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Friday, July 21, 2017

A disaster called Jagga Jasoos

I have managed, so far, to avoid going to watch movies with Katrina Kaif in it. It is like watching it with one half of the lead cast missing. Her presence/absence with the jarring accent makes no impact whatsoever on the movie.
Well, Jagga Jassos is about how Ranbir Kapoor sets out to trace his missing father (played by Saswata Chatterjee).
Ranbir's father leaves for some undisclosed destination after admitting him to a boarding school in his childhood. But he makes sure he greets his son on his birthday through a video tape he sends every year. One year, when the tape doesn't arrive, Ranbir sets out to look for his father. The story is supposedly based on the infamous Purulia Arms drop case in the 90s. Saswata discovers the conspiracy and is then forced to be a fugitive as his life is threatened. Katirna is also a detective of sorts in international crime and helps Ranbir find his father. There is also another weird logic because of which Ranbir is sure Katrina could help find his father. But wait! Why bother...
The director, Anurag Basu, invests about an hour of 'Interstellar'isque kind of plot combined with a 'Sound of Music' one... resulting in a musically confounding movie which does justice to neither. Whether the move is to be a mystery, a musical, an adventure or a romantic comedy...Basu remains undecided till the end. Ranbir's Tintin-like curl in hair and how it helps the story is also as unfathomable as its story.
Any reason to watch Jagga Jasoos? Hard to find. Yet...
The bright spots in the movie are all the wonderful locales that it takes you through in the quest of Ranbir's father. Second, very decent job by Saswata Chatterjee. Third, Ranbir's brilliant performance through all his idiosyncratic behavior, namely that of a child-adult with a stammer. Following his father's advice, he sings his way through his stammer to be able to converse. This jars after a while in this non-musical movie.
The execution of the plot is poorly handled. I am sure Basu finds no help from the break-up between the lead pair in real life. As it is, getting Kaif to emote is an elephantine task and a miffed Kaif is so plastic, a touch and she would smash into smithereens. Finding an excuse for her accent in every movie is an unenviable task for each of her directors. Nawazuddin Siddique in a 10-second appearance packs more punch.
You can still survive the ordeal, maybe, if you ask someone to wake you up in the second half of the movie.
A 1.5/5 for the movie from me.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Mom

"God can't be everywhere...and hence he created mom," is the only clichéd sentence you'd hear in this otherwise unconventional thriller movie.
There are times like these, I am glad I don't have a TV connection at home. I had no clue of the story, the actors or what the film is about. All I knew and wanted to know was that it had my favorite, Sridevi in it.
The film starts with a family of four: parents and two daughters, the elder one, Sajal Ali trying to convince her parents to be allowed to go to a farm house to party. Sridevi's advice to her to be careful and safe are not heeded as she is her step mom and Sajal doesn't like her.
Yet, when she goes out to party, she is cautious, refusing to dance with strangers and even turning down drinks offered by them. As in all of the rape cases, rape happens not because it is the girl's fault but because of a man's hurt ego. Sajal is kidnapped from the party, raped and thrown into a roadside ditch.
(The music during this scene is so eerie, it gives you goosebumps!)
Sajal is later found and admitted into a hospital. Cloning the infamous Nirbhaya case, the trial goes on for days, the accused go scot-free, appeals in the High Court etc etc.
How Sridevi ensures justice is done to her daughter forms the crux of the story.
In this. she is assisted by Nawazuddin Siddique, a private detective and Akshaye Khanna, the police officer. Nawaz's role is described as a special appearance but Akshaye and he share similar screen presence.
Nawaz's rat-like appearance took me by surprise. Guess as a detective, he needed that look to merge with the crowd. For an actor, it must have taken guts to make himself appear almost grotesque. Scenes which Sridevi and he shared lit up the screen with brilliant performances. Akshaye Khanna as the police officer who keeps tabs on criminals, both "who do something wrong" and those "who do something very wrong," has done a brilliant job.
None of the actors try to outshine the other. On the other hand, they fit into their respective roles so well! Adnan Siddique in the role of Sajal's father leaves a mark in the portrayal of a father-daughter relationship. He isn't given much to do though.
Writing even one extra line about the movie, will give away the plot, thin as it is.
The movie is pretty predictive offering simplistic, implausible and impractical solutions. These things don't happen in real life
As a child we used to clap when viewing the dishoom-dishoom scenes between the hero and the villains. You get a similar feeling when you watch the villains get punished in this movie. The approach is as simple as that. Dishoom-dishoom and your work is done. No time or effort has gone into weaving intricate details of a complex plot into this thriller.
Why should you watch the movie then? Subtle and brilliant performances by Sridevi, Akshaye Khanna and Nawazuddin Siddique...and a story that manages to keep you interested to the end.

In the last five minutes...you know what's going to come but still, be prepared to pull out your large handkerchiefs for the copious tears which are sure to flow.
My rating: 3.5/5....the extra 0.5 sheerly for my bias towards Sridevi. And why not? Look at the thousand and one expressions she is capable of giving in any scene.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Daily tit-bits: July 2017

3rd July:
Didnt sleep the whole night again. Been about ten days since I slept properly. :(
The watchman of 12 years was asked to leave. It was indeed a sad day as they left. I was so dependent on them for the last 10 years.
For the last four months, I had given my scooty keys to the watchman as he used to help park my vehicle when I wasn't able to. Today, I asked for my keys to be given back. The key chain was replaced by another one. I noticed this only after a while and asked his wife. She replies very casually, my daughter liked it and so she took it, Isn't this theft? 
Don't know how such things affect others but for me it is a big thing. If I HAVE to take something from someone, my mind keeps troubling till I return it in the exact same shape that I borrowed it in..or in an even better condition. Taking what you like just because you think it is a small thing is still not acceptable. It is still theft! Upset!
Raiding someone's larder, even if in front of them, without their permission is also theft, isn't it? 
Is it only me with such high values and expectations?! 
Such things trouble me a lot! I don't take a paisa from someone so why should people grab things from me without my permission?
4-5th July:
Watched Poorna (2017), which has Rahul Bose & Aditi Inamdar as Mentor and his protégé.
I wasn't well when this film released or else would definitely have gone to the theaters to watch.
It is such a beautiful movie, so heart-warming and simple, yet making such a powerful statement!
All children (especially a girl-child) and their parents must watch this one. It encourages the child to dare to dream big and achieve beyond those dreams.
It is based on a true story of how a young girl, from a Government school, sets out to train herself and reach Mt, Everest at a young age of 13. The future of India lies in the hands of such heroes.
Kittu Unnaadu Jagrattha (2017) by Raj Tarun turned out to be a rather watchable movie. Because his movies watched on TV/internet were interesting, I went to watch Anadagdu in theaters and what rubbish it turned out to be!
5th July:
Had gone to the diagnostics and very luckily found a shop which does glass and frames work right beside it. In one of my trips there, I got the Saraswathi idol repaired. The one which has a miniature figure of a sandalwood Saraswathi encased in a glass dome...just about an inch and half in height. This was very carelessly broken by one of the laborers who was in my house for something.
We had bought this in Basara in 2000 and I was pretty heart broken when this broke.
But lo and behold! It is back again :)


6th July:
The best thing to have happened today is the report with the HB1Ac count. which is a very decent 8 after a long time. Feeling good about this result :)
Energy levels for the last three days have been quite good and am able to handle lot of stuff at home.
Sleets of rain today :) Three previous days of sultriness was bad, really!
7th July:
Had an adventurous day today. One of those rare things to happen...slept at a stretch and woke up at 6.30 am. Decided that instead of going back to sleep, why not take advantage of a whole day in front of me.
Had breakfast and went to CCPL, Malkajgiri by auto (60/-) to see Mom movie. Had promised to go to a friend's. And the cost for share cab was pretty steep from Malkajgiri. So,got into a bus to Secunderbad ( Rs.10/) and then took a cab from there (130/-) to Jubilee Hills. Had a very decent meal at the newly opened Barbeque Pride (666/-), and from there 14 kms and Rs. 165 in share cab to my friend's place. The share cab from her place back to mine was showing 500+! So, skipped that and took a share auto to station (10/-) and ticket from Lingampally station to Sitaphalmandi station (10/-).
After getting down the autowallah asks 50/- for this 1 km distance. Having worn walking shoes, I happily walked home.
So, covered all means of transport in a single day: bus, auto, shared auto, train, cab, walk...amazingly tiring and yet exhilarating day!
10th July:
Been to the horrible SBI to get some work done. I say horrible because, despite the trustworthy banking system, the service is so slow! And after enduring a wait time of 20 minutes, I was asked to fill the forms once again as the DDs were to be deposited into SBH and not SBI! And I thought they had merged. What circuitous way of getting things done! If it were a private bank, I would have just dropped it in the drop box of the ATM of that bank.
Taking hours to fill in the forms, standing for hours in queue, and still not getting work done is frustrating!
11th July:
I had planned to go get groceries for the month today but feeling low again physically. Maybe cause I didnt have kefir for the last three days. A sip of it may help, perhaps. There is so much work to be done. Lying on bed doesn't help at all :(
ActCorp (Beam) charges 20/- extra in this month's bill. Dont know why. Need to go to their office to find out.
13th July: Was a day of visits and physical presence drains me out these days. You are bound to sit and listen to lot of stuff. The Suvarnabhoomi persons' visit really had me restless.
Also had a visit by the Ayurvedic doctor who says he aims at overall well-being. Let me try this and see how it works out.
Just being happy and able to share stuff is also a good antidote.
For the first time ever, bought something online. Was eyeing a back cover for my phone for long as the present one had started chipping. This was around two months ago. But then was looking at few people to buy it for me. When none helped, I decided to go ahead myself and placed the order through Flipkart and lo! I got it delivered today.The product does not exactly match the one advertised but for me this first time experience of online buying was so exhilarating! Having a grown-up child at home handicaps you in so many ways! Getting back to being independent feels good. But need physical energy to match too!
Saw Ninu Kori (2017). So nice to see Nani back in form with a good story selection The last 2-3 movies of his were a disaster. A novel concept was the possibility of love after marriage...something new in Indian films. A good 3.5/5 from me.
14th July:
The last two days I was feeling weak again. And today the weakness has abated but I got a bad cold. Plus had a very bad sleepless night.
With looming clouds, I went with great apprehension to Ratnadeep to get the monthly groceries. There was rain before and after it but not at the time of visit.
Went for getting veggies, today being a Friday. Again there was rain before and after it. Thankfully none during my visit.
15th July
Saw Tubelight (2017). What a torturous movie! What was Salman thinking hen he made this movie?!
16th -20th July:
Started taking Ayurvedic medicine with the intention of cutting down on my allopathic medicines after a while. But it did heat up the body quite a bit, hence trying to figure out which ones are doing the damage by trying only one of them each day and then eliminating the ones which cause the damage.
Incessant rains in the last four days. Hyderabad became severely handicapped with reports of 3+ hours of travel from Hi-Tech city to Sainikpuri! People said the cabs swam all the way through!
The government should at least construct roads with all taxes collected. It is the same story every mnsoon.
21st July
Wrote a scathing review on Jagga Jassos and when shared on facebook, found many liking the post. Shared it enthusiastically with my nephew, a teenager and also a critic, and was brought down with a thud with remarks only a family is capable of giving and which is also amicably received. The chap did make a few valid observations.
Had a 45 minute chat with him and was still feeling energized at the end of it..so stimulating did I find the conversation. Interacting with the young ones is like a battery to the mind.
22nd -25th July
Not much been happening The energy has been on and off. The new treatment of Ayurvedic medicines are not really agreeing much with the body , causing stomach upsets etc.
As the doctor says to inspire me, "Do one thing new everyday." I am happy that the kurtha mirrors burnt by the istriwala, was finally repaired today. Replaced all the burnt mirrors with new spangles. And am I not proud of my work :) ? This was pending for a year plus. The kurtha now looks good as new!
Meanwhile saw Patel Sir (2017), a Jagpathi Babu solo after a long time. But the movie was absolutely slow though there is some strength to the story. Maybe a 2.5/5
26th July:
One of those rarest things to happen...slept for 7 straight hours without a break! Woke up at 7.30 am and felt very energetic throughout the day. Went to Beam office to sort out the issue of increased use towards the end of the month. I hope they do look into it. Thy have a nice lady called Praveena heading the office. Spoke to her.
Went in search of a new doctor for me at Sitaphalmandi. Came home, had lunch and went to PVR Central to watch Fida...nice movie. My rating 3/5.
Even with quite a bit walking around, from PVR to Ratnadeep, I still had energy at the end of the day!
27th July:
Took Volibo 0.2 in the morning on advice of the new doctor. The result? So much weakness, that after a very long time, I didnt even have the energy to cook. Ate some shit for lunch...biscuits, snacks etc.
And then in the evening, after nearly two years, ordered from Dominos. Nearly 500 Rs for a small pizza and a garlic bread. What a waste of money! Dont know why people dole out so much money for junk food! But then I was so hungry and didnt have the energy to cook at all :(

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Duvvada Jagannadham

Isn't a movie about a story, creativity, entertainment and some take-away?
Well, Duvvada Jaganndham has none of these elements.
To begin with, why is DJ's character portrayed as a brahmin? What is the relevance to the story (?!)?
There are two sides to Allu Arjun's character: one, a brahmin caterer (Duvvada Jagannadham) in Vijayawada and another a police informer and assistant (DJ) who helps Hyderabad rid of crime and criminals. The modus operandi is simple...bash them up or finish them off.
I am not sure how I sound when I say this, but to date I haven't witnessed a brahmin capable of so much violence! In fact, none.
When he acts as the police assistant, he dresses modernly by wearing shirt and trousers and when he is the caterer, he wears a long-sleeved shirt and panchi (dhoti). In the former avatar, his language is brash and in the latter, a sing-song way of speaking which is supposed to represent the brahmin way of speaking Telugu.
Through this brahmin character, the director (Harish Shankar) has made a mockery of brahmins and their mannerisms. Just because they don't protest , doesn't mean you can get away with anything.
If one were to make a film on brahmins and their language, culture and mannerisms, watch Mithunam (directed by Tanikella), a beautiful movie portrayed by two characters, SP and Lakshmi. It makes such peaceful watching!
Except Tanikella, no one in DJ has been able to do any justice to the essence of a brahmin in the movie. Well, for that the director ought to have done some research. There is no evidence of any.
Rao Ramesh, otherwise a good actor, has dared to imitate his father's character from Sankarabharanam and has fallen flat. The comparison is obvious. Some greats just cannot be imitated.
Chandramohan and Subba Raju, both good actors, are wasted in insignificant roles. It is Allu Arjun all the way.
Allu Arjun has made his fans wait long but this movie is just not worth the wait.
My rating: 1/5. Not worth wading through the rain-flooded streets to go watch this film. Sit at home and sip some hot coffee instead.
By the way, the female presence is fulfilled by Pooja Hegde. She is there too.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Ami Thumi

The best thing about watching a movie is not knowing what it is about beforehand. Not having watched the trailers, I knew nothing of the cast, the story, the director...nothing. All I went by is the word going around.Therefore, Srinivas Avasarala's presence in the beginning of the movie, came as a pleasant surprise.
In fact, there are not one but three male leads, all having equal screen presence: Adivi Sesh, Srinivas Avasarala and Vennela Kishore. There is not much for the female leads in this movie.
Written and directed by Ashtma Chamma's director Mohan Krishna Indraganti, this movie, also a romantic comedy, falls in the same genre (of neat, small budget movies).
Adivi Sesh and Eesha are in love with one another. This is opposed by Eesha's father played by Tanikella Bharani because Sesh is an orphan. On the other hand, Srinivas, Tanikella's son is in love with Aditi, who is the daughter of Kedar Shankar, Tanikella's arch rival. And therefore, Tanikella is opposed to both these alliances.
Vennella Kishore's proposal to Eesha comes as a great relief to Tanikella as he is happy his daughter will get married into a rich household, not knowing that under the camouflage of opulence, Vennella Kishore's family is in deep debt and looks toward this alliance to redeem their lost riches.
The director uses the name Maya like he had used Mahesh before, to create confusion. Eesha uses this confusion to get the right pair married to each other.
Music is a pleasant plus to this movie. The background score is soothing and no where jarring. There are (thankfully) only two songs. The third one is a medley of old songs, done very charmingly by Srinivas Avasarala.
On the surface it looks like the movie copies Ashta Chamma, but the story is different.
Srinivas Avasarala has a great comic timing but he has close competition with Vennela Kishore who is simply brilliant in this movie. Despite his portrayal of a person from a highly sophisticated background, he gets conned by Eesha and her cook (an insuppressible Shyamala Devi). Tanikella Bharani, always a great actor, throws himself into his role with a great abandon as he sings and dances around gleefully at the prospect of getting his daughter married to a person of his choice.
On the minuses, it lacks the balance of a substantial role for the female leads (miss the spunk of a Colors Swathi). The story could have been crisper. Adivi Sesh, is good at acting and is good looking too but appears a bit too thin. The meaning and relevance of the title seems delusive.
All in all, a simple story which keeps you smiling throughout.
A 3/5 from me. Do watch. All your tensions of the real world will be forgotten for the 128 minutes it runs. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Daily tit-bits: June 2017

Went to Shopper's Stop at GVK to exchange my kurtha after watching Bahubali.
And guess who I saw there? Sathya Krishnan, the hoarse voiced Anitha from Anand movie. She appeared so young without makeup! Google told me that she is 26 years old. Unbelievable as she plays roles mush older to her age.
2nd June 2017:
Went to watch Andagadu. Had always watched Raj Tarun's movies on TV. Went to the theater as there were no other good movies playing. Second, encouraged by Raj Tarun's energetic performances, expected something from this. The movie didn't know whether it wanted to be a comedy, a romantic or a spooky one. Though to the hero's credit, he holds up in all three avatars. A 2.5/5 from me.
Trying to be a Andagadu isn't about a swollen face and eyes and a neatly combed hair. Needs a better makeover.
Watched Chandamama Kathalu (2014). Beautiful movie! Am going to review it.
Also watched Attack (2016). Watched a Ram Gopal Varma after many years. Glad to see that he hasn't lost his touch. Quite ingenuously directed, Manchu Manoj playing the protagonist.
The previous movie by Manchu Lakshmi and this one by Manchu Manoj shows that the brother-sister duo are good at selecting good stories.
6th June 2017
Cleaned window frames. Got a cold again. Dust allergy persists. Despite his professed treatment, the doctor has done nothing to cure me of my allergy.
The first rainfall and an end to Summer 2017! The roaring 40s to mild 30s...what a drop! Weather is delicious with rains during nights and clouds during day.
The early onset of summer from March itself had me groaning at the endless hot days.
But every bad/good day has to end one day.
9th June 2017
Watched Coffee with D (2017). Hadn't thought of it much when the movie was released. Not really expecting much from an established comedian playing a hero. But was pleasantly surprised to see a decent performance by Sunil Grover in a non-comic role The story was different and had a good potential to be great but lost its footing somewhere with a slip-shod direction.
Visited Ruci & Idoni and Coffee Cup last week.
Ruci & Idoni big name but no show. Had ordered a starter which was okay and a pizza which was served with fried onions sprinkled on top! Pizza-biryani?
Coffe Cup: We ordered a veggie platter. Taste was ok ok but was so oily! The main dish of  sizzler was also pretty average. The vegetables were well-cooked but no sizzle in the sizzler. But like always, keeping upto its name, the coffee there was outstanding! No comparison to be found in Hyderabad.

Eating lot of ripe mangoes...almost one a day. Scared of increase in sugar levels :(
11th June
Went to visit a friend in hospital. Took some food along. Hospitals arent a nice place to be in...
12th June
Watched Srirasthu Subhamasthu (2016). Allu  Sirish has attempted a commercial role after his 'hatke' roles in his earlier movies. The story started decently enough but then soon lost track and was hurriedly concluded after going round in circles. A 2.5/ 5 from me.
13th June:
Woke up to the sound of inverter going 'kiiiii... kiiiii'. Battery drained it seems. Called a couple of electricians to get it cleaned and have distilled water filled. Wish I could do it myself without having to wait for them to come home. Realized two things: nothing ever runs forever without maintenance; two: have become so used to having 24/7 power that even those few minutes of living without power, especially the internet is so suffocating!
15th June 2017:
Just like that without a thought or plan went to watch Ami Thumi. 60/- for auto after haggling with two more drivers who had quoted 80 and 100/- respectively. Liked this light hearted movie.
Had gone without a thought for lunch. And when I saw that it was 9.5 kms from Cinepolis, Malakajgiri to Paradise, booked a cab which came for 73/- Directly went to Pizza den. The pizzas which were priced 90/- just a couple of years ago are now 140/-! Thankfully, the taste remains the same. Next went to my favorite Mamta Sweet house and bought a couple of samosas. And for the first time, went to Pardise Cafe and had their tea. Awesome at 12/- So thankful I didn't go for the 110/- priced coffee at the Cinepolis. Would they have been able to match this taste? I doubt it.
Walking provides you the freedom to stop and shop wherever you want. Exploited this to the full by shopping at China Bazar to buy a plastic sieve for 40/-. And most important went to Hong Kong market and finally bought a back cover for my mobile. Getting one for a 3 year phone is difficult these days. 3 years is considered old :( .But Honk Kong market has everything related to mobiles ;)
he said 150. I said 100. He said 'Done' and slipped the cover on. Should I have asked for a lower price?
16th June:
Went to Big Bazar to pick up a few groceries as I had missed some when I went to Ratnadeep for my monthly shopping. A bill of 483/ for a handful of items and a waste of nearly two hours in commuting and buying.
Was still able to pick up a thothapuri mango for making menthi baddalu :) Going for an overdrive after having grossly missed out on the mango season last year.
Despite having topped it up and the battery showing signs of charging, the inverter still shows low battery ;( Hope it starts working properly soon.
17th-19th June
Was up the whole night with uneasiness of health. Some chest tightening, stomach churning. Sat up the whole night and a loss of appetite and feeling of weakness the next day.
Feeling much better today though no sleep last night once again. I need to keep myself physically more active and definitely see a doctor about the heel pain. Even simple walking in house leads to pain....despite two months of giving up walking. After two years I am putting on some weight. Initially it was good to see after having lost drastically for the last two years but if I dont do something fast, I will keep adding. getting rid of it then will be tough.
Saw Dhruva (2016), What a brilliant concept! So different from the usual shit churned out these days. A good actor would have raised the bar to its deserved heights. Would have gone to watch in the theaters if it was a different actor.
23rd June :
It is 5 days since I have been feeling well. Five days since I slept well. Have been sleeping at around 4-5 am everyday. The dust allergy is back and last night it didn't allow me to sleep till I inhaled the steam. Only after that was I able to breathe and go to sleep.
The best part is that the sugar levels are near normal despite five consecutive sleepless nights :)
Wrote this as Tubelight review without watching the movie and from the reviews I have been watching/reading, they are saying the same thing. That's how predictive our movies have become. Lol!

Watched "Little Boy" (2015) out of curiosity due to the hype created around "Tube-light" (2017).
Little Boy centers around an 8 year old boy and his belief in bringing back his father who has gone to war. This movie has a weak story line, is melodramatic, yet is heart-warming in parts.
In Tube-light, father-son bond is transformed into brothers' bond with Salman playing a goofy character (like in Bajrangi). 
Sure to mess up with the basic story line by turning it into an emotional Bollywood hyperbole.
Can't see how the innocence and beliefs of a child is transfered to an adult.

Had entrusted the task of making raagi mudde and raagi malt to others earlier. It used to take them forever to make it. Now that I have started preparing it myself, I am amazed at the speed with which I am able to prepare it so easily! Why it took them hours to prepare this is truly puzzling.
It is fortunate that I like raagi so much. It has so many health benefits. Feel good whenever I have it.
Planning on having raagi malt for dinner everyday.
24th June
Went out to get all miscellaneous chores done around home. Got 3 kgs of mota  rice for dosa, bread from Spencer's (like it there only), a curry to go with the biryani planned.
Unplanned was the scooter puncture :( Had parked in front of SBI to get curry from Santosh dhaba. When I drove it a few meters, felt the scooty wobble. Showed it to the puncturewala just around the corner and had to wait about 20 minutes till the puncture was done. Charged me 50/- for it.
I had first suspected that the puncture was done on purpose but then the tyre was in tact; the tube had a small hole as though it had worn out.
An ayurvedic doctor visited who spent quite sometime at my home. He was supposed to take care of my physical health but went into the details of my psychological issues. This was an unexpected outcome but made me feel good. Unraveling helps in a big way!
25th June
Finally made the biryani. Was so much craving for one. The ones at restaurants, perhaps good for their non-veg counterpart, are rather disappointing on the vegetarian fare.
Turned out pretty decent, Went the whole hog by frying all vegetables etc. like I used to prepare earlier i,e before I started preparing veg biryani. In combination with the paneer curry bought yesterday, it tasted awesome.
The downside is this deep craving for a meetha paan after eating biryani. Had do make do with the khajoor-paan in my fridge.
Watched a film called Mister (2017) starring Varun Tej, What a senseless movie! No story in it at all.
26th-30th June:
Have not been keeping very well since the 11th June. Again, bouts of weakness. For the last three nights have been woken up due to beating heart. Was particularly bad last night.Scared. Need to get blood test done, but when?
Finally, after trying to get the inverter battery started/repaired, bought a new one for 8500/- after a supposed exchange of 3000 for the old one. Same Amaron one.
Two good things have happened this week. One, the cold has finally gone completely. Two, after two months, I seem to be free of pain in the ankle for the last four days.
Is it because I have started taking Gemcal? Whatever, walking completely free of pain feels great! Should I now try going out for walk again? One of my ex-studnts who has become an orthopedic doctor says that all I need to do is stretch my feet in the morning and ensure that I wear soft foot wear. May not go for the planned orthopedic visit now.
Watched Poorna (2017). A short one at 90 minutes, it is an awesome movie which tugs at your heart strings.
Also watched a terrible Duvvada Jagannatham (2017) Allu Arjun. Wrote a review. Watched Markatmani (2017). It is declared a hit but I didn't understand what it was about. Maybe I don't understand the dark humor in Tamil movies. The concept may be new but I didn't find it engaging at all.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Hindi Medium

I missed seeing many of Irfan Khan's earlier movies but make it a point to see most of them now. His mere presence brightens up the most mundane stories. So is the case with Hindi Medium, his latest offering.
Hindi Medium is a reflection of the competition these days between parents who are willing to go to any extent to get their kids admitted to the best schools and colleges.
The story starts with Irfan Khan, a retailer, effortlessly selling 'original' designs from top designers in India in the lanes of Chandini Chowk. He is threatened, emotionally blackmailed and coerced by his wife (Saba Qamar) into doing anything and everything for their daughter who would, if not educated in the best private school, grow up feeling inferior to others and  'end up taking drugs!'
However glib may Irfan be in his business skills, he sets them aside to cater to Saba's every whim and wish.
They move into posh premises as the best school mandates that they live close to the school. For Irfan Khan, the transition from Chandini Chowk to Vasant Vihar is not easy as he has to leave behind the house he grew up in. But they do it for the sake of their daughter.
Interesting and humorous are the moments when they try to adapt their life style to literally try to keep up with the joneses.
They seek a consultant whose business is to train the parents face the school interview. However well tutored, it cannot be hidden that Irfan Khan isn't the educated person he pretends to be. Hence the school admission is denied.
As they both sit depressed at this rejection, they are surprised to learn that the worker in their business was successful in getting his son admitted into the same school. When they learn that he got through in the poor quota, they prepare themselves to stay in the slums and apply through the poverty quota.
How Irfan manages to completely transform his body language to match that of a poor person is a pleasure to watch.
Mentionable is Deepak Dobriyal who, unbelievably, has been around since 2003. But this film is going to give him a recognition he has hankered for all along! He assumes that the couple has happened to fall on bad times and that they had once lived a good life. He is brilliant in training Irfan Khan on how to be poor. The moments spent in the slums are both hilarious and touching as they find solace in one another's depravity.
The movie was great till here. But then the convolutions that the story takes to make Irfan deal with guilt at passing off as a poor person to get a seat for his daughter seems rather contrived and couldn't really bring it to a logical conclusion.
The film runs for 133 minutes only but still needed to be padded up at times with the jokes about education commonly found on internet.
My thoughts, while watching this movie, were 'Thank God! We had the best schooling from the best teachers without getting into all this absurdity!'

I would go for a 3.5/5 for the performances of Irfan, Saba and Deepak and for the story bringing into focus the pathetic condition of education system in India.
Good movie. Go watch!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Daily tit-bits: May 2017

With a lull on the work front, been watching movies, plenty of them, online and in theaters. What I have been watching
 Nenu Local (2017): Nani: another badly selected movie. Ran in theaters but I'd rate it a mere 2.5/5, Nani is fast losing it.

Phillouri (2017)--Anushka Sharma: Ambitious but very childish plot with the ghost floating around funnily. 2/5 from me.

Antham (2016): Never even heard of this movie but this thriller was well-made and keeps you at the edge of your seat though the end seemed a bit contrived. Relatively unknown actors, Charan Deep, Rashmi Gautam give a decent performance. A 3.5/5 from me.

Premam (2016): All talk and no action. Though Nag has evolved a lot as an actor, the story held no water. Falling in love at three different stages in life has different ways of manifestation. The story had a great potential but a no show in terms of direction. A 2/5 from me.

Winner (2017): Intriguing story. Sai Dharam Tej shines again with his energy. A 3/5 from me for Sai and Jagpathi babu's powerful performances. The story is not strong enough to support such performances. But yes, have decided to go watch his movies in theaters instead of waiting for them to be released on TV.

Sahasam Swasaga Sagipo (2016): Naga Chiatanya: Action-Romance. Ok-ok A 2.5/5 from me.

Watched Shourya (Manchu Manoj) (2016). Liked it quite a bit...Manoj style of doing 'different' films. A romantic thriller. Nice one!

15th May
Sarabhai vs Sarabhai Take 2: The much awaited series is back but this time online. Despite the obvious comparison to the previous season, it is such a relief to find that the quality hasn't dipped at all. All the actors, despite a 11 year gap don't seem to have aged a bit and continue to be as goofily lovable as before.

24th May
Had to go to a place close to Shopper's Stop and obviously dropped in at Shopper's Stop! The excuse was the left over credit note of 400/- But when I went there, I obviously went looking around for a good hour. I was amazed at the collections there. I had bought my last dress at Shopper's Stop at GVK but compared to that, this place seems to have double the range. So, next time, I buy a dress, it is going to be here.
Bought blue color matching leggings for the dress bought for last birthday in Bangalore!
After that, I started walking and saw that Heart Cup Coffee was close by. I had  planned to be there for a long time and now that it is so close to my home, I dropped in. The loud throbbing music set the mood.
The DJ at Heart Cup Coffee

I discovered that Wednesdays were Ladies Nights and the drinks were on the house. Wasted on someone like me! I ordered a mocktail and was enjoying it when the host of the evening, Sharon, asked me if I'd like to make my own drink. I was smiling at this opportunity and very tentatively, with the help of the bartender made my own virgin mojito. Loved the experience, bless this so- enthusiastic and warm Sharon!
Feel good and nice about this experience of immense freedom!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Vinod Khanna

70 is too young to die, man!
I was a little too young to remember the beginning of Vinod Khanna's journey in movies but I grew up watching him in his different avatars in movies of various genres.
For me personally, there  were and are only three MEN in Hindi cinema: Sunil Dutt,Vinod Khanna and Dharmender. None before and none after qualify to be the quintessential macho man. No 6-pack/8-pack nonsense with these men. These were men, tall, good looking with great, firm bodies: physiques that would set many a heart aflutter. Girls swore by Khanna's handsomeness.
I read recently about a journalist writing about how he never got his due. This is oh-so-wrong! Through my teenage years I remember the close rivalry between Amitabh Bachchan and Vinod Khanna so well. Both were at the peaks of their career. And Vinod Khanna acted in many movies reveling in the fame and adulation they brought. So it is not right to say that he wasn't appreciated. His stardom was perhaps second only to Rajesh Khanna's.
It was then that, breaking crores of hearts, he quit everything to join Osho, his spiritual guru. I remember that so well. We were all so disheartened, unable to understand his decision, about how someone can just throw away everything like that in pursuit of spiritual fulfillment.

What is this handsome hunk doing in the garb of a sanyasi?
But later, when I grew a little older I understood how courageous one needs to be to follow one's heart.
This action, in tandem with Rajesh Khanna's declining stardom, left the field clear for the rise of Amitabh Bachchan and many of his mediocre angry-young-man movies.
He was a young 35-year old in 1982 when he quit films. At an age when people are poised for greater things in life, he so easily gave up everything! After the 5-year hiatus, the comeback was never the same. Five years is a big time in one's career, more so in films where an actor has a limited shelf life. Despite not finding his niche back, he worked and kept working till his death. He is said to be one of the most dignified and professional people on sets.
His death, a little too soon at 70, may not have been painless but at least he lived the life of his choice.

Define Cool!
Image courtesy: Google Images

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Mann mein doosara laddoo phoota?!

Kismet...what else can describe today's incident?
I had to attend to some work at the bank and I was putting it off for some time. The super-hot sun blazing away at 43° makes sure I confine myself to the cool interiors most of the time.
But then I went today as I had to get this work done. There was a queue and I decided to check the attached ATM meanwhile...rather reluctantly and with a certainty that there will be, as usual, no cash.
Since 8th November 2016, this has been the fate of the common man...running from ATM to ATM hoping to lay hands on some cash.
The ATMs are once again drying up after a short period of availability a month ago. Ironically, I haven't been able to draw money from the ATM of this bank (which is my main account) since November. And therefore, when I tried, I tried with really very little hope. And lo and behold! There was cash!
I typed 5500. It rejected suggesting that I draw 4000/- . The usual story, I thought...dispensing 2 two thousand rupee notes. Sigh! With the no-cash-no-change dictum presently in India, I despaired thinking of how to pay my tailor today.
I tried at another machine hoping to get 500 rupee notes. It rejected again with a suggestion of drawing 4000/ . With no other go, I typed in 4000 and guess what? I got 40 x Rs.100 notes! Can you believe that? For the first time, no 2000s or 500s but the whole of 4000 in 100s!
While I was smiling away gloriously, this guy standing at the next machine was muttering...'getting 100s only, want 2000 rupee notes.'
Man mein doosara laddu phoota! I was carrying the only cash I had at home...a 2000 rupee note and offered it to him. I watched with a gluttonous rapture as he counted, 1...2...3...4...20 of the limited edition. I wish I had another 2000 to exchange for that bundle of 20 x 100s that he was holding!

Am I not rich...rich...rich today?! 6000 rupees of spendable money in hand!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Daily tit-bits: April 2017

17th April
Bought the first huge ripe mango of the season.
Discovered that Revanth is a Brahmin and Rohith isnt! Surprising. I thought it was vice-versa.

18th
Started watching a serial again! "Karle tu bhi mohabbat". Again my favorite jodi, Ram and Sakshi
What is this weather? 45 degrees...feels like 41! So hot, so soon. May is still waiting to happen.
When in Toronto we had temperatures like 5 degrees, feels like 0!

Of a crazy total of 7.5 mg of Glimepride per day, knocked off 4 mg today as the tablet got over and I could not replace it in time, The surprising effect is, I feel so normal today. No weakness...nothing! Realized that it is taking of all those medicines that were effecting me all these days. 3 months of weakness...just gone like that! Need to concentrate more on yoga and exercises now. Need to do it unfailingly and reduce dependence on medicines to as far an extent as possible. Yes, I can do it!

19th
Went to the bank today. I went at 11ish hoping to reach home by 12. But the queues inside made me wait till 1pm and when I came out, the scooty handles and the seat had heated up so much that it was very tough holding them and driving back.
Heat alert on in Hyderabad for the next three days! The summer has set in early this year

22nd
Gave dress to tailor on 4th and yet to receive it from her. She has made a mess of the dress and moreover takes three weeks to deliver. I don't think I should go to Devi tailor any more. Meanwhile, luckily gave another dress to Jawed and he has not only done it on time without any calls/reminders but redid it also within a day's time. At least one dress is ready for the birthday! Happy me!
Watched just the three free episodes of "kalre tu bhi mohabbat". After that it is paid episodes. Did Ekta kapoor actually think people will PAY and watch serials?! Crazy! Who would? This idea of webisodes may not work.
Started a total of 5.5 mg of Glimepride for last two days with 1500 mg of Metformin and this combination seems to be working fine. Don't feel that weakness. Need to test now to see if it is also helping control blood sugar,

24th
Saw Saheb, Biwi aur Ganster Returns (2013). If the sequel could be so intriguing, I wonder what part1 would have been like.Plot within plot, unpredictable twists ad turns and a surprise ending. What power-house performances! Now, can't wait to watch the first part.
To offset that movie watched a thoroughly commercial flick, Telugu movie Temper (2015). Enjoyed the loud, melodramatic, dishoom-dishoom,heroine-not needed kind of movie. Entertaining to the core :)
Also caught Begum Jaan. Groan! What melodramatic OTT performances! Gosh! The film had such potential. May seem cruel to say this but Vidya Balan,time to take a break, lady! Come back in a new avataar.

25th
My Birthday! Started celebrating it again about 5 years back after a long hiatus.
Searched a lot for which restaurant to visit. As I eat out rarely, I always try and visit a new one but this time I didnt want to risk going to a bad one on my birthday and opted for a known one. Visited Exotica on Banjara Hills. Indian cuisine. No item was bad though there was not a great range. But it is okay. I can anyway just have a bite of each of the items. Post-lunch I allowed myself to walk through the little space in the outside dining section enjoying what little natural ambiance is allowed in the space the size of your hand! Tummy and mind full, I went to GVK mall, planning to do some window shopping till my next place of visit . Tried a few clothes and without a plan to, bought a top. I never spend more than 1000-1500 on a dress for myself but this time ended up buying a top weighing about 10 gms (exaggerating, of course) for 1600..the max I spent on a dress for myself!
My next destination was La Makaan. Wanted to visit this place for a very long time and finally had the opportunity to. I walked the 350 meters to La Makaan from GVK and found it exactly as I had imagined it to be. GVK mall had the teas and coffees going for the usual prices of 150-180 etc. La Makaan offered the same for 10/- and the taste was just awesome! I had heard the samosas there were great and when I went to buy, I found why. The cook there was an Oriya guy and brought the taste of Orissa to them. Bought two at 5/- apiece. As I bit into it, the forgotten tastes of Orissa hit my taste buds. Awesome! Then I went down to the open space which hosts events. There were some plastic chairs and tables strewn around. People were sitting around chatting. But there was an atmosphere...if you understand...something that said this is where the creative juices flow...of people who think from heart.
Not happy about being alone there, I joined a couple of men chatting among themselves and discovered that both of them were associated with films: one a writer and the other an editor. Had a long chat with them and discovered many interesting things about behind the screens' happenings. Meanwhile, we were joined by an aspiring actor too...adding another angle to the behind the screens happening in films.
Even with nothing to do there, I found the place so enrapturing. Ideal to go to with a close friend, let your hair down as you gulp down those awesome samosas and chai.
Doing all that I planned to do and more left me with a very serene feeling. Was happy, happy at the end of it all.

26th
Had wiped the top of the old fridge which was gathering dust lying in a corner of the house. I had forgotten all about my dust allergy and had suffered the whole night without sleep as I was hit with a very bad cold. Despite that, I had to go and buy mangoes for pickle preparation.
Discovered after going to Monda market that it was amavasya, a time when the market would not have many sellers and so bought from one of the two vendors selling mangoes.
Doing it alone, it took me two hours to wipe and clean each piece and remove the plastic sheet kind of layer from the inside of each piece. This made me sleep quite late in the night. But the cold having abated (after making me suffer for two consecutive nights), I slept well today.

27th
Have been feeling weak since morning. All I managed to do was to get up and make the pickle. Have put it in a big dabba, After three days, need to stir it again and store it away in the big ceramic jar till next April.

28th
Learned the trick to ironing clothes properly. When I see my sis in law ironing so many clothes of the entire family, I thought, could I not do just the few I have? Learned to wet them well , roll them and keep it aside for some time. When all layers are damp, iron them. And they come out quite stiff and nice...unlike last week's attempt at wetting and ironing them instantly. Also proud that I had the sense to put a cloth over the tens of teeny-weeny mirrors stuck on the dress...taking care not to burn them like the isthriwla had done some time back.
Watched Kanjeevaram (Tamil) movie. I know that the story and the actors within are fantastic but it is definitely not a mood lifter, especially with its pessimistic end :(
29th
Went out today at 11.45 as it was a little cloudy but it took about an hour to come back. After lunch, when I got onto bed, discovered that the cold had returned again! Was it because I went outdoors and got exposed to dust again? Had worn the mask though...Finally, got the blue dress given for stitching on the 4th of April. Had wanted to wear it for the birthday...ended up wearing something else!
Second salary from the new company I joined got credited! Happy me :)

Friday, February 10, 2017

Closing cycles: Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho has always inspired me with his thought-provoking writings.The principle in the below excerpt is something I understand so well, yet I know, not as easy to follow.

One always has to know when a stage comes to an end. If we insist on staying longer than the necessary time, we lose the happiness and the meaning of the other stages we have to go through.
Closing cycles, shutting doors, ending chapters – whatever name we give it, what matters is to leave in the past the moments of life that have finished.

Did you lose your job? Has a loving relationship come to an end? Did you leave your parents’ house? Gone to live abroad? Has a long-lasting friendship ended all of a sudden?
You can spend a long time wondering why this has happened.

You can tell yourself you won’t take another step until you find out why certain things that were so important and so solid in your life have turned into dust, just like that.
But such an attitude will be awfully stressing for everyone involved: your parents, your husband or wife, your friends, your children, your sister.
Everyone is finishing chapters, turning over new leaves, getting on with life, and they will all feel bad seeing you at a standstill.

Things pass, and the best we can do is to let them really go away.

That is why it is so important (however painful it may be!) to destroy souvenirs, move, give lots of things away to orphanages, sell or donate the books you have at home.

Everything in this visible world is a manifestation of the invisible world, of what is going on in our hearts – and getting rid of certain memories also means making some room for other memories to take their place.
Let things go. Release them. Detach yourself from them.

Nobody plays this life with marked cards, so sometimes we win and sometimes we lose.
Do not expect anything in return, do not expect your efforts to be appreciated, your genius to be discovered, your love to be understood.

Stop turning on your emotional television to watch the same program over and over again, the one that shows how much you suffered from a certain loss: that is only poisoning you, nothing else.

Nothing is more dangerous than not accepting love relationships that are broken off, work that is promised but there is no starting date, decisions that are always put off waiting for the “ideal moment.”

Before a new chapter is begun, the old one has to be finished: tell yourself that what has passed will never come back.
Remember that there was a time when you could live without that thing or that person – nothing is irreplaceable, a habit is not a need.
This may sound so obvious, it may even be difficult, but it is very important.

Closing cycles. Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because that no longer fits your life.

Shut the door, change the record, clean the house, shake off the dust.

Stop being who you were, and change into who you are.

Original link here.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Casa Loma: the courage to dream


Though a not-so-good student of history in high school, as a traveler history has me enthralled. To see what a person yearns for, fights for, gathers, wages wars for, amassing wealth and territories, the opulence and grandeur of an era gone by...all these hold a great fascination to me.
Yet, a visit to Casa Loma palace bowled me over for a different reason altogether. Princes, kings, queens, lords living in opulence is well-established in history but for a common man like you and me living in a palace is a dream and that is what Sir Henry Pellatt aimed for. He built and lived in a palace, the grandeur of which is beyond the wildest dreams of a common man.
Pellatt rose from a very humble origins as a stock broker. He made fortunes through his ambitious hydro-electric and railway projects. His larger-than-life persona sought to make a mark in history in the form of this grand castle in the North of Toronto built on the top of a hill in 1914.
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Casa Loma on a foggy day

The very ambitious plan for the castle consisted of 98 rooms, 30 bathrooms, magnificent fireplaces, 3 bowling alleys, a swimming pool, a rifle range and huge grounds all around for walking. The best architect was hired to plan the construction of the palace, begun in 1911, with the help of 300 men at a total cost of  3.5 million dollars.The best of mahogany, oak, walnut, teak and marble from across the world used for the interiors added another 1.5 million dollars to the cost.
The Hunting Lodge and the stables right across Casa Loma were constructed first. It also housed the servants' quarters. It is said that each of the stables had the name of the horse embellished in gold.

The Hunting Lodge and servants' quarters

When the city built a road cutting across this property, Pellatt had a long 800-ft tunnel connecting the palace to the Hunting Lodge dug beneath the street. This long passage is said to have helped Pellatt protect himself from cold winters while walking from the palace to the stables.
The ground floor of the palace consisted of a palatial main hall at the entrance, a large library with a collection of 10000 books, the dining and serving areas, Pellatt's study and the impressive conservatory.
An example of Pellatt's ambitious plan is his collection of  50 various telephone instruments in the castle, accounting for more than half the telephones in Toronto, with its own exchange system.

One of the 50 phones in the palace
Pellatt had the grand Napoleon's desk replicated in his study. There were two secret passage ways from each side of the fireplace, one led to his bedroom and another to the basement. The movement across floors was also assisted  with the help of lifts that Pallett had installed...again an unheard of luxury in those days. Strangely there was no staircase from the central hall to the first floor.

Pellatt's study

The Oak room was one of the most formal rooms with grand interiors where Pellatt entertained important guests. Off the Oak Room are the huge Smoking Room and the Billiards Room.


The Oak Room
Towards the end of the main floor, there was a conservatory with the best floral arrangements. Steamed water helped maintain normal temperatures during harsh winters.
Between the huge library and the conservatory was the equally spacious dining room. A passage from the kitchen led to the Serving Room where all dishes were assembled before serving. Attached was a small hideaway where the orchestra would play in the background
The first floor consisted of palatial bedrooms of Henry Pellatt and Lady Pellatt. Only the rich could afford a bedroom each for the husband and wife in those days.The bedrooms showcased exhibits brought from all over the world.
Apart from the many bedrooms for guests, he had a special bedroom, the Windsor Room, for the Queen. Ambitious as he was, he hoped that one day he would boast of a Royal visit.

In anticipation of a Royal visit

The fireplace in Windsor room
Despite a temporary recess during World War I, the construction resumed in time to enable Pellatt and his wife to move into the near-completed palace in 1914.
The post-war recession witnessed Pellatt's fast-depleting reserves. He owned 1.7 million dollars to the Home Bank which collapsed in 1923. Adding to his woes, the property tax increased from $600 a year to $1000  a month! In addition, mounting fuel costs for heating the palace, the cost of maintaining the 40 servants, the lavishly-held parties which had the who's who of those times...all these led to Pellatt's bankruptcy.
The couple had to move out of the palace in 1924. Lady Pellatt died shortly after of a heart attack
Most of the assets in the palace were auctioned to repay debts.The artifacts lovingly gathered from all over the world were given away at throw-away prices: "A Persian rug for the cost of a doormat." Pellatt is said to move out with just three van full of belongings.
The grandiose plans for the palace were never completed and the whole of the second floor lies vacant. Once abandoned, the palace lay itself wide open to heavy vandalization. Not knowing what to do with the palace, the city thought of demolishing this 'appalling' structure at a point of time.
It is now restored and is open to public view. It is also used for conducting events and film shootings. In the now Gift Shop, you can see plans for the three bowling alleys.The grandly planned swimming pool houses the theater which runs a documentary film on Henry Pellatt.

Pellatt's story has me awed due to his sheer guts and gumption in building this palace. Common people would never dream of such ostentation but he dared to dream beyond the possible, to live in this imposing structure even if it was for nine years only. He shrugged away the label of being mad for his seemingly absurd plans. He had one son who in turn isn't survived by a progeny.
He never regained that opulence but yes, some redemption for Sir Henry Pellatt as people turned out in thousands to bear witness to his funeral procession held on a cold winter day in March, 1939.

(Most of what I have written comes from the audio tour provided during my visit to the palace and looking up several articles on the internet.)