June 27, 2011

The Best Spy Movie Ever

Cars has been one of my favourite animation movies of all times. It was not the best animation movie made by Disney but it was classic Disney from start to the finish. It had honour, honesty, the hero dithering and finally the triumph of good intentions over evil and the confirmation of the belief that good guys do not necessarily finish last. The one scene that keeps playing before my eyes even today is the one where Lightning McQueen forfeits his race so that the retiring legend completes his last. This was what respect and integrity was all about, as taught in early childhood and to a guy grasping for answers in a foreign land, it left an indelible impression.

Cars II was a completely different story – an out and out spy thriller with unbelievable car chases, an evil conglomerate, friendship, trust and home coming. In fact in terms of storyline, I would keep it even higher than a Casino Royale. And I know here the purists will shriek in fright and cross their hearts but that’s what it is. The scriptwriters have been both smart and cheeky, marrying images of our very own neighbourhood cars to that of the spy stories of the cold war era.

The other important thing about the movie was that it was about Mater all the way. He is the real hero and has the larger screen presence. Imagine if in a Munnabhai movie, Circuit gets the meatier role. Perhaps that’s what animation lets you do. The bumbling tow truck comes of his own in the movie and uses his honest innocence and at times idiocy to save the world, the Queen of England and of course McQueen.

What I love best about this sequel is that after a long long time comes an animation movie where the storyline is not a slave of its past success. The characters are the same but that’s just about it. There’s finally an alternate world of cars out there who are living out lives of their own and the movies being made out of their lives are all unique and distinct.

The favourite scene? Well the foodie in me can’t forget Mater and his confusion with wasabi. Well, many great men, women and cars in the past have confused it with pistachio ice-creams.

Only in the wonderland of Disney can Maters become Heroes. And that’s why whatever happens with the world of Animation the world over (even happenings like Mars Needs Moms) I still return to Disney to convince myself that you do not ever need to choose between morality and integrity.

Keep Moving Forward. That’s what Disney magic is all about. (Ok that was from Meet the Robinsons)

June 13, 2011

What Happened?

Somehow I needed to post something and the unfinished food blog was just not the thing I wanted to write about - I wanted the wolves to be by my side in the lonely airport aisle, but they were all away - in Delhi, in Bangalore, on a train to Orissa; across the world; scattered and far from my life.

And it was a friend's birthday. I went to his blog and found this. And I felt I could now go to sleep on the flight.

Tell me a story
Of tomorrow
Of purple dreams
And orange hope

And a rainbow walk
Where I never tire

June 12, 2011

The Stories Men Tell

It has been long since I have written about the movies I have watched. Honestly speaking there has been not a single one that I have watched and gone “Wow!!! I must recommend them to my friends.” But then I have never judged movies. Every one has a story to tell.

Take for example, Limitless. A man becomes super intelligent by having a pill which can destroy him in the long run like all drugs. While the change he was undergoing was brilliantly documented, the plot went haywire; people were killing each other and suddenly we knew that the protagonist will one day become the President of the US of A.

X Men First Class with all its promise, failed to deliver, at least for a X Men loyalist like me. Everywhere people are going gaga over Erik and Charles and the subtlety of their relationship and how one becomes Magneto and the other Professor X. But I found both the actors wanting. Perhaps it was also because of the script which had gems like, “you need to find the point between rage and serenity.” We were guffawing at the theatre. All super hero movies must speak about the journey towards understanding their inner powers. X Men First Class lacked it. The storyline is a standard one. The evil Sebastian Shaw had killed Magneto’s mother when he was young at a concentration camp and he was searching for revenge. Charles wanted to get the mutants together and work for the greater good and the Cuban Missile crisis was caused by Sebastian Shaw. As V put it, the only saving grace was Hugh Jackman’s guest appearance.

Shaitan was a movie which as S put it, tried to be “edgy for the sake of being edgy.” It could have been a great psychological thriller but it failed to be. The worst part was that you could not connect to the movie as something that’s happening around you. Of course, the stories came straight out of a Mumbai Mirror front page but then you never feel connected to them. The reason why the movie failed to excite me was that it was brilliant in parts and the parts were disjointed. The brilliance however was in the picturisation of the song “Khoya Khoya Chand”. Worth a watch just for the song.

The Pirate returned with Penelope Cruz and the franchisee-ing of everything under the sun is just getting plain irritating. It’s just like refusing to launch any new Brand because that will cost a lot. A certain creative bankruptcy is evident everywhere in the movie industry today. The story was similar, the acting saved only by Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz spoke through her lines and one could sense that the stories now had fallen into a set pattern.

The Panda was back too. In all his awesomeness and like last time showed the humans what it meant to be a Dragon Warrior, what it meant to take up one’s responsibility with pride, what it meant to face inner demons and the outer ones. But I think the one who stole the show here was the villain. Brilliant portrayal of how anyone can become evil. The movie just made me realize, how feeble we were when standing up against our inner evil. While watching Kung Fu Panda II, I wondered if 3D was worth it at all. It just doesn’t give me any extra joy, the glasses are bad across theatres in India and after the movies my eyes always cry for some rest.

And finally there was Stanley ka Dabba. Maybe the storyline was not the perfect, but it takes a great lot of talent to direct so many kids in all their naturalness. I think the greatest gift for me while watching the movie was to go back to my school days and remember how important the tiffin box was to all of us. It was when the first bonds of loyalty were created and the innocence of our hearts blossomed unfettered.

With a flurry of movies not meeting my expectations, I wait for Cars II and the last Harry Potter adventure. And I wait for someone to give me Cinema Paradiso once again to watch. Landmark and Crossword disappoint me with their collection. But I know the movies find me, for I never act snooty and choose between them.

Till then I can watch Ready, again and again :)

June 05, 2011

The Second Rains

In school, it was about running out of the class to quickly stand under the first drops. And then run back because you can’t let the teachers scold you in front of the class. After school, it was about taking your shoes in your hands, roll up your trousers and wade through the waters before they start stinking with the drains overflowing. You just needed to ensure that when you neared home, you braced yourself for mom breathing fire and love on you. On those days mom seemed like a dragon – fuming because I got wet and concerned about me getting unwell.

In Rajasthan, it was about being on my back on the terrestrial sky as the rains and the hail hit me and yet I knew that the deserts would be full of flowers soon. In Bangalore it was about the dripping dew drops in the morning. But Mumbai took the joy of the first rains away. The first rains were the ones that took the pollution from the skies and washed the city streets of months of sweat and frayed tempers. Last year as I had walked out embracing the rains, it was as if the skies were returning whatever filth we had sent towards it.

This year it was about the second rains. I let the first rains go. Like memories of the past. It was time to move on. And the second rains came, to a city cleansed of its anger. As I walked out of the squash court, uncharacteristically angry with the world around me it started. The torrents came without relent and everyone around was standing under the shades and smiling. And it just changed the world around. With a spring in my steps, I walked out and the enormity of the situation hit me. It was the Second Rain and yet it felt like the First.

The laptop was secured and the mind was free. The rains washed away the anger, the frustration and the feeling of awesomeness returned. After about 15 minutes of being the envy of Mumbaikars who were trying to squeeze in between the shades on the closed shops, one rare empty auto screeched to a halt at my side and shivering I walked into it.

But then if you have decided to be a child of the rains, the universe conspires to bring you closer to your elements. On top of a highway the auto stuttered to a stop. And in the blinding rain, with the rains misting the spectacles, the highway monsters with their yellow eyes looked like peaceful puppets. Everyone was smiling. 

And I walked for 75 minutes. Under the rain, with broken twigs under my feet and a song in my heart I walked towards inner peace.

For inner peace is sometimes just about being happy and laughing away the blues.

Or midnight coffee. Or a story about two IAS officers and human Jack Daniels. Or watching Prem Amar on a Sunday afternoon.

Inner peace probably is about believing in Friendship.