Friday, January 30, 2009

A movie full of twists!: Grand Slam movie review

Before Ocean's Eleven, there was Grand Slam! Proclaimed as "One of the best heist movies!" by the Chicago Sun-times.

Grand Slam can be called a classic version of Oceans Eleven franchise (which was not yet made when this movie came out). Heck, this movie was so futuristic, they even account for "variable change" (shown in the movie '21') right up to the last minute detail (or do they... muhahahahaha).

The plot of the movie as on the DVD is - "A quite, yet cunning school teacher recruits an elite team of international criminals to rob $10 million worth of diamonds from an impenetrable safe in Rio de Janaeiro during the frenzied peak of the carnival. The planing is meticulous. The crime must run like clockwork. But even if they can pull off the most daring theft in criminal history, are the wildest surprises of all yet to come?"

Now before you start watching this movie, keep in mind that it was made in the 1960's. Considering that, the movie felt fresh(er) even now. The pace of the movie is quite good and you will feel like sitting thru the movie wanting to know what happens next!

The crime scenes are very well executed. The planning does look fool proof although I did manage to spot a few glaring errors even in a semi drunken state. As is typical in a heist movie, the first 1/3rds of the movie is used to introduce the characters of the movie. The next 1/3rds of the movie is the planning and the last 1/3rds of the movie is the execution of the heist. The ending of the movie is quite similar to many heist movies and just when you feel that you have seen it all, comes a big large giant humongous twist in the story that will have you saying "WHAT!!".

My friends and I concluded the movie in a single cleverly concocted sentence - Those who survived till the end were getting more and more fooled progressively in the movie. (Go figure!)

The movie does show a lot of the vintage Rio landscape. As the heist is executed during the Rio de Janeiro carnival, one can see a glimpse of the festivities that happen during the carnival - a clever piece of subtle advertisement for the city! (Also quite entertaining for the movie viewers) . The plot that was the most tangential in the storyline was quite useless to the heist, but it was also one of the most delicately 'shot' plots I have seen in a long time in a movie! (The one involving 'Stetuaka'). I feel it was put in to break the monotony of the main story! The James Bond franchise also has similar plots in the story, but as far as the adjectives 'subtle' and 'delicate' go, they leave much to be desired in their execution.

Verdict of the movie - It is a very cleverly executed heist movie that will keep you engaged - right till the end! Watch it for the twist...
and keep it cool! ;-)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Long Live India!

26th January 2009 is the 60th anniversary of the Republic Day of India. It was on this day in 1950 that India was officially absolved of British rule and became re-public. With India's economic might growing day by day, the Indian Republic day is celebrated worldwide.

Let us take some time to revisit the Constitution of India and get in touch with the values and principles that it stands for!

On 26th January 1950, the Constitution of India became the law of the land. Containing 395 articles , 12 schedules and 94 amendments with a total of 1,17,369 words, it is the longest written constitution of any sovereign nation in the world.

The preamble does not contain laws enforceable in a court but, no law can be enacted or amended in a manner that violates the spirit of the preamble.

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;

  • The beginning words of the Preamble - "We, the people" - signifies that power is ultimately vested in the hands of the people of India.

  • It also tells that the constitution is made by & made for the people of India and not given to them by any outside powers.

  • The Preamble lays down the most important national goals which every citizen and the government must try to achieve - justice, liberty , equality and fraternity.
  • India is internally and externally sovereign - externally free from the control of any foreign power and internally, it has a free government which is directly elected by the people and makes laws that govern the people.
  • The word socialist implies social equality, and does not connote any economic or political ideology. Social equality in this context means the absence of discrimination on the grounds of caste, colour, creed, sex, religion, or language. Under social equality, everyone has equal status and opportunities.
  • Being a Secular country, India does not have an official state religion. There is equality of all religions and religious tolerance. Every person has the right to preach, practice and propagate any religion they choose.

An online address to the nation on the eve of the Republic Day of India by the Hon'ble President of India, Smt. Pratibha Patil can be watched here. Although it is long (22 mins), I found the speech quite inspiring, especially the parts where she asks Indians to be responsible citizens and urges responsible corporate governance in light of the Satyam scam and the Global financial crisis. (PS: The English version of the speech starts after 22 mins or half way into the clip. I listened to the Hindi version.)

On this day the PM leads the nation in paying tribute to the martyrs at the Amar Jawan Jyoti. Let us spare a moment to remember the sacrifice of our soldiers thru this beautiful patriotic song. The pictures in the video tell the story on their own!

This is the 1st time that the Prime Minister on India will be absent from the Parade due to a heart bypass surgery. Defence Minister A.K. Antony will stand in for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh this year.

The 60th Republic Day Celebrations will involve Flag Hosting Ceremony by Hon'ble President of India. It will be followed by Republic Day Parade from Rajpath at 09:25 AM IST. The parade is quite a spectacle to behold as it is not only a showcase to India's military prowess, but also displays its diverse cultural heritage. If you are a foreigner reading this blog, you should plan to see this parade. It will be a memorable experience. Here is what you can expect from the Republic Day parade.

It is a common practice for the people of India to hoist the National flag on this day, here are some rules to be followed while hoisting the Indian national flag.

  • When the National Flag is raised the saffron color band should be at the top.

  • No flag or emblem should be placed either above the National Flag or to its right.

  • The National Flag or any imitation of it must not be used for purpose of trade, business, or profession.

  • The National Flag should always be taken down in the evening at sunset.

  • The flag should not touch the ground at any point of time - before, during and after hoisting it.

Let us all Indians take some time and pledge to uphold the Constitution of India in letter and spirit in our daily lives on our 60th Republic Day.

Long live India - Jai Hind!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Movie Review: Turn left at the end of the world

An old Indian immigrant in Israel
A new Indian father migrated to Israel (Parmeet Sethi)

The young immigrant's Indian wife with 3 kids (Kruttika Desai)
A thoughtful teenage Indian girl (Liraz Charchi)

A Moroccan father
A dying Moroccan mother

A swashbuckling sultry free-spirited teenage Moroccan girl (Neta Garty)
Her fat sister - about to be married to a wimpy Moroccan man

A teenage Moroccan boy who gets a boner on seeing the Moroccan girl
A young teacher

A bewitching sultry widow in her sexual prime
A Moroccan youth protecting his territory

The movie is a story as seen from the eyes of an Indian teenage girl who keeps a diary of the various human interactions as observed by her. The movie revolves around an Indian family who migrates to Israel in hopes of a better life. On reaching the destination, they realise that the job and the lifestyle is not what was promised to them back in India. The family tries to adjust themselves with other immigrant families from Morocco and the mixing of the two different cultures produces a nice heady cocktail of a tale! The story is spiced up when a free spirited, chatty and sultry Moroccan teenage girl takes advise about love and life from a hot widow who is in her sexual prime. The widow is happy to genuinely advise the girl and sometimes also use her to fulfill ulterior motives.

Things take a turn for the worse when after getting tired of the low pay and the mundane job, the workers in the factory go on a strike. The Indian husband gets tired of his nagging wife and finds solace in the open arms of the the widow. The Indians invite the Brits for a game of Cricket, but full of aging men, the Indian team is lousy. They need help from the Moroccan youths. Meanwhile the Moroccan teen acts on an impulse and under the pretext of adding to the Indian girl's story, gives herself to her teacher. Her mother is diagnosed with cancer.

Can the two cultures, who are as different as oil and water, mix together?

Will the strike at the factory yield any results?

Can the Indian-Moroccan team beat the British at cricket?

Will the Indian man abandon his culture and his family for the Moroccan widow?

Will the Moroccan teen's raging hormones land her in trouble?

Can the Moroccan mother survive the cancer?

Can the Indian wife succeed in getting her husband back from the bewitching widow's clutches?

How will the Indian teen's tale end?

To find out, watch "Turn left at the end of the world"!

Directed by "Avi Nesher", the movie has been described by adjectives such as "keeps the chuckles flowing", "engaging and surprising", "A witty and sensual cinematic experience", "great acting and groundbreaking film making", "delightful and entertaining with intelligent directing and an excellent script", "The best Israeli movie of the year", "A cinematic gem by the stunningly talented Avi Neshar - funny and touching".

The movie lives up to all these plaudits.

The movie is a wonderfully woven tale of human emotions, drama, sex, love and cricket! I loved watching it for its non-preachy story telling and the brilliant portrayal of human interactions on the screen. It is "My big fat Greek wedding" meets "Monsoon wedding" meets "Bend it like beckham" - with an artsy feel added to it.

The director has managed to squeeze out above average acting from the cast. But the 2 actors on whose shoulder the movie rests do manage to deliver the goods! Neta Garty who plays Nicole (Moroccan teen girl) and Liraz Charchi who plays Sara (The Indian teen girl) are very good in their characters.

The thing I liked about the acting and direction is - consistency! The quality of acting is maintained throughout the movie and coupled with good screen play, you get drawn into the movie.

My rating - 7/10. Kick back and enjoy!

PS: The movie is in hebrew/french/english with subtitles available.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The thing that foremost comes to mind is - WTF!

Just read the news that a Pakistani Muslim girl was roughed up by members of her community in Bombay. According to the news, a Muslim guy spotted a tattoo on her back and was angered because urdu words from the Quran were tattooed on the girl's back.

The first thought that came to my was - WTF! She had "Thank you God" tattooed on her back. So what! How is that offensive or hurtful to anyone, including Muslims?

But then as I thought a bit more, there were certain other aspects of the incident that came to my mind.

1. As the tattoo was on her back, I assume it must be on her lower back - just above her belt (ass). The guy would have had to pay close attention to actually read the tattoo. WTF was he doing by staring at a girls ass? Isn't that against the stringent Muslim culture to look at a woman's anatomy? I think in certain countries (read Saudi Arabia) he would be beaten by stones or blinded (or both) for eyeing a woman in such fashion!

2. The girl was in India to study. So what if she got a tattoo! Who gave the Muslim women (one of them was the guys mother) the right to slap the girl? All for sporting a tattoo that read "Thank you God"?... WTF!

3. If the Muslims guy and the Muslim women are that strict about their religion, did they also decapitate the youth by removing his eyeballs for eyeing the woman's ass?

The sad part is the guy who saw the tattoo works for Jan Seva Sangh, a local NGO! WTF! How is this guy going to help other people when he did nothing to stop his own mother from assaulting a girl for sporting a "Thank you God" tattoo!!

This is precisely why there is a need for a Uniform civil code in the country! Only then shall we have true equality!