Thursday, December 24, 2015

Star Wars- The Force Awakens (2015) – Film Review.

Star Wars- The Force Awakens (2015) – Film Review.

Director:  J.J. Abrams   Stars: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Harrison Ford. 



The new Star Wars movie, the J.J.Abrams directed latest installment of the Star Wars franchise raised a lot of new hopes but ultimately failed to measure up to standards. Leastwise to my standards. I believe that the excessive hype pre-release raised up expectation to such a fever pitch that the resultant movie on screen turned out to be an anti-climatic finish. Anyway the duty of a good reviewer is take the good with the bad and thankfully in this instance its not all bad, but good in patches. The best scene of this movie comes a half an hour after the movie begins when Harrison Ford playing Han Solo enters with Chewbacca inside his old Correlian freighter The Millenium Falcon. Till then the movie is all yawn worthy and suddenly with Han Solo's entry the screenplay picks up or it seems so due to Harrison Fords imposing screen presence. And that shows up the biggest Achilles heel of this movie- casting disaster. Casting relatively unknown actors in important starring roles is a welcome step, but only if they have the acting chops to pull it off. In this case they dont. I am not sure why with such a big budget film they too the risk of it all imploding spectacularly with such a casting disaster and I can only think of two reasons- either there was a pressure on the producers to be politically correct by casting an african american and a woman as the main protagonists in complete antithesis of the usual Hollywood white anglosaxon male domination or they believed that with the power of the star wars franchise actors didnt matter and anybody, any  robot faced cipher could just coast along in a crucial part and people would still be cheering in the theatres with the memories of the original trilogies making them view everything in a nostalgic haze.

Anyway to get back to the story, the film opens with the exact same scene as the original star wars- an important secret, a secret vital to the success of the rebel alliance, is hidden inside a droid named BB-8 - a cute adaptation from the hit movie Wall-E (in tribute?) and the droid's owner is captured by the First Order, the evil successor of the old Sith Empire. The droid is rescued by a spare parts scavenger called Rey who then teams up with a reformed storm trooper called Fen, a character who channels his inner Chris Rock (and fails pathetically to) in an effort to play the comic side kick to Rey's warrior woman. Together they end up escaping in an old abandoned spaceship which turns out to be the iconic Millenium Falcon and in search of which Han solo soon turns up. From then on its a Harrison Ford show as he takes over the search for the missing Luke Skywalker the last of the Jedi who alone can defeat the evil First Order and its dark side adherents. The film ends on a poignant note, with Han Solo's death at his son Ben Solo's hand, for Ben solo is the new Sith apprentice to the Chairman of the First Order. And Luke Skywalker is discovered standing amidst the ruins of the deserted Jedi temple as the credits roll promising more films to come in the future.

Director Abrams does a fair job by not going overboard with special effects but keeping the CGI scenes at the same level of technicality as the original trilogy which somehow makes it all believable. And by giving the best lines of the movie to the old pair of Han Solo and Princess Leia he shows he knows the pulse of the audience and satisfies the fan boys. Now if only he had stuck his foot down with the studio and the casting director what seems to be a fair movie would have become a good movie. A good storyline, excellent special effects let down by bad acting is what we feel as we the movie ends.


Our verdict- just passable and worth a single watch. Or better wait for the DVD. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Crimson Peak- Film Review

Crimson Peak

[Directed by : Guillermo del Toro  Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain ]



Guillermo Del Toro along with Alfonso Cuaron and Roberto Rodriguez remains my favorite directors far more than crowd-pleaser like say a Christopher Nolan or a Steven Spielberg or even a Quentin Tarantino. I have made my view clear, more times than I can count on this blog, that I dislike too clever by half film making like Nolan does and just don't get the point of trying the audiences patience in the name of re-inventing genres. If you want to reinvent genres there is no better example than and you can quote me on this, the new Sherlock Holmes series directed by Guy Ritchie. For a guy who made something like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, to go onto make Sherlock Holmes is the definitive example of reinvention. Anyway tongue-in-cheek aside, Del Toro's latest Gothic thriller Crimson Peak sticks to all the tropes of a successful goth mystery and makes a eminently watchable movie. There are no surprises here, no multiple climaxes with multiple viewpoints,no characters spoofing off dark, angst-ridden dialogues, in fact there is nothing that is out of place in a clichéd goth movie and yet, and yet, the movie hits the sweet spot of a perfect goth-genre thriller. Much of the credit for this should go to the perfect casting - especially the hero, Tom Hiddleston, the actor last seen smiling sinisterly as Thor's brother Loki in the mindless froth that was Thor-2, a series killer of a movie if ever there was one. What a fine character actor like Tom Hiddleston was doing in such a movie like Thor makes the mind baffle, but maybe being in such a froth helps refine the acting chops I guess. In the way of, if I can be Loki for a couple of films, then the paycheck means I can act to my hearts content in better and more meaningful movies for the rest of my life.

Anyway to get back to the movie, crimson peak starts off as a conventional ghost film but set in 1887.  A young girl Edith Cushing, played later on by the fragile looking Mia Wasikowska, goes to her mothers funeral and later that night she gets a visit from the just buried mother. The revenant warns her to beware of crimson peak but does not offer any further detailed explanations before disappearing. Cue to twenty years or so later and the little girl is now all grown up and is a serious aspiring writer. On one of her numerous attempts to get the manuscript of, get this, ghost stories she has written published, she runs into an impoverished aristocrat from England, Sir Thomas Sharpe, who is on a funding raising tour of New York to finance his recent invention of an automatic clay mining engine. Naturally he charms the skirts of the heroine who despite the stern warnings of her father proceeds to fall head over heels in love with the dark brooding hero played by Tom Hiddleston who makes his noble poverty despite his baronetcy his major attracting point besides dancing the waltz like a pro. The fly in the ointment- the heroines father is soon dispatched off by a mysterious hand and the couple now united in matrimony fly back to the ancestral seat of the baronet, called naturally, wait for it, Crimson Peak.

Thrown in an old creaking mansion half exposed to the elements, a senile half crazy retainer of the family who seems to know a lot of buried secrets, an always snowing weather which sets the scene for premeditated crime and a brooding spinster sister of the hero, played with panache by Jessica Chastain, who show signs of too much possessiveness, read, psycho-level possessiveness and you have the perfect atmosphere for a kick ass gothic noir thriller. Not to mention, ghost after ghost after ghost who keep appearing to the heroine alone begging her to flee the mansion before she gets chopped up like them and you have the right build up to the climax. The last half is when it all comes together when the heroine investigates and finds out the gore filled past of her husband and the basement filled with the dead bodies of his previous wives. As she is about to become the latest occupant of the basement she is saved by her longtime beau and once rejected suitor who has expressly traveled down from America to expose the sisterinlaw as the murderess of her father and who in turn almost becomes the latest casualty.  The end is a bloody girl on girl action when the heroine Edith faces off against her sister in law Lucille Sharpe, for the right to sleep with her husband who happens, just happens, to come in the middle of the two ladies and gets conveniently killed.

Now it wouldn't be far for me to give any more spoilers away and I suggest you watch the movie when and if it releases in India or get your hands on a DVD if you happen to visit Ritchie Street, like I did. Happy watching.



Sunday, December 20, 2015

ஆம்லெட் எகாநோமி தியரி – என் இலங்கை பயண கட்டுரைகள்-1

ஆம்லெட் எகாநோமி தியரி – என் இலங்கை பயண கட்டுரைகள்-1



“என்னது ப்லிய்ட்டு கான்செல்லா????” என்று வாயை பொலந்ததொடு எதிரில் இருந்த தொசையை அப்படியெ தொடம வெச்சுட்டேன். என்னடா இது ஒரு பெரிய மேட்டர்ரான்னு நீங்க நெனைக்கறது தெரியுது- நான் தொசையை தொடாதது அதிசயம் அல்ல. எது அதிசயம் என்றால் என் எதிரில் அமர்ந்து இருந்த என் நண்பர்கள் எல்லாம் நான் தோசையை தொடாமல் வைத்து விட்டதை வாயை போலந்து பார்த்தது தான். அப்படி என்ன அந்த தோசையில் என்று நீங்கள் யோசிக்கறத்துக்கு முன்னாடியே சொல்லிடறேன் அது ஒரு சதா மசாலா தோசை தான். ஆனால் அந்த தோசைக்கு நான் பட்ட பாட்டிருக்கே – அஞ்சு நாளா தோச தோசன்னு ஆயிரம் கிலோமீட்டர் அலைஞ்சது - அதுதான்ங்க இங்க மேட்டரு.




இலங்கை என்னும் ஸ்ரீலங்காவுக்கு ஒரு வாரம் சுற்று பயணம் போன பொது நிறைய பேறு நிறையவே அட்வைஸ் சொன்னாங்க. இலங்கையில இப்படி இருக்கும் அப்படி இருக்கும், இப்படி நடந்துக்கணும் அப்படி நடந்துக்கணும்னு. ஆனா எந்த எழவெடுத்த நாதாரி பயலும் கடைசி வரைக்கும் சொல்லவேயில்ல சாப்பாட்டுக்கு அங்க நீங்க டிங்கி தான்டா அடிக்கனுமுன்னு. தப்பா நெனக்காதீங்க என் கிட்டக்க காசு நிறையவே இருந்துச்சு – நம்ம ஊரு ரூபா ஒண்ணுக்கும் அவங்க ரூபா ரெண்டுன்ன தாராளமா செலவு பண்ணலாம்லா. ஆனா அந்த ஊர்ல எறங்குன முதல்லா சோறு தண்ணி கண்ணுலயே படலங்க. எந்த ஹோட்டல்லுக்கு போனாலும் ஆப்பம் இடியாப்பம்ன்னு இந்த ரெண்டு தான் குடுக்கறணுங்க திங்க – வேற எதுவும் தெரியல அவங்களுக்கு. மிஞ்சி போனா பரோட்டா போடறானுங்க – அதுவும் ஆறிபொய்யி.

அதுக்கும் தொட்டுக்க என்ன தெரியுமா? கருவாட்டுக் கொழம்பும் மீன் கொழம்பும். காலங்காத்தலே டிபன் சாப்பிட போன காரமா கருவாட்டுக் கொழம்பும் ஆப்பமுமா வெக்கறான்னுங்க எதுரல. நான் சாதரணமா  கருவாட்ட ஒரு பிடி பிடிக்கறவன் தான், மீன்னுணா எனக்கு உசுரு தான். ஆனா அதுக்குன்னு காலையில ஆறு மணிக்கு அறதூக்கத்துல இந்தா கருவாடுன்னா எப்பிடி?? சரி போனா போகுதுன்னு ஒரு நாள் மீன் கொழம்பும் ட்ரை பண்ணி பாப்போமேன்னு ஆர்டர் பண்ணா- ஒரு சட்டி நிறைய கொளம்ப கொடுத்தான். உள்ள தேடி தேடி பாக்கறேன் மீனே காணோம். எங்க பாஸ் பீசு காணோம்னு கேட்டா, நீங்க கொளம்ப தானே ஆர்டர் பண்ணீங்க, மீன் பீசு எக்ஸ்ட்ரா’ங்கரன். டேய். அந்த மீனா கண்ணுலயாச்சும் காட்டுங்கடா நான் சாப்படறது மீன கொழம்பு தானான்னு கான்பிறம் பண்ணிக்கறேன்ங்கற லெவெலுக்கு கொண்டாந்த்துட்டானுங்க.

இத்தனைக்கும் அந்த ஆப்பம் இடியாப்பாம் ஒன்னும் சீப்பாய் இல்ல. எந்த தட்டுக்கடைக்கு போனாலும் நம்ம ஊரு சரவணா பவன் ரேஞ்சுக்கு விலைய சொல்றான்னுங்க. ஒரு சாத “டிபன் பிளஸ் டி” சாப்பிட்டா ஆயிரம் ரூபாய்க்கு கொறைச்சல் இல்லாம பில்ல தீட்டுறாணுங்க. ஆனா தோசை இட்லி மட்டும் கெடைக்காது எங்கேயும். ஒரு நாள் நைட்டு நமக்கு தெரிஞ்ச ஒரே வேலை இல்லா பட்டதாறி கோபால்’லுக்கு போன் போட்டு “தம்பி நீ உடனேயே கோடீஸ்வரன் ஆகனுமா? டக்குனு ஒரு விசா வாங்கிட்டு இலங்கைக்கு வந்து ஒரு தோச கடைய போட்டு பாரு. அடுத்த சரவணா பவன் அண்ணாச்சி நீ தான்டா ராசா’ன்னு” ஐடியா வேறு கொடுத்தேன்.

இந்த வேலவாசி பகல் கொள்ளைய சமாளிக்க ஒரேயொரு வழி தான் தோனுச்சு. ஒர்ரு ஹோட்டல்ளையும் மெனு கார்டு ப்ளீஸ்னா நம்மளை அண்ணாந்து புதுசா என்னத்த கேக்கராணுங்க’ன்னு பாக்கறப்போ ஒரு ஐடியா தோணிச்சு - ஆம்லேட் வெலைய முதல்ல கேப்போம் அப்புறம் அதா வெச்சு எக்குதப்பா நம்மாளே டெசைய்டு பண்ணுவோம்’ன்னு. ஏன்னா இத்தனுண்டு சிங்கள் அம்லேட் கூட மூண்ணூறு ரூபாய்ன்னு ஹார்ட் அட்டாக் குடுகக்றணுங்க. அதான் ஆம்லேட் வேலைய வெச்சு ஹோட்டலுக்கு உள்ள போலாமா வேணாமான்னு முடிவெடுக்கறதுன்னு ஒரு ப்ரில்லியன்ட் ஐடியா’வ எங்க அண்ணன் ஜோதிவேல் அவுக கண்டுபிடிச்சாங்க. அதுவும் நல்லாவே வொர்க்அவுட் ஆச்சு ட்ரிப்பு முழுக்க. முட்டையயே பாக்கா’த ஊருடா அது’ன்னு எந்த பிளாகர் கம்நாட்டியும் அவன் ப்லாக்’ல இதுவரைக்கும் எழுதவேயில்லங்கற மேட்டற நான் தாழ்மையோடு இங்க தெரிவிச்சுக்கறேன். ஆகமொத்தம் நம்ம “ஆம்லெட் எகாநோமி தியரிய” நான் ஐய்னா சபைக்கு அனுப்பலாம் இருக்கேன்.



சரி, நம்ம கைக்கு எட்டுன தோச வாய்க்கு எட்டாத மேட்டர்க்கு வருவோம். அண்ணா....அத்தா....இட்லி, தோசை, சோறு எங்க கெடக்கும்’ன்னு ஒரு வாரம் பூரா இலங்கை மொத்தம் அலஞ்சவனுக்கு கடைசி நாள் அன்னிக்கி காலைல்ல கொளோலம்போல்ல ஒரு ஹோட்டல்ல தோச, மசாலா தோச, பேப்பர் ரோஸ்ட்ன்னு பார்த்த உடனே “தாய் மண்ணே வணக்கம்’ன்னு” எ.ர்.ரஹ்மான் பீஜிம் எல்லாம் கேக்க நாக்கு எச்ச சுரக்க உட்காந்தவண்ட்ட எதிர்ல இருந்த நம்ம குழு தலைவர் (இது அணைத்து வயதினரும் படிக்கும் பதிவானதால் டிசண்டாகா சொல்லிக் கொள்கிறேன்) அண்ணன் ஜோதிவேல் அவர்கள் அப்போ பார்த்து “ஜீ, இன்னிக்கி நைட்டு நம்ம ரேடுர்ன் ப்ளய்யிட்டு கான்செல் ஆயிடுச்சு சென்னை வெள்ளத்தால. இன்னும் நாலு நாளைக்கு நாமா இங்க தான்’ன்னு” ஒரு போடு போட்டாரே பாருங்க. அப்புரம் தோச எறங்கும்மா உள்ள? 

இப்படி பட்ட சில/பல உள்குத்துகளை வாங்கி அதையும் தாண்டி நான் எப்பிடி நம் தாய் நாட்டுக்கு உயிரோட மீண்டு வந்தேன்’ங்கற மீதி மேட்டர்’ரா அடுத்த பதிவுல சொல்றேன். மீண்டும் வருக.





Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Hindi Film “Tamasha” - A Review

Hindi Film “Tamasha” - Review

[Movie Review - Tamasha starring Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Dir- Imtiaz Ali]



Why do we travel?  Seriously why? Do we travel just to see more of the world? Or do we travel to find out more about ourselves? I would say the second was more true for me. Atleast on the evidence of my most recent trip abroad. I am sure everyone of us knows first hand that every single trip is different- every time we leave the comforts of our home to go off and slum somewhere  we are challenging ourselves to forsake all the comforts we are used to. But some trips do more than that, they push you to the limit, they redefine what challenging is to your own mind, take you to such extremes that you never thought existed and demand that you give more than you ever thought possible. Such trips re-define yourself to your own eyes. A trip like that shows you what you can be if you weren't what you are right now.

There i was in the middle of the Indian ocean , well at least on a tiny part of it, wearing a mask and snorkel and peering about underwater starring at rocks and tiny little fish darting around and all i could think of right then was why the hell am i spending all this time with these rocks, while i could be comfortably spending some time with a vodka on the rocks. That was a moment of revelation for me and all the way back on the boat to the shore i was promising myself that never again would i go for a vacation which involves any action, except to lie on a beach somewhere with a drink in my hand- that is my kinda vacation. Its these epiphanies which travel brings out in us and holds a mirror to our true selves like nothing else does and the least  we can do is to at least  hold on to these memories even if we dont do anything else with them in our lives.  But sometimes some people do- they take these lessons and make them work in their lives. They re-invent themselves and start a new life post the trip.

Like in the movie Tamasha starring ranbir kapoor and deepika padukone which i  started out to actually review here on the blog before i got sidetracked into  my own reminiscences. There is a ten minute sequence at the start of the movie where the hero and heroine – strangers to each other who meet by accident  at a corsican resort and become acquaintances- decide to live out their fantasies for the ten days they stay there on vacation and instead of living their own true lives they take on the persona’s of their favorite film stars.

The rest of the movie is about showing the boringly routine real life of these two characters- especially ranbir kapoor who is trapped in an everyday corporate job with an overbearing evil boss and an extraordinarily demanding father who insists on responsibility before anything else. Crushed under the weight of his mundane existence he runs into the heroine again after a gap of a few years and she tells him that his everyday life is a mask while his real self was the one she met on vacation.  That flips him and he turns violent with her- for of course, if you have spent years in denial and self repression, to be shown the truth of it all is maddening to say the least and acceptance is very very hard and almost impossible to get over the self delusion.


The rest of the movie is about how the hero casts aside the mantle of being responsible and goes back to his real carefree self and in the process rekindling the romance with the heroine which ends in the alls well that ends well genre favored of our directors. But although the ending is as cliched as they come, the middle half of the movie where ranbir kapoor shows all the angst of a sensitive soul crushed under family and societal responsibilities is as outstanding a piece of cinema as i have watched all year long.  Tamasha gives a lot of lessons in a jolly tamasha way. Its  worth a watch and a re-watch. Highly recommended.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Being Mortal, But Moral?

Being Mortal, But Moral?



This post is about death. If you feel its too morbid a topic to talk about and would rather not read anymore please feel free to stop right now. If not lets continue talking.

The average human life is replete with failures, setbacks and rejections. We put on a brave face, tell each other that its all passing clouds and we have to stay positive and get on with living our lives as best as we can. But there is one facet of our life which we cannot change despite all the best intentions, positive thoughts and Facebook memes shared between strangers and acquaintances and that's the great leveler, death.  Now you may wonder why i am talking so freely about something we all avoid talking about, most of us even hesitate to think about and you are right- its only because people like me, who work in the healthcare field are on an ever present acquaintance with death, so much so that it makes a lot of us doctors talk matter of fact way about death to everyone we meet as if we are somehow immune to its effects. And we need that shield of immortality (mentally) to walk into sick rooms all day long, everyday of the year to stand beside people who are sick enough to die soon and treat them without giving thought about catching something from those patients and dying ourselves. If we think that way for even one minute, we wont be good doctors at all, we would just have to retire.

But death comes to doctors too- despite their denials in their own fallibility. And death comes to patients- despite their doctors and their best efforts too.  I have seen so many doctors who give that perfunctory – he/she will be alright soon in the hope that they will be alright and not because they know for a certainty that the patient will be alright. Its a humbling fact to agree to but its the truth. For all the advances we have in diagnostics we can still predict only the amount of damage and disease we discover at that point in a patients body and we cannot with any fair degree of certainty extrapolate the results from the test to predict the date of death. A man who get a 64-slice or 128-slice sonogram and pronounced to be as healthy as a mule heart-wise can still drop dead the next day because the heart muscle may refuse to cooperate with the doctors prediction or the liver refuses to produce clotting factors or the kidney has been abused too much and simply shuts down.  And even the postmortem might not be conclusive for it can only tell about how it happened- a thrombotic event or a coronary occlusion but not about why it happened when it did.

That “why death comes when it comes” is still a whole lot of mystery to everyone. Oh, we have theories to explain it. Modern medicine has all these researches about aging, cellular damage,apoptosis- programmed cell death which is the he simplest and most widely believed reason. It goes something like this - every cell in the body contains DNA, which acquires gene mutations over time. These mutations can sometimes occur in an instant or they can build up slowly over decades and when these mutation reach a certain tip over point- cell death occurs. If enough cells die- the organ dies. If some vital organ dies- the whole organism- the human body in this case dies.  Thats just the scientific explanation of how we die. But the why, still remains unanswered. Death is final, death happens to everyone, we are all on the road to death and we might drop dead tomorrow- you, me and everyone of us.  Accept that and it makes the rest of our life easier to live with. 

And now i come to the moral part of this post. Knowing that we are all going to die soon, despite all our best laid plans and maneuverings and a thousand little things we do to ease our lives in the long run- what if we do not have that long run? What if we were to die tomorrow? Would we still lie, cheat, back-stab, betray and character assassinate if we know that we would no longer be around to reap the benefits  later on? Would we still make long term plans that involve short term evil actions justifying it to our conscience as necessary evil on our way to future success, if we realize we don't have a future at all?  Or would try to live a more moral life remembering that what we do today is not going to change anything to our benefit? Will morality rise if we knew that our days were numbered or would we go the other way? I am curious to know what you think.  So do share your thoughts with me on this question.


P.S. This question about the morality of our actions applies only to the average normal person among us who wont mind cutting a few corners to get ahead in life, regretting the necessity of doing so all the time under their pricking conscience. For the other kind- the born evil kind of people, this question does not apply, for they would go to their graves doing evil to the last minute even if they never benefit from it.  Lately i have been meeting a lot of such evil people who gave me the germ to write this post. And i am curious to know others experiences about such ones.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

This Company Pays Well


This Company Pays Well

So my friend had recently recommended me to try a few dating apps as a way to improve my hit percentage. Although initially skeptical about finding someone trustworthy enough to date on such instant swipe sites- i decided to trust my friends sagacity as an expert user of these sites and decided to take a call after doing a real life experience. To try and get over my cynicism about online fraudsters and  go out on maybe one date and see how it goes from there. So i installed one of the most popular such apps on my phone and got an immediate hit on my profile for someone had taken a swipe right at me and then sent me a personal chat message which asked for my number. Which in my new spirit of credulity i enthusiastically shared with the unknown girl who had liked me enough to start chatting immediately- remember i told how new i was to this game? And then this happened.




Yes, like you dear reader, I too was flustered and flabbergasted to say the least, when i realized the person above (in the screenshot) wasn't joking but serious about offering me money for spending time in my company.  Although i take it as a compliment (i should, shouldn't i ?) the implied meaning that i had been wasting my time talking to a pucca professional is what makes me repeat ad infinitum that unless and until you meet an online friend in person, you can never ever be sure that they are what they claim to be.  So am i validated or not? You tell me.

Monday, October 19, 2015

THE KID GROWS UP AND LOOKS BACK

THE KID GROWS UP AND LOOKS BACK



So i was talking to a couple of my friends yesterday when we accidentally veered around to our childhood dreams and what we thought we would grow up to be. That took me to a new thought what if i went back 20 years ago to visit my childhood self. Will the kid recognize me for what i am now? And will i look kindly on the kid for what he was doing back then? An intriguing question which made me take a trip back on a time machine and observe my 11 year old self. And here's what i found

1)  The Betting Master -the kid was an incorrigible risk taker and daredevil – when i recently went to a school reunion by schoolmates some of whom had only been on nodding heads basis even back then with me remembered me even after these many many years as challenge ganesh- for the kid always had a reputation in school of never turning down any challenge or bet. My schoolmates said that the easiest way to get me to do anything was to bet me that i couldn't do it and then watch me take it up. The kid could never resist a challenge despite how many times it led to the headmaster rooms for a lecture on breaking necks. But me the grown guy i am the poster boy of playing it safe nowadays eschewing all risk - i even have a driver nowadays to avoid the hassle of driving in heavy traffic.

2) The Bully Beater - the kid was always ready to fight and for others. – when i younger i was taller and larger than most of my classmates and school mates so i never had an issue with being bullied. But nevertheless whenever the kid saw other little boys being bullied and harassed by larger kids the kid used to jump in and fight. Torn clothes, torn knuckles, broken watches broken glasses were all part of everyday life for the kid. The kid used to get lectured by everyone around him to walk away from fights which were not his own but he never did turn his back on little kids being bullied by seniors.  The price of adulthood is i have learnt to choose and pick my fights and learnt to let others fight their own battles- whether its a good thing or not i dont know.

3) Speed thrills- the kid was fiend for speed he loved nothing more than going on roller coasters again and again- the scarier the better. In fact the kid once promised himself he would buy Disneyland so he could ride all the roller coasters all day long- once he grew up. But poor adult me haven't even been to Disneyland yet. And travels around town in a big SUV with the best safety features money can buy- how the mighty fall.

4) Fire in the belly- the kid was sure he was going to change the world and he had an uncompromising belief that he was destined to do so – he devoured a lot of books on revolution, communism, nihilism and other ways to bring about the revolution for a better world. That belief has slowly eroded with time and the adult me knows that its too big a project for me to take on. Its enough if i can change myself and be the best i can be instead of being on a world-crusade mode.

5) Mr.Teresa -  the kid was a bleeding heart liberal out to help others all the time..the adult is far more responsible and knows when to help genuine cases after having been preyed upon once too  much for being empathetic to others.

So what would the kid think of me now? To be honest i would say he would be a little disappointed at what i am right now and wont listen to my explanations of what it means to grow up and being responsible. But hey, who listens to kids nowadays?


P.S. I dedicate this post to my buddies Minu and Mahesh who gave me this idea while talking over our childhood ambitions- mahesh to be batman and minu who wanted to be a nun when she grew up. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Oh, Those Creative People.

Oh, Those Creative People.



(Disclaimer:  Do not read this if you are either thin skinned or an easily offended type. This post contains vitriol, invective and absolute truths. If you recognize yourself anywhere in this post, then rest assured it is really you. Read on at your own risk. Or better still, do yourself a favor and dont read beyond this point.)

One of the things I would blame on the mushrooming of social media is the ease in the disbursal of the “creative efforts” of our friends and acquaintances on multiple on-line platforms with the expectations that everyone on their friends list should like and appreciate their amateurish efforts. Don't take me wrong but I am like every one else, a connoisseur of fine art, but what I cannot abide is the execrable creations often shared on social media platforms by over enthusiasts in the effort to prove that the person is also creative. Everyone but everyone seems to be following this new trend. Everyone is now doodling, drawing and sketching imagining themselves as modern day Rembrandt's. Everyone is writing books and thrusting them on unsuspecting Facebook followers as the next great classic in the Hemingway and Faulkner heritage. And so on and so forth.

Previously there used to be a limit to which this kind of self promotion would go on. They could hire an art gallery, hang their sketches and invite a few selected friends to wine and dine at the gallery and said friends would go just for the free booze and offer a few inane comments while secretly laughing in an aside at the pretentiousness of the creativist. But now that social media has brought the gallery directly to your screen, even the limited inducement of free booze to digest those horrid doodles is now missing.

Imagine the shock of switching on your Facebook account on a calm morning and suddenly being faced with the “creative arts” (i am being sarcastic, of course) of a Facebook acquaintance staring straight at you. And if the said acquaintance is a pretty female rest assured the continuous likes and comments from male admirers will keep the post on top of your news feed for at least a couple of days.

Its even more so with novels- aspiring authors add you as their facebook friends with the sole intention of using you as beta testing drones. They start of slyly by talking to you about books generally, favorite authors, then inquiring about whether you have any idea of turning novelist, sending you a few motivating messages about jumping on to the, say the NANowrimo bandwagon and then when you are lulled by their solicitude they unleash their latest creative effort work-in-progress on you and demand that you provide candid feedback.

If and when you provide any such candid feedback, god forbid, they will unfriend you on Facebook, block you on watsapp and go bad mouth you on all other online forums for not being supportive and encouraging enough. Forget the fact that they cant write a leave letter to save their lives- they have imagined themselves to be a great novelist, their bosom friends have all agreed and you better fall in line or else.

wouldn't mind so much if any of these newbie creators can actually write something half way readable. But the truth is, they just dont have it in them. Creativity and talent can never be achieved by hard work – you can train for a thousand years, but you cant write like Dante. Artists, atleast the sublime ones are just born and not made. You can be a published writer but your work will not stand the test of time as it will not be able to bridge the gap between being a book and being art.

Now why are these people so intent on inflicting their agonies on us? Two reasons I would say- the first one is the ubiquitous mushrooming of engineering graduates who have scant interest in engineering. They have either not worked hard enough at their engineering studies, learnt enough to be a good engineer or they are just plain lazy. Not being able to shine in the profession they choose and studied for,  they assume their creative talents merely need an outlet for them to make it big – forgetting that if you cant even do the basics right you can never get anything right. They take up all the pent up frustration at being also-rans in their respective chosen professions and release that rage on the unsuspecting art world- thus you have engineer trained doodlists, engineer turned artists, engineer turned novelists.

While the best engineers in the world , the really talented ones build great houses, great bridges, great nuclear reactors, even beautiful software codes with nary a bug in them and where the brevity of the source code will bring tears to your eyes with the sheer artistry by which so much is attained with so few lines of code. Such artists showcase their creative talents in their respective fields, they transcend the limitations of their own field with works of art destined to last a lifetime while the other kind, the failures at their own profession who crib about how boring their jobs are, aim for instant stardom via a book or a canvas and a load of pliant on-line friends who sing their hosannas for them.

The second reason is universal – it is the wide spread belief that everyone can do everything. This is the same mentality that rewards mediocrity and ass licking in bureaucratic setups as the incompetents rise beyond their own levels of incompetence. Not everyone can be an airline pilot who effortlessly flies a 747, not everyone can be an F-1 driver and drive like Michael Shumacher did, not everyone can be a good enough tennis player like Andre Agassi and retrieve everything sent against him, not everyone can run a hundred metres under ten seconds and not everyone can be a neurosurgeon who navigates the living brain while the patient is still awake. Everyone cant do everything. Oh they can try, i am not saying they cant. They just cant have that sublime touch the superior confidence of doing something so effortlessly that it looks natural when its done by them.

Finally, art like anything else in this world is highly subjective what i find offensive you might find fascinating but taste is a matter of choice. And so to safeguard my sensibilities  i am actively considering shutting down my facebook, twitter and watsapp accounts to escape the ceaseless assaults on my fine senses and my refined tastes. Its either the Sistine chapel or none for me. Save me, save my aesthetic sense.


P.s. I have deliberately left out talking here about all the camera owners masquerading as photographers and whose idea of a balanced composition is using photoshop to make a color picture into black and white. They have their legions of followers going hoo and haaa as they are mostly young, female and pretty. I think they deserve the honor of an entire blogpost by themselves. So hold on for part 2 of this post.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Guardian

The Guardian



I sat there watching her sleep. I knew she woudnt want me to but i still did. After all what she didnt know woudnt hurt her would it She had been complaining of bad dreams, of nightmares, of something slithering and crawling over her as she slept. And she coudnt sleep deeply anymore as she feared to experience it again. And so there i was to watch over her in my self appointed role as her guardian, to sit in a corner of her room and watch that nothing evil came to her while i watched over her. From where i sat in a shadowed corner of the room, the better to let her sleep undisturbed- i could see just her face and her neck in the moonlight. The soft light framed her hair as an halo around her face. She looked so ethereal when asleep - compared to how she acts when awake- that i felt a slow yearning to reach out and caress her as she slept. To run my finger through her hair and twine a strand around one. To bend down and softly kiss her there - low down on her neck where it joins her collar bone. To blow softly near her ears in the hope of startling her. To give her a hickey - a small love bite on her throat - right in the small of her throat where she usually dabs a bit of perfume in the mornings. To slowly put my cheek against hers and rub it softly with the rough bristles of my beard rubbing against her silky skin. And using my lips and tongue to taste her- her forehead, the bridge of her nose, her ears and her cheeks. But not her lips - no, never her lips- those long slit like lips she kept tightly closed as she slept - unless she woke up and invited me to them. As i sat there running these things through my mind, refining them more and more in my imagination, i saw the window lightening with dawn outside. Time for me to leave, to fade, dissolve with the dust and float out on those sunbeams for my kind are not allowed to walk this earth in the light. She would wake up later in the morning - after a deep sleep with no nightmares and woudnt even give a glance to that corner where on a dusty old chair i had perched all night - watching over her - her very own guardian angel - to return again another night

Sunday, September 13, 2015

THE INTERVIEW

THE INTERVIEW




Interviewer: welcome, please take the seat opposite.

Candidate: thanks. (grins nervously)

I: we have gone through your basic biodata which you had mailed us but before we get into the nitty gritty of stuff, how about you give a brief introduction about yourself?

C : Hmmm, specifically which areas would like me to elaborate?

I : why dont you start from the beginning - your schooling, college, and work experience and then we will get into your personality and current job experiences- you know, fleshing out the details from your basic biodata.

C: my school and college reminiscences? How relevant are they to this discussion?

I : isnt that for me to decide? When someone refuses to talk freely and holds back things then it does look suspicious doesnt it?

C : not necessarily. What if i had the usual boring school life and college days- filled with studying all the time and usual student pranks with friends – a typical teenager thing?

I : well that does tell me you could be a staid boring character, someone not necessarily looking for adventure in his life and afraid to take risks

C: whoa, isnt that quite stretch from what i told you. Well, what if i told you that i had a pretty wild rockstar past and i was heavily into the grunge music scene and i used to get into fights a lot before i matured and wisened up?

I : hmmm...that tells me that you wouldn't hesitate to lie on the spot to impress me by making your personality reflect our requirements?

C: your requirements? What are they? Why wasn't i informed about them earlier?

I : but we have just started. Its far too early to get into our requirement list. I have a prepared 20 point questionnaire to which you have to answer yes or no and depending on your answers i would ask you to elaborate on certain points or not.

C: A questionnaire? 20 separate questions? Oh my.....and here i am winging it on the fly. I had never even thought of coming prepared.

I : Precisely. You are like all the other candidates i have interviewed till now- absolutely no clarity about what you want to do with your life which is sure to lead to a mess later on. My way is better- to clarify things right at the outset so there are no misunderstandings in future- no fights and heartbreaks.

C: But, but doesn't that make it all business like? Doesn't it take the romance out of the situation? The slow teasing? The learning about things one by one. The understanding of the other person as time develops and a slow ripening of feelings. I thought that was the essence of dating.

I : well, i see you are a regular rip van winkle. Where have you been all this time? Hiding in a cave? All that you speak off is so old school- something which school kids do when they date for the first time. We are both two mature responsible adults checking to see if we are compatible enough to marry, we dont have the time to do the slow dance now- i would advice you to get out of your fantasy and open your eyes to face reality. I see now that you are totally unprepared for marriage and never given a though to what follows next. Would you like to take a break to go home and consider all your options?

C:  Yes. Thank you. Damn, I really feel my age now. I guess romance is now officially dead. Its all crisp business like dealings now. But what the hell, let me be the last romantic on earth and marry for love. I cant coldly select someone based on whether they pass my test or not. I would rather tear up my list if they touch my heart. I want to fall in love with a stranger and marry a girl because she completes me and not because she is compatible with me. Even if in every little thing we are opposites, as long as there is a spark of romance between us- i want to go for it. If that makes me a fool then let me be one happily.

I : i pity you. You seem to be good man but with strange fantasies about life. I hope you dont get dis-illusioned. I think you have confused a marriage proposal with a “proposal”. The two are quite different and i am surprised that for an otherwise intelligent person you still havent realized the difference.  You should think about this before wasting any more of others time.

C: yes i should and i thank you from the bottom of my heart for straightening things out. Its been very enlightening talking to you. You have made realise things about myself which i never cared to think through till now. I realise that in the  eyes of the world I might look like a fool, a romantic fool and i am probably destined to die single and all alone. But let me be the way i am. I dont think i can be happy marrying a girl for reasons other than liking her. I just cant coldly marry a girl just because she has studied a certain degree, works in a certain field or earns a certain amount. It just woudnt feel right with my heart and my conscience. Sorry for taking up so much of your time. Bye.


(INTERIVEW CONCLUDED)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

I Believe, Do you Believe ?

Believe



believe in being strong when everything else is going wrong
believe in unicorns and pots of gold at rainbows end
believe in  happy girls being the prettiest girls ever
believe that a nice smile is headier than even a vodka high
believe we live just once and its better to blurt it than keep it in

I believe my friends are the best even if my enemies are all the rest
believe in peoples words and that they will  stand by them
believe in soul mates and that everyone has someone sure
believe the time is now, to stand up and say i do and always
believe that people leave only to find their way back soon

believe we are born a way and we cant just turn someone else
believe its logical to tell people when we believe in them
believe we don't die and we just turn into a twinkling star
believe it doesn't matter, in then end we always turn up right

believe in a lot of things, but who believes me? That's the thing.