Sunday, August 4, 2013

Youtube's Geek Week - Blockbuster Sunday

Overall rating of the initiative:  7/10 (taking into account videos that i didn't find so great)

I'd say a very good idea.. and very entertaining :D
Today Youtube's Geek Week has started. They have created a playlist of videos from the most popular "Geeky" youtube channels.

Check this out

I loved the following ones the most:
  1. Skyhook by FreddieW -
  2. We Meet Again by Above Average -
  3. The Fallen (feat. KickthePJ) -
There's also an interactive youtube video game in the list. Try it. It's interesting

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Zubeidaa [2001]

Rating: 7/10

I had put off watching this movie for years (Watched it in 2011) because i had an impression of it being an overdone drama. How wrong my impression was!!

And why did I decide to watch the movie at all? I loved the music, especially the songs "So Gaye hain", "Dheeme Dheeme", "Pyaara sa gaon", and "Mehndi hai rachnewali". I had some free time in my hands, and when I found the movie available on Youtube, I decided to watch it.. And my impressions were proved to be wrong.
'Zubeidaa' is a story based on the life of the writer's mother Zubeida Begum. This movie is the third installment of the trilogy of films, written by Mohammed, that were centralized around Indian Muslim women, and were directed by director Shyam Benegal.

Film critic and filmmaker Khalid Mohammed pays homage to his mother through the movie, as he never got to know his mother in real life. Khalid was a small boy when his mother died. When he grew up, he searched everywhere he could to find snapshots of his mother's life, and to quench his thirst to know more about her. In this movie, he recounts the trials he had to go through, and shares the story that emerged in front of him when he started digging.

The cast was superbly chosen. Manoj Bajpai displays his brilliant acting skills. Rekha and Karishma have also given great performances - Rekha as the gracious and majestic queen, and Karishma as the young, vivacious princess. A special mention of Lilette Dubey should also be made, as she did a fine piece of acting too.

Apart from being a true story, the movie shows how both types of marriages (a love marriage and an arranged marriage) can fail. Just like everything else under the sky, both kinds of marriages have their advantages and disadvantages. And here we get to see the disadvantages.

Having a very oppressive father and a weak mother character, Zubeida was forced into an arranged marriage. The marriage ends in a divorce just after her son Riyaz is born. Then she meets Maharaja Vijayendra Singh of Fatehpur and falls for him. The problem is that the Maharaja already has one wife, he his a hindu while Zubeida is a muslim, and she has to leave her son behind with her parents to join him as his second wife.

The story is handled well except for one detail. Riyaz follows through the story like a journalist would, not as a son would research his mother's life. His character is not given depth. He is only a prop.

 I loved the movie!! I loved the cast, the music, the sets, and the story (of course!). It's definitely worth a watch.
The Real Zubeida Begum

Monday, June 11, 2012

A.R. Rahman Concert in Nerul (26 May 2011)

Rating: 7/10

Featuring: A. R. Rahman, Mohit Chauhan, Javed Ali. Harshdeep Kaur, Natalie Luccio ( a Canadian-Italian singer), Asad Khan (sitar) ,Vijay Prakash, Suresh Peters (sang some tamil songs), Neeti Mohan, Shweta Pandit, Ann Marie (violin), and Ranjit Barot (drums)

Nerul was very crowded that day, as would be expected. And the Autowallahs were having a great time, charging almost triple the fare for a ride, due to the large influx of people coming to Nerul from all over Mumbai.

The security was good in handling such a large crowd, but the management was not as great as I would expect. What I did not like was that the chairs we had to sit on were plastic chairs. The ticket had a seat number printed on it, but their was no number on the seats. It would have been a lot better if the chairs were heavier, so people would not lift them from the back rows and take them to the front, because that led to people re-arranging the whole seating arrangement, and the ensuing fight between the management and those people. I am talking about the Rs. 900/- section, in case you came to the concert too and aren't able to relate with me. Anyway, once the concert started, we would forget this tiny little disappointment.

The concert was to start at 6:30 pm, but started at 7:00 pm. I guess I should be thankful that it was only half an hour late, yet I wasn't very happy because it meant 30 minutes less of precious time listening to A. R. Rahman. It ended at dot 9:57 pm, instead of the 10 pm end time - that meant 3 more minutes (1 song) less than what could have been.

The concert was kicked off by Ranjit Barot on the drums, and Ann Marie on the violin. They were awesome!
Then came Rahman, starting off with his song from Rockstar - "Naadaan Parindey". Mohit Chauhan joined into the song. The audience was entranced.

The visuals and the animation teams had worked pretty hard. I still have impressions embedded in my memory of the flying bird visual displayed on the screens during 'naadan parindey ghar aa jaa', and of the dancing girl visual displayed during 'manmohini morey'. The lighting effects and the visuals people deserve a round of applause. Their hard work showed.

All the performances were very good. But, the best part was the sufi section where Rahman and his co-artists sang 'Khwaja',  'Kunfaya', and snatches from 'Arziyaan'.
I love the 'Lukka Chhuppi' song, but it was a little weird watching Rahman sing the duet with an on-screen vision of Lata Mangeshkar. Maybe, Rahman wanted to get across the message that no one can replace Lata Mangeshkar's singing in that song.
I loved the violin performance of Ann Marie too. At one point of time, she even plucked the violin strings as if she was playing an iktara. That was a new style of violin playing for my ears, and I liked it. I really seem to love the violin music more and more each passing day.

Yet, my overall concert experience did not stand up to my expectations. Maybe, my expectation level was too high, having never been to a large-scale concert before. I guess I will never even know whether my level of expectations was valid because I have decided to attend only intimate concerts (like The Corrs' MTV concert), if I ever attend one again.

The concert lacked a proper introduction to all the artists.
Maybe, that's only my personal opinion because according to me, the only proper way artists should be introduced is the way they are introduced in The Corrs' Geneva concert.
I knew only a few of the performers and was left wondering who the others were because I could not even hear their names in the introduction that was made (an almost inaudible introduction from where I was). I have tried to list out all the artists in the troupe by searching through google and going through notices/blog posts announcing the concert. I might still have missed out listing some of them above.
Of course, there were the credits, that were shown in the middle of the concert, baffling the audience on whether the concert was already over before time. As the word is going around, some people actually left the concert when the credits were played, thinking the concert was over (Poor souls) !!

My word of advice: Try to go to Intimate concerts, or get the front most place to view a concert.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A.R. Rahman Concert Live!!!

I usually am not a great fan of concerts. There is too much crowd. I am not such a great fan of the artists to be ready to burn a huge hole in my pocket just for a few hours of entertainment. And I think it is more logical and fun to listen to the music at home than to go into the crowd where I might not even be able to hear/enjoy the music I came to listen.

I love listening to live performances. Oh yes, I do. I loved the evenings spent with my sis and friends listening to live jazz performances in Shisha Jazz Café, Pune. I am still drawn to live performances in cafés and restaurants.

But, concerts don't sound that much fun to me unless..

Yes, you read that right. There is an 'Unless' there...
There are certain circumstances in which I would be thrilled to go to a concert.

#1 of those circumstances would be if I ever got the chance to listen to The Corrs live - All four of them together.
 #2 If I got to listen to Sharon Corr

Those were the top 2 reasons for my going to a concert. But, there's another. To listen to someone whose music I totally love.
And the only Indian artiste I would ever be so thrilled to go to a concert of is A.R. Rahman.
His musical talent is so brilliant, he's like a Music God.

I have loved his music and been proud of him being part of the Lord Of The Rings theater production. That makes me so thrilled to think about this Saturday when I will listen to his Music Live.

This concert will be the first time he performs in Navi Mumbai. And I'm glad to be a part of it. \m/ \m/

A.R. Rahman - Official site

P.S. I couldn't really give a rating in this post. I haven't been to the concert yet :P

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tinkerbell [2008]

Rating: 4/10

Director: Bradley Raymond


J.M. Barrie (characters)
Jeffrey M. Howard (written by)
Bradley Raymond (story)

Being an animation/special effects movie enthusiast, one might think I'd give this movie a good rating. Well, surprise surprise, there is more to movies than just good animation. The animation quality of this movie is 'Disney quality', and that translates to 'very good!' (for me atleast). The fairies are very cute too. But, in my opinion, the good points of the movie end there - only the animation is good, and that too is not something unusual when compared to the animation in the rest of the Disney films.

The main character in the movie, Tinkerbell, is annoyingly interfering. I wouldn't like someone not letting me go without having a conversation, when all I want is to be alone for a while. Tinkerbell is a compulsive talker, always wanting to have a conversation with everyone she meets. After sometime, you really start getting irritated with her character.

I have not discussed this movie with a kid, but maybe kids won't mind watching this movie. They might even like it. But, my humble advice to big children like me is to stay away. 

One good point of the movie that I have not mentioned above is the moral of the story: 'Always, always stay true to yourself''. A good advice and one that, maybe, makes it ok to recommend a watch for the kids. I would just hope the kids don't learn, from Tinkerbell, how to irritate people.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Le Retour de Martin Guerre [1982]

Rating: 8/10

Director: Daniel Vigne

Writer: Jean-Claude Carrière,
           Janet Lewis (The novel "The Wife of Martin Guerre"),
           Daniel Vigne,
           Natalie Zemon Davis

Featuring: Gérard Depardieu, Nathalie Baye, Maurice Barrier, Roger Planchon

There is something about true stories that makes them alluring. Maybe, it’s because they seem closer to real-life than any other story imagined and written by a writer could ever seem.

Le Retour de Martin Guerre is a French movie based on a very interesting case of imposture.I truly enjoyed watching this movie. It made me go on a 'googling spree' to find more about the main characters and about the kind of society they lived in. The cinematography is beautiful, with the village life depicted as if paintings have come into life. You can actually see that the director strove to make his depiction of that time historically accurate. In consultation with social historian Natalie Zemon Davis (who has also written a book on this case), he has recreated this intriguing tale in a magnificent way. Of course you cannot expect each and every detail to be perfectly veritable as this is a story about an incident that occurred about 400 years ago, at a time when most people did not even know how to write. There are only two written accounts of the case from that time (Arrest Memorable by Judge Jean de Coras, and a witness' account by Guillaume Le Sueur), and those would also be a little biased to the writer's perspective.

The actors portray their characters very well. Although, most people outside France only noticed Gérard Depardieu's performance in the film, Nathalie Baye was equally good in her portrayal of Bertrande.

The basic plot is as follows: 8 years after disappearing from his village and abandoning his wife and child, Martin Guerre returns back and resumes life. But, when he lays a claim on the ancestral property, his uncle and some others start to question his real identity. The village is divided into two - those who believe the man is truly Martin Guerre, and those who believe he is an imposter. A legal case ensues.

Here is a story that could be used as an example for the psychology concept of 'change blindness'. Sometimes, we fail to notice things that are absolutely staring at us. I would suggest you go through the following links to learn more. This is pretty interesting (and shocking!) stuff.

Also, Memory is not a set of photographs saved in our brain. Infact, memory is quite unreliable. We might actually have memories of incidents that we feel happened, but that did not actually happen. Well, that is yet another topic in psychology categorized as 'False memories'. But, let us not digress from the topic now.

I would like to add a little trivia here. I came to know there's an American movie "Sommersby" that is a remake of this film. But, according to what I've heard, it's not as good as this movie. So, please prefer watching the French movie. It's beautiful.

================SPOILER ALERT====================
Continue only if you wish to get hints of the climax and ending :)

Bertrande is a mystery you would wish to solve. Her motives, and the extent of her deception are points to ponder upon. How much she knew about the imposture is not known. Historians are divided in their views on this. I feel Natalie Davis has a point and I agree with her views that Bertrande was a willing accomplice in the imposture. But, there are some historians who believe in a counter-view that Bertrande was truly decieved.

Well. I'd say 'Poor Bertrande! She must have felt trapped.'

There's this man who treats her well but is not her husband. Even if she wants to, she cannot live with him if others get to know he's not really Martin, because then they'll put her to trial for infidelity.

And then there's her real husband. A man who neglects her, is heartless and doesn’t care, but to whom she is bound to. He leaves her one fine day, to seemingly never return, with no communication. Then, claims she is the one to be blamed for everything, showing no pity even when she repeatedly begs for forgiveness. You can even catch a glimpse of Judge Jean’s displeasure in his account Arrest Memorable, over how pitiless this real Martin is toward his wife. You’d almost wish there was something like divorce in those times, so she could just get away from this heartless man. She should have separated from him earlier when she had the chance due to childless marriage.

Natalie's acting is so brilliant that you can feel Bertrande trembling (even though she's not visibly shaking) when the real Martin comes into court, because now she knows the man she loves will be put to death and she’ll have to live the rest of her life with this heartless man.

Davis’ book seems to have a more detailed account of what it was like living in that time. I am going to add this book to my list of ‘to-read’ books. Anyone wishes to gift me a copy?? :D

Sunday, December 25, 2011

My Christmas Playlist 2011

Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!!!  :)
Here's a list of songs I have been listening to this Christmas.

1. So this is Christmas (War is over) by The Corrs - This is originally a John Lennon song. But, i love The Corrs' rendition.
So this is Christmas (War is over)

2. O Holy Night - The Corrs - A popular Christmas carol rendered by The Corrs
O Holy Night

3. We wish you a Merry Christmas - Enya  - Another popular Christmas carol in Enya's unique style
We wish you a Merry Christmas

4. Beautiful Christmas music to dream and relax - This one is an instrumental i found on Youtube
Beautiful Christmas music to dream and relax

5. Christmas Day -Dido
Christmas Day

6. The magic of Christmas Day - Celine Dion
The magic of Christmas Day

7. Grown up Christmas list - Kelly Clarkson
Grown up Christmas list

8. Christmas Lights - Coldplay
Christmas Lights

9. Have yourself a merry little Christmas- Coldplay
Have yourself a merry little Christmas

10. I'll be home for Christmas - The Carpenters
I'll be home for Christmas

11. Shake Up Christmas- Train
Shake Up Christmas

12. I believe in Father Christmas (No Snow) -U2  - A cover version by U2 of the song by Greg Lake and Peter Sinfield
I believe in Father Christmas

13. Christmas Song - Coldplay

Christmas Song

14. White Christmas - Michael Bublé
White Christmas

15. All I want for Christmas is you - Mariah Carey
All I want for Christmas is you

16. All I want for Christmas is you - Michael Bublé - Cover version of Mariah's song in a softer tone. Mariah's  version is more upbeat.
All I want for Christmas is you

17. Feliz Navidad - Michael Bublé feat Thalia
Feliz Navidad

18. Fairytale of New York - The Pogues Feat. Kirsty MacColl
 Fairytale of New York

19.  A Spaceman came travelling - Chris De Burgh
 A Spaceman came travelling

20. Wonderful Christmas Time - Paul McCartney
Wonderful Christmas Time

21. Driving home for Christmas - Chris Rea
Driving home for Christmas

22. Merry Christmas Everybody - Slade
Merry Christmas Everybody

23. Stop the cavalry - Jona Lewie
Stop the cavalry

Have fun, enjoy the music and spread love all around
A very Merry Christmas once again dear friends :)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn [2011]

Director: Steven Spielberg        

Writers:   Hergé (comic book series "The Adventures of Tintin")
              Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright, & Joe Cornish (screenplay)

Featuring: Daniel Craig, Jamie Bell, Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis, Nick Frost

Our favourite comic book character Tintin now has a movie of his own, based on his adventures.
I watched Tintin (3D) in the theatre today. I know, I know. It's a bit late to watch the movie now (The movie got released on the 11th of November), but better late than never. I am glad i did manage to catch it before they took it off the screens.

The movie was totally amazing. The effects were magnificently rendered. The story was an exciting and gripping adventure where Tintin, Haddock, and Snowy are on a treasure hunt. All the characters, including Thompson and Thomson, were endearing.
There was not one second where you could say the movie was dull or boring. It is so well-done that I can actually guarantee you will love the movie (whether you are a Tintin fan or you just got introduced to him through this movie). I had taken along my cousin who normally steers clear of animation/special effects movies, and even she loved it! 

For a combination of Steven Speilberg as Director, and Speilberg & Peter Jackson as Producers- what else could you expect but a masterpiece.

Rating: 9/10

I just had one of the most traumatic experiences a blogger can have.. :(

I had been working on a blog entry for many days, and somehow managed to lose my entire post while undoing some changes with Ctrl+Z. I find this is a common problem that people here in blogosphere have. The entire hard work i put into my post has vanished into thin air with no trace to even suggest it was ever there.. :(

My advice to all fellow bloggers:
Please work offline on your content first. Then, paste it into your blog entry. Do not work directly on the blog drafts. I am never going to in the future either. :( :(

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Holiday [1938]

Director: George Cukor
Writer: Philip Barry (Play)
            Donald Ogden Stewart and Sidney Buchman (Screenplay)
Featuring: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Doris Nolan

As i had noted earlier, 'Guess who's coming to Dinner' made me want to watch all of Katharine Hepburn's movies. So, I started with one of her earlier films - "Holiday".
Although this movie was a flop when it was released, it got termed as a Classic later on. Maybe the time just wasn't right when the movie was released, because it didn't deserve a flop. As stated in Wikipedia, "Hepburn biographers have speculated that Johnny's plans to give up working did not appeal to the 'Great Depression' audiences who were struggling to find jobs".

Johnny (Cary Grant) is about to marry a girl Julia (Doris Nolan) when he learns that she is a millionaire's daughter. He feels a little uneasy with the wealth and the lifestyle but still sticks with his marriage plans as he believes he is in love with Julia.
He then meets Julia's father, her sister Linda, and her brother Ned. Linda is referred to as the black sheep of the family, and the long-suffering Ned, trapped in a world where he doesn't belong, is almost always drunk.

Linda (Katharine Hepburn), being the loyal and protective elder sister, wants to know everything about her sister's fiancé. Johnny, wanting to know more about his fiancé's family, finds Linda to be someone who shares his ideals and understands his dreams.
It turns out that Linda has more in common with Johnny than her sister does, and they instantly hit it off and become good friends.

Linda and Johnny are attracted to each other. But, both of them deny it, even to themselves, due to their loyalty to Julia.

The tables get turned when Julia doesn't seem to understand Johnny's plans for a "holiday" in the early years of his life, and pressurizes him to join the family business. Johnny, who doesn't care to have more money than is just enough for a living, starts to rebel. Now, Johnny has to decide whether his love for Julia is enough for him to desert his plans for the "holiday", and has to decide on which sister he wants to spend his life with.

Other characters of note were of Johnny's friends Professor Nick Potter (Edward Everett Horton) and Susan Potter (Jean Dixon), and of Linda's sympathetic brother Ned (Lew Ayres). The acrobatic sequence by Katharine and Cary, and the antics of Johnny's friends are very charming.

It was interesting to look at the lifestyle of the wealthy as depicted in the movie. Also, as I had just read in a book ("Everyday Living" to be precise - a must read!!) a description of how introductions are to be made, I found it delightful to note how the characters made the introductions in the good, old-fashioned way. Movie clips of these 'introduction' scenes should be shown to kids while teaching them good manners.

Rating: 7/10