The Motorcycle Diaries (Diarios de motocicleta)

US Presidential hopefuls take RVs, Che went on a motorcycle. The point is you need to go on a road trip to become a successful leader of the people

Ee Adutha Kalathu (Recently)

Strange and familiar make an appearance together for the first time in Malayalam cinema and the pair is a hit

Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl

Four feisty ladies, upbeat music and a handsome conman. Anushka gets Ranveer. Bollywood gets Parineeti

Das Boot (The Boat)

Best WWII film ever, in fact the best war film ever. In true German fashion, restraint is applied by shooting the entire movie inside a U-boat

Neelathamara (Blue Lotus)

Blue lotus shares the same stature of blue moon in Malayalam, so do good remakes. This one bucks the trend.

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Aug 17, 2017

Noor : A movie review

Why am I quick to equate flakiness and self obsession with millennials?  The first few character building scenes of Noor showcase the text book enactment of these traits that I have come to associate with the people of this particular age group. Maybe my lack of understanding stems from me falling prey to the oft-quoted affliction of older people - the generation gap disease. I had a similar reaction recently to the whiny, flighty, empty shell of a movie that was headlined by Alia Bhatt and propped up Shah Rukh Khan - Dear Zindagi.

Noor is much better off when you come to its story's core, in the sense it tries to have some pith - a journalist trying to catch her big break, in search of 'the' big story that will set her apart from the pack. Adapted from Pakistani writer Saba Imtiaz's debut novel, 'Karachi You Are Killing Me' the content holds pace with the current social media and reporting trends. It correctly identifies, to post or not to post as the existential question which will make or break the day for the millennials.

Sonakshi Sinha playing Noor almost makes it to the big leagues with a lead on a socially relevant breaking news story, but let's stay clear of spoilers, shall we? Kanan Gill - a Bangalore-based standup comedian and YouTuber gets his Bollywood break in this film directed by Sunhil Sippy which is a nod to internet influencers and emergence of non-traditional news reporting.

One of the biggest advantages Sonakshi has going for her as an actor is that she can be your relate-able girl next door, the non-size zero type. The movie is built around Noor's soliloquies, self-reflective news presentations and blog posts - and she does do a lot of soul searching of every kind, enough to provide material for a film. But most of the time the enlightenment from these ruminations dawn too late upon Noor, after she had already screwed up the situation. Enter, the ever-present social media, the savior of our times with its all righting corrective-fluid facility of making things viral, equal and ultimately just. Noor is saved, movie gets to end with a happy face and I get to make a positive blog post.

Aug 11, 2017

Book Review: Born A Crime by Trevor Noah

Comedy Central must have really done its research and as a member of its audience I thank them for introducing us to Trevor Noah. To get a comedian all the way from South Africa, an unknown face to most of the American public, as the presenter of a headlining show is a gamble they took. I hope it will pan out for the both Noah and the network. With two years under his belt The Daily Show hosted by Trevor Noah is slowly inching up in the ratings chart and holding it steady after an initial slow year.

Reading his memoir, Born a Crime, I am all for team Noah and want him to be successful. The man has come a long way from his humble South African beginnings. The book was an eye-opening introduction to what is like to grow up straddled on the race fence in South Africa during apartheid (albeit it was in its final descent.)

As a child of a forbidden union, a secret child who needed to be kept invisible and then later on as a young man who defied categorization and racial profiles, Noah's a staggeringly mind-blowing journey. From the teen hustler churning out copied CDs in the slums of Soweto to the interesting new face chosen to replaced the legendary Jon Stewart, it almost seems like an impossible hop.

Noah dedicates his memoir to his mother, "For my mother. My first fan. Thank you for making me a man." An extraordinary woman in an extraordinary time, she chose to have Noah because she wanted a child, her child, who will have everything she didn't have. She did not have Noah to consummate her marriage. For there was none between her - a South African Xhosa woman and his Swiss-German father who was twenty years her senior. In a way, Trevor Noah and the way she brought him up was her raising the middle finger against apartheid and boy, I am sure he has made her proud!

Born a crime is a powerful account of coming of age in a historically important time and place, lived through and written by one of the astute commentators on society and culture of our times. Definitely worth a read.

Aug 8, 2017

Naam Shabana

Best thing about Naam Shabana is its perfect casting of Shabana. Bollywood is discovering the girl in their own backyard who had to travel south first to prove her talent. Manoj Bajpai is all gravitas, as we expect him to be. Akshay Kumar in his super man cameo is an elusive and slithery master spy and Prithviraj is exploring the negative role niche further in Bollywood (or digging himself into a deeper hole, you decide.) 

Women in combat sports is a happening theme Indian movies (Bollywood and regional) for the last few years, thanks to the medals Indian women have been bringing home from all the international sports meets. Naam Shabana takes Shabana's combat sports talents and shakes it up with a revenge drama stirs it into an international spy thriller. I am glad it is a girl bashing up the bad guys, but not really glad that often times our evasive male master spy has to extract her out in the end.

I watched this movie as a Tapasee Pannu vehicle, a Bollywood movie helmed by a female actor and didn't try to dissect the script or the direction (Shivam Nair.) Had to fast forward most of the last scenes and while doing so caught a glimpse of Anupam Kher in what looked like a baldness cure job gone bad - no idea what he was doing with computers, didn't look like he should be anywhere near one.

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