Friday, March 31, 2017

Call Me Maybe!

Random Phone Conversation today : What's in a name? 
Me: Hello! This is Tina Seq...
Lady: Oh! Tina Squirrel
Me: Yes....Yes....the Squirrel

I've added another feather in the cap. From Tina Sakira to Tina Sexueira to Tina Seq What? to now Tina Squirrel.
I'm seriously contemplating of changing my name once and for all to Tiny Squirrel!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

XXX: The Return of Xander Cage - Movie Review

Just watched XXX : Return of Xander Cage with Hubby dearest yesterday! First day, first show!

The movie is a no brainer. Guns, bombs, flyings cars and planes, babes and dudes! Plot? Who cares! Vin Diesel makes anything worth watching! Seriously though, the movie pales in comparison to the ´Fast and Furious´series.

And Deepika? Never mind...Dont believe the hype. She wasn't upto to the mark. Of all the character roles that she has portrayed, this is by far the most ill-fitting one. Deepika as Piku was spectacular. Deepika as ´Veronica´in Cocktail was iconic. Deepika as ´Serena Unger´in XXX Return of Xander Cage? Not so much! Somehow with a name like Serena Unger and a heavy south Indian accent, dressed in trashy hooker outfits - leather mini skirt, highlighted hair and a flaming red lip, working for a Chinese badman on some obscure island, you cannot help wondering from which planet does she hail from! Deepika did not become Serena Unger for me. She was trying too hard to fit in a role that was simply not her. And, she really couldn´t pull it off either.

 I can understand the makers wanting to experiment with the cast....getting more imports from the globe onto the XXX sequel project. But, is it necessary to bring in an Indian actor only because they are stereotypical brown and they happen to be the most popular in the country. For a role that didn´t call for much acting skills, they could have scanned Indian models and just anybody, with a killer bod. For me, Jesse Randhawa with her effortless swag comes to mind. Maybe even Lara Dutta! And a note to Hollywood makers, Indians comes in all colour shades. I agree, largely, brown skinned and that is beautiful. But, dig a little deeper, and you´ll find more suitable fits to a character.

Another thing is that Deepika gets royally overshadowed by the other girls. If she was the sole female lead character, maybe she could have somehow pulled this Hollywood coup off. But, when pitted against some really beautiful and competent actresses, you cannot but draw comparisons between them. For me, amongst the actresses, Deepika was the weakest. Nina Dobrev, Ruby Rose and Hermione Corfield make better eye candy and were way more spunky and natural. The beautiful Nina Dobrev underplays her sexiness as ´Rebecca "Becky" Clearidge´. Yet, she sizzles up the screen in those big, nerdy glasses and tailored business suits. She plays Xander´s super cute fan girl with conviction. With her spirited attitude, Nina is very endearing. Ruby Rose as ´Adele Wolff´ fits  the character like a hand in a glove. With her natural badass attitude, androgynous punk fashion statement, green coloured pixie hair and barbie pink pouty lips, she makes the perfect eye candy and side-kick to Xander Cage. Not to forget, Rose´s body language is spot on.  Hermione Cornfield as Ainsley  sets the screen on fire with her classic blue-eyed British looks and the perfect bikini body. She also has that cocky attitude to match Xander Cage´s own.  They played their characters with a quiet, natural ease that was missing in Deepika´s act.

Among the dudes, Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen and Neymar win hands down. Vin Diesel is what makes this movie worth watching and he lights up the screen with his charismatic persona. He looks and becomes Xander Cage. He is charmingly outlandish with an confidence that can put any super-hero to shame. At 52, Donnie Yen as Xiang looks damn fine and makes you sit at the edge of your seat with his Martial Arts stunts. As Xiang, he plays the very cool, mean baddie with finesse. There are cameos by Neymar and Ice Cube. Neymar, especially is totally worth a watch, even if its a´gone before you blink´act.

Finally, about the chemistry between Deepika and Vin Diesel. Well, what can I say? They tried their best. But Alas! The truth remains that theirs is one very odd pair with absolutely no chemistry. That super publicised kiss is one damp squib. Awkward would be an understatement. Yes! They grinned at each other endlessly though out the movie, exchanging flirty glances in between. But, still this pairing is one big fail. There were more sparks between Becky, Adele, Ainsley and Xander than between Serena and Xander.

Too many cooks spoil the broth making this sequel one unpalatable fare!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Final Countdown Interview

This is a fun year end activity where others could ask me one question they´ve always wanted to ask me before 2016.

Here goes...

Where were you five years ago?

At Universal Studios, Los Angeles ringing in 2011.

What are your resolutions for  2017?
  • Be an active or better listener
  • Read and write more
  • Focus on nurturing the family with love, care, attention and prayer
  • Schedule more family and friends time - play dates with my daughter, date nights with hubby, regular calls with siblings, time spent with parents, inlaws, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.
  • Inculcate mindful eating and encourage the family to do the same
  • Shed 10 kgs and do my knees a favour
  • Wear a saree once a month 
  • Update my educational or professional qualifications
  • Learn a new skill
What plans for New Year´s night?

Get drunk and ring in 2017 with my husband at a local pub shouting out loud ´Yapppppppyyyyy Newwwww Yeaaaarrrrrrrr Yaaaayyyyyyyy´ after the final countdown!´

How was my first teaching experience?

Fabulous and Unforgettable!

If you had one thing or a part in your life which you want to change, what would that be?

Nothing. It has been perfectly imperfect. The way it should be!

Describe the best moment of 2016 

Many great moments! But if I had to pick one, it would be meeting my parents and brothers after four years.

How did I meet my husband?

Divine intervention!

What was your reaction after you knew you were going to be a Mom?

A big flooding smile from ear to ear!

´Oh my God! I knew it! Something was  just different!´

´Wow! We so didn't plan this´

If life were blogging, what would non-bloggers do?

Slogging to learn and adapt to survive or perish to extinction

Which phase of life do you prefer - before marriage or after marriage?

Both are special. But if I had to choose, without a doubt after marriage.

If you had a chance to to change your past or future, what would you change?

Why would I want to change either? What´s behind is a beautiful memory and what lies ahead is sweet anticipation!

Who is the inspiration behind my blogs?

Jesus Christ and his parable of the talents

Everyone I encounter and who teaches me something intentionally or otherwise.


Okay, now I´m off to get ready to celebrate and welcome 2017!

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Movie Reviews of 2016 - Desi edition

The year of 2016 was a year of comebacks for me. Comeback to India after a six year stay in the USA, comeback to family and old friends and to Bollywood movies in particular. Yes! There´s somehow no escaping the fever once you step foot in India. It´s pretty much in your face whichever way you turn it towards.

Following are some quick reviews of the Hindi movies I saw this year. Let me caution you that there are a couple of spoilers in there. So, if you haven´t seen any of these movies as yet and want to remain in complete suspense, please stop right here. Else, read on!

1. Dilwale - This was the first Hindi film I watched this year on my flight back to India. I had no expectations of this movie being a masterpiece. But, I had expectations to be entertained and have a couple of laughs along the way. I thought it would be on the lines of Ra-One. Nonsensical but fun. Alas, I was thoroughly disappointed with the movie. It was both tiring and annoying to see SRK and Kajol competing with the youngsters Varun Dhawan and Kriti Sanon in their juvenility. Unless, you are hardcore fans of any of the lead cast, you will simply not be able to sit through the movie like me.

2. Tamasha - This is a movie that was dissed by almost everyone so much so that I was warned to stay far away from this insipid eccentric fare.

 However, on my flight back to my homeland, India, Tamasha caught my fancy. Initially, I started watching this flick to actually check what went wrong with this Imtiaz Ali venture. I wasn't really expecting to sit through the whole movie for sure. Surprisingly, I found myself wholly engrossed in the movie's plot and my respect for the director's thought and vision only grew in stature. What a shining brilliant movie!

For me, Tamasha is the ´Lamhe of the 2000s´.  Made way ahead of its time for a much more accepting and perhaps evolved audience. An audience who is not looking to get entertained or get some cheap thrills or even derive some inspiration from the social message. This movie is for an audience who is looking to get under the director´s skin literally. To understand their thought process, vision, and see the film entirely through their eyes and not from their own.

Ved, the male protagonist played effortlessly by Ranbir Kapoor is a character with multiple shades of grey. From the beginning, as a child, he is drawn towards the art of story-telling and fantasy making. He is fascinated by the tales spun by that the road-side story teller Baba. He primarily draws his energy from the idealistic notions about the make-believe world much to the embarrassment and disappointment of his father. Quite predictably, his happiness is short-lived. As an adult, he is forced to ´fit´ in with the rest of the world and not be stuck out like a sore thumb. And that´s when his miseries begin. For an idealist trying too hard to be a realist is nothing short of misery. He is not driven or motivated by the ultimate attainment of social status, often misconstrued as success by worldly standard and norms. Achievement is simply overrated according to his senses, easily however evoked and inspired by Art.

Fate brings him to Corsica where he meets his partner-in-crime Tara. Far away from the society conscious land of India, the two soulmates revel and make the best opportunity of their anonymity. They decide to step up the game by not revealing their true identities to each other and just have a great time, being comfortable in their own skins. Needless to add, the two form an instant attraction and connection with each other. But, the holiday happiness is short-lived and they go back to India and their own respective miserable lives. Ved goes back into his shell. We see him quietly suffering inwards, trying too hard to barely just about match upto the tall expectations of his father and the society, at large. Tara breaks up eventually with her current boyfriend. Years go by but the memories of Corsica and her love for Ved still remains afresh in her mind. She is hopelessly in love with Ved. They are brought together again by fate but Tara is rudely awakened with Ved´s reality. She cannot comprehend the drastic change of behaviour in the same person. While Ved tries to convince her that the Ved she fell in love with in Corsica is a mere illusion and the Ved she sees now is the real deal, Tara is not entirely convinced. She breaks off her engagement with Ved but still doesn't stop loving the ´real´ Ved. Ved is torn between his duty as a son and love for his father who is unwilling to accept his son the way he truly is and Tara, who has accepted and loved whole-heartedly the real ´Ved´ that he has hidden far away from the world. Ved´s confusion is displayed in his random emotional outbursts both at his workplace and towards, Tara who most often is the silent victim of all his pent-up emotional frustrations. The turning point in the movie is when Ved´s father finally accepts his son and gives his consent to allow him to pursue his true calling in life. That is when, the burden of the world is lifted off Ved´s shoulders and all things finally fall into place, including his love life with Tara.

Ranbir Kapoor is simply flawless. Intense drama is his forte´and he shines brightly as a sparkling diamond in the movie.  Yeh toh asli heera hain!  Deepika Padukone looks and plays her part well. She fits into her character well without overshadowing neither the character or her costars, while at the same time holding strong her onscreen presence. Both the actors share a similar subtle style in acting without going overboard or OTT. Their onscreen chemistry has been much talked about and not without a reason. As a couple, they definitely make you sit up and notice them keenly.  But the star of the show is undoubtedly Imtiaz Ali! For me, by far, this is his best movie till date. The story conception, the direction and vision is commendable. The songs composed by A.R. Rahman are pretty good and differ in mood, tempo and style. Whether it is the vintage style playful ´Matarghashti´or the melodious and soulful Ágar sum saaath ho´ or the Bhangra tune ´Heer toh badi sad hai´ or the Sufi influenced ´Safarnama´or the Altaf Raja street style inspired ´Wat Wat´ which comes interestingly in stark contrast at the turning point in the movie!

3.  Sanam Teri Kasam - A friend recommendation! I used to have pretty long, almost daily phone calls with a Kannadiga friend while in US. During one of our chatty phone-calls, she predicted, ´There is going to be stiff competition for our Indian actresses from Pakistan. Have you seen Mawra Hocane? She is so  cute, beautiful, innocent and acts so well. Check her out in the song ´Kheech meri photo´. ´And she wouldn't stop there! She kept gushing about the movie as well.

Well, I didn't go out of my way to see the movie but since it was available for viewing in the transit flight, I went ahead and watched it. It is the Hindi movie equivalent of a classic Mills & Boons novel. This movie falls under those classic, traditional romance movies category. A genre that is long gone forgotten, that of a classic love story of the ultimate bad boy and the quintessential good girl. Yes, opposites attract and this movie celebrates that love union with all its cliches´. Did I enjoy the movie? Yes! I did! It helps when Harshvardhan and Mawra make a picture-perfect looking couple which sets off quite a lot of sparkles onscreen with their onscreen sizzling chemistry.  The songs are very 90ish, like the kinds belted out by Nadeem-Shravan. All in all, a must-watch for romance buffs.

4. Pink - The movie couldn't be timed any better. Especially when India today, lies at the fulcrum point of change, a break away from the shackles of convention and the adoption of various outlooks. Did I like the movie? Cinematically, I wasn't exactly blown away by its calibre. I did feel disengaged at times due to the film´s long length. For me, the movie per se´ was not as important as its message was. It deals with various issues and stereotypes that single Indian women have to deal with. Whether it is the question of their virginity, their questionable characters, the good vs bad girl image, their marital status, their racy fashion style and above all, the role of ´consent´ in any physical relationship. The beauty of ´Pink´lies in its intent and powerful message.

5. Ae Dil Ae Mushkil - This is interesting on so many levels that I just do not know where to begin with. But let me just start with the background of the story. A little birdie tells me this is the semi-autobiographical story of Karan Johar. Given his silence and increased careless whispers on his sexual orientation, it would be a great guessing game to figure out who is the real life Anushka and Aishwarya in Karan Johar´s life. The movie is a tribute to Karan Johar´s one sided love in real life.

Let´s start with the plot. Ayan, played by Ranbir Kapoor is a good-looking and charming guy who has a penchant for dating hot women. Whether it is Lisa played by Lisa Haydon or Saba, played by Aishwarya Rai Bachan.  However, the only girl who he truly falls in love with is Alizeh, played by Anushka Sharma. Unfortunately for him, she friend-zones him right in their first meet, after their first kiss. She decides this guy is not simply her type. But, she still likes him as platonic friend and enjoys his company. Her fondness for him only grows stronger, while Ayan falls hopelessly and madly ´head over heels´in love with Alizeh. Eventually, it´s heartbreak time for Ayan when Alizeh clears the misconception about her growing fondness and also about her ex-boyfriend, Ali, who miraculously pops into their lives the next day. Ali and Alizeh soon tie  the sacred knot, leaving Ranbir crying on the shoulders of Saba, a much older woman poetess played by Aishwarya Rai. All hell breaks loose when Ali and Alizeh get divorced, Ayan and Saba break up and when Alizeh is struck with life-threatening cancer.  While for Alizeh, she values and places their platonic lasting love far higher than any of her past romantic temporary loves, Ayan is still yearning and pining for ALL of Alizeh to himself.

The movie is actually pretty sad and intense in undertone but its treatment is extremely light and frivolous. All the characters, despite their personal emotional struggles are seen happily frolicking around town, sharing their woes with someone and laughing their troubles away. Be it the woes of coming from a broken family or a broken heart or a divorce or struck with cancer that is bound to kill you in a couple of months. Ranbir does decently well, especially after he transforms into the heart-broken one-sided lover. Anushka, while totally uninhibited in front of the camera, lacks that something in the acting department. Maybe its showing some subtlety, restraint and getting completely into the skin of the character. For me, Anushka Sharma, the actor overpowered Alizeh, the character. Honestly, I didn't much care for Aishwarya Rai in the movie. While she looked good, the fact is despite all the efforts, she still looked aged and jaded. She seemed to be cast in the character only due to her looks and nothing else. For me, the character of Saba fitted in naturally well with the real life persona of Sushmita Sen. An elegant, vivacious and mature woman who is unafraid of her sexuality and its basic instincts. Aishwarya Rai as Saba seemed fake or plastic on the whole.  Lisa Haydon was funny as the bird-brained Diva.  The songs fit into the story well and there´s a bit of everything in there for everyone. Whether it is a sad romantic song, to a happy celebration song to a disco number to a wedding number etc.

The song ´Cutie Pie´especially sums up the relationship between Ayan and Alizeh. They have a playful yet a genuine meaningful bond between them. Ayan is insanely attracted to all of Alizeh´s being. Alizeh is fiercely protective of Ayan and their relationship to the extent she doesn´t want to jinx it by taking it to the next level. Alizeh can be herself with Ayan and that´s sacred to her. Ayan hasn't met any woman quite like Alizeh. There are various ways one can dissect the character of Alizeh. At times, I have wondered if she´s playing mind games with Ayan. Knowing pretty well in the past, how quickly full-blown passionate love affairs can snuff out on its own flame, Alizeh may be purposely putting Ayan on his pins, always pining for her love, right till the end of time. It´s a clever option of ´having your cake and eating it too´. Except in this case, not literally eating it.

6. Dear Zindagi - When compared to Gauri Shinde´s debut ´English Vinglish´, this movie falls short in entertaining as well as engaging the audience. There is a certain eery similarity in the two lead characters, Shashi and Kaira in both the movies. Both Shashi and Kaira are struggling with their own incapabilities. For Shashi, it is the lack of knowledge of English while living in the US, which is a source of great disappointment and embarrassment for her as well as her family. And for Kaira, it is her incapability of holding on and sustaining intimate romantic relationships. Intimacy scares her and brings out all her insecurities to the forefront. And despite being a very talented and good looking photographer who has many a suitor chasing her, she is inadept at handling all this male interest and attention. Shashi finds her inspiration in Amitabh Bachan who plays a cameo in the movie, motivating her to come out of her comfort zone and be courageous. The same happens in Dear Zindagi where Jug, a life coach played by Shahrukh Khan, helps Kaira heal her wounds, slowly but surely. With gentle prodding, they both come to the root problem. Kaira´s fractured relationship with her mother from her childhood is the root cause for all her relationship problems in adulthood.

Alia Bhatt as Kaira is a revelation. The scene in which she breaks down in front of Jug is so natural that it is terrifying. It is easy to see that acting is in her genes and this is what she is born for. My favourite part of the movie was when Jug tells her to look at her parents with forgiving eyes. ´Do not forget that they are humans at the end of the day and they make mistakes just like the rest of us. ´, he tells Kaira.

7. Dangal -  Since this one released only a week back, I will not divulge much and play a spoilsport. Never a dull minute! The only drawback or letdown would be that it gets a bit too filmy or unreal in a couple of scenes. Like the scene before the final match, Mahavir Phoghat, gives his daughter a motivational speech telling her that the final match is not just a fight against the opponent but against the whole Indian patriarchal society.  Yeh toh too much hogaya na, Sirji!

This is one of Aamir Khan´s  finest and most natural performances ever. His madness, passion and intelligence simply shines through his magnetic eyes. As Mahavir Phogat, he gets completely involved in the character,both physically and emotionally. He plays the role of the ´Haanikaarak Bapu´ or Tiger Dad to perfection. Phogat tries to relive his lost glorious days as a wrestler and lost opportunity to win a gold medal for the country in his two daughters. While, some may argue that it is not correct for a parent to enforce their dreams onto their children, the fact is he never considered his daughters initially fit for the wrestling world. Until one day, the two girls punched the daylights out of the boys in their village! That is when he saw the spark and the natural flair the girls had for wrestling just like him. So, all he did was identify their strengths and natural flair early on in their childhood and be their guide. Haanikaarak may be, but with nobel intentions. The onscreen daughters are truly Dhaakad and extremely adorable despite their rugged professional calling. They spark up the screen with their million dollar watt smiles, touch your hearts with their innocence and inspire you with their grit. This is a must-watch movie that can be enjoyed with the whole family.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Suppandi just had a makeover!

Just when I was wondering when did Suppandi become hot red-haired full-blooded woman gyrating like a dream, I realized it was Vaani Kapoor! Good Heavens! 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Why I utterly, butterly deliciously love Modi!

For those who know me really well, please don´t choke on whatever you are eating or sipping right now. You heard that right, I utterly, butterly deliciousy love Modi...and I'll tell you why! Happy?

Especially dedicated to those close friends of mine who are literally his 'fan girls' and cannot understand why I am literally after his goat.  After our endless debates on the NDA´s political regime, Modi´s PM stint so far and the very recent note ban, let me clarify again I am not Ánti Modi´.  

Let me put it this way. I am still a skeptic...not yet a convert till I see tangible results and not just mere speeches and picture-perfect selfies. However, take heart in the fact that there are leaders within the BJP I like better than Modi such as Arun Shourie and Sushma Swaraj.

But, that is not to say that I don´t appreciate this whole ´Modi wave´and the reasons why he is where he is today. Whether one loves him or hates him, its hard to ignore him for sure. 

Appreciation should be given where it is due as should constructive criticism. So, let me quickly touch upon those aspects of Modi that I personally like and admire. 

1. Golden tongue:  There is little doubt in anyone´s mind about Modi´s oratory skills. He is exceptionally engaging in every possible - be it his open and large yet authoritative body language, slow and deliberate style of speech delivery with animated pauses at the right juncture and of course, the choicest of words making the already rich content of his speeches even more richer. It is pretty evident that this man was born to lead and take charge of people through his smooth, glib tongue. *Bows down (read prostrates) to the Master Persuader* 

2. Bachan Ke Baap: ´Rishtey mein toh hum tumhare baap lagte hain,.. naam hain Shahenshah. Aye!´. Remember this iconic dialogue from the 80´s movie,´Shahenshah´,  Well, that was the reel life Shahenshah played to perfection by the great actor Amitabh Bachan. More than 25 years later, we have a real life Shahenshah played by the great actor, Modi himself. I am thoroughly convinced that if Modi were not to have entered into politics, he would have made a very fine actor, giving all the Rajnikanths, Bachans, Khans, Kumars, Chopras, DeCaprios and Day-Lewis´ a run for their money. I wouldn´t even be surprised or bat an eyelid or two, hearing an announcements of the likes of ´And the Oscar for the best actor goes to ..........Narendra Damodar Modi´. No, like seriously! 

3. Katrina Kaif ke Kala Chasme ki Chutti:  Someone said ´Style is personality, not uniformity.´ And this couldn't be more truer than in Modi´s case. Like Sonia Gandhi who has an enviable sense of style and fashion right from the start as a newly wed Gandhi bahu till date as the ´Commander in chief´of INC, Modi´s political style statement is stuff that legends are made of. He is no doubt a trendsetter, spiraling the youngsters, more than half his age, into blindly copying him and literally wearing clothes that befit their grandfather´s age. And better still, begging for more fashion headways from the country´s most beloved Prime Minister himself!

Yup, you heard it right, the man shows how it is to be worn literally. This man´s style statement reeks of SIMPLICITY, SOPHISTICATION and CLASS, yes in bold capital letters. Be it his cool and comfortable khadi or linen kurtas paired with crisp Nehru jackets in toned, muted colours or Movado watches and Mont Blac pens. And who can forget those lean, mean Bvlagri shades which even inspired Katrina Kaif to gyrate to the ´Kala Chashma´ tune. 

4. Abhi toh yeh Jawaan hain:  If anyone can claim to own the phrase, ´Age is just a number', it is Modi. Let not his chronological age or white hair fool you, this man can put many a teenager to shame. Be it taking savvy selfies, or staying on top of the social media game what with his mind boggling number of followers and likes, chatting up with ease with young turks of the likes of Zuckerberg and jamming at rock concerts of Coldplay and joining in the fun by quoting a line or two of their songs. You have to literally give it up for the man for knowing how to stay young and sharp at the age of 65+ . Quite a tall order coming from the Indian subcontinent, where everyone feels old once they hit the 30´s or at the sign of the first hair of grey, whichever comes earlier. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Obama and Modi plan to unwind in their retirement days by hitting the roads in their Harley-Davidson bikes with their Bvlagri kala chashmas and leather jackets and all. Yeh banda toh bada bindaas hain! 

5. Moves like Jagger: Have you seen this man lead the International Yoga Day?  With moves like those and a flexible body like that, he can put all the Ramdevs, Bikrams and Oshos in the world to shame. 

6. The Time Bomb: This man is a 'Guru' in Time Management. With a meticulously planned day, week, month and year, and even more meticulous in sticking to the plan, it is no surprise why he has managed to garner so much trust and respect from the highly educated clan of the country and world over. If a man can master his mind and time, it is a matter of time when he will take charge of the derailed country and place it right back on the tracks to run nonstop ahead in time. Quite, the ticking bomb I say! 

7. Streetwise: He may not have a high IQ or even intelligent in the purest sense of the word. But what he lacks, he more than makes up for that with his street smartness. Being born with a silver spoon is not necessarily a good thing because you are cocooned to a larger reality of the world and its problems and situations. Coming from a cutting 'Chai-wala' background is not that bad after all. It teaches you a whole lot of life skills and practical solutions that make you resilient to surviving anywhere and anyhow. Like the hardy common cockroach! Yes, such is their resilience power that scientists wonder if even a massive nuclear war can wipe out these unstoppable pests...oops creatures. 

8. Political Viagra: Everyone knows that Modi is the classic workaholic, not wasting a single minute of his day or night. Recently, I read how he catches up on sleep on his international flights and doesn't waste time napping in the hotels. Managing time and scrimping on sleep is fine, but where on earth does he get all that energy to go 'on and on and on an on...´ for days, nights, months and years. Phew! And still manage to look all fresh and vibrant as ever.

9. India´s most eligible bachelor: Im sorry, Salman Khan, Ranbir Kapoor or Ranveer Singh! Its not any of you. No, not even poor you, Rahul Gandhi! Please move aside..all of yall'.  I have genuinely not seen the kind of love, awe, respect, admiration and that hero-worship, star-struck look in women's eyes including the married kind for any of the leading actors as much as I have seen for India´s current PM. Kuch kuch hota hain! 

10. Humour: And finally, my number one reason why I love Modiji is his humour. Boy oh boy, is it razor sharp or what! Humour is the ultimate power tool. Leaders who use humour as a weapon are the simply, the greatest and stay on top of the game. They literally can defuse any opposition, conflict situation, ease up any underlying tension and fear among people and literally show ´who's the boss´ by staying calm and composed and better still, funny even when the chips are down. Whether it is laughing at his own self-imposed ´note ban´recently or chuckling uncontrollably at the Opposition leaders remarks, this man knows that ´Laughter is more than mere medicine´. It is the ultimate leadership power tool. 

So, Ta-da! That's my list of ´My 10 most favourite things about Modi´. 

Do you agree? And What are your favourite things about Modi? I would love to know...

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Chalachitra Visheshangal

I have to thank a really sweet girlfriend of mine who shared the link of the Malayalam movie, "Bangalore Days". Yes, the very same one who actually recommended me to watch it in the first place. And ever since I've seen the movie, I have been recommending it to everyone I know, especially the non-Malayali ones. 

And I don't plan to stop there. So impressed was I with the current crop of immensely talented 
malayalam actors, directors, singers etc, that I am planning to stay abreast of the current movie scene in Kerala henceforth. It's been ages, seems like a past life, since I watched a Malayalam movie. The last movie I watched was the Mohanlal-Shobhana starrer 'Thenmavin Kombath' in the 90's.

I plan to catch up on some of the classics as well the latest ones. As far as I can remember, as young as a 3 yr old girl, Malayalam cinema has always been very naturalistic in element much like Hollywood. What you see is what you get. The locales, the characters, the storyline are very realistic and relatable. What is most striking to me is how far in depth they will go when etching different characters and exploring the complex layers in their relationships. It calls for a lot of observation, insight, reflection, intelligence and maturity from the writers, film-makers and the actors.

The period in which I watched a lot of Malayam movies were between the ages of 3-5 yrs during my time in the boarding school. Which is most of the movies made in the mid 80's. Every weekend, Saturday to be precise, the boarders would be treated to a highly anticipated Malayalam movie played on a VCR. I remember being immensely intrigued and involved in the plot and happenings of "Kathodu Kathoram", a Mammootty-Saritha movie. Quite an unusual choice for toddler/preschooler then. Maybe I could easily identify with the settings of the movie - the Christian atmosphere of church, priests, nuns and protagonists. I was surrounded by a similar setting while my time in the boarding school so the movie settings and it's characters seemed very real to me at that point of time. Also, I was rooting and praying for the main leads to be victorious in their love despite the many unfortunate circumstances and endless 'wolf in sheep's clothing' characters that they encountered. The movie is heavy and has a sad undertone while the protagonists remain cheerful and hopeful for a better tomorrow. I remember being their youngest cheerleader, hoping against hope for Mammootty and Saritha.  I was literally hoping and waiting to see their wedding at the climax. Do they or don't they? For that, you have to watch the movie. You would most probably catch me humming to the tunes of 'Devadhootar Padi' for days in that era of time. Another movie that I lapped up was the extremely fun and 'whodunit' genre Mohanlal-Mammootyy starrer 'No.20 Madras Mail'. It is superfun to watch the clash of the two titans and compare which of the superstars is better. Mammootty or Mohanlal. You also get to join in, on a Sherlock Holmes style prowl to solve a highly mysterious murder.  My favorites actors those days were the stylish Rahman and Nadia Moidu. 

Back to 'Bangalore Days', the movie was extremely relatable. The Malayalam newbie actors reminded me of my brothers, cousins and just simply us, the new generation. The way we dress, behave, think etc. It had me sold just on that point. As the characters' shape up and the plot unfolds, you'll meet many such Toms, Dicks and Harrys along the way. People you meet and deal with regularly in your daily life. The movie is as clean as it can get in content which is refreshing in today's times. 

All the actors fit their characters as perfectly as a 'hand in a glove'. They just blended seamlessly and effortlessly with their respective characters. Fahadh Fazil, has this natural aura of regalness coupled with the right dose of cockiness, that makes him perfect for the kind of husband he played in the movie. Nazriya Nazim aced her part in the 'fresh out of college and straight into the marriage frying pan' role. With that tender age on her side, she portrayed that innocence and naïveté that comes along with it beautifully. As her character builds up, so does her transformation into this strong, mature, dutiful and loving wife. Despite her age, she lended that maturity that comes with the transformation from a carefree college girl to a responsible 'lady of the home'. Nazriya definitely has the potential to be a reigning superstar if she plans to comeback to movies post marriage. Nithya Menon makes a guest appearance but honestly, I felt they could have casted someone more suitable for that brief role. Someone more edgier like Andrea Jeremiah perhaps! That would be one classic 'real life takes on reel life' situation. Superstar Mammootty's son Dulquer Salmaan simply reminded me of one of my twin brothers. The strong similarities didn't just end in looks but also in the body language, mannerisms and attitude. This guy plays the coolest character in the movie. Totally chilled out, enjoying life and doing his own damn thing without a care in the world for what it thinks. And it doesn't hurt, that he has a heart of gold and a funny bone or two as well. Nivin Pauly is decent in his part as the 'Mr:Goody two shoes' simpleton and village bumpkin who gets a culture shock in the big bad city of Bangalore. There are a couple of funny moments pertaining around his character, including some with his mother. Parvathy as RJ Sarah comes like a ray of sunshine. Flashing her million dollar smile and sporting a benevolent attitude, she captures yours and Dulquer's heart in particular with élan. 

While the actors have gotten more stylish with a swag and all, the style of film-making and story-telling still remain very true to it's Malayalam roots. Keeping it real, sweet and simple like it always has been. Naturally and beautifully lush in content, just like itself - the gorgeously green God's own country as they call it! 

It's a breeze following the movie when you have English subtitles. Try finding one and you sure aren't going to regret having done so. Enjoy!