Saturday, February 27, 2010

Movies calling SainPri and Away they go.

It's just Saturday night and I have already watched 4 movies this weekend..whoa! That's almost a record. It started fairly innocuously last night with Blades of Glory on ABC family... Surprisingly good for a Will Ferrell movie. And it got over fairly fast too. So fast that we had time for another movie...we decided to finally watch Ishqiya, and that was very good (reviewed in the previous post).

Well, today started with some guitar practice and a lunchtime movie: Away We Go. John Kratsinski and Maya Rudolph star in a fresh, romantic comedy that looks at parenthood from the eyes of soon to be parents: Burt and Verona. It all starts with the sudden need to settle down somewhere when Burt's parents, their only family in the area, decide to move to Belgium. Verona thinks at 34 they are bunch of f-ups for not having settled anywhere yet in life. Burt keeps assuring her that is not so, but without a convincing reason.

They come up with an implausible itinerary and along the way meet: people who have had the life sucked out of them by parenthood, people who are not fit to be parents, perfect parents unable to have kids of their own and a recently broken home. Along the way through a series of realizations they come to the conclusion that there is no right/wrong way to parenting and have an impromptu wedding ceremony with a set of extremely cute vows.

John Kratsinski perfectly plays his Office-Jim nice buy(although unshaven) role with great conviction. His boyish concerns, though they belie his age, are extremely genuine and convincing. Maya Rudolph's Verona certainly wears the pants in this house and gradually leads Burt from husband to father.

Overall a 4.5/5 movie with an extremely convincing plot and a poignant message. We loved it.

Once the movie was over I had to rush off to guitar practice. Almost as a last minute plan we decided to go the movies (again!). I actually bought tickets for Amitabh's Teen Patti, but after looking at some bad reviews online and with a stroke of great luck, we switched to Karthik Calling Karthik which is the subject of what follows:

I don't want to reveal any part of the plot, so as to not spoil the experience for you. The movie is touted as psychological thriller. While the thriller experience is there in parts, it is certainly a movie anyone can watch. Farhan shines as Karthik the lead protagonist and portrays his inconsistencies, self doubts and failings extremely honestly. Boy, this man can sing, act, write and direct. He is truly the one man film industry of 2010 and seems to get better with every movie.

The movie has parts of what made me like Rocket Singh: portraying the contemporary without going overboard with cool. Their characters are certainly not made of cardboard. This growing list of movies that belong to new age Indian cinema show real people, whom you can almost reach out across the screen and feel. Karan Johar and Shahrukh Khan should seriously watch these movies, take notes and try to improve their stuff.

Deepika as the female counterpart of new age Indian Cinema's Farhan/Ranbir and plays her part with consummate ease, neither hogging the screen nor playing the bimbo.

Overall a 4.5+/5 for a tight storyline and a "highlight of a career" performance by Farhan. Go watch it....

Dil to bachcha hai jee

Bahut sune hum is picchar ka baare mein, par saala dekhan ka taim ich naahi mila.

And then yesterday I finally got around to watching it. I'd rate it a 4/5 for the originality of the story line and the treatment and depth of its characters.
Naseer as Khalujaan, the romantic, "culchured" and overtly optimistic father figure and Arshad as Babban, his "wham bam thank u ma'am", uncouth and pragmatic bhanja both fall for Vidya as Kisna, a "widow" who is very much the femme fatale under a damsel in distress garb. While Khalujaan and Babban are on the run from Mushtaqbhai (played by Salman Shahid, Pakistan's Naseer) , a villain to love, and seek refuge at Kisna's place, she has plenty of plans of her own. And in the end like any old Hindi picture each of them has a happy ending.

So where's the originality, you say? Literally every frame from start to end is original. Be it the ajeeb dastaan hai ye @ the start, the tota toti joke (btw if you hadn't heard it before, the end of that joke has the 2 pious totas [on seeing the toti] remark "Our prayers have finally been answered"), nandu and kaaki's characters and lines, naseer and arshad's onscreen chemistry and lines, naseer's flirting with vidya, ku-ku and the "beauty parlour" phone call irony, to name a few. And the very fact that the end is kept ambiguous is so unlike any Hindi triangle, where one guy has to get the girl. And they all seem very human and flawed, noone's willing to play the Rajendra Kumar of Sangam, if you get my drift.

The songs are nicely mixed, a good reflection of new age rural India. The commentary on Hindu caste war as a backdrop to the movie is also very subtly done. Overall the director, Abhishek Chaubey does ample justice to Vishal Bharadwaj's script, and largely tries to stay out of ur face and let these amazing actors weave magic on screen (pretty much what every director should do).

Last but definitely not the least: Dil to baccha hai jee is "the" song. Raahat sparkles yet again. I'm so looking forward to his concert @ Oracle arena in May. All in all I absolutely loved this movie.

There is this distinct possibility however, that you may not love the movie or it's pace and think that I'm smoking dope. If you do then I have only one thing to say to you
Bus na: aapka ishq ishq....aur humaara ishq.....

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The haircut

Blog posts with resolutions are jinxed. Many a well meaning blog has reached its untimely demise with a post that says: "...and blog more often". There are various versions of that line: and blog at least X times in a week/Y times in a month/Z times in a year...etc..etc... All of which create this pressure to blog, and boy does it get to you. The resistance varies directly with time...and before you know it....your blog is dead.

Apart from writing a blog post, one of the things that I resist the most is going for a haircut. If only one could set the hair fall rate to be equal to the hair growth rate (obviously after an initial condition to trigger this control system, for all u smart alecs out there), we would never need haircuts. Without haircuts we would never have bad hair days that last for over a week (after a bad hair cut). I guess it's the fear of this probable bad hair phase that adds to my inertia.

It wasn't always like this. As a kid, you can very easily be dragged by your parents to the barber shop, and before you know it, it's over (actually it used to be a boring 20-25 minutes preceded by an even worse 1 hour of trying to read torn and outdated film magazines and trying to watch the 14 inch black and white TV perched high on top of a shelf above the mirrors). But at least you didn't do it of ur own volition, and could always blame your parents for the bad hairdo: "You told him to cut it this way!!!"

Later every alternate Sunday, my Mom would kick me out of the house with a written list of instructions to tell the barber. By the time I would reach the chair I'd be so bored (and having lost my instructions list) I would randomly come up with my own version. Once home, my Mom would be like: "Did you even go?".

Around this time, the barber having graduated to the more fashionable hair stylist started using a mirror to show me if the back was alright. I had seen the barber ask my dad that several times, but never me. So I felt all grown up and would try and imitate what my dad did in that situation. Squint a little, turn your head a little bit and then say: "Theek hai". Obviously I did not care to what exactly it was that I was supposed to see in that double mirror combination (till this date), but it felt like the grown up thing to do. Certain times the barber would ask me: "Round ya Step?", and having no idea again I would randomly choose one....By this time, however I had learnt the magic words: Crew Cut Karo. (Finally, A hairstyle that would never fail and just 3 words at that)

That strategy just went out of the window, once I came to the US. The hair stylists here always ask: "What number?". Now it took a couple of tries at a couple of places to figure out if the number varies directly with what's left behind or what's on the floor, but I finally got the hang of it, or so I thought, until the bad hairdos started returning and with it returned my resistance.

About four days earlier, Priyanka told me that it was high time that I have a haircut. (Incidentally she has dragged me a couple of times to a hair salon and instructed the stylist). I have promised to go today. She has given me a set of instructions too: Short on the back and sides, a light trim on the top and no side burns...whoosh...hope I got that right...cos that's how its going to be for the next 3-4 weeks!!!

Post script:

This post skips over about 2 years of my life when I had long hair (or was growing them long) and painstakingly maintained them. Otherwise it is pretty much spot on!

Monday, January 4, 2010


After the first work day of 2010, i have mixed feelings. And here as I write my first blog of the year, sitting next to Priyanka on the couch watching "The Incredible Life" on PBS I'm going to do something that I haven't in a long time....make resolutions :) and also hopefully follow up on them

1) Lose weight and exercise more often. Actually there is no often right now. Last night I weighed in at 188 pounds. While at 6' 2" that is certainly a good combination for a football player, I guess.... I'm sure it isn't a good combination for a football watcher :P. Target: Maintain my weight between 160-170 pounds, and exercise at least 3-4 times a week.

2) Learn to play an instrument and jam with others. Improve my singing voice and range and perform for an audience: Have been putting this off for a long time.

3) Commit to a weekly class on Math/Math related topics.

4) Take a badminton class.

5) Eat out not more than once a week.

6) Not work more than 8 hours a day.

7) and yes, blog.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Winter trip 2009


SFO (12/25) - > NYC (12/26) - > DC (12/30) - > SFO (1/3)

The particpants: Prajakta, Priyanka and Sai

Objectives: Priyanka and Prajakta's first trip to NYC and the first trip for all of us to DC.

Expectations: Visiting a big city like NYC (and trying to get a Mumbai type feel) and a well planned and politically significant city like DC (and trying to get a Delhi type feel) provided the weather holds up. There are always the museums and the in winter feel to look forward too.

Challenges: Add a new blog update everyday. Not lose my temper :) and having a good time before a hectic q1 2010.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

1 Idiot or Why There Can Never be another Dil Chahta Hai

So I watched it today.. the 10 pm show at NAZ8 Fremont. And no, contrary to probably what is going to be popular opinion, I did not like it.

To be honest I did like it in parts: Madhavan's character, Sharman Joshi's totally unrealistic job interview...I did not agree with it one bit, but admired the conviction with which he delivered such BS, the Millimeter character.

The hydel power plant of this movie, to take an analogy from Swades (my major gripe with that movie...but that's a totally different blog post) is the birthing machine Aamir devises to help (a very irritating) Mona Singh deliver her baby. Obviously engineers have no idea about the life sciences and Kareena Kapoor had to demonstrate via flash video and charts what everything meant. Also the HD video quality on Cellular network based Internet was an amazing scam, but as Indian film makers time and again assume that the Indian cinema going audience has the lowest IQ, we will lap that Rajkumar Hirani, the true Idiot of this movie. (and I use that word in its true sense, not some dumb acronym)

That's not my main problem. My biggest gripe is that of all the things Aamir could do to redeem himself (for stealing exam papers) Rajkumar Hirani picked the birthing machine.....and I absolutely hate the over use of the jaadu ki jhappi of this movie (which BTW I liked in MBBS) "aal iz well". It started really well, but the baby kicking everytime it hears that was just lame.

Other lame things about the movie: the Javed Jaffery storyline, the total insensitivity with which they handled Sharman's paralytic father, and the names of Madhavan's books. Also show me one Indian (no matter from what part of the world) who speaks Hindi like that Chatur Mahalingam. South Indians either speak Hindi really well, or they don't at all.

There were some exceptions to the lameness: Viru's opening speech about cuckoos (although his character pretty much drifted to unbelievable insanity as the movie went on), the last scene when they realize Aamir's real name and Madhavan and Sharman reacting in one way, while Kareena being on a total tangent worrying abt what it would imply for her own name, Millimeter's opening scene and the ragging scene for some part of it, the spontanienty of dialogues at times. I even felt guilty about laughing (so much that I almost messed myself) where they switch words in Chatur's Hindi speech, but this was humour more of the slap stick kind.

Overall the film lacks the spontaniety and down to earth ness of Dil Chahta Hai, something all film makers should aspire to while making a youth cross over comedy. That movie will be among the greatest movies I have ever watched.

This one sadly (and much contrary to a review I just read where this movie has been hailed as the best of the decade!!!!!) does not even come close :(

Thursday, December 17, 2009


My life (and pretty much anyone else's life, I believe) has always had these phases where I tend to do one or two or three things more often than others.

I would say as a kid, playing games and sports were the best things ever. What I played at any given time was decided by the season: The rains meant "hand tennis" on the basketball courts, winter meant cricket in school and badminton at home, the summers meant cricket in the morning and badminton in the evenings. Then as I grew older (in the higher standards) my performance at school competitions meant phases of Chess (I used to play 20 match championships with my sis and friends and stay up late to watch whoever Gary Kasparov was playing in the world championships then).

At all other times it was either TV/books. I took up to reading at a very young age, partly because there weren't so many people my age to play with as a kid and partly because there wasn't much on TV. Then satellite television and cable entered my life and changed it forever. Books were kind of relegated as something to be read when there is nothing interesting on TV or on a train trip (but never on a bus/car trip with all my motion sickness). I also started playing video games at my cousin's place and thought of how nice it would be when I could move into the "video games" phase.

School also introduced co curricular activities and cultural activities in which I was particularly good at quizzing. So obviously there was a quizzing phase and towards the end of secondary school even a dramatics phase.

As I entered high school, there were very few ppl my age to play with, so I used to play imagine cricket (either pretend as a bowler in a purple patch taking all 10 wickets, discover a new delivery/pretend as a batsman facing deliveries bounced off a wall and score the fastest century to save your team from collapse) all alone/invent board games based on sports. I entered the video games phase at this time, where I would try to one up my sister at Mario and try to team up against the game at Contra.
Also at this time, I hit the "music phase", where I started to develop a sense of music and bought a lot of audio cassettes.

So by this time the playing went from playing sports to video games, TV was still going pretty strong and Reading was beginning to co exist with music.

And then computers happened. And life was never the same again... Actually at that time..all this meant was more games and movies on VCDs and later DVDs[:)] and some programming and some photoshop....

So now I'm in college and in the "Music+Reading+Games+Videos" phase. This phase pretty much continued thru my work life and thru grad school, and my transition to a sedentary worker was completed [:)]. Also I had moved from PC to PSP at this time for games.

In 2007, I played my first euro game. (I had played board games before and had been in that phase at some point of time but this was limited to Monopoly, Scotland Yard, Mastermind and some of my own invented board games.) I was instantly hooked, this was my true calling. Although I never played a single game of Ticket to Ride since, I jumped in with both feet and now own more games than all my friends combined:
Settlers of the Stone Age,
Power Grid (most played),
Thurns and Taxis,
Space Alert,
For Sale,
Dominion (Original + Seaside + Intrigue)
Several card games,
Power Grid Factory Manager

Not a lot of my friends (not even my wife) share this enthusiasm of games, which has caused me to play online starting at and more recently BSW.

I have also moved on from PSP to PS3 and this also includes playing RockBand (my usual set is WonderWall + Jeremy + Don't Speak + Pretty Fly for a wise guy + Uncle John's band)

My reading has graduated from plain text literature to graphic novels and experimental books.


My phases have actually all stuck with me. Some of them have merged:

Music + Reading + Puzzle/mystery solving -> Video games
Reading + Videos/Games -> Graphic Novels
Music + Video Games -> Rockband
Video games + need for interaction + strategy - > euro games

At this point of time, I spend my average day (what's that?) (and yes my day starts after work ends) either playing video games (Arkham Asylum/Rockband) or playing boardgames (Dominion/Power Grid on BSW) or badminton or table tennis. Sometimes I play a tune on my keyboard or watch free to air TV / hulu. And sometimes I even read a graphic novel or two.

Hobbies you say. Just phases according to me. So many options, such few hours.


I do the things mentioned above only when I'm not doing the more important things in life: spending time with my wife, eating/cooking, talking to my folks back home in India, watching cricket or watching college football. Sleep, as always, is optional.