Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tenir la chandelle

Kabab mein haddi. Aren't we all familiar with that term? It can have different meanings depending on the context. One of the unflattering explanation is undesirable. Recently, when my young friend asked me if I would like to join her and her soon-to-be-visiting boyfriend, my first reaction was the above statement. But the conversation also forms the basis of latest French lessons.

Apparently, the French has a version of this phrase. The equivalent is tenir la chandelle. What does that mean? It means holding the candle. The explanation is rather simple. When you are out on a dinner with a couple, then you inadvertently become the one who is holding the candle when the couple is having a romantic evening.

No, thank you. I don't want to hold the candle.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Photos: Shadows and Lovers

What more can I say? Here is a couple who is not shy to be photographed. When they have warmed up to camera and the person wielding the camera, there were many moments to be shot. In fact, the purpose of my visit to Louvre museum was to meet these lovers whose are friends of my friend. It was a hot day with sun in full form even at 8:30 pm in the night. Moreover, what is there to shoot in this location that has not been captured by someone already. I set the lovers with the sun behind them and shot it. Love in the air and the shadows gave the desired outcome.

Tags: Photos

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Photos: Searching...

This was taken in Parc Montsouris. They were learning to dance. It is funny when you are dancing, you are supposed to look at your partner. But whenever there is a teacher around, all eyes are focussed on the teacher. There she was in the right frame to dance but her eyes were eagerly following the teacher.

Tags: Photos

Friday, July 27, 2012

Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

Eight years after Harvey Dent's death, Batman is a villain for the residents of Gotham City while Harvey Dent is a celebrated hero. Bruce Wayne(Christian Bale) is in a self-imposed exile mourning Rachel's death, wandering the inner sanctums of Wayne Manor with the help of a walking stick. Commissioner Gordon(Gary Oldman) torn by the lie he is living out and the truth about Batman. Alfred(Michael Caine) and Fox(Morgan Freeman) is unhappy with the way Wayne is treating himself. To add to all this, Wayne Enterprises have been losing money. As you can see, when Christopher Nolan opens up the concluding part of the trilogy, Gotham City is safer than it was in the recent years but our favorite characters are all in despair. But the status quo isn't permanent because of four people; Bane(Tom Hardy), an excommunicated member of League of Shadows, Selina Kyle(Anne Hathaway) the cat burglar who has no permanent allegiance to anyone, Miranda Tate(Marion Cotillard) an investor on quest for clean energy for the world and John Blake(Joseph Gordon-Levitt) a cop who believes in Batman.

Unfortunately, the third installment in the trilogy pales in comparison with the second part but is similar in many ways to the first part. Like the first part, Bruce learns the necessary skills for being the caped crusader. The interesting part of the movie should have been how Bruce learns all the skills second time around in order to defeat the villain Bane. As this process happens over a period of 5 months while Bruce is held captive and his city in a state of siege, the joy of viewing is watered down to boredom. Moreover, Bane is all brawn and no brains which translates to Batman learning to endure the ordeal instead of matching the villain with intelligence. For a concluding part, there are homages and re-appearance of characters from previous versions namely Ra's Al Gul(Liam Neeson) and Jonathan Crane(Cillian Murphy). However, this writing is not so interesting to create drama. Thankfully, Joker does not appear on screen anywhere in the movie. Any tampering with that character would have been equivalent to sacrilege. Ironically, this movie lacks a strong villain like Joker. 

With a bigger canvas and a larger cast, Christopher Nolan succeeds only at two points in the movie - The entry of Batman although painfully late and the ending of the movie. For the entry of Batman in full gear, Nolan chooses a chase sequence in a busy freeway. Cops are chasing Bane and gang in their getaway motorcycles which carries hostages strapped to it. Suddenly, the lights goes off. The light comes back. We hear the sound of the Badpod. The hostage is freed. The villain crashes the bike. You see Batman riding the Batpod with the camera following behind him. The cape is dancing in the air. The music climbs up. This entire scene is visually beautiful and exciting while it connects the franchise lovers immediately to the scenes of the second part. The ending is Nolan-esque. He makes the viewers wonder if it is an end or a new beginning. As a bonus, he throws in a neat surprise just during the climactic fight. After the grand entry of Batman, nothing much happening. Even the fight sequences between Bane and Batman are uninspired. While the previous movies used fast cuts to force the viewer to think quick and fast action, this time around Nolan uses traditional techniques. This makes Batman's action sequences seem clumsy.

Performance wise, there are only two people who makes their presence felt despite the weak script. Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle not only looks good in the catsuit but also shows the conflicted emotions very well. She has dual personality; selfish and caring. Anne is a pleasure to watch both during action scene and also during emoting. And yes, she can ride the Bikepod! Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox continues to give an endearing performance. He is the only one who can tease Bruce. Watch out for the glee in his eyes and the dialogue delivery during his meeting with Bruce where he invites the latter to check out the R&D part of the building. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake acts well. but fails to make a definite impact. He is the person with no conflicts and also represents hope. It is sad that this character fails to invoke empathy.

Strictly for Batman fans.

Language: English

Genre: Action

Rating: **

Tags: Movies,Christian Bale,Anne Hathaway,Christopher Nolan,Action

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Movie Review: Gangs of Wasseypur Part I

Releasing a movie in multiple parts is advantageous to the film maker. If the story is conceived in a certain pace with a lot of events, then it ends up longer. At this point,  it is left to the discretion of the editor to chop the excess. This could lead to undesirable outcome. By choosing two parts, the film maker is able to entertain and also garner more revenue than a single part. Although Anurag Kashyap qualifies to be one of the movie makers in India who can do this feat considering his contributions to Indian cinema. But his latest offering Gangs of Wasseypur is not the right movie to try this technique. Gangs of Wasseyput Part I is all about Sardar Khan(Manoj Bajpai). It tells the story from a few years before Sardar was born when Sardar's dad impersonates a dreaded dacoit to loot the trains passing through Wasseypur. As a result of this, Sardar's father is driven out of the village by Qureshi muslims. Before long, Sardar's father is killed by an industrialist Ramadhir Singh(Tigmanshu Dhulia). These events instills hatred in the mind of Sardar towards both Qureshis and Ramadhir which in turn affects the way he leads life and also the kind of life he adopts.

Anurag Kashyap's movie details a story of revenge and survival in rural India set against a political backdrop. Even with technical finesse and excellent cast, the movie falls short because of many reasons. The political backdrop of the events are described using an voice over; the voice of Farhan(Piyush Mishra) who is also the caretaker of Sardar in all sense. But the narration is fast on the various political events that propels the growth of many of the characters. This is confusing. Moreover, the political impacts on the story's progression is treated superficially. Rather devoting time on the political backdrop, more length has been devoted to sexual appetite of Sardar especially the wooing of Durga(Reemma Sen) and also romantic interlude of Sardar's son Faizal(Nawazuddin Siddiqui). These are hilarious sequences and captivating scenes. When compared to the main theme of the movie, these are actually distractions. Also, DI techniques could have been better used to denote the different eras. The tough life in rural India is brilliantly portrayed despite the shortcomings. This is a male dominated theme. It is the brilliance of Anurag that such a male dominated theme shows strong women, be it Sardar's first wife Nagma(Richa Chadda), Sardar's second wife Durga or Faizal's lover Mohsina(Huma Qureshi).

Performance wise, the movie belongs two people, Manoj Bajpai as Sardar Khan and Richa Chadda as Nagma. Manoj successfully portrays Sardar who doesn't get angry and adopts violence without guilt. He displays his versatility by portraying an energetic younger days to a restrained older man. The scenes where he lusts and woos Durga are hilarious. At the same time, the scenes where he interacts with his older son after latter's marriage is heart-warming. Richa Chadda, the relatively new face, has a bigger responsibility for Nagma is no ordinary woman. A pregnant Nagma has a showdown with her sex-addicted husband in a local brothel. She has to resist the sexual advances of her husband during pregnancy. Finally she comes to terms with his adulterous habits. When her husband leaves her temporarily, she takes care of her family providing the most essential mental strength to the other members of her family. That is a tall order. But she delivers and her portrayal remains in your mind.

If you are an Anurag Kashyap fan, wait for the DVD. The others can give it a skip. If you still want to go for it, keep in mind it is violent. The violence is depicted by blood and rest is in your imagination. This actually is more disturbing.

Language: Hindi

Genre: Drama

Rating: **

Tags: Movies,Manoj Bajpai,Anurag Kashyap,Drama

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Books: The Amber Room

A group of people are searching for the Amber Room which was lost in the annals of history during the second world war. On one side there are two amateurs who haven't any background on how to retrieve a lost artifact driven by revenge & quest for truth while on the other side there are two powerful collectors backed by ruthless treasure hunters who collectively will not rest until the treasure is unearthed.

Steve Berry's novel is more of a thriller than a mystery based on the above premise. The hunt for treasure always evoke a sense of adventure in most of us. Unfortunately, the hunt does not translate into an interesting read. Steve tries to create a world of suspense and danger set against the backdrop of retrieving famous missing art pieces by a determined, powerful and resourceful group of collectors. Even though he weaves a world by intertwining fact with imagination, the entire novel ends up as a feeble attempt.

It won't sustain your interest. The red herring is so obvious and amateurish that you will spot it immediately killing the joy.

Tags: Books,Steve Berry

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Photos: Fireworks on Bastille Day 2012

Bastille Day is the only day when Paris showcases it's abilities in lighting up the sky with fireworks. Normally,  one would think this kind of show can happen on the New Year's eve. Well, Paris has a way of it's own. In order to curb the vandalism associated with New Year celebrations, there are no fireworks in the city. Somehow, it translates to less cars being torched and less violence. I really don't get the logic. I rest the case as it may.

Now, with the fireworks comes the big decisions. Where and how? The "how" is the easiest to solve. You need a cable release. Luckily, I had one that was never used since I brought it for the special occasion of New Year's Eve. The where poses a bigger question. There are many choices - Champ des Mars, Trocadero or one of the bridges or pont. I decided on the pont. The bridge near Javel is a good location to photograph the event.

I still ran into trouble. The light adorning Tour Eiffel is switched off before the fireworks. They are back for a short period in between when the fireworks are in full form. I could get only a few good pictures. Having the right equipment is only half the battle. How to time your cable release is the other half. I had to learn on the job. See below for the pictures.

Tags: Photos

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Give us the feedback!

Give us the feedback. When my young friend recounted his recent experience, the first thought that came into my mind was weird. Should I text Y for satisfied and N for dissatisfied? But it was not as simple as that. My friend was describing his experience while attending a job interview in France.

Unfortunately, my young friend was rejected on two grounds. The first one was for his appearance. He wore jeans for the face-to-face interview. For any face-to-face interview, you should be presentable and this factor depends on your audience. Know thy audience. Isn't that the cardinal rule for all performers? Jeans might go well in Silicon valley. Does the same apply to France? 

 The second one was his non-responsiveness after committing to send a feedback. This part requires more thought. Isn't closing a job as easy as giving out the verdict of yes or no with explanation? Then why the charade of a feedback? What is the interviewer looking forward to? Does he/she require recognition from the applicant? I rushed into conclusion. My response can be summed up in one word, preposterous. The long term resident European in our group shooed me away with the classic statement. This is how it is done in Europe. There are people sending feedback about how bad the coffee was or how long the waiting period in the lobby was etc etc. The classic statement and subsequent illustration didn't go down well with me. I don't deny they are feedback but whole point of asking for a feedback has to be something bigger. 

After putting a lot of effort (thinking of course), I unravelled the mystery. I felt bad about it since I couldn't see through this statement after having conducted numerous interviews myself. Of course, I will reveal the mystery for you. At the same time, I am also going to make it more interesting,that is if you are interviewer, by adding a twist. 

When the interviewer asked for a feedback about the interview, he was neither unsure of self nor was looking for a validation. Instead the interviewer was assigning my young friend an action item. The interviewer wanted to check if my young friend can follow an action item to closure and how fast he can do it. So next time you attend an interview, watch out for this trap. If you commit yourself, follow it to closure. If you are not sure, ask questions. Ask to clarify what kind of feedback he is looking for. Remember what I said. Know thy audience. When you ask, you are inadvertently entering into the elicitation phase or the requirement gathering phase!

My friend was explicitly asked to send a feedback about the interview. Now if you are an interviewer, keep it vague and ask for a feedback alone. In simple words, keep it open ended. Let's see if your applicant asks questions in order to find out what you really need. If he/she does, you already have a winner . Now that you have read this, here is an action item for you. Give me a feedback...please.

Tags: Musings,Feedback,Interview,Young Friend

Photos: Meet the army on Bastille Day 2012

Meet the army. But how does that work? That was the question in my mind when I met up with a group of fellow photographers in Paris on Bastille day. The meeting was set at 1:45 pm, long after the parade on Avenue Champs Élysées has ended. When I followed the group to Invalides from our meeting point over Pont Alexandre III to right in front of the hospital for the disabled built by Napolean and later converted to Musee de Armee, I found out what "Meet the Army" was all about. At Invalides, the army showcased it's weaponry and machines for the grand public. The army let the public get into the machines and have a feel of it. The army also interacted with the public patiently answering their queries.

You could see an enthusiastic man pointing a machine gun mounted on an army vehicle.

You could see people climbing on top of the tanks bringing back memories of the post-revolution pictures from the Arab spring.

You could see a soldier demonstrating an ultramodern weapon for the amusement of the onlookers.

There were helicopters parked in the area.

There were also other pictures to be etched for posterity.

There was a young kid operating a swivel gun on trip of a tank with the help of a soldier.

There were soldiers casually strolling by.

A group of boy scouts huddled together cracking jokes after a hard day.

Tags: Photos

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Books: The Man Who Smiled

Wallander is remorseful after how the events ended in the last book in the series. While going through an emotional crisis, he takes a sabbatical from work and wanders around the world. When a friend tracks him down to a seaside rental house to uncover the inconsistencies surrounding the dead of the friend's father, Wallander is not only interested but also have determined to put forward his resignation letter. But before Wallander can put in his resignation as a police officer, there is one more murder. This time, Wallander cannot help himself to stay detached from this case. The subsequent hunt for the perpetrators leads Wallander to a man who never ceases to smile.

After briefly foraying into storytelling using multiple perspectives in the previous book, Henning Mankell returns to his original style of first person narrative with this novel which also is the fourth in the Wallander series. Henning with his simple style of describing a complex world through the eyes of Wallander quickly throws us into the vortex with his language. Although Mankell's villain is a cold blooded criminal, his main arena is the financial world. Hence it becomes difficult for an officer like Wallander with limited resources to catch him in the act without raising suspicions. This unique scenario told by Mankell makes this book a worthwhile read. Moreover, the remorse of Wallander and how he struggles out of it also whets our curiosity.

I am a self confessed Mankell fan by now. I have also read all three previous books in this series. So, don't expect anything from me other than a "must read" in the chronological order.

The earlier titles in this series are

Tags: Books,Henning Mankell,Kurt Wallander

Photos: Bastille Day Parade 2012

The parade is one of the best things about Bastille day in Paris; one of the best things. Happening around 10 am, there is a grand parade starting from Arc de Triomphe towards Place de la Concorde through the wide streets of Champs Élysées. Does it sound like a photographer's delight? If it does, let me correct you. It is a photographer's nightmare.

The streets are barricaded for this occasion. You just can't be a normal Parisian a few hours before the parade. The barricades prevent you from crossing over the avenue when you desire, not caring about the traffic. Moreover, the tourists have descended into the city. The tourists and the locals throng over the barricades making it impossible to get a good shot. The difficulty of this can be explained with just one picture; the man standing on the bicycle to watch the parade.

My meticulous friend brought a foldable stand for elevation. But he encountered an unforeseen hurdle. The security personnel had divided the sidewalks into two halves. One half close to the avenue is for people to watch the parade and the other half for normal traffic of pedestrians. When you wanted to switch from pedestrian to the one who watches the parade, you had to undergo a security check. Some security personnel allowed you to take the foldable stand with you while others did not!

The net effect was I could only picture the fighter planes which signaled the start of the parade. Enjoy the pictures.

Tags: Photos

Friday, July 13, 2012

Pappettan on Billa 2

If you are wondering who Pappettan is, click on this link and find out.

Pappettan made it to the premiere show of Billa 2 on time. Seemingly a non-significant sentence at first glance for a casual reader, but the two words in it makes a world of difference. Those words are on and time. After the show, we had a tete-e-tete about the movie as the French would love to put it.

Pappettan: Why is it called Billa 2 the beginning?

Me: It is a prequel. So this shows how Billa became the dangerous criminal that he is in the first part.

Pappettan: Nonsense!

Me: *confused* the movie?

Pappettan: The beginning. This is no beginning.

Me: *still confused*

Pappettan: He kills the drug supplier. Then he kills the arms supplier. What non-sense!

Me: *wondering where this is leading to*

Pappettan: Without these people, how is going to survive let alone become a powerful criminal?

Me: *begins to see the logic and pursues that line of thinking*

Pappettan: this is no beginning. This is the end!

Tags: Pappettan Says,Billa 2

Movie Review: Billa 2

Suffixed with 2, this is not a sequel but a prequel to the updated version of Billa released in 2007. In the prequel, you find out the origins of David Billa(Ajith Kumar) who lands in India as a refugee after taking part in the struggles in his motherland. Despite being a refugee, Billa climbs up the hierarchy of the underworld largely due to his bravado and risk-taking behaviour. He goes from doing petty crimes to controlling drugs and arms trade.

Chakri Toleti is the director of the prequel. He also makes this a watchable fare even though they are many shortcomings. First and foremost, Chakri doesn't waste the viewers mostly (except for an unwanted song towards the end of the movie) by a structured screen play and clever editing. For instance, when the cops arrests Billa, the very next scene shows a tortured Billa  chopping away the unwanted and done-to-death scenes of police brutality. Chakri understands the limitations of his lead actor clearly and underplays it brilliantly. So there are no difficult scenes  for Ajithkumar. Instead there are more scenes where he had to look good onscreen. Finally, Chakri gets the essence of a prequel. That is why you get a fleeting glimpse of Rahman who is featured in the first part in a significant role and a gradual yet prominent change of the background score to synch with the background score of the first part.

David Billa is a criminal. So the movie features violence; a whole lot of it to be precise. But more than the violence, it is the special effects and badly executed action scenes that let you down. There are two sequences reminiscent of Hollywood movies namely Scarface and Godfather. Although the similarity to Godfather can be forgiven, more thought could have gone into the Scarface-like scene.

Ajith Kumar has to look dashing and act cold blooded. This is the easiest thing for him to do. Luckily for him, he has an apt nemesis in Vidyut Jamwal as the Russian arms dealer Dmitry. In fact, Vidyut is also the one who looks cool in the action sequences. Sadly, there aren't as many action scenes on him as much as we would love to have. Parvathy Omanakuttan ends up as a plain Jane when pitted against Bruna Abdullah and the role is both badly written and badly acted at the same time.

Although the movie is tailor made for Ajithkumar fans, it is still watchable for non-fans too because of the director's ease with the medium. If you can't stomach violence, stay away from this. Otherwise, this is a good option in the multiplex when you don't have any options and only care for escapist fare.

Language: Tamil

Genre: Action

Rating: **

Tags: Movies,Ajith Kumar,Chakri Toleti,Action

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Movie Review: Haywire

A spy seeks answers when she is hunted by her former employers. This forms the basis of the film directed by Steven Soderbergh. Mallory Kane is an independent contractor who is assigned to espionage activities by US government. But when a successful hostage rescue operation turns the table on her, she uses her skills to survive while pitted against unknown enemies and also her former colleagues.

Steven Soderbergh is known for erratic style of storytelling with fresh perspective told through brilliant photographic techniques. Like his previous ventures, this one too has brilliant photography and innovative editing. But both these exemplary techniques fail to save the day because of a predictable script and inconsistent pace. The movie has an incredible cast comprising of famous faces and a relatively fresh face  famous in MMA field heading the cast. Both of this work but unfortunately not to the extent it can salvage the movie.

The initial part of the movie stands out because of the violent stunts and smart editing. The stunts take you by surprise. The stunts are also violent to make you squirm in your seat feeling both rage and pain of the characters. On the flip side, the pace of the stunts are uneven throughout the movie which doesn't thrill the viewer despite the acrobatic skills of the lead protagonist. Also the editing, in which flashbacks interspersed in another flashback in order to gradually reveal the puzzle, is interesting. But this is used sparingly to sustain  interest. 

Eventually, it is a movie about a girl trapped in a man's world. The girl is represented by Gina Carano and the men represented by ensemble cast of Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender and Mathieu Kassovitz. It does sound like an interesting premise. But this does not translate into pleasant viewing.

If you are an action junkie, then save this for the DVD. Otherwise, skip it.

Language: English

Genre: Action

Rating: **

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Photos: Leisure ride

Paris is a city for pedestrians. But you will see a lot of cyclists in the city. In fact, the city has the most convenient system of renting bikes known as velib. I was out in the city last week with a group of photographers when I came across this cyclist. You might have guessed it correctly by now. It is the red coat that caught my attention. On a day where I challenged myself to capture photographs without great results, this was one of the good ones I could capture. 

Tags: Photos

Monday, July 9, 2012

Movie Review: The Amazing Spiderman

I never understood the reason for rebooting a series within 5 years after the previous one ended. Most of the superhero comics have many villains that a movie based on a comic is never going to run out of antagonists. For a successful movie, it is not the only antagonist that matters but also on how the story is narrated. Peter Parker's life was changed by two events - the spider bite and uncle Ben's violent death. There is not much you can do to change the beginnings.

In the reboot, there is Peter Parker(Andrew Garfield) growing up with Uncle Ben(Martin Sheen) and Aunt May(Sally Field). While wondering up about the sudden disappearance of his parents when he was really young, he grows up to be a shy young man who is good with camera and stays away from trouble. Ironically, staying away also means refraining from expressing his love to Gwen Stacy(Emma Stone). One day, he ventures into OsCorp to meet his dad's colleague Dr Curt Connors(Rhys Ifans). There, he gets bitten by a spider changing his life forever. A new life also means losing Uncle Ben immediately after an outburst and also putting him in confrontational mode with Captain George Stacy(Denis Leary), Gwen's dad. When a new villain emerges in the form of The Lizard, Spiderman is put to test.

Marc Webb, who is at the helm of this reboot, fails to give us anything more than what was offered in the first installment of Tobey Maguire-Sam Raimi edition. Like I mentioned earlier, there is very little to that can be done while narrating the genesis of Spiderman. As he has cast veterans in the supporting roles, Marc is able to sustain our interest intermittently. Apart from this, what stands out in the movie is the high school romance and the stunts. The high school romance brings out the best moments and many funny one-liners between Peter Paker and Gwen Stacy. The stunts stand out because CG has evolved many fold over the years and use of stunt doubles instead of reverting to full blown CG for a swinging Spiderman. Unfortunately, these factors aren't enough to sustain our interests.

The lead pair looks good together. They act well too. But the script is reminiscent of the earlier ones, you drift into boredom too soon to notice either their histrionic capabilities or the onscreen chemistry. The veterans make you sit back and notice them for we haven't seen them in a long while.

Skip this. If you loved Tobey Maguire-Sam Raimi version, don't even look for this on DVD. Instead wait for the sequels. I am pretty sure there will be sequels and I seriously hope they are much better than the first part.

Language: English

Genre: Action

Rating: **

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Movie Review: Teri Meri Kahaani

Directed by Kunal Kohli, this movie tells the story of two people falling in love in three different eras. You could say they fall in love in over a period of time. But, then you would be wrong because the eras are separated by at least 100 years and it is difficult for a couple to live that long. So, the lead pair looks the same but have different names and different backgrounds. There is Govind(Shahid Kapoor)-Rukhsar(Priyanka Chopra) in the 1960, Krish-Radha in 2010 and Javed-Aradhana in 1910.

The movie ultimately is watchable due to the glamour-quotient, a few interesting performances and some of the interesting scenarios. At the same time, the movie is also plagued with problems. The movie is an anthology of three stories. When the same lead pair is featured in all short stories, you expect a connection between these three stories. But there is no strong connection. The only explanation offered makes you guffaw. Eventually, this becomes an anthology where the ending of each story is withheld from the viewer until the last few minutes of the movie. Kunal Kohli tries to give different styles to three stories. The 1960 story is narrated in a Chaplinesque style, the 2010 story using flash-cuts and 1910 in a bland style. The good intention is lost in the childish execution. The different eras have been painstakingly recreated. In order to accomplish this, the green screen has been employed for CG. Sadly, the CG work has rendered blurry images of the actors occupying the foreground in many of the scenes.

It is the performances that makes us forget the flaws of the movie. Shahid Kapoor effortlessly transforms himself into the three characters. He tries to differentiate between these characters by employing different looks and body language. Govind and Krish are good while Javed isn't. Ironically, his co-star Priyanka Chopra puts in a rather bland performance as Rukhsar and Radha while her Aradhana is excellent. It is as Aradhana that Priyanka uses her smile and eyes perfectly to her rapidly disintegrating resistance to poetry-quoting womanizer Javed. While the lead pair has excellent chemistry, they end up impressing us in different segments and never in the same segment. Prachi Desai and Neha Sharma stands in their roles in spite of the limited footage. This is because they portray the most interesting characters - strong willed and opinionated.

The rangoli on screen, the music, the jokes and the running time makes this watchable. So if you have nothing else to do in the multipex, this provides a good diversion.

Language: Hindi

Genre: Drama

Rating: **

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Swalpa adjust maadi

You would have heard this phrase if you lived in Karnataka. This is the quintessential appeal for a fellow to take on extra hardship for the comfort of the other person. The hardship may be minuscule; nevertheless it is hardship. Incidentally, this is also the phrase that comes to my mind whenever I visited one of the Indian restaurant in Paris in the past two weeks.

When I go out to dinner, I am alone. The pangs of hunger and joy of laziness never lets me plan an outing to this place with friends. A few months ago when I was eating alone at a table for two, I was requested to share the table with another person. The request was followed by a heart-tugging epilogue. "We are all Indians. No?". We are Indians. So we can adjust or compromise. That is the unwritten message. I obliged. 

Let me be frank with you. That adjusting act didn't earn me anything in return during the future visits even though my demands do not beyond a harmless smile or even a nod. Anyway, the above mentioned event concerns only me. For the last two weeks, the same restaurant have been doing minor patch works inside the building. The narrow corridor, leading to the washroom and also the restrooms, is often blocked because of this. In addition to this, the main entrance is sometimes blocked. What surprises me is the work being conducted during the weekends when the restaurant is always busy.

The clientele is from diverse backgrounds. In France, the labour laws are strict. Probably, that is why they cannot do renovation at night. They will not close down the restaurant fearing the loss of business. Beyond doubt, they expect everyone to adjust.

Tags: Musings,Adjust,Compromise,Indian Restaurant,Paris

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A girl makes a difference

A girl makes a difference; in some cases a big difference. Tell me about it. My life changed after my marriage for good. Well, not all stories may be related to marriage, but I am sure many of us would agree about the close association with the fairer sex and change. That is exactly what my friend was talking about yesterday.

My friend starts a new assignment at a new place. He waits for almost a week to find out his responsibilities. You may call it inefficient but think about the rapidly changing business priorities. In any case, we pretty much know what we are good at and we can also guess what will be handed over to us based on what we have projected before we took up the assignment. The most difficult part is to figure out an organization's processes.

There are manuals both offline and online to understand the organization's processes. If you have moved into a new position, you are initially hit by the sudden inactivity and also the nagging insecurity. It is not a peaceful time to immerse yourself into documents. Most people do not have the necessary patience. This is exactly where you colleagues comes into picture. They can help you get on to your feet quickly by giving an overview of important aspects.

So my friend goes to his colleagues. Everybody is busy. He is redirected to the online and offline resources. My friend is frustrated because of the perpetually engaged colleagues. A week later, another person joins his team. It is a girl. The perpetually busy guys are all going the extra mile to help her in teaching her the processes.

That is the summary of his grievances. Of course, this is not only unprofessional but also discriminating. But is this kind of behavior true for male-only groups? What happens when a man moves into a female-only group? Are men more prone to such behavior?

Tags: Musings,Girl,Processes

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Books: Cairo Diary: an Egyptian Fable

Dr Justine Jenner arrives in Egypt with two objectives. She has to evaluate the schools for young girls run by an international philanthropic outfit. She also plans to research on Virgin Mary. Justine is half American and half Egyptian. She is running away from a protective father who is also an archaeologist like her. Based on the findings that the holy family had spent time in Egypt while hiding, she hopes to find more about Virgin Mary and her influence on Jesus. By establishing this link, she can add value to her research on how women were influential.

Dr. Linda Lambert is the author of book. She chooses a backdrop which is familiar to her but not known to many, the world and politics behind the field of archaeology. Luckily for the reader, she doesn't get too technical. The explanations and the conversations are easy to follow. But what lets down the reader is the narrative style. The book doesn't belong to any genre - drama, thriller or philosophy. This might sound good. But it is tricky to write a book that doesn't belong to any genre and still capture keep the reader hooked. The author also uses two timelines - the present represented by Justine and the past represented by Virgin Mary. These two timelines are interspersed. Normally, such a style should invoke suspense and intrigue. Unfortunately, the uninspired style of blending these two timelines make it very boring.

The book raises a lot of interesting questions about organized religion, people's belief, the image of the patron saints etc. These questions are fundamental and makes us think a lot about what is divinity and why are we perusing god. Sadly, this interesting part is relegated to a very few pages of at the end of the book. If only the author had planned better, this book could have been a gripping thriller. For now, it is just another book trying to be different from Da Vinci Code without getting anywhere! Avoid this book.

Tags: Books,Linda Lambert

Monday, July 2, 2012

Photos: Rath Yatra Paris 2012

The chances are you have heard about the Rath Yatra in Jagannath Puri, Orissa. Over this weekend, ISKCON recreated this event in Paris. In order to accomplish this task, they created a rath(chariot) decked with idols and pulled it through the streets of Paris from Place du Colonel Fabien to Place Joachim du Bellay with the help of devotees. Such an endeavor, in the tiny yet overpopulated city of Paris, can bring life to a halt. It was so well planned affair that normal life went on without much interruption.

By 2 pm, Place du Colonel Fabien was crowded. The chants of "Hare Rama Hare Krishna" was all over the place along with incessant chatter, jingles and drum beats. After a dance performance in a made up stage and an address by various prominent personalities from the ethnic/religious communities, the procession started. There were a lot of things that amazed me.

The organizers were foresighted. There were medical personnels accompanying the procession. As there are people belong to different age groups present in the procession, better be prepared for emergencies. If that was not enough, there was free food. The volunteers were carrying it around in big steel trays. They quickly replenished it as soon as the trays were emptied. Drinks were available at the food truck which was a few meters ahead of the rath. The procession had police escorts too. This helped in clearing the traffic well ahead of time thereby enabling the rath to move without interruption. It also helped the public to be caught in the middle of excitement.

The chanting of "Hare Rama Hare Krishna" was contagious. The crowd went from guarded caution to careless abandon in a few minutes. People around the rath started jumping up and down in the air. Some were dancing. The good dancers were teaching others how to join the fun. My lessons were two-fold from observing the crowd. If you are in the middle of an ecstatic crowd, you become ecstatic too. The second lesson is more related to human nature than philosophy. The police station invigorates the crowd. The procession passed in front the police station in the 10th arrondissement. At this place, the crowds went wild and invited the cops to join in. The cops beamed in return.

Parisians who weren't the part of the procession often paused, checked and moved on. Of course, there were many looking outside from their balconies and windows. Many of them wanted to save the memory on their smartphones.

Finally the procession reached the destination. There were dance performances, songs, stalls and free food there. Even after 5 hours, the crowd was still ecstatic when I decided to go home. I do not know how they are going to manage the Monday. In my mind I already have started thinking about it and it was time for me leave.

Finally the procession reached the destination. There were dance performances, songs, stalls and free food there. Even after 5 hours, the crowd was still ecstatic when I decided to go home. I do not know how they are going to manage the Monday. In my mind I already have started thinking about it and it was time for me leave.

Tags: Photos

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Photos: Gay Pride, Paris 2012

It was indeed the mother of all parades I have seen so far in Paris. Before any parade kicks off in Paris, the participants occupy the streets preparing themselves while waiting for the green signal. The participants stretch from the starting point in the reverse direction of the parade. The hour before the parade starts incidentally is also the best time to shoot the stationary figures. Once the parade starts, it becomes difficult to shoot a good picture as everyone is on the move with wild abandon.

The starting point of the parade was Gare Montparnasse. I walked from there to take pictures of the paraders. Even after reaching Duroc metro station, I failed to hit the end of the paraders. Then I gave up and walked backwards in order to move along with the parade instead of against it. The parade ends in Place de la Bastille after crossing Luxembourg, Port Royal etc.

The mood was upbeat. The LGBT population of the city along with their supporters were thronging the streets making it difficult to either move or shoot. The most interesting part of the parade occured near Jardin du Luxembourg. The garden was closed. But when the crowds saw the Fountain of the Observatory or the Fontaine des Quatre-Parties-du-Monde or the Carpeaux Fountain, they went berserk. They jumped over the fence and rushed into the fountain. Soon, they were playing in the water. A couple of adventurous souls climbed on the top of the globe.

It was tough to walk and shoot. When I reached St. Michel, I gave up. I went to Saravanaa Bhavan using the RER for a much needed intake of food. Later, I wandered into Place de la Bastille. The energy of the parade was definitely missing at the end point. So I didn't stay long there. The scenes at Jardin du Luxembourg was the high point of the parade for me. It captures some of the spirit associated with the event. So I am sharing some of the pictures.

Tags: Photos

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