Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The 3 Stooges

This is the story of 3 friends, a la Dil Chahta Hai. Let's call them A, S, V. They studied in college X which is where they met and became friends for life. College X had a system of having a test every saturday. Everyone knew that the tests didn't matter but they still had to take it. If someone were to miss a test they usually told a friend to submit a piece of paper with the name of that prticular student with or without a few lines so as to give an impression that he was present. Life went on.

On one occasion, A had to miss a test. Casually, he told S and V to write a paper for him and submit it. All of them knew that this was a joke and they won't do it. However, on the D-day, S told V to write a few pages for A which S would submit. Reluctantly, V wrote 4 pages and gave it to S. As fate would have it, S was caught while submitting the paper. When asked where the A was, he said that A had left after giving him the paper. The prof. L would have nothing of it and he went to the office to look at A's picture to see if he had come. It was the last day before Christmas vacations and all 3 of them spent sleepless nights during the entire vacation.

After College reopened all of them missed classes the first day for fear of what might happen. Next day during one of the classes A and S were called to the Vice Principal F's office. After a few minutes V was also called up. He was surprised to get the call as he was nowhere in the picture. Upon reaching F's office, he saw A and S standing in front of F and L. F asked V whether he had written the paper for A but foolish V didn't realise that his bluff was over and said no. S immediately refuted V's statement and said that it was V who had written the paper. V was caught!

Here is what happened behind the scenes. A and S went down and confessed their crime before F and L. F was getting ready to announce a punishment for them when suddenly L said "This doesn't look like your writing S. Who wrote A's paper?" Then he noticed poor V's paper lying below theirs and the resemblance in writing could not go unnoticed. Thus, A and S had to tell the truth.

What happened to them after this is irrelevant. The important thing is the effect of the incident on their friendship. They will never forget this for the rest of their lives. This incident acts as the glue which binds them for the rest of their lives...

P.S. - As Barney Stinson would say in HIMYM, "True Story!"

P.P.S. - I am back after a bit of a hiatus as I was preparing for an exam and then had to take care of a few important matters. I hope to be regular once again.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Terminator Salvation

When I saw the trailers of Terminator Salvation I was amazed at the action sequences and the CGI displayed. I thought this might be a superb action film and hopefully will be much better than Terminator 3. The movie delivered exactly as was promised in the trailers - a thorough action film without much of a story. Let me first give a short synopsis of the movie.

The movie is set in 2018 showing a full-fledged war between man and the machines (does that sound familiar?). John Connor (Christian Bale) has grown up and is one of the main leaders of the resistance against the machines. Skynet (the evil computer) has perfected the A.I. and is trying to do everything to stop the humans (seems like the humans are trying to take over the machines and not the other way round!). The efforts of Skynet include destruction of property and life as well as taking human prisoners (God knows what they are going to do with them). John Connor's (JC from now) primary mission in the movie is to find his teenage father, Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) and save him from the machines so that he can be sent back in time to impregnate Sarah Connor (JC's mom) which will help in JC's conception.

Another subplot involves Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) who was a death-row convict and had donated his body for scientific research in 2003. He comes back to life and is essentially a machine in man's body. He helps JC break into Skynet's facility to rescue Kyle who has been captured.

The movie is so action packed that at some point one starts thinking as to what is the point of all this. Don't get me wrong. It is thoroughly enjoyable as long as you don't care about the story. However, one must not forget that this is a franchise and a new movie is expected to add something to the storyline. This movie fails to do that. To quote Roger Ebert, one of the most reknowned film critics, this is "a movie that raises many questions about the lines between man and machine. Raises them, and then leaves them levitating." The quintessential question that I wanted answered was "why is John Connor so important? Why would Skynet go to any extent to prevent his conception first and later on plot his death?" Alas, the movie doesn't add any information to answer this question. In fact at some point the viewer feels as if this movie is more about Marcus Wright than about John Connor!

I am a big fan of Christian Bale and his movies. However, I was disappointed by his performance in this movie. May be, it wasn't his fault. A look at the characters around him returns the same disappointment except for Sam Worthington. All in all, if you are a hard core Terminator fan or an action movie lover, you can go and see it but even if you don't, you haven't missed much!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Thums Up Kid

This incident happened just a little over a year ago and I had written this small piece to describe it.

I was attending a friend's marriage party and decided to have a masala Thums Up. I went to the counter and asked the guy behind it to make one for me. He prepared it very diligently and gave the glass to me. I took it and moved away sipping away to glory. Nothing wrong with it eh! I think I forgot to mention a small part of the story. Let's rewind.

I was attending a friend's marriage party and decided to have a masala Thums Up. I went to the counter and asked the guy behind it to make one for me. He was already making one for someone else. There was a small kid standing at the counter hoping to get one for himself. While the guy was busy making one for me this kid tried to reach for the glass in the guy's hand. When the guy was done he gave the glass to me instead of the child. I moved away sipping away to glory while the kid stood there hoping to get the next glass!

I still can't reconcile to the fact that I took the glass instead of giving it to the kid. Though it might seem like a small thing but I have been unable to put this out of my mind. I don't know what got into me. On 99% of the occasions I would have given the glass to the kid!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption is a movie about hope, faith and friendship. The friendship that is depicted in it is of a different kind as compared to most of the other movies. It is a story about two friends, Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), a white banker wrongly charged with his wife’s murder and Ellis Boyd ‘Red’ Redding (Morgan Freeman), a black convict.

The movie starts with Andy being convicted with the murder of his wife and her lover. He is sentenced to a double life imprisonment and he lands up in Shawshank prison. Here he meets Red who is also serving a life sentence. Red is a guy who is ‘known to locate certain things from time to time,’ i.e. get things for a price in prison. The ‘sisters’, a bunch of homosexual guys, take a liking for Andy and are always after Andy. Andy lives the usual prison life without ever losing hope. Red, on the other hand, says to Andy that ‘Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.’

One day Andy uses his knowledge to help one of the officers in saving some taxes. Thus, begins a new chapter in his life. News spreads about Andy’s expertise in taxation matters and he starts doing the tax returns for all the prison guards. Warden Samuel Norton (Bob Gunton) comes to know about Andy and engages him in his own financial matters, bulk of which involved covering the illicit money which he earned from various sources. If I say any further I will be spoiling your experience of watching the movie. So all I want to say is go and see it for yourself.

The Shawshank Redemption is an adaptation of the novella ‘Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption’ by Stephen King. Like all the movies adapted from books this arouses the question as to which is better. I have had the opportunity to read the novella as well as watch the movie (the latter a great many times). I liked the novella as well as the movie but I find the movie better. The novella fails to maintain the suspense which is brilliantly done in the movie. Also, the novella isn’t as successful in depicting the friendship of Red and Andy.

The Shawshank Redemption was nominated for 7 Oscars but was unable to win any of those. The best film award went to ‘Forrest Gump’ that year. There has been a lot of debate about which is a better movie and whether Shawshank should have won the Oscar instead of Forrest Gump. I will present a few facts here which or may not mean anything. American Film Institute has ranked Shawshank at number 72 in the list of all time top 100 movies while Forrest Gump has been placed at number 76. IMDb, which is an internet database of movies and ranks movies based on the ratings given by millions of users, puts Shawshank at number 1 (till last year it was at number 2, second only to The Godfather) while Forrest Gump is around 42.

Shawshank was a flop at the box office. There can be many reasons which can be attributed to this. The name in itself was considered to be inappropriate for a movie; most of the movie being shot inside a prison didn’t inspire people to go to the theatre and watch it. As word spread around that this was a really good movie people started renting the VHS and the following year it became the highest rented movie of the year.

Most of the people who have seen the movie will agree with me that for almost 3/4ths of it you enjoy the movie but the last half an hour simply blows you away. Most of the movies which have a twist ending end up not being seen twice but that’s not the case with this movie. When I saw the movie for the first time I liked it but my respect for the movie has been growing with the number of viewings. The more I see it the better I feel about it. There was a period of 4 months when I saw it 3 times. Also, I loved the movie so much that I went on to buy the book ‘Different Seasons’ which contains the novella. By this time I guess most of you would have understood that Shawshank is my favourite movie of all time and I believe that there can never be any other movie which comes close to this.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

50 First Dates

‘Imagine having to win over the girl of your dreams…every friggin day’ says the tagline of this movie. ’50 First Dates’ is a romantic comedy featuring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore in the lead where Sandler has to win over Drew everyday. He plays the role of ‘Henry Roth’ who is a vet and enjoys the company of several women but never commits himself to any one in particular. This sequence is broken after he meets ‘Lucy’. He is immediately smitten by her and hopes to win her love. However, the very next day itself, Lucy seems unable to have any remembrance of meeting him altogether. Henry finds out that Lucy is suffering from short-term memory loss and forgets everything the next day. This begins a series of attempts by Henry to win over Lucy everyday.

Henry Roth is every woman’s dream for who would take so much trouble to win over someone’s love knowing well enough that he/she has to perform the same ritual once again, the next day and every following day! Adam Sandler may not be renowned for his romantic acting abilities but he comes up with a very convincing performance. In fact, he possesses a good mix of humour and romance to play the character of Henry Roth. Opposite him is Drew Barrymore who may not be regarded as a great actress by most people but has done a fair job of playing Lucy. Supporting them are Rob Schneider and Sean Astin who account for a lot of humourous moments in the movie.

Though this movie is supposed to be a romantic comedy there are moments where you actually feel very sad. The scene where Henry comes to know about Lucy’s condition and then his confrontation with her dad and brother makes you feel sorry for the poor guy. One wouldn’t like to be in his shoes. Similar is the case when Lucy finds out about her illness from her dad. Those scenes are really touching.

I have seen a lot of romantic movies right from the black & white to the modern era. However, if someone were to ask me to pick one romantic flick it is going to be this one. The movie makes you wonder whether you would have been able to do what Henry Roth does. For me this is the ultimate challenge where your love is put to test everyday!

Monday, May 4, 2009


Today I was chatting with a friend from campus and nostalgia engulfed me. How I longed to meet him and re-live those moments. Some of the good times we had had include those daaru parties when we would get extremely drunk and danced chanting langda tyaagi bahubali and what not, those petty fights, helping each other with studies, watching cricket together and abusing the hell out of the cricketers, late night visits to the canteen, playing Counter Strike among others. How I wished I was in India so that I could go and meet some of those guys with whom I had spent 2 of the best years of my life. Alas, my quest for money and success has a price!

Let me try and describe some of these characters:

D - An IITian from Bihar, most of whose sentences would start with M^&%%^$#%. An extremely brilliant chap with equal proficiency in academics and P***. He never had a glass of drink for he would always gulp, straight from the bottle.

P - Another IITian who spent hours everyday watching P***. My mistake was always asking him what he was up to! Understood everything in first reading. Spent at least 2 hours playing soccer everyday and still cracked amazing grades. He was always after the ar** of the next guy in this post, of course jokingly :)

S - My neighbour and my partner in crime as far as Counter Strike was concerned. We spent hours playing the game with others on campus. As someone rightly said that in the wee hours of the night a noise emanated from his room while he played CS; noise which upon closely observing would tell you that some poor fellow's ancestors were being dragged out of hell to be subjected to very colourful language.

Sc - The typical Gult who had no passion in life but to get a job in Hyderabad. Political and cricket database who could recount any record or any match details at the blink of an eye.

Ph - The guy who was surrounded by a huge group of girls but none as girlfriend. Loved to play loud music. He never took any sh** from anybody, not even the most dreaded profs on campus.

CC - The farmer who had the body of a dwarf but would make a fox run for shelter with his cunningness. He was the guy most of us fought with the most. He was so irritating that he was called ChamanC (As per him C stood for Champion).

Yours truly - The lone CA in the dorm who was supposed to know everything under the sun relating to accounting. Developed a very bad illness known as moviemania. There were times when I saw 4-5 movies in a day. I loved to host a lot of daaru parties for my friends group.

There were a few others as well. That's it for now or else I will never be able to reach office at 6:30 tomorrow for the beginning of a very rough 4-5 days...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Believe it or not

There is no neutral ground in the Universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counter claimed by Satan
- C.S.Lewis

Do you believe in God? If yes, then please continue reading. If you don't then I am not sure how much of this is relevant but you can continue reading for academic purposes.

Do you believe in the Devil/Satan? I am guessing that a lot of people would answer this question as 'no'. I would like to argue here about the existence of a Devil.

First, let me try and provide a perspective about this philosophical discussion. As expected it is a movie which prompted me to raise this question. Sometime back a friend of mine had suggested a movie called 'The Exorcism of Emily Rose'. He told me that it's not the usual cliched horror movie. Recently I gathered the courage to watch this horror movie alone in my apartment.

The premise of the movie is that a priest is being tried for causing the death of a possessed girl by performing an exorcism. This girl starts having visions and is diagnosed with epilepsy. When the medicines don't help, her parents are convinced that she is possessed. They ask the local priest to perform an exorcism. One fine day the girl refuses exorcisms and stops taking her medicines. Naturally, she dies very soon, thereafter. The priest is charged with criminal negligence.

I found one particular scene in the movie particularly disturbing but worth mentioning. Although it may not add to the original purpose of the post but I think that was the one scene I will remember forever. When the priest is performing the exorcism, he asks the demon to name itself. Instead of speaking out the name she starts saying, "1,2,3,4,5,6 take your pick". Then she starts speaking 6 names and it dawns upon the viewer that there is not one but six demons inside her. The last name she says is that of Lucifer. Even the thought of Lucifer possessing one is scary to me!

After watching this movie I had a long discussion about the movie with the friend who had recommended it to me. I asked him what was it that he liked about the movie and this is what he said:

"The movie is not judgmental. It does not take a stand whether the "ghosts" exist or not it just tells two different points of views which are equally strong and leaves it to the audience. A very thought provoking movie "

He continued:

"Also, I have always believed that there is nothing absolute truth in life and this movie brings this thing to the fore. Second, I never believed in ghosts and supernatural things but this movie gave me a different tangent to think on. There are things which you might not have experienced till date but might exist around you."

Coming back to the discussion at hand. My argument in favour of the devil's existence is summarised in the lines I wrote to my friend:

"I really don't know why the world is out there to prove that there is no such thing as the devil...even the bible says that there is Satan...our holy books...The Bhagvad Gita gives instances of evil...from a more rational point of view...the world is bipolar...there always has to be two sides to everything...so if there is God then there must be a devil..."

What do you say?

P.S. - I started writing this post yesterday and it became a difficult night for me...hope it's not the same today...