Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Book Review: Tale O'12 by Biranchi N Acharya



In our daily life we encounter countless people and incidents. We receive advices and lessons from varied sources. Things happen to us or someone near to us, from which we learn how to tackle a situation more effectively in the future. Many instances happen in which our whole paradigm about the world and it's workings shift dramatically. But how many of us stop by and appreciate them and the impact they have on our life? How many of us show the courtesy to acknowledge them and how many of us transfer these lessons that are learned in the hard way to others, so that they benefit from it?

These are the reasons why after reading it, I appreciated the effort of Biranchi Acharya for his effort to pen and publish a book like Tale O'12. This book is jointly published by blogadda.com and BecomeShakespeare.com as part of their Blogger to Author program. It is a collection of twelve fictionalised re-tellings of incidents from author's life. They deal with a variety of subjects, like economy, psychology, spirituality, politics and civics. Many of the stories are basically conversations that happened between friends, acquaintances or even total strangers about a particular aspect of an everyday issue that relates to every common man.

The tone of the stories are benevolent and kind, without taking an aggressive or emotional stand anywhere, though the issues they raise have every reason to be so. For example, in the story Religion vs Dharma, an old man convinces a young sadhu that Hinduism is not an organised religion, but a Dharma which in-fact hold together a collection of different religions, beliefs and ways of living. After reading the story, you may either agree or not agree with this point of view. But the tone of the story and the method in which the arguments are organised, motivate you to re-evaluate your personal ideas about Dharma and religion. This I feel itself is a great advancement in a country that takes up issues like religion, politics and spirituality too much emotionally to have an argument devoid of biases.

Most of the other stories follow a similar pattern, but asks questions and try to decipher different issues. My favourite is the one titled The Art of Being Happy. In that author, on a particularly stressful and eventful day, is on his end of his wits. He encounters someone who shares with him the secret to be happy even when misfortune strikes. The idea may sound too superficial and impractical but when we consider that it is our response to an incident that defines our happiness, it makes perfect sense. I would definitely recommend this book for its practical approach to everyday issues that can be helpful to all. The language is very simple and ordinary and easy for anybody- of any age or education, to comprehend.

Now, the only complaint that I have, which I have raised in many other reviews of Indian books, is about something that hampers the enjoyment of even the most well written books with greatest of intentions- lack of proper proof reading. The book has many spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, punctuation errors and I have even spotted a few mistakes in capitalising. Believe me, these things may sound like silly cribbing but for a serious reader even these grossly undermine the reading experience. This has to be taken care by publishers because the writer has used his imagination and intellect and made up this great book of 200 plus pages out of his toil, a few errors are bound to happen. A professional editor and proof reader has to polish this diamond before releasing for public consumption. These mistakes are great disservice to the efforts of the author and I believe the publishers have a responsibility to ensure such errors are corrected.
This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!


Monday, November 28, 2016

Dear Zindagi



"Don't let your past blackmail your present to ruin a beautiful future."

Dear Zindagi is the best Hindi movie that I watched in recent times. The fact was that I expected it to be boring when I heard the synopsis first. I felt it would be another usual, silly, childish Bollywood rom-com. But I was interested to see what Gauri Shinde could bring on the table after being impressed with her previous movie, the effective English-Vinglish.

Dear Zindagi is the story of Kaira who has serious emotional issues with her love life. She's attracted to men and falls in love with them, but is afraid of commitment. Thus she's in and out of a string of relationships hurting herself and her clueless boyfriends. Her friends are perplexed and parents are confused and things hit rock-bottom when her professional life crumples in the process.

Jobless and homeless, she's forced to shift to Goa, her parent's place, whom she can't bear. There she decides to take professional help from Jehangir Khan, a psychologist. The crux of the story is how Khan helps her to piece the clues of her past together and makes her ready to face the life again.

The movie has a beautiful and important message- that our mind, just like our body is prone to diseases, both minor and major ones. Not attending to the minor issues can possibly lead to serious, chronic situations in future. Taking up professional help in such cases need not be a matter of embarrassment. This movie is about how childhood trauma can make a person unable to face the present realities and can make serious troubles in your and your loved one's lives. And how with proper help and support, it is possible to come out and make corrections before its too late. Let me quote from the movie

"Let's once try to bring down our parents from the high pedestals we've placed them and try to understand them as common people, like us, who are prone to making mistakes in life."

I would say we do it to everyone who is in a relationship with us and then our life can be better and more easy to live.

Alia Bhatt effortlessly transform herself into Kaira. I have theory that Shahrukh Khan is miles better as an actor when he does a non-romantic role and after Swades, Chak De and Don movies, I'm happy to see my theory stands the test of time. I don't know how scientific his therapy is, but it sure seems convincing on screen.

So, Dear Zindagi is a must watch, inspirational movie. Its uncluttered, easy to sit through and not manipulative. Though the perils of Kaira may seem immature and trivial to many of you, believe me, she has escaped from the mouth of a volcano that had the potential to take away her future.


Friday, November 25, 2016

Shivaay: Ajay Devgn's Gadar..!



Shivaay, the action movie directed by Ajay Devgn seems to be a spiritual sequel of Gadar. Does anybody remember Gadar, the most Sunny-Deolish movie of Sunny Deol? Gadar is a period movie set in the years after partition, while Shivaay is set in the present era. But if we look closely, it is visible that there are certain similarities in the narrative of both the movies.

Gadar is the story about the love between a Sikh man and a Muslim lady and the hardships the guy and his kid has to suffer in retrieving her from Pakistan. Shivaay has a Bulgarian tourist falling in love with an Indian trek guide and the hardships the guy has to suffer to retrieve their kid from the clutches of a kidnapping ring.





In Gadar, the first hour is about how the lovers meet and the hardships they have to endure together. In Shivaay also similar situation occurs. By the end of this segment, the heroines of both movies become mothers. In Gadar she goes to Pakistan to see her parents, leaving the kid with Sunny and her father doesn't allow her to return. In Shivaay the heroine go back to Bulgaria leaving her child back in India with Ajay never to return.

In both the movies our hero, with the kid go to the other country in search of the mother. They fall in some bad situations causing massive manhunt against them by law enforcement. Another similarity is that after the initial one hour setup of premise and characters, both movies totally depend on relentless action sequences to carry the film forward.

In case of Shivaay, Ajay has done a great job with action sequences. Breath-taking is the only word to describe them. And it's almost nonstop too. My issue was with the first one hour which was wasted. The love story lacks any punch and is unconvincing. It doesn't establish a rapport of central characters with the viewers thereby missing a golden opportunity to make us care for them later when action picks up. Also lacking was the quality of dialogues. Dialogues in Shivaay are pathetic.



 Read my post on Force 2 


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Force 2 Awakened, Rolled Over and Slept Again...



Watching Force 2 turned out to be a total waste of time for me. It has some fabulous action sequences, but what point is there in watching a movie that is totally lacking in plot development and characterisation? Atleast adding some humour or melodrama would have done the trick.

The first part Force was remade from Tamil movie Kaakha Kaakha which was a realistic portrayal of the life of encounter specialists. The charm of the Tamil movie was the stark contrast between the romantic and professional sides of the personality of the protagonist played by Surya. Hindi version was not that good, but it hugely benefitted from the ready made script. The makers seriously botched up the sequel when they thought they could compensate the lack of good script with tons of action and car chases. 

One good thing about John Abraham that I like is his sincerity. He tried his best and failed honorably like he did in many other movies. He has his limitations as an actor, but he had transcended them in few of his movies like No Smoking, Madras Cafe and Taxi No. 9211. It's a pity that's not the case in Force 2. I hated those scenes where he walks menacingly towards villains and in closeup suddenly displays a cute puppy look.

The villain is given impressive screen timing and he shines through most of it. But his role was poorly written. The revelation of his motives in the climax spoiled the whole film. Sonakshi Sinha doesn't have much to do other than run around behind John Abraham in chase sequences. Her character arc is pathetic, unconvincing and doesn't make any difference in the movie.




But one curious thing that I noticed is that Force 2 bears an uncanny similarity to a Tamil movie that I watched recently- Irumugan. Both movies have villains trying to destabilise India from a foreign country. Both movies have reluctant protagonists taking up the responsibility of stopping the menace. In both movies the heroes are tormented due to the death of their wives. In both movies it is RAW who conducts the operation. In both movies our hero is assigned with a female partner, who is officially the leader. In both movies the hero easily bypass the partner. In both movies this causes ego issues in between them. In both movies, villain get a better deal role-wise. In both movies there are tremendous action and chases, but lack of a proper plot spoiled the whole thing. Both movies waste a lot of time in characters running behind one another without any interesting pay-off.

It's no fun ending up watching two similar disappointing movies back to back.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Book Review: The Blaft Book of Mizo Myths

Mythology of a region is essentially the collective memory of generations of people who inhabited the place. A myth is like a species of organism that evolves, adapts, spreads and perpetuates itself through oral re-tellings. With each retelling, a myth absorbs something from the person who tells it and those who hear it. I believe introduction of verbal languages has seriously caused a threat to the evolution of myths. By writing down a myth, its organic nature is threatened. It attains a state of permanency which totally stops its growth.

Having stated that, today it has reached a stage where the recording of myths and study of mythology has become important. Otherwise these amazing amalgamation of cultural snippets from past will cease to exist. In Malayalam this attempt had begun a century back when Kottarathil Shankunni recorded the mythology of Kerala in an exhaustive volume called Aithihyamala. Today every region in India have become aware of the cultural value of mythology and are taking serious steps to collect and do research on them.

That was the reason I was thrilled to receive a book from Blaft Publications about mythology of Mizoram. The book titled The Blaft Book of Mizo Myths is written by Cherrie Lalnunziri Chhangte who is a scholar doing research in comparative study of Native American and Mizo literature. To be frank, I was disappointed by the length of the book, I expected more. (It is 50+ pages book). But after fully reading it, I believe it was a sensible decision.

The book introduces you to a very different world and I would say the stories are unlike any myths that I, possessing whatever limited exposure of Indian mythology, have come across. What make Mizo myths and fairy tales distinct from others is that, they have a childish inquisitiveness, an intent to probe the unknown and come up with simple answers to every puzzle that they meet in their lives. Another factor that I noticed is that the content of these stories are pretty mature. For the kids of today who are overprotected from the contact with nature and outside life, these stories of unrestricted congruence with the amazing world out there, may be hard to adapt. But once they adapt, I believe it has the potential to be a treasure trove with life altering possibilities.

The book contains six stories, and each of them take you to a different surreal atmosphere. There are stories of lovers, warriors, otherworldly creatures like weretigers and Mura, a huge predatory bird (I was envisioning a pterodactyl while reading about it), supernatural demons like Lasi and much more. I loved The Story of the Beginning of the World which is a rich introduction of Mizo mythology. I feel moving this story to the beginning would be more beneficial to the readers. But I loved the way the book ended- with a sad and brutal story of unrequited love that brings the reader back to the mundane world which he inhabits.

I hope Blaft continues publishing such collections of beautiful mythology from other parts of the world and the author Cherrie Lalnunziri Chhangte comes up with a more elaborate volume of Mizo Myths.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

ഘണ്ടാകർണ്ണന്മാരുടെ നാട്ടിൽ...

ഈ കഥയോ പാത്രങ്ങളോ സാങ്കൽപ്പികമല്ല.
ജീവിച്ചിരിക്കുന്നവരുമായി സാമ്യം തോന്നാൻ തന്നെയാണ്, അതിന് വേണ്ടി മാത്രമാണ് ഇത് പറയുന്നത്. 

ഘണ്ടാകർണ്ണനെക്കുറിച്ച് കേട്ടിട്ടുണ്ടോ? നാം അറിഞ്ഞിരിക്കേണ്ട ആളാണ്. കേട്ടോളൂ..

കഥ തുടങ്ങുമ്പോൾ അങ്ങേർക്ക് ഈ പേര് കിട്ടിയിരുന്നില്ല. മിക്കവാറും പഴയ പേര് ശശി എന്നാവാനാണ് സാധ്യത. ശശി വലിയ വിഷ്ണു ഭക്തനായിരുന്നു. കുഴപ്പമില്ലാത്ത കാര്യമല്ലേ? പ്രശ്നം എന്താണെന്നാൽ അയാൾക്ക് മറ്റ് ദേവതമാരോട് കനത്ത വിരോധമായിരുന്നു. വിശേഷിച്ച് ശിവനോട്. ശിവനെ ആരെങ്കിലും സ്തുതിച്ചാൽ ശശിക്ക് കുരു പൊട്ടും. പിന്നെ തെറിവിളിയായി, ട്രോളിംഗ് ആയി, പൊങ്കാലയായി.

ഒരിക്കൽ വിഷ്ണുദേവൻ തന്നെ ശശിയുടെ രോഗം മാറ്റാൻ നേരിട്ട് പ്രത്യക്ഷപ്പെട്ട് നോക്കി. തങ്ങളെല്ലാം ഒന്നാണെന്നും തമ്മിലൊരു പ്രശ്നവുമില്ലെന്നും വെറും പ്രത്യയശാസ്ത്രപരമായ ഭിന്നത മാത്രമേ ഉള്ളൂ എന്നും ശശിയെ ബോധിപ്പിക്കാൻ ഹരിഹരവേഷത്തിലായിരുന്നു വരവ്. ശശി ചന്ദനത്തിരി കത്തിച്ച് വിഷ്ണുവിനെ സ്തുതിച്ചു, ശിവന്റെ മൂക്ക് പൊത്തിപ്പിടിച്ചു. അതോടെ ഭഗവാന്‍ സുല്ലിട്ടു.

നാട്ടിലെ പണിയില്ലാത്ത ചെറുപ്പക്കാർ ശശിയെക്കാണുമ്പോൾ ഉച്ചത്തിൽ ശിവനാമം ചൊല്ലാൻ തുടങ്ങി. പലരും ശിവസ്തോത്രങ്ങൾ വോയ്സ് മെസേജ് ആയി ഫോര്‍വേഡ് ചെയ്തു. ആദ്യമൊക്കെ ശശി കലി കൊണ്ട് തെറി വിളിച്ചു.

അവസാനം സഹിക്കാതായപ്പോൾ അയാൾ രണ്ടു അമ്പലമണികൾ വാങ്ങി ചെവികളിൽ തൂക്കിയിട്ടു. ശിവനാമം കേൾക്കുമ്പോളെല്ലാം തലയാട്ടും. അപ്പോഴുണ്ടാകുന്ന മണിമുഴക്കത്തിൽ ഒന്നും കേൾക്കില്ല. അങ്ങനെ ശശി ഘണ്ടാകർണ്ണനായി (ചെവിയിൽ മണിയുള്ളവൻ)...


Monday, November 21, 2016

Truth, Religion and Sun Rise...

Today morning it so happened that I shared some pictures with inspirational messages over Facebook. I do that regularly, when my eye catches something that I feel is relevant and to which i agree, I share it. One of which was this:


I received immediately a comment from one of my dear friend who is an atheist. Now, that comment became the cause of a pretty long conversation that really stimulated me. I love it when I get an opportunity to arrange my scattered thoughts and give it some form. I thought I will reproduce it over here as a blog post have more permanency than a Facebook post. I am indebted to my friend for this conversation and I sincerely hope he will not mind me using his words. I have done some editing to the conversation just to maintain the flow. There were instances were both of us commented together about different aspects of the topic.

In the below transcription, F stands for my friend and M for me.

F: As per you, are the religious priests doing truthful job??

M: Are doctors doing truthful job prescribing drugs with side effects? Are teachers doing truthful job telling kids that sun rises in East and sets in West, which is factually wrong? Are advocates doing truthful jobs when to save a client manipulation of truth is done? Are politicians doing truthful job, are engineers doing it, are govt servants doing truthful job?

F: No government will allow life threatening side effect wala drug in the market and how will the doctors prescribe them??

M: So no prescribed drug has any side effects?

F: No society which depends on logical thinking will allow to teach Sun rising east and setting west story. Deeply religious poisoned country like ours still teaches such nonsense..

M: So teachers are liars.

F: Religious dominated system is a lie.

M: So no prescribed drug  has any side effects?

F: I already answered this. (About advocates) There can be 2 sides for every story. Advocates try to establish their truth. Finally the truth based on evidence wins

M: But one of them is a liar. 50% advocates are liars.

F: Oh man.... I already answered to this advocate issue as well...

M: I never told about life threatening side effects (of drugs).you assumed it. Just side effects. Yes as per you 50% advocates are liars.

F: I can read self conscious cheating on all your answers because I know that your intelligence level is much better than in these answers... :)

M: Didn't answer my drug question. Aren't doctors prescribing drugs with side effects. Not life threatening may be.

F: Instead of asking counter questions, why don't you give direct answers to my question, if you have..... :)

M: My answer is there in those questions.

F: Counter questions are answers??  :)

M: Can be. If you can read between lines.
Now if you cannot do that, take direct answer.

Doctors know that painkillers have side effects. Still they prescribe them in limited quantities.

Teachers know that the statement sun rises in East is a lie. They teaches that to small kids because to make them connect with the world as they perceive. Later when the kid grow and learn more about solar system he understand that we perceive it only in earth. But when you take the bigger picture truth shifts.

Advocates help their client not by telling lie but by manipulation of facts. In their perspective they are doing their work.

So none of them are liars.

Religion is required to weak minded people in small doses (with side effects included) for quick relief. Religion is fatal in bigger doses like paracetamol is.

For common people to reach the bigger realm of spirituality some lies are told first. When they matures, they realise that miracles and beliefs are just hokum and your self (spirit- whats inside you) is your master. It is the mastering of your self (who is your master now) that is important and not fighting about what meat to eat or which direction to face while praying.

For people suffering from inner guilt religion slightly manipulates the truth, like advocates do. They get ready to face the world believing some bigger entity has removed their guilt.

(Once I get a reply and if this conversation continues I will update the post.)


Don't Breathe: Terrible Choice for Breaking-In

Don't Breathe,  the 2016 sleeper hit movie by director Fede Alvarez  reminded me of two superb but harrowing films that I watched recently. The first is Room, an award winning movie about a mother and her kid imprisoned in a tiny room.  The second is 10 Cloverfield Lane in which a lady is forced to stay in an underground bunker along with two characters of seemingly dubious intentions. While the first movie was more sober and not at all about thrills, the second fizzled out in its extended third act, precisely the moment that the aliens entered.



Like these two movies, Don't Breathe also is about somebody who are forced into captivity and as harrowing and claustrophobic, if not more. Though billed as a horror flick, it is actually a home invasion movie. The factor that separates it from other movies of the genre is that it reverses the regular plot somewhat.

Here, we have three thieves, who are pretty likeable and who usually never steal cash and doesn't resort to violence, deciding to make an old blind veteran the victim of their next crime. But once inside the house, they realise that they bit much more than they can chew. The old man or the house is not what it seemed from outside. Now it becomes a fight to get out alive.



The narrative structure of the movie is very simple and basic. Though, as I mentioned earlier it features a reversal of generic plot, the movie thankfully never tries to play it on our face. It's very restrained in its style. The atmosphere of suspense and intrigue that is set the moment our three friendly thieves enter the house, never gets lifted till the climax plays out. The audience never get a moment of respite even though every plot twist is easily decipherable to genre fans. That is the strength of the movie.



That, and Stephen Lang who played the blind old man. He was able to convey limitless menace into the minds of viewers. Most of the latter part of the movie is shouldered effectively by him. One can find fault with the characterisation and accuse that most of the characters have the personality of mere cardboard cut-outs. But I believe any more deliberation on characters would have severely affected the core strength of the film- suspense.

Painful and clichéd attempt to setup a sequel in the last moments is one huge turn-off. But if the sequel has any chance to be as good as Don't Breathe, I think I can overlook it.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

True Memoirs of an International Assassin



Normally, before watching any movie,  I try to do a preliminary research, basic things like it's genre, the lead actors, director, critical reaction etc. But when I sat to watch the 2016 movie True Memoirs of an International Assassin, I was blank. I had never read any reviews,  didn't know if it's a serious biopic or an action comedy, didn't even know who the lead actor was.





The first scene looked like a genuine action set piece. But when I saw the action hero, I couldn't help exclaiming loudly, "That's the Mall Cop!.." It was Kevin James, the guy who acted in the two awfully bad Paul Blart: Mall Cop movies and in several other equally bad Adam Sandler movies in supporting roles. I was planning to stop watching it then and there, but by then the setup of the movie got interesting.

Kevin James acts as an author who gets a writer's block when he reaches the climax of his first spy novel which is narrated in first person. In a conversation with a friend, he gets the idea to make his protagonist The Ghost, a mysterious assassin whose legends are famous. His novel titled, Memoirs of an International Assassin is mistakenly published as non-fiction and become a best seller. He is abducted and taken to Caracas, where a revolutionary, played by Andy Garcia, is convinced that he is the Ghost and gives him a contract to kill the Venezuelan president. But our man is soon to realise that he has become a pawn in an international conspiracy involving a cruel drug Lord,  bad police men, dirty CIA agents, a power hungry general and an uninterested president.

The movie is nothing great to speak of. It is a good one time watch thanks to Kevin, who unlike his previous pathetic attempts, display some genuine comedic skills here. He is ably supported by all the supporting actors. Andy Garcia had a funny role. He seemed to be enjoying the silliness of it. Comedy is light, silly and thankfully not tiring most of the times.





Unfortunately, the movie and it's hero reminds you strongly of Spy, the 2015 action comedy starring Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law and Statham which also has a fish out of water plot and is more funnier.


 Read my post on Hindi movie Force 2 


Friday, November 11, 2016

Never Ever Want to Go Back

No way Tom Cruise can be Jack Reacher. Even though Lee Child, the creator himself had tried to make his fans warm up to the idea, it's not selling. That said, the latest installment in the movie series, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is a reasonable one time watch. Tom Cruise and crew entertains you, especially if you've not read the books. The critics, it seems have trashed the movie. Its an action movie. I don't know why they expect Schindler's List when they watch an adaptation of a novel by Lee Child.

Lee Child novels are just bare basic readable stuff made in an assembly line. But they are THE MOST ENTERTAINING bare basic readable stuff from an assembly line. I never felt bad or bored after reading one. But I never felt a compulsion to grab any of his other books too after reading one.



In this post, I want to attempt the basic differences the character undergoes on his onscreen migration from book pages. Now to be fair, in the first movie Tom Cruise visibly was in an MI hangover. In this second outing it's like he has gone a teeny tiny step towards the Reacher persona.  He's become a bit weary and lost his charming edginess uncharacteristic of the ex-military cop that he plays. Probably by the 10th sequel we may get a perfect movie Reacher.

What I love about the novels were the delightful sense of space it display. Jack Reacher novels are specifically about a thing that happened in a specific place. The location is very much important and essential in narration. While reading of the events, the reader always gets a clear understanding about the place and all of the particulars of it. Both movies lack this speciality. The movie makers were just concerned to fill as many action set pieces in the running time and didn't care about the geography.



In the movies Jack Reacher is portrayed as a hyper active vigilante. But if you read the novels, we see him as a more reluctant, laid back kind of person. He tries very hard not to fall in trouble. Soon something bad inevitably happens and he has no way, but to involve. He seldom picks a fight but is a master in striking back and always gives the killer shot. In movies we see him too snoopy, trying hard to make out his surroundings and ever ready to be a pillar of support for aching hearts.

In novels the Reacher character enters like a western antihero. Just imagine Clint Eastwood entering a frontier town. Stylish, quiet, majestic... But in movies he just drops in... appears from nowhere. In film, gone are the measured tone, long silences and detached gait.

May be I'm wrong. Even after 10 sequels I doubt...


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

It's All In Black & White

People don't have any idea what's black money. Guys remember last month when you checked out of that hotel, the receptionist asked you if you need tax bill and you said you didn't need bill with a smirk? The Rs 2000 that you paid became black money the moment it was gone from your hand.

Or that Rs 100 you paid for a pirated dvd on roadside yesterday. That became black money and is now on its way to help drug Lords & terrorists break our nation apart.

Or that medicines you bought without tax bill and that electronic shaver which you bought from smuggled goods store. The money that you handed out is black money now.

You bought a piece of land showing paper value 5 lakh and paid 40 lakh. 35 lakh that you paid has now become black money...

That donation you paid without receipt to secure a seat for your kid in that posh school and that 500 that you paid the policeman to escape from his long hands has also became black money.


What happens is that all this amount moves out of the mainstream economy. Then it starts it's journey towards its masters. Because once it moves out of control all transactions that use this money will be nefarious,  illegal ones. Finally it reaches the coffers of hoarders. For hoarding money, obviously you need bigger denominations like 500 and 1000s. Now when these denominations are banned, suddenly all these currency gets worthless. But for all those who have genuinely earned white money, government has given chance to deposit in banks after revealing source. 

But it becomes impossible for black money to get legitimised because it's tough to reveal sources. May be a small portion may escape.

Now government has a clear account of how many 500& 1000 Rs notes is in circulation. It has to just check how much is returned to it. Remaining is a deficit which government can compensate by printing new currency. And this currency can be used for developmental and beneficiary purposes.

So any unaccounted money acquired illegaly gets back to government in a single stroke.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Splendour of Sushi

The original plan of American documentary maker David Gelb was to make a movie about the many Sushi masters and Sushi restaurants in Japan. But once he went to the sushi restaurant of 85 year old Jiro, ate there and met with the owner, he realised the scope for an individual movie. Thus was made an incredible documentary titled Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Jiro believes in working hard, doing same thing day after day, mastering his choice of occupation and creating something better than what he made yesterday. We all believe in same things, but he lives his beliefs. The documentary is an ode to the working style of Jiro. Thus he made his little sushi place with just 10 seats located inside a subway, a three Michelin starred (it's a big deal, these Michelin stars) restaurant. You need to book a month in advance and the cost of the food is astronomical. They serve only sushi, no appetisers or drinks and a proper meal will last only 15 minutes. Still people love the place because the best sushi in the world is served there.


The best thing about the film is the frames of masterfully crafted sushi dishes made by Jiro and the exhilaration of the people who eats it. But what make the movie satisfying is the people who are behind the endeavour. Other than the perfectionist Jiro, we meet his elder son Yoshikazo, who works with his father. He has a tough time but he endures it in a devoted fashion. Then we meet the apprentices who are as devoted. Jiro's second son has opened another sushi bar, actually a replicant of his father's in another part of the city. It's also a 3 Michelin starred place. Customers who cannot bear stern nature of the master while serving, go to the soft mannered son's place.

We meet Jiro's suppliers who are as knowledgeable and passionate. Selecting the best catch of fish, fit for the best sushi bar in the world need such skills. The guy who supply rice has an interesting anecdote to share. Grand Hyatt hotel asked him for the same variety of rice sourced for Jiro. He denied them. He says Jiro is the only person in the world who can cook that variety of rice perfectly. What's the point in selling rice to someone who can't cook it..?

Jiro and team are really worried about what they feel is the biggest threat to them- overfishing in seas. They already are affected because day by day it's getting difficult to obtain the high quality fish that they need to sustain their name. Many exquisite species are already extinct and it's getting difficult to get replacement. Jiro and his son appeal to curb deep net fishing that indiscriminately kills even the non adult fish.


The movie ends with a scene of Jiro serving food to 10 member party. He does it like a conductor of a symphony, elevating the simple act of serving food to an art form. He is so skilled that he can synchronise his guest's timings by adjusting the size of the sushi that he carves for each guest. And while serving for left handers, he serves it right on their left hand to ensure their comfort. In the end he acknowledge the contribution of team mates who as per him has the most difficult job on the world.

Do yourself a favour and watch this movie once, it's worth every bit of your time.


Friday, November 4, 2016

Kaashmora: Lil' Bit This, Lil' Bit That

Contrary to what it's makers want you to believe through the trailer and posters, Kaashmora is not an epic fantasy like Baahubali. It's more of a horror comedy movie. But it has elements of fantasy, crime and action embedded in it. I felt that it was a wrong move. The plot had many positives, but instead of fixing on what it really wants to be, they let the whole thing to run amok. So the result is an incoherent movie.

Karthi plays a dual role, that of both the protagonist and the antagonist, thus very much limiting the screen time and importance of all other characters. Except of course Nayanthara, who makes the best of the limited scenes she got, by looking gorgeous and kicking ass. Vivek who appears as Karthi's father also shone like a shooting star. Most of the other guys didn't had any idea of the purpose they were serving being in the movie.



As protagonist, Karthi's role is similar to the ones he has already specialised in many of his commercial hit films, that of a fast and smooth talking con man, which was predictably hilarious. As antagonist, the role that is hyped in trailer and posters, he gets to show-off himself and he did it commendably well. The comedy was the best thing about the movie. Most of the jokes were laugh-out-loud quality and even the ones inserted in between the tedious horror set-pieces were pretty good.

As I told initially, movie faltered when it attempted to go to places where it wasn't supposed to. The first half was pretty interesting but the second half suddenly left whatever was built in the first, and started telling a story by its own. Many characters and incidents introduced in first half is abandoned in second without any payoff. That was one reason why the flash back of the villain, though looking wonderful on screen, lacked any emotional resonance for me. It was tough for me to root for or even care for many characters. I would say Kaashmora is missed opportunity,  like most of the recent Tamil movies that arrive piggybacking on the hype of multiple get-ups of its stars.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Zombie Train to Busan

Zombies are fictional demons, undead creatures surviving on human brains. Derived from Haitian mythology, zombies were around in Hollywood from some time. But it was George Romero's Living Dead series that established the present zombie characters. Hollywood zombies are generally ugly, walks in a slow pace and those who are bit by them also become zombies. Breaking out of zombie apocalypse is a general theme in zombie movies.


Unlike other popular movie demons like vampires, werewolves and various Nicolas Cage characters, zombies doesn't have a personality. They are ugly, dull and uninteresting. So it becomes a challenge to make a zombie movie. To succeed, either you have to go in full exploitation gear with graphic violence and nudity or you need something extra, a quirky plot twist or a different concept that doesn't depend on zombies alone. Some movies like Night of the Living Dead used sublime social commentary to achieve greatness, while some others like Shaun of the Dead used satire and comedy.

Recently I watched such a movie titled Warm Bodies which is basically a zombie rom-com. As in many zombie movies, a zombie apocalypse is ongoing and a tiny group of humans are resisting them. A zombie named R kills and eats the brain of the boyfriend of Julie, a human. He starts developing feelings for her. As bizarre the plot may sound, Warm Bodies is an interesting movie. Violence is not on-the-face kind and the movie itself is pretty cute for one involving romancing a zombie.

And that brings us to the topic, the South Korean zombie movie that I happened to watch last day, Train To Busan. Now one thing that I noticed about Korean movies is that they never go for a middle path. Its always extremities for them. Here also, the two hour running time is fully packed with extreme action and emotion. Everybody runs around and fight each other with zombies multiplying rapidly around them. We never get time off to think about what's happening on screen. Some of the zombie effects, especially in climax, reminded me of World War Z, but this one is infinitely better than the Brad Pitt vehicle in all aspects.

With all the action and melodrama crammed up, there were a few miss steps in the movie too. Some decisions made by characters seemed too improbable in the situations. Many of them were made up just to ensure that zombies reach the main characters when the director wanted them to. The movie tried to send some messages across about being unselfish and spending more time with kids, but all those were either totally muddled in the action or rendered pointless by the end.