Driving Dairies

Imagine this…you’re driving on a crowded market road; pedestrians jostling with vendors, buses bearing down on you and the inevitable morons who insist on driving with the high beam on; blinding you for what seems like eternity.

To add to the fun, imagine shielding a plastic bag full of fish for the aquarium; on the passenger seat all the while telling your kid to sit down and stop complaining about the bumpy road.

In the midst of all this, when you’re close to being home free, still seeing spots in front of your eyes and hoping that the fishes haven’t had their brains turned upside down; comes the most unexpected thing…a tap on the shoulder and an inquisitive voice asking, “Hey…do you know who the President of India is?”.

And saddest part is that even after you tell you kid off for choosing the worst moments to ask trivia questions, flip off the biker who cut across your path without the turn signal…you still can’t remember the new guy in Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Oh nuts! The things that make you miss your husband!!

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.