May 30, 2013

Bro-mance and Other Stories

So on a late Friday evening, when physically younger souls were doing a modernized version of a folk dance done in Punjab (without any rhyme or rhythm) to the tunes of Trance in the various watering holes of the city, we near the water storage tank of Mumbai were having a serious family debate on whether it bordered on uncontrolled lunacy or evolved geekiness to want to walk out of the comfort of your four and three quarters of a square meter of home at mid-day to go and watch Star Trek.  Yes the discussion lasted all through the night.

Finally, puppy eyes and a few sighs as always did the trick and we trudged along to watch the greatest Bro-mance of 2013- Star Trek, Into Darkness. In what is perhaps the most convoluted storyline in recent times, (beaten only by Gippi, which we shall come to later) Zachary Quinto stole the show. These days Sci-Fi movies have decided to dumb themselves down to the levels of elementary school, so that all of us who might have spent years in the wilderness of wiki trying to cross reference the mythology of various universes, would completely be flabbergasted. For example, the screenplay of Iron Man 3 would read like, Iron Man likes gadgets, Iron Man no likes bad guys, Iron Man wants to fight, Iron Man fights, we will see Iron Man 4 soon. Well, I am being unfair on Iron Man, it was a great visual treat, especially when the suits become voice activated and Sir Ben proves his greatness in a five minute sequence.

 Anyway coming back to Star Trek, it sees the return of Khan, (clearly Sherlock needs to do something while planning his return in Season 3) which my ‘Always SRK is awesome’ movie partner asks nudging me with her elbow – “Should the K be from the epiglottis, like Kkkhan?” If looks could kill, I would be next door neighbour to Sanju Baba or the Malayali pacer. And then suddenly, the entire awesomeness of Khan goes for a toss, when he is no longer the primary antagonist. But what he did was kindle the fire of Bro-Mance, which Uhura will always find hard to blow away.

In order to recover from the epic-ness of Star Trek’s visual awesomeness, and because the sun was still scorching hot outside we went into Epic, being the only couple in the movie and raising the average age of the audience by 5. But Epic was interestingly nice. Beyonce does not add much, but ultimately it delivers what it wants to deliver; which unfortunately is quite a lot. The greatness of a movie is not its multiplicity of plots but rather the depth of its central theme. But then, the kids laughed, we had our shwarma roles and cheered the Leafmen as they fought the bugs.

In other reviews, which I have delayed unnecessarily, Gippi was bereft of everything that made Udaan a great movie. And yet it had everything that one could hope for. Seeing Gippi, I realized rarely does anyone understand the complexities of a school election. In fact, come to think of it, the best portrayal of school tensions and elections is still Neev, the defining serial on DD in the late eighties. Divya Dutta was brilliant as usual as a single mother without resorting to the exaggeration of her pains that Hindi movies often fall prey to, but somewhere Gippi lacked the heart, while having the right intentions.

Ek Thi Dayan, was surprisingly a great movie –one of the best supernatural thrillers I have seen in recent times. Emraan Hashmi continues to surprise with his choice of movies and Konkona is a delight to watch as you wonder who she is portraying. In fact for horror movies in Bollywood things have been going good. Raaz 3, Aatma, 3G, quite a few of them hit the theatres and had interesting storylines to boast. Often though, how things connected back to the central theme, left us asking for some sense of sanity, but then as long as you get scared enough, why bother?

The biggest disappointment was however Bombay Talkies. 4 stories, each different, perhaps individually a great idea, fell flat when they were supposed to celebrate Indian Cinema. The closest was the adaptation of the Satyajit Ray Short Story and despite Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s great performance; it never could capture the human emotion that Ray’s story portrayed.

It’s good to be back watching movies and writing about them :)

May 06, 2013

Mumbai Meri Jaan! We Meet Again

Honestly, the only affair I have had in my life has been with Mumbai. We were made for each other. We loved, we hated, we fought, we cried and we survived and grew together. And how much ever the Delhites complain about this city, I am in complete love with her.

Now that I am back again to the city, I realized my love was the unfettered, ill advised and completely irrational love of the youth. And as such, we had completely overlooked the fact that our love story was doomed from Day 1.

It has been a couple of months since we have been here. No, it has not been Bandra, fortunately as far as the Missus is concerned. She hated the traffic at Pali Naka and the crazy snail on Linking Road. It was one of those ‘meeting the ex’ that never works out I guess.

So we ended up near a lake. With water being a concern every summer, at least I can take a bucket to the lake every now and then if need so arises. And with the city already gasping at the very beginning of summer, we sense a long, dry Indian summer ahead of us.

And with the glamourous goggles of Bandra finally off my eyes, I realized Mumbai’s beauty is often exaggerated by enamoured young individuals like me. Why else, a city, which is the heart of one of the future economic super powers, be reeling under infrastructure woes?  Why else the green covers of the city are non existence? Why else would a child be inhaling toxic fumes, every day in her commute to school?

There was a point of time when I swore by the restaurants in Mumbai. Today I find them unable to stay true to cuisines, culinary skills and finesse. The magic wanes as you grow older I guess, but Mumbai to me was more than magic. It was a story of hope and of resilience. Today I sense only an acceptance of fate. And slowly that creeps up on everyone. Sab kuch chalta hain.

I still love Mumbai, but I am no longer blind to her mood swings. I have realized over the years that not attempting to correct what’s wrong only leads you down to an abyss, further and further away from any utopia.

And so this time, Mumbai my love, every day an auto refuses to pick me up or a road looks like it has been bombed by WW II fighter planes, do not expect me to accept you as you are.

The days of love, blind and forgetful are over my dear!