Movie Review: Padmaavat

Dropping the “i” from the title didn’t provide much relief to the Karni Sena am guessing,  but it certainly generated more buzz around an already buzzing hive of wasps and hornets.

But getting back to the movie- it’s epic! In its grandiosity, its conception and sadly, its mediocrity. And yet, it still works. And how!

IMHO despite being the eponymous character, Deepika doesn’t have as much screen time as one would think. She occupies screen time in dialogues uttered by other characters and hers is a stiff upper lip that Brits may kill for. She runs and glides along wearing a steely resolve and heavy ghaghras and looks pretty. She is stoic in the face of widowhood, childish and raw in the face of love and courtship and soppy in the arms of her husband at times. But hey..I didn’t live all those years ago..who am I judge how Rajput women conducted themselves. Maybe I should ask the Karni Sena *taps chin ponderingly*

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Shahid Kapoor- he’s a hunk with a body that’s made to be flaunted and the kolh-rimmed eyes are HOT! But in the role of the honor-bound Rawal who is the upholder of values, traditions and legacy of the clan, he falls short. He isn’t believable after a point. You keep waiting for him to finish speaking so Ranveer gets to repartee. And repartee him good!

Ranveer Singh- the mainstay. The obsession, the mockery, the clowning around and the utter disdain for anything beyond his own hedonistic pleasure is brought to life by this man. It’s highly dramatic, that’s true, but the other male leads in Bollywood (barring Aamir Khan) don’t really have the acting chops to pull off this kind of lunacy and bullheadedness on-screen.

Jim Sarbh- with his sly gestures and words (and good looks) the character of Malik Kafur is quite entertainingly portrayed by this Parsi hunk. Now I want to see Death in the Gunj as well to see how he tackles different roles.

i-like-people-who-dont-fear-death-laughing-colours-trying-29371441I have wanted to see the movie for a while now. Just held myself back because watching in a movie hall meant no fast forwarding of songs I didn’t want to sit through. Lo and behold! Amazon came to the rescue. Since I’d visited Chittorgarh town and fort eons ago; watching a dramatized version of what may have happened there, with dollops of creative licenses taken with the lives of the original characters had pinged my curious nerve a few times.

Am glad I gave into the impulse to watch it because it is entertaining. It’s longish, it’s slow, it’s got bits that didn’t need to make the final cut- like the Bin Te Dil song. It’s a good peppy song but to devote screen time to it wasn’t entirely the best call. It’d already been established that in the movie Khilji was a womanizer and took his pleasures where he could find them. It was just more time of seeing Malik Kafur (Jim Sarbh) lust after Khilji while still doing his hedonistic bidding.

So what does recommend this movie? The scale on which things have been conceptualized and carried is quite a lot to take in when you see how movies are used to being made in India. The acting isn’t the worst part of it either. It sticks to what is required- drama, drama and more drama. It’s not just grand, it’s grandiose but it does evoke interest, curiosity and a feeling of paisa wasool. So go on and stream it…it’s worth one bowl of popcorn.

 

My Temporal Lobe Hurts

I have a great memory for useless trivia. I have a pretty good memory for remembering everything my husband didn’t do but should have.

I also have a pretty strong recall for little things with the help of even vague-ish associative cues et al…but getting to the fag end of my 30s, my (declining) memory for numbers is killing me.

And the person causing bats in my belfry is none other than the offspring. As usual. Sighs.

We keep quite a few things under digital lock and key to keep him from giving into temptation and over indulging viz- iPad, t.v, Kindle, laptop etc but I’ll be damned if that isn’t coming back to bite me on the hieney.

With passwords for the phone, the Wi-Fi, the iPad, the Firestick, certain channels, it gets to a point sometimes when I need to unlock things, I sit with a blank look on my face, desperately searching in the memory banks for some kind of a clue to help me find the elusive #s; and no help is forthcoming. Totally a case of GIGO.

Earlier I had passwords, codes, credit card #s everything memorized and it wasn’t tough to recall them when needed and without too much prompting.

Now, my brain plays a Hot&Cold game with while I sift through data. Of course the process would be easier if I didn’t have a kid draped over my shoulder like a boa (imitating reptile and an accessory both), hissing in my ear, “Do you remember it Y-E-T??!!”

What would be best is if I could keep it unlocked and trust that agreements about t.v. time, play time on iPads were stuck to but that’s a bit unfair to expect from a kid when his parents are binge-watching Criminal Minds or Suits even though its ostensibly done without him being in the know.

But the brat knows us so well, when he sees the last played item on the watch list, he gives me a tsk-tsk look and takes the name of the person who’d have been watching the program and says, ” Someone was watching t.v. after I went to bed!”

I can’t begin to explain how amusing and confusing it is to be chastised by your child in a manner which he’s clearly picked up from you and then having to show your contrition even if you don’t feel the slightest bit contrite!

The things we do set an example for our kids. And while I try and set the aforementioned example, there’s a mini-me tapping his feet impatiently and saying,” Ahem….I’m waiting.”

Ye Gods!

Tech-Pottery

I love technology. It has no boundaries. The scope of it ranges from the little to the humongous. And that’s really saying something.

I have a sick kid at home who’s been using his “I’m sick” status as a Get Out Of Jail card. I’ve been annoyed, short tempered and most desperately in need of a diversion. Enter Play Store.

I was thinking to myself how I’d like to throw clay around to get rid of my ire and also try out some pottery in the process. Lo and Behold! there was a pottery app (Free&Paid) that I tried out. And it was just what I needed. Well…I actually needed a wheel, kiln and tons of clay but the virtual one wasn’t too bad either.

With any kind of artistic endeavor, the creativity needs to just flow and take shape. Whether it’s drawing, painting, sculpting or pottery…it’s an expression of what you think and feel and what vibes with you.

After vibing with these babies for a while, I am determined to find a teacher and just get down and dirty making pots.

Boredom often leads to an A-Ha experience.

Tech-Savvy Woes

I’ve written earlier about the advent of Alexa in our lives. Red was in the market for good quality speakers and was considering buying Sonos and then suddenly got his head turned by the cute lil dot that now talks to us in a STRONG American accent and frequently gets our song choices wrong because she doesn’t get us much. And that’s funny because the offspring has his own twangy accent that sounds kind of like Alexa and yet they don’t always communicate correctly.

Properly enunciated crisp diction rings her bells though. Take for example, MLM wanting to hear Ra.One’s Chhammak Chhallo. He yelled out into the general direction of Alexa, “AlexaplaymeChamakChalo” and pat came the reply, “I’m sorry. I am unable to understand you.” El Brato grumbled, “Stupid Alexa” and then yelled out to me, “Ayu…come and tell Alexa the song I want to hear. It’s not listening to me.”

And there I was, speaking to the dot, yet again, telling her to play Chhammak Challo, said with tight lips and no hint of any accent anywhere. And she popped up saying, “Here’s ChamakChalo from VishalShaker”. I swear there was no difference between her and MLM but someone must have a hearing problem somewhere so I’m still running interference for them both and waiting till he asks me to tell her to play ‘Rashke Qamar’. Last time he asked her to play the song she played Paula Abdul’s Rush Rush

For my troubles, I get to hear the dratted song on loop till my brains start to leak out of my ears. *rolls eyes*

Signing off!

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Movie Review: Pari

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This movie is Prosit Roy’s love affair with the older parts of Calcutta, the bits that make it stand apart from every other city in India. It is strangely enough, also an ode to the nail cutter and umbrellas. Never has the humble implement of hand and foot hygiene received so much spotlight neither, for that matter, has so much water fallen on the city of Calcutta.

I fully expect the sales of nail cutters and umbrellas to go through the roof post people watching the movie.

The devil is invoked. He of the run-of -the-mill horned-head fame and blood thirst, comes (excuse the pun) and impregnates women (poor, low-income…take your pick) whose gestation period lasts for all of one month (the only bright spot in the movie) and then a belly button-less and umbilical cord-less child comes forth into the world. Their goal? To increase the progeny of their father. But all banality aside, the Devil needs his flesh and blood to aid in eventual world domination. The world domination bit isn’t referred to but why be the Devil if you can’t rule over the world, am I right?

That in a nutshell is Pari. The tagline claims that it’s not a fairy tale but fairy tales are replete with angst-ridden, unhappy characters who utter curses as easily as they breathe.

So why is this movie not a write-off? Because the cinematography sets the tone and mood of the entire movie without having to resort to cheap gimmicks of blood and gore to live up the “horror” genre.

The by-lanes of Calcutta, the moss-laden walls, the sooty shutters and a slightly sleepy, lethargic ambience lull you into the story only to be jarred from the calm and into the world of the preternatural. Compared to RGV’s Bhoot and movies of it’s ilk, Pari doesn’t rely on a sudden loud noise which has you clutching your heart in fear.

Anushka Sharma’s vulnerability makes you wish the bad juju doesn’t catch up with her and gulp her down. This movie is Anushka’s vehicle but she has to work at being creepy and you feel sorry for her plight. She can be de-glam but she still has to nail being ferocious.

The rest of the cast is passable with Mansi Multani (Kalapori) and Rajat Kapoor standing out for their respective roles. They are by turns creepy, scary and the chief ingredients needed to bring in a bit of shiveriness to an otherwise droll “horror” movie. Kapoor with his fake eye, stoic and almost amused-countenance is a true reflection on how normal people can become evangelical and take on a mantle of evil themselves under the guise of the greater good.

The role of the crone playing Kaali Pori (Mansi Multani) has been enacted well with her entry coming in sporadically to scare the life out of Anushka. That and her sing song voice while she plays the conduit for the demon is well portrayed.

The male lead-Parambrata and Ritabhari (Piyali) do justice to their roles with the former playing a person with values and morals but still dragging his feet throughout life and becoming proactive when you least expect him to. He seems confused through most of the movie and even his repentance at the end seems to fall flat.

But all this dissection aside- kudos to Anushka for not going the expected path of KJo-type movies alone. She can emote and emote well.

Pari is all about her. But I give it half a thumbs-up because a horror movie shouldn’t just be about pathos…it should be a bit jarring. Pari fails to do that.

Me&Crappy Movies…

I have watched tons of rubbish movies. Honestly. And I make no excuses for it. If it intrigues me, I’ll watch it at least once.

I don’t look into the why it’s good or bad or why it’s made money or lost a pile of it. IF the topic is interesting enough, I’ll try and get my hands on a copy.

I really like watching creature and disaster movies. The former is usually improbable and the latter hopefully won’t happen in my lifetime but they are usually not boring; if made well.

I watched Ghost Shark, the Sharknado series and a whole bunch of other stuff with the words “shark” or “snake” in its name and have been actually entertained. And then there was Oceans Rising.

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Oh my god…what an utterly, utterly pathetic movie. To have watched The Day After Tomorrow, Poseidon and even 2012 to some extent and then see this crappy piece of well…crap, is so disappointing. And that’s saying a lot coming from me. I also watched Megashark Vs. MechaShark and lost no sleep over it.

Apart from probably not having any money for believable special effects and having people who just run their entire gamut of expressions in 0-60 seconds, this movie was not the best utilization of a Friday afternoon I’ve done.

The lesson has been learnt.

Maybe.

Naah….

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Book Review: Sita’s Ramayana

I haven’t ventured down the path to graphic novels at all. Parted ways with comics after grade school and just the written word was enough to hold my attention without needing the bells and whistles that illustrations provide.

However, the senses must be appeased and of late I’ve wanted to have more visual stimulations while reading. Amazon came to the rescue with their curated list of graphic novels for beginnings, spanning genres (Go Amazon!) and I picked up a book that I’d heard a lot about but avoided reading purely because of my own biases.

I need to mention these biases because they form a part of what leads me towards and away from books with topics such as these.

As a child, many of my Sundays were dominated by watching the dramatized version of Ramayana on the telly. Apart from the slow pace and the excessive posturing or smiling on part of the characters; it always felt like Ram was quite the goody-two shoes and his wife excessively pure and perpetually giving in to his whims and fancies. Added to the mix was my mother’s staunch belief about not just looking at one source as the definitive stance on how things might play out. She advised me to read other books which gave contrary views on Ravan, Sita and Ram instead of taking them as flawed or perfect in entirety.

Growing up in a country that largely espouses one religion, it’s tough to express one’s own contrary thoughts about a historical, mythological figure without ending up on some evangelist’s hit list or having to dodge trolling from all and sundry who seem to have drunk from the same spiked punch bowl of jingoistic fervor; not having one original thought in their heads, ever.

Here endeth the anecdotal part of the book review. Onto the actual book itself. It’s a delight. Visually. It’s a delight in its simplicity. Samhita Arni (the author) and Moyna Chitrakar’s (the illustrator-storyteller) collaboration is a visual delight that doesn’t detract from the story that has been retold many times over. The book is actually two-fold in that the words and pictures both paint a story that’s being told simultaneously; without one tripping up the other. They are in sync beautifully.

The narrative is very simple but not simplistic and manages to convey a lot of emotion without spelling everything out. The injustices of war, the machinations of man come to life in ink- both words and drawn.

I would recommend this book as a coffee table gift for friends and family. It doesn’t mean one is embracing their (Hindu) religious identity. But for better or for worse, Ram, Sita and Ravan are a part of our cultural identities. If not for that, get it for the artwork alone…it’s folksy, bold and timeless.