Movie Review: Arjun Reddy

After a long time, 10 years to be precise, I watched a Telugu movie- Arjun Reddy and enjoyed it quite a bit. As a person who doesn’t have too much fluency in the language, scratch that…I can make do if I have to, else I nod my head along to pretty much everything; I didn’t feel like the movie was beyond my reach at all. The only reason that I even ended up watching this movie is because the Lord&Master suddenly announced his wish to watch it and wanted me to come along. That alone was enough to pique my curiosity.

It’s very visceral and quite emphatic; possibly due to being an out-and-out drama and here’s my 2 cents worth:

  • Vijay Deverakonda– total hottie and does justice to the persona of a hot head who always wears his heart on his sleeve and is unapologetic for his emotions, especially when they run wild!
  • Everyone looks so bloody normal, it’s such a refreshing change! The hero doesn’t sport a V or an 8-pack, the lead actress isn’t so-called glam-down…she looks like a normal girl in college. There are no superbikes, no signs of being impossibly wealthy or anything that’s remotely unbelievable. Just normal, whimsical, idiosyncratic and occasionally damaged people.
  • The angst of love- it bites, it rips you apart and it makes you behave with just a touch of madness but the audience laps it up because at some point we’ve all felt a twinge of the same.
  • Rahul Ramakrishna– as Shiva aka the ultimate best friend. His unabashed support, despair and love for his friend forms a mainstay in the movie and despite it being all about the titular character of Arjun, Shiva has a huge role to play and Rahul Ramakrishna does it with aplomb!
  • The music- it doesn’t matter if you don’t understand the words, you feel them! The score by Radhan is edgy, it’s soft and it’s imminently hummable. Telisiney Na Nuvvey is stuck in my head although when I try to sing it am sure the words are being mangled horribly! The background score totally works.
  • The supporting cast- the dads on either side; grim, conventional or just biased…are stereotypes to be true but very believable because stereotypes exist for a reason. The grandmother, the friends- everyone fits well barring Kamal Kamaraju as the older brother trying to broker peace and shield his wayward younger brother.
  • The whole energy of the movie- it’s big, it’s dramatic and it’s very unapologetic! And that’s what makes it work.

I’m glad the director decided to use subtitles so people could keep up. There’s only so much you can deduce from body language and nuances alone. But the reason this movie works, despite the running time and at times overly dramatic posturing of the lead character, is due to it feeling real.

The lead actress isn’t a wallflower neither is she very prominent. Except that she is. Even when she doesn’t speak much, or just flits in and out of a scene, her impact on Arjun Reddy is what takes the story ahead. I’d read that Shalini had dubbed all her own lines…commendable given how different the Southern languages are for native Hindi speakers.

At the end of the day, every movie is made to tell a story. It’s made to entertain. And this one does…in spades! Despite all the controversies over the non-issues like liplocks and being tagged as misogynistic. On one hand if Arjun Reddy tells his girlfriend that she should be friends with a fat chick because a pretty girl and a fat girl are an equation that work, he is equally dismissive of a friend’s sister being married off to an NRI who outright objectifies women and demeans them without any provocation.

Everyone who saw this movie, found something they wanted to in it…I was entertained and got good music out of it…not to mention total eye candy! *wink wink* It should be left at that…a story about a brash man who feels deeply, loves deeply and takes on the world and screws up only to get back up again. Nuff said.

Movie Review: Wonder Woman

I’m going to lead with: my experience wasn’t wondrous at all.

I have a bad habit of reading the Wiki and IMDB posts thoroughly before watching a movie, rather than just going with the flow where most movies are concerned. When I read that Wonder Woman received critical acclaim as well as mass approval, my curiosity was stoked because my benchmark of superhero movies was done solely by the first Avengers roll out. And that’s a movie I can watch (and do) again and again.

So what can I say about Wonder Woman? Well…those were 2 hours of my life I’ll never get back. *wipes tears surreptitiously* Let’s list it’s less than stellar qualities, shall we?

  • Chris Pine hasn’t been eye-candy material since The Princess Diary days. He’s adequate in this movie. Nuff said.
  • Gal Gadot- I wouldn’t have picked her in the role of a Amazon…she looks too confused about the world around her; constantly! And has a case of botoxy lips which never seem to close…giving her a perpetual perplexed-fish look. That was an alliterative mouthful, wasn’t it?
  • Robin Wright Penn- gone before she could do anything.
  • Zeus&Ares- better depicted in the Percy Jackson series. A washout here.
  • Danny Huston- had more screen time in Wolverine and a better role too.
  • The aura of the guy in the role of the God of War needs to be spot on. David Thewlis…naah…he didn’t do it for me.

The intent here isn’t to trash the movie. It was adequate as a one-off watch. I guess I have issues with it being promoted more as a movie about a woman, made by a woman. Even if it is path breaking in that sense, it’s still boring. And that’s wherein lies the rub! It’s not interesting and I watch all sorts of crap that’s out there even sampling the tripe called the Sharkansas Womens Prison Massacre.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman doesn’t possess enough of a personality to be captivating. Gal Gadot as an actor needs to emote more and look beyond eyebrow twitches in lieu of acting. Give me the Black Widow with the deadpan and her kickass moves.

Rating: 2/5

 

 

The State Of This World

Disclaimer: This blog post is purely my opinion piece rather than any kind of an indictment on any individuals, societies, or beliefs of any kind. While it is backed by inputs I have come across over social media, it is not being cited as any kind of conclusive empirical data.

I usually refrain from writing opinion pieces about matters which polarize a community on the whole. It’s not merely a thought about any potential backlash but also because the numerous viewpoints floating about often muddy the waters more than show a clear path.

The Gauri Lankesh murder is one of those issues which stayed with me. Not merely because of the act by itself but also because of the tidal wave of opinions that have almost succeeded in drowning out the matter at hand- a journalist was killed.

Whether she poked the sleeping lion once too many times, whether she was too outspoken for her own good or whether it was one of those unfortunate drive-bys that we tend to witness more in other nations; the prevailing opinion seems to be that who she was, what she stood for is what most likely got her killed.

This is what I feel about death: I am pro-choice; which often results in the death of a fetus. I am pro-capital punishment which inevitably leads to a painful death. Whether it’s deserved or not; someone must have once cared for even the most hated rapist, pedophile or even sadistic murderer. And if that’s the case, surely the death of an erudite, opinionated, socially-conscious individual is likely to generate a stronger wave of impact on society overall? There must be a larger mass of people mourning her, her ideals?

A lot of her detractors have painted her as anti-establishment, anti-national, antis galore. But very few have backed up their responses with any kind of evidence to support their stance.

Twitter, the dumping ground of the masses, literatti and the cognoscenti overall, has a huge number of people lauding her death while an equally large number of people seem genuinely distressed that a voice has been silenced for good.

Some tweets (and retweets) of hers do have a rather juvenile (IMHO) facet of her showing up; with irrelevant and unwarranted potshots at the government at power and also groups associated with them.

Case in point: taking a picture of a latrine which has the word “Modi” on it and plastering it on a world-wide social media platform and captioning it as a pun on the Prime Minister’s name surely wasn’t in good taste? But if the rebuttal is “neither was Godhra and its subsequent fallout” then we’re par for course because the locking of horns will begin well and truly!

I am for Freedom of Speech and Expression but never was that freedom given to be absolute! Likening the head of state’s photo with a visiting dignitary as that resembling a “gay marriage” again didn’t seem dignified let alone respectful or even relevant in any way whatsoever! What was the provocation? And ultimately, what it did it prove?

Don’t we have enough valid instances to call out the PM on without resorting to commenting on his married state, his having served tea or having been in the ranks of a society which is a cult only if one chooses to look at it as such.

Is every one who pledges allegiance to the tenets of RSS a bigot? Waiting to put an end to all races to proclaim the glory of Hinduism? Do the members of the Sangh Parivar deserve to have their mothers dragged into a discussion on a public forum, along with the circumstances of their conception? What is the value add?

But I digress. Gauri Lankesh did not deserve to die this kind of a death. She ought to have stuck around, done her bit to shape the consciousness of those she came in contact with and spread knowledge in the most purest form; inflaming minds in the most effective and meaningful manner.

Her written word, her personality would have been a better legacy to leave behind than a cold corpse on the autopsy table.

Those who knew her or her work will probably say that her detractors won’t be able to diminish her aura or her worth. But I feel compelled to ask…wouldn’t it have been better if she had picked her battles more appropriately? Apart from not having to pay such a heavy price, she could have definitively contributed to the kind of society she sought out for herself and everyone in it.

Movie Review: The Shallows

I know why this movie got good reviews:

  • Pretty girl wearing bare minimum required to avoid censorship.
  • Gorgeous locales and alluring waters.
  • A creature that everyone loves to hate viz The Great White.
  • The mysterious solitary seagull.
  • No bizarre sharky behavior barring well…being too chomp-chomp-chomp!

Eloquent wasn’t it? But snark aside so many things are based on location, location, location! And of all the shark movies I’ve ever seen (I’ve seen my share is all my saying), this one had the best location of them all!

This movie is minimalistic and has Blake Lively breaking out of Gossip Girl and the yawn-worthy Green Lantern mode; showing that she too can act and not just be a pretty prop on some guy’s arm. And channeling some snark back in…that swim wear of hers had to be glued onto her chest the way it didn’t move no matter what kind of a beating she took in the water. All hail the the new Wonderbra!

The way the shark is dealt with in the end is an interesting twist from the perpetual blowing up that Hollywood does whether it’s JAWS, Deep Blue Sea, Sharknado or even the utterly forgettable Dam Sharks! Almost like they got a good deal on TNT.

I won’t be revisiting this movie the way I did Ghost Shark and Sharknado#1 or even Jaws 3 but as a one time watch it was entertaining and the ending scenes before the credit rolled were lovely with Sia’s Bird Set Free setting the perfect tone. And it made me wish I could surf….sigh.

I’d give it a 3/5.

Movie Review: Dam Sharks

Damn! Is what you’re left to utter because you’re otherwise chortling helplessly at sharks performing gymnastics in a murky lake somewhere in a podunk town when geeks and their asshole-y boss ( Jason London in an unforgivable role)gather for an offsite. Say hello to DAM SHARKS!

Add a small town sheriff, with a customary ornery old guy and a bunch of people who were hired to get killed within a few minutes of the movie starting and you have Syfy’s latest atrocity on the human civilization. And just in case you still wanted to watch it, here’s the spoiler- there are these sharks, we don’t know where they came from. We don’t know why they came. We don’t know where they’re going but they’re killing people  and building a dam with the body parts. *FACEPALM*

Syfy’s fare seldom gets to the “it’s so bad it’s actually good” stage. It’s languishes at “that’s very darn pathetic but am too lazy to change channels and let’s see what the shark’ll do next”.

The actual victims here: the sharks! Jaws made them look menacing, helped tremendously by John Williams’ score; Deep Blue Sea had a few flinch moments and also had Saffron Burrows as eye candy for the men and Thomas Jane similarly for the women. Sharknado was a laugh-a-minute riot with people trying to remember why Tara Reid and Ian Ziering looked kinda familiar to but not enough to spark an instant recollect. But movies like the Sharnado sequels, and this dam(n) one (‘cuse the pun) just relegate these amazing creatures to ridiculous props in a movie which could have also been a bloodbath, scream fest but just turns out to be replete with stony-faced actors, painfully spewing out their dialogues and not much else.

Creature movies don’t *have* to make sense. If it did, Jaws couldn’t have gone beyond the first movie and created vengeful great whites seeking out the Brodys no matter where they roamed in the world. But a creature movie that makes you laugh, totally defeats the purpose and then some!

One of the worst scenes in the movie: a wanna-be Katniss Everdeen who mouths Roy Schneider’s classic line, “Smile you SOB” and then shoots a paintball arrow into a shark causing it to….wait for it….explode!

But I was bored and I often test myself to see what’s the worst I can watch and for how long…today proved to be a watershed day…I can truly watch tripe. Beginning to end. Doesn’t say much about it now does it?

DAM!

Riding In The Car With A Boy

I don’t have to drive my kid around much since he started going to grade school 2 years ago. By the time he gets home it’s usually late afternoon and then he snacks, plays, does his homework or has play dates in the community we live in so we seldom step out during weekdays.

On the weekends Red usually drives because he’s afraid for his life with me in the driver’s seat and prefers to have me and offspring prattle away while he navigates.

This week I spent a bit of time driving MLM back from school and our conversations were the kind that would make David Attenborough happy.

This Monday I was lectured at about piranhas, where they live, how they’re caught, killed and how they have super sharp teeth. When I mentioned the only factoid I had with me about piranhas being able to pick clean a full human skeleton in minutes, I was pooh-poohed and told piranhas didn’t eat people because they were smaller in size and only bigger fish like sharks ate humans.

Trying to regain some part of the conversation, I told him that piranhas attacked in a group and that’s how they were able to overpower people; I was told with a snappish answer that people shouldn’t swim in the waters where the piranhas live if they didn’t want to get eaten.  Rather a simple and smart solution when one thinks of it.

Yesterday on our way back from school, I was again informed at great length about the Yeti Crab. My kid has a way of bombarding me with questions, seldom waiting till I answer them to shoot out the next one. And so there was a barrage of questions about the lesser-known Yeti crab and all I could think about was the Yeti and so I tried to tell him why the crab was probably named thus. I’m beginning to think that I should just keep my mouth shut because he just refuses to believe anything I say, preferring to hear the sound of his own voice, monologuing away to glory. Great career as a t.v. host on some nature channel droning on about chameleons or Tsetse flies…

Anyhoo, I tried to tell him about the Yeti and he just blew away my words and said that’s so silly and the crab was probably name Yeti because it sounded like a “cute” name. Talk about your empirical evidence!

All said and done, this kind of talk makes a huge difference from the “are we there yets” that he normally churns out every 2 seconds while we’re usually travelling. But imagine having a mini-naturalist inside your car who wants to educate you whether you want to be educated or not!

In the meanwhile, here’s to a good weekend from me and mine and all the animals that are there in my car!

Ode To A Shopping Mall

Today I have seen misery. I have seen faces full of despair, hopelessness and utter exhaustion. I have also seen people look defeated and rundown and resigned to the vagaries of life.

I refer to the crowds outside the waiting rooms of the shopping malls. And specifically to the male of the species who have girlf(r)iends and wives (hopefully both not in attendance at the same time) who have disappeared into the black hole that a changing room turns into on weekends.

These females, usually arms laden with clothes a size smaller than needed, march into the fray that gets them rooms the earliest and park their better and increasingly embittered halves outside with another heap of outfits that would clothe a small county.

These hapless men have handed over their lives, their wallets and most importantly their weekends to these sirens who will ask them two of the most difficult questions a man has to face in his life:

  1. How Do I Look?
  2. Does This Make Me Look Fat?

Both answers must be accompanied by starry-eyed gormless looks of admiration towards the questioner. And in case there was any doubt of any kind, the answers for question #1 can range from – great, awesome, amazing, woohoo hot!! and others of its ilk but must never be- OK or have a shrug or non-verbal that conveys indecision or anything less than adulation. And that ready reckoner was for the b.fs. Husbands already know there is no correct answer. Usually.

Answer #2 is a bit dicey but the rule book (yes, there is a rule book) says that this noncommittal answer is usually good to go-” I don’t think so/or I don’t see it; what do you think?”

Turning the question over to the woman in question may save your hide but in 20% of the cases it may rebound on the victim with accusations of never saying anything nice/complimentary or never taking a decision. Ever!!

Like the time she asked what did you feel like eating for lunch and you said (good naturedly), “Nothing specific. Anything works for me. Choose what you want.” She said, ” Cool, let’s have Chinese” and you said, “Gawd…Chinese again?!!” and kept thinking all through your Sichuan fried rice why you were feeling a distinctly arctic chill in the restaurant. Oh well.

Back to our hapless menfolk…they stand shoulder to shoulder, united in agony; waiting for the love of their life to say the magic words, “Ok..am done.” But they don’t know something more insidious is waiting for them…the serpentine queue where they’ll have to stand for another multitude of mind-numbing minutes till the clothes get paid for and if someone really has bad karma, the significant other will suddenly remember (after the bill has been paid) that the loyalty points have not been added to their card. Because 9 out of 10 times, the check-out person will direct them to yet another understaffed, overcrowded desk to get things done!

Alea Iacta Est (the die is cast).

P.S: If I didn’t have to swat away mosquitoes while I type this out, I’d have written a few lines about the young hotstuff chica whose morale I destroyed by picking up the same culottes she was reaching for. I guess I looked old and hausfrauish enough for her to rethink her wardrobe choices in toto!

Ah! Sweet Youth.