Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Rustom | The corny movie review by Navin

Rustom - A movie whose sole premise revolves around salacious details of a crime and the way justice was maliciously subverted a few decades ago.

Akshay Kumar stars as Rustom Pavri, a highly decorated Indian Navy officer, who returns home to realise his young and gorgeous wife Cynthia Pavri (performed by Ileana D'Cruz) is in love with Vikram Makhija (Arjan Bajwa). 
Rustom goes on to kill Vikram and the plot start coagulating thereon. 

Akshay has always been prone to typecast. Until a decade ago, he used to play the almighty kung fu action hero. Perhaps age has forced him to choose movies that are factually incorrect, dramatised for maximum effect (aka Bollywoodised). He is the righteous protagonist, fighting for his ideals, is flawed but can't do any wrong, sleepwalks through much of this movie.

I found the movie painfully slow, with the scene where Rustom leaves Cynthia for London at the port being repeated at least 6 times (okay, we get it!), the subplot of the scam, the off-the-cuff insinuation that the Navy is corrupted all the way up, and adding the 36 minutes of songs in a 2 hour 30 minute movie, you tune out after the 3rd song. 
I thought the twists weren't masterly rendered. 
So while there has been considerable attention to detail which I liked, I found the errors in Akshay's uniform unpardonable. For a 'prop' that was used throughout the movie, did the movie-makers assume no one else would recognise the mistakes? A cursory google search will tell you about the many glaring technical, and factual errors in this movie.  So I'll spare you the litany here.
I think Illeana did a decent job. She played the remorse-filled, bored Navy wife sufficiently well.
Esha Gupta is eye-candy. She should probably take meatier roles so that she is not typecast in the future.
The courtroom drama was too predictable at times. 

Would I recommend it?
This is a celluloid version of The Blitz, the actual tabloid that created and swayed public opinion, at the time of K. M. Nanavati v. State of Maharashtra.
Like his previous movie - Airlift, many cinematic liberties have been taken. 
Prepare to unlearn facts you've read about KM Nanavati if you want to watch this movie. 

My rating: 5

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

Friday, August 19, 2016

An Open Letter to Shobhaa De

Dear Salacious Auntie,

Ok. It's been a while since I last wrote a scathing post and God knows I've resisted the temptation.
No More!

Shobhaa De! For a lady whose Wikipedia page describes as a columnist famous for writing juicy gossip about inane people and 'depicting sex in fiction', you do realise that you need to stay relevant and in the news, for any news is good news for you. Even ones that could paint a bulls-eye on your pale-skinned Indian bottom. 
And I appreciate the fact that you have been able to stay in the news. Bravo for that!
You did manage to get your name trending. Good Job! 
You are the shrivelled poster-auntie of SEO specialists. 
You are the dream of every C-grade 'actress' and 'have-beens' and 'well-trieds'.

Now, we know that you have taken on the mantle of the Great Indian Dream and declared yourself as the Saviour of Indian dignity, but your tweets are the literal equivalent of a half-digested, worm-filled turd that street dogs (sorry dogs, no offence) pass. 
When you said what you said in your now infamous tweet, you just expelled your half-digested, worm-infested turd onto yourself. 

Of course, you are partially correct. Not everyone makes a living like you do. 
Olympics is one of those sporting events that have retained its intent and glory. 
Olympics is the only arena that tests the best of the best. The only event where professionals compete with amateurs and only the best man or woman win. 
Olympics is the only sporting event which hosts more countries and their best athletes in more disciplines than you can possibly think of. 
Of course, I realise none of this matters to you, because if gossiping was an Olympic sport, you'd still not get past the heats. Pity!

Our athletes and sportspeople aren't going to get as many medals as the Chinese or the Americans. They probably will never get there in our lifetimes. And do you know why?
Its is because of people like you. 
It is because of people who hire people like you.
It is because of people who drool at your tweets.
It is because of people like you who would rather tweet about the problem than come up with meaningful solutions.

A couple of decades ago, there was a TV show on cable that showcased children who would train in a particular sport/discipline to compete professionally. 
While I can't remember the name anymore, I used to watch it religiously and marvel at the amount of training, dedication, the pain and the sacrifice they had to endure to become the best. While they were still children. I was astounded! 
Ofcourse, I was abroad at that time and my perception of how India was very similar to what yours is now. Childish, impish and immature. 
But having lived in India for the last 20 years, I've seen the struggles and the challenges, the fruit of victory and the pain of defeat closely.
As a college student, I've competed in swimming competitions and it was unscrupulously bureaucratic. 
Apart from the 1% of the athletes at the top, no one (and I repeat NO ONE) ever ever gets the respect they deserve, the support they need and the security they crave 
Indian sportspeople are a ridiculed lot. Correction: Barring cricketers, sportspeople from every other discipline are neglected and shunned. 
Read Arjun Chandur's answer to What if Michael Phelps was born in India? on Quora
Our bureaucracy and writers like you may not break bones, but you sure can break their spirit. 
And in case they do survive you and the bureaucracy, and make it to the Olympics, they will still suffer from our public apathy. Walk into any one of the SAI facilities in a city of your choice. You'll notice that they don't even have a decent working toilet. The facilities are less than international standards and the coaches, nevermind.

Don't be surprised if they can't make it to the quarterfinals. Be thankful if they do.
They have already surprised themselves by getting better than 50 other athletes who are the best in their country. 
If they do win a medal, any medal, celebrate them. Fete them for sure and when the party moves on, encourage them to grow and reach greater heights.  
If they don't win a medal, don't pounce on them because it wasn't their fault in the first place. They did give their best shot. Read Sportskeeda's answer to What is the "Vault of Death" and why is to so controversial? on Quora

We have never been a country who liked any other sport anyway. Olympics even less!
Heck, come to think of it, we are so confused about what sport to support. We think Hockey is our national game, but na. It isn't. Cricket is played by a handful of nations and we still manage to lose the World Cup!
Which leaves Kabbadi and well.. Chess. Neither of which are Olympic sports yet. 

See, Auntie, the problem is not them. The problem is clearly people like you. 
I challenge you to try a sport. Any sport. And excel in it. Get to the Olympics and get a medal. I dare you, double dare you. Nope. I know you won't. You can't.
It's far too easier for a lady who is long past her prime, to sit in that recliner and play thumb-wars with your tweet-happy fingers and ruffle people like me. 
It's easier to google for salacious pictures of Jwala Gutta and Sania Mirza than it is to go out and practice a sport 5 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Finally, to sum all this up, Auntie, in the words of The Rock 'It doesn't matter what you think... because you can take the batteries out of your smartphone, lube it up turn that sum bitch sideways and stick it strait up your candy ass!'.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Kabali | The corny movie review by Navin

*Begin fan moment*
Highlight of my weekend: Kabali
Now, I may not look like it, but I'm a massive fan of the Rajnikanth of yore. Padaiyappa, Pokkiri Raja, Thalapathi and Baasha are in the Top 10 of my favorite South Indian movies. 
*End fan moment*

So what's common between Amitabh Bachchan and Rajinikanth? 

Both of them have had a very similar cinematic lineage. Both of them have done what millions of aspiring actors can only er.. well.. aspire.
Both of them are known to be very personable offscreen and have gone through some personal lows and incredible highs too. 
But that's where the similarities end. 

Amitabh has aged like fine wine, reinvented. He has chosen his movies carefully. He gets deep into the skin of his characters and that results in performance that scintillate. Some of his recent movies have him portraying characters that were age-appropriate and relatable. 

Rajnikanth. Not so much. After working in movies as epic as the ones he has, his recent choice of movies is like a failed denouement of an otherwise spectacular book. 

Enter 'Kabali'.

It is supposedly 'based on true events' and is supposed to capture the turf war between gang lords Kabaleeswaran (Rajinikanth) and Tony Lee ( Winston Chao) in Malaysia. 
Like any other film, this guy has been a part of, Kabali has been put through a well-oiled PR rigmarole. The makers whipped up so much publicity froth that the froth at the Bellandur lake looks tame. 

Now, before I go British and pick the holes in Kabali, I must tell you things that I loved about this movie. 

  • I loved that Rajnikanth can still deliver a dialogue with such fervor and character. Kabali is peppered with patriotic quotes and he delivers it in true style. I absolutely loved it when he said 'Karupa powerada' (black is powerful). Whistle Podu
  • I loved how he still has a certain 'aura' about him. I loved how he still shows how he can still get into the skin of his character and emote reasonably well. 
Now, the flaws.
  • Rajnikanth plays the protagonist with Radhika Apte as his wife (!). We must really allow Rajnikanth to age gracefully. Letting him have a bride who is less than half his age is just so wrong on so many levels!
  • We mustn't have him performing gravity-defying stunts. Even if it was just a stunt double who did it. The stunts, like any other regular Indian movie, are exaggerated and almost comical. 
  • Movies like Kabali, tend to revolve, quite literally, around Rajni. And this is what kills this movie. There is a lot of emphasis on Rajni and how he is portrayed, and on his makeup/prosthetics and so on. In Kabali, what astonished me is how Radhika Apte's character doesn't have the attention to detail. For instance, Rajni's character meets his long lost wife, after 25 years, and apart from a tuft of graying, there aren't any other signs of aging. After Kochadaiyaan, I've begun to feel they run out of money budgeted for the other actors after they've taken care of the SuperStar and the PR froth.
  • The 'suspension of belief'. While Hollywood movies aren't always stellar either ('Independent's Day' is an excellent example of how a popular movie is ripped off and remade into a C-Grade action flick with E-Grade stunts), some of what you see on in movies like Kabali is beyond ridicule. Rajni gets his chest pumped with bullets and 10 seconds later, we see him sitting upright at home, with just one teeny-tiny bandage as if he just had a flu shot. 
  • At some points, I found myself nodding off because of the pace, and at some other points, I felt like the director wanted to tell us something epic but got distracted and then decided to move on. Alas!
So, what ails Rajnikanth? 
Spoiler Alert: Rajni should stop playing a gangster because this could be the death of him (no pun intended).
We mustn't expect him to give a catchphrase for every movie he acts in. Even then, I doubt if anyone even caught the 'Karupa powerada' line. 
We refuse to divorce the man from the actor. The internet is filled with superhuman memes and legendary accounts of his humility, charity / largesse and approachability. 
Over the years, we have elevated a simple man with an exceptional talent in dialogue delivery and great screen presence into a demi-god. 
So this isn't about Rajnikanth. All the frothing is only possible because ordinary Tamilians have latched on to their next 'actor turned Chief Minister-in-waiting'. Don't believe me? Look at the political lineage of Tamil Nadu and you'll agree. 
No matter how bad his movies do, we won't allow Rajni to fail our dreams for him. But does that make him a great leader? 
I digress...

Would I recommend it?

The makers of this movie wanted us to believe this movie was based on a true account of 2 gangsters. 
The truth is there wasn't a man called Kabaleeswaran but there was a Tamil fighter called S.A Ganapathy, who campaigned for the rights of Tamils in Malaya. 
If you really want to enjoy Kabali, empty your mind, suspend your logical thought, dress the part, and watch the movie in the company of a dozen other equally lunatic fans (no pun intended). 
Kabali isn't a Jason Bourne, a Godfather, or even a Shootout at Lokhandwala. Rajni doesn't have the charm of a do-gooder Robin Hood nor is suave enough to pull off a ruthless mafia boss. 

So, there you have it. Kabali. One of the highest grossing Indian movies of all time isn't really even a movie. It is the World's most expensive PR campaign for Tamil Nadu's next politician. One where the makers are already sashaying their way to the bank. 

In the meanwhile, Kabali isn't doing much for Rajni's true fans, like me. 

My Rating: 5.5

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

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

The Ugly Truth..

So you've read the Perks of Dating me, I have my quirks too! All 10 of them..
  1. My resting facial expression makes me look hostile, distant, sarcastic and rude. Infact I've been told I have the 'bitch face'. All of which are the exact opposite of what I really am. 
  2. I have weird sleeping/bed habits. Let's leave it at that. #MonicaGeller
  3. I take my happiness very seriously. Which includes my career, relationships, and my Everyday Happyness. Because of certain traumatic events in my childhood and teen years, I feel I've been robbed of all the experiences that other people lived through. I let other people dictate and direct how my life was lived for far too long. Now, when I get a bad gut feeling, I think about how it can affect my future. If it won't make me happy, I either try to fix it or simply get let go of it. And because of this, I think it takes a special kind of person to tolerate me.
  4. I don't have a need nor want for anything. I'd love to father a child, but I know that won't happen so, I am okay with adopting one, and I will. Sometime in the future. I neither covet nor have aspirations to inherit my parents' huge fortunes and this bothers many people. Keralites aren't supposed to be this way. I don't want to buy a house that won't be my home. I don't want to buy a car that I won't travel long distances in. I don't want to marry so that I can have a roommate/babysitter/caretaker/survivor when I am about to die. And this bewilders most people. I want to live with a person who will live her adventures too. 
  5. When it mattered, I've left all sorts of people and situations, and with no malice at heart. People can't understand why I'd do that. I find it hard that they cannot understand it is as much my life and my priorities as it is their life and their happiness. 
  6. I’m always questioning and challenging statements presented as facts. And because of this, many people label me as argumentative and opinionated. Maybe, but I still prefer to be convinced of something than the converse.
  7. I can't forget easily. I used to have trouble forgiving people who did something nasty to me. It could have been something they did when I was 5 years old, but I'll remember that every single time I interact with them. Similarly, if I've done something nasty or embarrassing, I find it really hard for me to move on. The memory of that incident stays like a bad stink. Of course, therapy in the last couple of months has helped.
  8. I have a super joyous (almost boisterous) way I laugh. Some people may find this annoying, embarrassing or just plain disgusting. 
  9. I have an irrational fear that I have/will have a terrible illness. I often imagine I will get immobile and wheelchair-bound because of major illness/accident. This does freak out a lot of people. #MyBucketList
  10. Sibling rivalry. My sister and I are estranged and while I have grieved the fact that I can't have a healthy relationship with her family, I've decided I can't waste my peace for a cause that hasn't yielded results in 25 years. Many people find this repulsive and think I won't make a good boyfriend/future husband/son-in-law because I am estranged from my family. 
So, that's about it. I'm not perfect and I don't have a perfect life but I know there isn't another person like me. When I started on this social introspective experiment, the logical part of my mind didn't want me to write all this here. Because once it's out here, it's out there for the world to see. 
And I asked myself, 'So what?!' 
None of this will matter to people who truly love me. Everyone else will move on. 

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