Friday, June 27, 2014

The magic of a well made Movie

While I have been a little slow in acknowledging it, I think I cannot deny anymore that I like movies. A well made movie can captivate and leave me in awe. There is something very magical about a well made movie. It can move you, all for the better.

There was a tele series called Director's Cut that had aired in Doordarshan's DD2 in 2000. It featured a series of short movies made by some of the acclaimed directors of the time. It was a director's delight. They got to tell stories which were close to them but wouldn't have made to a full movie. Not because the stories lacked depth, but simply because the producers would not have seen the commercial worth in them. The show was far removed from all else that was being aired at that time. I can't think it could have been thought of by someone who was in it just for money and viewership.

There is one particular episode which has still stayed with me. Even though the details are not as vivid in my mind now, but the memory of how profound it felt is still there. I was not able to appreciate it as well then, but over the years I have. It was about a kid who grows up in a small town and most of the days helps the nearby theatre's projectionist with his work. Changing reels, playing them. He grows up, actually becomes a director and years later goes back to visit the man. And the projectionist who has now grown lot older, tells him over a conversation 'अच्छी फिल्में बनाओ' (make good movies). And the episode probably ended with the protagonist sitting alone in the theatre and seeing Madhubala singing Aayiye Meherbaan in Howrah Bridge, just looking at the mastery of the song's video. It was a short movie very well made.

PS - A Google search on it hardly returns anything now. Like it has got lost with time, as many good things do. Forgotten and waiting to be found again. Except, this very good post by another viewer who was moved by that show. He tells it lot better and it is an excellent read.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Casual Introspection

Since I may be 5 years too late for such a post but the adage 'it is never too late' may be true sometimes, here are some random facts about me -

1. I love walking. I mean yes, just walking.

2. I loved Friends. It has me laughing even now if I come across some old scene on YouTube.

3. Sometimes I just like being alone. Quiet and to myself.

4. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire Harry Potter set of movies. The wizards and their world were magical.

5. Cricket is something I have never been able to detach myself from. The only thing that has changed is that unlike in my teenage years, watching it doesn't enthuse me much now. I get excited about playing cricket.

6. I like Music. I mean really really like. If there is nothing playing to my ears, there will usually be something playing in my head. My favorites? The Who, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Indian Ocean and a lot more. And before you frown, I like a lot of Bollywood music too.

7. I am usually surrounded by gadgets in my bed when I am going to sleep. It is difficult for me to survive without them.

8. Thankfully, I don't have addiction to tea, coffee or any such thing yet.

9. I stopped reading newspapers many years back. I just hated the amount of gloom and nonsense they had. Google News has served me well enough since then and on some weekends I just read the supplements.

10. Attending Paul McCartney's concert was among the best things I ever did. I had a very good time.

11. I like going to new places, without planning for them. On some nice and free weekends, I will get on a random bus and go to the farthest place it can take me too. It is fun.

12. I have an appetite you may find difficult to digest.

13. My reading has reduced steadily over past few years. But, I still keep at least some book with me. At times, I need it.

14. I try to keep my surroundings clean. It is ok if my living room is messy, but I need the kitchen to be clean.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Other Language

This is meant to be a short post. About five movies that I have thoroughly enjoyed in last few years.

The Motorcycle Diaries was a very fine movie. It showed what I have always craved for. A journey into the unknown woods. The scene where Gael Garcia Bernal swims across the river to the leper colony resonated the strongest. It was an amazingly powerful and well shot scene, the one which left a lasting memory. Soon after I happened to watch Babel, a slow paced movie spread across four different terrains. Again, I found it to be an excellent movie and another scene where a Moroccan villager refuses money from Brad Pitt left a lasting impression on me. Dekalog is something which I am yet to finish. It isn't a complete movie but a series of 10 one hour short-films. All the five episodes I have seen so far started slowly, but gradually had me in its complete grip. They are technically impeccable, subtle yet quite profound in their narration. Almost every episode hit me with something. Entre Nos was quite good as well. The character Paola Mendoza portrayed was heartening to say the least. And last friday, I watched Owl and the Sparrow. It was very very good. Very well paced, endearing and with a real ending.

All these movies are in a language I don't know and yet I enjoyed them more than most of the English or Hindi movies I have seen. There is something different about watching foreign movies of a language you don't know. They have an unpredictability. In an English movie, I know to an extent how the scene will pan out, how will the actor tell his dialog. But with such movies, you don't quite know. The same dialog being told in a language one knows well has a different kind of subconscious effect on the mind when it is narrated in a language one doesn't know. And such movies are fresh, because you don't know about them. The thing which actually had me interested in Owl and the Sparrow in its initial minutes was just the fact that they were showing a place and culture I knew nothing about, and it was interesting to watch.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I am High, I am Drained

Following Indian cricket team in the 90s was a heart-breaking experience. Nothing used to happen and nothing used to look like happening either. Of course, it is easy to be so blunt about it now looking back, but back then we always lived in the hope or belief that next time around we will win. But, no it never really used to happen. I think cricket first caught my attention around the time India went to Australia in '91 and I was hooked to it since then. I wanted India to win, if not every time it played, at least one in a while. Not just in home, but also abroad. In big matches, when the pressure is on.

But no it didn't used to happen. No matter how badly I wanted it, it didn't used to happen. I was a mess when India crumbled against Sri Lanka in Eden Gardens. Was shocked when they collapsed in Barbados on the verge of the elusive away win. Was totally crestfallen, when Pakistan defeated us in Chennai in spite of a masterful knock by Sachin who really was a demi-God to me. It took me days to recover from it (to be honest only now it doesn't rankle me anymore). I even remember a final in Colombo when a 'new' India couldn't manage it once again. That too was very painful to take. It was miserable. Following our team when we were kids, really was miserable. I wanted us to be the World Champions, be the best in the world. But no, it didn't happen. Not even later in '03 when we reached the final and when cricket still meant a lot to me.

I knew the game's history, I knew that there were various periods for almost every other team when they were the best in the world. Some people wrote that India were the world's best in '71 when they defeated West Indies and England away from home. But were they really the best team in the world, I doubt it. Some may say that we were the best in '83 and '85. But nope, we were still not the best. West Indies were the best team in the world and we were losing in tests anyway. I wanted us to be the best team in the world, the undisputed best.

And one day almost a year and a half back, it happened. Against Sri Lanka, we reached the summit in Test Rankings. I was elated. For that is what I had longed for in all my years as an impassioned follower of the Indian team. It was not something ephemeral or freakish, the rankings intelligently took into account the performance over a prolonged period of time. It was what it depicted.

And today, it happened again. In a more blatant way. India has won the World Cup, we are the world champions. The World Cup!! This is truly what we all have wanted, since we were kids. One of my friends posted today that he was crying even long after the winning shot by Dhoni. And knowing him, I know that he really would have been. I wasn't anywhere near to crying and to be honest, somewhere I envied my friend for still having that unbridled fanaticism for our team. But hey, we have won. Think of a million true smilies and they will still not portray how we feel. Today is a day, we have all waited for. All our lives.

P.S. - I may well lose my interest in watching or following Indian cricket now. For over the last decade or so this team has given me almost everything that I dreamt of. And now, I am drained. I am high and I am relieved. Thank you Team India. You truly have done us proud today.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ripple in Still Water

I just didn't knew until quite recently that there used to be a show called Freaks and Geeks. Not that I am an authority in movies, serials and their ilk. But I certainly didn't know about Freaks and Geeks until I read some one's tweet on it. It didn't sound something cool enough to me, but after some minimal wiki-ing, I thought of giving it a try and saw it's first two episodes. It took me around another month or so to watch it's all eighteen episodes. Without any further ado - I have loved Freaks and Geeks. It's been some time now since I finished watching it, but I still watch it every now and then, time and again.

For the uninitiated, Freaks and Geeks is a television show which used to be aired on NBC in late nineties. The show was cancelled after twelve shows but a campaign by the public forced the channel to air the remaining six shows. The show took its viewers through life in a high-school (which I tend to think is the American equivalent of the class 8 to class 12 strata of the Indian schools) for two contrasting sets of people - the freaks (will just about study, will bully) and the geeks (would like to get nerdy, would like not to get bullied). And that's just about as far as I would go with the plot. This post is not about the story, it's about what made me like the show so much.

To begin with, the entire relation between Lindsay and Sam throughout the show has been portrayed so well. Lindsay trying to protect her frail young brother Sam from the bullies, Sam playing the spoilsport to Lindsay's adventurous plans at times, all the late night gossips between them, Lindsay pulling Sam's leg and all that sibling fun. It reminded me strongly of my growing up with my elder sister.

The dialogs are just too good. Ken telling to Kelly, "You killed Millie's dog! What, like with your bare hands?". Then another one, Ken to Lindsay, "Ok, how about you date Nick and then break up our band. Oh wait, I think you already did that." Bill to Coach Fredricks, "Anything is better than that, like picking my nose and eating it". Daniel to Nick, "Whichever way we play is the right way". Ken by the way, I sometimes think was the coolest character on the show. My favorite dialog came in the last episode. Lindsay to Ken, "Ken why are you doing this?". Ken, "Because it goes against everything that we stand for." The last two episodes are may be the best two.

And then there were the other things, the characters are just perfect and they gradually grow upon you. Everyone of them. With time, every character opened up more. Kim looked the sure bad woman to begin with, but soon enough you start liking her as well. Even the bumbling Nick endears himself by the end. The soundtrack is way too good, from The Who opera in that Bill-centered episode to the final episode when Lindsay moves to the rhythm of Box of Rain and the credits roll out with Ripple. I mean if not anything else, this show opened me up to the American Beauty album, I still haven't got tired. It made me fall more in love with The Who. I"ll confess, until watching this show - I had not been a much of a fan of 'Teenage Wasteland' (Ken to Lindsay - "Baba O'Reily, the song is Baba O'Reily"), 'I'm One' or even 'The Song Is Over'. It just reignited my interest in The Who and a few others as well.

Lindsay Weir bowled me over. Breathtaking beauty, excellent character and impeccable acting. Never before I have liked a woman protagonist in any movie, etc. so much. Some of her dialogues straight away come to my mind every time I think of the character. To the visiting Republican, "Mr. Vice-President, my question is why did your staff reject my question. Are you afraid of an open discourse.". To Daniel - "Gosh, how can I be so awful to suggest that you people actually play a complete song correctly.". To Sam - "Sam, you cannot date someone you do not like." I honestly don't know any other character in any movie or television which comes even close to Linda Cardellini as Lindsay Weir.

The show ends with what is easily my favorite scene where Lindsay gets down, smiles and gets on to the bus. The ending credits roll over and Ripple plays on.