Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ulidavaru Kandante - As seen by me

So, I saw the trailer a few months back and I was hooked! I decided, boy, am I going to watch this one! And then the time arrived when the movie released and I kept the promise I had made to myself.

I wouldn't just stop grinning for the first 1 hour of the movie. The movie was so engrossing that I had to constantly get irritated with the people who were arriving late in the theater and making me miss even glimpses of scenes. A brilliantly shot Rishab Shetty's (as Raghu in the movie) version was taking place. What imagination! I absolutely loved the scenes in black and white where Rishab gets down a flight of stairs, and this wasn't the look and feel of a conventional building, mind you. It was a deserted place and the stairs kept appearing out of nowhere and the bag (the famous red bag with the "thing") is the only prominent prop in the scene. This is followed by a mad rush in a car which is again brilliantly thought of, and shot! Then, the scene where he is behind closed doors and waiting to meet his mother after so many years, the changes in the lighting from inside the house as the mother apparently hears the knock and the background music: Goosebumps moment indeed.

From this emotional turmoil, the story takes you to the eccentricity of Rakshit Shetty's character Richie. Phata poster nikla hero! What dialogue delivery, what eccentricity of the character who once robbed a policeman's uniform and decided to wear the belt forever, what emotions of a betrayed friend, what childishness to want a old photo of his that was taken by a girl during their childhood when he was being arrested for murder and to go to any lenghts to irritate her for it...and I can go on. Arguably, my favorite character in the movie, Rakshit Shetty's Richie steals your heart and makes you want to be like him, always so full and confident of himself.

By intermission, I was totally sold on the narrative style, the picturisation, the characters and the movie itself. I was looking forward to seeing how the rest of the movie unfolds. I wouldn't be lying if I said I was disappointed with the second half of the movie, mostly because of its slowness. I would have probably liked the film more if it was maybe 15-20 mins shorter in length.

Anyhow, the major highlights of the second half were the mother's version of how his long-lost son made his way back home and wants to take her to Dubai with him, far away from her troubled days as a fisher-woman. Tara, playing the mother, is yet again brilliant. The emotional highs she has portrayed, from the aging lady whose fishes are not being sold well and is trying hard to make ends meet, to the mother who sees her son and cannot believe her eyes, to a transformed woman who goes and tells all her friends happily that she is flying to Dubai, are heartfelt.

The love story between Munna (Kishore) and Sharada (Yagna Shetty) is as simple as love can ever get. As they say, expressions speak a thousand words. Through their eyes and smiles, the characters take you through their immense love and respect for each other with much ease. Democracy, the boy who works with Munna to repair boats, is by far the only actor I felt that had come close to Rakshit Shetty's dialog delivery! Wow! The boy's constant obsessions with Rayban sunglasses, his broken slippers, his doctor disguise for Krishna Janmashtami, everything is lovable.

Balu (Achyuth Kumar) is a troubled man. He has found the "thing" from the depths of the sea but along with huge fortunes, the "thing" brings bad luck, or so he believes, because of a crow that starts kaawing the night he brings the "thing" home and doesn't stop. A few scenes that are worth mentioning here are the Huli-Vesha (tiger disguise) dance and the way he is shown as getting high and blabbering things to Munna.

The end of the movie came much too suddenly in my opinion and of course, the loose ends could not be tied up because the entire story is bits and pieces of narrations from people on what they saw and how they saw it. Since 3 of the characters die (2 for sure,  I for one think that Raghu doesn't die) and their versions cannot be heard, the remainder of the story is left to the audience's imagination. Loved that part! And I tried to come up with quite a few perceptions of the story myself :)

The fact that the movie made me think of what could have happened, I think, is a win in itself. Kudos to the team for coming up with something that is much needed, applauded and appreciated: creativity!

This is a new one, guys. Go watch it, in theaters, today!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Hanging on to those who matter

I was watching one of the last few episodes of HIMYM (How I Met Your Mother for the uninitiated) and a few dailogues resonated the very feeling I get when I think of the people who are important in my life.

People drift apart. That is a fact. Even when it isn't intentional, even when we sincerely try to make efforts to stay in touch, even when there isn't a fight involved. Because life happens. And priorities change. And this. And that. But on the other hand, there are only a handful of people that really matter to you and you would know who they are if you asked yourself. Hang on to these people. Best possibility, if they reciprocate,  then you would probably have whatever you wanted right next to you most of the times!

That said, I am also quite happy with the way the makers of HIMYM are tying up the loose ends (though some episodes of season 9 weren't great) and entering the grand finale in a fortnight's time. Whatever be the quality of the show today, I have always liked it for the narration and for the sometimes whacky sometimes believable relationships and hardships that the main characters have gone thru, and the way they stuck around each other for close to 10 years. Now, those would be the kind of people to hang on to!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

During my teens, when Cheers aired on TV, of course I was watching maybe the nth rerun of the show in the world, and the title track came on "Where everybody knows your name", little did I know the comfort feeling I would get with these words much later in my life.

I was trying to analyze the lyrics of this amazing song. It is true. No matter where you go in the world, no matter how much you love travelling, it is always a pleasure and might I add, safer feeling, to go back to that one place where everybody knows you, where you feel you belong, where people have the same problems that you do and you smile with tears in your eyes and say "yes, misery does love company", where everybody knows your name!

I just felt like I HAD to mention this one episode of FRIENDS that has a reference to the Cheers theme song; Joey goes to London with his friends to attend Ross's wedding to Emily, and within just a day, he starts feeling homesick, and there you see him watching an episode of Cheers and turning sad as soon as he hears the "where everybody knows your name" part of the song.

In these places that are ours, people face the same challenges, they have the same jobs, they share the same joys, they like the same food, they breathe the same air, they have the same we do. And that helps us create a comfortable environment around us, this safety net or bubble around us. When thrown out of such an environment, the popular phrase "fish out of water" is used, because that is how one feels, like their safety bubble has been burst. Now, there are people who like to challenge themselves and so try going out of their comfort zone time and again, on purpose. For them, the emotional connect to places or people that we call our own, would not be as high as others.

I went back to visit my workplace of almost 8 years a few days back, and this song fits that situation to a T. Everyone knows me there, understands me and my background and are glad to see me. Know what the best part of such places are? You can recreate them. Of course that takes a lot of investment of time and interest, but you can turn your new place, like a new work place, or new apartment, or new city halfway across the world, into your own and lo and behold, it now becomes another place where EVERYBODY KNOWS YOUR NAME!

Monday, February 17, 2014

We all need a little magic in our lives

I watched the movie “Oz The Great and Powerful” a few nights back. I remember having seen the promos earlier this year on TV, and wanting to watch it because of 1. It is a Disney movie! (yeah, I am a HUGE Disney fan, which has been established time and again, in my previous posts) and 2. It had James Franco and Mila Kunis. But somehow, I couldn't get to it at that time and ended up watching it on TV.

The most appealing thing that I took away from the movie was that we all need a little magic in our lives, once in a while. The subjects of the Oz kingdom are being ruled by an evil witch and they believe in the prophecy of a great wizard who will come to save them from the witch. Enter Oz, a con-man and a street magician, whose only aim in life is to be “Great” even if it means leaving the woman he loves; who enters the Land of Oz in a hot air balloon, following a tornado. After taking a look at the amount of gold that the wizard  from the prophecy is eligible to inherit (Scrooge McDuck style swimming in the gold), he goes along with the act of people believing him to be God-sent, to release them from the clutches of the evil witch. A lot of twists and turns later, he does achieve this feat. The journey he takes to achieve it and the changes he undergoes in himself form the crux of the movie.

I personally loved the scene where the good witch Glinda tells Oz that though she knows he is not what the prophecy predicted, she thinks people’s belief in him will do wonders for them. The smile and relief seen on people’s faces when he shouts out that he is indeed the wizard who has come to rescue them, is beautifully captured.

Which brings us to my takeaway from the movie: we all need something to believe in, even if it is magic, to keep going. When I was a kid and I didn't know, say for example, how a movie is made. I really believed that the place they were showing on screen was actually the place they were claiming it to be. Enter these “Behind the scenes” and “Making of a movie” shows, my beliefs were shattered! (In earlier days, Goa passed off as Mauritius or any other foreign beach location, and nowadays foreign locations like Maldives and Mauritius pass off as Goa!). Now, I watch movies with less awe than I used to, simply because I know most of the stuff that is being shown on screen is either fake or animated or something of that sort. So, that “magic of the movies” is kinda lost. But, thankfully, I have other beliefs and I sustain because of them!

This post was supposed to be a review of the movie, but I ended up putting in a lot of my thoughts as well. So, to end this post, I would rate this movie a 3 on a scale of 1 to 5, because the execution and editing could have been better.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"Me" Time

As we grow older, as we enter into the never-ending cycles of conference calls and project releases (Or whatever your work comprises of, mostly), as we embrace the decision of sharing our lives with others…..Our “Me” time keeps diminishing. A little “Me” time is very important in everyone’s lives; that time when we sit with our selves, and do those things that mean the most to us. This is also what I meant by “Alone” in my “Lonely And Alone” post sometime back.

Just because I am feeling goofy, and probably because I am having a little bit of a “Me” time right now, let me try to put this in a way that many people can understand, at least us, the software folks:

To understand oneself better
  1. To let go of tensions and stress, if at least for a little while
  2. Hone inherent talents
The person wanting “Me” time is alone
  1. No other plans have been made that clash with the “Me” time
  2. Cellphones and other technologies that can distract the person are kept as far away as possible
  3. All other things needed to hone talent are easily and readily accessible
At least 2 hours of “Me” time is advised once in a month
Make sure the following people are notified in advance about the “Me” time:
  1. Family
  2. Friends
  3. Colleagues
  4. Etc.

Implementation Items
For me, here is what “Me” time comprises of:
  1. Writing (Yes, it definitely tops the list!)
  2. Watching reruns of my favorite serials/sitcoms (FRIENDS of course tops the list
  3. Practicing Yoga
  4. A new hobby of mine lately, cooking!

Now, let me know how you feel about your “Me” time! J

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lucia - Namma Kannada Movie!

As the movie began and the list of producers came on the screen, I could hear whistles and a multiplex! The one screen where it shows "Our online distributors" and the screen is filled with hundreds of names, is a first! First of its kind anywhere - A crowd funded movie :)

As the story, characters and the plot of Lucia unfolded in front of my eyes, I was amazed. What a movie! Be it the concept (both the concept of the story and the concept of the film where it was crowd funded), the direction, the rendition of the characters, the dialogues; everything has been thought - through.

Nikki is an usher at his uncle Shankaranna's single screen theater and earns Rs. 3000 a month. He is very happy with his life except for one problem; he can't sleep well in the nights. After a roadside tent shop owner gives him the dream pill "Lucia", a parallel world starts in Nikki's life. He sees himself as a Kannada film hero, with all the heroines wanting to be with him and love him! All the people that exist in his waking life come as different characters in his parallel dream life. The love of his life, Shwetha, who works at a pizza parlor, becomes an upcoming heroine in the other life. His uncle Shankaranna, becomes his secretary. A parallel track of detectives and policemen investigating a case of murder/suicide attempt is shown throughout the movie.

Do Nikki and Shwetha end up together? Does the murder/suicide case get solved? Is the parallel world as it seems to be or something else? Why is the parallel world shown in black and white throughout the movie? You will need to watch the movie to get answers to all these questions, as I don't want to give out spoilers here in my review!

Satish Neenasam's character Nikki was my favorite in the movie. Since he had to play two radically different characters, that of a only-Kannada speaking villager cum usher Nikki and that of a movie star who has all the ladies swooning over him, creating a difference between both the looks and mannerisms was essential for people to connect with the movie; and Satish has done that brilliantly. He is as believable as the usher as he is as the star.

Shruthi Hariharan as Shwetha also has done a very good job and complements the hero really well. Achyuth Kumar as Shankaranna is brilliant. You might have seem him in a lot of Kannada television serials as well. You can't help but fall in love with his character, especially the thetru (theater) owner one.

The dialogues have been kept very simple which makes it easy for the viewer to connect with the movie. Also the fact that the movie has subtitles will definitely encourage people who don't know Kannada, to watch the movie. I personally liked the song "Jamma Jamma" and "Shiva". Lyrics are nothing to write home about, but the tune is catchy.

All in all, I would rate this movie 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 5. 4 to the movie and an extra .5 because I am proud of the fact that this is a Kannada movie and I want people to go watch and applaud it!

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Sepia Tone of my Bengalooru

Imagine this: Wherever you see, the surroundings have been dipped in sepia tone. You feel like you are either looking out thru tinted windows or wait, is this reality or you're looking at a huge photograph in front of you? Nah, it's real. You see people moving. Wait wait. They aren't just moving, they seem to be rushing; as if in a hurry to reach some place; as if in a hurry to escape an impending doom. There are all sorts of two-wheelers: Activas, Pulsars, Hero Hondas, Bullets even; are the four-wheelers left behind? Of course not! You see the big ones and the small ones: From Zens to Vernas to Dusters. What is that? Wow, a lone cyclist desperately trying to find a lane to pedal away. Lane? Whom are you kidding? Those things don't exist!

And who can forget the big brothers of all? The buses and the trucks with only one thing in common...err…no two things in common. One: They don't let any of the smaller vehicles get ahead of them and two they have conductors or cleaners or whatever you call them, with their hand outside the window, trying to make sure their first motive gets achieved.

You see people from all walks of life. Most of the two wheelers seem to be from software companies, or at least they seem so as you notice their bags; one says Wipro, the other IBM, and another Accenture, of course there is SLK too.  

The sky seems to be dropping down with the weight of the clouds. "I have to drop dead now, I can't take the weight anymore" it seems to cry. The dark clouds look like a menace waiting to happen. You feel you've seen enough when you hear loud sounds of an approaching ambulance behind you. The sound seems to scare you out of your wits and for some reason, your heartbeat and pulse quicken, much like someone you know is in that ambulance, fighting for life. But you don't have time to think of all this, as you have to make way for the ambulance to pass thru. As an educated and compassionate individual, you first try to stop the traffic from the perpendicular lane, shout at the others behind you to move quickly to make space for the ambulance; and in the end, use the dirtiest slang words you know at people who take advantage of the space and speed behind the ambulance.

As you reach closer to your destination, you feel safer and calmer. The tint still exists, but, you feel a sense of closeness to the color now. Yes, the sun has set, the birds are returning to their nests and so are you; to the comfort of what one calls a home and family.