May 31, 2007

Pirates of the Carribean 3

Coming soon... saw it a week ago- was not inspiring enuff to write about immediately- but will do it tomorrow!

May 29, 2007

Hot Fuzz

Title: Hot Fuzz

Year: 2007
Cast: Simon Pegg, Martin Freeman, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Timothy Dalton

So did you see "Shaun of the Dead (2004)"? and did you like it?

I did both, and therefore I HAD to see this one. Its the same team which made the earlier movie, and there is camp-iness galore all around. "Shaun..." was a spoof of the horror-zombie genre, while Hot Fuzz is essentially a spoof of the action-police-movie genre, and it appears that everyone was really having a lot of fun making it.

PC Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is so good, he makes the rest of the London police force look bad (look out for: a cameo by Martin Freeman [The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy 2005]- so the rest of the department, including the chief inspector basically pull off a successful plot against him, getting him a promotion to Sergeant while being transferred to the sleepy village of Sanford- where there is zero crime.

Nic arrives in Sanford to find that his partner is the child-like but enthusiastic PC Danny Butterman (Nick Frost). The son of amiable Police Chief Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent), Danny becomes an immediate devotee of Nic's obvious policing skills. He derides himself of not living up to his action-movie idols from movies like "Point Break" and "Bad Boys." It is mutual catharsis as Nic disillusions Danny of the fantasy police-type and attempts to bring disiplice in Danny and the local police force. On the other hand, Danny helps Nic loosen up.

While this friendship develops, Nic begins to suspect some thing's afoot in Sanford. A series of gory accidents rock the village, and he suspects Simon Skinner, (Timothy Dalton) the local supermarket manager. Frank Butterman is quick to dismiss this as fantastic and a result of Nic's strenuous work in London. Nic's frustration grows, as do the crime scenes in Sanford.

All hell breaks loose as Nic makes the gruesome discovery that the majority of the village- the primary business owners, Frank, Simon, the local Rector and prominent farmers are a cult-type society. The society's sole objective is to have Sanford win the "Model Village" award year after year, and they have been eliminating all the folks whom they consider are contrary to that image (yes, really!)

Danny helps Nic get away, but half-way to London, Nic has an epiphany in a convenience store (yes! really!) and doubles back. He becomes a Rambo-Trinity-like one-man-army, and enlists the help of Danny, the 2 local police detectives and 2 other PCs to clean up Sanford.

Mayhem ensues, and after lots of shootings, car chases and general excitement during which NOBODY DIES(!!!!)- peace is restored to Sanford. Nic decides to stay back in the village rather than his go back to the big city.

This is a great movie- you have to take it in the spirit it was made- campy and pure, nonsensical fun. Nic and Danny have great chemistry and their friendship is the basis of this movie, as was "Shaun.."- You gotta see it!

PS: Looks out for a speedy cameo (uncredited) by Peter Jackson- as the local Santa :)

May 24, 2007

Random Auditor-style Humor

Something my colleague Alice (she is beginning to get regular honorary mentions here) forwarded; read on and enjoy (or conversely, rue an auditor's sense of humor):


  • Chuck Norris does not accrue for expenses…he accrues for pain
  • Chuck Norris does not use binders…all his workpapers are held together by hairs from his beard
  • Chuck Norris does not use a ruler when making "power tickmarks"…. he naturally draws perfectly straight lines
  • What’s in Chuck Norris’ snack drawer? Two words…baby kittens.
  • Chuck Norris has a hard drive…but it doesn’t refer to what’s in his computer.
  • Chuck Norris takes a 15 minute coffee break every 5 minutes
  • When a partner asked if the client had any other long-term liabilities…Norris simply held up his fists
  • If Chuck gets tired during the day he takes a nap….on the CEOs desk
  • How does Chuck Norris test fixed assets? Answer: with a bottle of super glue and an ambitious hand
  • Chuck Norris audits in the dark
  • Chuck celebrates the end of each audit by burning the client’s house down. Why? Cause its just what Chuck likes to do.
  • How does Chuck Norris hole punch? Answer: with a shotgun and an extremely accurate aim
  • Chuck Norris not only assigns useful lives….he takes them away
  • Chuck Norris does not have to dial 9 first
  • Chuck Norris erases pencil marks with his beard…it erases pen too
  • If he finds an exception, Chuck Norris amortizes pain over the remaining useful life of the client
  • Chuck Norris has a full time plumber assigned to him for when he uses the restroom
  • Chuck Norris irons his shirts with a blowtorch and a rusty piece of sheet metal
  • Chuck Norris’ posting threshold for pain….unlimited.
  • Chuck Norris highlights in black

May 21, 2007

Big Brother- no not the show; this is a movie

Title: Big Brother
Year: 2007
Cast: Sunny Deol, Farida Jalal, Priyanka Chopra

Arjun Pundit
Q: What do all these films (and a ton of others) have in common?
Ans: Sunny Deol, playing the middle-class hero who turns to violence when faced with oppression in a world of corruption.

Honestly, the man has to be pretty dense if he cant see the stagnation in his own movie career. Maybe Sunny should make movies instead- stick to production if he can't direct.

Sigh- anyways lets cut to the chase. Deodhar Gandhi (Sunny) lives in Delhi with his mom (Farida), wife (Priyanka), brother and sister. The mother generally encourages him to go and beat up people (yes really) since she wants him to protest corruption and wrong-doing. When some guy throws acid on his sister's face, he decides to kill all perpetrators of crime against women.

When things get too hot for Deodhar in Delhi, his mother pushes him to Bombay. Of course things go crazy in B'Bay ( I still refuse to call it Mumbai) as well, where he works as a rickshaw (cab) driver. Things look up a bit for the viewer here, since Raju Shrivastava enters in the traditional vidushak (comedian) role to add some levity to the movie in scenes, and Danny Denzongpa enters in the role of a evil police officer.

Deodhar tries to lead a life on the straight and narrow, but fails when local dons make life difficult for him and his family, he (yet again) kills the perpetrators.

Deodhar having run foul of the head don "Bhau," we are all prepped for a final showdown- so on and on the movie stretches, until we reach the expected end- amongst tons of confusion, borrowed plots from various movies and plenty of violence, Deodhar kills all (including the Home Minister and the Chief of Police, both currupt), and gives homself up.

The songs- and the movie has quite a few of them- are pedestrian. The movie itself may have been OK as an egalitarian fantasy- if only one didn't get such a strong sense of deja vu while watching it- avoid.

What movie are you?

May 17, 2007

The Namesake

Title: The Namesake
Year: 2007
Cast: Irfan Khan, Tabu, Kalpen Modi, Subayasachi Chakravarthy, Zuleikha Robinson, Jacinda Ratcliff, Sahira Nair

I hate gushing about anything. But late into last night, I kept talking to my husband about The Namesake, having watched it yesterday evening with him, Alice (co auditor :D- there Alice, you are now a part of this- like it or not) and Steve (my rock of a friend who I have mentioned before on these webpages).

Alice and I ran off from work at the unheard of hour of 6:30pm, having worked a measly 10 hours (oh the evil irony of our work hours)- do not even think for a minute that I didn't make up for it- I started at work 7am the next day and 8am today.

The movie opens with a young Ashok (Irfan) travelling to Jamshedpur by train to see his grandfather. An older fellow passenger speaks to him, encouraging him to go abroad and see the world, which Ashok resists, saying he prefers to travel the world via reading- hinting that he wants to go back to the Nikolai Gogol he is currently engrossed in. At that moment, the train crashes, and Ashok's life is changed forever.

Ashok survives the crash and while in convalescence, begins to rethink his life. Two years pass, and we next see him in Kolkata- we learn that he has since moved to New York, and is now back to find a wife. His parents arrange a match for him with Ashima (Tabu). Tabu's intro is perhaps my favorite scene in any movie in a long time. While waiting to go into the living room where Ashok, his parents and her family are talking, she pauses in the hall, and notes that the visitors have taken off their shoes- most attractive of which she finds Ashok's "Made In USA" pair. She slips in her feet and pantomimes an imaginary Ashok, revealing at once her own exuberance, independence and dreams.

A quick wedding follows, and Ashima settles herself in New York, rearing 2 kids Gogol (Kalpen) and Sonia (Sahira). The kids grow up, she becomes a librarian. Gogol undergoes the process of self-realization, which is the focal point of the movie since after all, he is the namesake. However, Irfan and Tabu steal the movie and make it the soul-searing experience that it is. Irfan speaks volumes with his eyes, his gestures. He doesn't speak very much in the film- but makes every movement count. He dies- alone, of a heart-attack while on a lecturing stint out of state- at which point me and Alice were crying copiously and loudly in the theatre.

Upon Ashok's death, Ashima regathers the threads of her life. She gets Gogol (unsuccessfully) and Sonia (hopefully she fares better- we never find out) married, sells her house, and moves back to Kolkata to learn music- something she had left behind when she married. And this is where the movie closes- with Ashima practicing her music with the same teacher from her youth and Gogol rediscovering himself via Nikolai's writings and his father's memories.

This movie is perhaps Tabu's best ever. Where in Maachis she was the authentic Punjaban, in Hera Pheri the quintessential Maharashtrian, here she is the Bengali soul. How she accomplishes her characters is unfathomable to me- I am just blown away by her work. Through Ashima, she makes me see my own strengths and weaknesses- my energy, my need to embrace my Indian-ness and my goal of continuous self-actualization.

1 Quibble about the movie- the gratuitous nudity- it really wasn't needed. I am not a prude in the least, and do believe that nudity is sometimes necessary to a movie- any James Bond flick would be incomplete without it. But Mira Nair needs to realise that she is a global director enough by the classiness of her movie- naked butts, when needless, don't make a movie international/Oscar worthy- her craftsmanship is ample!

PS: Some very cool cameos- Subayasachi Chakravarthy as Ashima's dad- I LOVE his work! Also, the authoress Jhumpa Lahiri, in the movie based on her own Pulitzer-winning book as Jhumpa Maashi!

May 16, 2007

Jo Bole So Nihal- double eugh

Title: Jo Bole So Nihal
Year: 2005
Cast: Sunny Deol, Kamaal Khan

I saw "The Namesake" tonight- and cried buckets- but that review can wait for tomorrow. Tonight we have to run through Jo Bole So Nihal (He who speaks the Lord's name is satisfied). The words themselves are an integral part of the very beautiful Sikh religion. Sikhism is a popular religion in India, but the Sikh that is most colorful and exuberant of all is found in the Northern state of Punjab. That is where our story starts.

Nihal Singh (Sunny Deol) lives in Punjab with his family: dad (village headman), mom and sister Satnam. While out patrolling, One day Nihal comes across a suspicious-looking man called Romeo (Kamaal Khan). Romeo flees Nihal, who is later told that that Romeo is a terrorist. He is initially suspected of abetting terrorists and suspended.

Until this point, the movie is somewhat believable; fantastic but acceptable. The weirdness sets in from here on. Romeo's next attack is in the US, and the US police finds no better way to strengthen their defence than by inviting Nihal to the US to identify and find Romeo. Now even a baby can recognize the ridiculousness of the situation- but whatever.

So Nihal arrives in NY, generally behaves like a buffoon, and screams like a maniac. He appears to see Romeo on the street simply by accident (what? a terrorist is walking the streets, and it takes Nihal walking down the street, not the work of the combined police forces and the national gaurd to find him?!!).

Lots of confusion follows, during which Nhal acquires an Indo-American girlfriend, gets his mom to come to him and join him on a cruise (yes, really). Of course everything works out eventually- Nihal gets Romeo and the girl (sounds like a threesome).

This could have been an OK movie- what makes it bad is the implausibility of the situations, the constant shrieking and screaming by Sunny Deol, and the terrible portrayal of Sikhs. Sikhs are smart, hardworking people- why must they be the butt of so many jokes, to the extent of being caricatured by Sunny in this deplorable farce? It was good to see Kamaal Khan though- if for no other reason than to reminisce his singing days of "O o jaane jana." A very exhausting experience overall- never see it.

May 12, 2007


Title: Raaz
Year: 2002
Cast: Dino Morea, Bipasha Basu, Ashutosh Rana

Aditya (Dino) and Sanjana (Bipasha) are trying to give one last chance to their crumbling marriage. They go back to their 2nd home in Ooty (A holiday retreat in Southern India), where they had spent their honeymoon a few years ago. Once there, Sanjana senses a spirit in the house, while Aditya acts defensive and withdrawn in turns, discouraging Sanjana's suspicions about the house.

With the local voodoo professor (that's what he sounds like) Agni's (Ashutosh Rana) help, Sanajana figures out the truth: Turns out, Aditya had visited Ooty without Sanjana when their marriage was going through a particularly rough patch. Once there, he had met Malini, a somewhat psychopathic woman who he had offered shelter one stormy night (when she was actually escaping the mental asylum she was admitted at!). Thehy had a torrid affair, living together in the smae house withSanjana tucked away in another city, oblivious to her husband's escapades. Malini shot herself when Aditya got bored of her and wanted to go back to his wife. To avoid scandal, he buried her in the woods behind the house (ye, really!) with the help of his housekeeper.

Once this secret is out, Aditya tries to win back his wife who is obviously angry with him. On Agni's advice, she realises all this is only a ploy by Malini's ghost to separate her from Aditya, and goes back to him (what?? huh?). The couple then tries to leave the city (mmm, is no one thinking about reporting the poor woman's dead body to the police? I mean, her family may want to perform her last rites- heck- no respect for the dead here. No one even wants to have Aditya booked for hiding a body...oh well.) Malini's ghost refuses to let them leave, and injures Aditya severely.
Agni decides that the only way to destroy the spirit is to burn her long-buried body (go figure). He, Sanjana and a friend head out to the woods to dig and burn the body, where they also discover the dead body of the housekeeper hanging from the tree. Pretty soon, Agni is dead by Malaini's hands (figuratively- if a ghost has hands), his body is occupied by Malini, whereupon a lot of running and screeching later, Sanajana successfully destroys the ghost. She rushes back to Aditya, who has been operated upon in the interim in the local hospital to fix his injuries, and finds that he has survived his ordeal as well. It is implied that her destruction of the ghost has contributed to the success of his operation. The credits roll upon a reconciled Sanjana and Aditya (who has recuperated well enough, thank you), getting back to their life together, minus all the squabbling.

Raaz (Secret) is loosely based on Harrison Ford's What Lies Beneath (2000), and has been made by Mahesh Bhatt, a director infamous for his liftoffs (sometimes successful, sometimes not) of Hollywood movies. This one works well, with not very blatant copying. Bipasha screeches irritatingly (maddening) and opens her eyes very wide (annoying) most of the time, both of which habits she did let go of in subsequent films (whew). Dino is plastic;he is just a pretty boy who really should have just stuck to modelling. Ashutosh Rana delivers, but his performance is reminiscent of every other performance he has ever done. What is really weird is the utter disregard to Dino's crime of suppressing a body- the director seems to have utterly ignored this little plot point. The movie should be seen only because there are so few and far-between of the horror genre in Indian cinema- otherwise avoid.

May 11, 2007

Say Salaam India- I feel sorry

Title: Say Salaam India
Year: 2007
Cast: Sanjay Suri, Milind Soman, Sandhya Mridul, Sachin Khedkar, Manoj Pahwa, Shraddha Nigam

Lets begin by saying that I love low budget movies. They can be like the movies Hrishikesh Mukherjee made in the 70s with Amol Palekar- beautiful and heart-warming, about everyman. They can be campy and just badly made, with the cast earnestly getting in on the fun, fearless and with verve. However, they can also just go horribly, horribly wrong- with good actors misused and story elements butchered on the editors table.
I think Say Salaam India (Greet India/Greet me India- depends how you read the title). Actually I am not sure how the title works with the movie. Are our teen heroes and their coach (Sanjuy Suri) supposed to be hailed greeted as victorious by India? Or are they, having found success, supposed to greet India as its new generation of heroes? Its never explained.
Before we begin, we should also keep in mind that while India is a country obsessed with Cricket, precious few movies have been made on the subject, and then with mixed results (Awwal Number- a dismal flop that lasted a few days in the marquee; Lagaan- an Oscar finalist).

Say Salaam India showcases some pretty great talent: Sunjay, Sandhya and Shraddha are really nuanced actors. However, Sunjay goes overboard with the cricket quotation dialogues (gets tedious after awhile to hear exactly what different players of the game said in one game or other anything from 2 to 20 years ago). He appears so like a thesaurus that he loses out on the emoting. I mean this guy has a young spastic son. His wife works in some college, while he minds the kid at home, or takes him out to town when he runs errands- cant he try to get a real job, make money, move to a bigger town where Spastic schools exist and maybe let his kid get an education? That bugged me a whole lot in the movie, cos we never hear once of his kid having anything to do with the insides of a school, whereas he himself is a cricket coach in a school. Aagh.
Sandhya Mridul plays Sunjay's wife, and is great whenever we see her on screen- she just mysteriously disappears about one hour into the movie- and then we only see the father son duo. Shraddha Nigam plays elder sister to Viru, the team captain from the Tejpur team- has a few great scenes, which deal with the pressures young women face to get married in India and stand a poor chance of making a successful marriage due to lack of dowry. But she too disappears about 1/3rd into the movie, having bought her brother the requisite cricket gear. It would have been great to have both ladies at least come to the final game in the end, to bring some level of required closure to both characters. They did a great job, and the editor actually provides a disservice to the movie by not bringing their roles to a logical conclusion.

The story in a nutshell: 4 boys: Viru, Mahi, Shakeel and Guri from the Tejpur Government School (Government Schools are, like the name suggests, run by the government and run on extremely skimpy resources in any part of India) are rejected by some cricket team tryouts in their city. Their own school does not have a team- they consider themselves too poor. Hari (Sunjay Suri), a maverick coach, is thrown out by a posh school in town, 'cos his team is too bratty to listen to their coach when he commands discipline. Sunjay goes and offers to coach the Tejpur kids for free, also providing free gear (he makes no money, yet gets corporate sponsors- mmm- how does this work, folks?). The movie culminates with the Tejpur team facing off the posh school's bratty team, which is now lead by a hirsute Harry (hairy Harry- hee- played by Milind Soman) who is manipulative and a cheat. Of course the poor, downtrodden team from Tejpur wins.
The movie isn't very bad- but it could be much better. I just feel sorry for all the talent that the director had to work with, can couldn't optimise to the fullest. And Milind Soman needs a shave- he has begun to look the old Maharashtrian man that he is :D

May 10, 2007

Things to Do

I don't make New Year resolutions- those seem fated to be broken. However, ever since I was in the 6th grade, I do write down short term annual goals for myself at any random time of the year- if and when I remember do so. Lately I have found that for the past few years I had so lost myself in work that I had begun to lose the qualitative aspects of my life, which I do value greatly.

So here are some things I want to do for and to myself, which I believe will make me a better and happier person:
1. Be Assertive At Work: I am way to nice as an auditor- need to toughen up the girl a bit. Take things easy, be fearless and emphatic.

2. Be Nice at Home: Be nicer and more understanding- my husband is already super good to me- maybe I should be good"er" too.

3. Don’t Postpone Things: Kaal Karo so Aaj Kar, Aaj Karo So Ab.

4. Take Time out for Friends & Myself: God has given me some really great friends- my new strategy- call/email at least 2 friends a week- its easy to lose touch. My friends ARE the type who will love me even after a gap of 20 yrs- but that's no reason to take them for granted.

5. Don’t Be Self Critical: Its OK to make mistakes- everyone does.

6. Don’t Take Things Personally: People are usually just bothered about their shortcomings, mistakes and desires. If they say something negative, it is not a reflection on me in any way.

7. Just Get Things Done: Rather than sit and build castles in the air, Karma/Right Action are a better way to go.

8. Don’t Overthink: After considering all possible aspects, maybe consult one more person, and then get to it- don't kill the task with overthinking.

9. Pass CPA: Study an hour every night dammit- NOW.

10. Get Work-Life Balance: Work is work, home is home- don't die in either arena- work and play hard, and move on.

Shakalaka Boom Boom- groan, moan and shudder!

Title: Shakalaka Boom Boom

Year: 2007
Cast: Bobby Deol, Upen Patel, Kanagana Raut, Celina Jaitley, Anupam Kher.

Suneel Darshan must have lost his mind- there can be no other reason why he would have directed and produced this catastrophe.

Lets get the ordeal over with: AJ (Bobby Deol, looking his age (45) with a puffy and tired face), is supposedly the best singer in New York. Do not ask me how an Indian singing in Hindi would be the best singer in New York (whats the criteria for the "best" singer? why New York? shouldn't he be on the national charts? - no one tells me anything!). He is entranced by Ruhi (Kangana- now this is one talented woman- why the heck did she do this movie?!), an upcoming singer. Ruhi is initially attracted to AJ, but then is stalked (yes, really) and wooed (apparently the 2 go hand in hand) by Reggie (Upen Patel, looking adequately dishy), another singer. Somewhere in there is also Sheena (Celina Jaitley), who is miffed with Reggie 'cos he ditched her.

For a movie about a bunch of singers, this movie has really awful songs. But whatever. Moving on- AJ tries to stub out the upcoming Reggie's career with Sheena's help. He even manages to do so, but once he has literally gotten Reggie to death's door, he himself looses his hearing in a freak accident. Reggie gains back health and fame.

That's it really. And oh- Anupam Kher plays Reggie's dad, perpetually abused by his son, who needs to learn some respect! I think we are supposed to feel Reggie's angst- that never really happens. If anything, you just feel reallllllly angry with him! I'm not sure either Kangana or Celina knew what they were supposed to do in the movie- their roles appear to have been edited out- badly, since they sometimes appear to initiate action, but we never see any follow up to those scenes. It was awful. Bobby Deol should give up movies. Seriously. Enough said.

May 8, 2007

Fire in my backyard!

Yup ladies and gentlemen- there is a huge brush fire barely 2 miles away from me in Griffith Park. The smell was strong even in Oldtown Pasadena, and the thick cloud of smoke was visible from our window in the audit room at the client I was on today, elsewhere in Pasadena.

Here are pix from my driveway. That red cloud is basically smoke from the fire on the hills. In the 2nd, the cloud is somewhat above the barely visible hill, and the bright lights in a row are blazing fires. There are about 500 firefighters at work here, aided by helicopters which I can hear loudly from my living room. The fires had died down earlier in the day, but have flared up again after the sun went down, sue to the high winds. All around us, there are folks standing in their balconies, raptly watching the blaze as they would porn. Needless to say, its really warm- the days have grown hot anyway, but the nights are pretty cold out here, with tonight an obvious exception.
It has been over 9 hours- long enough to make us, if not uncomfortable, then definitely question our safety. Folks in the Los Feliz area have begun evacuation, mostly being housed at Marshall High School. While only one man has suffered burns, there are- or were- living animals in Griffith Park (it is more than a park- it is a wooded area encapsulating a few hills, parks and planetarium), including coyotes, deer, raccoons, opossums and rabbits. At this minute, there are other brush fires burning in San Bernardino, Anaheim and Corona- makes it harder all around, with county resources stretched to the limit. Not a good start to the brush fire season.

The Prisoner

Title: The Prisoner
Year: 1968
Cast: Patrick McGoohan, with other supporting cast.

"I am not a number, I am a free man!
This dialogue, from the opening sequence of every one of the 17 episodes of this TV series encapsulates the essential 60s anthem- the revolution against the "system."

Its all my friend Steve's fault really- this past Saturday, he brought over his entire A&E DVD collection of The Prisoner, and spends most of Saturday (though we did thankfully run out for groceries earlier) with hubby and me, huddled on our bed, drinking rum and coke and watching the hour long episodes with rapt attention. Caught as we were in the vortex, we only watched the 1st 5 episodes with Steve- but unable to sleep after he left at 10pm, wound up watching 4 more before crashing to bed at 2am. Of course, the next morning we promptly got back to our marathon, somehow getting through only with the laundry in the list of chores we had for the weekend.

So what makes The Prisoner eminently watchable even after 40 years? Yes the mod outfits are a hoot, as is the earnestness adopted by the actors, regardless of the shenanigans they might be up to. However, the plot itself is eminently gripping. An agent (Patrick McGoohan) abruptly leaves the British secret services at the height of his career without explanation- from what we gather, to simply get away from it all and spend time in holidaying on a tropical island somewhere. This explanation however is unfathomable by both sides (the British government and the "other side"), and SOME GROUP (never quite clarified) kidnaps him and brings him to The Village. The Village is in an unidentified location, cut-off from the world on 3 sides by mountains and 1 by the sea, and consists of inhabitants either ruling or being ruled. Also in tow is Rover, an ominous white balloon (yes really- a "ominous." white. balloon- this was in actuality a weather balloon and the most expensive "special effect" employed by the Series) which can kill, and acts as an essential watchdog (hence the name). Everyone is only known by an assigned number in The Village, and the Agent himself (never named), is given the #6. #2 serves as the local administrator and is replaced often; #1 is essentially faceless until the end. The 17 episodes essentially mark the Agent's struggle to escape The Village, while #2 and most of the Villagers try to squirrel out the reason why he left the Secret Service from him (is one man really that important to anyone???)

This is a very addictive series, with Patrick McGoohan outwitting his captors at every attempt from unearthing his secret, while maintaining his struggle to overthrow this "system" thrust upon him. We hear refrains of Beatles music all along (loudest in episode 17), with allegorical reference to the struggle of man at every turn. Critics have widely compared this to 1984, but Patrick M's vision is unique to himself (he also directed this, after turning down an offer to be James Bond). The Agent's 60's sport Lotus (in "Many Happy returns" he declares he made it himself!) is the height of cool, as are the outfits and colors all around. The show isn't cut and dried- folks are still debating the surrealistic aspects, since almost every scene has an element of allegory. Confusing as it is, The Prisoner captures your attention and does not let go- watch it!

May 4, 2007

Spiderman 3

Name: Spiderman 3
Year: 2007
Cast: Toby Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Topher Grace, Thomas Hadden Church.

I just saw the movie, and before plunging into the review, would like to take a moment to note that the movie has been simultaneously released in, amongst other languages, Bhojpuri! Being from UP, the language is close to my heart- I sure spent enough time in my teens talking to the household helpers, who were mostly form the villages, and fluent in Bhojpuri/Awadhi. So in their collective honor, I will attempt to bring some Bhojpuri flavor to this review.

So welcome to Spiderman 3, or मकड़ी ब्बुआ लाल छमिया (Spider man/boy and the red haired young girl- my racy tribute to the prim Mary Jane's tresses).

The movie possesses a fairly strong Bollywood flair- could it be that Sam Raimi saw a bunch of Bolloywood potboilers before making this one? It opens to find Spidey (मकड़ी ब्बुआ) the toast of New York (नया यौरक), with Mary Jane (our own लाल छमिया) having finally achieved her 1st starring role on Broadway (चौड़ी सड़क?? eugh!). With a head swollen pretty large from all the adulation he is getting, and encouragement from his Aunt May (बुढी बुआ माई?), Spidey/Peter is set to propose marriage to Mary Jane (मकड़ी बबुआ चले लाल छमिया को बनाने बहुरिया). But before wedding bells (and indeed we hear none in the movie), there are battles to be fought and won.

There is a initial battle with the new Goblin/Harry (James Franco), during which he bops his head on a wall, and loses his short term memory (Bollywood occurrence #1). The bop erases the death of his father, the Green Goblin (William Dafoe) from his mind- he only remembers his dosti (friendship- Bollywood occurrence #2) with Peter Parker and Mary Jane. Spidey is just too happy to get his friend back and avoids much explanation. When our Mary Jane is ignored by Spidey/Peter (In favor of the greater good- Bollywood occurrence #3- work before romance (or , करतवया before dalliance)) Harry happily fills in. However, one kiss from Mary Jane, and he remembers everything again (Bollywood occurrence #4), and plots revenge on Spidey.

Of course as we know, like any Bollywood movie, that implies Peter and Harry (or Spidey and the New Goblin), will have one more big fight scene, where Peter wins and Harry's face is deformed. This was also the precise moment I fell in love with James Franco- I mean James with a perfect face is just a pretty boy, but with the scarring- man he sure has character!

The villains have been working overtime in the interim- The Sandman (Thomas Hadden Church) and Venom (Topher Grace). It all wraps up very nicely indeed with the villains vanquished and the heroine rescued- but- WHY DID they have to kill Harry?????????? Like 5minutes after I fall in love with him, he is killed off, with Spidey sobbing over him like a sissy- that was a bit of a damper. Also didnt want Venom killed- hope he is resurrected in a future sequel.. :D Not to miss: Toby in his evil avtaar, strutting down Broadway 'a la John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever- priceless!

PS: Also not to miss- Bruce Campbell in a delicious cameo as the snobby, adorable and brilliant maitre d' of the hotel Spidey invites Mary Jane to- for every Ash/Evil Dead fan out there, his act alone is worth watching the movie for.

May 3, 2007

What's Your Celtic Horoscope?

My Celtic Horoscope-

You Are A Rowan Tree

You are full of charm and cheer. You light up a room.
And while you crave attention, you do it without ego.
You are an interesting mix of contradictions - and very unpredictable.
You are both dependent and independent, calm and restless.
You are passionate, emotional, gregarious, and (at times) unforgiving.
Find yours here:

Namaste London

Movie Info:
Name: Namaste London
Year of Release: 2007
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Rishi Kapoor, Clive Standen, Upen Patel, Javed Sheikh.

And there was weeping and gnashing of teeth and tears of rage and pain- that was me during the movie, which I mostly fast-forwarded through.

Manmohan (Rishi) is sick of his daughter Jaz/Jasmeet's (Katrina) clubbing, and decides that the best way to put an end to this is to bring her to India and marry her off to a "nice Indian boy". (Now this is actually a plausible premise, since my dad often makes this threat to my sister. He figures he can "fix" her teenage tantrums by bringing her to India- but that's another story). So Jaz leaves for the old country with mom and dad, leaving behind a firangi (Foreigner- usually implies White) boyfriend called...Charlie Brown (Clive)- rofl. Charles Shulz must be rolling in his grave.

Once there, a host of eligible bachelors are paraded before Jaz. None of these quite work out, until Manmohan and family land up at his ancestral home in a village in Punjab. Arjun (Akshay), an old friend's son appears to Manmohan the right guy for his daughter (why we ask- why??) and he lays down the law to Jaz- marry Arjun or else.. (or else what??- this innocent blogger asks). Jaz decides to call her friend Imran/Emran Khan (more celebrity name dropping- also Hindu-Muslim bhai-bhai (brotherhood) & Indo-Pak love slogans- 'cos Emran (Upen) and his dad Parvez (the venerable Javed Sheikh- sad role, but love and respect the man) are Paki transplants in the UK), and gets money wired to her via Western Union (the blatant advertisement $ may have been essential to get this movie to the theaters) so that she may get herself back to the UK. Whew! Of course, one wonders why she doesn't have a credit card handy to do the job- maybe because Emran, after sending the requisite $, suggests she marry the guy, bring him to the UK and dump him there. (What kind of a dumb idea is that? Why marry him anyways??? -At this point, we just accept everything as simply a tool for the director to march ahead with the damned plot)

We find that Jaz does go ahead with it- marries the guy, brings him to the UK (what- you mean he doesn't want her to stay back in apna (our) Punjab?- more convenient plot holes) and then announces before her family and the Khans (Parvez, his wife and Emran) that she is dumping Arjun. Arjun is heartbroken, but tells her he will stick around until she actually marries Charlie Brown (hee- that name is too much, seriously).

Meanwhile, Emran has some drama of his own where he is in love with Susan (not only Christian, but White). His father is opposed to the match. Her parents, despite their disapproval, have 2 highly entertaining conditions to the wedding:
1- That Emran change his name to Emanuel, and convert to Christianity. (Ridiculous I know, but still plausible- wait till you hear #2 below)
2- That he sign an affidavit saying he is not a terrorist.
Seriously- this has to be the single most idiotic thing I may have ever heard in any movie. Can we please quit the propaganda against firangs and their evil ways and how we are supposed to teach them the right path (channel the Buddha here- right path, right thought, right action)?

Emran is going to go ahead and do this, but is stopped in time by Arjun (the good Hindu helping his other-religion neighbor in need?), and is shown- you guessed it- the RIGHT path! Emran goes bouncing back to Susan's, and declares to her parents and a large party of guests that he will not go with their plans for him, and offers Susan instead a chance to come back with him (is he gonna convert her too? like the real Emran Khan did his real wife Jemima?--we aren't told- lets just believe that us South Asians are generally inclusive folks).

In the interim, Jaz has gotten engaged to good ol' Charlie Brown (will Snoopy miss him? hee- cant help it), and the wedding preparations are underway. Arjun shows Charlie down and impresses Jaz (wins a soccer game against Charlie, dazzles him & his family/friends with Limca-Book-of-Records-style facts about apna Hindustan, dances in a club with goris (Fair/White girls/women)), but is that enough to secure Jaz as his wife?

It sure is. She runs out on Charlie at the altar, and we next see her riding pillion behind him on his dinky motorbike through apne Punjab de khet (the green fields of our Punjab) in a salwar-kurta outfit.

You know, I really love my country. But when folks like Vipul Shah make such horrendous movies, I get antsy. The movie is so implausible that one can only clutch one's head with sheer agony and groan. Katrina and Upen are cute, dumb, cannot talk and cannot act- that is fine- they should be regarded for ornamental purposes only- so expecting anything but beauty is the viewer's fault. But Akshay? his movies are simply getting more and more painful. Rishi and Javed are wonderful gentlemen who have great work behind them, therefore occasional follies like accepting this script must be forgiven them too. The making of this movie however, is just a insult- to everyone who watches movies and has some level of a functioning brain. Avoid.

May 1, 2007

Sarhad Paar- pretty good

Movie Info:
Name: Sarhad Paar (Translation: "Beyond the Border)
Year: 2006
Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Tabu, Mahima Choudhary, Chandrachur, Rahul Dev

"Umr guzregi kaise tere bin"- I can't get this song from the movie out of my head!

I decided to watch the movie primarily because (1) the hubby had gotten hold of it, (2) it is relatively unheard of, making me hope it would meet the B-movie criteria I always look for. So it came as a pleasant surprise that the movie is actually pretty good. To me, it seems to pick up almost where Maachis (1996, See:; Useless information: Did you know that the legendary Gulzar's name is Sampooran Singh Gulzar?) left off. For those not in the know, Maachis was about the 90's terrorism of the Indian state of Punjab; of the persecution of Sikhs during the period- a really amazing movie which i won't go into depth here). Usingthe principal two cast members from the older movie (Tabu and Chandrachur), Sarhad..talks about Punjab post the 90's terrorism phase.

The movie opens to Pammi (Tabu) eagerly awaiting the return of her husband, Major Ranjit Singh (Sanjay). The Major was lost in terrorist clashes at the Indo-Pak border, and has been presumed dead, since his name is in no POW list. But since he isn't on any dead-man list either, Pammi as well as Simran (Mahima, playing the Major's sister) do not give up home, unlike the rest of their village, including the Major's uncle, the family patriarch.

And one day he does come home, but under sever trauma, unable to recognize anyone. While Pammi works hard to assist the Major remember his past, we also see that the preparations of Simran's wedding to Ravi (Chandrachur) are underway.

Alongside this we learn that the perpetrator of the Major's trauma was the terrorist known as Bakhtavar (Rahul Dev- a model turned actor who can actually act surprisingly well), whose mission appears to be Indo-Pak discord. Both the Indian and Pakistani police/army are after him, and are being assisted in this by his own father (the "good" Muslim), who is murdered towards the end of the movie in a scene exhibiting Bakhtayar's evil nature revelling in patricide.

The Major remembers his past and rejoins the army, with the sole aim of capturing Bakhtavar, which he is successful in doing. Along the way, he gets Simran married to Ravi, whom we learn is secretly in cahoots with Bakhtavar (dramatically opposed to Chandrachur's idealist, martyred terrorist in Maachis) for monetary gain. In the final showdown, the Major recaptures a fleeing Bakhtavar, but is waylaid by Ravi, who is then shot down by Simran (she embodies the hindi-movie fabled patriot giving up the pleasures of self for the country), clearing the way for the Major to avenge himself upon Bakhtavar. Whew!

My only quibble with the movie was the somewhat shoddy editing, which downplays some pretty fine acting by Tabu and Mahima (finally she gets out of the B-movie scene to do a decent act- for her sake I wish the movie had done well). Some scenes appear to spring at us from nowhere at all- the closing scene is particularily adrupt, and no closure is bought to Simran (what route does she take once her new husband is dead- no one seems to care, but I want to know!). Sunjay delivers, but looks older than his age (he is 48, but here looks to be in his 50s). One may assume his trauma contributed to his premature aging in the movie, as did perhaps the notorious TADA court cases in real life. While the patriotic dialogues get cheesy in parts, the conviction displayed by the entire cast is the redeeming factor of the movie.

I was rather sorry to read reviews of Sarhard.., most of which pronounced the movie as dated since the events under discussion were awhile ago and India-Pakistan are on the road to friendship (really? I do want to see that happen, but the friendship between the two nations remains uneasy at best). I do not see why that should date the movie in anyway- our past contributes to our present and future, and whether or not the movie's portrayal is historically correct (it isn't), the movie should be recognized for at least the emotion it envokes, as well as for the (mostly) brilliant acting of its actors.