Monday, September 22, 2014

A Chewing Gum of a Movie...

"Why is this movie called Chewing Gum?"

We were on the middle of watching the dvd of a recent Malayalam movie taken on rent when my wife asked me.

She continued. "There seems to be no connection between this title and movie."

I tried to stiffle a yawn and replied.

"After the first few minutes the whole flavor is lost and it becomes a tasteless, sticky mass of infinitely stretchable matter. We have spent some money on it, however unsubstantial it may be, and are reluctant to spit it out. But we don't want to eat it as it is indigestible. Finally we chew it on for some more time hoping may be a surprise flavor is released, though its dead sure that won't happen. Chewing Gum is the most apt title for this movie."

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Idea Ulloo Banaoing Their Customer

On 8th of September I recharged my Idea account with a 3G unlimited recharge of Rs 949 valid for 30 days. The offer was 6GB 3G usage and after that 80kbps connection till validity ends.

On 15th September I used up 6GB (yes, I did it). That day I received an SMS from Idea saying that as my quota is over, my speed is reduced to 40kbps.

I tried browsing and found that the browsing speed is infact less. I called the customer care, but they were not ready to accept that such a thing can happen. I tried every trick they told- switched off the phone and switched it on again, deleted browser cookies, tried putting sim on another phone... But nothing seemed to work. When I contacted customer care again, they agreed to register a complaint which will take 38 hours to resolve.

Browsing with 40kbps was frustrating, but I decided to wait. The next day I received another SMS from Idea that informed me that my speed is again reduced to 20kbps and to their credit, that was exactly what happened.

When I called customer care, their advice was to wait till the complaint is resolved. Next day I got a call from Idea claiming that the complaint is resolved. But when I tried browsing there was no improvement. In my next call to care, they offered to reopen the complaint and wait for another 38 hours.

That time was over today evening, but I could not find any improvement. When I called again they put me on hold for 10 minutes, then returned to tell me they tried everything from their end but nothing could be done. The guy gave me an email id and told me to send the details to it, if I want to pursue furthur.

I gave him a piece of my mind in my most possible civilized manner, disconnected the call, drafted an email and send it to that id. The mail bounced...

Friday, September 19, 2014

Book Review: Catching the Departed

Writing of generic fiction is attaining new heights in Indian publishing industry. Many new authors are entering the field and it is sure that at least some of them are going to give their western counterparts a tough competition in near future. I am happy to claim that the author of the book I am reviewing here has a good chance of being one among them. Catching the Departed is the first novel by Kulpreet Yadav, founder-editor of a global literary journal. The novel was short listed for Hachette- DNA 'Hunt for the next bestseller'. Published by Tara, this is the first book of a series that features ex-army man and journalist Andy Karan.

A drunkard is murdered in a remote village and Andy Karan is send there to investigate it. He finds that the episode is not a stand alone one and that he has kicked the hornet's nest when he is attacked. Andy uncovers a lethal plan by foreign terrorists targeting Indian cities. He also finds someone from inside, someone real powerful is behind all these and that his life and the life of someone he really cares about is in danger. Will Andy be able to protect them as the bodycount around him multiplies? Read the book to find out.

The intention of this book is to tell a thrilling story that keeps the interest of the reader throughout its length. It does not boast any great literary ambitions. In that regards the book is a success. The book starts with a twin murder and the pace that is set explosively never slacks for the entire length of the book. Each page throws more and action on the face of the reader. The climax does justice to the plot. The book is immensely readable- I finished it in the course of a day, in two sittings. This is an ideal book to carry for that day time train journey or for a lazy holiday afternoon.

But one suggestion I have to make is about the lead character. Andy Karan comes across as a nice guy, infact very likeable and resourceful at times. He is brave, loyal and patriotic even vulnerable at times. He is fine to be the hero of a novel. But to take a whole series forward, I seriously doubt he has enough in him. The lead of a series has to have a charisma, a dynamic quality or a peculiar quirk that Andy lacks. And eating banana for lunch is not a good enough quirk in my view.

I recommend Catching the Departed for those who like a well paced thriller, which is an easy read. A good début.

Book Source: Author

Friday, August 15, 2014

Robin Williams and Popeye, the Underrated Début.

We like certain people for the positivity that they radiate. Robin Williams was one such guy. Many of his movies, even the lesser ones, make the viewer feel happy and content, just by his magnificent presence. So, it was with shock that I woke up to the news of his demise. My despair knew no bounds when I found out it may be a suicide. This guy, who, as per me was the most cheerful guy on reels, was apparently depressed and sad in his real life. This fact took some time to sink in. Guys, if any one of you feel discontent or sad or depressed; feel free to get help immediately. That's all I have to say on this topic.

The first movie of Robin Williams that I watched was Mrs. Doubtfire, the one that inspired Avvai Shanmughi (Chachi 420 in Hindi). It was a riot. After that I happened to see Jumanji, Flubber, Patch Adams and much later Good Will Hunting. I have not seen many of his films that are the favorites of critics except the last one that I mentioned. But even these movies were sufficient to make me realize the talent of Robin Williams. Most of his roles had a sweet, sugary and a little bit loony undertone and mostly he played the pretty ordinary guy who do extraordinary deeds compelled by circumstances very convincingly. It was only recently that I watched one of his negative roles, in the movie Insomnia by director Christopher Nolan. Even in that movie the subtlety that Robin Williams displays in portraying a psychopath is commendable.

Some years back I was browsing Wikipedia about the cartoon character Popeye, one of my childhood favorites, when I first came to know about a live action Popeye movie released in 1980. It was the first leading role of Robin Williams. It was registered in my mind as an awesome trivia. Yesterday in an article about his movie career, I came across Popeye movie again. So out of respect to this wonderful man, I decided to watch Popeye and blog about it.  The movie, directed by Robert Altman was in its time panned by critics and was just a moderate success. May be these factors stopped them from producing a sequel, but the movie had every potential for the start of a series.

First thing that makes this one special is the presence of Robin Williams, who plays Popeye just like in the cartoon but simultaneously renders him that extra depth which only a genius could do. The movie itself is very close to the cartoon. It has high energy, craziness and a bizarre sense of humor. The set of the village of Sweethaven makes a perfect background. There is very little plot or characterization. The movie unfolds in a totally haphazard manner. Lot of characters just come and go on screen with no more purpose than a background prop. Some of them make a lasting impression- like that guy who tries to pick his fallen hat but fails as his feet strikes it away from him every time he tries! But for me, surprisingly all these work brilliantly.

The humor is mostly verbal and a very little slapstick. I was expecting more of slapstick as it was about Popeye and due to the presence of Robin Williams. The way Popeye speaks to himself, just like the cartoon is brilliant. Robin Williams convincingly portrays him as an awkward and at the same time tender guy. There is a scene were Wimpy takes Seetpea for betting in horse race. All the horses are small plastic toys operated by wheels, and the place is inside a brothel! Did I forget to tell the movie is actually a musical? The songs are very funny and not just inserted to please the ears of viewers. The one inside the saloon is hilarious.

It is a very crazy movie, the cacophony of which may not be liked by many disciplined viewers. But I would recommend it to the adventurous ones and for the fans of Robin Williams.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Sunday Tweet War

Normally I never go for an argument with strangers, not in real life, never in cyberspace, especially about politics. Because it never changes a thing, other than generate lot of negativity. Today was an exception. I was doing my regular twitter rounds when I reached the timeline of Indian National Congress. For one of their tweets, I replied.

INC tweet:
#TheIndiaTheyInherited - Due to pro-poor UPA policies
More homes turn to PDS; wheat off-take triples since 2005

My reply:
@INCIndia real progress is when common man has disposable income not depending sudsidized food supply

After minutes of posting that I got this reply from Mr Nikhil which started this conversation:

Nikhil: till then? Should we leave poor dieing without food n shelter? We must appreciate good work done by UPA in last 25 yrs

Me: We are a free nation from 65 years. Why still there are poor dying? Till when this will continue? The only way out is to give poor a fishing rod once and for all, instead of a daily supply of fish.

Nikhil: yes, agreed with this too. For the same reason Rojgaar yojna n mnrega by UPA. We must appreciate Manmohan and his team

Me: Any yearly  study done how this scheme has benefitted economy? Or was that another handout? Is there an upgradation in skills of the people in this yojana?

Nikhil: People got jobs, spending power increased, so increased demands, to fulfill demands, more supply, thus more jobs.

Me: a link pls.

Nikhil: UPAs reforms n policies are always inclusive and conducive to kickstart the sluggish economy. Hats off to Manmohan.

Me: Why economy is still sluggish and not kick started yet?

Nikhil: Good schemes take time to flourish n reach the people. Many people opposed the computers and IT initially.

Me: How many years? 10 not enough? Then y INC criticising the new govt which is month old?

Nikhil: Instead of bluntly blaming, we should analyze the challenges n conditions before 65 years to realize INCs contribution

Me: I am not blaming. Look the election results.

Nikhil: agreed with this too. Thanks to Nehru for making India truly democratic. So we should respect the mandate.
We must respect mandates in 65y, MMS got 2nd term. IG was PM for 15y, JLN was PM for 17y. Why? They performed well.

Me: So we can conclude that UPA II was a failure as the result was disastrous. PM who performed well got repeat mandate. (Ur words). UPA2 did not get another term. Bcos of non performance.

Nikhil: Good to see that you come down from 65y to UPA2. Not at all disastrous, but few things mishandled. Corruption n Anna.

Me: was using ur logic n assuming the govts that got repeated mandates did well. few mishandling cost you an election?

Nikhil: UPA1,2 performed tremendously well but failed to project their achievements. They should learn Modi style of marketing

Me: So now u r not respecting mandate. U accuse people where manipulated?

Nikhil: Lets give some time n wish bestluck to Modiji. Lets hope he continue on the path defined by Manmohan Singh.

Me: Let's do it. I hope he doesn't repeat the grave mistakes of previous govts.

Nikhil: Not manipulated but Modiji succeeded in projecting that last 65yrs were disastrous due to Congress. Which is not true.

Me: So who were responsible?

Nikhil: Obviously UPA, but not everything was as disastrous like Modiji projected during his campaign. UPA should introspect.

Me: Supposing Modi has projected a 100% disaster rule by UPA, how much of a disaster it actually was?

Conversation continues.... Will update later.