Sunday, 4 October 2009

Government Okays Indian Summers

The script of director's Joe Wright's next period venture, Indian Summers based upon the book ndian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire (2007) by Alex von Tunzelmann has been green-lighted by our right honourable government. Holy shit! Now Joe Wright's gonna make it before I even reach film school. Oh how bad I really wanted to make a film on that book. Damn Joe Wright! If I ever lay my hands on that person who gave him this idea... he's a dead man.

Well seriously now, government has indeed cleared the project, though of course with some riders, such as the presence of a government official at all times during the shoot and absolute non-deviance from the script. The fact that the film is going to be directed by Joe Wright comes as a relief actually from seeing his earlier period dramas like Pride & Prejudice (2005) and Atonement (2007) which were quite impressive. But there's always a fear that he might it make more 'British' in feel rather than Indian, which would be a great injustice to India and her struggle for freedom.

And yet another thing that worries me is the choice of casting Cate Blanchett and Hugh Grant as the Mountbattens. Now of course Cate Blanchett is a fantastic actress but it still doesn't help the fact that she's extremely ugly. Falling in love with her might be a little difficult for our screen Nehru. And then comes Mr. Hugh Grant. Believe me guys when I say Hugh Grant is one of my all time favourite actors, but ask anybody who has seen his films and they will agree that he will be a miscast as Mountbatten. With his fluttering eye-lids and nuanced mannerisms he will be best at imitating a dead Mountbatten, unless of course he suddenly decides to show his long elusive versatility. 

For Mountbatten's role I got a suggestion. How about Mark Strong. If you have seen RocknRolla (2008), you know what I am talking about.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

The Fall of David Dhawan

The 'No. 1' guy, as he can be famously called, must be an rather unsatisfied man these days. After delivering hits after hits (financially speaking) in the last decade such as Biwi No. 1 (1999), Hero No. 1 (1997), Judwaa (1997), Coolie No. 1 (1995) etc, the present decade has offered him only flops. Except maybe Mujhse Shaadi Karogi (2004), all his other ventures had one thing written in bold on them - 'Beware. David Dhawan Inside'. He has directed 15 films since 2000 and out of those only 1 film could be called a 'hit'.

Ever wondered why the man once so famous as India's best comedy director, today so effortlessly bites the dust? Why the sudden transformation? Well his new generation films are almost as stupid as they were 10 years back. So is then the Indian audience finally maturing? No, can't really be sure of that. Films like the recently released Wanted(2009) are a case in point.

So what is it then? A combination of factors most probably. His over-reliance on a specific bunch of actors (did I mention Govinda?), extremely unimaginative and stupid storylines, predictable endings and a superb failure to come up with something even remotely new. The Indian public is an idiot, but even idiots can get frustrated if you test them a little too much.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Gomorra: A Review

Good or bad, this film sure hits hard and hits it good. Directed by Matteo Garrone, it is based upon the novel by Roberto Saviano which deals with organized crime called Camorra (almost like the Mafia) in the Naples and Caserta region of Italy. A radical departure from the time tested conventions of gangster flicks, this movie tries to intertwine five separate stories of Italians whose lives are touched by organized crime (Camorra).

A little background information about the Camorra can come in handy in here since most people outside of Europe or of Italy for that matter, most probably haven't ever heard about it. Now according to the venerable Wikipedia, the Camorra is a mafia-like criminal organisation, originating in the region of Campania and the city of Naples in Italy. It finances itself through drug trafficking, extortion, protection and racketeering and its activities have led to high levels of murder in the areas in which it operates. It is the oldest criminal organisation in Italy. And according to the movie itself, Camorra accounts for the most number of deaths annually in the whole of Europe.

Talking about the movie itself, it sorts of blurs the distinguishing line between a studio-produced film and a documentary. It's gritty cinematography, shaky camera-work, non-glamorous approach and the lack of an structured narrative makes it extremely realistic but at the same time severely reduces its entertainment value. The bleak urban Italy painted in the film is a far cry from the regal beauty of the Italy shown in tourist brochures. The Italy in Gomorra is crumbling down upon its own stark, squalid and bloody foundations.

For the first 45 minutes the story is tough to get hold of, and it only starts to clear up after the 90 minutes mark. The film presents the viewers with such a huge number of characters and situations that it sometimes becomes quite tough to hang on to the storyline. There was very little interconnectedness, the characters just chopped in and out of the story without any apparent relevance and lacking any cohesion. It was the indeed only the common social fabric that binded all the characters together. Now this is both an achievement for the director as well as a tough nut for unsuspecting audience to crack.

The film is unique in more aspect as well, in the fact that it completely shakes itself free of any empathy for the characters which makes it extremely emotionally uninvolving. But the viewer is allowed to soak in the decadent atmosphere and for two hours co-exist in the world of Comorra. Lastly it must be said that the film manages to generate the same feeling of annoyance and intimidation that it tries to expose in the story. The film is more rather a portrayal of society at its edge.

PS: I have to agree though that for persons who relate more to the subject matter than ordinary people sitting in a different country in a different continent, it is bound to generate more respect and admiration.

Plus factors: Cinematography, plot, and characterisation.

Minus factors: Story, duration of the movie, choppy narrative and dialogues.

My Score: 5.5/10

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Pokiri: A Review

I am confused. Are totally mindless masala movies like these even supposed to be reviewed? So today let me hit this movie in a totally different way.

20 Things you learn from Pokiri:

1. Heroes have exceptional superhuman strength.

2. Heroes love to fight in sheds because it is a nice place.

3. You should never lose the keys of the shed after locking it.

4. The hero always dances and sings after a successful fight.

5. The hero loves to dance with girls in blue sarees.

6. You should wear 3 shirts on top of one another even in summers to look smart.

7. Guns used by the police have crooked barrels.

8. Girls like it when you stop them in railway stations and stare at their breasts.

9. Hero learns to use a pistol by seeing movies.

10. Police Sub-Inspectors are sex-starved and corrupt.

11. Villains love BDSM.

12. Hero's gun never needs to be reloaded.

13.  The bad guys need to reload after every 2 shots.

14. Girls wear skimpy clothes and sing in hoarse voices to impress the hero.

15. The hero is better than even the desperado Antonio Banderas as he kills all the guys who come to kill him in his house. Even Banderas had to flee.

16. He loves to dance and sing with item girls in between a meeting with the head villain.

17. Good looking girls have bastard boyfriends.

18. All rogues are actually undercover police officers, or brothers of police officers.

19. Police SIs are dull minded.

20. Police Commissioner sends only 1 police officer to take down an entire gang of 20-30 hardened criminals. And that officer doesn't even care to take a gun!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

P.S. I Love You: A Review

"This is a movie that will leave you stunned and stupefied from beginning to end, if you don't head for the exits first. The only good things in it are Lisa Kudrow and Swank's wardrobe. The plot is unbelievable, although a competent script could have fixed that. The direction is flabby and uninspired, the casting is wrongheaded, and the performances run the gamut from uninteresting to insufferable ... the film wants terribly to be Ghost without a potter's wheel, but it just succeeds at being terrible."

This is what Mr. David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle had to say. Well as for me, I won't be so harsh on the poor film, but would like to elaborate on a few points.

Firstly I would have liked it immensely if the story had been set in Ireland, as it was originally in the novel. It would had certainly increased the cinematographic options at the very least. Forgetting the rather ambitious plot and storyline, overall it looks quite clean and organized. But it has to be said that both direction and acting were at severe fault, as I felt no connection to any of the characters. Swank just didn't get her act right. Something was missing always. As for the rest of the actors and actresses, they were just about average. You should blame bad casting too. 

Then comes the total duration of the movie which was simply too long. It was really hard to stop myself from quiting at 45 minutes. For a film over 2 hours long, it simply lacked the depth and the approach you would have expected. Even the soundtrack wasn't good enough.

But there were a few bright spots also. One of them being the rather nice chemistry between Hillary Swank and Gerard Butler (girls will love him!). And the other being Lisa Kudrow. And yes, I rather liked the ending. Didn't expect that.

Plus Factors : Story, chemistry between Swank and Butler, and Lisa Kudrow.

Minus Factors : Direction, casting, duration of the movie, script and the soundtrack.

My Score : 5/10

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Back from Kolkata

Yes, that's absolutely correct, I am just back after a nice little tour of Kolkata. Enjoyed quite a lot in those 4 days. Hung out with my college friends and old school friends alike. Went to Victoria Memorial after many many years (really liked the cannon with Bengali inscription upon it). Got drenched in rain on Park Street. Chilled out in City Centre. Got lost in Chandni Chowk. Discovered that the metro has no air conditioning system. And finally drank incredibly ordinary coffee costing Rs. 100! It was quite a tour, I must say.

There were some things which I did not like so much such as - the widespread dirtiness and the seemingly invincible aura of overall shabbiness, narrow roads, decadent attitude of the government, lack of any evident development and the low number of public buses and autos.

Now you are going to ask me what I really liked about Kolkata? Well then I have an honest answer - the bookstores, the ready availability of obsolete things (vinyl disc for instance) and the hot and fair girls of Kolkata.

Oxford, Starmarks, Crossword - all are so wonderful that I could easily spend a whole day in any of those. Its really bad that nothing like this exists in Durgapur. Bought some books from Starmarks and Crossword, namely Omerta, The Sicilian, and The Last Mughal.

Also bought some vinyl discs at dirt cheap prices right on the Chandni Chowk sidewalks.

And finally the girls. They come in all shapes, sizes and colours. And they are quite different too from the other big city girls. Not as flashy as Delhi girls, nor as decadent as the Mumbai girls. No sir, not yet.   

Monday, 14 September 2009

Presenting the Memory Cleansing Drug

Wow! Is this real man? Science really doesn't know any bounds, does it? I don't know how many of you have seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but it very well seems that the science-fiction drama may become a stark reality in the days to come.

In the most brilliant movie mentioned above starring the beautiful Kate Winslet and the equally wonderful Jim Carrey, both of them portray a couple who undergo a medical procedure to erase each other from their memories when their relationship turns sour. The scientists at Friedrich Miescher Institute in Switzerland have done something remarkably similar. They have developed (at least theoretically) a memory-cleansing drug that has the ability to remove any recollection of unhappy or embarrassing incidents, like childhood teasing or upsetting memories of a failed love affair. Pretty exciting, huh?

During the successful animal trials, the animals were given a drug that dissolves a barrier around amygdala - the almond-shaped organ in the brain where mammals store their memories of fear. It was found that after receiving the drug, the animals stopped being scared of sounds linked to electric shocks, indicating the memories had been erased. Homo sapiens share the same organ which can another way of saying that the drug can work on humans too.

Another big achievement of medical science, but aren't mistakes and unhappy memories the single biggest reason why we learn? With all our memories of our mistakes, our hard earned wisdom might go too, and our ability to learn and store.

Sunday, 13 September 2009 Porn Free Search Engine

Guess what I found a few hours back while surfing the net - It is a completely new search engine especially designed for muslims who wish to avoid any sort of pornographic material from accidentally creeping into their search. According to the makers it is only a tool for searching the net in a clean and safe environment. Their stated intention is to become the number one homepage in all Muslim households. They also plan to introduce Islamic widgets in the near future.

They make use of a two layer filter system. The first filter analyzes the World Wide Web and only returns clean results. The second filter which triggers the 'Haram' rating system is a more aggressive filter and according to them which still needs to be improved on some grounds but already is functioning pretty good.

Well I don't know why but this somehow keeps me reminding of the Chinese censorships imposed on the internet, though the guys at ImHalal are quick to deny any such thing. Anyways I am hoping for the best. So ready to be ranked by Haram ratings?

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Glory: A Review

While watching Glory (1989) one of my friends came calling and it was a couple of hours until he finally left. All this time I just couldn't wait to get back to the movie. This is the beauty of a good movie. Well now let's get to the job.

Glory is a American civil war saga about the Union's first all-black volunteer company with the main protagonist being the commanding officer of the regiment Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. The movie begins at the Battle of Antietam and follows through the formation of the black unit and its training, and ultimately ending at the storming of the Confederate held Fort Wagner. Directed by Edward Zwick (of Blood Diamond fame) the film is simply marvellous. Though there were quite a few historical inaccuracies, those were made good by the excellent direction. This is not just another mindless chauvinistic war movie, but rather a war drama as it tries to analyse the sentiments of the men charged with the responsibility of protecting the American Union. Matthew Broderick as the baby faced Col. Robert Gould Shaw does a great job, though sometimes he leaves something to be desired. But still after Ferris Bueller's Day Off (his movie which I saw last) he still manages to surprise me. Cary Elwes (one of my favourite actors) is also quite good, but his rather small role doesn't really justice to his capabilities. Denzel Washington as the hot headed Trip is one of the greatest characters in cinematic history and singlehandedly becomes the uncontested spokesperson of black anger. Morgan Freeman is his great self as usual, and Jihmi Kennedy plays a rather interesting cameo with a nice accent. One stand-out of this film is the near about absence of any female characters. And lastly a mention about the music by James Horner - simply fabulous. It almost doubles the impact of what we see on the screen.

Plus factors - Great direction, great script, great acting, great characterisation, good utilization of characters and great music.

Minus factors - Average cinematography and quite a few historical inaccuracies.

My Rating - 8/10.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

The Day I saw 2 Movies

Didn't have pretty much to do the whole day. Most of the time I fiddled around with FL Studio on some songs I had been working upon with Priyankar. And the rest of the time was spent watching two mindless films (pure timepass). One was Accepted (2006) and the other was She's the Man (2006), for the both of which I provide a little short review down below.

Accepted is a story about a guy, who after being rejected to every college he had applied to, sets up his own college to satisfy his parents. 
Plus Factors - Good timepass, feel good movie
Minus Factors - Bad characterisation, stupid direction, highly flawed screenplay and average acting.
My Rating - 5.5/10.

She's the Man was the second movie, and I finished the 150 minute movie in about 20-25 minutes. Because I absolutely hated this movie. I hated it, hated it, and hated  it. I hated every second of it that I watched. So I won't bother much with the review itself.
Plus Factors - A talented storyline
Minus Factors - Bad direction, bad dialogues, absolutely terrible acting, stupid screenplay, obnoxious casting and highly irritating.
My Rating - 2.5/10

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Gorkhaland: The Solutions & Why Not

After my last post about Gorkhaland (to which I received a lot of constructive criticism), this is the follow-up post. The issue of Gorkhaland is not inherently a complex issue, and therefore should not be made to look so. So let us look at the probable solutions one by one.


The state government does nothing and the central government turns a blind eye to the hills. How much steam does GJM have? It's all going to fizz out in a few months. And if still the agitations continue, well then lets suppress it.

Advantage: None in particular. Might satisfy some higher egos in the state government.

Disadvantage: Agitation continues, and all the harmful things associated with it (mostly financial). Plus, it leaves the issue open to dispute later.

SECOND SOLUTION: Merge Darjeeling with Sikkim.

Yeah, that saves the hassle of forming a new state, and must also placate the Gorkhas (Man, doesn't Sikkim also consists of mainly Nepalis?). But I don't think that's possible. If the Gorkhas are looking for an identity, Sikkim is hardly going to provide that. And ironically it was to save Sikkim's neck that the British had annexed Darjeeling from the Gorkhas. Plus I think any merger plans would be vociferously opposed by the SDF, the ruling party in Sikkim. This would be triggered by the fact that the population of Darjeeling is 3 times more than that of Sikkim. So any merger would see the rise of another strong party (GJM) in state politics, and this might very well cost Mr. Chamling is beloved chair.

Advantage: Saves the hassle of the formation of a new state.

Disadvantage: Fails in all other objectives.

THIRD SOLUTION: Form a new state, Gorkhaland.

This is what the GJM is presently dreaming about. A state of their own. So that they can say that, "I belong to Gorkhaland, and that's a state of India." Very well. So first let me state the various factors.

Favourable factors-
1. Land area comparable to Goa (the smallest state).
2. High population
3. Distinct language and culture
4. Success of smaller states like Goa and Sikkim

And now the unfavourable factors-
1. Land area even less than Goa (yeah, it counts both ways of the argument).
2. Strategic concerns (it lies in the chicken's neck corridor).
3. More governments mean more ministers. More ministers mean more bureaucrats. And all this means more cars, servants, houses, and ultimately more money (and so less money available for development).
4. Failure of smaller states like Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland (the other side of the same coin).
5. The wrong message to all other communities desiring their own states.

Advantages: Solution of the problem. Complete withdrawal of all strikes and agitation. Spurt in economy.

Disadvantages: Wrong message to other communities fighting for statehood. Plus the Bengali population in Siliguri might not be too pleased. Anti-Gorkhaland strikes and rallies. Siliguri might be kept within West Bengal (but this certainly won't find much favour with GJM). But hey, you win some, you lose some. You lose a city, but you win the state.

FOURTH SOLUTION: Declare Darjeeling to be an Union Territory (with partial statehood later on).

This would be more amicable to the Central Government, and would also solve the problem of identity which the Gorkhas feels so keenly. The Government of West Bengal too, I have reasons to believe, will be less opposed to this plan. The Lieutenant-Governor appointed by the Central Government might be chosen from any of the Gorkha Regiments. This would certainly go a long way in creating goodwill amongst the people of Darjeeling. Later on as the political climate stabilises in the state, Darjeeling (or Gorkhaland after renaming) can be conferred the status of partial statehood with its own elected legislative assemblies and the executive councils of ministers on the lines of the DGHC.

Advantages: Solution of the problem. Spurt in economy. Strategic interests will be taken better care of (Gorkhaland will be a frontier UT then).

Disadvantages: The issue can still be exploited by vested political interests. GJM might not be satisfied as it's leader Bimal Gurung will have failed to get the power for himself. His dreams of being the Chief Minister will be dashed.

Finally the choice lies with the Gorkhas. It will always be difficult to satisfy all the parties. But this doesn't mean that an agreement will remain forever elusive. All we need are a few compromises and a dilution of the excited egos on both side of the political fence. And God willing everything will be great.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Gurung's Gorkhaland

The unruly Gorkhaland fiasco is again rearing its ugly head. And that head is ably represented by Mr. Bimal Gurung. The markets are closed, the roads are blocked, the schools and colleges deserted. Yippee! It's a strike. Sikkim is suffocating, the prices of commodities are increasing, tourism is taking a bad hit and all the people (whether a Bengali or a Gorkha) are getting equally inconvenienced. The police are to be seen nowhere, and for all reasons its a one party rule out there.

But on second thoughts this whole thing seems to be a little funny. The Gorkhaland issue first got prominence under the leadership of Subhas Ghising of the GNLF. The man lead a rather bloody struggle to achieve Gorkhaland, but then abandoned the struggle after the formation of the Darjeeling Hill Council. He got the power he so terribly wanted (evidently) and then ruled like a tyrant for 20 years. He had the power and the money, now why should he go on bothering on issues like development? And then steps into the scene the young and ambitious Bimal Gurung. He takes the cue from Guru Ghising and starts his morning walk following his footsteps. He forms his own party, proclaims his aim to achieve Gorkhaland and helps BJP win the Darjeeling LS seat (just like GNLF had helped Congress win the seat in the late 80s).

And if Gurung achieves Gorkhaland then after a period of time there will be yet another guy who will revolt against Gurung and form yet another party and then demand independence. The cycle will continue as history repeats itself.

My argument is that if Bimal Gurung really cares about development (as he professes in his huge rallies) then he can very easily do so in the present framework. Formation of a whole new state will do little in such a situation, unless of course, Gurung wants a personal fiefdom. Ghising had his DGHC, Gurung wants his own state. Rest of the story will be similar I guess - a single party state, a single leader, concentration of all the resources and power in one hand leading to - corruption and tyranny.

Thinking rationally, Gurung doesn't even have an premise for his demands. The West Bengal Government doesn't suppresses the people, nor their culture or traditions. For development DGHC is there. There is complete freedom and all the Gorkhas enjoy exactly the same rights as everybody else. And remember the more the number of governments, the more will be the common man taxed to elect and support the huge entourage of ministers (and deputy ministers, and bureaucrats, and cars, and buildings, and of course more corruption).

And if they think that Gorkhaland is required to save their identity, its all fine and good. According to them,
"The main reason for the demand for a separate state is the assertion of an Indian identity for the Gorkhas. Such an identity cannot be bestowed by any locally envisaged administrative systems. These are meant only for economic upliftment and social development."

But then that rule must be applied to all minority communities throughout India. For example lets take a look at West Bengal after applying this rule --
West Bengal can be broken up into 6 parts - Darjeeling, Cooch Bihar, Kamtapur, Santhal dominated areas, Murshidabad (for Muslims) and proper West Bengal.
Applying this rule we get some 90-100 states in India, and I wonder how possibly India could survive then. God bless India. Amen.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

A Thing called Television

People usually change after finishing school. Colleges are hot and happening, and the perfect catalyst for change, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the worse. Well fortunately the only change it influenced in me is related to my TV viewing habits - I don't watch TV anymore.

Ah! What a nice and relaxing change that really is. No TV. A luxury I don't want no more. In the past two years I must have watched no more 50 hours of TV. And that mostly includes the History Channel, VH1 , NDTV and a sprinkling of the sports channels. The reasons for such a radical change aren't too hard to find. I hate all the sick saas-bahu serials, I hate the sensationalized news by Aajtak, I hate the westernized degenerate nonsense of MTV, I hate all the silly stage-managed 'reality shows' and I hate all the stupid untalented 'celebrities' of TVdom. I can't pause or move forward or even rewind to watch my favourite scenes again. And damn I have to watch every one of those filthy advertisements. The end result - I can't stand TV anymore. I am finished with tolerating that box of mediocrity.

If I have to watch movies or listen to music, I have my laptop and ipod for that purpose. And of course reading, blogging, surfing, and hanging out with friends provide a much better alternative to watching that shitty TV. And yes, I love reading the newspaper.

Monday, 13 July 2009

A Maoist Morning

Woke up at my usual timings, about 9:30 (and that too when threatened menacingly by mom). Brushed and gazed upon the newspaper. Damn! Those Maoists slayed some 30 policemen (including an SP!). Now this is too much. All the stupid state governments seems absolutely helpless against the hit-and-run tactics of these (severely misguided) guerrillas. So much so that the Islamic terrorists nowadays seem puny to these Chinese wannabes (with the Central government actually corroborating the fact).

I remember a few days ago, when this Lalgarh operation was at it's height, I happened to be at a mobile shop buying a recharge voucher. At that moment an extremely lean and thin man, with dense shoulder length hair, draped in clothes that might give even Mahatma Gandhi a run for his money, entered the shop. The guy was surely a tribal, that was quite evident. With a sort of stupid smiling grin eked on his face he slowly made his way over to the counter. He wanted to buy a mobile. He looked around a little and thereafter engaged in a lengthy discussion with the saleswoman (who was extremely fat, I might add). And there was I standing in a corner, looking rather suspiciously at this newcomer. All this tribal-maoist-lalgarh thing had made an impact. All tribals or even tribal looking people could now be branded as Maoists.

Two days later I saw (again) two rather tribal looking people on a motorbike near the aforementioned mobile shop. The first thought again in my mind was - 'Maoists'.

I really hate myself for that. This is like branding a whole community with the guilt of one. This is what war and hate makes us do. This is the same thing as saying that every Muslim is a terrorist, and that every damn Assamese belongs to the ULFA. This is what happened to the Irish during 'The Troubles' when every Irishman was thought to be the IRA, and this is what's happening now in this 'Global War on Terror' - whole communities are being branded for life.

And nobody's feeling sorry.

Just a bad day

You know when you have one of those really bad days, when nothing seems to go your way, today was exactly like that. A damn BAD day. Now let me list all the bad things that happened today for posterity.

1. An extremely boring morning.
2. Got into a huge tiff with mom.
3. Learnt that friends change.
4. Got to know that I still don't know a lot of things about the only girl I care about.

Excuse my language, but this day was indeed fucking bad. And it's end finds me a little depressed and with an attitude that doesn't really revel in looking forward to the next day.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Lilja 4-ever: A Review

Now what is this? It's a Swedish film (though mostly in Russian and not very famous). And how I came to know about it is a little story in itself.
I am a fan of the Bourne film series, and just out of curiousity (I simply love to read about my favourite films) I was researching about the whole series. While going about it I came across Oksana Akinshina who had a small role in the second Bourne film, The Bourne Supremacy. Reading further about her, I found that she was in a highly acclaimed film 'Lilja 4-ever' by a Swedish director, Lukas Moodysson a few years earlier (in 2002). From the inrefutable Sir Wikipedia I came to know that this film was about poverty and human trafficking in Europe. Hmmm... for a person like me sitting in India, it is sometimes a little tough to visualize such evils (usually associated with third world countries) amongst the picturesque slopes of Europe. The user comments in IMDb further tempted me, and at last I decided, "Yes! It must be viewed." And indeed it was.

Shot in a partly documentary manner and set in some former USSR republic, it is an extremely bleak drama about a girl named Lilja (pronounced Lilya). It's the story of her downward spiral as her life goes from bad to absolute hell. The starting scene with the Rammstein song 'My Heart Burns' sets the harsh tone of the film as it tries to highlight the dual issues of human trafficking and sexual slavery. The sex montages are successful in juxtaposing the ugliness of the world and of the men who take advantage of another's distress and the innocence of Lilja. Volodja's character is also quite touching, especially the rooftop scene with Lilja. The story and the charcterisation both score well, and speak volumes about the talent of Lukas Moodysson. The movies is sad, but it's sad for a reason.

Plus factors: Realistic direction, strong story, good characterisation, good acting.
Minus factors: Poor editing, poor sound mixing.
Overall: It's good, but could have been really better.
My IMDb score: 7/10

Thursday, 2 July 2009

The Great Question of Article 377

The whole country at the present moment seems to be in the throes of a second sexual revolution, with the spotlight on the 'criminality' of homosexuality. The government's favourable approach to decriminisation of homosexuality has almost light up a thousand candles for the homosexuality community. The almost daily rallies and gay pride parades are a testimonial to this fact. Intellectuals are having a field day espousing the cause, while the conservative circles are expectantly demonizing the move.

Well, as for taking sides, let me declare that I severely denounce Article 377. I vehemently believe that the government nor the police should have any right to censor or regulate own's sexuality, unless and until it is physically injurious to others. And if two consenting adults choose do something a little differently, and nobody's getting hurt, and nobody's complaining, what damn case can the police possibly have? Terrorists, militants, robberies, rapes, murders, scams, the police have already enough shite on their hands rather than bothering about this.

As for the Article 377 itself, I am presently not clear on its physical implications conviction-wise it had on the society till now because, frankly speaking, I never heard a person being 'convicted' of being a homosexual. So its only evident effect is the suppression of homosexuals, and disabling them from being open about their sexual status. And this is bad enough. Living a life with a major part of your personality suppressed is certainly not my idea of a life worth living.

Down with 377!!

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Friday & Saturday

And so I thought, let's write a post about how I spent my Friday and Saturday. Maybe ten years down the line it might make for some good reading.

10:00 am: Got up from sleep.
10:30 am: Went to DSP for another day of summer training.
02:00 pm: Came back home.
03:00 pm: Had to go to Arena for my printing and publishing class.
05:30 pm: Came back home.
05:45 pm: Accompanied mom and grandpa to the station to see off Mamu and Bubu.
07:15 pm: Came back home.
08:00 pm: Went to Bubka's farewell party. Had a great dinner (and discovered that I was the only one on a cycle!).
11:15 pm: Came back home.
11:45 pm: Went to sleep.

09:30 am: Woke up.
10:00 am: Set out for DSP.
01:15 pm: Got back home.
03:00 pm: Left for my Arena classes.
05:30 pm: Got back home.
08:00 pm: Went to Shristi with Priyankar (Bangla bands came and performed on Saturdays).
10:30 pm: Home sweet home.
01:00 am: Sleep sweet sleep.

Gone were nice two days of my life.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The Best Movie Library you can get for free

It's been a long search for the right movie collection software, but thankfully I can call that worthy. A movie buff like me can do very well with a movie collection organizing software which can also store the film crews, ratings, genres, posters, and a outline of the plot. There are a lot of softwares to this effect in the market, but unfortunately most of them come with a price tag. Now this spurned on a search for a free one which could do the job reasonably well.
With Google as my acting partner, I managed find some of these. Included were Movienizer, Griffith and Movie Manager. The next step was trying all of them out.
Lets start with Griffith. Griffith is still in a developmental state (may be that's why its free). It was quite unstable when I used it as evident from the frequent error messages. It also provides only the most basic functionalities.
The Movie Manager download consisted of an .rar package which lacked an exe file (or anything even remotely similar), thus hindering all my efforts to install it (pardon me if I was doing something very stupid). Couldn't really find a way.
Movienizer was easily the best of the lot. With great search scripts (you can write your own even) and a convenient choice of data fields, it was extremely user-friendly. Maybe its only drawbacks were -- uncustomizable report exports, and the inability to update the database automatically by itself. But one thing was certain, that this was the best you are going to get for free. So guys allow me to recommend this piece of free heaven.
You can get it here.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

What's wrong with Karan Johar?

Ladies and gentlemen, let me ask you of this one favour. The unsophisticated answer to the question above. The simple minded may hereupon think me to be not quite sane, or at best take me to be yet another arrogant smartypants. But before you form your own independent opinions of me (of which you are very much entitled to) consider the following.

Mr. Karan Johar has till date directed (or in the process of directing) 4 films. Out of those 4 films, 3 films are set abroad (US or UK).

He has produced (or in the process of producing) 8 films out of which 4 films are set abroad.

He is also the writer of the story or screenplay of 6 films, out of which an unprecedented 4 films are set abroad.

Why such obvious biasness to frame films in foreign lands, I earnestly ask  of you, when the stories are as good (or as bad) of being set up in Indian locales as well. The usual motivation behind the the setting of stories in foreign lands should at least theoritically have something to do with the land itself, and/or its people. Johar's film's alas, fail to achieve either objective. His films and scripts have absolutely nothing do with the ordinary people, their struggles or their opinions. And he most certainly cares neither for the history or culture of those foreign lands. He simply chooses the foreign locations just for the girls in bikinis, high-end and glamorous lifestyle, the 'cool' look and for their exotic beauty. Pretty disgusting for any person who appreciates fine cinema.

For example why was Kal Ho Naa Ho shot in the US? And what difference did that make other than in the categories mentioned above? Nothing. He got even the 'firangees' to dance and sing (really pity them!). The story could just have been set in India too.

That's the real difference between classy directors like Meera Nair and irritating filmmakers like Karan Johar. Films like Monsoon Wedding and The Namesake made full utilization of the lands they were set in. Monsoon Wedding smelled so incredibly full of that Punjabi-Delhi marriage spirit, while The Namesake could convey the meaning of the busy Kolkatan landscapes as well as the loneliness amidst the snowy vastness of the American-scape. But films like Kal Ho Naa Ho, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and Dostana make a mockery of the audience. And I certainly cannot ever appreciate that.

Some people say he is supposedly catering to the NRI markets abroad, and that he is finding new markets for Bollywood films. But I say he is doing nothing other than branding out C grade films in Hollywood packaging to infantile foreign audiences, to the detriment of the art called Cinema of India (and that's NOT Bollywood!).

By the way I am confused about what Johar is trying to show in his films. He most certainly isn't showing India (or REAL Indians for that matter), and he most certainly isn't showing US. Any suggestions?

Sunday, 7 June 2009


Really can't believe I am writing a post after 2 years. 2 damn years man!! That's bad. Really bad.

Writing is such a good thing. It sort of keeps you in the midst of things, of some good, healthy activity. I am home now. College really leaves you with no time to peruse this small and healthy activity. So home might just be able to help me a little in this regard. 

So without any further delay let's start posting man!!! Yahoo!


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