Category Archives: mumbo jumbo

Mrs Funnybones – Book review and a few thoughts


So I just finished Mrs Funnybones today. Infact, I started it this morning and proudly share that I finished it in less than 24 hours too. Which isn’t as great as it may sound, even though I had a full n busy day at work and only allowed myself to read in the metro to work, at lunch, in the metro home and after a much despised 30 minutes of exercise.

That is because at 235 pages, size 12 font, 1.5 line spacing and very broad margins, it really wasn’t something even the slowest reader would have trouble finishing in a few hours. And that makes Mrs Funnybones a perfect read for a two hour flight for an average reader like me. The book was also just the solution for a prolonged ‘reader’s block’ (yes, that is something I experience from time to time and is a perfectly valid condition) that I had been suffering from for nearly two months! And so for that I must thank Mrs Funnybones herself.


As I read this book, which is really a blip of an insight into Twinkle Khanna’s charmed life, I can’t help but have a few contradictory thoughts on how I feel about her writing. While every review I read is appreciating her self deprecating nature and her manner of presenting everything in a sarcastically light hearted way, there were several instances that made me feel that she was being quite condescending towards common folk. Maybe elitist would be the right word here. For instance she talks about an expo /trade fair that she participates in, where some other participants come and introduce themselves in bad English, and how she decides to wrap things up and get home ASAP before she needs to admit herself to a mental asylum. That just wasn’t a section of writing that agreed with me. But then maybe that’s the honesty everyone is talking about?

While I’m not trying to diss the book in anyway, I’m not sure what I really liked about it. Ofcourse, there was the surmounting curiosity about not only getting a peek into a star wife’s life but also about how she puts it across in the witty n funny ways that I was reading about everywhere. Twinkle Khanna is definitely a smart, witty, intelligent and very well read person. The book shows that and anyone who reads her columns would see that too. But there isn’t a lot of depth to remember the book by, and maybe because my world is so different from hers, as would be of most people who read it, I don’t find that connect that makes me go, oh yes!

So it got me thinking, had this book been written by a not so famous person would it still be so well received? I think maybe not, because it is that very reason that makes the idea of the book so interesting. Some of the jokes were not so original, you can predict ends of sentences; and the repeated use of the word ‘blimey’ didn’t lend to the funniness either, though I  do understand how she meant to use it at the end of every little mishap that happened on her day.

In essence what I liked was maybe her approach to life, where an irritating situation had something funny to it too. I came away with a picture of a privileged life, bustling with activity, the perks of being a star wife of a very successful actor, loads of travel and the added but natural responsibilities of raising children – which all together built this comfortable alluring world that does look ideal when there is humor and a daft joke thrown in now n then. And therefore, when Vogue calls it ‘fashionable’, I totally understand why.

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Reading about the history of the Sikhs


Ever since I was a child, I have seen a lot of emphasis being laid on the faith I was born in (as I am sure every child is). This emphasis of course comes from within the family who always imbibed in the children the importance of respecting one’s faith and following certain traditions. While there were no issues with the respect part of it, for me, it was the traditions that were hard to follow.

Till I was young enough and not bothered about the “whys”, “whats” and “whos” of my faith, it didn’t really matter why we did the things we did, or dressed the way we did. But as I grew older and started questioning things in my head – I realised that a lot of it did not make sense to me. For me it was a ritual to be learnt by heart and then to be acted upon. It was the “done” thing.

So naturally – I felt like it was being forced on me and my reactions to it became rather stubborn. I would go through the motions but only so that they were done and over with. Never understood a word of the hymns and prayers that I heard at a Gurudwara – hence never really connected to the concept of God through a visit to a place of worship or through the singing of hymns. We also never had a conversation about God and why this is how we worshipped him (or that it was ok to not have to workship him this way) – it was more like an instruction and code of conduct that one had to follow and do it sincerely too.

I think when you are a teenager, rebellion comes as a biological side-effect – – and I almost started detesting the idea of God. Most references to God were either in terms of a reward if you were good and punishment if you were bad or forced prayer, which did not sit well with me at all! My whole problem was that who is this “God” person and why am I pushed to hold him in such awe! Took a while for me to make the connect 😉

But I got a little wiser as I grew up 🙂 and discovered or figured out my own communication and relationship with God, which was a bit of a relief since I had also passed through this utterly confused phase of wondering if was a non believer even.

Since that was sorted – – what remained was my absolute lack of knowledge about my “community”. I had never been concerned about where I belonged and what our history was – – which led to an attitude of complete ignorance from the knowledge point of view as well.

I think my biggest fear of not asking to be told about our history was the idea of being preached rather than being imparted with knowledge. Also about only getting a peppered and somewhat one-sided view of incidents and persons – – or maybe because no one knew the whole thing from beginning to end to be able to put it into perspective for me.

What I was looking for was purely historical background. The facts. And that is where this book came in – – A History of the Sikhs by Khushwant Singh. Some people were surprised to see me read it – – and thought I finally realised what I had been avoiding all this time. But this was not the reason as I have stated above, but more the need to get the picture straight in the historical perspective.

I just finished the first volume which spans from the emergence of Sikhism to the end of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (while reading I realised how little or nothing I knew about this man and why he was such an important figure in the history of India as well. Gladly, now I do know his significance.)

Though it will take me a while to get the sequence of events and successions correctly committed to memory – the book explains very well the course of events that took place and the influences that led them to be. The author has left no gaps in cross confirming every piece of information shared through various texts, scriptures and writings of the time to convey the most accurate details possible. Written in a very text book fashion – there was a point in the book when I was overwhelmed by the number of battles that took place during the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. But overall it helps to give a picture of how the British was then begining to inch their way into India.

After reading about the period that was the rise and establishment of the Sikhs – I realise that though it came into being through the preachings of Guru Nanak and was carried forward by the following 9 Gurus – it was the people who chose to follow or convert to this faith and accept it. And as the years passed, they evolved as any other community would have and responded to what the situation demanded at that point in time – whether is was by conduct, physical appearance or ethics and beliefs.

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Ethical failure OR Unethical Triumph!


Just when we thought that here was a show that was going to be or already was about the real issues, was honest and well researched – there is a revelation that makes the whole thing come crashing down.

Satyamev Jayate – much awaited and publicized, produced by one of the most accomplished and “perfectionist” artists in the country – everyone had huge expectations along with  a good bit of curiosity about the show.

The issues this show brought up had never been addressed at a scale such as prime time national television. Especially in the kind of Indian society where we tend to close our eyes, ears and senses towards anything adverse that does not affect us directly. We choose to ignore what happens around us until it doesn’t rattle a good night’s sleep. The sense of community that has so fast dwindled, is now being given a wake up call through this show – – that puts an issue out there and talks about facts.

I was a fan from day one of the show being aired. I thought everything the show brought up was of relevance. While many expected every episode to have a heart wrenching, tear jerking subject – there were other not so emotional but equally important subjects that were dealt with and brought up. I also agree with the format of the show that not only showed the down side of the situation or subject in question but also brought out survival and success stories that become a living example for people to emulate.

It is definitely uplifting and encouraging to see live examples of people breaking through barriers of society, health, disability, etc. I think it is commendable that the show puts in the effort to find and bring such examples from remote parts of India – many of them well accomplished but unheard of.

But, an article I read in the Outlook (http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?281646) really put a dent in my opinion of the show and how highly I thought about it. Wont go into much detail as the article talks about a couple of examples and one realizes that at the end of the day its all “showbusiness”. Especially striking is the Kaushal Panwar story / interview that was shot in an empty studio without any audience – and yet you see audience reactions on the show – and this has been twice confirmed . Also the bit about Bezwada Wilson, whose weeping face I cant seem to wipe out of memory.

Reminds me of the ads that used to run before the show started, when Aamir Khan is shown talking to his team presumably that its important that the janta gets emotional and angry when they watch the show – and thinking back to those now, it translates into how much a show can be prefabricated.

Anyway – – there is a huge amount of disappointment after the knowledge of these revelations. It has sadly also marred my liking and respect for one of the most thorough and  talented people from the film fraternity – there is a sense of having been cheated.

I think it is “unethical” of him to control the show in such a manner – since it addresses the nation and actually can have a very deep and positive impact on its viewers – as I think it was having on me – but after the knowledge of how the show is edited and put forth for the larger audience, I am going to be a little wary every time AK sheds a tear and will be a little cynical every time he dispenses the “what should be done / what is the right thing” advice.

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I want…..


A place of my own

A snazzy little phone;

A cute little pup

To lift my spirits up;

A great book to read

That is just what I need;

To own my time

To feel sublime;

To gaze at the stars

That feel so afar;

To not feel like – nothing is in my power

To climb to the top – of life’s every high tower;

To still feel grounded

And yet well rounded;

To live a life of fun

and not by the gun;

To see that i am free

of every decree;

To be an entity

with an i-dentity;

To let life freely flow

And make every moment glow;

To catch the subtle hues

in the life that one pursues;

To be truly who I am

and never give a damn!

 

My first poem – the result of a random moment of concentrated inspiration…. 🙂

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Haywire…. a little amiss?


I am wondering, whether the movie gods happen to be totally impressed with my review writing skills 😉 or is this just reward for attempting to even write one in the least!!?? I mean hey, this is my third movie in less than a week!! Ok, touch wood , touch wood – I don’t to jinx that track record 😛 (also thanks to a very insistent movie buff who is keeping a record of his own – of being 15 minutes late for both the movies he planned)

So anyway,  today’s flick was the action packed Haywire – which suited the mood, since I caught it in the nick of time.

Hollywood favorite storyline. Agents / assassins hired and funded by the US government to bump off inconvenient men. But when money is the central motivator – even class agents are sold out in a wink. Betray your country’s most valuable weapon and you are in for a ruthless battle to the end.

Though it wasn’t a bad watch, far from it infact -I still came away thinking it lacked something. Maybe a meatier plot – more twists ….. more edge of the seat moments…..more guess work……unraveling of a baffling truth……

But, what I liked about the movie were 2 things:

One. The casting of the woman who plays the central character (Mallory) – Gina Carano. A trained “mixed martial arts” fighter was the perfect choice for a movie with brutal, sudden and very real hand to hand action. She is the kind of attractive but deadly woman you want in this kind of a film – something Angelina Jolie isnt able to do in movies like The Tourist, Salt, or even Tomb Raider for that matter. The fight scenes in these films just aren’t that fun to watch…..

Loved the opening scene in the roadside cafe – where the first major fight takes place. Ruthless. And it happens so quickly that once you recover from the suddenness of it, you’re saying “ouch” at every blow the two fighters deliver each other. But at the end of the scene, I had a satisfied smile on my face – saying, now THAT was Well Done!! Phew!!

What made it so good was that Gina Carano can “kick ass”!!!! and very convincingly so. No fragile woman stuff here!! Infact there is a reference in the film where another assassin is warned not to assume that she is a “woman” – as that would be a big mistake.

Two. The way there is minimal dialogue and distraction where it isn’t required. Just pulsing background score to match the movement onscreen. Allows the viewer to sort of be a part of the moment. Like when Mallory is trying to lose the police on her tail – zigzagging, climbing, jumping, running – but there is no hurry in shooting the scene. The director allows her the time to figure it out and the viewer can actually make sense of where she is going and how she intends to make her getaway.

3 big names in the movie – Micheal Douglas, Ewan McGregor and Antonio Banderas – but hardly any screen space so to speak for either. The first 2 didn’t really leave an impression, but I loved Antonio Banderas’ new bearded look – totally dig it! Very real and genuine again – the “not trying too hard” kinda feeling – which is so Banderas – in fact, not trying at all!

But none of them had much time on screen……so maybe that’s where the makers could have capitalized on having these 3 in the film and creating more interesting sub plots.

Channing Tatum is just a side kick to Gina Carano……nothing much to say there.

So there you have it.

I would give it a 3.5/5 just for the 2 main fight sequences and that’s why it is also worth a watch once at least.

Ciao!

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The Descendants – Watch and Smile


(spoiler warning! i have divulged some details, though this is not a suspense so it wont really spoil your fun :))

🙂

I walked out of the hall smiling and content. Wonderful way to wrap up the weekend. The Descendants is such a “human” movie. Watched it with my Dad and we both totally enjoyed it. I can’t / wont call this a movie review – but here is what made me like it so much.

The location – Hawaii. The breezy, overcast, deep greens and crystal blues – gave the movie a refreshing and calming feel.  I especially liked how Matt (G.Clooney) introduces us to his story – about how it irritated him that people always considered him so lucky to be  living in Hawaii and how his life must be like being on a permanent  holiday – but in reality how f***** up it actually was – and so Hawaii is as real as any place.

I’ve noticed that the narrative is a typical introduction to a lot of Hollywood movies, but this one is really well written in and I enjoyed it so much.

George Clooney takes the cake for sure. I haven’t seen him play such a vulnerable role in any of his past films where usually he is the smart, witty, on top of his game kinda guy. In The Descendants he plays a workaholic who suddenly finds himself as a single father to his two daughters, a ten year old and a 17 year old rebellious teenager – both of which are testing him in every way possible. Adding to that a comatose, dying wife who he discovers was cheating on him and a big land sale deal of ancestral property that his extended family is pressing him to sell, and you can understand what he means when he says he is barely keeping his head above water. He plays the role so heart-warmingly well and one just wants to give him a hug and tell him to hang in there.

The two girls playing his daughters are also very good, especially the 10 year old Scotty. The character Sid does very well in playing a helplessly stupid jock. He looks like he is misplaced and unnecessary but he carries his part very well adding the subtle funnies.

Its amazing how the director, Alexander Payne has managed to make all his actors underplay and yet keep the feel of the film so wonderfully natural and so real. There is humour in unlikely instances in the film and appropriately so 🙂 lightens the mood without trivializing the moment. So even though there is tragedy in the film which is central to the story, it doesn’t bog you down and become a tear jerker – coz sometimes you just dont feel like crying your eyes out and yet want to associate with what the characters feel.

The music / background score is brilliant. Soothing and calming are two words that come to me – the kind of stuff you want to play in the room while you do other things 🙂

Finally, without making this any more longer than it should be – to me the story was about accepting, dealing, forgiving and  moving on.  But also that its easier said than done. Congratulations to George Clooney and Alexander Payne – well deserved on all the praise, awards and accolades they have received and will receive 🙂

Extra enjoyment points for the 5 movie trailers they screened during the intermission and before the movie began, always makes the movie experience doubly enriching. The Titans and Ghostrider 2 with over the top special effects – impressive, though not sure if the 2 minute trailer will have the same effect in a 2 hour movie. Lets see if i ever get to those in a theatre 🙂

Do rate the post, helps me know if  I should write the next one 😉


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Agneeepath!! Hain!!!


Since I seem to have an opinion on a lot of things these days, I decided no better time to revive my long dead blog with a movie review. Nothing intellectual about this – but  if you must, then read on for my honest opinion of the movie.

Consider this review a fresh perspective on the film, not at all influenced by the original Agneepath (AB’s claim to a lot of fame) – since i haven’t seen that one, though would like to now surely – to draw comparisons – and maybe i will write about that in a future post some time. But for now, lets stick to Agneepath – 2012.

Well for one thing, within the first 20 minutes of the film boredom set in, i was shifting in my seat, fidgeting, looking at other people to see if they were watching as “intently” as me. Of course the storyline is a simple one. Father gets killed by bad guy, son grows up to take revenge. The challenge was to tell the same story – only better.

One could say that the start was a wee bit promising – but it lost steam pretty fast. Especially the long drawn scenes of the violent hanging of Vijay’s father – the Master, leaves nothing to imagination and is basically not such a well executed scene. It doesn’t evoke the necessary feelings and just goes over the top, making you wish that they would just get on with it! For someone who hasn’t seen the original, the movie is also very predictable – maybe coz this storyline has been done to death, but still – i was looking for some pull!

Following the trend…..the grown up Vijay is very predictably introduced with a close up shot of his bulging biceps – which just makes me nostalgic, coz I have seen that shot in way too many Hrithik films. I think the directors need to stop obsessing over his biceps and really pay more attention to other detail – like how do we make this movie more watchable – other than putting a good looking starcast together 😛

The introduction of the villain – Kancha was, well, disappointing too. He almost looks the part – more like a glob of muscle and flesh and i couldn’t help notice that his scalp extends to the base of his neck. You will know what i mean when you see. A bald head, shaved eyebrows (which is pretty much the only major change) and a stiff upright ring in a falsely pierced ear are the characteristics of this menacing bad guy. Sanjay Dutt’s tattoos thrown in for free add to his image and the black kurta / dhoti and chonch waali kohlapuris complete the look.

Other than that, the dialogue and conviction about how bad or psycho he really was, left a lot to be desired. I think there was a lot of untapped , unused and under utilised potential there.

I would say the same for Vijay Deenanath Chauhan too. The angry young man, is much too sentimental and i think there isnt a moment in the film that he doesnt have tears in his eyes – whether it is because he is happy, or because he is sad, or because he is drunk or  because he is angry. I owe that to a lack of  better direction, coz no matter what, Hrithik does put in all his effort to be a convincing character as always. But, he was just too much of a good guy in a bad situation. Maybe thats how it was meant to be, but then, not very believably so.

Priyanka Chopra…..hmmm. Well, firstly I didn’t even know she was in the film. With all the hype about chikni – chameli, which by the way is an unnecessary and untimely occurrence in the movie, Priyanka just ends up as a very “sidey” character. Anybody could have played that role. Infact they should have used a new face, who would have brought a fresh dimension and also looked the part and got noticed too. Hrithik’s character has too much of a central role to leave any room for hers. Other than Vijay’s love interest – she has no real presence or significance in the film. Also, I think Priyanka needs to stay away from the “marathi mulgi” image now – coz the wedding scene looks almost exactly like the one in Kaminey. Her character is also very similar to it and that does nothing for her either. I almost felt sorry for her.

So who wasn’t so bad you ask? I think Rishi Kapoor. Initially I almost laughed out loud seeing that he was playing a bad guy – so bad that he ran a flesh trade business and sold young girls who he kept trapped in a cage and was a drug lord too. But he pulled it off pretty much – and I think he was so much more convincingly sinister than Kancha.

In the end, picking up a cult film and remaking it does not guarantee anything, especially to the viewer. i did not go with any hopes, especially since we went on the first day of its release and had no reviews to fall back on. I think this was a lack of execution at many levels – direction, editing, screenplay and also the soundtrack – i dont think i enjoyed any songs in the movie.

A rich star cast but half baked everything else.

  Khush to aaj bilkul nahin hoge tum!!!

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Must Watch !!!


The movies listed below are a must watch for me. From what I read, they are all like masterpieces in their particular genres.

I watched Inglorious Basterds last night and I really enjoyed it. Plus I have a thing for war/nazi movies and books. I loved reading the ones by Leon Uris – like, Mila 18, Battlecry, Exodus, Trinity…….

So i decided, why not make a list of some good cinema, club it into  genres, and try n watch as many as I can 🙂

Genre: World War II / Nazi

  1. Where Eagles Dare (1968) : though I saw this when I was pretty young, I’ve forgotten almost all of it. so this one’s gonna be a memory refresher!
  2. Come and See (1985)
  3. The Pianist (2002) – I haven’t seen it yet.
  4. The boy in the striped pyjamas (2008)
  5. Au revoir les enfants (1987)
  6. The Counterfeiters (2007)
  7. Downfall (2004)
  8. Army of Shadows (1969)
  9. Nuremberg (2000)

Genre: Assassin Films

  1. In Bruges (2008)
  2. Road to Perdition (2002)
  3. A Bittersweet Life (2005) – south korean
  4. Blast of Silence (1961)
  5. The Killer (1989)

Genre: Mixed Bag – Good Cinema from 2009

  1. 500 Days of Summer
  2. Revanche
  3. Moon
  4. Goodbye Solo
  5. Chop Shop
  6. Gomorrah

So that’s the list for now!!!

Do add to my list……coz it feels like there’s so much good cinema we’re missing out on 🙂

Until next time……..happy viewing!!!

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We all just wanna be big ROCKSTARS!!


NICKELBACK…….

I’m through with standin’ in lines to clubs I’ll never get in
It’s like the bottom of the ninth and I’m never gonna win
This life hasn’t turned out
Quite the way I want it to be

(Tell me what you want)

I want a brand new house on an episode of Cribs
And a bathroom I can play baseball in
And a king size tub
Big enough for ten plus me
(Yeah, so what you need?)

I need a credit card that’s got no limit
And a big black jet with a bedroom in it

Gonna join the mile high club
At thirty-seven thousand feet
(Been there, done that)

I want a new tour bus full of old guitars
My own star on Hollywood Boulevard
Somewhere between Cher
And James Dean is fine for me
(So how you gonna do it?)

I’m gonna trade this life
For fortune and fame
I’d even cut my hair
And change my name

‘Cause we all just wanna be big rockstars
And live in hilltop houses, drivin’ fifteen cars
The girls come easy and the drugs come cheap
We’ll all stay skinny ’cause we just won’t eat

And we’ll hang out in the coolest bars
In the VIP with the movie stars
Every good gold digger’s gonna wind up there
Every Playboy bunny with her bleach blond hair

And well, hey, hey, I wanna be a rockstar
Hey, hey, I wanna be a rockstar

I wanna be great like Elvis without the tassels
Hire eight body guards that love to beat up assholes
Sign a couple autographs
So I can eat my meals for free

(I’ll have the quesadilla, ha, ha)

I’m gonna dress my ass with the latest fashion
Get a front door key to the Playboy mansion
Gonna date a centerfold that loves
To blow my money for me
(So how you gonna do it?)

I’m gonna trade this life
For fortune and fame
I’d even cut my hair
And change my name

‘Cause we all just wanna be big rockstars
And live in hilltop houses, drivin’ fifteen cars
The girls come easy and the drugs come cheap
We’ll all stay skinny ’cause we just won’t eat

And we’ll hang out in the coolest bars
In the VIP with the movie stars
Every good gold digger’s gonna wind up there
Every Playboy bunny with her bleach blond hair

And we’ll hide out in the private rooms
With the latest dictionary of today’s who’s who
They’ll get you anything with that evil smile
Everybody’s got a drug dealer on speed dial

Well, hey, hey, I wanna be a rockstar

I’m gonna sing those songs that offend the censors
Gonna pop my pills from a Pez dispenser
Get washed-up singers writin’ all my songs
Lipsynk ’em every night so I don’t get ’em wrong

Well, we all just wanna be big rockstars
And live in hilltop houses, drivin’ fifteen cars
The girls come easy and the drugs come cheap
We’ll all stay skinny ’cause we just won’t eat

And we’ll hang out in the coolest bars
In the VIP with the movie stars
Every good gold digger’s gonna wind up there
Every Playboy bunny with her bleach blond hair

And we’ll hide out in the private rooms
With the latest dictionary of today’s who’s who
They’ll get you anything with that evil smile
Everybody’s got a drug dealer on speed dial

Well, hey, hey, I wanna be a rockstar
Hey, hey, I wanna be a rockstar

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Book Mania


More like turning in to a book maniac!! 🙂
I can’t decide if it’s the reading that pulls me or the fact that I get to buy new books every fortnight. Its like a disease right now, and a very enjoyable one at that.
Of course it’s a downhill trend on the bank balance – but books are books and I must have them ! The only issue is, I am getting so impatient to read more and more that sticking to the one I’m currently reading becomes a bit of a task :). And no amount of CAT prep or reading comprehension has resulted in increasing my reading speed….so I endure and wait fo the day a book is over and I get to pick a new one……scrawl my name on the first page and begin.

Reading now:

Escape – Manjula Padmanabhan

Next in line:

The perplexities of Hariya Hercules – Manohar Shyam Joshi

&

Breathless in Bombay – Murzban F Shroff.

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