Sunday, June 26, 2016

MovieNotes: Udta Punjab

Title: Udta Punjab (IMDB)
*ing: Diljit Dosanjh, Alia Bhatt, Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt
Language: Punjabi with bits of Hindi
Director: Abhishek Chaubey
Genre: Social Issues

With all the controversy before its release, the Censor Board itself did all the publicity for the movie. Censor Board wanted the movie to have 89 cuts, which the producers resisted. Matter goes to court and the movie is released. And then someone releases the Censor copy online. 

Basic Premise
Udta Punjab tells the story of 4 individuals - a migrant farm-worker, a rockstar, a police officer and a drugs rehabilitation doctor - whose lives get intertwined because of the prevailing drugs situation in the state of Punjab.

Highlights - A slick storyline with good all around acting and an authentic Punjabi setting.  Shahid Kapoor is good as Tommy Singh while Alia Bhatt does a great job as a migrant worker (though her attempt at Bihari accent is jarring).

The movie doesn't glorify drugs usage. It just shows how harmful the addiction can be for the individual as well as the family. And once someone is in the trap it is not an easy task to come out. 

The Punjabi music industry has contributed its share to propagating drug use. Tommy Singh's "Gabru" lifestyle is shown as having motivated his fans towards drugs use. But when the same Tommy Singh tries to give an anti-drugs message in his show, he is abused by his own fans and has to run for his life.

For a Punjabi, his truck is very important. Beat up the person, but don't touch his truck. That's one clear-cut message from the movie.

Funniest Scene - The discus thrower warming up before sending a drugs packet flying across the border from Pakistan to India.

Useless Factoid - the name " Mary Jane" is a euphemism for marijuana.

The depiction of drugs trafficking in Punjab and the politician-police-suppliers nexus has clearly rattled the CBFC chairman and his political masters. While certain other political parties are using the pre-release hoopla for their own gains. Making one believe that there must be some degree of truth in the story.

Rating - 8/10. Not for family viewing (after all every fourth word is an expletive) but does present a grim picture of a social problem.

Previously on MovieNotes - Te3n

Monday, June 13, 2016

MovieNotes: Te3n

Title: Te3n (IMDB)
*ing: Amitabh Bachchan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vidya Balan, Sabyasachi Chakrabarty
Language: Hindi
Director: Ribhu Dasgupta
Genre: Suspense Thriller

Basic Premise
A grandfather seeks justice and closure to the case of the kidnapping and death of his grand-daughter. Meanwhile eight years after the event, another similar kidnapping occurs.

The highlight of the movie as well as its lowlight is the multiple timelines being depicted. What seemingly appears as events happening in parallel actually occur in different timelines. And in this mix is added regular flashbacks to events eight years past. Drags down the movie a bit and makes the twist slightly predictable.

The title somehow doesn't make much sense, Who are the 3? The lead trio? And as Vidya Balan is marked as a "guest appearance", who is the the 3rd one? Wonder why Vidya Balan is cast as a "guest appearance" when she has quite a large share of screen time?

The real highlight of the movie  - The lead trio's superb acting. And also the good support cast making the movie feel real. 

The story is entirely based in Kolkata. One sees a fair bit of the city and not just its postcard shots (Durga Puja, Howrah Bridge etc).

Special mention - John Biswas's scooter which has a character of its own and plays a crucial role in resolving the mystery.

Rating - 8/10. Good story but slightly let down by the ending.

Previously on MovieNotes - Deadpool

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

LearnNBlog #7: Tax & Cess

Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.
- Benjamin Franklin

From 1st June, 2016, we the people of India have one more element added to our tax burden - the Krishi Kalyan Cess. This cess will be applicable on all cases where Service tax is paid and will be 0.5% over and above the earlier taxes (Service Tax and Swachh Bharat Cess).

So what's the difference between a Tax and a Cess?
As per Investopedia, taxes are generally an involuntary fee levied on individuals or corporations that is enforced by a government entity, whether local, regional or national in order to finance government activities. Taxes are direct, to be paid on the income, or indirect, to be paid for a goods or service received.

Cess is a an alternative term for tax. In most places tax and cess mean the same thing. However in some countries, there are some differences. In India, a cess is a tax collected for a specific purpose e.g. Education Cess, Swacch Bharat Cess etc. 

Whats in a name? Whether Tax or Cess, just another name for the government to take more of our hard-earned money.

Other Readings

Previously on LearnNBlog - American Handball