Monday, May 20, 2013

New Massage Parlour In Nerul

Azad Maidan in Panaji

Age Of Daughters!

A sign board like this can do so much more than all the rhetoric put together!

Gutsy Signboard in Goa!

Messages For... ?

Chilled Out Cat!

Can I? Looks Safe To Me!

Community Living

Cafe Real

While in Goa, I visited Cafe Real a couple of times - for the famous bhaaji pav, and samosas. Used to visit so often when I was in college with my then-girlfriend-now-wife, almost 25 years back! And guess what, the waiter who used to serve us then, still works at the same place! And people get surprised that I haven't changed jobs in 15 years...

Swinging Away



We passed through Belgaum on the way to Goa... I think I ended up in Belgaum after more than a decade - probably more like 13 years! We stopped at Sanman for some chai and snacks.. As children, summers always included a trip to Belgaum for rest and shopping, and Sanman was the preferred choice. The drive itself, though barely 150 kms, seemed like a huge deal in our old Fiat, requiring a couple of stops along the way, to pull up the bonnet, fill up the radiator and let the engine cool while we rested and had chai at a roadside tapari on top of Anmod ghat.

Sweet memories of childhood...

Driving To Goa

We went to Goa a few days back - and I never got around to blogging much about it. Anyway, here are some pics and updates from the trip coming up, starting with the pics of the drive down... starting from late afternoon, when the clouds started rolling in on a dry and sunny day, bringing cool breeze, showers and some wonderful climate!

Wonderful shrubbery along the highway makes the drive so beautiful for most parts

The beautiful jungles of Chorla Ghat - the best option from Belgaum to Goa

Ample Water

While Vidharba and rest of north eastern Maharashtra reels under a severe drought, most of the Pune-Kolhapur belt is comfortable, with plenty of water in its rivers and canals, and lush green sugarcane fields, which look better and better as you near Kolhapur. All thanks to Koyna and the westerns ghats, I guess!

Suhana Safar!

After what felt like decades, I was sitting in a bus this Saturday, on the way to Kolhapur from Pune. A road I have traversed dozens of times, but either at the wheel, or dozing off in a sleeper at night. For once, I was looking out at the landscape, the towns and villages, through the massive tinted windows. Watching a Marathi movie on the two screens in the bus. Although it was sizzling hot outside, the AC was doing a great job. The road was great, the Volvo powerhouse putting most sedans and SUVs to shame. Such a wonderful feeling.. Part of a group, yet alone in my own space and time, connected yet wonderfully isolated.

The way back was a different kind of fun. We had a puncture, and the roadside tinshed mechanic hadn't really worked on a tubeless bus tire before. Took all of 90 min to repair the flat, and in the meanwhile, while many others preferred to continue sitting in the bus watching Singham torture his nemesis, many of us enjoyed the roadside tea, watched the mechanic and his henceboys at work, and socialized around the common cause.

I should do this more often!

By the way, the car that came to drop us to the bus-stop at Kolhapur itself had a flat, requiring us to shift to a more humble auto - two flats in an hour, on two diff vehicles - now what are the chances of that?

Movie Review: Aurangzeb

Had a lot of promise in the basic plot, but it quickly gets too convoluted with multiple threads and confusions. Except for a credible performance by Rishi Kapoor and an interesting Jackie Shroff, the rest of the cast generally disappoints. Arjun Kapoor shows flashes of his Ishaqzade character, but fails to capitalize on a meaty double role. Sashaa Agha has a bikini scene, but is that really the best way to make a debut? Prithviraj uses his glum face to his advantage, and shows promise for similar roles in the future.

Very slow, average performances, and an entirely forgettable sound track makes this a pretty tepid movie.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Movie Review: Shootout At Wadala

SAW is the story of Mumbai's first "encounter" in which dreaded gangster Manya Surve was gunned down by the police at a college in Wadala. The movie tracks the transformation of a sincere college student trying to break away from a life of violence and crime, and how he is falsely implicated in a murder and sent to life in prison, propelling him to become one of Mumbai's most feared underworld dons in the 80s.

John Abraham does his best, but apart from the rippling muscles, doesn't have too much to show for it. Especially the scenes in which he roars like a wounded lion - hardly convincing! Kangana puts in one of her worst performances. Tushar Kapoor bags yet another role through his sister's support. Rest of the support cast is OK, especially Manoj Bajpai, but kudos are due to Anil Kapoor for an age-defying performance as the officer who goes after Surve.

Not one but three items songs which add nothing to the entertainment quotient, and just help in stretching an already-too-long saga.

After movies like Satya and Lokhandwaala, this one feels like the Zombies have overtaken the city!

Very much avoidable!

Movie Review: Bombay Talkies

4 directors, 4 poignant stories, one theme - Bollywood. What's missing? The punch.

Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee and Zoya Akhtar direct (completely independent) stories about gay relationships, children pursuing their dreams, a father desperate to bring a smile on his sick daughter's lips, and a son who goes to great lengths to grant his elderly father's Amitabh-wish. Chicken Soup for the Crazy Bollywood Fan, but stop short from touching you. And a needless, ineffective and kinda irritating "recap of Bollywood" item number at the end.

Watch Go Goa Gone instead, and if you have already seen it once, check it out a second time - it's even more enjoyable since you catch a lot of jokes you might have missed the first time!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Silver Linings Playbook

Watched "Silver Linings Playbook" on DVD yesterday - absolutely delightful movie, with great performances by the handsome Bradley Cooper, the ravishing Jeniffer Lawrence (who also got an Oscar for her role) and the always-awesome Robert Di Nero. A must watch - this is a beautiful love story, as good as it can get.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Tale Of Two Elections

Two interesting elections this week...

Across the border, Pakistan saw the first ever civilian govt to govt handover, a historic moment for the country plagued by home-grown terror, fundamentalism, corruption, domination by the army and a total economic collapse. Pakistan has voted for change, kicking out Zardari's party, and giving a third opportunity to Nawaz Sharif. Imran Khan's party put in a solid performance, boosted by the sympathy factor after his fall during compaigning, coming second ahead of Zardari. Interestingly, while development and issues like power cuts dominated the election pitch, most countries, including Sharif, promised to normalize and improve relations with India. Will this dream be realized? Remember, Sharif was in power during the Mumbai blasts, and during Kargil! What does this election mean to Zardari's future - already under the cloud for corruption, and not exactly most popular with the army? What does this mean for Musharraf, now in jail for treason, and at the mercy of the guy he allegedly sidestepped and overruled over Kargil?

Will anything really change on the ground? Does this bode well for India and Afghanistan?

The other very interesting development, of course, was in Karnataka, where the Congress rode anti-incumbency and the BJP vote split by Yeddy's caste based politics to hand the BJP a crushing defeat in its only Southern state, raising questions about the BJP's ability to call itself a truly national party at the 2014 elections. Without Yeddy, can they afford to fight? Can they afford to take him back, having distanced themselves from him so clearly with corruption as the core issue? With Nitish Kumar already drawing blood in Bihar, and SP-BSP as fickle minded as ever, the BJP seems to have nothing to bank on in the 2014 polls, inspite of the Congress handing it opportunity after opportunity on the corruption plank. Will the Congress pull off a Houdini yet again?

And while we are on the topic of corruption, where is AAP? There is only a deafening silence - Bansal and Ashwani don't fall in their scheme of things?

PM Issues

With Bansal and Ashwani out, the BJP is now baying for the PM's blood - and while I have been a staunch admirer of Manmohan Singh, first for his stint as FM when I was just out of school, and then the way he stood up to the Left's blackmail during the Nuclear Pact days, I am coming around to the view that there is justification in the demand, after all. In addition to the involvement of the PM in the Coalgate mess as the erstwhile Coal min, and the interference or collusion or plain and simple incompetence of the PMO, the way the PM shielded the two ministers for such a long time, and then had to give in to the demand of Sonia Gandhi, points to a very real conflict in the top leadership of the Cong and the govt, and raises uncomfortable questions.

There was a joke doing the rounds about why Manmohan Singh only takes his walk in the evening - because he is a PM not an AM! The question is, has the firing of the ministers also come too late?

Movie Review: Premachi Goshth (Marathi)

What can I say? There have been better. A very predictable and flat movie, with average performances, except Sagarika Ghadge, who shines as a very sweet and vulnerable girl, fighting to reclaim her life from her estranged husband and move on with her life.

Movie Review: Stand Up Men

Three men, partners in crime, are out for a night of action, Hangover-style. Except that, they are all in their sunset years. One (Valentine played by Al Pacino) has just been released from prison after 28 years, the other has just got out from his home for the dying, and the third, Val's best friend, has been hired to eliminate him.

Al Pacino puts in a great performance as Val, but the movie will appeal to a very limited kind - those interested in drama and dark humour. If you are one of those, this movie is not to be missed.

Movie Review: Go Goa Gone

3 friends - the chilled out Hardik (Kunal Khemu), the obsessed-in-love-with-a-FB-friend Luv (Vir Das) and the sincere Bunny (Anand Tiwari) - escape to Goa for some hard partying, and end up securing an invite to an exclusive rave party on a remote island off the Goa coast, organized by the Russian mafia.

After a crazed out night, they wake up to the nightmare - the new drug dished out at the party (and too expensive for them to afford) - has unleashed the walking dead - the zombies, with their twisted limbs, the slow but unrelenting march, the mission to convert more and more living to their kind!

Joined by the Delhite-turned-blond Russian "Baaris" (Saif), who likes to "keel dead people", the three friends and their female interest Luna (Pooja Gupta), must outwit and outmanouever the zombies to escape the island.

I loved the movie. Totally. From the first frame to the last, the movie is unrelenting with great dialogues, smart wit, and some really funny moments. The play on Scooty, the "what did we know, what have we learnt", the conversation with God, the dumb charades with the Russian, the dancing around the trees with the zombie girl - absolutely delightful. The performances also are top notch. Kunal, Vir and Saif are absolutely spot on - and Pooja and Anand are easy and comfortable. All this while the zombies are real, the danger fatal, and the blood and gore in your face.

If you enjoy zombie action (or even if you can just tolerate the spurting blood), and enjoy intelligent humour, you will absolutely love every bit of the 110 mins the film has on offer.

Oh, and yes, don't miss Saif's very sincere and touching message against smoking, drugs and violence at the beginning of the film. And as he says, respect Goa for the beautiful place it is!

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Friday, May 03, 2013

Samara's 3rd Birthday

Samara had her 3rd birthday (and 55555 kms) on the 30th of April, and to celebrate, the next day, we (4 adults and 2 kids and lots of shopping) piled into her and set off for Goa.

It was hot and humid until we hit Kolhapur, but then the rain clouds enveloped us in beautiful weather, and by the time we hit Belgaum, the chilly winds and drizzle really made it a lovely drive. We tried out a new route through Chorla Ghat this time - and even though you have to get through Belgaum city (still retains its charm as a quaint hill station and shopping paradise for Goans), the road is in excellent shape (though a tad narrow and winding for my taste), and highly recommended for sedans driving into Goa from Mumbai/Pune/Kolhapur.

With the kids and multiple stops for grub, pics and nature's calls, it was a long day - but when you are headed to Goa in one of the best SUVs in the country, you can't really complain much, can you?

Why Gamification Fails

Read my article on why many gamification projects fail at the following link on HRExaminer.