Kalugu

Insight into South Asia

Terminator Salvation (English Movie Review)

I was eagerly expecting the release of this movie, for reasons unknown, as my experience with sequels is that the first part is the best and the last is the worst with nothing more to the storyline but more and more extravaganza and graphics. I can list quite a few examples starting with “The Matrix” (I am a huge fan of the first sequel of Matrix)

But, I was in for a sweet surprise as “Terminator Salvation”, defies all the rules for a sequel and looks like a fresh start or in IT terms reboot.

Introduction of fresh faces “Christian Bale” (as John Conner), Sam Worthington (as Marcus Wright) gives a new lease of life to the story.

terminator

The film starts with Marcus Wright waiting in the death row, and ending up donating his body for scientific research.

Then it spans to 2018, the post-judgement day, where Terminators roam the earth looking for human survivors and capturing them. John Connor leads the resistance, with most of the survivors supporting him believing in the prophecy which states that John Conner is the chosen one to lead them to victory.

The story picks up heat, when Marcus Wright comes out of the rubble in this strange world, very confused about how he came here. There is some level of suspense here, as we are not sure if he is human or a Terminator, even after he helps Kyle Reese and the small child escape.

This sequel introduces many different types of Terminators, hydrobots – the submersible eel like terminators that swarm the waters, Transformer type Terminators that fly around and capture human survivors, and small Transformer like bike Terminators that are dropped by the flying Terminators to chase fleeing humans.

What really made it a chilling watch is that, the movie very much reflected what happened in Sri Lanka just a couple of weeks ago.

The concentration camp, where machines keep the humans, the cold blooded terminators bombing all places, especially those with human presence brings memories of what we read in the newspapers recently.

Williams a pilot in John Conner’s team says to Marcus Wright “Before, if you killed somebody, that usually made you a criminal. But in this world, all it means is that you’re probably a good shot.”

Williams also says this that shows the option available to the surviving humans in her world.

You know, Marcus,” “We can focus on what is lost. On what is past. Or we can fight for what is left.”

Another pertinent dialogue is John Conner’s broadcast to the surviving humans out there in the world.

“Above all, stay alive. You have no idea how important you are – how important you will become, each and every one of you.”

“Humans have a strength that cannot be measured by mechanical means, by the machines that struggle to understand us. Join us. Get to a safe area to avoid detection. Look for our symbol. Make yourself known. We will find you,” He pauses and then continues “I promise – we will win. But you, me, everyone, we all need to keep fighting. My name is John Conner. If you’re listening to this, you are the Resistance.”

Another chilling conversation that shows the ugly face of war

Ashdown (The military commander for the human army) says “We don’t have time. The command commences attack tomorrow. Your unit will be in support of the bombings of the skynet central.

Connor replies “Bombing? According to our latest intelligence, Skynet is filled with human captives. What is the extraction plan for the prisoners?”

Ashdown’s reply demonstrates their hard priorities and tough decisions when its a question of survival. Watch out with sharp ears to hear what Ashdow had to say while you watch this segment of the movie. 

A heart-warming, oft repeated dialogue in all Terminator sequels is “I will be back”. John Connor says to his wife Kate, before going on his mission to save the human prisoners and defeat Skynet Central, a major base for the machines.

“I will be back” – If you are reading this and believe, then you are the Resistance 😉

Written by Joy Arun

Joy Arun is an engineer who also works to spread education to the needy. He believes education is the foundation for a healthy society.

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Angels & Demons – Bond with brains!

After the great success of ‘Da Vinci Code’, Robert Langdon has become a household name among world movie fans, and among high expectations, ‘Angels & Demons’ released last week in India. It features Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon, Ewan Mcgregor and Ayelet Zurer among the leading roles. The screenplay is by David Koepp & Akiva Goldsman. Now, Koepp is a fantastic writer who can influence the audience with his writing style. Examples: Mission Impossible, Jurassic Park, Spiderman, Snake Eyes, Panic room, Indiana Jones and the kingdom of crystal skulls and many more. One of the most talented writers of Hollywood. Ron Howard has directed this one too, as like Da Vinci Code.

The novel Angels & Demons is a prequel to Da Vinci Code. This is the first ever Novel to feature Robert Langdon, the symbologist from the Harward University. Went to see this movie keeping in mind all these details. I have not read the novel, and hence was totally unaware about the story or the plot.

The movie begins in a laboratory (CERN – Geneva). Something called antimatter – with a powerful magnetic field, which, when the batteries run out, can destroy the surroundings like a nuclear bomb. Three vials of this antimatter are stored in the laboratory and one vial is stolen suddenly, when the chief scientist Vittoria Vetra ( Ayelet Zurer) finds her father dead and his eye pulled out to break in to the storage area.

We then cut to the Vatican where the Pope’s funeral is taking place. All the cardinals arrive to elect the next Pope and the everyday activities are taken care by Patrick Mckenna (Ewan Mcgregor), who holds the designation of a camerlengo – a cardinal under the Pope’s office to carry out the various religious customs until the next pope gets elected.

We see Robert Langdon approached by a representative of the Vatican. He tells Langdon that four cardinals have been kidnapped along with the vial of antimatter, and they have received a threat that one cardinal will be killed an hour, starting at 8 PM. Also, they have a video which shows the antimatter placed in a secret location, with the battery power slowly running out. When the entire power runs out, Vatican will be destroyed completely.

Robert Langdon arrives at Vatican. After hearing the recorded telephone threat, he finds out that a secret organization called ‘the Illuminati’ – which is about 400 years old – is responsible for the threat and he also discovers that each cardinal will be executed at one altar in the Vatican – the locations unknown. With such a clue in his hand, he begins his journey of moving around Vatican to find out the four altars and to stop the killing and to find out the antimatter, with very less time. This is the synopsis of the movie.

Unlike Da Vinci Code, this movie is a bit lesser in pace and suspense, as it doesn’t have any startling revelations or any mysterious secrets. Having said that, the movie has its own touch of intricacies about Vatican and about the various churches and altars and about – yes – Galileo Galili’s book which contains the information about all the altars in his period.

Tom Hanks has done justice to the role of Robert Langdon, as we hold his image in mind when we read or talk about the symbologist, just like we think about Brosnan or Connery when we refer Bond. Also, somehow he fits in to the role with ease and they both have many similarities – just think about having Will Smith or Stallone as Langdon – and you will know what I am talking about. Tom Hanks and Langdon, both are like refined gentlemen who believe in brain rather than in the gun. They both appear like they will solve any mystery which relates to working out with the mind and the brain.

The new leading lady is Ayelet Zurer. She too has acted well, the type of female leads we see in action oriented movies – as a side kick to the protagonist who occasionally surprises him with her swift reactions and sudden deductions.

Ewan Mcgregor – well, I was unable to recognize him in the movie at first look. He absolutely looked like a cardinal of Vatican with a tight face which reflects the responsibility he has been awarded with – the power to run the Pope’s office. Nice piece of acting. But, half way through, his character becomes very predictable.

Near the end of the movie, we know what’s going to happen finally. This reduces the pace to a certain extent. But, even then, this movie can be watched as a sheer entertainer we get to see usually in the summer.

Overall, my rating will be 6.5 out of ten. See Robert Langdon work like a highly educated, decent Bond, and enjoy the show, folks!

PS1:- I was fascinated to read that Clint Eastwood expressed interest in directing this film! But eventually it had to be Ron Howard, as he did Da Vinci Code.

PS2:- Don’t have Da Vinci Code in mind while seeing this movie, as this is a bit slow and slightly dragging towards half way.  Just see this film as an entertainer, without comparing it to the previous one.

Written by Scorp.

Scorp alias Rajesh Giriraajan is a blogger with a flair for movies, music and comics from different parts of the world. He has reviewed several movies in his world movie series. You can read more of Scorp’s writing in his blog.

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Pan’s Labyrinth (2006 Spanish Movie) – The angel and the tyrant

As a child, we would have read a lot of fairy tales. We would have been astounded by the various creatures, angels, demons and sorcerers walking around in those stories. We would have also dreamt we are a part of them, and would have lived in the fairy world for some time. Imagine such a story becoming real. Imagine that we are in fact living amidst angels and demons and the story revolves around us, making us the central character. What would our reaction be? Would we accept the new world or would we deny the fantasy?

El Laberinto Del Fauno – Pan’s labyrinth- is one such beautiful film about a little girl and her fantasies becoming real.

The film begins in 1944. We see Ofelia, the little girl, lying in the ground, bleeding. We hear a voice telling us the story of Princess Moanna of the underground kingdom, escaping to the earth above one day, curious to see the outer world. She gets blinded by the sun, and gradually becomes sick, forgets her past, and dies. But the king of the underground, Moanna’s father, hopes that she will return to him one day, and keeps waiting.

We cut to Spain, just after the Spanish civil war. We see Ofelia’s step father, Vidal, a Spanish military Captain belonging to a fascist organization called Falange, whose main assignment is to hunt down the Spanish guerrillas, revolting against the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. Ofelia’s mother is pregnant, and is becoming increasingly ill day by day. She travels to her husband’s military post on the mountains along with Ofelia, after an order from Vidal. Ofelia has a liking towards fairy tales and we see her gripping her favorite fairy tale books, sitting along with her mother in the car.

At the mountains, Ofelia sees an insect. It comes to her frequently and she realizes that a message is being conveyed to her through the insect. So she follows it, and it leads her in to a labyrinth near her house on the mountains. Inside the labyrinth, Ofelia gets to meet a faun – a spirit belonging to think forests. The faun is very old, and it believes Ofelia to be none other than princess Moanna herself. To ascertain Ofelia as Moanna, the faun gives three tasks to be completed before the full moon, so that she can return to the underworld kingdom to be with her father forever.

The first task is to get back a key from the belly of a huge Toad living inside the roots of a tree nearby. The tree gradually is being eaten from the inside by the toad, and so Ofelia must stop the frog by recovering the key. Ofelia completes the task successfully. On that night, her pregnant mother becomes too ill, and Ofelia is worried. The faun gives Ofelia a root and asks her to place it under her mom’s bed in a bowl of milk, so that she will be pain free.

The second task is to recover an ornate dagger from the lair of the pale man. The pale man sits absolutely still in front of a huge table with a lot of delicious food items, and he is a child eating monster. Using the key she took from the toad, Ofelia opens the lair. Albeit after being warned, she eats two grapes from the table, and this wakes up the monster. It eats the two tiny fairy accomplishes of Ofelia and starts chasing her. Ofelia finally escapes by using a magical chalk and drawing a door and escaping through it. The faun becomes angry since she didn’t succeed and since she was responsible for the death of the two fairies and refuses to give her the third task.

Meanwhile, Captain Vidal captures a guerrilla and tortures him. The doctor who attends the rebel is an accomplice of the guerrillas, and he kills the guerilla by an injection (euthanizing). The captain kills the doctor. Ofelia’s mom goes in to labor but she throws away the root placed under her bed by Ofelia, and as a result, dies at childbirth, after delivering a baby. The captain discovers that Ofelia’s servant is also a guerrilla accomplice, and he locks Ofelia in the bedroom, captures the servant. The servant stabs him and tries to escape and the rebels arrive and take her with them. Her brother plays an important role among the rebels.

The faun now comes to Ofelia locked in the bedroom, and gives her the third task, to prove herself. The task is to take the new born baby in to the labyrinth. Ofelia draws an escape door with her magical chalk and she drugs Vidal, and escapes with the baby to the labyrinth. Vidal chases her. In the labyrinth, the faun tells that the door to the kingdom will only open with the blood of an innocent. Hence a drop of the baby’s blood is needed. Ofelia refuses, as she is unaware of the faun’s intentions. As a result, the faun rebukes her and disappears. The captain arrives at this exact second, shoots Ofelia and takes the child back. Ofelia falls to the ground, badly bleeding.

When Vidal comes out of the labyrinth, the guerrillas are waiting for him outside, to kill him. He hands the baby to Ofelia’s servant, asking her to tell the baby its father’s name in the future, but they tell him the baby will never know such a father existed. Vidal is shot on his face. He dies.

The rebels enter the labyrinth, and they find Ofelia dying. The opening scene. We see Ofelia’s blood dripping on to the altar, and instantaneously, in a dream like sequence, we see Ofelia getting reunited with the king of the underground and the queen. The faun is present along with the dead fairies. The king tells Ofelia that since she sacrificed herself instead of the baby, the gates of the kingdom have opened for her and she has succeeded in the final task, proving her as the princess Moanna and achieving immortality. Ofelia smiles, and at the exact instant, in the outer world, Ofelia dies. The film ends.

El Laberinto Del Fauno – Pan’s labyrinth- is a wonderful film about the fantasies of a child. It beautifully unites the fairy world with the real world, as we see Ofelia’s three tasks combined together with the attacking of the guerillas by the captain. The cinematography is excellent, to say the least, accompanied by brilliant music and acting.

This Spanish film was released in 2006, and is directed by Guillermo Del Toro (Hellboy 1 and 2). It won three Oscars (Best make up, Cinematography and art direction). This film received 22 minutes of applause at the Cannes film festival, when screened.  This movie is an example of grotesque creatures beautifully being portrayed (as like Hellboy 1 and 2), the craftsmanship of Guillermo Del Toro.

The movie wonderfully links the deaths of the tyrant and the angel – the captain and Ofelia. Guillermo Del Toro tells, “I always think of that beautiful quote by Kierkegaard that says the tyrant’s reign ends with his death, but the martyr’s reign starts with his death. I think that is the essence of the movie; it’s about living forever by choosing how you die.”

Written by Scorp.

Scorp alias Rajesh Giriraajan is a blogger with a flair for movies, music and comics from different parts of the world. He has reviewed several movies in his world movie series. You can read more of Scorp’s writing in his blog.

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99 – Hindi Movie: An inspired second innings

Genre: Comedy
Directors: Raj Nidimoru-Krishna DK
Cast: Kunal Khemu, Cyrus Broacha, Soha Ali Khan, Boman Irani, Mahesh Manjrekar, Vinod Khanna
Storyline: Two conmen who owe money to a Mumbai-gangster are sent to recover money from a compulsive gambler in Delhi, only to lose it and try to find ways to replace it.
Bottomline: 99 per cent original but finally, it’s the ‘Snatch’ of inspired Ritchie-ness that makes the director-duo’s gamble pay off.

Well, there are 99 reasons to watch this film:
1. It’s by the guys who gave us that wonderful little film called Flavors

2. Crime+Comedy+Ensemble=Always Interesting

3. Boman Irani makes even a compulsive gambler adorably human

4. Cyrus Broacha’s improvisation show. He keeps complaining he never gets to do anything because he’s always in the loo… Or are they all out-takes?

5. Refreshingly laid-back, light-hearted storytelling

6. The smart conceal; twists towards the end. Predictable but fun

7. A dash of romantic comedy. Especially, the scene in the lift

8. The Ocean’s Eleven Master Plan vibe

9. Guy Ritchie’s interconnected motley-crew of characters

10. Tarantino-ish random conversations

11. Coen Brothers-signature of believable larger than life characters

12. Cyrus Broacha makes even running into a pole funny

13. The huge henchman called Dimple

14. It’s a period film set in 1999

15. Isn’t it funny to look back and see how we first took to mobile phones?

16. The Delhi-Mumbai divide, not milked enough for humour, but works

17. Amit Mistry’s broken English as Kuber

18. The moral of mobile phones being injurious to health played for laughs

19. Soha, a tad over-enthusiastic and deglamourised, is not so-hawt but delivers Pooja

20. The opening lines of the film

21. Mahesh Manjrekar does another variation of playing don, at his comic best

22. A wicked Vinod Khanna makes a rare appearance

23. Kunal Khemu arrives as an actor

24. Experiments with non-linearity

25. Tongue in cheek razor sharp lines – the bargain scene with Boman in the climax

26. The funky opening credits

27. Pretty Simone Singh is endearing

28. Cyrus Broacha’s makes even fat-people jokes funny

29. Delhi plays a fine supporting role

30. Catchy songs that make you forgive the Rang De Basanti hangover in picturisation

31. Etching of support characters and extras – the supercop, the bald superstar, the Bengali Foreign Exchange customer, the taxi driver, the bootlegger, et cetera

32. Clever digs at cricket and cinema

33. Audacity to mix fact, fiction and controversy

34 – 99: Has any film ever given you 33 reasons to watch it? Also, since you don’t have any other choice of Hindi films in the cinema halls, isn’t each reason is as good as three?

The one reason to not watch it:

The DVD should be out in a few weeks.
Yes, despite the reasons, 99 is an inspired fanboy tribute to crime comedies the filmmakers seem to have grown up on. Also, some of the emotional scenes overstay their welcome, slow down the already laid-back narrative and stick out sore in a film whose sense of humour ranges from physical comedy and toilet-humour to the understated and cerebral.

by Sudhish Kamath

Part-time writer, full-time bum. Small-time filmmaker, all-time scum. Reluctant superhero.

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Nothing but the Truth (2008 – English Movie)

Suppose I have information about the thief who robbed my neighbor, say.  Even if the government wants that information, it cannot force me to reveal the details of the thief.  Even if its the location of the Sandal-smuggler Veerappan, it is the Govt’s job to investigate and find out the location.  That is why, the liason “Nakeeran Gopal” cannot be arrested and forced to give out the location of Veerappan.  Especially, the journalists need that protection.

Now, what if the information and the source, that the journalists are protecting, are a threat to National Security?  Say, some military official is revealing details about secret military bases to some journalists, probably because gross human rights violations are happening there.  Can the journalists still have the right to protect the source?  Which is higher priority?  National Security, or Freedom of Speech?  That is a grave dilemma.  And it lends itself to a nice story.

Nothing but the Truth (2008)

Directed by Rod Lurie

US Govt asks a journalist to reveal her source and she refuses.  So she is jailed, and her attorney speaks at the Supreme Court:

In 1972, this [Supreme] Court ruled against the right of reporters to withhold the names of their sources before a grand jury, and it gave the power to the government to imprison those reporters who did.  It was a five-four decision.  Close.  In his dissent, Justice Stewart wrote, “As the years pass, the power of government becomes more and more pervasive.  Those in power,” he said, “whatever their politics, want only to perpetuate it and the people are the victims.”   Well, the years have passed, and that power is pervasive.  Ms.Armstrong could have buckled to the demands of the government.  She could have abandoned her promise of confidentiality.  She could have simply gone home to her family.  But to do so, would mean that no source would ever speak to her again, her newspaper again, and then tomorrow when we lock up journalists from other newspapers, we will make those publications irrelevant as well, and thus we will make the First Amendment(freedom of press) irrelevant.

And then how will we know if a president has covered up crimes?  Or if an army officer has condoned torture?  We, as a nation, will no longer be able to hold those in power accountable to those whom they have power over.  And what then is the nature of government when it has no fear of accountability?   We should shudder at the thought.
Imprisoning journalists?  That’s for other countries.  That’s for countries who fear their citizens, not countries that cherish and protect them.

Sometime ago, I began to feel the personal human pressure on Rachel Armstrong, and I told her that I was there to represent her and not a principle.  And it was not until I met her that I realized that with great people, there is no difference between principle and the person.

That’s a long quote to start a movie review.  Would be nice to watch it as a video clip, but its not available yet.

 

Director, Rod Lurie

Director, Rod Lurie

This movie was inspired by the Joseph Wilson episode, under the Bush regime [details at the end of the review].  But the story is not meant to be exact.  Lurie has crafted a wonderful story around what could happen, with the above dilemma, with added idealism, by  building a set of very believable and stunning characters.  This would have won several nominations at the Academy, if not for the screwed up economy that prevented the movie from even getting released!  Now released direct to DVD, it is a splendid drama that provokes the audience to ask themselves a lot of deep troubling questions, to assess their own value systems.  “I love the idea of taking the audience and having them reevaluate the film, the motivations and the characters” says Lurie.

 

There were several subtle and profound scenes in this movie, but its too early to provide youtube clips.

Vera Farmiga is the American spy getting revealed by the journalist Kate Beckinsale.  Their first encounter, in the above scene, was only the tip of what they both have done through the entire movie!  Vera’s performance on every scene has tremendous emotions revealing the true character that Lurie has built up.  Kate, playing the lead role, delivers a lifetime performance.  She has to face the relentless prosecutor (Matt Dillon) in her fight, and she spends more than a year in prison for not revealing the source of her news article.  Her husband leaves her, and she is distanced from her little son.  Her life turns around completely, for her principle.  The movie has a sweet twist at the end, and that would force many to watch the movie again.  But the real strength of the movie is the splendid characters and their interaction.  Scene after scene, we feel the heat and pressure of the characters.  When the tough prosecutor Matt Dillon tells Kate, that he is only doing his job, using his rights, Kate replies: “I think you are confusing your rights with your power.”  The Attorney (Alan Alda), the Lawyer(Noah Wyle), the Editor(Angela Bassett) were having their own distinct styles, that make you immerse in the plot.  The introductory piece of the movie, that shows how an otherwise few weeks arrest procedure turns into an overnight arrest, was remarkable.  David Schwimmer, playing the husband of the journalist, was outstanding, watching how quickly the events unfold!  An amazing piece of work by Lurie.

The movie succeeds in contrasting the power imbalance between government and its citizens, and how terrorizing it is!  In almost every scene that Matt Dillon appears, there are numerous cues that sends shrills to our spines.

-vikadakavi

PS:

The following piece is not necessary to appreciate the movie, but it would be a useful background context for Indian audience.

Before the invasion of Iraq War, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson was asked to investigate if Saddam Hussein purchased, or attempted to purchase uranium yellowcake from Niger.  He finished the investigation and gave his report to the US Government.  Later in several important speeches, Colin Powell to the UN, and Bush to the American public through the State of the Union speech, were quoting that they have facts to prove that Saddam is acquiring uranium, and hence is an imminent threat to the world!  That claim was the basis for the Iraq invasion, at least thats how it was justified before the war.  4 months into the Iraq war, Joseph Wilson wrote an editorial in NewYork Times with the title “What I did NOT find in Africa.”   Yes!  His now famous article showed the world that Bush and his team lied to all, in their thirst to invade Iraq.  Wilson’s report concluded no link between Saddam and uranium.  Of course, this triggered a political storm, and immediately the Bush scoundrels in Washington leaked a vital information about Joseph Wilson’s wife.  She was a secret government agent, simply an American Spy.  Leaking this information was their way of punishing the Wilson family for exposing Bush’s lie, and to weakening the credibility of Wilson’s NewYork Times article (that Wilson was not qualified to do the Niger investigation and was recommended by his wife etc).  But, revealing such National Security information is a serious crime in US.  And the dirty fight that followed, and the debate beween journalism/security is recorded as an important event in American History.  This movie is inspired by the above events.

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Sarvam – Tamil Movie Review: இழப்பின் வலி . .

Loss. Bereavement. Vengeance. This is what ‘Sarvam’ is, in a nutshell. Went to see Sarvam at Satyam Cinemas Saturday morning. It was a different experience, as we woke up at 7:15 and were rushing to the Theatre. Chennai was cool as a result of the Friday night’s heavy rain. The theatre was filled with a good crowd. The movie started exactly on time, at 8:30.

Before the movie began, we see the disclaimer which reads:  ‘All the incidents in this film are fictitious……. Until they happen to you’. We see an upanishad quote about death. The film begins with Chakravarthi shouting in anguish inside a dark forest.

The film cuts to Arya, and the introduction song. We learn that Karthick (Arya) is an architect. He meets Sandhya (Trisha) in a go-carting race, and falls in love as soon as he sees her. Sandhya is a doctor, and so Karthick goes to her hospital and tries to woo her. Sandhya hates Karthick as she thinks he is not serious about life. Gradually, she falls for him, and the two happily enjoy life.

We also see Eashwar, a man who has lost his wife  and son in a road accident. Eashwar thinks that it was Naushad – the man who accidentally hit Eashwar’s wife (Anu Hassan in a cameo) and son with his car – who is  solely  responsible for their death, and he repeatedly stalks Naushad and threatens him that he doesn’t understand the loss Eashwar has undergone and he will only understand it if his own son dies. Naushad has a little boy Iman, and Naushad finally hides in Munnar, fearing Eashwar.

It is at this point that the story takes a serious turn. Sandhya dies in a brutal accident, and Karthick is devastated. Sandhya’s father tells Karthick that Sandhya’s heart has been transplanted and it’s Naushad’s son who  is living with her heart. Karthick becomes emotional and goes on a trip to find out Naushad. By following Karthick, Eashwar too arrives at Munnar. What happens at Munnar forms the rest of the story. Was Eashwar successful in his mission to kill Naushad’s son? Was Karthick able to overcome his grief? See the movie.

Sarvam is directed by Vishnu Vardhan. Now, all his previous movies were stylishly made (Arindum Ariyamalum, Pattiyal, Billa) and this one too, is brimming with youthfulness right from the beginning till the intermission. The first half is romantic and is fun to watch, especially Arya’s repeated attempts to woo Trisha.

The second half is entirely different from the first half and the story takes us through the beautiful locations in Munnar. The climax is dragging, and I found it uninteresting. Except the final 30 minutes, this film is worthy to watch.

The story has been woven around the central theme of loss. The pain of loss. We see Eashwar gradually getting afflicted with the psychotic obsession of killing Naushad’s son, as he thinks he lost his wife and son because of Naushad. Naushad too, talks in a don’t-care manner when Eashwar comes to Naushad’s house for the first time. All this adds up and Eashwar decides to kill Naushad’s son to make him understand the pain of losing the dearest ones. On the other hand, Karthick too suffers the pain of loss when he loses Sandhya in the accident. But, Karthick’s mindset is to prevent others from experiencing such a kind of pain, and that’s what he exactly says to Eashwar when they both meet up in Munnar. This difference in mindsets is what makes the film worthwhile to watch.

The camera is good, especially in the scenes filmed in Munnar. Nirav Shah has done a neat work. The music too is okay. While seeing the beautifully filmed songs, I was not able to stop thinking about Vishnu Vardhan using Rahman in this film. It would have been absolutely brilliant if Rahman had scored the music, as that would have been a perfect match with the camera work. Yuvan was also good with the songs but somehow I felt Rahman would have been the better choice.

Arya has done a cool job. Although he is very predictable in some scenes, he is okay. Trisha is cute. After a long time, she has been shown in a beautiful way, and is attractive. Chakravarthi is the antagonist, and he looks like a younger Kamal Hassan in some scenes. He has done a neat job of the psychotic villain. The little boy who has acted as Iman, Naushad’s son is a good actor, it seems. All his scenes with Arya are thoroughly enjoyable.

And, I dunno why throughout the movie, the characters keep praising Ilayaraja. That too, in comparison with Rahman. I can understand that this movie was made during Rahman’s Oscar glory and may be that’s the reason the film makers decided to justify Ilayaraja against Rahman and through Arya’s character, they say that although Rahman is great, Ilayaraja is the greatest! I didn’t like this comparison game which went on almost throughout the movie.

Overall, the film is worthy to watch, but beware about the final thirty minutes, which makes us to question about the logical gaps (holes!!) in the script.

Sarvam – இழப்பின் வலி .

Written by Scorp.

Scorp alias Rajesh Giriraajan is a blogger with a flair for movies, music and comics from different parts of the world. He has reviewed several movies in his world movie series. You can read more of Scorp’s writing in his blog.

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Babel (2006)

Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.
Most have commented that this movie followed the ‘crash’ movie style.  The similarity lies in the interwoven multiple story lines, and ends there.  Inarritu has done two earlier similar styled movies in this trilogy.  Besides, this is not the unique point, nor the strength of this movie.

In English, “Babel” means a confusion of voices and other sounds. As per the Bible, its a tower built by Noah’s descendants who intended it to reach up to heaven;  God foiled them by confusing their language so they could no longer understand one another.

Babel This movie is not about any issue.  Its about communication.  Across cultures.  Small & tiny events, causing tremendous consequences both in private lives of individuals and at the international diplomatic relations.  They are all interconnected, by very ordinary causal links.   Our day-to-day priorities, needs, constraints, forcing us to make choices and in that process unknowingly causing a huge impact on others.  There is drama, but its not happening on stage.  Its happening on our lives, at least the movie succeeded in making us feel so.  The strength of this movie is the collection of ordinary events of our lives, and how they are presented to the audience.  And how the presentation shook the audience.

The plot is a connection of three different story lines happening in Japan, California-Mexico border and Morocco.  The Japanese mute girl (deaf-dumb) story is very poignant.  Her father gives a rifle to his hunting guide in Morocco.  The rifle is sold to a Moroccan villager, whose young son innocently uses it to practice shooting on a tourist bus, and in the process severely wounding the American tourist.  This becomes an international incident, and meanwhile the wounded woman’s two kids are stranded in a California-Mexico desert, in an unrelated incident.  The connection to the two stories is that the husband from Morocco, had asked the nanny to extend her stay and take care of the kids, while the nanny had to attend her sons wedding in Mexico.  Like most successful movies that hit close to our hearts, this movie succeeds in pulling us onto itself mainly by the portrayal of ordinary events that build up to tragic scenarios. It could happen to us, we could be part of the plot easily.

The movie subtly points at the cultural contrasts at a few instances, and they make perfect sense within the framework of each culture.  Be it the Mexican wedding, where the nanny’s nephew wrings the head of the chicken before the kids, or at Morocco.  The Moroccan tour guide who is helping out Brad Pitt and his wounded wife, is happy that he has 5 kids.  Brad follows up with a query on how many wives he has, and the Moroccan laughs that he cannot afford more than one.  Incidents that are triggered by simple events, get cliched media attention, and make little difference to the grave predicament of the tourists.   In the end, the movie has a happy ending for the tourists, but not for the Moroccan villager.

InarrituAlejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has made a mark!

Story telling and presentation are reaching the next level in the movie-making.  This movie is an example.

Written by Vikadakavi

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Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring – The silent tale of life

Our life is a complicated mixture of various aspects. We are not in a constant mood every day. Hour by hour, minute by minute, the mood changes, and hence the character. When we look back at how we fare honestly, we will realize about the deeds we have committed which affected others. Are there ways to drive away the guilt in our mind and calm it down? What will happen if the actions committed in haste settle down in our mind like rust and it becomes difficult to scrap them away from the layers of our mind to make it clean? Is salvation a mirage?

There are too many unanswered questions in life. Even though we know the answers ourselves, we fear pursuing them, and are afraid to get rid of the guilt. What will happen if we get to live life as the mind says, and then what if we want to be clean and to spend the rest of our lives in remorse?

Spring Summer Fall Winter & Spring is a 2008 Korean movie released by Sony Pictures Classics Starring Oh Young-Soo, Kim Ki-Duk, Kim Young-Min, Seo Jae-Kyung, Ha Yeo-Jin and Kim Jong-Ho

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring is a 2003 Korean movie about a Buddhist monastery which floats on a lake in a pristine forest. The story is about the life of a Buddhist monk as he passes through the seasons of his life, from childhood to old age.

Spring, summer, fall, winter… and spring is one such epic tale which spans three generations.

Spring

We see two big artistic gates open up slowly and reveal the stunning image of a Buddhist temple in the middle of a lake. All around, it’s surrounded by mountains and forests and a mere look at the temple itself is like looking at heaven. We get to see an old pontiff and his very young apprentice. There is a small Buddha statue in the temple, placed inside a bowl- like erection filled with water. There are a few goldfishes in the water. The Buddha is smiling, and the statue is very realistic. There are two doors placed on two sides of the empty hall, and the little boy is sleeping on one side. The monk opens the door and the boy wakes up. There is no necessity to open the door, as there is empty space all around it. It’s only needed to walk around the door to go to the other side, but that’s not the custom.  They go to the shore, collect herbs and return back. There is a dog in the temple, and the boy plays with the dog. We see a small montage of the young boy playing in the temple. The visuals are stunning.The initial ten minutes of the film doesn’t have more than a few lines of dialogue.

One day, while in the forest, the little boy playfully catches a fish, ties a stone around it with a string and leaves it back in the water. The fish is unable to pull the weight of the stone and shudders in the water. The boy laughs. He then does the same treatment to a frog and a snake. The monk silently watches everything, hiding from the boy. While the boy is sleeping in the temple, the monk ties a big rock around him with a rope. Next morning, the boy comes to the monk dragging the rock and complains that he is unable to walk. The monk asks the boy didn’t he do the same thing to the fish? Didn’t he do the same thing to the frog? Didn’t he do the same thing to the snake? The boy answers yes to all the questions, and the monk asks him to go to the forest and free the fish, frog ad the snake from their burdens. If any of them dies, then the boy will carry the burden in his heart to the rest of his life, the Abbott adds.

The boy goes to the forest, dragging the stone and trips down a few times. The monk secretly follows him. The boy finds the fish dead. He frees the frog, and the snake also is dead. The boy starts to cry deeply, as he is now aware of his blunder. The monk watches.

Summer

The doors open again, and we see the temple. The apprentice had grown to his teen age. He collects herbs as usual, and he meets a mother and her young daughter. He brings them both to the temple. We see a Rooster now in the temple. The monk has become even more aged. The mother says her daughter is sick, and the master invites them in. The daughter has to stay for a few days to become healthy. The mother leaves the next day. Gradually, the teenage apprentice starts to glance the daughter with lust. It is very natural, and once, he tries to touch the sleeping girl. She slaps him, and the trainee instantaneously turns to Buddha and starts praying fanatically. The girl gently touches him after seeing his predicament, and the door opens. The monk comes in, asks the boy why is he praying in such an untimely hour, and the boy keeps on praying.

The boy then starts playing with the girl in the temple, and the monk watches with a smile. They gradually become close, and once, the boy pushes her in the lake and takes her to the shore, and they make passionate love. That night, the apprentice is unable to sleep, and he keeps looking at the girl sleeping on the other side. The girl opens up her blanket, inviting him and the boy secretly goes to her. He tries to open the door in font of him, but fearing the creaking sound, goes through the empty space near the door. It has been filmed like the boy is breaking a custom. They make love.

This continues for a few days, and while they are asleep in the boat after making love, the monk drags the boat to the temple and pulls the plug and water gushes in to the boat. They wake up with a jolt, and the boy pleads to the monk to forgive him. The monk says it’s a very natural thing, and desire leads to attachment and it will further lead to killing. He orders the girl to leave as she has become alright. The apprentice cannot endure her absence, and at night, steals the Buddha idol and leaves the temple.

Fall

The doors open up again and we see the temple. The surrounding has changed. We see a very old monk returning from a neighboring village with a food parcel. He now carries a cat with him. On the parcel paper, the monk reads the news that a man has killed his wife and has fled. It’s the apprentice. The monk modifies the small shrunken cloths of the apprentice as he expects him at any moment. The apprentice returns to the temple. He has changed a lot, and looks like a guy from a city. He is angry to the core and breaks down  that he cannot tolerate his wife going with another person. The monk tells the apprentice that sometimes, others too will start liking our beautiful possessions. The apprentice stabs his knife on the floor of the temple many times, unable to control his temper over his wife he murdered. He tries to kill himself by sealing his eyes, nose and mouth by cloth. The monk beats him up brutally. He ties the apprentice to the ceiling and places a burning candle beneath the rope. The apprentice falls down once the rope is burnt. The monk then writes down the hymns of the Prajñāpāramitā Hrdaya – a sacred Mahayana Buddhist sutra – using the cat’s tail on the wooden floor of the temple and orders the disciple to carve them out with his knife.

At the beginning, the apprentice does this with anger, and slowly his anger dissipates. He does it obediently. Two police officers come to the temple in search of the murderer, and the monk says it will take a day to finish up the carving. The apprentice carves all through the night, and faints. The police officers and the monk then start painting the carved out sutras. The apprentice wakes up after a long time, and sees the entire carved out sutras painted. He then goes with the police officers in the boat. The boat stops in the water without moving further, and the monk waves his hand. The boat then moves. Later, the monk creates a pyre in the boat, sits inside sealing his nose, eyes and mouth using cloth, and burns himself.

Winter

After many years, the doors open again, and we see snow everywhere. The entire lake has frozen. We see a middle aged man (Kim Ki Duk himself). He slowly walks towards the temple, and offers his salute. He then goes to the frozen boat, salutes it and digs out the bones of the old pontiff. He places the bones in a red cloth and places it as the ‘bindi’ – the dot in the forehead – of the Buddha he earlier carved in the snow. We see a snake this time inside the temple. He cleans the temple and starts practicing the vigorous meditative customs, in the freezing winter. One day, a lady comes to the temple with her child, covering her face. She stays there and at the night, leaves the temple secretly, placing her child at the temple. She staggers in to a hole in the ice the monk dug when he arrived, and dies. The monk pulls the body from the ice the next day.

The monk now ties a big stone at his back, and starts to climb the tallest mountain nearby, as repentance to all his deeds he committed in his life so far. He painfully climbs the mountain finally and places the statue on top. From there, the temple looks like a tiny dot.

Spring, again

Now, we see the cycle complete. The child has grown as a little boy. The boy plays with a Tortoise now. We are reminded about the monk, who did the same in his younger days, torturing the fish, frog and the snake. The movie ends with the beautiful shot of the statue at the mountain, and the temple looking like a tiny dot.

Spring, summer, fall, winter… and spring is a touchy tale about the cycle of life. What we did will come back to us. This concept is told in pictures. Everywhere in the film, I just felt like I’m walking inside the jungle surrounding the temple. The cinematography is excellent. I’ve never seen such a beautiful location anywhere.

This Korean movie is directed by Kim Ki-Duk.  Kim ki-Duk is well known for his talent of making almost-silent movies. His other movies like The Isle and 3-Iron (the only other movies of him I have seen) can also be termed as excellent examples of cinemotography and silence. His movies have been screened in many film festivals and he has bagged many awards.  Especially,In 2004, he received Best Director awards at two different film festivals, for two different films. At the Berlin International Film festival, he was awarded for Samaritan Girl (2004), and at the Venice Film festival,  he won for 3-Iron (also 2004).

At times, when Kim Ki Duk shows us the mystical temple through long shots, it felt like heaven. I felt contented just seeing the shot.

There is also the untold story of the old pontiff we see at the beginning, that he might have also faced such a life, before he came to the temple. The movie makes us to contemplate a lot. Also, during every season, a different animal is used to portray the seasons. A dog, a rooster, a cat and a snake. There are a lot of allegorical meanings attached to them.

The music too, is lively. For the first ten minutes, I didn’t hear a single chord other than a tiny chord playing at the background when the doors are opened. That too, the music is not boisterous. It uses the exact music we hear at Buddhist temples. Not a chord more; not a chord less.

Watching this film was a wonderful experience which cannot be expressed. Watch it and feel the peace in your heart.

 

Written by Scorp.

Scorp alias Rajesh Giriraajan is a blogger with a flair for movies, music and comics from different parts of the world. He has reviewed several movies in his world movie series. You can read more of Scorp’s writing in his blog.

Written by Scorp
Scorp alias Rajesh Giriraajan is a blogger with a flair for movies, music and comics from different parts of the world. He has reviewed several movies in his world movie series. You can read more of Scorp’s writing in his blog.

Filed under: Entertainment, Movies, , , ,

Meghe Dhaka Tara – A Gem in World Cinema

Meghe Dhaka Tara (Bengali - The Cloud-Capped Star) is a 1960 film by director Ritwik Ghatak. It stars Supriya Choudhury, Anil Chatterjee, Gita Ghatak, Bijan Bhattacharya, Niranjan Roy and Gyanesh Mukherjee.        

Meghe Dhaka Tara (Bengali – The Cloud-Capped Star) is a 1960 film by director Ritwik Ghatak. It stars Supriya Choudhury, Anil Chatterjee, Gita Ghatak, Bijan Bhattacharya, Niranjan Roy and Gyanesh Mukherjee.

Women – We have seen a lot of them struggle hard for their families. Many of them support the entire family by working tirelessly, sacrificing their happiness for the sake of the family. We have seen numerous such women in our lives. I have seen many of them myself. But, have we thought about them at least for a second? Have we thought about giving them back their happiness, their well being and the love which they have been totally deprived of?

Neeta is a lower middle class woman. She has an elder brother, a younger brother and sister to support, in addition to her aged parents. The elder brother is a wanna-be singer who is practicing all through the day on the banks of a near by river. The younger brother and sister are studying in college, and her father is a teacher. Neeta too is studying, and is earning by conducting tuition for MA students. Her mom is always annoyed by her elder brother, who is not looking for any job, and keeps on practicing without any success. Neeta loves her family very much, and feels that she is living for the sake of her family members.

The movie begins with Neeta returning to home from college, and her sandal breaks while walking on the road. Her singer brother sees this, and she adjusts it and later mends it. That was the first day of that month, and as soon as she goes home, her college going sister and brother surround her. The brother wants a sports shoe for the match ahead, and the sister wants a sari, as all her saris have become old. She happily gets them both, and the whole of the tuition fees gets spent in this way. Her singer brother affectionately tells her that she should’ve bought herself a dress, and she tells him that she is happy seeing the happiness of her family.

Her singer brother is the only one in the family who is affectionate towards Neeta. The others pretend they love her just to take away the money she brings home. She has a boyfriend too, Sanath, who is trying to pursue higher studies, instead of getting a job. He has three offers, but is unwilling to go for a job. Neeta tells him that she is proud of him, and she is sure he will get a great job once he finishes his studies.

Neeta’s brother is constantly getting reproached by his mom, and Neeta tells her brother that she is in no doubt that he will become a talented singer, and after he becomes a popular singer, she wants him to take her to the mist clad hills, and she will sit there enjoying the beauty. That’s her only wish, she says.

One day, Neeta’s father fractures his bone and as a result is unable to move. So the entire burden falls on Neeta and she quits her studies to take up a  job. One day, while she is off to her tuitions she meets Sanath with her sister. They both are happily chatting. Earlier, one day when Neeta visit’s Sanath, she has seen a woman inside his room, hiding behind the screen. Neeta gets heartbroken and goes home and cries. Her momcoming to know about this thinks it’s good for Neeta’s sister to marry Sanath as Neeta has to be in home to bring money. She also cunningly makes Neeta to accept the marriage.

The Marriage gets over and Neeta’s sister leaves with her husband. Neeta’s younger brother fails in the college exams, but it was due to the fact that he got a job a month ago at a factory. He too leaves for a hostel as he feels he cannot have good food at home.

By this time, Neeta’s life becomes monotonous. The shock of her boyfriend marrying her sister has made her gritty. Unable to sustain his mother’s curses, Neeta’s singer brother too gets a job at a music school at Bombay and leaves home. He urges her to come with him, but Neeta refuses, as there will be no support to her parents.

Time goes by. Neeta’s sister gets pregnant. Neeta’s younger brother suddenly jams his hand in the factory, and is brought to a hospital. Neeta desperately tries to arrange for money. She finally goes to Sanath, to ask for money, but returns back after seeing her sister’s unwillingness.

Neeta’s younger brother comes home, and Neeta’s pregnant sister too, comes to stay. She has to earn for all of them now. Her father understands Neeta’s quandary and becomes compassionate. Neeta becomes all the more mechanical and emotionless as time passes.

One day, Neeta’s brother returns to his home town, after becoming a great singer. Many people run for his autograph. Even the ones who criticized him. He comes home and his mother, who was cursing him before, invites him with words full of praises. He asks for Neeta, and the mother tells she is in her room. She doesn’t talk to anyone these days, and spends all of her time in the room. Even if she is diseased, she is not coming out, the mother says.

Neeta’s brother rushes to her room, and he discovers she is suffering from acute Tuberculosis. She pukes blood, and he helps her by fetching treatment. That night, Neeta’s father tells her that the family members are planning to rebuild the house in to a two storied building, and eventually will drive her out. Also, her room is being planned for the new born baby. So, he asks her to run out, leaving the house. Neeta goes out in pouring rain, without knowing what she is doing. Her singer brother comes to her rescue and stops her from running out.

He takes her to Nainital, to a sanitarium, for treatment. Finally, Neeta is able to enjoy the beauty of the mountains, her only wish – the promise fulfilled by her brother. One day, she cries to her brother that she wants to live, and enjoy her life. She screams out her anguish and pain that she wanted to live all through her life but it was not possible.

Neeta’s brother returns home, and sees a woman’s sandals getting cut while walking, and she gives him a smile and adjusts them, and moves away slowly. The brother cannot control his agony, as he once saw the same thing happen to Neeta. He covers his face, and starts crying, in memory of his sister. The film ends.

 

Ritwik Ghatak was a Bengali Indian filmmaker and script writer. Ghataks stature among Bengali film directors is comparable to that of Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen.

Ritwik Ghatak was a Bengali Indian filmmaker and script writer. Ghataks stature among Bengali film directors is comparable to that of Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen.

Meghe Dhaka Tara is a powerful film about the woes of middle class women. It painfully portrays the torment Neeta undergoes to support her family and how the family ill treats her, in return. All through the movie, we see an ever smiling Neeta, always ready to accept the suffering, and at the end, she breaks out that she too wanted to live. How painful!

 

Meghe Dhaka Tara means Cloud capped Star. This Bengali film was directed by Ritwik Ghatak and was released in 1960. Ghatak was the first original alternative Indian film maker. He was the one who would have reached the heights of Satyajit Ray, but was kept down, due to his rebellious nature among other things. Satyajit Ray himself has said that Ghatak should’ve been the one at his place. Ghatak’s first film Nagarik was completed at 1952, but was released after many years.

Meghe Dhaka Tara (1960) was the first of his trilogy (Komal Gandhar and Subarnarekha are the other two) which portrayed the poverty and pain of refugees in Calcutta (even in Meghe Dhaka Tara, the family has moved from Bangladesh). Komal Gandhar and Subarnarekha were commercial failures which made Ghatak unable to film any picture for some years. His health deteriorated rapidly in the sixties and he died in 1976, without being recognized as a brilliant film maker.

Ghatak brilliantly uses the sound of a moving train in critical scenes as the background sound. Also, this movie doesn’t have duets or sentimental songs sung by the leading characters. The few songs in the movie are placed at the background, where a singer and his assistants sing the songs in front of Neeta’s house.

Noted film director John Abraham is a student of Ghatak who taught at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII – Pune) in the sixties. He and the other students took Ghatak’s name to the world outside. With all his revolutionary films, Ritwik Ghatak will remain to be the foremost film visionary of India.

Written by Scorp

Scorp alias Rajesh Giriraajan is a blogger with a flair for movies, music and comics from different parts of the world. He has reviewed several movies in his world movie series. You can read more of Scorp’s writing in his blog.

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Earth Day (April 22)

Wednesday April 22nd is Earth Day. This movie Earth will be released wednesday.

  • Click on the FullScreen/Maximize button in the above video.
  • Turn off your room lights.
  • Turn up the volume in your speakers.
  • If you are making dosa/coffee for your husband, forget him & turn off the stove.
  • If your kids are doing homework, interrupt them & bring them to your computer.
  • If you are on the phone with someone, hang up.
  • If your door bell rings in the next two minutes, ignore it.

This movie is about the story of our planet, the place we live in.  It rejuvenates you.  To achieve self-realization, one does not have to go to a moutain-top, nor close any of their senses!  Keep your eyes thirsty, ears sharp, heart wide-open, and immerse yourself with the preview of Earth.  It would make us feel how little we are, with our tiny brains and petty fights.

Watch it in theatres.  Show it to your kids.  Purchase tickets and give out to your movie-friends.

Enjoy.

-vikadakavi

PS: If you have the broadband connection, click on the youtube logo and goto the youtube site and click on the HD button to see this on HighDefinition.

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Mahaanagar (The Big City), by Satyajit Ray (1963)

(Bengali Movie)

This movie is not about urban/rural divide, but its about a married middle class Bengali woman(Arati). Parts of India have moved past some of the situations portrayed in the movie, but its a delight to see ourselves in the big screen, with no bells and whistles. Arati goes to work, against the Father-in-Law’s wish to not do so. Her experiences in this process, and the portrayal of husband(Anil) and father-in-law/mother-in-law etc. are a mirror on Indian society. Nothing dramatic nor exaggerated. We would become part of the family, as we watch the movie.

Some highlights of the movie:

On her way to first day at work, at train, Anil holds Arati’s hand.

Anil: “Arati, are you nervous? I have never seen you so nervous before!”

Arati: “hmm.. Yes. I was nervous once before…. During our marriage”

(Thats Ray!!)

At work, an Anglo-Indian woman (Simpson) gives a lipstick to Arati who works as a salesperson. Arati feels shy. Simpson says: “You put red here (head), red here (forehead) Why not here(lips) ?”

Simpson, a sincere employee, speaks in assertive language to the manager, and gets a fair-raise in compensation for the 5 women. The manager talks to Arati later, and says “Miss Simpson is very rude, Her approach is not right. Yours is good” (Arati is a submissive, sincere woman)

After Arati started working, Anil is worried about the changes she goes through. Arati replies “You can recognize me. I am the same housewife” On another time, she says (after throwing away the lipstick) to her husband: “Do whatever you want, please do not misunderstand me.”

After a while, Anil asks Arati to stop working. He says : “More than money, we need peace of mind in this house. Dad has not talked to me. Father, mother, I and our son also do not like you going to work”

The only video I could find on youtube is this:

-vikadakavi

Filed under: Arts, Entertainment, Movies,

A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Human Mind is beautiful, and this is about one such mind. An extra-ordinarily Beautiful Mind. When this movie came out in 2001, it bagged 4 Oscars. It was obvious that the reason Russell Crowe (John Nash) was not given the Best Actor Award was only because he received the same award the year before for Gladiator. That speaks volume for the performance of an actor!

Beautiul Mind Poster My intent here is not to pick a random old movie for review. There is something extra-ordinary in this movie, that speaks about Arts & Science. Its important to share.

The movie is about the life of Nobel Prize winner John Nash, who was suffering from Schizophrenia. Its a disease where the patient loses the ability to distinguish imagination from reality. The mind wanders in a delusional state. In this case, John Nash, Princeton Professor of mathematics imagines that his initial cryptographic work for a military project, takes him to be a secret agent, decoding messages from Russians from News Articles.

The objective of a movie is to make the audience feel the emotions that the characters are going through. In other words, place us in the shoes of the characters. Is it even possible to place us in the shoes of a Schizophrenic? Ron Howard, the director, can. He did.

Its just not the first person portrayal, the device employed in the movie, that is penetrating. The interaction between brain & heart, Science & Art, stands out very often, and takes us into the depths of humanity. Here we have a mathematical genius, who has a brilliant mind, so brilliant that in its imagination, it challenges itself. What does one do, if one loses control of ones mind? What does a Nobel Prize winner do?

Nash’s brain could not solve this challenging problem, without the help of another heart, his wife Alicia. Nash’s brain served humanity as a whole, and the single-Mom Alicia’s heart helps Nash overcome his problem. She shows him what is real, and what is not. It might seem an easy task, if you have not watched the movie. To show what is real, and what is not… To show this difference to a mathematical genius who can construct very believable/plausible consistent reasons for his delusions, is indeed a difficult task. Ron Howard gets an Oscar for best direction, for first demonstrating to us how extremely difficult the task is, and then showing us how Prof. Nash solves it in the end, amidst lot of struggles. Everytime Alicia attempts to help Nash, there will be a convincing reasonable explanation in Nash’s mind. It all makes perfect sense. For Nash, & for us. Ron Howard placed us in John Nash’s shoes.

To put oneself in another person’s shoes, requires effort. Once/if done with compassion, a lot of mis-understandings, social evils etc would go away. In developing Nations especially, there is a need for this effort. To really feel another person’s pain & suffering through generations after generations, it is not easy. But we have to try. Artists can help.

The Only Thing Greater Than the Power of the Mind is the Courage of the Heart

-vikadakavi

Filed under: Arts, Movies

Benny Lava – the Western reincarnation of Prabhu Deva

How can something that started as a possible  mockery of Indian dance moves become an internet phenomenon and eventually create a cult following for Prabhu Deva in the Western World?

The name Benny Lava comes from Sutton's dubbing of the Tamil lead line "Nilaavo?" as "Benny Lava!" (original meaning: Is it the moon?". The video led other Youtube users to refer to Prabhu Deva as "Benny Lava".

The name Benny Lava comes from Sutton's dubbing of the Tamil word in the lead line "Nilaavo?" as "Benny Lava!" (original meaning: Is it the Moon?'). The video led other Youtube users to refer to Prabhu Deva as "Benny Lava".

Prabhu Deva – the dancer from Chennai has been a sensation throughout India right from his earliest dance performance in the song “Chiku Bukku Railey” from the movie Gentle Man.  He is a two-time winner of the National Film Award for Best Choreography for his work on the film Minsaara Kanavu (1997) in Tamil and Lakshya (2004) in Hindi. Just like the musical talents of A.R.Rehman that the western world have come to recognize today, Prabhu’s dance talents are of stand-out-unique-love-at-first-sight caliber. His ability to mix humor with dance is something I have not seen from any other dancer.

His western re-incarnation started with the viral video titled “Crazy Indian Dance” uploaded by a YouTube user with an imaginary phonetic subtitle of the Tamil song “Kalloori Vaanil” from the movie Pennin Manadhai Thottu. The video has generated 11 million hits as of Feb 09. Some may view this and several other videos that followed in the same line as a mockery of new age Indian dance styles. However, with the amount of fan following, especially among the younger generation across Europe and the Americas, Prabhu Deva now seem to have the potential to possibly become a hot property in Hollywood.

Blogger HawkEyeView showcases very elegantly, some of the mad following Prabhu has had in the west and takes us on a video tour of the “Benny Lava Phenomenon”

Written by Sunderapandyan

Written by Sunderapandyan – Community cheer leader, web developer & innovator – Sunderapandyan is hard to pin down. He writes on South Asian news and issues to the world.

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Laadam Tamil Movie Review

The movie starts with the introduction of its most important characters. First is Charmi as Angel. The director lives up to the poster expectations. It was Charmi who was all over the posters and here she gets a plump (probably boring) 10 mins introduction with an item number like intro song (utter waste of audience time). Kunjidhapadam  (Aravindhan) is the hero, and he gets to roam in his towel for the next 20 mins of the movie (Not the Ranbir Kapoor type romantic one. It actually sinks with the movie and his character). He is a MCA graduate who comes to Chennai to find a job. Then there are the two rowdies, Pavadai (luckly the director skipped an intro for why he got the name) and Vembuli. Both are rival fractions and Vembuli manages to kill Pavadi’s son. Pavadi is determined to kill Vembuli’s son before the 16th days of his son’s death. He calls gangsters from various cities, but then Vembuli manages to kill them all.

Kunjidhapadam is mistaken for borrower and is whisked away by Pavadai’s men. There he meets Pavadai who is angry that no one was able to kill Vembuli’s son. This is where our ‘Vayadi’ Kunjidhapadam begins his character. He tells Pavadai that what he needs is not hulky looking gangsters, but someone with brains and unconventional looks to carry out the job. He cites the description of John F Kennedy’s killer as an example. Impressed by his skills, Pavadi orders him to kill Vembuli’s son. He is also told that failing to do so might lead to his own demise. He then unknowing gets caught by Vembuli’s men. There he blabbers to Vembuli what Pavadi had asked him to do. Vembuli orders his men to kill Kunjidhapadam. The rest of the movie is all about how he escapes from both the villains, whether he manages to kill Vembulis son and please Pavadi or whether he perishes in his attempt to get away from the rowdies. The only non logical part is Kunjidhapadam goes to the villans time and again and asks them to leave him, rather than going to the police or running away. But this essentially form the story line.

The police have a very insignificant role (So insignificant that they only appear twice, once in the beginning and once in the ending).The movie has no real comedian. Charmi and Aravindhan get to do most of the comedy and do not disappoint us. In fact most of the comedy is the imitation of the best hits of Vadivelu from other movie. But this technique seems to have worked effectively.

Charmi is a complete disaster. She may be portrayed as the bubbly girl, but she makes an awful screen appearance. It looks like she tries to imitate Jyothika in most scenes and gets annoying over a point of times. Aravindhan as Kunjidhapadam is a revelation. His unconventional looks and the absence of any heroism set him apart from other new entrants. He is very natural when it comes to acting and makes you feel very comfortable and makes his character sink into you. His ‘Annan’ slang is so typical of a Chennai new comer. Though the movie posters were all about Charmi and the gangster, it was Aravindhan who carries the movie till the end.  Kotta Srinivasa Rao as Pavadai is the same as in any other Tamil movie, same facial expressions and shouting. V Jayaprakash as Vembuli is definitely a new find, that you are sure to see in a lot more movies. Music by Dharan is a major let down. The BGM does not seem to sink with the movie and is forceful on the ears. The songs don’t seem to be blockbuster material either.

Overall the movie is worth watching for the plot and Kunjidhapadam’s character. Skipping the first 15 mins (Charmi’s introductions) seems to be a better your movie watching experience as claimed by my roommate.

Written by SA

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