Friday, 26 February 2010

A New Start

So, it's almost the end of February, close to two months have already passed into the new year (much quicker than I expected) and I thought it's as good as any to take stock and see how I've done with my New Year's Resolutions!

To start with, my three resolutions in order of priority were, one, have more awareness. As in just be more aware of my actions, my moods, my words, the food I ate, my body and my system. All in all, to be just more present on a conscious level. The second was to lose weight and the third was to seriously complete at least one of the projects I've been writing.

How have I fared? Well on the "awareness" front, I'm genuinely trying. I didn't think I mastered the "Power of Now" in just a few months, but I keep reminding myself to be in the prsent and be more conscious from moment to moment. This of course has its own pitfalls because this "awareness" seems to rear its head at the most inopportune moments! Like the moment when I have just stuffed another spoonful of low fat yogurt with sugar into my mouth, I can hear a voice which says, "What do you think you are doing? You know of course that this spoonful is going straight to the hips and the abdomen, don't you?" That's when I sheepishly try to drown out awareness by telling myself that I'll run extra 15 minutes on the treadmill tomorrow. (How many times haven't we all tried this?)

On the losing weight front, well I did go for a month and a half till the time I fell sick in between. Since then, I haven't got the courage to head back into the gym. Now, I just need to 'commit' to my gym schedules. Now for me, "committment" is a big scary word! I hate "committing" to anything if I know there is a remote possibility that I might abandon it before completion. I need to set a deadline. "I will lose weight before I become an adult" and I need to see it through. It needs to be done systematically and thoroughly. So, as soon as next month, I will "commit".

Writing. That's the only one that seems to be doing fine. The only problem is that it's opened up a Pandora's box! I've taken on writing more things in my enthusiasm. The blog was one of them (I'm enjoying writing it though). So, I guess one of three is not so bad and hey; there are a whole ten more months to go! (An example of the eternally timeless famous last words).

So, I hope that you will pause to take a look at how well you have been doing with your resolutions, whatever they were. To lose weight, go to the gym, read more, spend more time with family and kids. I also hope you will be honest with yourself about how far you have come and if you have slipped along the way, I hope you'll be kind to yourself and promise that you will try just a little harder! Enjoy the rest of your year.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Movie Review: Notting Hill

Notting Hill is very different from the usual romantic comedies you end up watching these days. Sure, it does contain the same elements; smart, witty and literate dialogues combined with some really colourful characters who have been fully written.

William Thacker (Hugh Grant) is a small bookstore in Notting Hill that is certainly down on his luck; the store is in the doldrums when Hollywood actress Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) walks in as she is promoting her new film. The two have a very cute and funny meeting as William's bookstore owner apprehends a shoplifter in the midst of their conversation. There isn't much said or done throughout the film, but there are very slight gestures and enjoyable acting that shares the fact that there are certainly more possibilities left in this newly found relationship.

The two meet again at various times and their meetings are everything at once that we need, but in a small package. These meetings are smart, sweet and entirel believable, but they don't go for grand scenes, they're twice as effective as that; these meetings build off as small events like William spilling orange juice on Anna in the street. Soon enough, William finds himself sneaking into a press conference for Anna's new film in a hilarious sequence where William must pretend to be a reporter. It's during these scenes that are a good example of why I liked Hugh Grant so much in this film. He's shaped into that sort of a bit into a sharper, smarter more detailed and interesting performance that combines both comedy and a little bit of drama into a far better performance.

The story is very predictable but still one feels like watching it for the fun. It's only through the performances and the very literate screenplay that makes it an enjoyable watch. Notting Hill isn't really a satire or even that much of a look at the sort of privacy and fame issue that the films seems to be going for before it starts. It certainly has elements that either joke or hint at the reality of showbiz, but it uses these elements to fuel the romantic drama/comedy of the film and it works.

Hugh Grant is smart, funny and detailed in his performance. Julia Roberts is as usual stunning and her performance as Anna combines timing and sweetness. There were some genuinely believable flaws that were intentionally added into the personalities of both and she makes particularly effective use of building these flaws into a very real and memorable character that we can sympathize with because she's not perfect. The surrounding characters, especially William's roommate is very funny and wonderfully written here as well and provides an enjoyable comic background to the proceedings.

Summing it up, I really enjoyed Notting Hill. Like the characters involved, the film possesses a couple of flaws, but it's so wonderfully made and greatly acted that you can't help being charmed by it. It's a very smart romantic comedy and one of the best films produced by Universal Pictures. On the ratings scale, this movie gets a good three and a half out of five.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Movie Review: Khosla Ka Ghosla

In an era when senseless movies made their presence felt, films that reflect the simple joys of life suddenly seem to be extinct. Films that follow the Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee's style of filmmaking are good as extinct. Hence, Khosla Ka Ghosla came like a breath of fresh air. It strikes a chord due to its simplistic and unadulterated entertainment. The emphasis is not on paraphernalia like special effects or opulent sets as much as on content.

The prime reason why Khosla Ka Ghosla works is because you come across characters depicted in the film in everyday. The setting amidst a middle class family makes it a slice-of-life episode, the plot (land grabbing) is identifiable and the characters are believable. Khosla Ka Ghosla reiterates the fact that a simple story, well told, has the power to keep you focussed to the screen for the next two hours.

The dream of every middle class man is to own a house. Kamal Kishore Khosla (Anupam Kher) is no different. On retirement, he invests his entire life's earnings into a plot of land to build his dream house. Only to be cheated by a corrupt, greedy builder Khurana (Boman Irani), who usurps the land that belongs to the innocent Khosla. Khosla's family joins hand to pull off a scam on the biggest goon in the property business.

The first thing that catches your eye in Khosla Ka Ghosla is the assorted characters. If the head of the family nurses an ambition to make a house with his hard-earned earnings, the elder son is looking at a career in the U.S., while the younger one is still aimless. On the other side of the fence is this land shark, who encroaches on others' land. Then there are the estate agents who hand-in-glove with such crooks. Really, there's not one unbelievable character in the entire film. Besides the life-like characters, the humour injected at regular intervals keeps the interest alive. The dilemma of a middle-class family and the deteriorating human values are depicted with utmost honesty. The helplessness of the common man is highlighted most effectively.

Jaideep Sahni's script is almost flawless and it's hard to believe that the film was directed by debuntante Dibakar Banerjee. The overall material is powerful. Although every performance in the film is faultless, Khosla Ka Ghosla undoubtedly belongs to Anupam Kher and Boman Irani. Parvin Dabbas stands out in a role that suits him well. Tara Sharma does justice to her character. Ranvir Shorey is ok. Kiran Juneja is able, though she doesn't have much to do. Navin Nischol is adequate and Vinay Pathak is first rate. The actor enacting of the role of an estate agent is really good.

On the whole, Khosla Ka Ghosla is a well-scripted and executed film that surely stands out in the crowd. It is also like the perfect tribute to the Hrishikesh Mukherjee's school of filmmaking. On the ratings scale between one to five, this movie gets a four star which means highly recommended.

Gone Are The Days...

Gone are the days...
When the school reopened in June,
And we settled in our new desks and benches.

Gone are the days...
When we queued up in the book depot,
And got our new books and notes.

Gone are the days...
When we wanted two Sundays and no Mondays, yet,
Managed to line up daily for the morning prayers.

Gone are the days...
We learnt writing with slates and pencils, and,
Progressed to fountain pens and ball pens and then
Micro tips.

Gone are the days...
We began drawing with crayons and evolved to
Colour pencils and finally sketch pens.

Gone are the days...
We started calculating first with multiplication tables and then with
Clarke's tables and advanced to calculators and computers.

Gone are the days...
When we chased one another in the corridors in
Intervals, and returned to the classrooms
Drenched in sweat.

Gone are the days...
When we had lunch in classrooms, corridors,
Playgrounds, under the trees and even in cycle sheds.

Gone are the days...
When all the colours in the world,
Decorated the campus on Second Saturdays.

Gone are the days...
When a single P.T. period in the week's timetable
Was awaited more eagerly than the monsoons.

Gone are the days...
When cricket was played with writing pads as bats,
And Neckties and socks rolled into balls.

Gone are the days...
When we played "kabbadi" and "kho-kho" in the scorching sun,
While others simply played "book-cricket" in the
Confines of the classroom.

Gone are the days...
Of fights but no conspiracies,
Of competitions but seldom jealousy.

Gone are the days...
When we used to watch live telecast of cricket matches,
In the opposite house in intervals and lunch breaks.

Gone are the days...
When we rushed at 3:45 to
"Conquer" window seats in the school bus.

Gone are the days...
Of Sports Day and the Annual School Day
And the month long preparations for them.

Gone are the days...
of the stressful quarterly,
Half yearly and annual exams, and the most enjoyed
Holidays after them.

Gone are the days...
Of tenth and twelfth standards, when we
spent almost the whole year writing revision tests.

Gone are the days...
When we learnt, we enjoyed, we played, we won, we lost,
We laughed, we cried, we fought, we thought.

Gone are the days...
With so much fun in them, so many friends,
So much experience, all this and more.

Gone are the days...
When we used to talk for hours with our friends
Now, we don't have the time to say a simple ''hi".

Gone are the days...
When we played games on the road
Now, we code on the road with a laptop.

Gone are the days...
When we saw stars shining at night
Now, we see stars when our code doesn't work.

Gone are the days...
When we sat to chat with friends on playgrounds
Now, we chat in chat rooms...

Gone are the days...
Where we studied just to pass
Now, we study to save our job.

Gone are the days...
Where we had no money in our pockets
And fun filled on our hearts
Now, we have the ATM as well as a credit card
But with an empty heart.

Gone are the days...
When we shouted on the road
Now, we don't shout even at home.

Gone are the days...
Where we got lectures from all,
Now, we give lectures to all... like the one I'm doing now...

Gone are the days...
But not the memories, which will be
lingering in our hearts forever and ever...

No matter how busy you are,
Don't forget to live the life that still exists
As it won't be there forever

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Movie Review: Harishchandrachi Factory

Officially, Harishchandrachi Factory was India's official entry to the Oscars. It failed to make it to the nominations list, but that doesn't detract from the beauty and vibrancy of the Marathi film Harishchandrachi Factory (with English subtitles) that creates a whole new matrix for the biopic on Dadasaheb Phalke, the pioneer who brought cinema to India with Raja Harishchandra, the first motion picture made in Mumbai in 1913.

Indeed, it must have been an arduous journey that Dundiraj Govind Phalke aka Dadasaheb Phalke underwent before he managed to bring the Williamson to India and shoot Raja Harishchandra, the epic mythology that has become a milestone in movielore. Yet, the toil, the sweat and the tears have been totally dispensed with for a lightness of being that enthuses a film with an incandescence and a sense of crackling wit and humour.

The director Paresh Mokashi sets the effervescent tone of the film from the onset when he introduces his protagonist, Dadasaheb Phalke (Nandu Madhav) who is watching an English movie on The Passion of Jesus. Needless to say, he is totally mesmerized and keeps coming back, again and again, trying his best to get behind, into the screening room and decipher the mystery of moving images. It doesn't take long before he sells off most of his belongings and is on his way to London to learn the craft of cinema.

The making of the movie, Raja Harishchandra, is equally rivetting with the director trying to convince his wife (Vibhavari Deshpande) to pitch in as Taramati. When she refuses, he roams the brothels, to find his first actress and eventually finds himself with an all-male cast, performing the female roles too. It was the age of nationalism and the emergence of Indian cinema was just another step in India's attempt to assert its identity and independence.

A must-see film, with a delicious sense of humour, Harishchandrachi Factory boasts of sterling performances by the lead actors Nandu Madhav and Vibhavari Deshpande as Mr. and Mrs. Phalke who end up as the most chilled out couple of the early 20th century. The film works as a period drama too, with an exquisite eye for detail. But most importantly, it lays down the mantra of Indian movie lore. On the ratings scale from one to five, this movie gets four stars and two big thumbs up!!

Friday, 12 February 2010

Yeh Dooriyan...

Someone is going to come this way one day,
I know that.
A dear one will come this way is what I always wish for,
Even now, it's what I hope for today.

Many a time has the season of flowers lost it's way...
... There are no flowers in the mango tree branches...
For that alone there should be a season when it blooms.

I know there's no one to come yet I wait at the door...
Without knowing for whom it is, I wait inside the door expectantly
I wait expectantly...
A person dear to me will come is what I wish for always...

With promises to meet again,
He left me...
I knew he would not come...
But I stand at the main door regularly, waiting for him.
A person dear to me will come.
At the door like a statue I wait hoping you will come.

Unexpectedly, I felt that I heard someone's footsteps.
The spring should bring something and remain forever.
If it should bring something...
At times, I run with hope on to the path with eager eyes...
... Someone who lost his way has come and gone...
... Comes and goes back...
... Comes and goes back ...