Saturday, May 18, 2019

MovieNotes: Gully Boy

Title: Gully Boy (IMDB)
*ing: Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Sidhhant Chaturvedi, Kalki Koechlin
Directed By: Zoya Akhtar
Language: Bambaiya Hindi
Genre: Rap Music, Coming-of-age tale

First Indian movie focusing on the rap music genre.

Basic Premise
A college student, growing up in slums, trying to make a way into the street rapping community, while fighting his family expectations and social barriers.

Highlight of the movie - the freshness of the concept. Yes, rap and hip-hop based movies are common in Hollywood. But Gully Boy introduces the idea into Bollywood. We can expect a spate of movies exploring this genre now. Lets see what the copy-cats bring on board!

Ranveer Singh is simply a brilliant actor. He is so far removed from his super-charged & pumped up image that at times you feel that its a totally different actor onscreen. The supporting cast does a great job as well. 

There is a nod towards "Poverty tourism" as well. Westerners getting a guided tour inside the Dharavi slums and also into homes, which charge a certain fees to showcase their poverty. Just another example of people putting their entrepreneurial skills to use! Also showcased is "Jugaad" - the tourists are simply fascinated by our optimum utilization of space! 

The most poignant scene of the movie - where the lead sees his master's daughter upset, is ferrying her to the house, wants to console her, but doesn't say a word as the class barriers are just too high between them, even though the physical proximity is there for a considerable amount of time! And that triggers his poetry!

We often talk about changing times. For people of certain age upwards might remember an old Pepsi commercial. The kid would ask" Mera Number Kab Aaayega" and patiently waits. And now the slogan is a more brash and confident "Apna Time Aayega". As a Nobel Laureate once said, "the times, they are a changin",

Rating - 8/10. Fresh concept, brilliant acting!

Previously on MovieNotes: Avengers: Endgame

Friday, May 17, 2019

BookMarks #56: Stories From Tagore

Title: Stories From Tagore 
Author: Rabindranath Tagore 
Genre: Fiction 
Setting: Late 19th Century / early 20th Century Bengal 

The book is a collection of Short stories by Tagore. As per the introduction, it is intended to be used as an English Literature text book for young students. I particularly liked the point about learning language with a context. While the language maybe foreign, the stories are set in the local context, thus making them easier to comprehend. A simple basis for making learning easy and fun! 

Many of the short stories are old favorites (e.g. the Kabuliwalah), while others I made an acquaintance for the first time. The stories are simple, with not too many characters but they can be emotionally draining as well. There is a tinge of grief in nearly all of them. There are not many happy endings in them but almost all stories had a sense of loss! 

While the setting is in British Raj, nearly all characters are Indian. The reader rarely encounters a Britisher! 

Overall, a beautiful piece of work, and certainly a must-read for all Indian literature readers! 

Previously on BookMarks: Krishna’s Secret

Thursday, May 09, 2019

BookMarks #55: Krishna's Secret

Title: Krishna's Secret
Author: Devdutt Patnaik
Genre: Mythology
Published: 2017

Krishna's Secret is short text on the life and deeds and interpretation of Lord Krishna. More interesting than the text, however, it is the interpretation of depictions of Krishna over the centuries either in paintings or sculptures.

The text serves more as an appetizer than the main course. It is informative but more information is available about the events of the Mahabharat. 

Overall, a succinct read!

Previously on BookMarks: Mandate

Monday, May 06, 2019

BookMarks #54: Mandate

Title: Mandate: Will of the People
Author: Vir Sanghvi
Genre: Non-Fiction, History, Politics
Setting: Modern India from 1960s to 2015
Published: 2015

Its general elections time, so picked up this volume describing elections from 1971 till 2014. The book provides a short summary of each Lok Sabha tenure from the time Indira Gandhi became Prime Minister to Narendra Modi taking over. Each chapter covering one tenure. However, given the nature of Indian politics, it seems too small a volume. It presents many facts, and probably omits many more. 

Vir Sanghvi is an established journalist. So, would like to accept his version at its face value. The book makes clear his opinion of the people who have been at the helm of the affairs of this country. Certainly, facts are presented in a way the author thinks of the person. Sometimes the book seems rushed. After all, how do you fill in almost 5 decades in 100 odd pages. It is a difficult task.

Overall, an interesting read showing a glimpse of our modern political history. Biggest learning from the book, the Indian electorate always has a surprise in store for you! Let's see what the current elections hold for us!

Previously on BookMarks: A Gathering of Friends

Saturday, May 04, 2019

MovieNotes: Avengers: Endgame

Title: Avengers: Endgame (IMDB
*ing: Thanos, The Avengers, A Raccoon & many other superheroes big and small, but most importantly a Rat. 
Directed By: The Russo Brothers 
Language: English 
Genre: Fantasy, Comic Books, MCU 

The conclusion of a 22-movie saga spread over 11 years. And also resolving the cliff-hanging shocker of a dusty end to last year’s Infinity Wars.

Basic Premise 
The remaining world population adjusts to life after the Snap. While the bunch of heroes try to figure out a way to undo the effects of the Snap and defeat Thanos! 

[Spoilers Galore – Intended for those who have seen the movie. Its been a whole week since the movie released and as the $1.2 Bn opening weekend suggests, lots of folks have already seen it. And given the blog's limited readership, this post is unlikely to spoil it for anyone]

Firstly, the questions from Avengers: Infinity Wars. Let’s see whether I could figure out the answers 
  • Are they really dead? Seems so, rather in a suspended animation state. 
  • If they are not dead, where have they disappeared to? Not answered! 
  • How will they return? By using the infinity gauntlet. 
  • Is time travel involved? Yes, more on this later. 
  • Now that he has achieved his mission of “removing” half of the universe’s population, what does Thanos do next? Destroys the stones, tends to his garden. And is killed off in his very first scene. 
  • Does he sit on his throne, wait for the population to grow back to a certain level and snap again? No. 
  • Does he use the soul stone to resurrect his loved one? Resurrection is not possible! 
  • Does the Snap destroy all living creatures? Yes, half the living creatures disappear. 
  • The missing ones – Where were Hawkeye, Antman, Wasp, Valkyrie, Mordo, Hela, the Ravagers? Did they survive the carnage? Will they have a role in the next installment? 
    • Hawkeye – At his home with family. Yes. Yes. 
    • Antman – In the quantum realm. Yes, Yes. 
    • Wasp – Sending Antman into the quantum realm. No. Yes 
    • Valkyrie – No clue. Yes. Yes 
    • Mordo – No Clue. No clue. No 
    • Hela – Seems to have died during the events of Ragnarok.  
    • The Ravagers – No idea. No. Yes 
  • Why did Dr. Strange not use his power? That was the only way of stopping Thanos! At least as we learn. 
  • Why can’t Dr. Bruce Banner change into Hulk? Probably shock. 
  • Is it a new trick from the master of trickery, Loki himself? No. 
  • Where did the fighting rhinos of Wakanda disappear? No idea 
  • And could they not have closed the gap in the dome after a while? No idea. 
Well some answered, many remain unanswered. And now for the highlights reel from a spectacle full of them.
  • It all began with a mouse. That’s how Disney went on to become the biggest entertainment empire of all time. Fittingly in their biggest creation – the resurrection of the Avengers began with a mouse! 
  • The movie was a fitting farewell to the original Avengers cast. Some sacrificed themselves, some retired, yet all managed to make peace with themselves their past. All this while, the movie also managed to compile a retrospective video of the greatest moments of the team. Though we might still see Thor and Hulk in the future, most of them have handed over their roles! They have passed on their batons! 
  • Finally, the Avengers Assembled – the greatest star-cast of all time – even bigger than Ellen’s famous selfie (incidentally taken by Bradley Cooper aka Rocket!) 
  • During Infinity Wars, the men had their ego battles sizing each other up, while the women show camaraderie from the word go. Here, they take it to a whole different level. The A-Force (comprising all the female superheroes) assembling and protecting Captain Marvel as she takes over the gauntlet. All except Black Widow - the original Marvel superheroine was missed there. 
  • Coming to the biggest problem of the entire spectacle - Time travel or rather time heists, as they are called. Travelling back and forth from the past while passing through the Quantum realm is an easy way to explain things if you ignore the complications it can generate. The movie makes fun of every time travel movie ever made. Yet, it creates its own time travelling loopholes. Like a character from killing off their past self in their present, Or someone choosing to stay back in time, somebody going into the future after they have already been killed! Let’s say it’s a discussion best not entered! [After all it is a comicbook storyline]
  • The movie is funny and serious and knows some self-deprecating humor. Also, it can shock you. Like killing off Thanos in the very first scene and realizing there is no remedy left to the situation. 
  • Special mentions
    • Thor adding weight to his role 
    • Captain America wielding Mjolnir after previously pretending to be unable to lift it! 
    • The Avengers Assemble battle-cry 
    • Captain fighting himself 
    • Professor Hulk 
    • The ultimate line - "I Am Inevitable"
More Questions 
  • So if you need currently inaccessible, trace its history, jump into the past, take it, use it in the present and then go back and restore it into its original timeline? This is just creating big trouble!
  • What exactly happened in Budapest? 
  • Does the Soul Stone consider self-sacrifice? 
  • What about Gamora? Died in previous movie. And is currently in the future where she is already dead? And does it leave a loophole to bring Black Widow back?
  • If you kill your past self, what happens to you? 
  • Also, what if you slip into a different era and live your life accordingly! 
  • Where do the unsnapped people reappear? 
  • How do people deal with half the populace reappearing after a gap of 5 years?
  • There is a New Asgard created on Earth – Is it a note to the world politicians about how they handle the global refugee crisis? 
What Next… 
  • After this hell of a ride, what next for the series? Pretty sure, they might not be able to pull off another saga like this one. Certainly, cross-references will continue. Some going on their own way, some combining, just like in different comic-books 
  • What I would definitely like to see – Luis explaining the events with Rocket and Drax in the audience, adding their comments!
Rating: 9/10. For a satisfying conclusion to a saga. One mark taken off because they used time travel as a plot device which just leaves plot holes! 

Previously on MovieNotes: Kissa Kursi Ka