5 for Barca Win!

Barca are the champs and what a way to do it. Fantastic final!

My 5 reasons for supporting them in the final –

5. Destroying Man U

4. Eric Abidal

3. Soccer’s Holy Trinity – Iniesta, Messi & Xavi

2. Humility & Grace – Win or Loose

1. For a season of beautiful football without any ego (ok, giving a pass for the Madrid Semi)

 

Now for 2011-2012. Go Liverpool! Go Madrid!

Is it just an universal truth that earlier generations always seem to have matured and taken on responsibilities earlier than the current generation? Or an other way to ask is, lack of any tangibles or incentives means that you can push back the realization that you are indeed an adult and that some responsibilities you just cannot ignore!

Barca were probably slightly better out there today but what a exciting first half?! Looks like Jose found the combination out there even though Ozil was magical in the last 20. Would be interesting if Jose is thinking of bringing on Ozil as first change to preserve his legs.

Should Barca have had another penalty? I think Casillas had it covered.

O Fortuna!

Like most out there, I seek her too.

O Fortune,
like the moon
you are changeable,
always waxing
or waning;
detestable life
now difficult
and then easy
deceive a sharp mind;
poverty
power
it melts them like ice.

Fate—monstrous
and empty,
you whirling wheel,
stand malevolent,
vain health
always dissolves,
shadowed
and veiled
you plague me too;
now through trickery,
my bare back
I bring to your villainy.

Fate, in health
and in virtue,
is now against me,
affection
and defeat
always enslaved.
So at this hour
without delay
pluck the vibrating string;
since Fate
strikes down the strong,
everyone weep with me!

Andre Rieu | Zubin Mehta

2010 Fav Movies

Finally done with the quota of December films so here it goes – my favorite films of 2010:

  1. Winter’s Bone
  2. Exit through a gift shop
  3. Soul Kitchen
  4. Kings Speech
  5. 127 hrs

Still have to watch biutiful which I am told is Javier Bardem’s best performance to date. Am sure I missed a few foreign language films but to get my hands on those DVD’s will take a while.

There will be very few hardcore fans of Aaron Sorkin than me but I still contend that he missed the point on Social Network. It just does not match up either as a movie or as a story about facebook. Is it the case of these old journos/jurists riding the hype to get these awards to appeal to the younger generation?

And honestly except for a couple of scenes with Justin Timberlake, the screenplay was dull!

Looking ahead to 2010.

I have been reading Chris Guillebeau’s Art of Non-Conformity Blog for a while and he makes a very convincing case of annual reviews and planning ahead for the new year as a means to be aligned to what you want to achieve by the end of this year. Taking his advice so here it goes –

2009 was like beginning a new phase in my life. The phase that starts when you get to a certain age, when virility and stupidity both start to wane and a sense of mortality seeps in that makes you walk that path that is really meant for you. For me it kicked in after 24yrs and I think I was ready. There were challenging times and during this review, I give myself a 8 out of 10. Most of it is obviously because of being in the green monetarily but a little of it has to do with the fact that I think now I know what my weaknesses are.

Tactically, 2009 was a year of consolidation. I cleared most of my debt, made strides to invest a little for the future and enhanced my skillset for the near term demands that I will have. A few tangibles being –

  1. Going home to India and spending time with parents.
  2. Organized Finances – Mint
  3. Picking up hobbies and activities that allow me to relax than challenge – Painting, Biking, WordPress
  4. Pursuing courses that will benefit me short term – Berkeley
  5. Fitness – 3 Mile, 30 min limit (PROUD!!!)

Strategically, I don’t think I have done a lot in terms of setting course anywhere but a few tangibles here –

  1. Perfected a routine for the rigorous 9-5’s.
  2. Cut down the non-essentials (Food, Partying, Shopping for “stuff” etc)
  3. Identified strengths and weaknesses in communication – Linear vs. Fuzzy Communication
  4. Seriousness towards detail (Learnt the hard way!)

So what’s in store for 2010?

Let’s see, there is answering the 2 questions that I have always avoided and then there is the preparation to beat out the small delta’s. I think I will be happy if by Dec 2010,l I have made inroads into these two items.

So that 2 questions that I have always asked myself –

  1. What is it that I truly want to be doing as not only a way to live(monetarily) but also something in a more intrinsic way, if you know what I mean?!
  2. How do I get to where I am doing what I truly want to do?

For me, the two questions have been a struggle. I really don’t believe in destiny so much and I like to believe that I will make it so at this stage of my life, answering these questions are a priority and I am making them the top 2 for this year. I have reasoned my self to be a …
1. Successful consultant by getting an 2. MBA from a top tier school;
1. Start a firm of my own by 2. Getting out to a start-up, slogging and making enough cash and contacts to invest.
1. Get serious about community work and social activism by 2. Moving to India
… but none of the three really appeal to me at that intrinsic level.

Don’t get me wrong, MBA in 5years looks awesome to me to make serious money and never have to ask these questions again but not a single person I know who has an MBA or who is planning an MBA who has given me a good enough reason as to why they did or are planning to do it and I myself have not come-up with a reason either. MBA, in my opinion, is an outlet for most people who hate their jobs or are not talented enough to grow or gain more work in the job that they are in. I love my job and I think there is great progress to be made where I work so I just don’t see a reason.

Entrepreneurship sounds lofty and mesmerizing but coming from the background that I have, I think I still need more experience before I take a plunge. Don’t get me wrong, again, but  seriously my heart is set on this and I think this is the path for me but not yet, definitely not at 25! But this is a path that I plan to start working on in a small way here and I will articulate more ahead.

Community work… sounds morally superior but I think on its own, I don’t find it appealing. If I can combine entrepreneurship with independent community service, that’s bull’s-eye for me.

2010: Tactical Goals –

  1. Go home and see family more often – Planning 2 trips to India this year and one trip from parents so that’s awesome!
  2. Get into the best shape of my life – I have the workout routine all set, now it’s time to drop it from 180lbs to 160 lbs by May (!)
  3. Biking – Should be able to ride 20miles by Dec 2010 without having to break the back!
  4. Painting – Dispel the notion to myself, I have 2 left hands!!!
  5. Complete Berkeley Certification – 7 credits to go in 3 sems. Doable!
  6. Contribute more for PFC – I hated myself for dropping out entirely in the 2nd half of ’09.

I think the 6 above are a good measure for 2010. Quantifiable and accountable in all respects.

2010 Strategic –

1. Connect more – Family, Friends, Contacts.

In 2009, when doing the overall life pie-chart, I realized that I scored horribly on communication with family and especially with friends. Family I mean not the immediate Mom and Dad but Family, the whole 70mm. With friends, I think I really blew it. Considering the number of social channels, I just flaked out… need to do more.

2. Develop strategy around the 2 questions.

By March, I ideally want to have a tangible proof of concept on what it is that I really want in life, what I want to do and how can I combine what I want to do with how beneficial I can be to others. It is a choice that I make that what I do SHOULD be beneficial and there is no shame in that.

3. Start working on the strategy above using social media

Whatever it is I come-up with, I would ideally like some kind of a footprint developed either through a blog or a website so that I can get into the habit of working on it one day at a time.

The above 3 suffice for 2010.

So what lost out, or did not make the list –

  1. Traveling – It’s sad but I think it will have to take a back burner this year.
  2. Buying the “house” – I don’t see myself doing it anytime soon for the real fear of being struck in US with a 30yr mortgage! I would love to have the garden and the garage and the game room but… interesting things to do elsewhere.
  3. Yoga, Tai Chi, Golf – Maybe 10yrs later!
  4. Writing the blog – I think I will write a lot more this year, but maybe not so much as a blog on everything. Maybe something more tactical and on one area to match the goal in life?
  5. Marriage(!!!) – Will have to wait an year! Maybe more… but the noose dangles.

To wrap up, I think this year is going to be just great. Or maybe not. At times there is this knowing, when you are in the zone of whatever it is that you do, I have been feeling it for about 6 months now. Maybe that’s why I have been more at peace with myself, more introverted, more focused but there will be the time when you have to be on the offense and that’s when playing zone is just dumb! 2010 may just be that year!

Happy new year all!

In a new avatar!

Phew!!! Presenting the website in iteration 1 2!

Last couple of weekends, I have put a lot of time into tweaking templates.  I wanted something with good typography and while maintaining some form of a relaxed layout but apparently, simplicity is the most difficult to achieve. In a display of geek bravado, I now have mirrors and dev sites running locally on my system and it looks like I have to build something on my own or at least modify this template a lot, which means I finally have to learn wordpress.

It’s funny how simple wordpress really is to configure and considering the resources available, it feels so simple to just create anything with it but the more you dig deep, the complicated it is. I have delayed the urge to master WP functions but it looks inevitable now. I want a more lucid layout, more space, more typesetting and most importantly, something really simple. I was surprised how difficult it is.

Hope you like this layout and stay tuned for more tweaks. 🙂

Random Thoughts – Flying Home

Written at Heathrow on 07/14 at 3am PST.

1. If we were to be the 2nd largest race in the world, someone should have told our ancestors to imbibe common sense and basic courtesies.

2. All Indian wanna be mothers should be sent to a course where 3 things which start with Having Kids –
– Does not enable you to break all civic laws;
– It is basic civility to be able to control your kids irrespective of how uncomfortable the situations;
– Don’t have kids when you are barely an adult your self.

3. Some people really fear flying – its not something you read in books.

4. Football game crowds are an indication of people in general.

5. If there is one reason why I should feel blessed to live in California; esp SFO/Berekley – it should be the weather!!!

6. I should make it a point to accumulate more air miles in Virgin. It’s the only airline that suits the iphone/prius lifestyle.

7. It is pointless to advocate Berkeley liberalism to beautiful French women.

8. It is pointless to advocate anything Berkeley to ANYONE!

9. Bad hair and oily skins are 2 gifts some are born with. There is no Clinique out there – even in duty free.

10. Reading a little about everything without actually mastering one thing can only get you one drink.

11. Receding waist line is a milestone. It is worth celebrating.

12. There are friendly women out there… I just happen to have lived in the 2 countries that they are rare in.

13. I just ran into a starbucks that did not have COFFEE. I swear. There really is a reason to shout out – Are you kidding me?!?!?

14. There are very few problems in the world that don’t have a simple reason –
– Middle East anger – Its hot and there is precious little water.
– Least taxes paid by biggest corporates – Everyone dreams of being a millionaire.
– Kashmir – For 30yrs, Indian govt screwed with the locals of the valley.
– 11 Months of 40hr weeks and still in debt – The idiotic case of instant gratification.
– Paranoia of Communism – Stupidity. Really.
– Me complaining about constantly about the lack of common sense of Indians – Being messed up in that tennis changing room when I was 12.

15. There is only so much luck in that you have in your lifetime. Should’nt waste them.

16. Turing from a blackberry to the iphone ‘man’ feels great! The option to slide towards a power down feels so good.

17. Wisdom comes with great learning and a greater desire to learn.

18. The amount of patience is inversely proportional to the number of zeros in your bank.

19. Safety in numbers inhibits learning and experiencing.

20. Writing is therapeutic! Writing statements like the former are cliché’s. This is so much a circle!

Kafila – 2 Articles

Kafila.Org was referred by a self proclaimed “left of left” leaning friend of mine. Unfortunately, I could not attest to the views of the articles that he sent over but 2 articles that caught my eye –

1. A very detailed look on the BJP’s continual blunders pre-elections.

2. One of the very few moot points between Ritu & me – WHY Nepali’s hate Indians. Very through analysis on the WHY. And I agree with most.

Tour de France ~ 2009!

Alrite baby! Lance is BAYK on the BIKE! Tour de France starts in < 6hrs and me, am ready to cheer. To all the naysayers – THERE IS NO WINNER OR LOSER IN A BIKE RACE. There are the mortals, and then are the cyclists! For the next 20days, a few hun100,000 fans will line up the alps of france to cheer the 200 odd men who battle their demons to pedel beyond what man was ever supposed to. I can’t be there, this yr but I will cheer – cheer cos THE SPORT IS STILL ALIVE, and cos, IT IS A SPORT WORTH GETTING PAINED FOR!

To LANCE and the rest of the PELETON Viva la TOUR!

Blog layout debate

For a long time I had it in my mind that the fixed width layout was a complete waste of pixel space. Considering how large our screens have become/how many more pixels our screens can now accomodate, the center aligned blog layout was a bit stiffling. So, for more than a couple of yrs, I have been experimenting furiously to come up with a layout that not only fills up the space, but also gives me flexibility to add more fun stuff that I like to.

But it turns out, the days of flexible width sites are over and no one seems to be designing anymore full screen layouts except for custom apps. I feel cheated by not giving me enough space on a large screen to fill stuff instead forcing me to go scrolling but as IA points out, it seems that there are more advantages to having centered fixed width layouts. And these guys are serious. 

So now the work begins on a centered theme that I am going to write myself! 🙂

Photos

Worked on a few plugins and templates this weekend and now I have this Lightbox plugin to display images in this very template. I have a sample gallery setup that I will fill up extensively over the next few days.  Just click on the image and you can navigate the whole set using the arrow keys.

Hope you like it and please tell me if it is otherwise.

Dev.D – The Invisible Trip

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR AND PUBLISHED AT PASSIONFORCINEMA.COM

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Chanda: It’s good to talk when in Pain.

Dev: What do you know about pain?

The arrogance that is inclusive in all souls battered because of boredom and heightened state of desires manifests in this one form  – PAIN. And the idea that pain is only caused to a chosen few and that the person who understands other’s pain is but a jerk. And what  a jerk Dev is,,, throwing all that is dear to him, all that has loved him, possessed him, butchering all souls who cared to wiff at his pathetic existence to see the kid that wants to candy and is ready to move the mountains for it.

Dev’s story is what I took away from this film, yeah yeah the women, yeah their desires and their prerogatives but cliché’s be dammed, here is the story of the guy that resides in all, just that we all hide it under layers of cushy materialistic baubles that are made objective by societal morals! I love Dev, his existence, his way to sustenance, his eternal lust for love but not knowing what to do with it, his caricature reduced to pity in the eyes of the few that standby and take solace that they are not him and his failure to see till the very end that life has a twisted way to give you everything to just take it away and that’s when it dawns – yeah you don’t need all that.

It pours when it thunders and rains and emotions pour down in the film shrouded less in heady monologues than in soulful background ballads that shout out the emoticons in pentameters… ohh what a soul shouting “Dammed happiness” – but ye olde fool – you have no fucking clue what to do with happiness cos you are not wired for such feelings… all you know is to consume and get consumed,,, to lit the pyre and then jump in, to bend the stick and then collide with it. Why the thrice you ask, cos when you are hit thrice, the numbness just befriends you and that ends all the suffering and sweet pain becomes the elixir. Crap? Yeah… then go tripping!

I loved the film, the 2nd half especially… with no jokes, no intrepid references, no raunchy women… just rowdy existence waiting to self destruct. Dev has the ballz to do it, we don’t – atleast I didn’t. What you are is not when what you become or shine in the world… what you are is what you think and do in times of absolute charring of heart and mind… Dev was charred… once, by a help – by a worthless 2 piece penny that dreamt to snide the queen – he let go of his world then and it took him a long time to become sane again but how the trip is, how the life becomes when you kick away the love is painted in layers. And no one has done it so well in ages like Anurag did. Yes my friend, your genius has come to the forefront… savor it like no other day cos peace is within reach.

Anurag – all the times I heard you regale tales of fiction and passion alike, I stood calm and quiet to make sense. Your pain and angst that we thought we shared through this platform is but a tip of shadow to what I see through Dev and his destruction. Yes you are artist and your art of con is what it is all about (the films I mean) but this time I am drunk in your mastery of art and form that has paraded before my eyes in a giant wave that I never connected to with the voice and words. I am distraught at how easily you did this work in 7hrs (per vasan) and struggle that I will to comprehend the talent that it takes but for now, peace out dear friend. I think you have made the mark with this one and it will be alright from now. The haze will clear and you have’d overcome – drink it up one last time as like Dev did – “Bach gaye yeah zindagi mein ab”!

Aronofsky’s The Wrestler – Review

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR AND PUBLISHED AT PASSIONFORCINEMA.COM

wrestler1_400

Passion, Pain and Loneliness – that’s the order that a man is driven when dedicating a life to an Endeavour. A passion grips you when you are young, when you are able and when you can conquer the world. Pain hits you when you realize it’s all but a gift that is cruelly snatched away from you time and again when the body & mind start slipping. And loneliness hits you when you are left with bitterness about your life’s work… when the best that you have done is all but a piece of paper or a sporadic haze of recognition on someone’s face. It’s sad, but it’s the truth.

The Wrestler is a movie, true to its hype, comes along once in a while. It’s a movie that has a heart and a soul that shadows a pro-chap wrestler who is trying to regain his life by getting into the ring to do what he is born for – wrestle. Hell-O-Yeah, the body slams and the make believe top rope jumps, they are all there. What is also there in the film is what it takes to do those stunts. What is there is what really happens in the back-room of wrestling arenas. What is there is the pain, the agony that takes to perform what is commonly dismissed as a manufactured sport. What you see in the movie are the humans behind the devils in the spotlight.

Almost 3 yrs since The Fountain which for some was a let down, Darren comes back strong with this one. Some will walk out of this film touched by Mickey Rouke’s performance and for those who know him; you will be TOUCHED by the way he probably portrayed his own self on the screen. Randy “The RAM” Robinson was once a great wrestler, heck, he still is. Only difference is there is a life that he leads too and that ain’t all the velvety.

wrestler3_400235

Mickey Rourke’s acting is the one thing that for once surpasses even Aronofsky’s’ vision. It’s his film, it’s his body, and it’s his pain that carries the film to connecting with viewers at a very personal level. What Mickey has done to himself all through the film is nothing short of absolute brutality and submission to the character of a wrestler and for that, he is my choice for this years top honors. True, it may not be his true acting poweress that carries the film, but what he has achieved by putting the character first is nothing short of brilliant.

If the movie’s half job was achieved by Mickey, the other half was done by Darren’s amazing sense of locations and setting. It’s New Jersey, the hard New Jersey. Run down towns, cheap strip bars, low-level wrestling pits, community deli’s. A setting that fits the kind of profession that is chose by men living in such hard-places. I lived in a town like that once – gangs, discount stores and gambling dens – retrospectively, I began to think how I survived then. It’s tough in those places and movies in such setting’s really hit you – hit you hard.

Technically speaking, the film hides the effort in that department very effectively. I think I did not see even one stead shot and most of the fights had close-up’s that are technically so difficult to shoot. Clint Mansell does not disappoint especially during the Mickey’s constant battle to cheer himself up during tough times. There is this one scene where Mickey and Marisa Tomasi (Mickey’s stripper confidante) talk about golden 80’s and yucky 90’s. The close-up’s make all the difference.

All in all, The Wrestler is a movie that will over time attain the cult status like most fighter movies. But it’s a relief to see Aronofsky coming out of his comfort zone and making the most brutally honest film of the year; a year that had an overdose of extremely hyper-imaginative films. This will be loved over time till it attains its well deserved cult status. Hopefully it will be sooner. But a watch if you want to see the real and the fake side of rings in which battles however fake, still break the minds and the bodies of those who choose to duel and test their boundaries of their Passion, Pain and Loneliness.  

Trailer Link

Sasirekha Parinayam – Krishnavamsi is BACKK!

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR AND PUBLISHED AT PASSIONFORCINEMA.COM

Ok, I am a hard-core fan of Krishnavamsi. Ever since the day he made Ninne Pelladutha in ‘96 (That’s the time when I turned 12 & started understanding films and another of the first amazing film’s I remember released – Prema Desam) I have remained an ardent fan. I started taking a fancy ever since he made this movie about Seenu and Mahalakshmi. Ever since he decided to cast Tabu in saris and make her shout in her coarse voice – SEEENUUU… Dyamm, pure pure bliss. Even today his movies transport me to a dreamland and makes me remember all those times when I dreamt of walking on the streets of villages in Andhra and hoping to see beautiful girl in half sari calling out my name… burp, ok my real name is just not romantic, its will be like Brooke calling Ridge but … KV (alrite, not as great as K.Vishwath) is one director is I can go watch without absolutely caring who the actors or what the story is.

See, Krishnavamsi makes movies for people like me. He makes telugu films which are well, for telugu middle class every day audience. His music and treatment is very down to earth and ordinary which makes it a joy to sit and watch his story telling time after time. His movies have a magic to them. Think Murrari – Hum Aapke Hain Kuon of Telugu but so so different. So real, so absolutely dreamy. The guy speaks like some of his characters. He names them so matter of factly, no brainstorming needed, no angles… just, Radha Krishna, Sai… so easy.

sasirekha

So I saw this banner today of his latest in a desi restaurant and digging a little more on it made me sit up and actually decide to wait for the release and watch the film on the d-day. I just got sold with the name. Sasirekha – another classical name! The title comes from the theme of the eternal great Telugu film – Maya Bazar which deals with the very theme of the title – the marriage of Arjuna’s son Abhimanyu (ANR) to Sasirekha(Savitri – aaah!). Who can forget ANR rowing those paddles to that great Laahiri Laahiri laahiri Lo! So Tarun (hero of the new film) is no ANR and Genelia is no Savitri and this film is no Maya Bazar but somewhere in the posters and the promos and the stills, somewhere there is a hope that maybe, maybe after long long time, here could be a film that will reignite the magic of old days, of days when telugu movies used to be about illogical parallel comedy tracks and innocent love. Before factions and cellphones overtook simple brazen love stories where boy would invade girl’s exclusive celebrations (think Na Mogudu Rampyaare) and when running in paddy fields along coconut trees used to be so real cute (think Seetharamayya gari manavaralu!!!)

The rumors about the movie is that it a remake of Jab We Met and instead of saying there you go… I am, WAY TO GO! I was puzzled watching Jab We Met. Wrong casting, Illogical ending, bad bad actress! But see, the casting here makes total sense. Tarun has only one expression, of a drunk serious dude. Genelia has a natural flair to be a tomboy. The story is how a successful actress tries to find the balance in her life. And you have a film shot in Andhra and you have Krishna Vamsi peppering it with regular fare of dishum dishums and atta pinni jokes. What else do you need to spend 10 bucks and 3hrs?

On a serious note, Krishna Vamsi is one of the few telugu directors apart from Ramu and Trivikram Srinivas who have(had – you idiot ramu) the flair to capture the mood of the target audience when its needed. Going back to Ninne Pelladutha, 12yrs later, the movie is still a benchmark for quality family fare. Modern, hell Mazda Miata’s pop-up lights never looked so good again on the screen, sauve – Tabu in her classical shyness, and delicate – “kannuloni Roopameeee”, K.Vamsi has a knack of telling a story while leaving a feeling of having the audience want to dream about their fantasy’s, not not just for the front bencher’s. Ramu on the other had the craft and technique – Action Shoes and Purani Haveli roads and boom – the chase is on. Trivikram is younger and he has a tact to combine story telling with swift cuts of dexterity. All in all these guys made my world of watching Telugu films in the last 10yrs.

So the songs of Sasirekha Parinayam are out and on the ride to work today, a particular song “Bejawada” caught my fancy. Slick guitar strings with modern/classical tones mixed, the songs going places. The soundtrack is decent but I will leave it to Tushar, our PFC resident music critic to judge the virtues but all in all a great package.

Yes, I am selling it for Krishnavamsi but I will never forget his method of handling the concept of GOD appearing before a devote in Sri Anjeneyam. For a writer, its extremely tough to dissect that thinking onto a screen and Vamsi was just a genius for those few shots. So you never know, maybe he found some talent in Tarun. Maybe he finally channeled Genelia’s exuberance into a powerful performance. But this one for sure raises my hope for a fun watch!

Synecdoche, New York – Review

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR AND PUBLISHED AT PASSIONFORCINEMA.COM

People are boring. 

You, are boring. You get up with a foul smell in your mouth. You do stuff when people are not watching. You are confused in public and act macho in private. You are always thinking how it would be to be the guy with the girl. You sing the opera in the confines of your car. You steal glances at the price-tags and buy the unnecessary out-of-budget excess because you want to impress someone pretty who you in all mathematical probability will never ever see again.  That you escape from the ‘now’ and the ‘then’ conveniently to sing the chorus and and never the song is anything but the ultimate victory of banal surrealism that is as chronic as the ability of a man to “think” itself. Yet, inspite of all this knowing, the one constant feeling that a man cannot rid himself off , inspite of thinking this a hunderd or more times in a life time – why do I see what I see as me. Why is the “me” seeing this and not the ‘he/she’ beside me. How would it feel to see the world from his/her eyes? 

The daily clichés, the very food for everyday existence, are tailor made in this film to play out what it means to watch yourself being played by charecters who over a period of time become – well, you! The film is one huge drama, one huge set that Caden, played to expected perfection by Philip Seymour Hoffman, dreamt, designed and put life into where for years on end, the quest to perfect charecters takes place. There are roles assigned to each person who follow their “real” charecters and the director expects these charecters, over a period of time, behave the way their real conterparts behave so much so that after a while, the “charecters” do the thinking for the real people. Confusing? Aah well, you have to watch it to see what I mean. And un-surprisingly, there are very few reviews of this film for that very reason.

As expected from any Charlie Kauffman film, the movie has tons of layers, tons of subtle reflections on the parody of life. Whether you choose to see it or ignore it is totally upto you and very conveniently, it does not impact your take away from the film. In my book that is very compelling screen-writing and when it’s Kauffman, so you can’t expect anything less. But to be fair to the average viewer, the film is tad too long and very very boring in most parts. For an avid writer or a serious movie enthusist who wants to explore every frame, there is probebly more meat than the whole of the star-wars episodes but for most, one sitting is way too taxing.

Some of the most brilliant episodes in the film happen very early when the roles of Caden and his family are defined. The mediocre lives they lead is sketched in a way that is least pretentious as most movies about average families do. The bottomline when watching this is – the movie is Charlie’s most laborious work. It’s his offering to the art that he is born for. A screen-writing that comes along once in a while! It’s his temple to films like Roark’s for Human Spirit. It’s his ultimate creation of a soul to take form on a film screen. It’s his attempt to make bare the self of a human in the ways that can be put in terms of words and images. They say writers are some of the most complicated people in the world. They are because they have all these thoughts that go cross out each other all the time and to define all this in the form of a film take a lot of effort. This film is made from a litmus test of conflicting thoughts and the effort shows and speaks for itself.

Charlie Kauffman, all through the 130 mins, makes his charecters dance to what tunes play in his mind. The tornado of thoughts spiral out on to the huge set in front of him and permeates into Caden and into Hazel and into Sammy and into the guy who practices how to walk natuarally. The set-men do what they should, the light comes from where it should because inside Charlie’s mind, like my mind, like your mind my dear reader, the reality of things that we so comfortably choose to dismiss – exists, shrouded with peels of imaginative bliss that over time becomes the external us in the company of an audience that is inturn full of the same synthetic exterior that it becomes part of your, mine & charlie’s huge set – a play of constant moments of loudness that the rest of the silent actors take notice and then forget. Such is the vanity of the fame, fortune and social brightness – it all is but a moment of anticipated glory bred by years and years of longing.

Synecdoche, New York. Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. Watever! That’s my way for accounting for the title.

Note: The review was written in bits and drabs as the film is not easily digestable. So the commentry is random and incongruent mirroring the film.

Moral Absolutes for a Proportional Response…

WRITTEN ORIGINALLY FOR AND PUBLISHED AT PASSIONFORCINEMA.COM

Aaron Sorkin, disturbed over 9/11 wrote an episode at the start of the second season of West Wing called Isaac and Ishmael, which basically was a 101 on what terrorism is all about and how it came to permeate all through the free world. It was an instant critique of the thoughts as to the reason and rhyme that people in millions who watched in horror the events that shaped the world as we see it 7yrs. But before that matured writing, in season 1 came an episode called A Proportional Response where tempers running high after innocent lives were lost in the Middle East due to fidayeen attack, the American response was to blow the perpetrators “out of the face of the earth”. Or at least that was the initial thought process.

What has unfolded in Mumbai over the last 3 days is nothing short of War. 20 terrorists entering the country from abroad & paralyzing the entire nation cannot be described in any way short of calling it a full blown attack on the sovereignty of the people. And before we get into the oft apathy riddled pseudo high ground of being spirited in regaining the calm and bouncing back with passion into our daily life, before the op-ed’s hail the spirit of Mumbai and of the Indian’s, before the international community hails praise on the swift action to decode the elements responsible but do nothing with it, before the commentators reading this hail the below response and arcane and childish, I will try to play out a few scenes from West Wing and plead for a proportional response, and atleast with regards to now, consequences be dammed.

In a handful of scenes etched in mind through years of watching AV, one of the most thought provoking is when Martin Sheen as President Bartlett argues with General Fitzwallace, the fictional Joint Chief of US Armed Forces, about what constitutes a proportional response. When the chief lays down a plan to take out 2 under-construction building in a nuclear reactor in Syria and bridge in Gaza, to avenge the death of American Civilians, President Bartlett laughs them out of the room saying that the loss of life is minimal and it’s purely symbolic. Let’s contrast this with what India’s proportional response has been from Dec 2001 to Akshardham to Mumbai Train Blasts to Srinagar crisis to Bangalore blasts. A peace process, a hot line between under-secretaries, and international appeals with a list of 20 names that have been identified as high-value targets. This is not a proportional response, the same like what the joint chief proposed. In the intellectually overdosed cocktail served rooms of opinionists and strategic thinkers, a proportional response is coming out with high head in a conference and being lauded as the keepers of balance and peace so as to not derail the investments of short term by economic super-powers. Like in the West Wing, destroying buildings and bridges, hitting power plants and big industries means indirect contracts to the major oil, construction & security companies, for India it is primevally important a to be seen as a peace loving country with not even a shadow of vengefulness on its image.

The news has just come clean from the captured terrorist that the ops was planned in a neighboring nation, with the help of groups who openly and mockingly want us to see the reason, if we are not talking about carpet bombing, about cleansing a region that we know that is causing havoc, about showering the wrath of god’s force on elements that do not believe in humanity or the just world, then I don’t know what bigger motive we need anymore. The visuals being transmitted on the airways day in and day out speak of one story – a story that we have a nation have failed to stop the harboring of sympathetic feelings of a few of our own people to the ideologies of a few fanatics. But that leaves us no choices anymore to ignore what possible could have been a mistake that has ticked to being a time bomb.

Generalizing the middle class of India is easy. We are non-violent, oft principled who believe in punishing our brethren or the good boy to taming the bully or be opportunistic for benefit. In other words, we believe in Moral Absolutes when facing a lesser evil but chicken out when it comes to laying a siege for lives – even if it’s for the better.

The time now is to talk about healing, about calming the populace, about holding hands and remembering the brave and the dead and in praying for a just tomorrow. The time is now to make some sense of everything that is falling about. The time is now to talk about hope, hope for tomorrow to be better and bright. That hope we all will have to make it right and eliminate all hatred. But at this time lets not forget that all this is not going to be achieved by passive resistance. Yes, it worked of us 60yrs back, maybe we as a nation are failing to understand that the time and situation is different. Maybe the time has come for the disproportional response. Maybe the time is here and now to be stronger in our resolve and be ready to take a few more blows but weed out the menace once and for all.

Yes, this is rage. Yes, this is delusional and yes this is wishful thinking as it is so fanciful to be restrained and sound intelligent. But if this is not a call to action, then let us be ready to face these images and sounds over and over again.

My thanksgiving lunch today…

The craving for Andhra food has reached to a hitherto unexperienced extreme this week so I have rolled up my sleeves for this spread…

1) Aratikaya Kura

2) Chitapandu Pulihara

3) Chintapandu Rasam

:=)

Overdose of Tamrind I know but this is one ingredient that I have been missing and once I started cooking there was an overdose!

By the way, googling for any one of these recipe’s opened a whole new world of websites for me. The results are pretty fascinating!

Cutting Chai – A Friend’s Debut Film!

A dear friends debut film. He wrote and directed this. 15 days of sweat and blood for 3mins.

In his words – “Its my first effort and there are loads of mistakes and improvements to be done.
There are parts which are real tacky in between. But the entire point was to get to know the difficulties here. Well atleast i can now confidently say that i am more aware of them.
donot ask abt the plot and meaning the mov is supposed to convey, coz there is none.”

Slumdog Millionaire – Review

WRITTEN ORIGINALLY FOR AND POSTED AT PASSIONFORCINEMA.COM

To what lengths would you go to get an autograph from a superstar actor? What all would you be willing to jump to get close, very close – in you face close – to a star that has sold you dream after dream after dream all your life? Jump from a chopper! Fly your family from Bay Area to Chicago and pay tons of money? Swim through a sewer??? Nah… the mentioned tasks are too easy if the superstar in question is Amitabh Bachchan. And Ladies and gentleman, of all the directors who have in some form or the other paid tribute to the Greatest Star of the Millennium – let me declare – Danny Boyle topped all of them and beat them with none even close! And that’s just one shot in Slumdog Millionaire.

 

Danny Boyle’s (Train spotting) latest is a story around how a boy born in the slums of Bombay win’s his love riding on the back on his experiences from his growing-up days to answer 15 questions and convince an overworked cop that he is not cheating on the show. Nothing more to it! If you let go of the initial adrenaline of being the fortunate few to watch the film in one of the most liberal places in the world where for large diasporas, India signifies freedom and a place to find solace and happiness, then you will walk out feeling very full at the treat dished out to you.    

 

The movie is cinematic, right from the word go, and that in itself is an achievement worth bowing to for a director born in a different land. Mumbai does not exist in the film – it’s all Bombay. And a Bombay that you would have probably never seen before. The amazing interweave of colorful and lively people and the corresponding contrast of the slums makes you believe that that characters and as a natural extension, the people, are oblivious to the inhuman conditions that surround them. A mix and match of rugged goons, docile orphans, street smart kids and IndYEAH eyed foreign tourists makes Slumdog a movie full of surprises at every turn of the plot, a plot that covers every aspect of what this great city offers – religious wars, cosmetic ill-treatments, power-struggles, showmanship’s, dream-sellers, rag’s to riches poster boys, mafia don’s, super-model prostitutes, trigger-happy teens and fearless humanists. And to point out very strongly here – Boyle does not fall into the trap of Indian Sentimentality even though he does get into the mind of an avg Indian Raju very well.

 

There is just too much of good work in the movie to talk about film – AR Rahman’s back-ground score, just the way he makes you tap your feet to the unfolding visuals and not be conscious about it al all, Irrfan Khan with his characteristic non-acting acting expressions, Saurabh Shukla as the overweight short-circuited hawaldar, Mahesh Manjrekar as the Mumbai ka Don, Dev Patel as the Lover-boy and Anil Kapoor as the evil & condescending host of “Who want’s to be a Millionaire” – that they gel so well with the characters that the viewer is just mesmerized all through to notice flaws if any. And for an Indian watching a film based on India and be very comfortable is the highest grade you can give to any alien director. Especially the guts and the ease to show the bitter truths of real India without making a mockery. And especially to show how horrible Taj-Mahal actually looks in broad daylight and how horrendously dirty its surroundings are.

 

To review a movie like this, you need lofty words, words that justify the effort and the pains labored into making a film like this – touted as the costliest film made in India – a one man’s vision. The setting and the breaking-news type of screenplay make it a riveting watch with no moments to pause. Yes the lead pair looks a little dull in spots and the English dialogues don’t sound too plausible at some special weighted scenes but considering that the movie was primarily packages to cater to the west’s sensibilities of how to view India – Danny Boyle has set a bar that will be very difficult to beat. 

 

But if there is one winner to drive this movie to the very brink of Oscar’s – that’s BOMBAY! Slumdog is a movie where you will see the city like you have NEVER EVER seen before. It’s like prose from Lin Baba’s eyes from Shantaram turning to Poetry and Rangoli all at the same time. The sadness, the apathy of the residents, the acrimonious nature of the harsh truth’s of life, the relentless mockery of life towards the under-privileged and the gifted alike, just blown to insignificant particles before the power that the city is – and the way it was all captured by Anthony Dod through his camerawork or more rightly cameras work – is nothing short of pure chilling genius.  Bombay never looked so right before… all the reams of paper eulogizing it have found the right visuals now, hence allowed to settle in comfort of obscurity. Slumdog Millionaire will carry the baton for a significant time from now. 

Dreams: Script writing on the trip!

WRITTEN ORIGINALLY FOR AND PUBLISHED AT PASSIONFORCINEMA.COM

If you look back at cinema from its inception, one of the most workable justifications for playing out something totally outrageous and uncanny was to just make the protagonist DREAM. In the case of Indian Cinema, due to the lack of breath taking vista’s in the vicinity of the slums that our protagonist lives, and due to the inability of our maker’s to dream the least, the scenario plays out very well to justify dancing in the woods of Europe and we are left with staring at the botany showcase of the region’s flora. But to make a point – DREAM’s actually give the writers some of the most exciting prospects to put their creativity to best use and come-up with something that totally knock’s the wind out of the viewer. 

I was recently listening to Charlie Kauffman on National Public Radio (like All India Radio), who happens to be in my top three scriptwriter’s that I have read (the other’s being Aaron Sorkin & Woody Allen – in that order) where he takes on the subject of dreams and justifies/attributes it some of the most incredible idea’s of his over the past decade of his work. In Adaptation – the concept of writing a writer who is trying to write a script about a writer trying to write – so simple yet so tremendously difficult, Charlie says, is a product of his dreams. How otherwise would you think up of stuff? Ok, you go to bed with some half formed thoughts but deep in sub-conscious state, the churnings of the brain take those half-baked idea’s and take then through a ride – a ride that you so often wish you can capture, but you just can’t. Well, if your Charlie Kauffman maybe! 

One example I would like to give here – How many of you regular PFC author’s or to that matter cine-buff’s who after catching a late show the night before – wake up with a start the next day morning with some concrete idea on how to say what you feel on that white screen in front of you? You know what you are going to say because your sub-conscious mind has digested the cinema and it all becomes so clear to you as to what it all meant but try putting it down on a piece of paper and you hit a dead wall! 

Going back to Charlie, another example is Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind that he so brilliantly wrote. The basic premise there again is to successfully get rid of Clementine’s (Kate Winslet) thought’s, Joel (Jim Carrey – wasn’t he SUPERB!) has to erase everything belonging to her physically from his surroundings so that the deep-subconscious does not get triggered due to it’s association – again – the physician’s explained there was that dreams could still trigger deep emotional feelings that the normal conscious would not. 

So, what’s the deal with dreams? Why are they so vivid at times, yet so bizarre that on some days you just think about how could such a thing be? My friend tells me she has recurring dreams of her floating in the air like that shot from “The Big Lebowlski” where when he get’s knocked out, he just floats in the sunshine. The fact still remains that some of the most creative ideas that you would probably have had in one’s life have had their metamorphosis in one’s dreams as total abstractions that initially make one question the very plausibility of such incidents – but in the end, it makes, so much sense! Or at least for me it does. 

As someone who has been struggling for the past 6 month’s to complete my first story, there are day’s when I just fall asleep on the ride back from work where a part that I am struck unravels in front of my eyes, with such congruence to what I am thinking that it seems so right but when I try to interpret them, they just don’t make no sense. It’s like a constant battle between Angels and Demon’s in my head where the Angels rule the world of sleep and the demon’s, possibly influenced by everything materialistic, just overpower the Angles to rule what I write. Is it due to my incapability to draw what my brain could come-up with, or should these just be inner personal thoughts – like inner entertainment for those 6-8hrs of sleep. 

An argument that could be made here is story-telling is nothing but a much emancipated form of putting words to fantasies that one has to enchant the audience. Yes, great fantasies are amazing stories and I for one digg anything that is supremely fantasized but from Comic Books to absolute goblin thrillers, there is a certain baseline to imagination – they are made believable, like the way Roy Walker (Lee Pace) tells Alexandria (Catinca Untaru) the story of the 5 hero’s in “The Fall” to extract his own revenge on the Star who steals his Girl. Brilliant Visuals and absolute classic interweaving of time-period’s, but at some level believable. But take Donnie Darko, the man with the bunny costume, the jet engine crashing, the prophecy – that’s interpretation of dreams very well told.

 I am sure most of you who are reading this have had numerous dreams that just defied every societal demon in your head. Extreme danger, wild rides, grossly exaggerated behavior of one’s self – these are just a few scenarios’ in the whole web of imaginative trip that your mind takes you every time you close your eyes, which just leaves with this one belief that every individual only needs to posses the power to interpret one’s dreams – if one chooses to become a creative fiction writer – as only a sleeping mind can take you to places that waking life would just not comprehend.

Barack Obama is…

… finally making sense to me. This guy is an outsider, he does not belong to the large waist club that the American Senate is where dirty card table jokes carry political weight. This guy is a loner and a thinker and for once does not stumble from his chosen path of self-restraint against all mud being thrown at him.

The third debate was a great performance showing how he can laugh at things such as the Ayers controversy and deliver a blow to make it not stick – he is one cool guy.

I think I am in the blue column now, not because of his tax plans where I will probably end up paying more in the short run, but because at this juncture of economy now, this guy might probably feel a hint of guilt and try to listen to those European guys and reach out earlier than like McCain or Bush who hold onto everything American before the wold goes up in smoke.

What do u think?

Ronnie, the world champion

Watched Snooker after ages today after some discussion on club. So much has changed… Hendry looks more and more tired, Williams has put on too much weight, but Ronnie O Sullivan seems to have taken off to be the best player around.

Back to back world championships, top gear – not bad! And the highest number of 147’s beating Stephen.

147 break in the Championships…

On Top Gear…

Missing this sport to… on telly and actually.