Friday, July 31, 2009

Movie review: Love Aaj Kal (2009)

First Day Last Show - Love Aaj Kal!

Sis was determined to watch this movie. I find Saif Ali Khan bearable and Deepika Padukone has grown on me since Bachna Ae Haseeno. She even reminds me of an old crush! So there was no point in arguing! Tickets were booked and we were off to watch the FDLS of Love Aaj Kal.


Directed by Imtiaz Ali and produced by Saif Ali Khan, I found Love Aaj Kal to be a
refreshing movie. The story moves along very nicely and holds the audience's interest for 95% of the movie. There is a part where the lead character is shown brooding in loneliness during which Indian audiences, especially those who had not travelled and stayed abroad, felt bored. The NRI audience will relate to this with ease. Barring this small glitch, everything else held the audience's attention.

Thankfully, with Saif's role infused with witty n funny lines, there was no need of a stupid comic relief in the movie! This single point has enhances the movie's bearable quotient by leaps and bounds! It also means you wont come out with a headache from this movie!

Acting - Saif and Deepika both are refreshing to watch! They have a superb chemistry on screen that
makes the audience relate to their characters with ease.

Rishi Kapoor's character does a lot of talking, yet doesn't pakao the audience.

Other notable characters are Raj Zutshi as Harleen's father. Rahul Khanna also plays a
character, but don't wanna ruin the movie by revealing his character.

Babe factor - What I like about Deepika's character is - she looks nice and commands attention without resorting to cheap tricks. You wont find unnecessary cleavage or skin just for titillation. She does wear skimpy clothes, but like a Zeenat, she wears them with elan and carried them confidently. One can watch her with family without squirming in the seat!

The other gal in the movie, Giselle Monteiro (Harleen) had a few lines, but she had enough screen time to do a memorable role (atleast till they watch the next movie). She plays her character with grace!

The direction by Imtiaz Ali is great. The editing is crisp (could be crisper, but no points cut for that). Music is by Pritam and it sounds contemporary. Songs are nicely paced and they gel well with the story. Not too many, nor too few. Its nice that the story progresses thru the songs and the characters don't have to go to a ocean or a desert to sing them! Makes the story more believable and does not distract the audience! The switch between the past and present story feels seamless and does not leave the audience confused at any time. Take a bow Imtiaz!

The visuals in the movie are not stunning, but they feel bright and open as a lot of the movie has been shot in foreign locales. It gives the movie a fresh feel. The shots in current and old India have been done nicely. Its important to note the move does not show any thing bad about India while successfully portraying an authentic image of the country.

There was a stupid controversy (perhaps a cheap publicity stunt) about the movie where much was written about how Kareena was not in the movie... Deepika was very good in the movie and the movie would not be as nice had Kareena been in it!

Similarities - There is a train station sequence that will remind you of DDLJ, but the similarity ends there with DDLJ.
I found traces of Aamir Khan's character from DCH in Saif, but then I am known to look too much into things :D

Quick comparisions - This movie is better than Singh is King and Luck! Saif plays a better Sardar than Akshay. Thankfully there is no turban sporting Snoop Dogg or any other imported singer in a ridiculous looking outfit!

Warning - The movie's a little mushy in some parts, but then the title is LOVE Aaj Kal!

Verdict - A refreshing love story that deals with practical situations in current times of globalization (perhaps this statement itself is too factual!). Go Watch It!

My rating - 3.75/5

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Movie Review: Luck (2009)

Quick n dirty review of Luck (2009).

Shruti Hassan, Sanjay Dutt - uninspiring

Danny, Mithun - Good in the roles given to them

Imran Khan - ok

Chitrashi Rawat - Super!

Story - A mish mash of plots taken from "Fear Factor" that is fried in a "SAW"-like tadka!

Thanks to FE's scathing review, I went with zero expectations from this movie. The result was - I was entertained as I left my brains at home!

The side-actress babe was hotter than Shruti Hassan. The latter looked young n naive n confused... but she had something in her eye... no it was not talent, just some eye-spot near the iris. The side actress babe was definitely hotter.

This movie ain't a "Musafir", but Sanju baba still delivers dialogues in the same manner. The only good part is - if u like that style, ur ok! If u don't, too bad for you, coz he wont stop till the end credits roll.

Most of the dialogues are downright pathetic! Don't know why there is a need to put pun in every other line in the movie?

The stunts are unrefined and feel unrealistic. Anyone can tell that. The actors do a free-fall from a chopper, yet their hair is unruffled! Come on yaar... Couldn't they just rent those 'almonard' fans you see at weddings and make the hair ruffle a bit? Just make sure u tie up Shruti first, else she may fly off!

The movie is worth a dekko for Chitrashi Rawat! The 2 by 2 gal is awesome! She lights up the screen with her presence and stylish dialogue delivery!

Sanjay Dutt and Imraan Khan need to work out at the Gym! Former for being flabby, latter for not yet having a 6-pack! The chocolate boy look is so yesterday! Muscles are in! Especially if u have to jump from planes onto a running train and fight Martial Artists trained in Sword fighting!

Danny was Danny! Guys like him and Mithunda cannot go wrong as long as they realise they have aged and pick appropriate roles. Mithunda pushed the envelope but he pulled it off somehow in the stunts! Perhaps it was the presence of other irritating characters on the screen? (Ravi Kishan)

I give the movie somewhere between 2 and 2.5 stars out of 5!

Michael makes a comeback! ... and an overdue award!


Its a done deal! The king of F1 is scheduled to make a comeback to replace an injured Filipe Massa. I cannot wait for Aug 23 to see the racing legend's comeback in the European GP!

A lot of Questions will be answered there.... A few on my mind are - Will he be the same Schumi after the break? How good will he be in the new car? Will he be fit @ 40? By how much margin will he beat Raikkonen? Suddenly August 23 is so far away when all these questions will be answered...

The circumstances are sad as Massa is badly injured, but I'm glad Ferrari roped in the king to fill the void! Anything to see the legend behind a Ferrari yet again!

Welcome back Michael Schumacher! You were missed!

----------x------------x-----------

The PROXIMITY award was given to me by Vee and Smita in Dec 2008. I did not pass it on to anyone because at that time, I did not know 8 people who didn't have this award! :D

Off I go to find 8 blogs worthy of this awards.

This award is given to a blog that invests and believes in PROXIMITY – nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award. (Note added by Eye-in-sty-in: At their own time and convenience)


I pass it on to -
















The award has been given based on the comments left by these bloggers on my blog. If u want such awards, the trick is to visit my blog more often and also leave intelligent comments.
PS: Their writing ability n wit may also have played a little part in the selection.

For those who have not yet received this award, it does not make you less worthy by any means. So please dont go about slashing ur wrists yet! Your time will come soon :-)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Where the streets have no name...

I love the rains... when it rains, everything is so lush green and wet and fresh! The moisture laden air feels so pristine and refreshing. It recharges the soul and fills the emptiness with life!

The plan was to go on a road trip to Murud-Janjira from Bombay via Pune while sight seeing along the way. An idea to take the scenic route away from the highway took the car past a beautiful water-body called Mulshi Lake!

Asking for directions in India can be a lot of fun! These are some of the answers that were received -
"Tumhala Mulshi zayacha ka? Mag ithe kuthe aale?"
[You want to go to Mulshi Dam? Why did you come to this side of town?]
(Me (thinking): why not? Is this side of town so bad? why are you here then???!!)

"Mulshi dam? I know the way to Bushi dam!"
(Me (thinking): You %^&%&$% I know that way too!!!!)

"Go this way and you should be there in 5 mins."
Me: "Thank you"
"What?"
Me: "Thank you"
"ok..." (looks suspiciously as to why would I thank him - It is common for people to just drive away without being overly courteous. No one has time for that in India. Time is money!)

After asking 10 and a half more people (drove away when one person started scratching his beard upon hearing the words "Mulshi Dam" - I'm pretty sure he didn't miss me.)

The most common answer was "its only 5 mins away". Whether I was directed to a street full of traffic or onto an empty road, the next milestone was never more than 5-mins away! (no wonder google maps did not give me an ETA)!

The fun stopped when I met a guy who used to travel on the same route! He gave directions more precise and clear than even googlemaps or mapquest! As the route map was now known, the journey was smooth again.

From Pimpri -> Hinjewadi -> Pirangut -> Mulshi Dam -> Murud-Janjira

Thanks to the inspiring and entertaining directions and the lack of google maps, it was too late to reach Murud Janjira that day! The night halt at Mulshi Dam turned into the final destination as the beauty of Mulshi was enamouring!

Finally....



The place of lodging was a resort with about 15 rooms. Very cosy. Being the only guests at the resort, the treatment was royal. There was no cellphone coverage in the resort. Had to drive 8 KMs (about 5 miles) to get within cell range. As the winding road to get cell coverage made for a very good drive, I did not mind it :-) It took me back in time where one had to plan phone calls in advance and walk miles before any communiation was possible.

It was refreshing to see Mother Nature working her magic at the lake. The weather changed so soon and severely - the mountain on the other side of the lake would get engulfed in the clouds within seconds. The rain would cut visibility to nearly zero and the wind would lash out at the trees making a howling sound that would send chills up the spine. The lake created by the dam would have waves that would have one believe its a sea. At times, the water would be very calm. There were impromptu water-falls created in the hills by the rain that had clear sparkling water flowing from them. It was a slice of heaven.

On the way back, there were many people in cars and on motorbikes working their way up the ghats to have fun at Mulshi for the weekend. Many stopped on the winding roads to enjoy fresh roasted bhutta (corn) sprinkled with red-chilly, salt and lemon. It is a tasty delight to be enjoyed in the rains!

video

The journey back home was fast. In Pune, I saw MONAFOOD and remembered a blogger mentioning it in their post! :D

On a separate note, a blog pal Rip-Val-Wrinkle has given me an award for International Blogger's community. I have not yet accepted it, bcoz I don't know what is it about. If you have received/given this award and know what is it about, please do enlighten me! In the mean time, thank you Ripples! I am still trying to figure it out!

Considering the wet roads and the rains, it was surprising to see there was no accidents encountered on the streets! Its very surprising to see so many rules in the US and still there are so many accidents. And here in India, many times, people drive as per their whims n fancies and yet there are none!

OK, I did see one accident, but it was due to overloading and not bad driving.












Could it be the handiwork of the devil?? (are you happy the sketch is now complete :P)



PS: This is my 1st video blog. Your suggestions/comments/compliments are more than welcome.

PS2: An important point to mention - On the way to Mulshi dam from Pirangut, there is a restaurant that has internet access. Please resist the temptation to logon and DO NOT use it. I checked my emails from there and could not login to my mail account a day later. Its fishy!

PS3: I see many new people following my blog. Thank you for enduring following me and a warm welcome to my blog.

PS4: It is still in production and will be released by Sony soon!
video

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Journeys: Part deux

Day one had me reporting to office. As I was not familiar with the parking situation, I decided to take the bike. Now I'll be the first one to tell you that I don't particularly like 2 wheels! I know, the girls find it macho n sexy, but some things are just not meant to be. Period! Dad offered to drive me half way after which I would ride the rest of the distance and pick him up on the way back. Since he would be driving the traffic laden half, I mustered enough courage to take the 2 wheeled bike the rest of the way.

Now, for those who are not familiar with the Indian traffic conditions, should see this sped up video of a traffic intersection. The traffic situation in Bombay is about half as bad... couple this with the no-so-friendly-bike and my disdain of 2-wheelers, its not the best mix.

The drive started well and I was doing great. Then I had to brake and all hell broke loose.

As soon as I hit the brakes, the 2-wheeler engine turned off. I managed to turn it back on and was on my way again and I had to brake once more... this was not going well!

After stalling it 3 more times, I called dad who proudly exclaimed "the idling of the engine is set low to conserve fuel at traffic lights ***. Just give it some gas while braking and u should be fine."
Me: (thinking) Give it gas while braking? That would get me killed????

*** (we live in a city and traffic lights are a-plenty)

I parked the 2-wheeler in the nearest by-lane, proudly shamelessly hopped into a running double decker bus and was on my merry way :P City biking is not for me! At least not now! (for the curious cats, the 2-wheeler in question was a Honda Activa. Its a moped! not even geared.... I too know its pathetic!) :D

In my defense, I did take ride the cursed thing to visit an uncle after work and also picked up my dad on my way back.

And then it rained! Continuously for 24 hours! Sometimes heavy, sometimes a light drizzle..
.
perfect time to grab hot vadas with red-chilly-garlic-chutney! No sooner did I mouth
the words to my sis, mom interjected "I've already made them!" I kid you not, she can read minds!

Me: (while hogging on tasty hot vadas [an Indian delicacy savoured during the rains]) Mom, stop making all this oily food... you are making me fat. I had a 6-pack and its disappearing...
Mom: I don't like 6-packs. Shah Rukh (an Indian actor) got one and it made him look old. His cheeks are sunk in his face and his skin has become all flabby.
Me: (cannot argue with that logic!)


Monday, July 13, 2009

The Journeys

1) Trip to the airport
======================
Me (on phone): Hey, can you gimme a ride to the airport
Friend: Sure, at what time?
Me: ASAP. Flight leaves in 2 hours and 25 mins.
Friend: Thinking. Ok.
Me: Thanks (gives quick directions and hangs up)
Friend reaches after 20 mins.... Throws bags in the SUV.... off we go
Friend: You are cutting it fine... Are you sure u'll manage to catch the plane?
Me: I'll wing it, like I always do... Didn't I manage all the other stuff? In any case, the best laid plans get washed away, so its better to have a rough sketch and then add finesse to it as you go along. This allows us to take care of the last minute anamolies that might come into play...
Friend: True
Me: You can merge into the traffic now...
Friend: Your inability to plan will not have me driving your way. In any case you should have planned for THIS anamoly...
Me: Mumble mumble.... (translated... the other route was much shorter n direct)

Phone call...
Her: Are you in the airport longue?
Me: I'm on my way there...
Her: Are you walking?
Me: No I'm being driven
Her: Are you on a handicap cart? Why?
Me: I'm on my way to the airport
Her (launching into a lecture): YOu shd be there 3 hours in advance... you shd have done this... you should have done that.... blah blah
Me: Just like honking is not gonna make the traffic move faster, your verbal volley is not helping now. (gestures friend how to navigate around the traffic)
She: well, have a safe flight.
Me: Thanks! (guess she never heard of the "just in time" concept)

(20 minutes later and taking a route that took us twice the time and distance, we made it to the airport! In his defence, I did see a lot of different construction zones too!!!!!! Grrrrrrrrrrr!!)
All was good as we still had time to eat a meal in a sit-down restaurant after the bags were all checked in!

2) Boarding passes for flight legs 2 and 3
==========================================
Me: Hello
Ticketing lady: Hi, how are you.... (and other plesantaries)
Me: I see you are having a busy day
Her: Yes. Its okay though...
Me: You have a nice name Florence (thanks that lying is not necessary. Her name was lovely indeed)
Her: Thank you. What seats would you like
Me: Door seats on the aile
Her: Not available
Me: Just do your best and give me what you think is the best (she looked experienced)
Her: well, do you have a choice?
Me: Tail section is better. Its safer, right?... Wait a minute. Will I be flying Boeing or Airbus?
Her: All flights are Boeing.
Me: Goody... I'll take the center seats on the wing. Less movement there.
Her: hmmmm... ok. Let me see what I can do. (takes her time to issue me tickets)
Me: Just out of curiosity, how much did my check in bags weigh
Her: one was 50 Lbs, another was 49 and the 3rd was 47.5
Me: Wow! I am proud of myself
Her: (Smiles at my self praise)

Result of this interaction was... I had no one sitting next to me in both my legs of flight. The 1st leg to Frankfurt had me sitting in the center of the plane on the wing. The 2nd leg had me sitting as near to the exit door as possible. She knew I would be in a hurry to get off the plane as I was so close to home :-) Smart! Experience helps!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fly away...

When you get tired of living from a suitcase, just pack ur bags and put up a sign - "gone fishing"!

Try not to miss much and pray that there are no planes tumbling out of the sky for the next few days ;-)

Yes, this blogger will be hopping on a plane for a long long flight and expects to be away for a few days from the virtual world! This just made him think... why don't they have internet at Frankfurt airport?!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

8th July - What a day!

8th July will never be the same year on year....

Was out celebrating a friend's wife's b'day @ the martini bar while living out of a suitcase when it dawned on me... this is the 3rd person I know who celebrates their b'day on this day!

Waitress was a 10, btw! And my friend was not happy when I snubbed her... yeah, the same one whose wife's b'day we were celebrating! lolz! Such is the understanding between them that when the waitress didn't hover around our table (I was blamed for it, btw) the wife asked her hubby "how come she disappeared?" wonderful couple indeed with deep sense of understanding!

Come to blog world and find out there is a marriage that happened on the same date! And its my cuz's wedding anniversary! And a blog pal's son has passed away on the same date!

Wow! Such an intense and filled up day is 8th July! makes you feel that you are standing still on the side walk and life is zipping past you... (Maybe it was not just a coincidence that our table was on the patio with cars and ppl zipping past)... Kinda tell you - better go out there and do your thing before its too late, else you'll always be playing "catch up"

Although, I still maintain I was right in snubbing the waitress when she tried to take the camera from me for a pic! So what if she is a 10, she still has to ask if I need a group pic taken and not TELL that she can take the pic!

My friend's daughter thought she was a little ditsy. The daughter may be young, but she ain't naive... I agree with her :-)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

50th Post: Dedicated to MJ


7/7/09 - 11:54 pm

Jackson died at the age of 50! Coincidentally, my blog also turns 50 (posts) today. not the best way to remember this milestone, but its noteworthy indeed. I can only dedicate this post to the undisputed king of pop who was buried today!

You may be gone, but your time will always be remembered! Thank you for entertaining us and for being a part of our lives!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Jackson

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A splendid tale of an explorer's love for his dogs

The last post about a faithful dog generated lots of comments and interest. The post was even more popular than the one in which Nidarshana sports a moustache with elan! (58 comments vs 54 comments). The dog post put to rest some rumors in my blog world which were on the lines of "Spike and Nidarshana are pretty tight!" My response to these rumors is "We are just friends. There is nothing going on between her and me... although she still has the "it" factor, we are JUST friends". She is a happily married mother of a kid and a dog. And I.... well, I share my name with a popular dog name! So there.. the moustache sporting Ann Dee and I are just friends! But I digress... this post is not for quelling rumors... It is about being loyal and faithful. When a dog can be faithful to its master for 10 whole years (Mind you, thats 70 years in dog-years), its only fitting that we humans give a respond equally to our best friend's faithfulness and loyalty!

It is said that spending time in extreme climates like a desert and a cold barren wasteland OR experiencing near death situations will leave a lasting impression on a person ... people who have undergone such an experience prefer to stay secluded in the more civilized world. At the same time they develop an innate bonding with all the beings they interact with in the wilderness - human or animals - probably because these beings have provided him with social interaction when it was most needed.

Dogs have been an integral part of Human civilizations and were one of the earliest animals to be domesticated along with wolves, the earliest records pointing to 100,000 years back. There are numerous stories involving man and his best friend and the bond between them.
Eight Below


Set in Antarctic, the movie is one such splendid tale of an explorer’s love for his dogs in the wintry wilderness of the south pole.

A scientist visits a US base station on the South pole to collect Mercury meteorite fragments that will help researchers know more about the planet and such. The mission involves going south from the base camp and further away from civilization. The ice being too thin for an airplane to land, the trip must be made by dog-sled. Although reluctant to make the trip for safety reasons, the explorer - Jerry - has no choice when he is ordered by his boss to assist the scientist.

The duo take a sled pulled by eight dogs to collect the meteorite. En route, they face problems and hardships as the Antarctic weather can be very unforgiving. To make their matters worse, a storm is about to hit them. They need to cut the trip short. The scientist reasons with the explorer that he needs to find the meteorite as it means the world to him. being an explorer and a man driven by feelings and used to doing what he likes, the explorer understands the scientist. even though knowing the weather and the intensity of the storms, he agrees to take the risk in order to fulfill the scientist’s dream.

The mission is successful, the discovery is made - but the trip back is no joke and someone nearly dies! On reaching base, evacuation is ordered as the storm has increased its speed and intensity. They need to go to a safer location that is 3 hours away by plane. The evac plane is small and the dogs need to be left behind in the storm and will be retrieved in the second trip. At the larger base, things change. Weather reports show that the storm is the worst storm to hit the South Pole in 25 years!! They have to evacuate this larger base too. The Dogs are not a priority anymore...!

Jerry is disappointed and heartbroken. He cannot find peace within himself as he knows it was not right to leave the dogs behind. But the people in power have other thoughts as the rescue of Dogs is unimportant to them. The risk and the costs are not justified and Jerry’s requests of a rescue effort are denied.

Although the movie is very exciting and engrossing till this point, this is where the real story begins...

~Will the dogs survive the storm?
~Who nearly dies?
~Why does Jerry have such a bond with the dogs?
~Will they be able to brave the -50 degree weather !!!!?????
~Will the dogs have enough food to survive for months?
~Will they be hunted by other animals?
~Will the dogs be rescued before they die?
~Will man return the favour to his best friend who love and serve him with their life?

Directed by Frank Marshall, the movie has the Walt Disney label attached to it.

Paul Walker plays Jerry Shepard. having starred in movies like Fast and the Furious, I always found him to be lacking finesse. Its like he does such movies bcoz he likes the adventure more than acting. He is not disappointing, but he is not impressive either. In this movie, his monotonous dialog delivery actually does some justice to his character as it is expected to be dry and monotonous and humbled by his surroundings - nature can be very humbling - his character knows it and Paul conveys that well on screen by being hilmself.

Bruce Greenwood plays Davis McClaren. His character is foolhardy and slightly ego-centric. He has the brains, but like a scientist, he does not understand emotions too well and tries to find logic and reasoning in everything.

Moon Bloodgood plays Katie. Her character is a pilot. She looks very lovely and provides a subtle romantic angle to the movie that though present, is not overbearing to the main plot. She has done a lot of TV like CSI, Daybreak and recently, Journeyman.

Jason Biggs plays Charlie Cooper. He provides some comic relief in the movie and thus, his character is vital to the movie as it is vital to the base station. He keeps the viewer laughing.

Now for the true actors and the real stars of the movie and My Best Friends :-))

The Dogs !!

There were 3 breeds used for making this movie -
Siberian huskies - 1)Maya 2)Jack 3)Shorty 4)Max
A native breed known as the Greenland dog - 5)Truman 6)Dewey
Alaskan malamutes - 7)Shadow (gray) 8)Buck (red)

The numbers denote their order in pulling the sled.

All three breeds come under the category of "working dogs" - extremely task oriented, these dogs will literally work themselves to DEATH before quitting! They are also genetically adapted to frigid temperatures of the Antarctic. They share their gene pool with Wolves and also resemble them in looks, nature and size - the differentiator being the cunning nature of the wolf.

The dogs show enormous courage and belief in one another and feel betrayed when they are left alone. Their bark changes when they want to communicate different feelings. I have always wanted to own a dog! And watching this movie has brought me one step closer to having one as a pet. The only thing stopping me right now is that I am unsure I’ll be able to devote enough time for its care.

This movie has to be in your collection if you have kids! Watch it with them, answer their questions and it will be an excellent way to bond with your children while teaching them about life, nature, human and animal emotions - all this while sharing an adventure in the comfort of your living room!

rating for movie - 4/5
rating for dogs - 5/5

I want one as a pet .... sighhhhhh !!

Note: I found the title of the movie to be clever - set in Antarctic, the 8 dogs are left behind - hence Eight below ! How apt...!

!! Spike !!

Dedication - This one is dedicated to friendship!!

References -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siberian_Husky
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenland_dog
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaskan_Malamute
http://www.americanhumane.org/site/PageServer?pagename=pa_film_set_eightbelow
http://imdb.com/title/tt0397313/

As my fans friends were clamouring for a post, I decided to migrate this post to my blog.