Thursday, July 07, 2016

Sultan | The corny movie review by Navin

Sultan : Salman Khan has yet another reason to wear lesser clothes than his female co-workers (or Deepika Padukone in her movies) this year.

This movie is about how Salman Khan's character Sultan Ali Khan becomes a wrestler to win the heart, love and respect of the only hot belle in his village - Anushka Sharma's character Aarfa (who incidentally has her make-up always on and no bad hair-days and not a single pimple/grime from all that mud wrestling) and the story takes you through some twists and turns of the egotistical yet emotional Haryani village lad former Greco-Roman wrestler turned MMA wrestler.

Let's call the movie for what it really is - 'Sultan' is a crowd-pleaser and will definitely earn its makers and star several 100x of what it cost to make. It caters to his legions of female fans who will drool at the mere mention of his name. 

There is nothing new about this movie that you haven't already seen in a dozen other 'underdog' movies before. Off the top of my head, I can quote the 'Never Back Down' & 'Rocky' series, 'Karate Kid', 'Cars' (!) and a bunch of others. 
Salman Khan has probably reached that elusive 'Sunny Leonne' point in his career where his performance doesn't matter as much. No matter how trashy the plot is, people will flock to their movies. Women can't wait to see him in spandex and six packs. The movie-watching populace, fed on tales of his philanthropy and bad-boy/'virgin at 40' image, will propel this movie to the ₹500 crore club. 

For starters, Salman should be allowed to play his age. Dating and marrying a lady roughly half his age, even onscreen, is a major turn-off. 
There are a few extremely sexist jokes his character makes ('women are born to be hotheads' etc) but that will probably slide off the backs of our feminists. 
What the heck was Randeep Hooda doing in this movie? He is either munching something or mouthing something foul. 

I found the script very kitschy and the acting (bar a couple of rare instances) even worse. 
Starting a blood bank?! Yes, that is exactly what the village needed. 
I doubt if MMA fighters could be taken down by a slam, and the movie glosses over a lot of other technicalities. 
There is a flashback within a flashback and you see Sultan grinning like a love-struck idiot every time he glances upon Aarfa. Sure. That look might have sold Maine Pyaar Kiya a million years ago. At the wrong side of 40, I found this look on his face so brilliantly retarded, I now believe him when he says he is a virgin. No lady worth her pasty white skin would fall for that look.

Would I recommend it?
This is a movie that would have been hailed 'inspirational' if it was made 20 years ago. 
Today, movie-goers are exposed to better 'underdog' movies where their characters are truly inspirational. This isn't a Forrest Gump for sure. This is a 'Houseful' masala movie, catered to feed masses. 
In a matter of speaking, Salman and SRK make movies that are beneficial to our psychology. They encourage you to practice 'Suspension of belief' every time you watch their movies. 

My Rating: 2 (and I'm being generous here)

What does the rating mean? 
0-4  : Not worth your presence in the same zip code as the TV/Theater.
5-7  : Err... the movie is pretty, but it's definitely missing something. A storyline, that is.
8-10: 'Drop-the-dishes, stop-the-sex, jaw-dropping, that-is-incredible' 2 hours of movie experience

Monday, July 04, 2016

The Faith Hall of Fame | Manna for your Soul

I've borrowed many parts of this week's 'Manna for your Soul' from a 'Faith' series of sermons that my pastor Dr Benny Woods was teaching at church.

Back in the first place, I worked at, we had the Wall of Fame of the Top Performers (nicknamed 'Roaring Tigers') at the reception and at the cafeteria. As new employees, we would look at the 15ft of wall space with bright envious eyes, secretly wonder when we would see our names up there too. All them were exceptional performers with statistics that seemed beyond our reach. 

And then 4 months later, I saw I was on the Wall of Fame for being the 'Roaring Tiger' for that month. I remember thinking 'Wow, that wasn't too hard. All I had to do was be consistent.' 

That is how spirituality is as well. Strip away all the rituals and rigors of being a 'follower/disciple', you will begin to see that all Jesus really asks of you is - 'Be humble, love, and forgive as much as you can. And be consistent in all these things.'

If Hebrews 11 is the Wall of Fame of ordinary men and women who did what God expected them to do, then Hebrews 12 is the 'How to' guide to get there.

And here are some quick pointers from Hebrews 11.
  • Giving when we don't have - Having the right attitude and purpose when we give.
  • Obeying when we don't understand.
  • Believing when we don't see.
  • Persisting when we don't feel it.
  • Thanking God before we receive it  (also Mark 11:24).
  • Trusting even if we don't get it.
Faith is a gift from God and is not automatically activated but must be exercised to become active. Just as we have to exercise our muscles to develop it, the seeds of faith must be nourished and exercised to grow. 
And this is what separates the believers from the non-believers:  Non-believers think their good acts will be sufficient to take them to heaven while believers must transfer their faith from themselves to Jesus before they can begin living by faith.

Believers know God is omnipresent and although we cannot see the invisible tie we can experience His presence in everything we do. Because He has promised to never forsake nor forget about us. 
We know He is always accessible to us through humble prayer, overcoming obstacles and living a life worth His joy.

So what is 'faith' and what does the Bible tell us about it?
Quoting with Hebrews 11:1-2, for a believer, every facet of our spiritual life is affected by faith. 
We are saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), we live by faith (Galatians 2:20), we walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7), we stand by faith (1 Corinthians 16:13), we pray by faith (Matt 21:21-22), we overcome by faith (Matt 17:20), we fight by faith (1 Timothy 6:12), we gain victory by faith (John 5:4), and we please God by faith (Hebrews 11:6).

So while faith is beyond mere book knowledge of the Bible, knowing God and being faithful to Him is the only key that will open the door to heaven.

Many people love to recite how 'faith that can move mountains' is essential in your life. What they don't tell you is what this really means. Jesus wasn't talking about moving physical mountains, but about the 'mountains of doubt/sin' in our lives. 

Do you have the faith to move 'mountains' in your life?

Friday, July 01, 2016

Udta Punjab | The corny movie review by Navin

Udta Punjab: Yet another proof that any publicity (even unwelcome publicity from senile old uncles and aunties at the Censor Board) is good publicity.

Put simply, Udta Punjab is about how ingrained drugs are in Punjab. This is old (cheap) wine repackaged in new plastic bottles. There are a couple of songs and Alia running and braying (aka crying) and then Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor. You'd be forgiven if you see similarities between Jab We Met and Udta Punjab. 
While I'll give brownie points for even making a movie like this, I think there is a lot of reasons why this will be a movie that you can wait to watch when it comes on the 'Worldwide Television Premiere' on Hindi cable TV. 

The most important of them is - they have got the technicalities so wrong, anyone who has worked even remotely with deaddiction and rehab centers will cringe at how drug addiction is portrayed. Heroin/cocaine and its sister drugs are extremely potent and evil. Getting addicted to these will affect the way you appear, speak, think and basically function. Withdrawal is even worse. Alia's character is shown to be addicted to the drug but when she is 'hunting' for it, there isn't the craving and the 'urgent insanity' that addicts will go through. She looks disheveled and bruised and that's about it. Shahid looks dapper and fit and while he does the part of the raving drug addict well, where he fails miserably is the post-jail/rehab. For a guy who couldn't perform if he wasn't coked up to his cock, one night at the slammer does what years at a rehab cannot do - Kick the habit. His 'clean' act fails so bad, I feel pity at the guy for even trying. 
This movie has so many other glaring inconsistencies, continuity issues, and factual errors, I doubt if they even tried to edit. 
Kareena Kapoor was only there to add some glamor to the movie. For an actress who could carry a movie on her shoulders, Udta Punjab was definitely the wrong choice.

Infact I felt the makers confused drug addiction with alcoholism because none of the people who are seen taking drugs in the movie resemble what an actual drug addict would do, say or think. 
I found the part where Kareena's and Diljit's character go snooping around in the godown in the middle of the night unbelievably amateur and without any foresight. I find it unbelievable drug lords would let their godowns unsecured the way it is being portrayed. I found the many songs and the hint of romance between Kareena's character and Diljit Dosanjh's character distracting. 

Would I recommend it?
Udta Punjab is a wonderful example of what happens when its makers (and actors) don't do their homework. 
Apart from growing a mane and working up a leaner body, Shahid doesn't seem to be getting inside the skin of his character. Apart from Prabhjyot Singh, who plays Diljit's brother, none of the other actors appear committed to the cause. Diljit appears authentic but gets watered down with too much gooey stuff 40 minutes into the movie. Some of the metaphors are deep, like the one where Alia is falling and then swimming towards a light. Technically, this movie is a bust and didn't deserve one bit of the publicity it got.
Udta Punjab doesn't tell you anything different that other movies of the same genre haven't told better. Any premise of promise is diluted to the point where you can guess the climax of the movie right by the time you are packed off for popcorn at the interval. 
This is a bad waste of good money but hey, you get free air-conditioning and an eyeful of Shahid's abs, so the girls won't be complaining. 

My Rating: 2

What does the rating mean? 
0-4  : Not worth your presence in the same zip code as the TV/Theater.
5-7  : Err... the movie is pretty, but it's definitely missing something. A storyline, that is.
8-10: 'Drop-the-dishes, stop-the-sex, jaw-dropping, that-is-incredible' 2 hours of movie experience

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