Sunday, December 23, 2012

Righteous Anger, Wrong Methods?

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Why do all protests in India border on anarchy? Why is there no proper direction or channelization of people's anger? And why aren't the concerned leaders not responding?
Is justice required only for this case... isn't it time the protest be towards rooting out this evil? Is everyone going to happily return home when these men are punished... does it mark an end to all crimes against women?

And it is weird that we blame Congress for inaction... no political party in their time has been prompt in trying to root out this menace. Congress or BJP or any other politcal party have been equally irresponsible. In fact, some factions of politics like the Hindu Jagarana Vedike have molested women in the name of religion and Indian culture. 

It is time we protest to make permanent changes and not fight for temporary or individual solutions. People are brave enough to take to the streets and endure the police lathis... then why not for a properly led, thought out cause and not just by impulse or because of pent up anger.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Talaash - Review


Talaash - Movie Poster

Writing a review about a movie that is a suspense thriller is like treading a mine-field… one has to be extra careful to not let out anything that might ruin the suspense for others.

In any case, here is my opinion about the latest Aamir Khan production – Talaash.

Talaash is a suspense thriller that sets the tone right from the opening sequence and slowly builds the suspense up frame by frame. Slowly… really slowly we move forward in the story of a police officer who works day and night to solve the case of a suspicious death all the while battling a few demons of his own.

I am not gonna dwell much in to the story or plot-line because it would be a giveaway.

The movie is not bad… nor is the story. Did I mention the movie was slow? Yeah… that is where the threads start to unravel. A suspense thriller should take up a faster pace or risk having half the audience deduce the climax and the other half of the audience guess it long before the movie actually reveals it. With the length, we in the audience had enough time to analyse and evaluate all the main characters of the movie and dissect situations in it which led to us arriving at the outcome before the movie intended a revelation. Also, the almost 20 minutes’ interval in the movie (which might be the movie-hall’s fault) did not help.

Aamir is his usual good performing self… no issues with his police inspector fighting personal issues act. Rani Mukherjee as Aamir’s wife is good. Kareena Kapoor is onscreen torture… considering it is the second time she is playing a hooker in a movie, one would expect a decent performance. Her Chameli wasn’t bad… but her Rosie is extremely artificial and grates on your nerves. The supporting actresses playing other hookers do a much more believable job.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui is excellent. He seems to get better with every movie he does and that sure is a great sign.

The casting of the movie seems to include big Bollywood names just to keep the public from figuring out the story by just eliminating the less famous actors… since some of them are wasted in the movie.

The music of the movie is something I enjoyed… there are no unnecessary item numbers and songs that disrupt the already slow pace.

Overall the movie is worth a watch. And considering the alternatives are stuff like Son of Sardar and Jab Tak Hain Jaan… Talaash is anytime a better option… and definitely one of the better movies of the year.

I would rate it a 3.5 / 5. Do sit back in your chair and relax… nothing edge of the seat here.

Life of Pi

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Life of Pi - Book Cover

The book Life of Pi by Yann Martel is an interesting book. Though written as a fantasy adventure of sorts, it has underlying spiritual and somewhat philosophical undertones.

Life of Pi - Movie Poster

The movie of the same name by Ang Lee does not explore that aspect of the narrative. Lee’s ‘Life of Pi’ is solely a CGI supported fantasy adventure which though beautiful to watch feels more suited to a young audience. It lacks the emotional depth of the book and the humour in it. 

The actors have all done a great job. Irrfan Khan as present day Piscine Molitor Patel is every bit the endearing Indian guy with a hint of oriental mystique. The younger Pi is played by Gautam Belur and Ayush Tandon. The main hero of the movie is Pi in his teens and is played by Suraj Sharma, and he does a great job. Tabu plays his mom, Gita Patel and Adil Hussain, his father Santosh Patel… both seasoned actors deliver convincing performances.
Of course, the Bengal tiger as Richard Parker is quite a find... majestic and elegant! :)

Contrary to what a lot of people seem to believe and what the movie also stresses on, the story is not just about the adventure that results from a shipwreck in which the tiger and the boy are thrown together in a lifeboat to battle it out and survive the journey back to civilization.
This is where I felt there is a huge disconnect between the movie and the book. As you read the book, you feel the inherent need in the boy to keep his faith up in the face of diversity… and not just for survival. For a boy who chooses to embrace three religious faiths and does not have them conflict in his mind, the shipwreck and being alone on the lifeboat is a call to a different sort of faith which is tested in a fierce manner.

In the book, Richard Parker (the Bengal tiger) can talk. The conversations Pi and Parker have are an integral part to understanding the nature of the story. In the end, when the true story is narrated by the boy after being rescued, we understand his need to have escaped into a realm of fantasy where he projects his thoughts on to the tiger as its speech and how he grows up in the short span of 227 days from a teenage boy to a man of strong spiritual belief and practical understanding of the world even while he was totally cut off from it. The communication between Pi and Parker underline the refuge the boy finds in fantasy and escapism when he is suddenly made to face the unexpected wrath of nature and the brutality of humans. In the end, even after survival… that is the story he wants to believe himself… and what helps him to still hold on to his belief in God.

By completely excluding the conversations the boy and the tiger have from the movie, it is put at a disadvantage… the movie is not able to get any deeper than the genre of fantasy… albeit, a thrilling fantasy.

Life of Pi is a technically brilliant film with some really good acting and breath-taking cinematography… The ocean sequences are exquisitely beautiful and India looks lovely and real unlike the usual western concept of a poverty stricken, slum riddled land… which is quite one-sided and extreme a viewpoint. 

But, the movie lacks the true soul of the book.

I would rate it a 4 / 5… movie magic
And a 2 / 5 for not truly capturing the essence of the book.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My First Design Steps

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I have been working on honing, and in some cases, learning new graphical skills in the past few weeks. So, I have been extensively watching Adobe Illustrated tutorials and working on my existing Photoshop knowledge and basically trying to get a hang of the software beyond basic image editing and digital painting.

From a beginner’s point of view, the world of graphical design is quite vast… at times intimidating and there is no limit to creative options. One could branch out into any form of graphical design… illustrations or web-design or logo & advertising and so much more. At the same time, one does not need to limit the options to just these.

What I have experienced in the process of my baby steps in to this graphical world is that technical knowledge is quite secondary. What is needed is a passion for seeing the immense possibility in the mundane. Everything around you can inspire you, be they objects or situations or emotions. And almost all of it can translate into images… and a combination of these images can illustrate bigger ideas.

I also realized that developing a personal style in your artwork is important… and as soon as you are comfortable with the design processes, it is a good idea to chalk out a signature style… something that ties your artwork to you like no watermarking can. Being inspired by existing artwork is fine… but if you can infuse it with your vision then you are making it your own.

Some of the basic concepts any would-be designer needs to understand are… colour, form, and light. These three elements combine in different ways to produce all kinds of artwork.

These 3 elements influence our daily life in ways we don’t immediately notice… but it is inherent in our behaviour. They can influence your thoughts in a sub-conscious way. Some of the imagery formed with a combination of these elements become instantly recognizable and attached to the idea behind it that the separation of the two becomes almost impossible. For example, the cross and Christianity.

Even though it is said that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder… achieving a good balance between the three elements of colour, form and light is almost always a sure way to create a striking composition which would largely be considered beautiful. Though, it is not always possible to get that perfect balance… one can always find a middle ground were the trade-offs aren’t glaring and the result would still be a grand success. The resulting artwork may be complex or charm with its simplicity… but, it would create an impact. The levels of complexity depend on how the imagery would be used… simple imagery works for logos and icons; an illustration would require more detailing and so on.

One of the first projects I did was a head-on jump into creating a logo for a friend… for a made-to-order pastry website, one that specializes in cakes and cupcakes. My technical knowledge at the time of creating the logo was nil. I did not even use a vector-based program to create the logo… because I did not know how to use one. I made the logo in good old pixel-based Adobe Photoshop.

The only points I considered for the logo were that it had to be simple, have a warm and cosy, inviting feel to it and it had to be hand-drawn to give it that personal touch which is what the idea behind personalized cakes is. I would like to think that I achieved at least some of what I set out to when I finished the logo. Here it is…

I chose some nice pastel, cakey colours that hint at yumminess and simple lines and curves to create a stylized double-storeyed cake with some very simple decorations. I chose a simple, yet whimsical type-face to create that hand-piped illusion for the name of the web-site and complemented the logo with a matching colour-scheme for the background.

I did make more than one version of the logo… with minor changes.

What I liked about my own logo was that it was simple enough to be used in different sizes and easy on the eye to be used as part of a larger canvas… like an element in a background image for the website.

I would like to thank the Barrettos (Cajie & Priscilla) for letting me design the logo for their website. Here is a link to the yummy stuff Priscilla makes:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Happy Diwali! (2012)

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Today is Diwali... an auspicious day.

And I thought, what better day to try something new... so here it is... my first completely manual shot on the DSLR.

I used a diya (lamp) propped on a pearl bracelet in front of one of those optical-fibre lamps.
My flame is all blurry... hope one of the experts can help me out... @ 1/6s, f/8, ISO 800

And here is a Diwali greeting with my personalized wishes to everyone...

Happy Diwali!

May the charm and sparkle of Diwali
forever light up our lives...

The brilliant smiles and tinkling laughter,
The myriad hues of rangoli,
The sweetness of mithai,
The joy of togetherness...
May this Diwali infuse all these into our lives...
Today and always!

-- Surya Murali

Monday, November 12, 2012

More World Records

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In my previous post, I accounted how I have been lucky to be part of a team that entered the Guinness Book of World Records. Today’s post is about more world record-breaking feats… albeit I am not personally involved with them, but they are special to me for they are from my home away from home.

On 10th November 2012, Kuwait celebrated 50 years of the Kuwaiti constitution and what a celebration it was. Being away from Kuwait I missed experiencing the whole thing first hand… but, I have been eagerly following every news link and YouTube video related to the event.

Kuwait celebrated the milestone with a mind-blowing fireworks’ show that lasted over an hour… and the whole shebang cost a whopping KWD 4.1 million (~USD 15 million). The show was not merely an hour of fireworks… but included laser shows, 3D image projection, large kites, floating dragons and lanterns and all this spread over the coastal stretch of Gulf Road.

I was lucky that two of my friends, Matt and Cajie, both avid photographers and adventurists were in Kuwait and they have taken some amazing pictures and videos of the event. They braved the impossible traffic and took extra efforts to get the best possible vantage points to set up their gear and record the amazing show… which in its brilliance and extravagance broke some 7 world records. One of the new records created was the use of 77,282 firecrackers.

I included one each of the amazing photos these guys clicked… as a teaser to what you would find in their blog and flickr accounts. :)

Copyright - Mathew Jacob

Copyright - Cajetan Barretto

And the rest can be found here…
Mathew Jacob (His blog)
Cajetan Barretto (His Flickr Account)

Here are some of the other pics of the event I found online… Credits are on the pics.

A few videos of the event...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

World Record Week

The entrance to the pooram grounds (clicked by my brother)

The last week has been mighty hectic. It was also loads of fun. And I got myself in to the Guinness Book of World Records. Yeeaah!

To be a bit more precise… me and around 2700 other ladies literally danced our way into the record books. The feat was enabled by the Mumbai Pooram foundation which organizes a yearly Arts & Cultural festival, the largest of its kind outside Kerala in Bombay. This festival is based on lines similar to the temple festivals (pooram) of the state of Kerala… the most famous of the poorams being the Thrissur Pooram held on the temple grounds of Vadakkunathan Kshetram with the temples of Parmekkavu Bhagavathi and Thiruvambady SriKrishna participating. Although the main deity of the Thiruvambady temple is Lord Krishna, the deity participating in the pooram is Thiruvambady Bhagavathi. Bhagavathi is a representation of the Hindu goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva (the deity of the Vadakkunathan temple.)

Though, the Mumbai Pooram is a celebration of the pooram culture of the temples of Kerala… it is not a religious festival. It is a showcase for the art and culture of Kerala and a platform to unite the Malayalis who have chosen to live their lives outside Kerala. It is a festival that brings the colour and pageantry of the vibrant pooram right in to their busy city lives.

This year, the major attraction of Mumbai Pooram was the world record attempt by 2700 female dancers performing the Kaikottikali / Thiruvathirakali dance art of Kerala. This form of dance is performed by women on the occasions of Onam or Thiruvathira. The dance is performed with the lasya (beauty and grace) element dominating the movements and expressions of the dancers. The typical formation for the dance is a circle of women around a nilavillakku (a ceremonial brass lamp) or a pookalam (a floral design) or a combination of both. The hand movements are languid and the bodies sway in a fluid motion in clockwise and / or anti-clockwise directions. The rhythmic movements of the dancers are given more importance than the hand mudras.

On the 9th of November 2012, a bevy of around 2700 ladies gathered at the KDMC grounds in Dombivli to perform this graceful dance in a special, never attempted before numbers. We had the Guinness Book Of World Records’ officials presiding over the event to ensure that the dance met their precise standards to ensure a place in the record books. The performance was scheduled for 6:30 PM and all the ladies had reached the venue by 4:30 PM, decked in the traditional Kerala attire consisting of off-white handloom cotton sarees or set-mundu with gold brocade borders and red silk blouses, with hair tied up in buns adorned with fragrant jasmine blooms, with kaash-maala / lakshmi-maala (a long necklace made of gold coins) and gold bangles, earrings and anklets.

After a long wait of about one and a half hours whilst which we were served cutting chai, the Guinness officials arrived to start taking a head-count of the dancers. Arranging 2700 dancers to be counted within the grounds when it was already choc-a-bloc with spectators might not have been an easy task… though the organizers could have done a much better and faster job if they had tried a bit harder. The dancers ended up waiting until 8:45 PM for the officials to finish counting them… all this time, we did not have a place to sit and were standing barefoot on the gravely ground. Let me tell you, it is not a pleasant experience to be standing without any food except a few Parle-G biscuits for about 5 hours… with the performance still looming ahead. Quite obviously, with the kind of exhaustion that had set in a few girls fainted… and I think one of the girls could not even be part of the performance. After the officials counted us… we were guided into the formation which took another half hour. Finally by 9:15 PM we were all ready in concentric circles, 18 in number.

The Guinness officials had informed us that any dancer who gave up before 5 minutes of dancing or who rested for over 5 minutes while dancing would be disqualified from the record attempt and their count deducted from the total. It was a scary prospect because the 5 long hours had exhausted the women… some of whom were really old and all of whom were above 13 years of age. Once, the guru-vandanam started, we were infused with a bit more life even though the limbs of most of us were too stiff with the waiting. When the singers started the song… all pains and aches and stiffness was forgotten and we all danced… and danced with as much perfection as we could muster. The performance lasted some 20 minutes… and by the end of it we all took a bow full of hope and anticipation… which later became a bow of triumph as we were informed that we indeed made it into the record books… the largest Kaikottikalli performance in the world.

Since, I was one of the dancers, I had to leave the photography to the professionals. Here is a lovely pic of the formation just before the dance started taken by freelance photographer Veeraj Nair (you can see more awesome pics at his blog.)

That's me!

Here are a few pics of the event my brother clicked.

The Vashi group... can anyone spot me?

A decorative gopurams structure which made it into the Limca Book of Records

Waiting for the Guinness Officials

The gopurams starting to light up

Standing in queues to be counted

The ground being prepared for the formation

The gopuram now completely illuminated.

Still waiting as the head-count nears completion.

The dance

The dance... continues

A formation showing unity.

The final bow.

In preparation for the event, we had daily rehearsals. Small groups of women from various localities gathered at convenient locations to practice the dance on a daily basis for the last few weeks. Our group was the Vashi group and had about 70 women in it. On 4th November 2012, there was a rehearsal at the venue which saw some 1500 of us attending. A few pics from the rehearsal.

A snapshot from the Times Of India

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Radha Couldn't Care Less!

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So, some nincompoop(s) with a lot of time on their hands and nothing better to do in spite of calling themselves an NGO decide to do something that is actually going to affect the lives of millions of people in a positive way... they file an FIR against some Bollywood types (Karan Johar and Gauri Khan) for calling Radha 'sexy' in some idiotic movie (Student Of The Year)! 
I was being sarcastic if someone didn't get it... though, there's nothing sarcastic about the movie being idiotic!
Also, personally the said song doesn't appeal to me... but I am not going to file an FIR because a song gives me a headache!

I find it pathetic that they are even bothered by the song... I mean, if they didn't like it then why give it this publicity?

My second issue with it is that... it is fine to say Radha looks like an elephant when she walks... that is poetry (apparently) and acceptable but calling Radha 'sexy' is a criminal offence and "hurts Hindu sentiments"? From when did 'Sexy' become a derogatory term?
Though I can't remember the exact poem where Radha was called an elephant... I can assure you she has been called one by some famous Hindi poet. 

Third and most important issue as far as I am concerned.... The priorities in some people's lives are appalling! They are concerned about a mythological character Radha who may or may not have existed when so many real, living women are being ill-treated throughout the country in so many abhorable ways! 

I am sure Radha, if she did exist, couldn't care less about what nonsense songs are being written about her while her sisters are being treated like crap. She was quite mature and open minded from what I have read.

Link to the original article

Friday, November 02, 2012

A Lazy Promotion!

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Did I tell ya'll that I got myself a new camera... a Nikon D5100. Yes, finally a DSLR.
Well, I am just learning how to use the camera... by trial and error, of course. The books about photography can wait... :)

I started taking some shots with stuff lying around my house... and thought I need to do something that would satisfy my yearning for the desert... I miss Kuwait.

Here is a link to the post...  and below is a sneak preview...

Adventures of a Gilded Camel

The second set of pics I took is a dreamscape... of fairytales and princesses...
The post is here and the sneak-preview follows...

The Princess Diaries

And here is an exclusive. something I haven't posted on my other blog... yet! :D

Little Teddy is in love... Again!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Gloomy Sunday (on a Tuesday)

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Ah well... I did listen to the song on Sunday and meant to post it earlier... but just got caught up in some stuff.

Gloomy Sunday is a beautiful song... the lyrics are supposedly depressive. Depends on how one looks at it. But, this song has a past... a disturbing past. 
Originally, it was composed by Hungarian composer Rezső Seress. Lyrics were written by László Jávor, and in his version the song was retitled "Szomorú vasárnap" 
The song was first recorded in Hungarian by Pál Kalmár in 1935.

The translation of the original lyrics courtesy Wikipedia are...

"Szomorú Vasárnap száz fehér virággal,
Vártalak kedvesem templomi imával,
Álmokat kergető Vasárnap délelőtt,
Bánatom hintaja nélküled visszajött,
Azóta szomorú mindig a
Vasárnap Könny csak az italom kenyerem a bánat...
Szomorú Vasárnap.
Utolsó vasárnap kedvesem gyere el Pap is lesz,
koporsó, ravatal, gyászlepel Akkor is virág vár,
virág és - koporsó Virágos fák alatt utam az utolsó
Nyitva lesz szemem hogy még egyszer lássalak
Ne félj a szememtől holtan is áldalak..."

"On a sad Sunday with a hundred white flowers,
I awaited for you my dear with a church prayer,
That dream chasing Sunday morning,
The chariot of my sadness returned without you,
Ever since then, Sundays are always sad,
tears are my drink, bread is my sorrow... Sad Sunday.
It's the last Sunday dear, please come along,
There will even be priest, coffin, catafalque, hearse-cloth.
Even then flowers will be awaiting you,
Flowers and coffin under blossoming (flowering in Hungarian) trees my journey shall be the last,
My eyes will be open, so that I can see you one more time,
Don't be frightened from my eyes as I'm blessing you even in my death... Last Sunday."

The original translation though melancholic, is also a little weird. 
The disturbing part about the song is that it has become something of an urban legend... and is said to have driven many a listener to suicide. 
In my opinion, the veracity of these claims are arguable... even if the song could be connected to a few suicides it may not be proved it was directly responsible to instigate a person to commit the act... the fact may be that the person already in a suicidal mood would listen to songs that complement the mood and this might just as easily be one of the songs they listened to... just as easily as it could have been 'Don't Worry, Be happy'.

I listened to the English version of the song by Billie Holiday... the video which I have put up above... and the lyrics here...
Sunday is gloomy,
My hours are slumberless
Dearest the shadows
I live with are numberless
Little white flowers
Will never awaken you
Not where the black coach of
Sorrow has taken you
Angels have no thought
Of ever returning you
Would they be angry
If I thought of joining you?
Gloomy Sunday
Gloomy is Sunday,
With shadows I spend it all
My heart and I
Have decided to end it all
Soon there'll be candles
And prayers that are said I know
Let them not weep
Let them know that I'm glad to go
Death is no dream
For in death I'm caressin' you
With the last breath of my soul
I'll be blessin' you
Gloomy Sunday
Dreaming, I was only dreaming
I wake and I find you asleep
In the deep of my heart, dear
Darling I hope
That my dream never haunted you
My heart is tellin' you
How much I wanted you
Gloomy Sunday

Friday, October 26, 2012

V/H/S – Movie Review

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Last night, with nothing productive to do I decided to pick a random horror flick to watch and picked out V/H/S.

******************  Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert! ******************

It is an anthology flick… a collection of 5 short stories with a 6th main arc. All of the stories including the main arc have been shot with handycams of the late 90s or early 2000s… so don’t expect HD video! As the name indicates, the footage is of VHS quality with all the video artefacts and shaky camera angles seen in videos of yore.

The main story arc is ‘Tape 56’ – The story revolves around ‘found footage’ in several VHS tapes. And all this is framed within the parent video footage which also seems to be ‘found footage’. :D

Tape 56 is about a bunch of hooligans who’ve been sent by someone (not shown or heard, only spoken about) to pick up a tape from a large, seemingly empty house. One of the gang films their whole break-in on a video-cam  During the break-in they find an old man, dead and stinking, in front of a bank of telly screens and loads of VHS tapes in the basement. While searching for a particular tape, the guys watch some tapes on the VCR in the room with the dead man. The other stories are all the different tapes they watch.

The first one is ‘Amateur Night’

This one centers on the immature need of some guys to film their sexual conquests… making amateur porn. It has the usual elements involved… 2 guys high on stupidity and alcohol, a third nerdy guy who tries to fit in, late night pub hopping, drunk girls, the usual drug snorting and a cheap motel / hotel room. The nerdy guy is made to wear glasses fitted with a spy-cam which then films their whole ‘adventure’… which is simply picking up a wasted girl or two from a pub, taking them to the room in the hope of some wasted sex and filming all of it. They land up at a pub and get friendly with a girl… and we see the whole thing through the spy-eyes of the nerd. Amidst getting sloshed, a very creepy looking girl comes up to our ‘spy’ and tries to get acquainted… in an even creepier way, with a whispered (almost hissed) ‘I like you’. From here this story is easily predictable…  to most viewers it would be easy to see that the whole story is hinged on the creepiness of the said girl. And the story hardly surprises you when it turns out that she is some Species like monster who then proceeds to kill/eat the guys… except our spy who she seems to like.

After the tape ends, we are back in the room of Tape-56 and the cameraman guy watching the tape is missing, the video camera is on the floor… hooligan No. 2 takes his place to watch another tape. The rest of the guys, except the missing one, are all over the basement trying to find the tape they were supposed to get. No one seems to care much that the original cameraman has just gone missing! Weird.

Second tape – ‘Second Honeymoon’

Road trip – check, married couple – check, motel – check, stalker – check, some weird incident that raises suspicion – check. The only twist in the still predictable tale is that… no seriously… there is no twist. Once you suspect one thing the other details fall in place.

Back to Tape-56… The hooligans find a bunch of tapes in the basement and the leader asks hooligan 2 who now wields the camera to watch the tapes to find the one they need, while he finally decides to look for the original cameraman who went missing.

Cut to tape three – ‘Tuesday the 17th’

Once again… a road trip… this time to the woods. 4 friends… 2 guys and 2 girls are on a weekend trip to some woods. One of the girls has arranged the trip and roped in her friends with some luring and fibs. The tricky girl’s boyfriend is filming the trip… mostly. Though at times, weirdly you feel that the director forgot that the 4 of them cannot be in the same frame. Again… usual joint smoking, naughty talk, flirting ensue. The characters are typical… cute girl, hot bored girl, cute girl’s jock boyfriend, the 2nd nerdy fellow who balances the quartet. In the otherwise calm woods, they see some dead animal that’s been disembowelled… this is meant to set the tone for the viewers… a tone of suspense. Really? A dead animal in the woods? Anyway… the cute girl asks her boyfriend to film certain locations to ‘humor her’ as she has some memories associated with them. The viewer is shown fleeting noisy-static filled glimpses of gory images of corpses at the locations the girl points out… over what is being recorded or as if the current recording is over an old tape with the gory imagery. Of course, the kids don’t see it as it would only appear in the tape when viewed later.

By now most viewers are already expecting a) monster stalking the woods b) serial-killer c) some rabid wild animal.

The cute girls acts a little weird and that seems to hint her involvement at some level. She tells them of some incident in the past about some murders in the forest and how she’d escaped. When the others get worried she laughs it off as a joke. The group splits… nerd and hot blonde go off in to the woods, leaving cutey and jock by the lakeside and are promptly killed by something that looks like a video-static filled human. Oh… by the way, the nerd has taken the camera along… conveniently… so it is able to film their deaths. The cutey finds the cam on the forest floor but no bodies and it hardly seems to concern her that her friends are missing… confirming what you have already suspected that she is well in on this. Soon she confesses to her boyfriend that she used them as bait to get to the killer, from her story, who was never caught after the murder of her former friends. The jock gets killed in the process and the cutey escapes with the camera… she has already set booby traps around to catch the killer and even leaves a warning for anyone who might later find the footage to stay clear of the woods… which seals her fate, at least, in the minds of viewers. Predictably, she comes close enough to catching the killer and then promptly dies at his hands… all the while the camera merrily films everything.

Tape 4 – ‘The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger’

This story is completely in the form of webcam video-chat recordings. Emily chats with her doctor-to-be boyfriend about a weird bump on her arm that reminds her of some childhood incident concerning her leg… and about how she believes her house is haunted because of weird incidents that keep happening around her. Her boyfriend does not believe that her house is haunted but plays along… and during the chat sessions, some incidents do get recorded. The viewers’ suspicions are raised when Emily specifically asks her boyfriend if he has been recording the incidents and he denies doing it when clearly he has…or we wouldn’t be watching the footage. It is possible that Emily has been recording the same… but the chat windows suggest otherwise. The ghost as the viewers can see is a small kid. Emily tries to figure out from her landlord if any kid could have died in the house earlier, which he denies. She asks her boyfriend to help her out via video-chat in contacting the ghost to find out what it wants. The boyfriend reluctantly agrees… Emily tries to confront the ghost(s) with her eyes closed so that she wont freak out at their sight… with her boyfriend guiding her by voice as he watches through her webcam. The ghostly kids attack and she faints… and voila… her boyfriend who is supposed to be miles away shows up the next minute and is obviously not deterred by the ghost kids or spirit children or whatever… he then operates on the unconscious Emily and extracts a weird fetus like thing from her body….all the while talking to the spirit children. He seems concerned about Emily… and hints that the fetus is something that grows inside Emily every now and then and has been removed earlier too. Also, the bump on her arm turns out to be some sort of tracking device. The webcam has been filming all of it. He then makes it appear as if Emily has been in an accident…and in the next video-chat with him, she tells him her doc (who he has recommended) has told her that she is schizophrenic and the ghosts are her imagination.

Cut to a different video chat… same guy… different girl… same bump on her arm. Another chance to show boobies!

This story was weird… and not predictable in the conventional sense… This one just raised a hell lot of unanswered questions.

Tape ends and we are again in the main story arc where the leader having not found the missing cameraman stumbles in to the video-room only to find both the dead body and his second tape-watching friend missing. He then sets out looking for them and finds the decapitated body of one of his friends. He is attacked by the dead old man (or his reanimated corpse)… and presumably killed. Back in the video-room the last VHS tape whirs into play…

Tape Five – ‘10/31/98’

So, it’s Halloween night of 1998 and four friends, all guys, dressed up in costumes are off to a party at some strange house they have no previous knowledge about. The huge house seems to be set up like a haunted attraction. The friends do not find anyone in it and assume they are early for the party. They stumble through the somewhat eerily decorated rooms of the house filming away with a video-cam looking for the party. Somewhere in the upper stories of the house they hear loud voices and what seem like chants…and following the noises they find themselves in an attic where a group of men seem to be attacking a bound woman. The four friends try to play hero and rescue the girl when weird things happen around them… the same stuff seen in most ghost movies / exorcism scenes. The guys somehow manage to rescue the girl and escape from the haunted house. They drag the girl to the car and get on the way to take her to the hospital.

Now, any viewer who has seen horror movies or read horror stories would know what happens next… they just rescued the ‘ghost’ from an exorcism and now she is going to harm them. This story even provides a hint earlier on in the movie about how the guys would die as they make a short stop near a railway track crossing, before they reach the haunted house. You can easily predict the rest.

And that ends what was one of the most predictable horror movies I have seen till date… with a collection of clichés and expected twists. The whole VHS tape effect gets on the nerves after a while. The shaky filming is normally a good cause for headache… coupled with the blurry filming of the video-tape era, it isn’t the best of experiences. I felt there was at least one sub-story too many in the film. There are better films in this genre and I am not talking about The Blair Witch Project which I did not find scary or impressive… except that it was different in its time.

I would rate this movie a 2 out of 5!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tu Shaayar Hai

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While browsing through my collection of Hindi songs, I came across the songs of the movie Saajan (1991). It was one of those films with a whole lot of songs in it… a musical in the Bollywood sense of the word. The movie wasn’t all that inspiring… in my opinion, the storyline was a little odd. This was my opinion when I had no clue about love as an emotion except for what I saw on the movie screen. And love according to the world of Hindi cinema was all song and dance in the first half and melodrama, tears and occasional dishoom-dishoom post interval.

Saajan was about a love triangle…*rolls eyes* where the leading lady falls in love with the poetry and philosophies attached to a name (a pen-name) and this name is attached to one of the leading men who is the handicapped, adopted brother of the other leading man. Of course, the other leading man falls in love with the lady and since she is into poetry and whatnot, our man enlists the poet brother to help him woo his lady love… all the while not realizing that his brother is in love with the same lady. Yeah... confusing!

The lady falls in love with the wrong brother believing him to be the poet she always admired… and then there is the element of sacrifice by the adopted poet who decides to hold his peace as gratitude to the family that gave him a home, love and a family name. After a few twists and bends, the lady realizes that the handicapped brother is the real poet and she had fallen for the wrong ’un. A lot of tears and hugs and word-exchanges later, it is the turn of the non-poet brother to play good Samaritan and sacrifice his love for his do-gooder adopted brother. In the end, the lady is united with her poet and his poetry.

Leading lady – Madhuri Dixit
Handicapped, adopted poet – Sanjay Dutt
Other brother – Salman Khan

When I saw the movie, I could not digest the fact that the lady had fallen in love with a name attached to the poetry. I remember the name quite well for various reasons… it was Sagar. Then when she falls in love with the wrong brother, I thought she had fallen for the persona he projected. Needless to say, in the end I was a bit confused about all that love that was being bounced around.
Well, whatever path the movie went it did have some nice songs (Music Director duo – Nadeem-Shravan with one of their best works). I liked most of the songs then and do too now. Some of the songs have nice lyrics too (by Sameer)

Coming back to why this post about a movie that released two decades back… it isn’t the movie… it is one of the songs (as suggested by the title of this post)

I hadn’t really paid heed to the lyrics much because every time I watched the song on TV, I would be mesmerized by Madhuri’s dancing skills. :D But when I did, I realized that some parts of it hit right home… and the very thing I had found odd in the movie has been true in my life.
Here was me being awed by the poetry and philosophy and the attitude behind a flamboyant alias … a name which had no face attached when I fell head-over-heels in love with it.

It’s a different matter that when we did meet up the feelings only deepened and the bonds just grew stronger. I am lucky there are no geometric figures ruining my love story! :D

The lyrics of the song… sung by Alka Yagnik

Tu shaayar hain... main teri shaayari
Tu aashiq hain... main teri aashiqui
Tujhe milne ko dil karta hain... o mere saajna
Tu shaayar hain... main teri shaayari
Tu aashiq hain... main teri aashiqui

Teri har nazm, tera har geet hai yaad mujhe
Jab tak saans chalegi na bhoolungi main toh tujhe
Tere bina jeena nahin khaake kasam kehti hoon
Maine bina dekhe, bina jaane tujhe dil de diya
Tu dhadkan hai... main teri zindagi

Tu shaayar hain... main teri shaayari
Tujhe milne ko dil karta hain... o mere saajna
Tu shaayar hain... main teri shaayari
Tu aashiq hain... main teri aashiqui

Apni betaabi ka main kaise tujhse izhaar karu
Kaise batlaau tujhe jaan-e-jaana kitna main pyar karu
Labh pe koi naam nahi tere siva mere saajan
Mere is dil pe tera hi nasha chha gaya
Tu deewana... main teri deewanigi

Tu shaayar hain... main teri shaayari
Tujhe milne ko dil karta hain... o mere saajna
Tu shaayar hain... main teri shaayari
Tu aashiq hain... main teri aashiqui

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