Random chatter on the channel

There are some things that can be categorized and some that cannot be; and then there are these little uncategorizable (I created a new word…Hurray!!!:D) things that have this “Aha” factor about them which tend to not get talked about. Sometimes its an interesting movie, a soulful song, a useful tip from a fellow human being etc. that makes you go “Wow/Gee/Ooh/Mmm/OyeHoye” … somehow these things fall through the cracks when you write, unless you’re writing a review.

My life has been filled with countless such little things (like everyone else’s), and so here I am here trying to share some of these. I decided to call it “Random chatter” because of the randomness that arises from bunching together unrelated things in a bulleted list and also because the phrase sounds nice to my ears. Seems to fit the definition of the word “Arbit” quite well (short for arbitrary, origin: IIT lingo; interesting to see many of the words have been passed on to mainstream language).

-> I came across a series of travel/city books titled “Cheap Bastards guides”, these guides have specific tips on living a free life in cities like Boston, NYC, San Francisco & Chicago. Here’s the website http://www.thecheapbastard.com/, they do mention they even got the website done for free. Pretty Cool! But going by the principle, why would someone want to pay for these guides, shouldn’t they be available for free 😀

-> Found this gem of a website for online music. It has all the good ingredients: very user friendly, is free, Minimal ads, no popups, no clutter, no player installation needed and a very very good music collection. May I present http://www.dhingana.com/. Key features: allows you to create & maintain multiple playlists and share playlists, here’s a more exhaustive list. Do visit their About Us page.

->Some movies that I thoroughly enjoyed (and learnt some things too 😉 ):

  • The Notebook (it feels nice to be a hopeless romantic sometimes)
  • The scent of a woman (watched for te 3rd time, am short of words for this movie, I can just say its fantastic)
  • The Shawshank redemption (it’s good to have a short term and long term plan)
  • The story of Us (very realistic movie, liked the idea of thinking about your high and low for the day)
  • Pay it Forward (based on a beautiful idea that works on the honor system)
  • Ahista Ahista (life can be simple & sweet)
  • Swades (watched 2nd time, it isn’t easy to follow your heart, but it can turn out to be the right choice)
  • Good will hunting (See below)
  • Dead Poets Society (See below)

This is the below that was mentioned above: The world likes conformity, it makes it easy for people to categorize people, but is that the purpose of our being…to be categorized? Humans have individuality and are NOT like Cattle! I look around and see that the majority of our systems are built to treat all people and situations alike … rules, company policies … somewhere somehow individuals are forced to conform. The greatest thinkers, inventors, artists, revolutionists weren’t conformists…gotta remember that!

-> Visited New York city a few days back. It was a trip I was looking forward to and I read a lot on the internet to understand the basics. A few key points:

  1. I over-read :, it’s possible to enjoy the city without the weeks of reading that I did. On the other hand, preparation does help and knowledge, as you know, never goes waste. It did help me navigate around the city more efficiently.
  2. NY City and subways aren’t as dangerous as the movies of 90s made us believe.
  3. The city is fast paced, crowded and the city’s character is similar to Mumbai/Bombay’s.
  4. Walking across the Brooklyn bridge is nice, and view is better if you’re walking from Brooklyn to Manhattan rather than in the other direction.
  5. A visit to Empire State building is worth the wait (it has approx. 90 mins of wait) and the view from the 85th floor is amazing. But, it’s really crowded unlike what we see in the movie Sleepless in Seattle.
  6. Walking is the way in NYC, you tend to walk for miles and not know it. Ofcourse you do know later when your feet ache like hell. Good walking shoes help!
  7. NY hotdog & pizza is something you shouldn’t miss.
  8. Taking the one day unlimited use fun pass for the Subway is a good idea.

-> Found two awesome Indian restaurants around Boston to satisfy my Punjabi taste buds and keep me going…(Research has proven that Tandoori chicken contains a chemical that is found to reduce home sickness :D, don’t ask me who the researchers were though)

  1. Punjabi Dhaba @ Cambridge: simple restaurant, self service, the USP of this place is the flavor and price. Flavor is way way better than most Indian places around here and prices are so affordable that makes me wish we could eat there everyday if we lived closer. There’s usually a long queue at this place running right into the street, and its a long wait, but the wait is worth every minute. No cards, only cash.
  2. Kashmir @ Newbury Street: classy 4-star Indian restaurant. USP is food and ambiance, is a little pricey though. There’s also an outdoor seating and the place has flavored hookah, I don’t care much about the hookah as I don’t smoke any more. Here are some reviews.

-> One of my school friends has been working on this India search engine called Dwaar, very interesting website. Give it a shot, it might help you find what you had been looking for … http://www.dwaar.com/

-> To wind up this post, here’s a very interesting article from the Wired magazine that talks about how games can be leveraged to makes machines learn from human behavior.

Cheers!

My Review: Anwar

I’m glad some film makers still put their money in projects like this. It keeps the non-commercial stream of Cinema alive, the stream in which artistics decisions are backed by artistic reasons, rather than by mass-Junta’s acceptance. In short, Anwar is an artistic expression that doesn’t conform with typical cinema but is a pleasant change from the routine.

The movie is set in Uttar Pradesh and the storyline is a simple one: a muslim youth (Anwar) stops to rest at an old temple and is wrongly perceived to be a terrorist holding up a Hindu place of worship. The narration shuttles between Anwar’s present and past, between which there’s no connection apparently. In snapshots from his past, we see his relationship with a Hindu friend (Udit) and how his friend looks at his community, as an outsider. His past also has a failed love angle, and also his relationship with another friend (Master Pasha), who’s happens to be a struggling actor. His present is focussed on the scene of action: a temple where he’s sought shelter, surrounded by media, politicians and the police who all believe he’s a terrorist. The movie also has some sub-plots going on, in the politician’s, journalist’s and the cop’s lives.

There a sequence in the movie which appears between scenes and shows Anwar dressed as Krishna running behind the girl he loves (Mehru), who’s dressed as Radha. This scene has been shot very artistically and creates a good hand-over between Anwar’s past and present.

But it isn’t these plots (which are simple everyday stories) that make a statement, it’s actually the backdrop against which the film is shot! The movie takes a bird’s eye view of current times, and shows the idiosyncrasies of today’s society. The reflection, in my view, is a tight slap on our faces, well deserved by today’s media, politicians and citizens. Realization is the first step to corrective action, and reflections like these are ugly but most effective.

The movie in its backdrop covers multiple topics:

  • Attitude towards minority communities
  • Politicians and political groups creating News for gaining mileage, making issues where none exist
  • The Media reporting what the perception is, instead of digging up what the reality is
  • The cops who’re puppets in hands of politicians and their goons
  • Moral policing by political groups

Sidharth Koirala, as Anwar, looks more pretty than his sister Manisha Koirala (LOL), who plays the role of the jornalist Anitha in the movie. Sudhir pandey does an OK role as the politician. Vijay Raaz (as Master Pasha) and Yashpal Sharma (as the cop) are brilliant, as always. Nauheed Cyrusi plas the role of Mehru, who’s the girl Anwar loves.The only thing I didn’t like in the movie: certain dialogues and sequences were stretched too much beyond what was required, which was breaking the flow. I expect movies like these to be very concise and crisp, which wasn’t the case at several points in the movie. Also, Rajpal Yadav’s character (Gopinath) wan’t needed at all in the movie and was irritating.

Overall, a beautiful movie, Go watch it!

Munnabhai, Vinamrata and The Macho Indian man

First things first, Munnabhai and Circuit ROCK, and so does their creator Rajkumar Hirani. The series started with a “Gangster goes to Medical school” storyline, which took the country by storm and metamorphized Munnabhai & Circuit from screenplay characters to a Brand. The Brand’s identity is now further strengthened with the sequel Lage Raho Munnabhai, which thoroughly stimulates your appetite, and leaves you wanting for more. LRMB is an example of effective story-telling and Hirani has very beautifully managed to deliver age-old Gandhian principles in a package that people can identify with.
I must admit though that based on what I see around me, I did feel that the movie might land up in trouble soon with some political group asking for a ban on it. Strangely, for some reason, everyone has accepted the “Gandhi-giri” sportingly and I do wish people would stop telling us what we can or cannot watch.I watched LRMB twice on the same day and each time, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and never for a moment felt the 3 hours pass by. This, in a way, symbolizes the repeat-business potential of the product. To appreciate it deeply, you should try comparing it with an average product experience, like any Emraan Hashmi movie, and Voila, you instantly see the Magic woven by Hirani & team.In the movie, Gandhiji teaches and proves to Munnabhai that Vinamrata (Politeness) and Ahimsa (Non-violence) can work in today’s world too. Well, if you take that teaching out-of-the-movie and into-your-life, you start seeing that these principles do work, albeit, with persistence. The problem is, over these years, society has started associating arrogance and a short temper with Machismo. We see that no matter where the Indian man is, he wants to start a fight and win it too. The typical Indian man today is not as conscious of being right, as he is of delivering the first and last blow to his opponent. And when I use the term “Indian man”, I do so with deliberation since things aren’t the same in the west, where macho men are not necessarily considered desirable.As Gandhiji said in the movie, accepting your mistake takes more strength than fighting and winning a battle where you’re in the wrong. How many real-life examples have we seen of people coming ahead and accepting they are wrong? It surely does take strength and when you come across a person who has the guts to do so, you get a really positive vibe. A wave of such transformation has the potential of saving so much energy and so many lives; lives that are lost in incidents of rivalry, road rage and many such situations of conflict, aggression and confrontation.

Politeness isn’t cowardice and I’m happy to know there are many people who agree. The climate is right for Munnabhai-2, and it’s proven by the news pouring in …. “Books on Gandhiji flyingoff the shelf since LRMB was released”, “Munnabhai-2 made tax-free in delhi”… the magic seems to be working so …. Lage Raho Munnabhai!