Movies Picks for 2013

My poor blog has been neglected since I’ve joined the world of Tatler. And I always promised I would never forget my roots, i.e. this very portal. So my New Year resolution is to blog a lot more frequently. In the meantime, I’ve been swamped with messages regarding my movie picks for 2013. So I’ve decided to end the year with my hits for the year. It was an interesting year for Hindi cinema. The films that made waves were ones that were expected to fail and vice versa. There were sequels, lots of Khan action and a few surprises.

Special 26 – May not be as great as Neeraj Pandey’s A Wednesday but definitely a smart and quick watch

ABCD – Any Body Can Dance – Prabhudeva steals the show and the dance routines are incredible

Jolly LLB – Undoubtedly one of the most underrated films of the year, which tells the story of a small town lawyer and his most important case

Aashiqui 2 – The most profitable film of the year also wins my vote for album of the year with not a single English word used in any of the
songs – win!

Raanjhanaa – Must watch for Dhanush and his amazing dance in the title song!

Lootera – Look, I’m not a Ranveer Singh fan, but Vikramaditya Motwane never fails to impress with his unique storylines and direction 

Madras Café – Surprise, surprise, John Abraham can act. Great film which tells an interesting story

The Lunchbox – Why this Irrfan Khan film didn’t make the Oscar cut, I’ll never know but its simple plot of a housewife and food is beautifully executed 

Kai Po Che! – I am the first to admit the book was better but nevertheless, Kai Po Che deserves a mention

Vishwaroop – I was forced to watch this film (thanks, Dad) but walked away wowed by the quick and unexpected storyline. Kamal Hassan never fails to impress
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag – The story of a man who never won gold but also never gave up. Farhan Akhtar at his best

Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani – The feel good film of the year has a weak plot but with colours, great music, fun dances and a good-looking cast, you walk away feeling young and giddy

FYI, Dhoom 3 hasn’t been watched yet but I have a feeling, it won’t make the cut. Neither did Chennai Express or Krrish 3. Didn’t work for me.

See you at the movies next year! 

Happy Birthday Bollywood: Tum Jeeyo Hazaaron Saal!

I don’t care how much I’m mocked and made fun of, I love Bollywood. It’s been there for me as a best friend should. It’s been a support, it’s inspired, it’s made me laugh, cry and many days even question my sanity and love for it; however, it has been there for me like a rock. And when people tell me they don’t get my love it, I simply shrug my shoulders and flick my hair like a Bollywood heroine. Because that is how it is done.

Look, Bollywood, for the most part, is not intelligent cinema. But it is definitely not stupid cinema. There is a reason it’s been around for a century now. As an industry, we have them all – filmmakers who are smart, cheesy, wacky, senseless, eccentric and some that are simply savvy enough to make films that hit home every time. Bollywood in actuality is like chicken soup – good for your soul. I know for it’s probably more hip and cool to know every single Scorsese film and the various popular dialogues that are associated with those films, but I know none. However, I can recite dialogues from a number of Raj Kapoor films which are as deep and profound and entertaining as Scorseses’. I can’t sing to you the title song of the new James Bond film but I can definitely sing to you a number of Mother India songs by heart and explain the depth behind each line of the song.

And if you think the west is sitting and laughing at us, you couldn’t be any more wrong. They know we have a winner on our hands what with all the money we generate and with the growing popularity. But they subtly take inspiration from us and now, they even invest in our films happily. Hindi cinema has evolved quite beautifully over time. It has changed in style and taste. It’s more modern and relatable which makes it that much more interesting. From the times where sex was depicted in the form of flowers dancing in a field to now where bold sex scenes aren’t practically normal. Whether it’s the story lines, the fashion, the lyrics in songs and even the execution of the films, it has all changed rapidly.

Looking to the future, you can be sure that Bollywood will only grow to become bolder and more beautiful. And its popularity will grow, this is for sure. So here’s to an industry that is 100 but doesn’t seem to age and we know, will only get younger with time. In the meantime, thank you Bollywood, for amazing dialogues, for music so vast that we are baffled during weddings, for actors that allow us to drool, for fashion that adds to our wardrobes and for controversies that make us laugh.

And on a more personal note, thank you for being with me over the last 30 years. You’ve been a solid friend!

*On a side note, it's been ages since I've blogged courtesy of moving house! But promise to be more regular from here on! Lots to vent about. Keep it locked here!

High Off Hong Kong!

Welcome to Hong Kong— where time is a commodity and 24 hours fall far too short especially if you need to fit in work, sleep and play. Sometimes, you find yourself wishing for just one more hour. In fact, if you live in Hong Kong, you should by default be allocated 36 hours. It should be the law. That said, the mere fact that we find 24 hours short puts you in this amazing feel of euphoria. The speed, madness and frantic rush gives you the ultimate adrenaline high. It’s such a fabulous high, that you can’t imagine yourself without it once you’re addicted. Yes, it is a drug to certain degree.

It’s been seven months since I’ve been back and I don’t think I’ve had a dull moment. From getting lost almost 100 times – yes I get lost in Hong Kong, to crazy nights out, rekindling with my old friends whom I now realize, I missed so much to making such amazing new friends, celebrating my 30th and today, I’ll be getting my Sindhi on as I attend a Chetti Chand mela. It’s really no wonder I haven’t had a minute to blog in the last one month. But honestly, this is how life should be; crazy, fun, busy and filled with great memories.

So I celebrated my 30th birthday last weekend. Yes, 30 years of living on this planet. Where did time go? I remember all my milestone birthdays—18, 21, 25. All very big bashes. My birthday, for some odd reason, has always been a big deal in my family. Dad says, first child; Mom says the same; my sister and brother are not so big on theirs so they vicariously celebrate through me, I guess. And I of course, love it! My 30th was incredible fun! But that’s Hong Kong for you. A place where everyone gets together and celebrates for every reason…sometimes no reason too!

I’ve never been one to live a somber quiet life; this is a new realization, of course. I did it for close to a decade. My poor adrenaline; it accumulated and has now burst after many years of dormancy. And while I’ll complain that I’m so busy and incredibly overwhelmed, I love it. I love every minute of being here. I’m home. Now, I know, I am. And I have no intentions of leaving any time soon.

Here’s to me, my adrenaline rush and 30 more years of fobulousness!

Speak for Humanity: One Billion Rising - Dance-A-Thon!

Valentine's Day is a day of love, passion, compassion and kindness. While most people insist this means red roses, teddy bears and romantic dinners, in 2013 this is hardly a way to celebrate. Look, we live in a day and time where the world has become harder to live in. In fact, forget harder, it's become dangerous to live in this world. Over the last week, I've sat with myself and fought with myself over why the world has become this way. Wars, rape, murders; it doesn't seem to end. So really, where is the love? Why is it we can't find it in ourselves to display and show T.L.C. for one another? Why do we insist on hurting one another. No. I refuse to believe that this world is devoid of love. I will not live in a world where love doesn't exist. And thus, on February 14th, an international day of love, I will go out, a single woman in Hong Kong and dance my way into a new world.

Speak for Humanity, an organization dedicated to the betterment of the world, has joined with a global project known as The One Billion Rising Movement. As an organization, Speak for Humanity has a number of objectives that it supports. These include:
- Raising awareness about issues of global concern
- Serving as a platform for dialogue and engagement
- Serving as an interface to connect global actors striving for change

It's motto, "Injustice Anywhere is Injustice Everywhere," speaks for the extent to which the organization wishes to make a change. The Dance-a-thon will be one of several events which will serve as a launchpad for the organization.

The purpose of the Dance-a-thon is to bring about equality and safety to women all over the world through workshops and various methods including the February 14th, Dance-a-thon. More details are available on the Facebook page and website but this is your chance to change the face of how women in the world. As citizens of the modern world, it is our responsibility to decide how women are treated now and in the future.

Speak out and dance it out, this February 14th at Statue Square from 8 PM to 10 PM. Bring your friends, your valentine, your family, the women in your life.

This is Valentine's Day, make it one with a difference.

Republic Day in India: Just Another Holiday?

Yet another Republic Day dawns on India and the country will celebrate. Not because they happen to be the biggest democracy in the world but simply because they have a day off from work and school. The symbolism behind 26th January is simply to mark the arrival and acceptance of the Indian Constitution. But over the last few months, has the country really earned any real reasons to be proud of itself?

Throughout 2012, India has behaved like one of the most undemocratic countries in the world. And in all honesty, it hardly surprises me that the country is excited for Republic Day for a rather lazy reason. If we quickly review the year that was, you’ll realize that India is clearly falling in a backward spiral that bares an uncanny resemblance to a neighboring country.

India is a country that quickly forgot about three ministers who were caught watching ‘objective videos’ (read: porn) during an assembly session. While we laughed and outraged for a day, we let the government sweep such an issue under the carpet. We then allowed a state funeral for a dictator, Bal Thackeray. The city of Mumbai was shut down and immobilized for a day as people were forced to pay respects to a man who has ruled over a city via a non-functioning government for years. And then, when a young girl from democratic, free-speech allowed India decided to question the need for such an extravagant funeral and for the shut down of Mumbai, her Facebook post landed her in jail. If that wasn’t Taliban-like enough, the whole world watched (and is currently watching) how we as a country reacted to the brutal gang rape of young girl on a bus in Delhi. Onlookers were too afraid to get involved because of sheer fear of the local corrupt police. We saw government and religious leaders make obscure conservative comments, take no responsibility and attempted to play down the issue. And when the otherwise passé people of India stood up against such an atrocity, they were beaten by the police as they protested in and around Delhi.

The problem is that we are more concerned with stupid issues that do not really matter. We’re more worried about why Oprah Winfrey made India appear outdated in her documentary. Well, the fact of matter is if you behave in such a fashion, then what else do you expect? Instead of worrying about her eating her chapatti with two hands, we should really be worrying about how we ought to teach the men in India to keep both hands to themselves. In a secular country with such a huge democracy, India now needs to worry about the future of its state more than ever. The country is moving at a rapid pace in the wrong direction. If you will behave and govern the country in a Talebanesque fashion, what example are you setting for future generations and to the rest of the world?

It is during such times that one looks to the government for strict firm action and swift change in education, social reform and attitude. They call on generation X to take charge and run the country. But do they realize that they hold on to them by a tight leash? They tell them to speak their mind but teach them lessons of inequality and gender differences. And when something horrendous happens, they point fingers at the influx of western cultural influences, films and other idiotic reasons. Our educated ministers are nothing but mute goats while the uneducated run the country in a most undemocratic old fashioned manner – the only way they know best.

The West looks at India and laughs now. Filled with corruption, rapes, poverty and nonstop drama, this is the country that is regarded as a ‘future superpower?’ Democratic countries allow their people to grow; they teach them how to be better citizens.

Today, I’m sure I can speak collectively when I say that as Indians, we are incredibly proud of our heritage and our country. It’s our ministers we’ve been put down by repeatedly.

So on this day, what should the people of India hope for? Well, for starters India needs to wake up from the 1936 bubble they are currently engulfed in. Then, they need to stop it with the ‘chalta hai’ attitude. Change can only come when they group together and demand it. That is how a democracy works. Social reform is one that future generations will need to take on themselves. And above everything, they better hope all their Gods come together and protect from falling in a downward pit and pray for a brighter modern tomorrow.

Personally, I’m a diehard Indian. Amidst the failures of the country, I still see beauty and hope. And as usual, in true filmy fashion, here’s one that always resonates with me, “Koi bhi desh perfect nahi hota use perfect banana padta hai.”

Vande Mataram! 

Short and Quick Movie Review: Table No. 21

* Okay, the requests have been nonstop so I had to restart. Yes, movie reviews are back more so because my Dad was upset I stopped. But as usual, my reviews are short and quick. Who has time for long reviews anyway?
Table No. 21 follows Vivaan (Rajeev Khandelwal) and Siya (Tena Desai), a couple on a vacation which they win via a contest. As they are wined and dined on the island of Fiji, they become a part of a dangerous reality show game. Soon they realize that all is not what it seems. As their relationship and trust for one another is tested, they soon unravel the reason as to why they were called on as contestants in the first place.

While you initially gravitate towards the film because of its unusual plot, it soon becomes slightly cumbersome and repetitive. However, that said, the film touches on a number of themes which are prevalent to today’s times including modern day relationships, modern technology and even, ragging. What works for the film is the fact that it doesn’t rely on a tried and tested formula which most thrillers use. And while you are curious to understand why it is the couple is being tested, the climax comes as a huge shock but is also somewhat confusing too.

As a director, Aditya Datt sticks to a genre he knows well—one of complicated relationships and hidden pasts. He tackles the film and its plot well but more attention needed to be given to the idea of ragging especially since it seemed to be the moral of the story. The film thrives on its performances. Yet again the much underrated Rajeev Khandelwal comes out scoring top notch with Table No. 21. He proves time and time again that he can handle films and scripts that are different yet enticing. We really do need to see more of him. Paresh Rawal is an actor who can handle almost any film and thus, Table No. 21 is as easy as it gets for him. New girl Tena Desai creates quite an impact in her debut film. She surprises with her mature and subdued but effective performance.

Table No. 21 as a film does well to entertain and keep you glued to the screen. While there are a number of gaping holes, it comes at a time where brainless comedies are no longer working. Audiences are more accepting of intellectual films. Table No. 21 is just that—smart and witty. Definitely a must watch.

'The Obnoxious Case of the Incredible Indian Men'

I’m convinced that many Indian men in power, i.e. political and religious leaders, do not have a connection between their brain and mouth. They lack sensitivity and are clearly living in an 1823 bubble which is the only explainable reason for their ignorance and their backward mentality. How else would you explain the nonsense they have been uttering over the past few weeks regarding Delhi rape case which has left India and the international community shocked?

It all began with the President’s son who decided to call the women protesting ‘highly dented and painted’. For starters, that hardly makes sense. I’m assuming this figure of speech is normally used for vehicles. I think. But what exactly is a ‘dented’ and ‘painted’ woman? If I try to make sense of his statement, I’m gonna go with the fact that’s he is a male chauvinist who cannot fathom the fact that modern Indian women are no longer ready to stay repressed and thus, are coming out by the hundreds to stand up for their gender. He is yet one of those outdated men who believe that Indian women should shut up and stay at home. Too bad his sister couldn’t be one of those women; she happens to be a dancer.

Next up was Mr. Mohan Bhagwat, an RSS leader, who decided that in his demented jaded head that rapes only happen in India and not in Bharat. Are you confused yet? Don’t worry, I’m as muddled. What I think he was getting at is that ‘India’ refers to the more urban areas while ‘Bharat’ is the rural parts. This basically infers that rapes only happen in cities and not in villages or less developed areas. Errr, really? Here’s some trivia, just for Mr. Bhagwat. Seventy-five percent of rape cases have been reported from rural India.

Then there is the great Asaram Bapu—I had no clue who on earth he was until he stated that the victim was as guilty as the rapists. His theory was that the victim should have begged and not fought back. If she would have called them her ‘brothers’, they would have not raped her. Yes, when this poor was getting raped and stripped of her dignity, she should have done just this. Mind you this is coming from a man who also claims women should be restricted to home chores and is against the westernization of Indian society. The bigger question here is would he tell the ladies in his own family to fall at the feet of rapists and call them their brothers too?

And this is just two of many absurd theories, comments and statements that have come from a number of well-known leaders across many arenas in Indian political and religious groups. 

What is most irritating about the fact that these religious leaders and politicians are politicizing the issue with their backward statements, is that a bulk of India actually supports these people and thoughts. They do not feel the need for these men to apologize for their insensitivity. This theoretically means that this rigid mindset has already been set set in stone and so such beliefs will fall to their children and so on. Ultimately, this starts a domino effect that cannot be eradicated at all. Such outrageous and demeaning comments only further these old-fashioned and incorrect beliefs which do nothing but encourage more men to ill-treat women. Instead of preaching to the men to realize that women are their equals and cannot be looked down upon, they choose to further promote atrocities against women in India.

All of a sudden, the road to liberating women in India seems long and rocky filled with potholes in the form of men like the above, who simply cannot see past the old school depiction of Indian women. One can only hope the likes of Mata Lakshmi, Durga Maa and all the female goddesses up there, give strength to the women of India as they take on this battle to secure themselves and the future of Indian women.

Oh and before I end, there is also one more idiot—a minister from Chhatigarh, who claims that there is no ‘clear answer’ for the crimes against women and thus, it is because ‘the stars are not in position’. Right.


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