Posted in Moanday Mornings

Girls love action, too.

Last evening, I was discussing movies with psycho and we went into various genres and he happened to mention this guy Jason Statham when we came to action and I blinked. So he told me how he was like the Rajinikanth(I wonder which one of the two would be more humbled) of the Hollywood dishum-dishum genre and didn’t even sound surprised when I looked him up and reported that I had never seen his face ever before. “Heh, yes, you’ll only see this guy in action flicks” he said. I explained that I do watch and even love action flicks, just not the ones that are action for the sake of action. But I’ve noticed this very common misconception – that women don’t like action flicks. Or would prefer  rom-com over action any day. I assure you, this is not true. But before I present my case, you should know that I am speaking  for the die-hard rom-com and chick-lit lovers, popularly known as “girls” or “chicks.”

Because I just watched Knight and Day and have a Tom Cruise crush all over again. Also, I’ve found my comfort movie for the next one year – a movie for all moods. See, it has all the right ingredients – action, romance and humour – that’s all I want from a movie, really. And life – a guy who knows how to live on the edge and have the ability to say ‘I’ve got this, June, I’ve got this’ in that supremely cool and confident fashion even when the bad guys have got him dangling upside down from the ceiling. Blush Blush…Goosebumps too.

Instead, I have always seemed to have had men-friends(I am engaged, i cant use terms such as boy friends for fear of being Judged!!) who – while they are supremely cool and confident and even say such things as ‘I’ve got this, Mads, I’ve got this’ – prove in the end that that they’ve got nothing. Anyway, the movie made me sighhhh and it’s been a while since I sighhhhed in that Oh-I-want-thaaaaat kind of way after watching a movie. So I decided to use the opportunity to set the story straight on women – sorry, chicks and action flicks.

Coming back to Knight and Day, I know a lot of women who would have very strong views on how this movie insults women’s intelligence. I mean, not only is the woman, June Something (played by Cameron Diaz) a prop in the movie, going around getting into trouble and acting helpless till our hero, Secret Agent Roy Miller literally dives into the scene from out of the blue to rescue her – she is also portrayed as someone who is incapable of following simple, straightforward instructions such as ‘DO NOT get into ANY vehicle because they will KILL you’, ‘STAY in the room, DON’T GO ANYWHERE’, ‘We’ll get up at the count of THREE’ etc.I know I should feel insulted but I lapped it up because I could totally relate. I would do exactly those things (the opposite) too if I found myself surrounded by tension and ambiguity. But see, there’s a simple logic to that. Ambiguity  implies action. Action implies testosterone and a general sense of manliness. Which in turn makes me weak in the knees and clouds my judgement.

Of course, to say that all women are like this would be wrong and unfair. I know a lot of women (like aforementioned Tom Boys) who’d rather fantasize about being the action hero than being rescued by one. But it’s just not my fantasy. I mean, I’ve just never had such ambitions. I’d rather be the girl-next-door who accidentally slips into the jaws of death just before being swooped up by hot, secret agent guy who keeps saying ‘I’ve got this.’ But even in my fantasies, I find it very hard to separate reality and refuse to jump off planes and get caught in gun fires (as all secret agents’ girls are expected to) and that’s where the fantasy usually ends.But this is the part that the movie tackles brilliantly.

See, our man keeps drugging her every time she panics and/or is expected to do dangerous stuff to escape from the bad guys. So she ends up sleeping through the scary bits and waking up in tropical islands to the view of secret agent coming out of the waters all bare-chested and muscular. Perfect.And in the end, the bad guys give her truth serum. So while our hero is wielding a gun, trying to keep away from harm’s way and asking her to ‘Go, hide behind the wall’, she’s busy saying ‘Oooh, Roy, this is so exciting. Life with you is sooo exciting!’ And when he appears a bit distracted because you know, he’s kind of preoccupied dodging death, she gets all sulky, pouts and goes ‘But you don’t seem happy to see me.’

Spot on. I wouldn’t even need a drug to do that.

This does not make me stupid though, it just means my brain is wired in such a way that when it spots an opportunity for romance, all other things get blurry. And action, the way we see it, induces romantic feelings (among other things). So if you’re going to be holding a gun and doing all those action hero gymnastics, you can’t blame me for taking a minute to drool and letting thoughts of romance get in the way of the task at hand. In fact, I don’t care who’s out to get that stupid battery you’re safeguarding, I’ll actually stomp my feet and demand that you kiss me right away. And I’ll judge you if the kiss doesn’t stack up to expectations.

So yes, assuming that girls like only candy floss or girls don’t like action is wrong. Most of us, like a bit of everything. Even the ones who say they don’t like action, like it in cutesy doses (as in this movie). Action, when it’s packaged the right way and in acceptable quantities is in fact most conducive for romance.

It’s like this – we feel about action the way men feel about lingerie – it’s great and puts us in the mood but at some point, it’s got to go off. So when a woman tells you she doesn’t mind action flicks, please don’t get excited and start boring her by listing out your favorite action scenes. That’s not how it works. How would you feel if she spoke of bras (not ones she was wearing or ever intended to wear) but instead droned on and on about the type and texture of the fabric?

So, if you’ve got the hots for a “chick,” screw the horror movie. Take her to an action-rom-com and when the time comes to brave the crowds queuing up for popcorn and she’s sulking about not being able to make it back to her seat in time after getting caramel popcorn, tell her in that cool and confident fashion – “I’ve got this.” 🙂


Posted in m@dness

Dam(n) 999- A review

Cast:Vinay Rai, Vimala Raman, Joshua Fredric Smith, Megha Burman, Linda Arsenio, Jaala Pickering, Ashish Vidyarthi, Rajit Kapoor, Jineet Rath

Oh dear, what an insult to the Mullaperiyar Dam issue! For weeks I have been trying to figure out why this film is hyped about and why on earth is it banned in TN?!?! Is the film an effective comment on an issue close to their hearts? Will it inform the world about the risk to the lives of all those living in areas surrounding Mullaperiyar? The questions are natural considering that the film’s title seems like an allusion to the Tamil Nadu government’s 999-year lease to operate the Mullaperiyar Dam located in Kerala. Now that TN has banned the film, director Sohan Roy is crying himself hoarse that it has nothing to do with Mullaperiyar. So why 999, Mr Roy? Because 09/09/2009 is a significant date in the story? Feels suspiciously like a publicity stunt deliberately designed to mislead.

But the possible deception is not the worst part of Dam 999. The worst part is that it’s a lousy film. The story set in Kerala is about a couple who’ve been kept apart by astrology. Vinay(Vinay Rai) and Meera(Vimala Raman) have been friends ever since his father Shankaran(Rajit Kapoor) took her into his home as a little girl when she lost her parents. The years pass, they fall in love. But dad – a keen practitioner of both Ayurveda and astrology – matches their horoscopes and arrives at the conclusion that they are incompatible. Vinay does not care, but Meera refuses to defy Shankaran. Years of separation and heartbreak follow, until Vinay returns home to get his diabetic son treated by Shankaran. Also in the picture is Vinay’s estranged wife Sandra, a foreign TV journalist who arrives in town to cover a controversial dam in the area; an unscrupulous local politician (Ashish Vidyarthi)who ignores warnings that the new dam he has built is in a precarious condition; and sundry other characters who are so irrelevant despite the screen time they get, that I don’t want to bother listing them.
The Vinay-Meera romance is the focal point of the film, but neither their love nor the satellite stories add up to much. What on earth is Dam 999 trying to say? Well, there is an attempt to use a dam-on-the-verge-of-bursting as a profound metaphor for the emotional pressure cooker that the lead couple have been living in. It’s all quite wonderfully silly!
The choice of language too is purposeless. Dam 999 is in English with a smattering of Malayalam spoken by a few very minor characters but not by the leads. There is also a Hindi version which I have not watched, but I can tell you that the dialogues in the English original are atrocious. English is certainly not the natural tongue for that milieu – in real life, I’d imagine characters like Vinay, Meera and Shankaran perhaps blending Malayalam and English in equal parts. But even if I were to believe that these people speak only the language of our colonisers with not a touch of Malayalam, I can assure you that no Malayali – in fact, no human being at all – would utter such stodgy, contrived, bookish lines. Instead of telling her husband she wants a kid, a woman says to him one day in bed: What would it feel like to have someone between us? For a moment I thought she was suggesting a threesome! Teehee!
The actors most pathetically served by the dialogue writer are Vimala Raman and Vinay Rai playing Dam 999’s star-crossed lovers. Both do their best with the laughable lines given to them, and deserve National Awards for having kept straight faces throughout. Rai is a very attractive-looking man who is clearly too good for this amateurish film. And Raman, talented though she may be, is amusingly miscast here. You see, Meera is supposed to be a Sardarni, but casting a classical Malayali beauty like Raman as a Punjabi is akin to getting Madhuri Dixit to play a Japanese woman in a film. The actress – a former Miss India Australia – also fails to entirely camouflage her marginally foreign accent. But that faux pas is not one-tenth as entertaining as watching National Award winner Rajit Kapoor tying himself in knots trying to look and sound Malayali. The one who comes off best in Dam 999 is the pretty American actress Linda Arsenio playing Vinay’s wife Sandra. She dashes around town issuing instructions to her TV crew and to local dam experts with an earnestness that belies this film’s stupidity.
At one point in Dam 999, while fobbing off Vinay’s renewed advances, Meera reminds him that every time they’ve tried to express their love for each other, something bad has happened. With all his pretensions to grandeur and philosophising, I wonder if the film maker realises that the regressive message emerging from his film seems to be that we humans must accept what is written in the stars, that those who dare to follow their dreams are doomed!
Films like Dam 999 are the reason why I respect David Dhawan, Rohit Shetty and Anees Bazmee: they don’t promise anything more than they intend to deliver! Misleading an audience is a crime! The Mullaperiyar Dam deserves a better envoy than this damned film!
P.S- I watched the  3D version n now  I’m not sure why, since the disaster sequences in the film are minimal and not particularly impressive and Warner Bros is distributing this film. What were they thinking when they signed up for it?!
Last word: Do not watch it for the dam! Watch it like a normal 2 star entertainer. No more no less..
Posted in close to heart

Old at heart….

The Protagonist in the movies, especially when there is a moment of realization is shown as the one person in a crowded street, facing a sea of humanity as they rush past her   (look i chose to make the protagonist a she coz I can write and relate to her well) in their black or grey clothes, while she looks perplexed/afraid/annoyed/whatever based on her histrionic abilities, while a bright coloured scarf unwinds itself from her neck. Cue the inspirational/sorrowful/suspense music.

Truly I am in such a close up and then tracking shot right now. Except, maybe if the production values were reversed, I am the one in the black dress looking perplexed, as people, family, friends, acquaintances rush past in their colorful chic clothes, creating this storm of chatter and yet not really calling out to me. I think it suits me just fine. I want to be left alone. I do not want to make meaningless conversation.

All I feel like doing is to just sit on my bed, watch marathon TV shows, drink endless cups of tea and occasionally check phone or facebook. Nothing interests me any longer. Nothing except music and maybe food to an extent. But that’s it. I find most people tiresome, boring. I can’t talk about my feelings or dreams because I fear they will not be understood.  The fear is from the fact that I did try talking to a very very close friend but he didnt get it. I can’t blame him coz he is not used to such complexities in life.

I am losing interest in my job. I do not want to be told sit here, walk there, eat now, pay now. Money I earn is not even a feel good factor these days. I think twice before putting up a blog post, worrying people will say I am selfish, I am a horrible person, how dare I write such things etc. Imagine that. I fear the potential words of strangers I probably will never meet. Every word I think of is analyzed carefully to ensure there won’t be anger as retaliation. I am a coward. I am terrified of confrontation. I hate it when I intently explain something that means a lot to me to a friend, and then get a pale washed out opinion in response. Why can’t people try harder? Here I am, telling you why something made me think out aloud, why that something made me care, and all you can say is oh okay? Oh okay? What sort of response is that? Why are people so lazy that they have stopped thinking? Or caring?

50 days before I turn 25 and a quarter life crisis already. Great.

Now does that mean I am getting Old??

Posted in Uncategorized

Salt n Pepper- A review

It has been about a day since my taste buds fell in love with Aasihiq Abu’s Salt ‘n Pepper and they are yet to get over it. You would see what I’m talking about, when I tell you that I drove around a drowsy city on a Sunday afternoon after the noon show, frantically hoping all the while to hit a food joint somewhere, where I could settle down in some corner, and eat, eat and just eat.

Kalidasan (Lal) is an archaeologist who is equally obsessed with food, and the smell and feel of the past. Maya (Swetha Menon) lives in another corner of the city, and has to put up with a job as a dubbing artiste that she enjoys, but which is often contrary to her beliefs. The two strike up a conversation that doesn’t go too well, after one of Maya’s calls to the local Dosa guy ends up on Kalidasan’s mobile. Hate slowly gives way to affection, but when they decide to finally meet.

However, Kalidasan on the spur of the moment sends over his nephew Manu (Asif Ali) instead. And, Meenakshi (Mythili), Maya’s roommate, volunteers to make an appearance on her behalf.

This is perhaps the first film that I have seen, where an entire audience smacks their lips in anticipation, barely two minutes into it. This is a dream-come-true film for any foodie out there, but even for the others there is no escape from the drool and dribble. Get ready for some real flooding in your mouths, as almost everyone in the film digs into food, and more food.

Having struck up an affinity over the telephone, Kalidasan proceeds to let Maya into the secrets of baking a Joan’s Rainbow Cake. Made by a French soldier’s wife as the Second World War raged on, and as she anxiously waited for her husband’s return home, the sumptuous cake with strawberry, pistachio and orange layers placed one over the other, is topped all over with delicious chocolate sauce. Kalidasan and Maya bake their own versions, and the world around them turns a tad sweeter.

Kalidasan almost undergoes a teleportation, courtesy the Unniappam that proclaims Babu’s (Baburaj) culinary skills. Almost everyone at the beauty parlor that Maya’s house owner (Kalpana) runs, bites into her juicy banana fries with a vengeance. Manu stares at Meenakshi round eyed, with the froth of a hot cappuccino plastered over his upper lip. Balakrishnan (Vijayaraghavan), an officer at an excavation site, explains the impact of a steaming hot tea, after a terribly drunken night. And even the lecherous technician who’s after Maya at work, chews into a drumstick in his Sambar as if there is no tomorrow.

As much as the film is about food that comes in all possible delectable forms, it’s about several other things as well. It’s about the lives of people who love to bite into something scrumptious and lose themselves in the glory of the moment. It’s about people unearthing themselves, and on their route to discovery coming to finally comprehend, what they really want from life.

There is so much to be said, of each of these adorable characters. Maya is a struggler striving to confront her own insecurities, and constantly challenging herself to prove that better days lie ahead. She gets the jitters on a driving test, and eventually does grab the driver’s license. She takes one hard look at herself in the mirror, and tries to come to terms with the fact that men aren’t in love with her any more. And it doesn’t help much, that they are lusting after her instead.

Kalidasan has been busy gorging on anything that he could lay his eyes on, and all on a sudden finds that the ground has turned slippery, as he starts yearning for companionship. He is a Self-doubting Thomas all right, and the salt on his beard isn’t reassuring to him either. There isn’t a flavor that escapes his savory tongue, and yet the tang end essence of human relations remain almost alien to him. Until he meets Maya.

I especially loved the wholehearted, keen servitude that characterizes Babu. Over the years, he has comfortably imposed wifely duties on himself, and is every bit what his employer wants him to be. Moopan (Kelu Moopan) is a silent spectator from another culture, who merely has a toothless grin as an answer to most questions. And who would forget K T Mirash (Ahmed Siddique), the irksome, on-your-back guy who eats into your ears with undecipherable, nonsensical advice, as much as you are trying to vigorously shake him off. Last but certainly not the least, there is the dysfunctional radio in Kalidasan’s retro Premier Padmini, that jumps into life each time the car runs into a ditch. It soon dies out again, but not before playing a song that adds a little bit to the story.

Performances are uniformly splendid, and Lal and Swetha Menon head the lot, with feats that are crisp and quite crunchy. Asif Ali and Mythili whip up some real fresh cream with thick sugar syrup. Baburaj has some real spicy fries in store, that are downright yummy. Ahmed Siddique pours over some steaming soup that’s sweet and sour. And the rest of them see to it that the garnishing is perfect.

Shyju Khalid, with his apron right on spot, has captured perfect frames that make Salt ‘n Pepper, a visual delicacy. Saajan wastes no time, mincing it all up and slices and chops with precision. Bijibal and the rock band Avial have mixed up mint and cinnamon with their musical scores, and the very special ‘Kanamullal Ulneerum’ pours honey over raisins.

Aashiq Abu and his team (that includes the fantastic writers Syam Pushkaran and Dileesh Nair) adhere to the golden rules of good cooking, and see to it that the griddle is all hot, before they gently spread out a light hearted Dosa story on it. The batter is rich and consistently textured with much mirth and laughter and it settles down on the tava, with a sizzling hum. They grease it a bit further with a dollop of emotional butter that melts all over it in no time. Just as the crust turns firm, they flip it over, and let it turn a golden brown on both sides. And once done, roll it over to a swank platter, and serve it piping hot.

Posted in Uncategorized

Chappa Kurish- A review

‘Chappa Kurish’ puts the scanner on the strangeness of reality in a busy city in Kerala, that reeks with life. The title means Heads or tails in local dialects here in Cochin. This wrenching and powerful testament on the politics of power that govern human lives, deals with issues that are real, contemporary and quite complex.

Arjun (Fahadh Fazil) is a dashing young businessman on his way to become a corporate magnate. Living in a swank apartment in Cochin, he likes to see the city move beneath his feet. He is engaged to be married to Ann (Roma), and has an affair on the sly with his secretary Sonia (Remya Nambeeshan). One of their clandestine encounters is recorded on Arjun’s mobile phone as he loves watching replays of his own acts and when Sonia threatens to wreck his marriage, he loses the phone in a scuffle. Where it does land, is before Ansari (Vineeth Sreenivasan), a cleaner boy at a local super market, who quickly grabs it and disappears into the crowd.

Arjun is the kind of man who believes that money has earned him everything possible in the world. His gait is self-assured, perhaps a bit too much at that, and he has selectively ousted lesser individuals from his purview. He is used to having people hop around his fingertips, and is a strategic planner who devises his booming career with as much craftiness and care as his life.

Ansari on the other hand is fast getting used to being jostled at, and has learned that it’s a man-eat-man world out there. He engages in a silent battle every day, with him on one side and the affluent world at the other, where he merely puts up a feeble guard and tries to meekly get away. He never gets to sit on a vacant sit on the bus, is shoved around by the bulky supervisor at the workplace, and gets insulted by all and sundry.

Money is thus the last thing on Anasri’s mind, when he hears Arjun at the other end imploring him to hand him back the phone. For the first time, perhaps in his long and miserable life, he listens to someone talk to him with respect. He is neither aware of the possibilities of a blackmail nor interested in striking up a profitable deal. He is merely fascinated by the voice of a human being, who for a change is eager to take his orders.

It’s a long winding chase that Arjun embarks on, since Ansari soon gets intoxicated by the  contentment that he derives from being in charge. The climatic showdown between the two is all the more vicious and bloody, as they literally tear themselves apart, before finally settling down and resignedly going their separate ways.

Thahir’s film has a deliberate thoughtfulness that is evident throughout. The pace is unhurried hence, and Arjun’s breakdown over the given time frame is complete. There are no jerks and jumps in the narrative, and the buildup is terrific. And yet it remains that perhaps ‘Chappa Kurish’ could have made a crisper film with a shorter running time.

There seem to be ideational similarities between Chappa Kurish and the Korean film Handphone (2009) directed by Kim Han-Min. But the director has pumped in some fresh blood into his characters, and planting them meticulously in the local milieu. Despite all the dark shades of life that the film basks itself in, I found the optimism in it absolutely endearing. People in it do not live in their mistakes for their entire lives; they courageously decide to move on.

The riveting performances of the three lead actors in the film see to it that the blows and bangs that it delivers are right on place. We have seen actors reinventing themselves, but Fahadh literally stuns us with a compelling feat that is easily one of the best leading performances that I have seen in recent times.

Vineeth is a perfect foil, and if you feel he lets himself be outshined by Fahadh, you should realize what an amazing actor he is. And of course, there is the gorgeous Remya for whom I hope there is no looking back hereafter. Three brilliant actors of the new generation, who are here to stay. This review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning two other names as well; the awesome background score composed by Rex Vijayan and Jomon T John, the man who has workded wonders with his camera. The songs and background scores are in sync with the movie and fits perfectly.

‘Chappa Kurish’ is a simple film that is deeply moving, persistent, and eye-opening that tells a story that is undeniably grim. It’s a brave and genuinely heartfelt directorial effort from a young director, who has clearly won the toss this time around.