Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It's A Mad, Mad, Mad World

Sample this from today's newspapers..
Pune based don-turned-corporator Anya Don gifts 35 CCTV cameras to the police for securing his ward and protecting women from chain snatchers.

Iran outlaws pet dogs, saying it is unIslamic. Jeans are also discouraged because 1) the resultant overheating of testicles make you infertile and 2) the word jeans comes from jinn, meaning spirits able to take human or animal form.

The winning dishes at the World Testicle & Aphrodisiac Cooking Championship to be dedicated to William and Kate (that's 2 items today in favour of the lowly balls)

Woman at a yoga festival in the US got the shock of her life when she lifted the lid of the portable toilet, and found a pervert hidden inside the tank, nude and covered in faeces. He ran off before the police could flush him.

US airport authorities ask 95 year old granny to take off adult diapers, scared that it could hide a weapon. You bet!

After asking his wife (married to him against her wishes by the family) to tie him a rakhi, so that he could reunite her with her lover, the wife gets a shock to discover that the lover is no longer interested in her. Ever heard about "dhobi ka kutta"?

Anti-Narcotics cop arrested with 300 other youngsters at rave party.

Study in Pune says handling large amounts of cash can make you obese.

20000 visitors this year in the small French village of Bugarach, population 194, believing it's the only place that will save them when the world ends on Apocalypse Day in 2012.

5 UFOs spotted zipping through the sky above the BBC building, by a passerby.

Fungus that turns ants into zombies discovered in Brazil.

Like humans, Bengal Finches (birds) use grammar when communicating with each other.

Cars 2 tops the US box office last weekend. Salman Khan movies do the same in India.

All this in a 15 min round up of the day's newspapers! And I am yet to go through half of them... God save the Queen!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Movie Review: Cars 2 (3D)

This time, the cars go international... Lightning McQueen takes on the sexy 300 kmph Formala racer with "exposed fenders" Francesco, in a best of 3 "clean fuel" races in Japan, Italy and England. But a sinister plan has been set in motion by the lemons (old oil-guzzling cars that are scrapped from production) to sabotage the race so that oil can be back in fashion again, benefitting their secret "master" who owns huge secret reserves of oil in the oceans. It is up to McQueen's bumbing idiot friend, Mater the rusty tow truck, who finds himself smack in the middle of the baddies and the English agents, to rise to the occasion and save his friend.

The characters no longer have the lovable innocence and sweetness of the small town cars from part one. McQueen is very uninspiring, Mater gets on your nerves with the overdone idiot gig and rants, and except for the British agents, the dialogue is boring and uninteresting. You have to take an effort to keep from falling asleep after the interesting and impressive opening scenes. And the heavy 3D goggles do not help either.

What you will love and admire though, is the amazing detail and quality of the animation, especially when you go outdoors in Italy and England. Simply breathtaking.

Kids might like it, but this is definitely avoidable.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Moview Review: Shaitan

Amy (Kalki Koechlin) is new to Mumbai with her rich NRI dad (Rajat Kapoor) and step mom, trying to shake off the memory of her mother, who died 12 years ago in a mental asylum. The troubled teen easily bonds with her new gang members, and life turns into a continuous high full of drugs, drinks, Hummers and yatches, until one day, it all comes to a crashing halt when one such race ends with them crushing two helpless scooter riders to death.

They bolt from the scene, and fall into the trap of a corrupt police officer (Yadav continuing from Ragini) who demands 25 lakhs to suppress the evidence he has against them. Things get worse when their staged kidnapping goes horribly wrong, all sense of morality and reason is lost, trust is at a premium, and all hell breaks loose. As one plan fails after another, they get sucked into an unyielding cesspool of violence, despair, and helplessness, and all you can do, really, is feel sorry for the Shaitan in them.

The movie is very dark, and stays with you long after you have exited the theatre. Interestingly though, inspite of all the negativity and despair, the movie leaves you with a glimmer of hope and a tinge of relief.

The camera work is superb, the screenplay and cinematography is top notch, with the high speed shots leaving you gasping for more. The background score is superb, and adds tremendously to the experience. The chase, the shooting sequence with the girl dead on the cot, and the Hummer accident will shock you and stay with you for days to come.

The cast of the film is superb. Rajeev Khandelwal gives a tremendous performance as the ruthless cop fighting his own Shaitan. Kalki is mind-blowing, carrying over the excellent work she did in Dev D. Neil Bhoopalam, Shiv Pandit, Kirti Kulhari and Gulshan Deviah are also perfectly cast as her friends, and deliver outstanding performances. Nikhil Chinappa also makes an impression.

The movie starts slowly, and meanders just a little bit with Rajeev's marital problems, but sets up amazingly well for the second half.

Hard-hitting, contemporary and effective, this is one movie you definitely cannot afford to miss. Five stars from me.

Movie Review: Double Dhamaal

The Dhamaal team (Arshad, Ritesh, Javed and Ashish Chaudhary) is back, with a lot more crass, below the belt, slapstick humour. This time, they spend the first half of the movie trying to get into the good books of the super rich Kabir (Sanjay Dutt) and his wife (Mallika Sherawat) and sister (Kangana), and the second half trying to destroy him and steal his money.

There's a lot of focus on body parts, both in the jokes and through the camera, with Mallika and Kangana giving more than glimpses of their hidden talents, while the guys keep getting hit where it hurts.  The sound track is jarring, the makeups and costumes sure to give you an epileptic fit if the flashing visuals don't.

Arshad is mostly good, Ritesh does his bit with the spoofs, but both Ashish and Javed are wasted. Mallika and Kangana play their parts (pun intended), Sanjay Dutt lumbers around like only he can.

But for all the negative stuff I have written, frankly, it wasn't such a bad start to the weekend. If nothing else, go watch the hiding in the overcoats scene, and to top it, the Murder scene with the gorillas.

Friday, June 24, 2011

India Beat West Indies

After winning the one-off T20, and making it 3-2 in the ODIs, the slightly strengthened (with Dhoni, Laxman and Dravid) but still very depleted (no Sachin, Yuvi, Sehwag, Zaheer, Gautam) Indian team comfortably beat the Windies in the first test, going up 1 - 0 in the 3 Test series. This Indian team has forgotten how to lose. :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Proudly Launching eMee

It gives me tremendous pride and pleasure to announce that we have formally launched eMee, our very innovative social networking and gaming based offering for employees, giving them a unique platform to showcase their skills and achievements and get the recognition they deserve! While I do not want to disclose too much here at this time, look out for our website coming up soon.

With more than 6000 users at Persistent already thrilled by eMee, and at least half a dozen customers lined up eager to get it deployed, this is definitely something you should sign up for :)

So what is eMee trying to achieve? Well, for most of us, Facebook has made it necessary to get recognized and appreciated for everything, whether it is for a haircut, or our latest Beemer. We want to be "liked" and commented on. But what happens in our professional life? We do a good job, maybe our customer or boss sends a congratulatory mail - maybe we get some kinda medallion. But how do I show it off? That's the problem eMee tries to address.

For more, drop me a note! :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Movie Review: Bheja Fry 2

Bheja Fry was simply awesome, Vinay and Rajat Kapoor subtle and very effective. Bheja Fry 2 has KK Menon joining Vinay, with Minissha (providing the eye-candy) along with (the rarely used) Aditi Govitrikar, and (the completely wasted in a loud role) Amole Gupte, but it just doesn't hold its own. It has its moments, but these are few and far between.

Completely avoidable.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Moview Review: Green Lantern (3D)

The Green Lanterns are an elite group (based on planet Oa in Sector so and so)  tasked with the protection of the universe from all evil, drawing their "green" power from the indomitable force of will power. However, the universe is now threatened by the evil Paralax (having escaped from its prison in the Lost Sector), drawing its strength from the fear of those it fights. And the one person who can stop it is the newest recruit to the Geeen Lanterns, the first human on the team, Hal Jordan, an irresponsible fighter pilot. But will he be able to overcome his fear and before it destroys our very own Planet Earth?

The film has its moments,some times funny, and the action is good in parts too - but the best part was the quality of 3D, which seems to get better with every movie I see. This one also seemed to use "active 3D glasses", almost like the ones you get with 3D TVs with Bluetooth syncing - unlike the plain and simple fare I have been handed over before. Also, interestingly, the first pair I got developed reverse 3D - the depths were inverted... and I got them changed :)

Ryan Reynolds looks like a silly clone of Hrithik Roshan in his green suit and eye mask, his very reluctant girl friend (Blake Lively) was much prettier (and looked a lot like Perizaad), but their romance seemed forced and unnecessary to the storyline, especially given the complete lack of chemistry between them. A lot like the rest of the movie, which had potential to do more, but both the plots and the characters came across as having been left still born.

Instead of worrying about Oa, then, spend this weekend checking out Zoa in Always Kabhi Kabhi!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Movie Review: Always Kabhi Kabhi

AKK is a fresh attempt at an old subject - growing up pangs of college kids. And as with everything else that SRK is involved in, you can expect it to be a little hatke.

The movie revolves around four friends in a lively and colorful high school where pretty girls with short skirts sing and dance outside class with their juvenile lovers by day and head off to the disc for dance and drinks at night. But all is not rosy beneath the surface. Nandini (fresh, attractive, sexy and extremely competent as an actress in her debut movie, Zoa Morani) gets all her credit card bills taken care of, but never gets quality time from her busy parents, Aishwarya (Giselle, OK with her dubbed Hindi, but desperately needing more spunk) is forced into plastic surgery and swimsuit modeling by her mother, Tariq (Satyajeet Dubey) is under pressure from his father to join MIT at the cost of his acting dreams, and Sameer (Ali) is in trouble with corrupt cops and a father who handles him with an iron fist.

The movie starts off very raw, and you immediately start to regret spending on your tickets... but after the initial few minutes, the characters start growing on you. You get immersed in a screenplay that comes across as very real, very believable. You identify with the kids, their feelings, their trials and tribulations. You see yourself and your friends in them. You love the way Nandini updates her status and uploads her photos for you to indulge in. The soundtrack peps you up, with some numbers that are sure to go up your fav charts after a few listens. And you fall in love with Nandini.

Yes the story meanders like a toy train in the Nilgiris, the seriousness replaced suddenly by the nonchalent carelessness of teens - but then, isn't that how it is with most of us? The end is juvenile, but the point is made, isn't it? And when the magix box opens with a super delicious SRK popping out for an item song when the credits start to roll, what more can you ask for to liven up your weekend?

Not the best movie, for sure, but a definite yes for me this weekend.

If nothing else, then for Zoa.

PS: Zoa's dad was arrested in the 2G scam just a few days back - feel really bad for the girl who's had to travel around the country for the promos of her first film, while shuttling to Delhi to see her dad in court. Hope is all falls in place for her soon

Monday, June 13, 2011

Movie Review: The Other Woman

Another family/love drama, but this is a must see for one and only one reason - the absolutely ravishingly beeautiful Natalie Portman. Wow.

Movie Review: Triage

An intense drama about a photo-journalist (Colin Farell) back from strife-torn Kurdistaan, and his fight to retain his sanity in the face of tragedy. Interesting movie, but not very entertaining, if that's what you are looking for in a movie.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Movie Review: X-Men First Class

And while on the topic of sequels and prequels, here is one that is a must see!

The movie begins in a Nazi concentration camp in occupied Poland where young Erik is subjected to the horror of watching his mother shot dead when he is unable to bring his mutant magnetic powers to bear in front of the Nazi mutant Sebastian Shaw. While Erik avows to avenge his mother's death, in other parts of the world, other mutants are being born too - their genetic evolution hastened by the nuclearization of the world.

Years later, Erik teams up with Charles Xavier, and a bunch of assorted mutants, to save the world from Shaw's sinister plans for an all-out nuclear war between the US and Russia, against the backdrop of the Cuban missile crisis. Shaw dreams of the elimination of the human race and the evolution of the mutants as the only humanoid life form on Earth, the next stage in the evolution of man. And while Shaw is defeated, and the world saved from a nuclear holocaust, the mutants realise that they will never be accepted in human society. And that is where the once close friends Erik and Charles Xavier part ways. Erik assumes the name Magneto and wows to defeat the humans to rule the world with his Brotherhood, while Charles Xavier retires to his secret abode as Professor X, with a mission to unite mutants and assimilate them in human society. And the X-Men are born.

A fantastic cast with well developed characters (my personal favourite, Jeniffer Lawrence as the beautiful Raven), super special effects and a well developed story line differentiate this one from the slam bam nature of some of the other action movies.

Mutant and Proud! An absolute entertainer and a must watch this weekend.

Movie Review: Hangover 2

There are good sequels and bad sequels. And there are the Hangovers. A state of mind (or movie) where everything is dull, the throbbing pain in the temples making the day painfully slow, a state you want to get out of, but cannot, and you just need to sleep it out.

Hangover 2 is such an experience.

You cannot just take a very successful movie, and then repeat the formula in search of similar success, when the newness of it was what made it work in the first place! This time, the friends have the hangover in Bangkok, not in Vegas. And yes, instead of a tiger they pick up a monkey. A monk with a maun-vrat instead of a baby. A bunch of semi-naked pole dancers instead of the sexy Heather Graham. And a gay encounter for Stu this time, described in all its gory details. And yes, the cake on the icing - a cut finger instead of a pulled out tooth. And if you still sat through it, you would be greeted with blurred out porn when the credits start rolling.

Get drunk. You will enjoy a much better hangover.

India Win Against WI

Absence of most of the senior players, absence of the regular captain or the vice captain, no star performances - and yet, once again, the 3rd string Indian side pulled off the 4th consecutive victory of the tour beating a helpless Windies by 3 wickets, to win the 5 match series 3-0 (the first victory was in the one off T20 encounter).

With most of the seniors missing, this tour has been a god-sent opportunity for players like Badrinath, Shikhar Dhavan, and Rohit Sharma to come into their own. And they are not letting the country down!

India had the WI on the mat at 96-7 before Russell's unbeaten 92 off 64 balls lifted West Indies to a competitive 225-8 off 50 overs. India got off to a bad start, with most of the top order going down to poor shot selection and careless batting, before Rohit Sharma steadied the ship with an unbeaten 86. He got good support from Harbhajan (41) and Praveen Kumar (25 no) down the order, and led India to victory with 22 balls to spare. And this is where this Indian team is proving to be the real champions - a never say die, never give up attitude that has rescued us from certain defeat umpteen times in the past few months.

Baba's Lost The Plot

After being handed all the opportunities he could wish for on a silver platter by the government in the form of the midnight police raid, the Baba and his followers seem to have completely lost the plot. After being bundled out of Delhi, and refused permission to enter Noida by the Mayavati government, the Baba continued his fast at his ashram in Haridwar, away from the center of action. With the central government refusing to engage him in talks, and with the state BJP government in a fix on how to handle his "fast", there seemed no honourable way out but to be "hospitalized". And with the media now training the spotlight on his dubious multi-thousand crore empire, details of which the Baba refused to give, instead going on a maun vrat, and his ridiculous annoucement of raising a private army raising the hackles of every sane Indian, thankfully, the hijacking of Indian democracy by a maverick yoga teacher seems to have come to a tame end.

For that matter, through this farcical episode, even Anna Hazare's campaign seems to have been suffered a huge jolt. The wisdom of letting a well-meaning but ultimately non-constitutional and unelected individual "authority" dictate terms to the government is something that needs to be seriously debated over!

From an unenviable position, the central government has fought back and turned the tables on their opponents, and once again, the BJP led opposition finds itself clueless on how to gain from this public backlash against opposition, not only letting the government off the hook, but on top of that, literally delivering a crushing blow to the credibility and effectiveness of the very spirited and effective social movement against corruption.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Enough Re Baba!

After Anna, it's Baba's turn. And if the all-powerful Lokpal wasn't bad enough for true democracy, the Baba now has even more dangerous and impractical demands - declaring black money as national asset, death penalty for the corrupt, taking 500 and 1000 rupee notes out of circulation, teaching medicine and engineering in local and vernacular languages, etc etc

Politicians have ruined us, now let the sants take over, he says.

Yes, coming from a guy who owns property in the UK, travels by private jets, and spent a few tens of crores on his "fast", the Baba really must see some future for this country.

And poor Anna, he's really feeling left out... no minister came to receive him at the airport, you see!

As far as I am concerned, it's time the government digged in its heels and said, "enough re baba"! And after last night's action against him, finally, it looks like sense will prevail!

The Monsoons Are Here!

The monsoons have struck Pune with a vengeance... there was very little of summer this time, the temperatures hardly got to the 40s, the dams stayed comfortably filled, and there were none of the customary pre-monsoon showers - instead, the rains have struck in earnest, and the monsoon is on!

Dark clouds, the sun barely making an impact, the crash of thunder and the pouring rain... simply irresistible. We took out Samara, went for a round, splashing through water logged roads, sending huge wings of water soaring high in the air on both sides... aaah, what a life...

Movie Review: Bal Gandharva (Marathi)

Bal Gandharva is a peep into the life of Maharashtra's undisputed cultural icon, from his early beginnings as a child prodigy, his rise as the king (queen?) of theatre, where he specialized in playing female roles in an era where women were banned from the stage, his inability to cope with the advent and rise of the silver screen, and ultimately, his lack of business acumen, naive trust and beliefs, and his affair with a beautiful fan, Gohar, which led him to his sad and penniless end.

Might be an overdose of sangeet natak for most of us, but for the musical inclined, and for history buffs, this is a not-to-miss movie. And yes, the performance from each and every one of the cast are simply top notch!

Movie Review: Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (3D)

The irresistible, delicious Jack Sparrow is back, and since the wormy, slimy creatures on the faces of dead-long-ago pirates are replaced by sexy, pretty mermaids (though deadly and man-eating), along with some incredible 3D, wittty-as-ever dialogues and some outrageous action, POTC 4 is sure to make a splash. Johnny Depp is really a master at work, and is ably supported by the beautiful Penelope Cruz, and well as a very pretty mermaid Astrid Berges-Frisbey, as they try and beat the Spanish in the search for the Fountain of Youth.

I do wish I had seen the 2D version though - perching the glasses on top of the nose, already burdened by one set, is simply cruel.

Movie Review: Kung Fu Panda 2 (3D)

The Kung Fu Panda, Po and his five friends including the very sexy Tigress are now fighting the villainous Peacock who plans to use a secret, unstoppable weapon to conquer China and destroy Kung Fu. But can Po stop a weapon that can stop kung fu? For that, Po needs to find a way to harness his inner peace. And along the way, find the answer to the question - who am I?

Some incredible martial arts action, some cute dialogs, and some very effective 3D is what makes FGP 2 a very watchable movie. Especially for the kids.