Sunday, April 24, 2005

Happy Birthday Sachin!

May the next year be your best one yet.

I don't know when was the last time I wished someone with as much sincerety as right now. Most of the time you just speak the words without really thinking about them. Not now. I really do hope that this year will mark the beginning of 4-5 years of Tendulkar-esque cricket from him. Come to think of it, as of now I'd even settle for Lara-esque.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Still in the movie-making universe....

  1. You already know that I didn't quite love the book, but the movie version of The Da Vinci Code is getting more and more exciting as the cast(and crew) is being decided. Ron Howard directs Tom Hanks (as Robert Langdon), Audrey Tautou(as Sophie Neveu), Ian McKellen(as Leigh Teabing), Alfred Molina(as Bishop Aringarosa), and Jean Reno (as Bezu Fache). I can't think of any better casting news in recent times.
  2. Richard Linklater, the Before Sunrise/Before Sunset director visited the film school at UT, Austin and interacted with an undergrad class there. One of the students contributed a brief summary on AICN. In particular, I liked one of his comments about movies and dreams and why making a movie on dreams seemed natural to him. He said,"I think the reason that cinema is successful, and the reason that cinema has been successful is that we’ve been seeing films for 100,000 years while we sleep." A nice way to look at movies, no? And, a nice way to look at dreams too!! :)
  3. Indiafm has this story about Vishal "Maqbool" Bhardwaj planning his next movie - Mr. Singh and Mrs. Mehta, and having talks with Aamir and Rani about the leads. Well, that sounds verrrrry interesting, doesn't it?
  4. Indiafm also has the first teaser trailer of SRK-Amol Palekar's Paheli. Can't say much by just the little teaser, but at least the photography seems to be top-class and the music can't be too bad given that M M Kreem and Gulzar are working on the songs. Shah Rukh looks ridiculous with that moustache however!! Its one thing to follow Aamir to period movies, Oscar entries and Ashutosh Gowarikar's doors, quite another to try and beat him in the most ridiculous facial hair distribution race. :P

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Ok, This is exciting!!

First trailer of the english version of Howl's Moving Castle is here! For those who don't know why that should be so very exciting for me, here is one of my previous posts about its director, the animation wizard Hayao Miyazaki. I notice that the image link is not working any longer. Will try to do something about that as soon as possible. You can see the latest trailer here. Looks very much like his other movies, which should probably be a dampener but then I guess too much of a great thing is better than too much of an ordinary thing. So, waiting with bated breath for this one.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Sudhir Mishra helps me out

At the risk of seeming to harp on one single point in a lot of posts, I'd like to point out this interview of Sudhir Mishra on Rediff. Mishra talks about Black and says exactly the thing that I was trying to say, only much better (goes to show the difference between an accomplished story-teller and a stuggling blogger.. :)). I don't think the weakness he is talking about put me off the movie as much as it put him off, but its really the same thing that I was talking about. For me, the other things like cinematography, backgroud score etc worked very well so that I think its still a good movie. Mishra doesn't even give it that much credit, but I can see why. quoting relevant excerpts here...

What do I think about Black? I don't like hamming in films, and it's a film where everybody's hamming, including the cameraman. Everything is setup for effect -- 'look how sensitive I am.'
It's not really a film about the girl who's blind. It's like you make a film about a guy who's lame, then you take the crutches away, then you hit him on the head, and he falls and you point and say, 'look how he's suffering.' When everything is for effect, it becomes boring. As a filmmaker, you start predicting.

For me, it's a very manipulative film. It's always manipulating me to cry. It's asking for too much sympathy, and I don't have that much sympathy to give. It's like emotional blackmail all the time, and I find that very unattractive. Some people might really like it, but it's not for me.

I think (Sanjay Leela) Bhansali is a good filmmaker; he's a person who's trying to tell a story visually. So he is a guy to watch out for. Like when he told stories which are musical in a way, in a milieu that he knew, like in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam -- it's a film that works where it is.

Why are we even talking about Black? Well, because we're reacting to the fact that they brought out ads saying this was the best film ever, and some critics said this was like (Polish director Krzysztof) Kieslowski. And since all of us somewhat like Kieslowski (laughs) and have grown up on Red and Dekalog, we feel its our duty to say, 'Hey, wait a minute.' And set the record straight

Kieslowski!! Really?? Who said that?? I mean, Bhansali might yet make movies that might surpass Trois couleurs (I have yet to see Dekalog, but it has been on my must watch list for some time now...) but Black is not it. It doesn't even come close.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Nobody Knows - A moving experience

In 1988, an affair caught the attention of mainstream media in Japan - "The affair of four abandoned children of Tokyo". A mother left her four children in a small house where they had to fend for themselves for 6 months without anyone noticing anything, or more likely, noticing but not caring/daring enough to try and do something about it. In the end, one of the children - the youngest, only 2 years old - died in absolutely tragic circumstances (something I can't even bring myself to write here) and the world around them finally came to its senses and the affair became public. The mother came to know about the death of her daughter through the media and was sentenced 3 years in prison for her neglect.

It would have just remained a story you read in the paper, talk about with your family while having your breakfast and then forget about it had Hirokazu Kore-eda not decided to make a movie based on the event. Nobody Knows is a touching movie that moves you so much with its images that I doubt I'd be able to forget some of those images for a very long time. At the very least it was moving enough to shake me out of my non-blogging stupor. The great thing is that the movie doesn't use your usual melodrama (SLB, you need to see this one and learn something!!!) at all. In fact, if anything, it is shot more like a documentary. It doesn't "tell" you anything. Its almost as if a camera is kept close to the place these children stay at and you are watching their day-to-day activities, listening to their little seemingly meaningless, very cute, very kiddish talk. If anything, it actually brings a smile on your face on a lot of occasions. And yet, at the back of your mind, you know the whole tragedy of the situation. And THAT is what makes some of the scenes so difficult to watch. There is no violence, no overt sadness, not even a single tear and yet you would not want your children to watch the movie. In fact, its so good that at the end a part of you actually wishes that you hadn't seen it. The irony is that the real life story that inspired this movie was far more tragic than the story in the movie. Kore-eda actually tries to show you that the horrors that people imagine these children must've gone through needn't really be horrors at all. Things were probably much better than you think they were. One of the reasons for that is that children, by virtue of being ignorant of many things, are saved from feeling too much sadness at their own situation. They might not have enough to eat properly, but they still find little joys in picking up flowers from the park near their home or just laughing at little things among themselves.

The movie shows 4 children (a 11-12 year old boy, a girl of about 10 years, another boy of maybe 6-7 years and the youngest girl, of 5) move into a new house with their mother who herself is very childish. Maybe not childish, but she treats the children very well and is always nice to them and hasn't lost her sense of humour and adventure yet, which is not easy for a single mother working hard to bring up 4 children, 3 of whom aren't even registered with the authorities leading to infinite complications and irritations. However, she falls in love with a man and can't bring herself to tell him about her children at the beginning of the relationship. So, she leaves with him, hoping that she'd be able to tell him later. The eldest son Akira (played with stunning effect by Yuyi Yagira) is mature beyond his years because of all the responsibility he has to bear because of their situation and the mother trusts him to take care of his three siblings while she is away. She leaves some money but later we realize that she probably underestimates the children's needs. The movie doesn't really judge the mother or show her in as bad a light as the real life mother probably was in the media. She did what she had to do and probably made an error of judgement. A mistake with absolutely tragic consequences, but a mistake all the same. All the actors in the movie were great. The children were so lifelike, so real, that you really get the feeling of watching a documentary on their lives, of being in their home and just looking at them. Nothing feels like acting. Yuyi Yagira was just 12 when he finished shooting for the movie and one has to see the movie to believe how good he was. I was amazed but very happy when I came to know (while doing research for this post) that he won the Best Actor award at Cannes this year!!! Mind you, I am not talking about the best Child Actor or some such. Best Actor at Cannes at 14!! That must've been something!!

I don't know if the movie is distributed well enough for people in India to be able to get hold of a DVD, but in case you can, be warned that you might not like it because of the slow pace. The pace suits the subject perfectly and plays a big part in making you feel for the characters and making you forget that you are watching a movie. Also, be warned that it is NOT the kind of movie you'd want to watch when in the mood for a popcorn and movie night. But, watch it if you are not in principle againt slow movies. Watch it when you have some time to spend on a truely good movie, when you want to be "moved" or when you want to know what exactly did I mean when I said that I had some problems with Black. You can look at the movie's site here. It has a trailer on the main page. Or look at a better resolution trailer here.

Update: Adding the link to my post about Black here.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Queen Monica in The Brothers Grimm

Terry Gilliam's next movie, The Brothers Grimm is ready and some of the stills have been released. Monica Bellucci is looking as delicious as ever, specially because of the wardrobe... Here is one pic for your benefit! Think there is less woman and more background in there? Then this one is for you! :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Not supporting Ganguly bashers but...

I don't want to give the impression of condoning all the scapegoat-hunting and all those stupid creatures who are heard booing in the stadia, but really, can't resist posting this another Ganguly joke from RSC.


CiL wrote: > ++++
> Indian captain Sourav Ganguly was today banned for six one-day
> internationals for the team's slow over rate in the fourth one-day
> international match against Pakistan in Ahmedabad.

> from ndtv

yeskay Replied: > ++++

I heard PCB is appealing against this ban.



Poor Saurav. I don't think I have EVER seen anyone being so completely miserable on cricket field. I surely hope he comes back to form now that he has been forced to spend some time away. I never was his fan, and there have been many occasions even before his current slump when I have had my doubts about his deserving a place in the Test side. But ODIs are different. He has played some great innings for india and has overall been one of our best ODI batsmen ever. Its sad the way all this has turned out.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Akhtar Magic

Not this Akhtar and not this magic. Javed Akhtar is the one I am talking about. Most of his songs, and specially his better songs, have very simple yet touching lyrics. Read this...

beete pal chhoone lage hain dil ko aise,
dost rakhe haath kandhe pe jaise...
kaisi ye kirNein si chhan rahi hain,
kaisi tasveerein si ban rahi hain...
kitne mausam yaadon mein hain aate jaate,
baarish aaee khul gaye hain kaale chhaate...
din hain alsaaye hue jo aaee garmi,
sardiyoun ki dhoop mein hai kaisi narmi...

pal pal ek samay ki nadiya hai jo behti jaati hai...
apne des ki mitti ki khushboo mujhe yaad aati hai...

pighle tanhaaiyon ke hain jo andhere,
jagmagaane se lage hain kitne chehre...
ek lori hai... ek laal bindiyaa,
laut aaee hai mere bachpan ki nindiyaa...
vo koi iktaare pe kab se gaa raha hai,
koi aanchal jaane kyoun lehraa raha hai...
har ghadi naee baat ek yaad aa rahi hai,
dil mein pagdandi si jaise ban gaee hai,
ye pagdandi mere dil se mere des jaati hai...
apne des ki mitti ki khushboo mujhe yaad aati hai....

Add Rahman's music and Sonu Nigam's soothing vocals, and you have a terrific song that takes you to a musical paradise one gets to experience only once in a long while.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

blogging vicariously...

Not sure that title reflects accurately what I am going to do.. Haven't been blogging as frequently as a month ago. Not much to say I guess. Still, a post is required if only to keep my loyal readers from ditching me forever. So, I'll just point you to a hilarious post on someone else's blog and consider this is a post of my own. Read this post on India Uncut, a blog by Amit Verma (yes, the same AV whose handiwork many of you see on Cricinfo.)

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

some cricinfo gems...

Listening to the Live audio commentary of the Vizag ODI on cricinfo right now (along with reading some papers for the literature meeting this morning.. :( ). As Sehwag (and Dhoni) are doing unmentionable things to Pakistan bowlers, the cricinfo commentary is showing signs of pressure. some gems...

- Sehwag has shown that he has very good shoulders on his head. (whose shoulders, I wonder.. don't think anyone other than Arti qualifies but even that doesn't quite make sense... and not because I doubt she has "very good shoulders"... )

- And that is gently pushed towards off....... and has gone for a huge six!!! (This one didn't happen today though... )

- India off to a rosy-rosy start.

Monday, April 04, 2005


Have been very busy over last few days.. so no time for the usual relaxed post... thought I'll just update the blog with some info about what has been keeping me busy...

  1. movies... have seen Downfall, Meet The Fockers, Finding Neverland, Sideways, Closer and National Treasure over last 2-3 weeks... Finding Neverland is great... Downfall and Sideways are verrrry good... Closer is pretty good... Meet The Fockers and National Treasure are timepass... A warning related to Closer - I don't think the R-rating is correct for it.. it should probably have been NC-17 even though there is not much nudity... some dialogue is so laced with sex that I can't believe they gave it just an R. Not saying don't watch it, it is a pretty decent watch.. just brace yourself for some unusually sex-laden talk before you do so though..
  2. book... finished The Da Vinci Code recently... thought it was pretty lame... ignited some interest in art, history and art-history in me but thats about it.. nothing to write home about as far as the thriller/mystery part is concerned... (that does NOT mean I am not looking forward to the movie adaptation... Audrey Tautou plays the female lead!!! YO!!! :) )
  3. c++, c++ , c++....
  4. some work related to hosting Ustad Amjad Ali Khan here in Rochester. The event is for fundraising for Asha Rochester.
  5. Changed my house... ex-roomy is getting married in May.. so I was kicked out... The next roomy will join me in May, so have to pay this months complete rent from my own pocket!! :( still have to buy a lot of things as most of the things in the previous house belonged to ex-roomy. I am without a TV, music system and VHS player right now!! not to mention furniture, utensils, curtains and such.... And the WORRRRST part.. no internet yet!!! :( will try my best to get as soon as possible.. hopefully within 2-3 days..