. The use of VFX is barely noticeable. Vishal has used camera positions and soft focus(blurred backgrounds) when the twins appear on the same frame. This is an old technique. But you are carried away with the action on the screen to notice this.

Guddu is not a difficult role except for the stammering. Shahid Kapoor has done this before in the past. But, Charlie is an alien territory for Shahid and he has acted well as Charlie. He lisps correctly and also conveys the menace behind the man. Priyanka is perfect as Sweety. She talks Marathi and if you do not understand Marathi, you will not understand half of things she says. But, her portrayal transgresses the language barrier.

Amol Guptes’ Bhope Bhau is a true Kaminey. He laughs at Charlie for lisping. He cuts deals behind his sister’s back. He shields himself with dead bodies. He acts like a dead body to escape a potential killer. Amol is indeed talented and make this role a memorable one.

Leave the kids behind and go for this. It is violent but very enjoyable.

Language: Hindi

Genre: Thriller

Rating: ****

Picture Courtesy: Bollywood Hungama

Tags: Movies,Shahid Kapoor,Priyanka Chopra,Amol Gupte,Chandan Roy Sanyal,Vishal Bharadwaj,UTV,Thriller

Friday, August 14, 2009

I will provide for you

Yesterday, I listened to a person recounting his personal experience. He started working at a very young age. After several attempts, he had passed the Std X exams. When he started his career, he was doing the menial job of transporting machines by picking them up physically from one location to another. Given his educational qualifications, he qualified only for such kind of jobs. Blessed with good health, he could perform the jobs assigned to him at ease.

During the early years of his career, he was hardly able to make both ends meet. So he started looking for answers in religion and god-men. He underwent pilgrimages and started reading various religious books. Finally, one day while reading one such holy book, he hit upon a statement. The statement says that God sees all his pains and will provide for him. He was baffled for he could not figure how God is going to help him. Time flew while he searched for an answer.

Then one day, after being put off by the attitude of a colleague, a senior engineer asked this person if he wanted to learn assembling machines and networking. He nodded indicating consent. The ensuing three months was hectic and he was trained informally by three different persons. After learning all that was necessary and proving his capabilities, he was elevated to a better position in the organization.

Whenever there was a hardware failure, the problems were usually referred to him. Since he works in an industry plagued with high attrition rate, many of the colleagues left the organization and joined new ones. But they kept in touch with him and would refer in him in case of issues. Now, even on Sundays, he gets a lot of referrals. He makes enough money even on Sundays by attending to these referrals from home.

At present, he is attending a distance education program for his Bachelors degree. God has provided for him!

Tags: Musings,God

Movie: Bhramaram

Unni(Suresh Menon) lives in Kovai with his family. His family consists of his wife, Latha(Lakshmi Gopalaswami), a daughter, Lachu, and a son. His son is away, studying in a residential school. Unni works as a stock broker.

One fine day, a stranger(Mohanlal) turns up at Unni’s doorsteps when Unni is away. The stranger has a small travel bag which he holds close to his body and has a disheveled look. The stranger is looking for his classmate, Unni. Both of them studied in the same class around 30 years back in the 7th Standard.

Latha is suspicious about him. Before she could protest, the stranger walks into the house recounting tales from the past. When Latha starts to protest, Lachu wakes up crying. The stranger comforts Lachu and becomes friendly with her in a short period of time.

Unni has a sudden business trip to Chennai and returns home to pack his bags. At the house, he meets the stranger. But, he is unable to identify the stranger. Unni fails to recall the stranger even after he identifies him as Jose.

Jose leaves the home with Unni to the railway station. Since Kovai was rocked by bomb blasts on that day, the cops are all over the place. They stop Unni and Jose to check their baggage. As a result, Unni gets delayed and escapes from a blast at the railway station.

The two classmates – Jose and Unni – celebrate their escape by drinking at a local bar. Jose end up staying at Unni’s house. Latha does not approve of this. The next day, Jose tells Unni that he needs to talk to him personally on a serious matter. Assuming the serious matter to be financial help, Unni gives his number to Jose. Jose writes the number on his palm. When Lachu enquires about the reason for behind writing this on palm, Jose replies he never forgets anything written on his palm.

Later at work, Unni calls up his friend Alex(Muralikrishnan). Alex is also not able to place Jose. But on hearing about the peculiar habit of writing on the palm, Alex is shaken. He informs Unni the stranger could be Shivankutty. Now, Unni is also terrified. He calls Latha to warn her about Shivankutty and not to let him in. But it is too late as Shivankutty turns up at their house and starts cooking chicken biriyani for everyone.

Unni rushes back to home to confront Shivankutty. Shivankutty warns Unni to keep quiet as the truth will only hurt Unni.

Shivankutty has an agenda. The rest of the movie reveals the real reason for Shivankutty’s visit. In order to unravel the mystery, Unni is forced to go on a trip with Shivankutty and transported to a life which is alien to him.

Blessy directs this thriller. He maintains the suspense on Shivankutty’s agenda throughout the movie and gives us many red herrings. But, in certain places, he extends the scenes thereby testing the patience of the audience. He, along with the photographer, Ajayan Vincent, has chosen never-seen-before breathtaking locales without leaving India. The drive to Shivankutty’s house through the dangerous terrain instills awe and fear in us. Blessy has relied a lot on VFX in many scenes. Although VFX is better than most of the movies, these shots can easily be identified.

Mohanlal stands out in his portrayal of Shivankutty. He is excellent as a man who is walking the thin line that divides sanity and insanity. He keeps us on the hook with his smile, his eyes and his energy.

For Suresh Menon, this is a departure from his comic image. He proves his ability to enact a serious role. During the fight, on the way to Shivankutty’s house, Suresh Menon displays the dark nature of Unni effectively.

Bhoomika Chawla has a small role as Shivankutty’s wife. She and rest of the cast are dwarfed by Mohanlal and Suresh Menon.

This thriller is recommended.

Language: Malayalam

Genre: Thriller

Rating: ***

Picture Courtesy: http://www.thecompleteactor.com/

Tags: Movies,Mohanlal,Suresh Menon,Lakshmi Gopalaswamy,Muralikrishnan,Bhoomika Chawla,Blessy,Ajayan Vincent,Thriller

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Exploitation!

“Exploitation!”, fumed my friend.

Three of us were discussing about apartments and their proximity to work. The friend, who is fuming now, was searching for a new apartment. The rest of us were surprised as he moved into this apartment in the recent past.

We: Why are you looking again?

He: I looking for an apartment which is closer to my wife’s workplace.

We: But she works for the big company and has the option of working from home. So shouldn’t you be looking for a place nearer to your work?

He: Working from home! Because of that option, she is working till midnight. This is bad. Exploitation! The organization is exploiting the employees!

I always thought working from home was a boon. I have never been blessed with this. But, for the first time, I heard someone complaining about this. Soon, the inbuilt prejudices sprang it’s head.

We: You sure about the organization? I have two neighbors who vouch for the organization because they have freedom and flexibility to work from home.

He: *puzzled* Hmm.. May be.. In my case…

We: Who is your wife reporting to? Where is the person located? Is he a local?

He: Yes, he is a local.

We: *laughs* There you go!

He: *after a pause* Her manager joined recently. He belonged to a smaller organization before!

We: *laughing louder*

It makes sense now. It is always difficult to work with a new guy, especially when he comes from a small organization.

My advice. Patience till the new guy gets corrupted in the ways of the big organization.

Picture Courtesy: http://www.computerweekly.com

Tags: Musings,Work From Home,Exploitation

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Movie: Gran Torino

Walt Kowalski(Clint Eastwood) organizes his wife’s funeral. Walt leads a retired life in Michigan after working for Ford and also serving in the Army during the Korean war. He has prejudices and is a difficult man to talk to because of his foul mouth. Unknown to others, his health is deteriorating.

His sons, Mitch(Brian Haley) and Steve, lives away from Walt and dreads interacting with him. But, they are concerned about his life in the old house without their mom. The neighborhood is becoming dangerous to live in. Walt will be the only remaining white in a community dominated by Asian immigrants.

After the funeral, Walt’s grandchildren invade his garage to find the war memorabilia and a vintage car, Gran Torino. The oldest granddaughter asks for the Gran Torino and is met with harsh criticism from Walt.

Father Janovich(Christopher Carley) visits Walt and requests him to attend church. But, Walt sends him away after rebuking him. Walt had attended the church for his late wife and does not regard God or the church in high esteem. Father Janovich is not easily dissuaded and keeps coming back.

The house adjoining Walt’s is inhabited by Hmong family. There are two teenagers in the family – Sue and Thao(Bee Vang), her brother. While Sue is an extrovert, Thao is an introvert. Thao is forced to join an Asian gang. As the initiation process, Thao has to steal Walt’s Gran Torino. Although Walt thwarts the burglary, Thao escapes.

Later, when Thao gets into trouble with the gang, Walt saves Thao and his family. As a result, the Hmong neighborhood put gifts on his doorsteps as a token of respect. Soon, Walt again saves Sue from being attacked by three dangerous guys. In the first instance, the fight had moved to his lawn and he wanted all of them out of his lawn. In the second instance, Walt weighs the option of driving away before he intervenes.

Sue and Walt becomes friends. Walt is invited for a Hmong party at Sue’s place. For the first time in his life, Walt throws away his prejudices and tries to find a common link with his neighbors. He also starts mentoring Thao to become a man.

But, Walt unleashes a torrent of events that alters the lives of Sue and Thao violently. The rest of the movie depicts how Walt secures their future in the neighborhood.

Clint Eastwood directs and acts in this movie. At 79, Clint has become a seasoned storyteller. He finds scripts with deep emotional quotient. This movie relies on performances and it is Clint’s show all the way. Walt is alone and aging. But, he never asks for help. It is difficult to watch this movie without drawing parallels from Clint’s successful onscreen roles. Walt is an aging Dirty Harry with prejudices. Eventually, he finds peace with himself and learns to adapt. You can still see the calm and cool posture of the Man with No Name before the gunfight. Now, there is a slight hunchback due to old age.

Though I wish Clint does not retire anytime in the future, this movie is a ideal way to bid “Good bye” to acting roles. This is a must see for fans.

Genre: Drama

Rating: ****

Picture Courtesy: Yahoo! Movies

Tags: Movies,Clint Eastwood,Brian Haley,Christopher Carley,Bee Wang,Drama

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Fall

The birthday cake was ready! Most of the invitees have already turned up. The food arrived, running behind schedule. I was entering my apartment with the food when I witnessed the fall. My daughter was climbing up the chair from behind. The chair was empty and couldn’t even withstand a small girl climbing it’s back. The balance tilted and she fell down. The back of her head hit the steps when she touched the floor.

Many people rushed immediately to spot along with me. The surroundings were hazy and my eyes were focused on my daughter and ground zero. Lifting her up, we found blood on the floor where she was lying. There were spots of blood on her dress too. Somebody gently ran their hand against her head and the searching hand was covered in blood. My daughter was crying from shock and the pain.

The resultant panic was eased a bit when the doctor in the group stepped forward. The doctor is an ENT specialist, nonetheless a doctor. The doctor looked hard to find the origin blood parting the thick hair slowly and carefully. Soon, the doctor found the wound and informed me, “We will have to suture this”. The eyes and smile of the doctor indicated urgency on top of calmness and kindness.

We wrapped ice around a towel and put it on the wound. In a matter of seconds, the towel was colored red. Then, we went looking for an hospital. St John’s is the reliable hospital in the area. In order to avoid delays in the traffic, we opted for VIMS hospital.

After reaching the hospital, I rushed into the emergency room with my wife. We explained the situation to the male nurse on duty. He immediately directed us to a bed in the ER. By this time, My daughter got frightened again and started crying. She was silent till reaching the hospital.

The nurses rolled in a cart besides the bed. They started cleaning the wound by taking all the necessary items from the cart. After cleaning the wound, he was ready to shave hair from the affected area before putting on the stitches. Since my daughter was uneasy and crying, the nurses covered her in a bed sheet to restrict her movements. After this, they shaved a bit of hair to clear the wounded area.

Once the wound was cleaned, the nurses showed me the wound. The wound was deep and requires 4 stitches. We had placed my daughter on her belly and my wife was besides the bed with both their faces pressed to each other. The male nurse applied local anesthesia on both sides of the wound. He accomplished this by poking needle into at least four points around the wound. The crying and resistance became stronger with each poke. The local anesthesia proved unworthy for the subsequent suturing.

By the time it was over, the male nurse was drenched in sweat. He knotted 6 stitches on the wound! This was followed by a CT scan which revealed no other damages.

The stitches will come off in another 5 days and my daughter is  back in action.

Picture Courtesy: http://www.trafficsign.us

Tags: Musings,Wife,Daughter

Monday, August 10, 2009

Movie: Love Aaj Kal

Jai Vardhan Singh(Saif Ali Khan) meets Meera(Deepika Padukone) while partying at a club in London. Jai hits on her, dances with her and sparks fly between them. They start dating and soon become involved in a relationship. Jai dreams of working for Golden Gate Bridge authorities and eventually building bridges. Meera plans to return to India and pursue her career in fresco painting and restoring Indian heritages. Before Meera returns to India, Jai and Meera decides to breakup as they do not believe in the long-distance relationship. They even host a breakup party for their close friends.

After the party, Jai is restless and stops at his regular restaurant for a drink. Even though the restaurant is closing for the day, the restaurateur, Veer Singh(Rishi Kapoor) agrees to serve Jai and his friends. Veer is inquisitive about Jai and Meera as he has overheard their conversations before. Veer persuades Jai to meet Meera at the airport and even volunteers to drive Jai to the airport.

Meera is surprised to see Jai at the airport. At the same time, she admits about waiting for him to show up. At the airport, Veer looks at the couple with pride and happiness. Later on Jai’s insistence, Veer tells him a part of his story. Years back in Delhi, a young Veer Singh(Saif Ali Khan) sees Harleen Kaur(Giselli Monteiro) and immediately takes a liking for her. Veer follows her around and Harleen requests him not to make trouble for her. On contemplation, Veer decides to be discreet. But he is still determined to marry her and makes a pledge to marry her.

Jai laughs at Veer for making a pledge on marrying Harleen. As he is laughing at Veer, Meera calls him on the phone. They end giving advice to each other on how to court opposite sex, what looks good on each other and what their negative points are. They continue to talk to each other through phone, emails and chat.

Soon Meera meets a colleague, Vikram(Rahul Khanna), who is interested in her. Jai encourages her to go out for dinner with him. Feeling a bit lost, Jai goes out partying and meets a Swiss girl. Soon, their lives start moving in different directions. Yet, both still misses each other. Veer watches all this with astonishment as he is able to understand today’s youth. When Harleen moved to Calcutta, Veer borrowed money from friends and took a train to Calcutta. There, he realizes Harleen is also in love with him.

The rest of the movie tells us personal struggles of two couples – Jai & Meera and Veer & Harleen. Love triumphs and they unite. But, how do they unite forms the rest of the story.

Imtiaz Ali directs this movie after the hugely successful Jab We Met. He is aided by a good story and simple effective dialogues. He succeeds in the differentiating Aaj and Kal with effective color tones. Kal has a sepia tone. But the use of two Saif Ali Khans (one for Jai and the other for younger Veer) leads to confusion in an ordinary viewer. Also, the visuals when titles are rolling is also confusing as the audience is confused if it is present, flash back or a flash forward. The film runs in two parallel tracks just like Rang De Basanti. Unlike Rang De Basanti, the screenplay is not strong enough for seamless transition between the two tracks.

Saif Ali Khan excels in spite of looking older for the role at times. He has right expressions and the right body language. But he fails in the right accent for young Veer. Saif’s Jai is slow to realize his love for Meera. He is excellent in the nervous scenes where he blabbers and speaks his inner feelings.

Giselli Monteiro steals our hearts as young Harleen. Watch out for her eyes when she moves across to sit on the opposite train seat in order to watch Veer on the platform and when Veer gets beaten up her relatives.

Deepika Padukone is okay. But she gets overshadowed by Saif, Giselli and Rishi. Neetu Kapoor, real life wife of Rishi Kapoor, puts in a one-minute appearance in the movie.

On the whole, this is recommended even with the flaws.

Language: Hindi

Genre: Romance

Rating: ***

Picture Courtesy: Bollywood Hungama

Tags: Movies,Saif Ali Khan,Deepika Padukone,Rishi Kapoor,Giselli Monteiro,Neetu Kapoor,Imtiaz Ali,Romance

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Without a signal

At 11:30 pm on Friday, my cell phone displayed “SOS” instead of “EDGE”. This indicates that I’m out of cell phone network. At that time, I was in my apartment and there has been any problem with the availability of the cell phone network in my locality.

On any other day, this would have brought happiness. If there is no network, then I will not be receiving any messages. No phone calls! No sms-es! No emails! It should have been pure unadulterated bliss. But, I was tensed instead.

My friends will try to reach me in another 10 minutes. Unable to reach me on my cell phone, they will reach me on my landline. That would wake up the whole household. My wife and daughter were sleeping peacefully in the bedroom. I called up my friends from the landline and told them about the situation. Now, they will no phone calls on the landline.

At 11:55 pm, there was a barely recognizable knock on the door. The knock continued till I opened the door. When I opened the door, I was greeted by a group of familiar smiling faces. I ushered them in silently. They set up the table in the living room.

I went inside the bedroom. I woke up my wife and daughter. When they came into the living room, all of us sang to my wife, “Happy Birthday to you…”

Picture Courtesy: http://www.inkycircus.com

Tags: Musings,Wife,Birthday

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Why and How?

IMG0041A Yesterday, a colleague showed me a photo in his mobile. The photo contained a whiteboard and it was taken almost a year back. The whiteboard contained my caricature!

I was irked to find myself depicted with a big black wart on my face. The wart made me resemble a Daku Bhairav Singh. But luckily, it was a caricature of somebody else. Below the Daku Bhairav Singh, there is another caricature that is difficult to see because of the flash from camera phone! That is me!

My curious self wanted to learn the identity of the artist. But my colleague kept his lips tight about the artist fearing repercussions. Generous doses of persuasion and threats did not yield any result. But I was able to narrow it down to a handful of people by questioning the time frame of creation and location of the whiteboard.

The inspiration for this caricature was the constant nagging by me. During those days, I was working out of Gurgaon and all my team were located in Bangalore. When an issue arose, I immediately called the the perpetrator on phone. The perpetrators may differ. But my questions were the  same.

I had only two sets of questions to ask. Why did this happen? How are you preventing this in the future? The problems were dime a dozen during that time. After being questioned a few times, the artist drew the caricature as a form of relaxation. By this time, the artist had given up on curses and prayers for my early demise.

I insisted my colleague on revealing the identity of the artist for the rest of the day. After going through the picture on the mobile, the date of creation was identified by looking at the time when the picture was taken. So, a friend suggested to look at the emails sent on that day. If I find why and how in one of the emails directed to a team member, the artist can easily be found out.

It is too much of work and not a foolproof method. I have the shortlisted the probable artist to an handful of people. So I have decided to penalize all of them!

Tags: Musings,Colleague,Gurgaon,Bangalore,Caricature

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Movie: Eagle Eye

Somewhere in the Middle East, a suspected terrorist attends a funeral. Since this is an excellent opportunity to assassinate him, the US armed forces prepare for an attack. While analyzing the real time data, the DOD’s computer system recommends the mission to be aborted. The Secretary of Defense (Michael Chiklis) agrees with the recommendation. But the President overrides and authorizes the bombing.

Jerry Shaw(Shia LeBeouf) is informed of the death of his twin brother. While Jerry is a Stanford dropout who is struggling to pay his rent, his twin scored well in academics and was serving as a Lieutenant with the Air Force. Their father is still disappointed with Jerry and willing to help him out. But, Jerry is too proud to accept his father’s offer. After returning from the funeral, he suddenly finds a lot of cash in his bank account and is delivered a consignment of weapons and explosives at his apartment.

As soon as he finds the consignment, he gets a mysterious call from a lady. The lady orders Jerry to escape as FBI is on the way to arrest him. He ignores the warning and get caught by FBI. At FBI office, he is interrogated by Special Agent Thomas Morgan(Billy Bob Thornton). He is soon joined by Special Agent Zoe Perez(Rosario Dawson) from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

Rachel Holloman(Michelle Monaghan) is a single mother. Her son is on his way to Washington DC for a band recital. After her son’s departure, Rachel is out partying at night. She also gets a mysterious call from a lady while she is at the bar. She is asked to perform tasks to save her son’s life.

Soon, Jerry is aided by the mystery woman through phone and display tickers to escape out of the FBI prison. In the outside world, Jerry is aided by Rachel. The rest of story provides the connection between the first event and three people, Jerry, Rachel and mystery woman to unravel the suspense.

DJ Caruso directs this movie. The movie opens up beautifully making the audience fret over the connection between the various events unfolding before their eyes. The audience is completely hooked when Jerry and Rachel meets up. But the movie takes a downturn when the suspense is revealed about the mystery woman. It was unbelievable.

There are no performances to write about. Shia LeBeouf is yet again doing the role of an dysfunctional young man getting into trouble. Billy Bob Thornton put on the act of an hardliner and gets to mouth cheesy lines. Rosario Dawson has nothing special to do other than looking good in shades and suits.

Genre: Thriller

Rating: *

Picture Courtesy: http://www.firstshowing.net/

Tags: Movies,Eagle Eye,Michael Chiklis,Shia LeBeouf,Billy Bob Thornton,Rosario Dawson,Michelle Monaghan,DJ Caruso,Thriller

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I’m pregnant!

“I’m pregnant”, she said and started sobbing. He fell off the chair flabbergasted! He has been married for the past three years and has a daughter who is 3 years old! But even then, he was taken by surprise. The lady who was sobbing was his colleague and not his wife.

He was engaged in a brain storming session with his team members. As soon as this session was over, a female colleague in his team approached him and said, “I want to talk to you”. Still elated at the successful and productive brain storming session, he ushered her into an huddle room. After being seated, she announced her predicament and started sobbing.

Caught by the recent turn of events, he played out different permutations and combinations of reactions in his mind. “I already have a baby!”. “My wife wouldn’t approve!”. “This is too early for another child”.

When the dust of confusion settled down, he realized there was no reason to panic! She was only his colleague and she is also married.

He: There is no reason to cry! This is something you should be happy about. If you are worried about leave of absence, there is…

She: No, I’m not about worried about that. I am worried about my in-laws.

He: Why? They should be happy!

She: Not sure. I have not told them yet. I’m not sure how to tell them!

He: (confused again!) hmmm…

She: My husband just went abroad on an onsite project. I took the pregnancy test after he left! Now, I’m not sure how do I tell my in-laws?

Picture Courtesy: http://www.esquire.com

Tags: Musings,Colleague,Pregnant

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