Saturday, July 31, 2010

Movie Review: Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai



After the Mumbai blasts in 1993, the police lifts a car out of a river. The car belongs to Agnel Wilson(Randeep Hooda), a senior police official. When the car is recovered, the police finds out this is a suicide attempt. Later, Agnel talks about the guilt that has driven him to do such a drastic act to his furious boss. Agnel narrates the story of two men that affected his life and also changed the history of Mumbai.

One of the men is Sultan Mirza(Ajay Devgn). Sultan is an orphan who reached Mumbai after floods destroyed his village in Southern India. He got involved with smuggler while working in the docks and climbed up in the hierarchy very soon. Once powerful, he orchestrated peace within different warring factions of smugglers in Mumbai. Then, Sultan took control of the sea. He was loved and supported by the poor. He is in a relationship with the popular actress Rehana(Kangna Ranaut).

The other man is Shoaib Khan(Emraan Hashmi). Shoaib is the son of the police constable. From the childhood, he wanted a faster path to success and ends up doing illegal activities. Whenever he gets caught red-handed, Shoaib is brought in front of his dad to be punished. But these punishments do not have an effect on him. Shoaib loves Mumtaz(Prachi Desai). How are the lives of these two men connected? Also what is their connection with Agnel? The rest of the movie tells you this.

Milan Luthria directs this movie based on the script by Rajat Arora. Milan and Rajat takes one of the saddest day in the history of Mumbai and backtracks it to the power struggle between two men in the 70’s. Rajat’s story is heavily influenced by the lives of Haji Mastan and Dawood Ibrahim. In spite of the terrific scenario, the film captures your attention in parts due to the uneven pace. The best part of the movie are the performances, the dialogues and the background score. The dialogues are reminiscent of the movies of the 1970’s where the heroes play to the gallery with their dialogues. The pace slackens during the romance scenes. The conflict between Sultan and Shoaib lacks the impact because it takes too long to evolve. Although Agnel feels guilty about the rise of the dark prince, the story does not show how Agnel exploited the rivalry between these two gangsters. Since the movie is set in 1970’s, the era is recreated. But most of the scenes lack the magic of the bygone era because of the way it is shot. Even though vintage cars are used, some of the exterior shots feels like vintage cars being driven on a present day road. Similarly, when a real location is used, like the rooftops during a song sequence and a popular restaurant overlooking the city, low angle or high angle shots are used in a deliberate attempt to film only the lead actors and show very little of the city. If the city is shown, then the audience will immediately pick up the modern developments in the city and hence will affect the authenticity of the movie.

All actors – lead and supporting – delivers a good performance. The majority of the movie rests on three actors – Ajay Devgn, Emraan Hashmi and Randeep Hooda. Ajay Devgn as Sultan is delightful while reminding us many of his previous performance. Ajay underplays Sultan. His casual way of delivering the dialogue is an interesting watch. He relies heavily on the prop – cigarette – and his facial expressions to build the mystery around Sultan. Emraan Hashmi is apt as Shoaib. Shoaib is the quintessential black sheep and Emraan gets it right. It is fun to watch his arrogance. Emraan also uses cigarette as a prop. But, it is Randeep Hooda who give a mind-blowing performance as Agnel. Unlike his colleagues, he does not use cigarette as a prop. Instead he relies on three things – smiles, smirks and voice. His smile is difficult to distinguish as evil or mischievous and the contempt is written all over his smirks. He uses both extensively in the movie. Also, watch out the way he uses voice while confronting his fellow officers who laughs behind his back. Unfortunately, Randeep’s character is short and ill developed. Kangna Ranaut is okay. Prachi Desai acts well in a role that is slightly complex. She loves Shoaib but hates his ways. She is also afraid of Shoaib’s rage.

The movie has ambitiously named itself as “Once Upon A Time” drawing inspiration from Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time…” series. Like the inspiration, this inspired movie tells the story of a critical period in a city. Unlike the inspiration, this inspired movie fails to tell a racy story of greed and deception.

Watch it on DVD.

Language: Hindi

Genre: Drama

Rating: **

Picture Courtesy: Bollywood Hungama

Tags: Movies,Ajay Devgn,Emraan Hashmi,Randeep Hooda,Kangna Ranaut,Prachi Desai,Milan Luthria,Rajat Arora,Drama

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Playboy at work!



Picture 105 The familiar rabbit caught my attention and I asked my friend from work, “Are you advertising your achievements or capabilities?”.

My question perplexed him. It was evident from his response. “What happened?”.

I patiently continued. “Your T-shirt”.

On hearing this, he asked, “What is wrong with the T-shirt?”.

I narrowed my eyes and raised my eyebrows. I was going to kill myself if he was naive and ignorant!

Then he replied with a sly smile, “No. I didn’t mean that. I’m a playboy because I’m interested cricket, football etc”.

I did not pursue it further. But check out what is written on his back!

Picture 104

Tags: Musings,Playboy,Work

Monday, July 26, 2010

How safe are we?



Yesterday, trouble walked into another of my friend’s life. Trouble in its characteristic style came unannounced to my unsuspecting friend. He and his wife were walking towards their car after going to the McDonalds at Janakpuri, Delhi. There, they became victims of carjacking. When his brave wife gathered enough courage to attract attention, the assailants left them behind and fled in my friend’s car. Before fleeing, they stabbed my friend in the neck; multiple times with a broken beer bottle. The locals rushed them to a nearby hospital where my friend regained consciousness after surgery. His wife suffered a fracture in her arm.

Today has been long and stressful. After being woken up at 2am in the morning to be told this shocking news, I’m slowly returning to normalcy in the evening. My friend being moved from the ICU to a private room is the only good thing that has happened today.

Even when we are minding our own business, violence is thrust into our life. Unfortunately, Bengaluru is no better!

How safe are we? Should we start living in fear? Should we stop going out after sunset?

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

Tags: Musings,Delhi,Janakpuri

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Movie Review: Salt



Evelyn Salt(Angelina Jolie), a CIA operative, is a captive in a North Korean prison. She is released in exchange of another North Korean held by the US authorities. This exchange is as a result of the pressure exerted on the authorities by her boyfriend Mike Krause(August Diehl), an arachnologist. Salt’s colleague and friend, Ted Winter(Liev Schreiber) oversees the exchange.

Two years from the exchange, Salt and Mike are celebrating the marriage anniversary today. When Salt and Winter are about to leave the office on this day in the evening, they are summoned to interrogate a Russian defector, Orlov(Daniel Olbrychski). Salt reluctantly agrees. During interrogation, Orlov reveals the existence of Russian sleeper agents in the American soil. One such agent is going to kill the visiting Russian president in the American soil. The agent’s name is Evelyn Salt.

On hearing this, Salt leaves the interrogation room angrily. But she is stopped by another CIA official named Peabody(Chiwetel Ejiofor). Winter is dumbstruck at the quick turn of events. Very soon, Salt escapes from the CIA stronghold. With Peabody and Winter tracking her down, Salt embarks on a journey to find her husband and the truth.

Philip Noyce directs this fast paced thriller based on a wafer-thin storyline. The non existence of the plot is easily forgotten by the quickly progressing chase and daring stunts that rely less on CGI. This thriller has two things working for it in addition to the direction – the camera movement and the music. The camera is always moving during the chase sequences. Depending on where the camera is positioned – front or the back, the fugitive is running towards a receding camera or running away from the advancing camera. This technique effectively provides a sense of urgency and makes the audience feel they are part of the chase. The background score James Newton Howard heightens the drama and suspense.

Angelina Jolie has to be agile and energetic as Salt; for which she fits the bill. As Winter, Liev Schreiber is cool and laid back. This is a departure from the usual intense roles played by him. The rest of the cast is okay.

Though predictable, the movie provides enough thrills to keep you engaged. Go for it.

Language: English

Genre: Thriller

Rating: ***

Tags: Movies,Angelina Jolie,Liev Schreiber,Chiwetel Ejiofor,Philip Noyce,James Newton Howard,Thriller

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Searching for flashcards



Picture 103 I have enrolled my daughter in a reading class. The activities at her little school is sufficient to fine tune her reading skills. In spite of the learning from school, I decided to opt for the reading class as she will interact with a different set of children from her age group and as a side effect, she might learn to cope up with competition!

Today is her second reading class. At the end of the first session, the teacher had given us a few flashcards to practice at home! I had completely forgotten about the flashcards until this morning. I remember seeing my daughter playing with it sometime during the week.

So, in order to locate the flashcards, I called out loudly to my daughter, “Where are the reading flashcards? You have to carry them for your reading class.”

My daughter replied nonchalantly. “You paid the money to the teacher! So, you find it!”.

Tags: Parenthood,Daughter,Flashcards

Friday, July 23, 2010

Does promotion mean less work?



A friend excitedly called up his mother to inform her about his promotion at work. After listening to him patiently, his mother expressed her happiness. Then she asked, “So, does this mean you have to work less?”.

My friend was dumbfounded because there would be even greater responsibilities now.

But, where did this misconception arise from? When you get promoted, you have to work less!

Is it not the other way? Because you have been capable of handling bigger things, we are promoting you.

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

Tags: Musings,Promotion

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Say it in140 characters



Say it in 140 characters. Is that difficult? Yes, it is difficult; but achievable.

Now, pass on what your friend has said along with your thoughts; all the while keeping the combined message within 140 characters. Is that difficult? Yes, it is difficult and tricky!

I see the above happening many times during a day! People record their thoughts in 140 characters. Within moments, somebody has picked up these thoughts, added their thoughts to it and passed it on. Before passing it on, they ensure the newly edited message also do not exceed 140 characters. Now, the length has remained the same. But the 140 characters has mutated and now contains two distinct thoughts. I’m humbled every time I see this happening on twitter. The tweets are tricky and the retweets are trickier.

I spend a major part of my day articulating my thoughts for the maximum impact in the shortest time. The remaining part of the day is spent in making sense out of the what my colleagues are struggling to say. The twitter philosophy of saying it in 140 characters is a powerful tool to help us all out. In my personal experience, I have typed messages exceeding 140 characters and toyed with it feverishly to reduce the length without diluting the message. Although there are add-on services that lets you type and publish longer sentences, it is mentally stimulating exercise where you reduce the number of character to less than 140 characters.

If you are not too shy to express yourself in a social media, join the bandwagon. In case you are shy or have other reservations, take a piece of paper to practice the twitter philosophy. The name of the game is “Say it in 140 characters”.

Picture Courtesy: Google

Tags: Musings,140 Characters,Twitter

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Movie Review: Inception



Dom Cobb(Leonardo DiCaprio) specializes in stealing secrets from people by getting into their mind and being part of their dreams. He is assisted by Arthur(Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who researches the mark and Nash, the architect of the dream world. At present, they are trying to steal critical information from Saito(Ken Watanabe). So far, Saito has proved a formidable enemy who knows what Cobb and his team are planning. Cobb is able to extract most of the critical information when he realizes Saito has been auditioning him for a far more important task.

Saito wants Cobb to implant an idea in someone’s mind; the operation named as inception. The mark is Robert Fischer Jr(Cilian Murphy), the son of Saito’s competitor. Cobb agrees to this impossible mission base on certain conditions. After accepting the mission, Cobb hunts for a suitable architect and zeroes in on the young Ariadne(Ellen Page), who is also a student of his father-in-law Miles(Michael Caine). Once the architect is selected, Cobb convinces Eames(Tom Hardy) to be the Forger in their team who can impersonate other characters inside the dream.

Inception is not easy! In order to successfully place an idea inside the subconscious mind, Cobb will have create many levels of dream; each level deeper and longer than the previous. For this reason, he also hires Yusuf as the Chemist who supplies the sedatives needed for the operation. Since Saito is funding the operation, he also joins in their mission to see if goods are really being delivered. When the team is getting readied, Cobb has recurring and disturbing visions of his wife Mal(Marion Cotillard) and his children. The rest of the movie takes you on a whirlwind journey into minds and deeper minds.

Christopher Nolan writes and directs this thriller. He is successful in writing a thriller based on dreams, providing plenty of thrills throughout the film which perplexes and also challenges the audience. As a director, he is successful in translating the vision to screen. The movie is about dreams and dreams within dreams. So, most of the movie unfolds in surrealistic environments. In spite of this, the director never confuses the audience. He also never solves the mystery completely. Instead, he directs the audience to the path of solving it themselves which makes this a very interactive movie; where minds are engaged. The brilliance of the director can be seen during the culmination of dreams within dreams sequence. Here, action takes place at different locations. We have seen this umpteen times before where brilliant editing shifts focus from one location to another building the tempo and suspense. Now, imagine the same happening at different levels of mind instead of locations. If you are confused, it is seen to be believed. The action sequences pushes the envelope especially the one involving Arthur in the hotel room and the elevator. The slow motion which captures the slow fall of the characters into the water deserves special mention. The fall occurring at two places in the movie is agonizing slow; yet visually beautiful.

Leonardo DiCaprio puts in an excellent performance as Cobb! The whole story revolves around Cobb and Leo's Cobb is energetic, resourceful and secretive. Leo makes the audience to repeatedly question the reality. Joseph Gordon-Levitt surprises with his performance as Arthur. Arthur is Cobb’s sidekick. But instead of resorting to corny lines, Joseph delivers a powerful performance using composure in difficult scenarios. He is is in the background; but always visible to us. Ken Watanabe as selfish Saito is effective. Ellen Page’s Ariadne is an extension of her role in Juno. She is smart, quick and full of questions. Tom Berenger appears in a small role as Fischer’s godfather. Michael Caine has nothing much to do.

Must watch!

Language: English

Genre: Thriller

Rating: ****

Tags: Movies,Leonardo DiCaprio,Joseph Gordon-Levitt,Ken Watanabe,Cilian Murphy,Ellen Page,Michael Caine,Tom Hardy,Marion Cotillard,Christopher Nolan,Tom Berenger,Thriller

Movie Review: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice



The great sorcerer Merlin has 3 apprentices – Balthazar Blake(Nicolas Cage), Veronica(Monica Belluci) and Maxim Horvath(Alfred Molina). In the year 740 AD, Maxim betrays Merlin in the fight with Morgana. When Merlin is slowly succumbing to death, Balthazar and Veronica fights with Morgana and Maxim. In the ensuing fight, Maxim escapes. But Morgana and Veronica gets trapped inside a doll known as Grimhold. Before dying, Merlin passes his dragon ring to Balthazar. Balthazar will have to find Merlin’s successor, who will be the Prime Merlinian, with the help of the dragon ring. While Balthazar searches for the Prime Merlinian, many sorcerers including Maxim tries to rescue Morgana from captivity. But all of them are captured by Balthazar and imprisoned inside the Grimhold.

In the year 2000, Balthazar come across a 9 yr old Dave Stutler in an antique store. Balthazar identifies Dave as the Prime Merlinian. Before Balthazar could plan the next steps, Dave accidentally releases Maxim from the Grimhold. Balthazar and Maxim fights inside the antique store and ends up trapped inside a magical vase. Dave escapes out of the antique store. 10 years later, Balthazar and Maxim escapes when the spell is broken. Now, Dave(Jay Baruchel) is a physics student after undergoing therapy  due to the antique store incident. Balthazar has two tasks at hand after finding Dave. He has to train Dave to be a sorcerer and stop Maxim from releasing Morgana. How Balthazar trains Dave and defeats Morgana forms the rest of the story.

Jon Turtletaub directs this movie while Jerry Bruckheimer produces it. The director-producer duo has reunited after National Treasure 2. The storyline is familiar, the scenarios are clich├ęd and outcomes predictable. Being a summer movie, the emphasis is on the audio sensory delights instead of the story. The sorcery and the training provides occasions to showcase CGI and also to raise chuckles. The above scenes also stand out in an otherwise predictable fare.

The movie boasts of a lot of accomplished performers. But they are all adequate for the role and do not leave a lasting impression.

If you have run out of other options in the multiplex, go for this one!

Language: English

Genre: Action

Rating: **

Tags: Movies,Nicolas Cage,Monica Belluci,Alfred Molina,Jay Baruchel,Jon Turtletaub,Jerry Bruckheimer,Action

Saturday, July 17, 2010

SMS oozing love!



Picture 102 I was surprised to see the SMS. The SMS contained smileys; surprisingly a lot more than necessary. The SMS displayed words that screamed out his style; always in shorthand and butchering the original words. But the words sounded softer and sweeter than the ones he usually uses. The surprise turned into bewilderment as I stared at the SMS. Then the spell was broken by the jingle of a new SMS alert. It was him again. This time, the SMS was short but not sweet. It read, “Oh Crap!”.

Then it dawned on me. His “special” friend and me share the same letter of the alphabet at the first position in our names. He had mistakenly selected my name while sending the SMS. Since he has learnt a lesson, he might wise up in the future even though I wouldn’t mind reading such SMS again in the future.

It is also a good reminder for us to be careful while sending SMS.

Tags: Musings,SMS

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Buffalo, NY. Here he comes!



DSCN2200 My young friend continues to amaze me with his abilities. After scoring well in the qualifying exams, the universities in the US had welcomed him with hands extended. Even the visa stamping exercise was smoother than this smooth operator despite the unexpected hike in the visa stamping fees. The unexpected hike in the fees left him Rs 500 short at the entrance to the consulate. Where a normal person would have faltered, there he used his resourcefulness. He begged the amount from an elderly couple who was seated nearby for their turn in visa stamping. In his defense, he looked for the couple with an intent to return the money after coming out of the consulate. But he could not locate them. Then, there was the return train in the next few hours preceded by the mandatory bar hopping session before the return journey.

Now, he has got his passport stamped with the US visa and also purchased the tickets for the journey. I caught up with him yesterday over the phone. When I asked him about the imminent relocation, he was thrilled. “The tickets are ready and I also bought a (bi)cycle”, was his excited reply. On hearing the response, I was confused. For a moment, I thought he was foolish to travel by cycle to Buffalo, NY. While giving a lot of thought on how he was going to cross the Atlantic on a cycle, I decided to ask. “A cycle?”, I hung on to the last syllable for an infinitesimally longer time than necessary for a dramatic effect.

“Yes, a cycle!”, my friend was quick and concise. Immediately, I realized my folly. If I want a precise answer, then I need to ask specific questions. So, I continued, “Why did you buy a cycle now? You are leaving for US in another 3 weeks!”. In response, he burst out laughing. He replied, “I bought a cycle in US. I will ride it to the university! It is cheaper and healthier!”

That is some planning!

Picture Courtesy: Young friend

Tags: Musings,Visa Stamping,Cycle,Buffalo, NY

Monday, July 12, 2010

What are we teaching children with return gifts?



I first came to know about the concept of return gifts after attending a friend’s party to celebrate his daughter’s birthday. We were in Pune at that time and our daughter was hardly one. Since her birthday was around the corner at that time, that party proved very helpful in designing our party when our daughter turned one. The list of items did feature a line item named “return gifts”. We finally bought coloring pencils due to lack of time or lack of better idea. Most of the people who turned up were toddlers and hence would not have even bothered about the contents of the return gift.

At present, I’m back after attending a friend’s party to celebrate his son’s fifth birthday. As soon as I broke the news of the party to our daughter, she was excited as she vividly remembers the birthday boy. She eagerly followed up on the gift for the birthday boy after hearing it from our conversation. Later in the evening, she personally tried to hand over the gift to the birthday boy. The excitement of the birthday boy on being the focal point of the party prevented her from doing so. At around 9pm, we decided to say good bye to our hosts. When our plans were announced, my daughter beckoned me to her side and whispered in my ears, “Aren’t we getting return gifts?”.

How could we leave without receiving the return gifts? She has always carried a gift to the birthday parties. Similarly, she has also carried back a return gift from these parties. How could this party be different? Like all the other hosts, my friend also had return gifts ready. My daughter carried one back home.

But, what are we teaching our kids with return gifts? Isn’t gifting a selfless act?

Picture Courtesy: http://treesouls.com

Tags: Musings,Daughter,Birthday,Gifts

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Why do girls scream a lot?



Upload1 Why do girls scream a lot? When I refer to girls, I mean little girls of 4 years of age! A quirk of fate and I was driving a car with two overzealous girls of the above age in the backseat! As soon as they car hit the road, the girls kicked off a scream fest! They took a break from their screaming exercise to wave at the motorists; mainly cool dudes on motorbikes. Then they started jumping up and down the car. As a result, the car was shaking! I was worried about the cops stopping me!

Why do (little) girls scream a lot? I have never had a chance of driving around a band of boys of this age before. Are boys different from girls? Does the boys end up doing different things which tests the patience of parents?

Tags: Musings,Girls,Boys,Scream

Friday, July 9, 2010

Eastbound Agara flyover is open for traffic



After months of construction – probably with slippages in both budget and schedule, Agara flyover is open for traffic. The eastbound flyover has opened while the westbound is still under construction. This is a good move by BDA as traffic will ease at this bottleneck!

You can watch the video of the first person experience of using this flyover. It was tough to manage the wheel and the camera. So, kindly forgive the Paul Greengrass-esque feel.

Eastbound Agara Flyover

Tags: Bangalore,Videos,BDA,Agara,Flyover

Loose v/s Lose



will loose confidence

loosing the time

will not loose this chance

I see this all the time in email communications. The emails written by colleagues who have good (written) communication skills.

Why do they use loose instead of lose? Is it because they say out the word in their mind before they write?

Picture Courtesy: http://loseloose.com

Tags: Musings,Loose,Lose

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Transporting Trident



Picture The picture was taken on my way to work. The bullock cart in front was carry three long steel pieces.

It resembled a trishul or trident.

It is dangerous to have the cart is ahead of you!

But is there any other way of transporting these three pieces in a cheap manner?

Tags: Bangalore,Trident,Trishul

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Grasshopper and Money



Picture 086 For me, grasshopper is a pleasing sight. The green color of the grasshopper reminds me of the paddy fields in Kerala. It also brings out soothing childhood memories.

“Somebody is going to give me money!”. Those words were uttered by my mom when a grasshopper came to rest on her shoulders after incessant hopping. Three of us – my mom, my sister and me - were sitting in the verandah of my maternal grandmother’s house in Thottappally(located 20 kms south of Alappuzha). It was a quiet evening when schools were closed. In fact, we visited my maternal grandmother mostly when the schools were closed. The sun was on it’s downward descent. The evening sea breeze provided the much needed escape from the sweltering afternoon heat.

After a couple of minutes, the grasshopper rested on me from my mother’s shoulders. I looked expectantly at my mother. After all, she was the one who controlled the purse strings. She nodded and said, “You are also going to get money”. She conveniently omitted the details of the giver. After a few minutes, we saw my sister dashing after the grasshopper. Her mom and her brother were granted cash flow by the grasshopper and she did not want to be left behind.

I never found out if my mom got any money after the incident. As for me, I should have gotten a bomb because my maternal uncles always ensured it. Even today, I consider grasshoppers lucky!

Do I see a grasshopper often? I do. They have a knack of turning up when I’m stressed out.

Do they bring in money? I do not know! But they do bring peace.

Tags: Musings,Grasshopper

Monday, July 5, 2010

How do IT companies in Kerala operate?



Last time I was in Kochi, a friend took me on a drive through the Infopark. The whole place has changed so much over the years. Many businesses have sprang up along the Seaport Airport Road. The roads that were deserted a decade ago are congested now. My friend took a road eastwards from Muthoot Technopolis that took us right into the Infopark where Wipro and L&T are located. The drive was excellent except for a small patch where the construction was still going! The experience was out of the world. One has to drive through the greenery constituted to the densely grown coconut trees before hitting the Infopark. The palm leaves moving in the wind is a beautiful sight that relieves your heart of the aches. I wondered about the traffic during 6 pm while enjoying the greenery. If it is not bad yet, it will be so very soon.

After returning to Bengaluru, I shared the visit and the excitement with a colleague. But he was unimpressed; and rightfully so. Kerala is infamous for bandhs and harthals. As of today, there has been 25 harthals in Kerala this year. If you are person who likes to view the glass as half full, the number of bandhs and harthals in a month cannot surpass the number of days in that particular month. That is the sad state of affairs. In such a scenario, who wants to execute a project in Kerala? The entire delivery is at risk from the word go because harthals or bandhs come unannounced.

If everyone is worried about like my friend, how come Technopark and Infopark are sprouting in the state of Kerala? Why did TCS, Infosys and Wipro set up their offices in Kerala? How are they executing their projects? How do they operate without incurring loss?

Picture Courtesy: http://www.forum.kochinow.com

Tags: Musings,Bandh,Harthal,Kochi,Infopark

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Movie Review: I Hate LUV Storys



Jay Dhingra(Imran Khan) hates the word “love”. He doesn’t believe in it! He also hates the mushy love stories dished out by Bollywood. Ironically, he works as an assistant director to Veer Kapoor(Sameer Soni), the most successful director in this genre. While it is taxing for him to be an assistant director to Veer, Jai does it to add value to his resume.

Simran Sharma(Sonam Kapoor) is a die hard romantic and her life is just out of a movie made by Yashraj/Dharma productions. She leads the perfect life and has a perfect life partner in Raj Dholakhia(Sameer Dattani). She has been chosen as the art director by Veer Kapoor for his new venture. She is looking forward to it.

Jay and Simran meets in a movie theater for the first time as part of their assignments. Jay likes Simran at first sight. But he manages to rub her the wrong way. The next day, Jay is surprised to see Simran at his office. Even during the second meeting, Jay is not able to make peace with Simran. Every thing about Simran makes Jai laugh and this invariably irritates Simran. But soon, the equations change.

Punit Malhotra directs this movie which produced by Dharma Productions and UTV. This movie references many of the successful movies from Yashraj/Dharma stable and tries to justify that these movies connect despite being illogical. But the references to those successfully movies are done in haste and lacks the ability to invoke laughter. The interactions between the lead pair offers interesting viewing; but only occasionally. Punit fails in the script department with the film giving occasional laughs at places and boring at other places.

Sonam Kapoor is endearing as Simran. In the first half, she play a dumb girl and in the second half, she plays a confused girl. She manages to walk the narrow line between the two successfully. Imran Khan manages to get the right expressions most of the time. But he has to improve the dialogue delivery as he talks fast and does not slow down which offsets his timing while performing funny scenes! Sameer Soni is very good in a role which is a caricature of Karan Johar. Sameer has played the part beautifully; very different from his previous role in Fashion. But the one who manages extract the most laughs out of the audience is Jai’s friend cum philosopher, the obese actor who features in Sprite ads.

Be forewarned. Borrowing Jay Dhingra’s words from the movie, this is FUGLY.

Language: Hindi

Genre: Comedy

Rating: **

Picture Courtesy: Bollywood Hungama

Tags: Movies,Imran Khan,Sameer Soni,Sonam Kapoor,Sameer Dattani,Punit Malhotra,UTV,Dharma Productions,Karan Johar,Comedy

Movie Review: The Book of Eli



In the future, the world has experienced a catastrophe. As a result, the land is barren and there is scarcity of food and water. In this post apocalyptic world, Eli(Denzel Washington) is on a mission. He walks towards west determinedly. During his journey, he encounters dead towns and also marauders. Eli’s unique fighting and survival skills helps him fend off the attackers and also survive in adverse conditions.

Carnegie(Gary Oldman) controls a town. He, the only literate in the town, has built the town because he knew the source of water. He also knows other sources of water and hence he plans to build similar cities elsewhere. Eventually, he wants to control all these towns. But, he also realizes that it is not easy to command. So, he is in search of the last remaining copy of King James Bible. Using the verses from  Bible, Carnegie plans to control the minds of the people. Till now, his gang of thugs has not been able to retrieve the Bible.

Eli arrives in the city for charging his portable battery. While waiting for his battery in the local pub, Carnegie’s henchmen pick up a fight with Eli. In the ensuing fight, Eli kills everyone. As a result, Carnegie realizes Eli to be special and requests him to stay back. Carnegie also arranges food and shelter for Eli. Eli has one night to decide. Carnegie also tries to influence Eli through Solara(Mila Kunis) who is the daughter of Carnegie’s blind concubine(Jennifer Beals). When Solara enters Eli’s room, she finds him reading a bible. Very soon, Carnegie and Eli are at loggerheads because of the Bible. The rest of the story tells us how the Bible survives and provides glimpses of what happened to the world.

The Hughes Brothers, Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes, directs this action movie set in the post apocalyptic world. Closely resembling I am Legend in the way story moves forward, the Hughes Brothers focuses on the new beginning after a disaster. In their story of rebuilding, the written word and also the religious book plays such an important role, making the audience have a dialogue with self. This is the strongest point of the movie. On the flip side, the movie takes it own sweet time for story to unfold during the initial 20 minutes.

Denzel Washington is perfect as Eli. He performs well in the action sequences and he leaves enough red herrings about him throughout the movie. Gary Oldman matches up with Denzel. Mila Klunis only have to look pretty in the rags and she does a good job. Michael Gambon and Malcolm McDowell provides a wow factor to the movie although they have nothing much to offer in this action movie.

Be prepared for the slow 20 minutes when the movie opens up! The rest is enjoyable.

Language: English

Genre: Action

Rating: ***

Tags: Movies,Denzel Washington,Gary Oldman,Mila Kunis,Jennifer Beals,Hughes Brothers,Albert Hughes,Allen Hughes,Michael Gambon,Malcolm McDowell,Action

Friday, July 2, 2010

Vitamin M



A friend is interested in changing the jobs. He is currently with one of the high paying MNCs and is planning to apply into one of the premier Indian organizations. On hearing this, I was surprised and asked “Why?”.

“There are many onshore opportunities there. The offshore pay is not good. With the onsite opportunities, I can accelerate my mortgage payments!”, my friend replied.

I was still not convinced and continued my line of questioning. “How are you sure?”

He patiently replied, “Well, I checked with my friends who are employed there! Most of them have gone onshore many times that they are bored of it. Now, they have begun refusing such opportunities. This results in a lot of open positions which the managers struggle to fulfill.”.

The explanation made sense. But what about the added stress? There were more unanswered questions.

He concluded, “Which job does not have stress? As long as there is Vitamin M, I do not care”

Vitamin M? Folic Acid? Then it dawned on me!

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

Tags: Musings,Vitamin M

Movie Review: Lonely Hearts



In the late 1940’s, Detective Elmer Robinson(John Travolta) immerses himself behind a desk after his wife commits suicide. His relationship with his son is strained and he is romantically linked with a coworker Rene(Laura Dern). One night, he accompanies his colleague Detective Charles Hildebrandt(James Gandolfini) to examine the house of a lady who had committed suicide. On arriving the scene, Elmer is unable to fathom the reason for suicide and he decides to solve the mystery as he suspects something more bigger and tragic. At one point, Charles is also not able to understand what drives Elmer.

Meanwhile, on a parallel track, Raymond Martinez Fernandez aka Ray Martin(Jared Leto) is a smooth operator who swindles rich and lonely ladies. He places classified ads and uses his communication style to enamor the ladies. On one such occasion, he meets Martha Beck(Salma Hayek). Realizing she is an unemployed, he leaves in a hurry. But fate brings them together again. Together, they plan to swindle rich lonely women. At one point, the investigation and the lives of the swindlers are linked together.

Todd Robinson directs this story that is based on the story of Lonely Hearts Killers. Elmer Robinson is Todd’s grandfather. Todd tells the story of a man who is trying to redeem himself after losing his wife. The story unfolds in two tracks – Elmer’s and Ray-Martha’s – and the movie switches these tracks effectively. This technique helps to build the suspense and to highlight the emotional turmoil of Elmer. The movie is fast paced mostly except during the final phase at Rainelle’s house. This is where the killers undergo conflicting emotions and the movie slows down to explore them.

John Travolta excels as Elmer. As Elmer, he successfully portrays the confusion about his wife’s death, the guilt about the affair with Rene and the importance of solving this crime for redeeming himself. Salma Hayek’s Martha is crazy and she peels the layers gradually always making us feel there is more to come. In the final sequences, she is fantastic. Jared Leto reacts to the situations well but is overshadowed by Salma Hayek. James Gandolfini and Scott Caan has nothing much to offer.

There are plenty of love making scenes and also gruesome murders in the movie. The movie is a recommended; but keep the kids away.

Language: English

Genre: Thriller

Rating: ***

Picture Courtesy: Yahoo! Movies

Tags: Movies,John Travolta,Laura Dern,James Gandolfini,Jared Leto,Salma Hayek,Scott Caan,Todd Robinson,Lonely Hearts Killers,Thriller

Will BDA tell us the end date of a project?



Hosur road is closed in Madiwala for over two weeks now. There are constructing a underpass near the Ayyappa temple. BDA is fast becoming like an organization which is doing multiple things at the same time at the inconvenience of the residents! For the greater good, I’m ready to sacrifice my precious time in traffic delays. But for how long? Why can’t BDA put up billboards announcing the date of completion?

A few years back, when the international stadium in Kochi was being built, they was a giant billboard near the construction site announcing the days to completion. The days to completion was calculated by looking at the days remaining to the initial project end date. The project took longer to complete. Instead of removing the billboard, the authorities kept decrementing the numbers to negative numbers, indicating the delay in the project. It was public display of accountability and shame at the same time.

BDA needs to take a lesson from Kochi and put up billboards on display. The advantages are two fold.

  1. We, the residents, know the end date of our traffic woes.
  2. In case the project schedule goes haywire, the authorities can feel ashamed.

See below for a map of the Madiwala construction area, a photo and a video of the construction site.

MadiwalaConstruction Picture 084

Construction Site at Madiwala

Tags: Bangalore,Videos,Madiwala,BDA

Thursday, July 1, 2010

How would you react to a threatening or a difficult question?



Leadership is a difficult trait to acquire and being a leader is not the easiest job in the planet! When you are a leader, your followers(for lack of better word) do not necessary respect or adopt a protocol when interacting with you. If they do, things are much easier; for you.

Check out the video to find out the quick answer given by the ice cream shop manager to the US Vice President Joe Biden. In response, the US Vice President Joe Biden probably overreacted to the ice cream shop manager’s request about lowering taxes.

In this situation, the ice cream manager would have been conveying a message sugar coated inside a joke. But, in reality, there are many situations when you are handed out a threatening or difficult question when you are in the limelight!

Have you been in a meeting where there has been at least a threatening or a difficult question raised at you in a non threatening manner? How did you respond?

Tags: Musings,Videos,Joe Biden

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