Friday, April 26, 2013

Of Spring Ball, Kunti, Ram's Sister, and Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge

Long time no see..

Last week was the Prom Night or the Spring Ball or another fancy term for the farewell. I generally do not go out a lot as I feel so lost in parties but I decided to go this time. Not many people came though but I had the most fun. Probably the first time after coming here. As I have been feeling so lonely for the last few weeks, I thought it would be best if I go. And then I realized that you do need to let go of everything sometimes. Forget all worries, forget all tensions. And it worked. Even mom said go out and do not worry. I was happy being there as was evident in the pictures. There was a photo booth set up to click pictures in weird poses with weird things. We clicked so many pictures and I love each of them.

And as Meredith says, 

Make a plan. Set a goal. Work towards it. But every now and then, look around. Drink it in. ‘Cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow.

And the most funny thing is what M told me. M sends me a message that I look hot in these pictures. Hahahaha.. I couldn't stop laughing. I have been called everything before nice, cute, etc. but it was the first time I am called hot. On a scale of 1 to Bradley Cooper (I think a lot of people say he is hot), I rank -100 on hotness. Then I asked M why I look hot. So the reply comes that you look very happy in those pictures and so look hot. Haha.. I just said thank you :) Imagine me as hot.. even the thought is hilarious ;-)

I went to Des Moines. Finalized house for the summer. It is a studio apartment, will live alone. I traveled all alone in the city. It was a bit intimidating but as long as the Internet is there, it should be fine. Now will move in mid-May. 

And you know the reason I have been feeling lonely is perhaps I am missing a few things a lot. Even when I was in Delhi, I didn't go out much except that I used to watch a movie almost every Saturday morning. It made me happy and didn't feel the need to go out much. But here I am terribly missing the big screen. I have realized I will be happy in a place where I can watch Hindi movies on the big screen, find good food and 'chaat' and enjoy the rains. Perhaps all these requirements would make me call a city as good to live for me. I am really missing the first two here. And that is what making me really lonely and stuffed I guess. But theek hai.. I will be happy :)

And I have finally started reading The Palace of Illusions, about which I wrote earlier. It is still the beginning but there is an excellent passage on Kunti. Chitra says,

Adopted by her uncle, the childless Kuntibhoj, she had no brothers to cherish her, no sisters to confide in, no mother to turn to for consolation. Her marriage to Pandu - one of political convenience - wasn't happy. Almost immediately he took Madri as his second wife and lavished affection on her. Soon afterward, Pandu was cursed by a brahmin. He left his kingdom in the hands of his blind brother, Dhritarashtra, and went to the forest to do penance. As faithful wives, Kunti and Madri, too, left the comforts of the court and accompanied him. Years passed. The children appeared. But one day, Pandu, no longer able to resist, embraced Madri. He died. The guilt ridden Madri chose no to live on. Kunti, devastated though she must have been both by her husband's death and his last act, gathered all her willpower. She brought the five princes back to Hastinapur, making no distinction between those of her children and those of her rival. She was determined no one would cheat them out of their inheritance. For years, she struggled  a widow alone and in disfavor, to keep them safe in Dhritarashtra's court, until finally, now they were grown. 

We all know Kunti's story but I never reflected on her until then. Add to it the ignominy of the birth of Karan, Kunti was perhaps the most troubled character in the Mahabharata.

There is a beautiful passage in the book on how Draupadi actually fell in love with Karan at first sight but it was Krishna's shenanigans that she forgot about him and later marries Arjun. 

And call it a big co-incidence, during the last week, Devdutt Pattanaik, the guru of all mythology books, wrote a terrific piece in Mid-Day on the elder sister of Ram. My favorite book by Devdutt is The Pregnant King, about a king called Yuvanashva in the time of Mahabharata, who accidently drinks the magic potion that makes him pregnant. The book talks about some concepts on gender and humanity with some great references to Shikhandi, Amba, Draupadi, and Ardhnareshwar among others. Read it. So he says that Ram had an elder sister.

Valmiki Ramayan does not mention Ram’s sister, however, in the Mahabharata we learn of King Lompada who adopts the daughter of Dashrath. In later literature, this daughter of Dashratha becomes Ram’s elder sister, Shanta. In Telugu folk songs she is described as being furious when Ram abandons Sita following street gossip. According to the Oriya Ramayan, following adoption, Shanta is given in marriage to Rishyashringa, a sage whose celibacy causes drought in Lompada’s kingdom. Following the marriage, the rains come back. This tale is consistent with the traditional theme of Vaishnava literature that condemns absolute abstinence which is seen as world-denying hence world-destructive.

Though Dashrath seems to have fathered Shanta without any difficulty, he is unable to father any more children. Dharma insists that a man must father a son and continue his lineage and that a king must produce an heir for the throne. A desperate Dashrath therefore marries a second and a third time. When nothing works, he decided to perform a yagna and compel the gods to give him a child.

The article here:
The story of Ram's elder sister

And last week I watched Mujhse Fraandship Karoge. I really wanted to watch it for some time and it is available on Netflix. So I saw it. I loved it. I was going ga-ga over Varun Dhawan's performance in Student of the Year but you actually have to see Saqib Saleem on his terrific debut. Not even one scene of any awkwardness before the camera.. almost flawless and natural. He was brilliant in the film. He would go places and he is actually playing a role in Bombay Talkies. Saqib is also the brother of Huma Qureshi (of Gangs of Wasseypur and Ek Thi Dayan fame) and he is also H's school friend. The film is very nice and so much better than Mujhse Dosti Karoge. I really really liked it. The character of Hacky was outrageously funny :D 

Hacky :D

At one point, Preity is just looking at the Facebook profile of Vishal as if looking to profile can compensate for the real talking. Haven't we all done that at some point in our lives? :(

Staring at the Facebook profile

And so does he..

And I loved this scene when Preity says she fell in love with Vishal and will get over it.


And Kareena got the NDTV Entertainer of the Decade award at the Indian of the Year ceremony. I was so happy. She totally deserves it. I think she is awesome :)

I don't have a lot to write. Exams from next week. Super hectic weeks ahead :\

More later.

Dialogue of the Day:

उन दिनों Internet नहीं था न..No SMS.. short messaging service..In short, कैसे वो हज़ार बाते कहोगे जो आपका दिल कहना चाहता है. एक smiley में वो कहाँ बात है जो class के across उसकी आँखों में देख के smile करने में है..लोग पहले teachers, parents, या दुसरे students से छुप कर प्यार करते थे लेकिन आज कल तो एक दुसरे से छुप कर प्यार करते है.. Library shelves और पेड़ों के पीछे साथ साथ छुपने के बजाय आज कल लोग एक दुसरे के सामने हो कर भी computer screen के पीछे छुप जाते है.. Internet connection की speed से प्यार होता है और उतनी आसानी से log out भी जो हो जाता है..If I think about it, कैसे किसी की clever bio line या उसकी display picture से किसी को प्यार हो जाता ..प्यार तो किसी साँस लेती लड़ती, झगड़ती, गुस्सा होती complex, complicated, sweet, idiotic, pretty amazing सी लड़की से होता है।। 
 - Vishal, Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge

Friday, April 19, 2013

Of Student Of The Year...

So finally I managed to catch Student Of The Year. Given that there are no Hindi movie theaters here, I have to wait for a really long time to watch movies in a good print online :( 

Whatever Ram Gopal Verma thinks of Karan Johar's style of cinema, I am a big fan of him. I mean I have grown up watching his films. Kuch Kuch Hota Hai came out in 1998 (Class Sixth), Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham in 2001 (Class Ninth), Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna in 2006 (Second Year in College), My Name Is Khan in 2010 (First Year In The Job) and Student Of The Year in 2013 (First Year of MBA). Except perhaps, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham of which I am not a big fan, I like the others with Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna being the most favorite. Naturally, I was super excited for Student Of The Year. Did I like it? Yes. Did I love it? No

Student Of The Year (SOTY) is about finding the student of the year in a school named St.Teresa. The main characters of the film are Rohan (Varun Dhawan), Abhimanyu (Sidharth Malhotra), Shanaya (Aliya Bhatt), Sudo (Kayoze Irani), and Yogindra Vashisht (Rishi Kapoor). The story is fairly simple and nothing unpredictable happens but what I really really liked about the film was Varun Dhawan. He was brilliant in the film, and this being his first film he displayed a great potential of being a good actor. Varun plays Rohan Nanda, son of a rich industrialist father who is emotionally troubled from inside because his father never loved him. He was never the good son of his father. You might hate him in the beginning but eventually you realize that he is not a bad guy. He is as he says confused. Varun brings a charming vulnerability to Rohan's character and even though Abhi was the underdog, I was rooting for Rohan all the while. He is really good in some of the emotional scenes.

Karan creates this fantasy school which we know we are not going to find in reality. It is the ability to create a fantasy world, where everyone wears designer labels, the guys have the perfect abs, the girls have the perfect bodies, everything is so spotlessly clean, which is Karan's strength. You can accuse him of being unreal but not even one shot in the film can be called tacky. His cinema is the exact opposite of Anurag Kashyap's realism. The songs are beautifully shot and choreographed. I liked Ishq Wala Love but Vele was Honey Singh-types foot tapping.. loved it

My favorite scene in the movie was the sequence at the wedding of Rohan's brother when Abhi realizes he is in love with Shanaya. It is a beautiful scene where none of the three characters speak but through the emotions they portray their feeling.

Secretly in love with Shanaya..

Takes off her earing.. 

Because she looks good with her hair coming forward

Rohan takes her hand from Abhi..

He will keep the earing for himself

Rohan hopes they too get married..

Loved the scene..

Karan's strength is romance and without a doubt, he creates the feeling of love brilliantly. The song Ishq Wala Love has been lampooned at every forum (check Q-Tiyapa) but I think it is splendidly shot. It reminded of the song Tumhi Dekho Na from Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. All the three characters are wearing the same color dress, in a way signifying that they are all in love. In fact, every song is shot beautifully.

One of my other favorite scenes was when Rohan realises that Abhi too is not loved by his family, so he just comes and gives a hug to Abhi, with out saying anything. Later in the film, after Abhi's grandmother dies, Shanaya comes and does the same to Abhi. I loved both the scenes. That sometimes you do not need words..all you need is a hug :(

This also reminded me of my favorite scene from Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu.


I also really liked the film's message that friendship and relationships are more important than winning a competition.
Dost to sabhi ke hote hain, lekin school college ke doston ki baat hi kuch aur hoti hai. Maa baap ki tarah samajhte hai humein vo dost, jaante hai vo dost. Takraar, jalan, competition chahe kisi bhi daur se guzar jaye yeh dosti, dil pe uska koi asar nahi hota.

That was a very important theme of the movie but I got a bit confused by what the film is trying to say in the end. In the final scene, Sudo accuses Dean Vashisht of breaking the friendship between all his friends because of starting this Student Of The Year competition. He says that the dean is a lonely guy and he has done this for his own entertainment because he is a gay man. This particular scene astounded me. Competitions are held in every school..what does that have to do with the principal being gay?!?! The purpose of competition is to prepare one for the life ahead because everywhere there is competition. It is you who has to learn to live with it. You have to overcome that feeling and take it sportingly. That doesn't mean you stop competing. Friends are important in everyone's life but you have to accept that in some things, your friends are better than you. Who is asking you to spoil the relationship with your friends? Eventually, these things will not matter and you have to overcome that feeling because life is a competition.

Which is why I agreed with one scene in the film when they are discussing about the competition,
Shruti says "Let's face it guys, agar hume ek hi jagah pahuncha hai to doston ke beech competition to hoga hi". Then Rohan says, "iska matlab khud jeetne ke liye tum apne best friend ko hara dogi". And then Abhi says, "haan".

Interestingly, at one point Shruti is shown reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. And of course, we all know what Ayn Rand is famous for: the theory of objectivism, the theory of being selfish, competition, free markets, capitalism. Perhaps it is Rand's influence that forces Shruti to make the above statement and tries to persuade Shanaya to drop out.

There is no escaping from Ayn Rand :)

If I think of my life, I find it so funny that when I was in the engineering college, there was so much competition. Uski kitni percentage ayi, uska kitne package ka job laga. And of course, one feels some  jealousy. As they said in 3 Idiotsjab khud fail hote ho toh bura lagta hain, lekin jab apke dost top kare, toh aur bhi bura lagta hain. But think of it now, it is four years since college is over and now did those things matter now? How many people are you in touch with? Only a few close friends no? Yes, I did not have the highest salary package, I might have earned less, but each of us have our different lives and priorities. A friend who just sent me the pictures of her wedding which she has not shown to anyone, a friend who came to the US and told me he really wants to meet, and a friend who told me that she is going to one of the top universities in the US. I might not be as smart as them, I might not be as rich as them but I feel good that they value me. But their circumstances are totally different than me. And somehow of late, I have become a very strong believer in luck. My philosophy in life is give your best effort, and then leave it. Que sera sera. It is frustrating at times. It will, of course, not work out the way I want but what else can I do? I gave my best shot no? And it is this competing feeling that we have to overcome. I am, in fact, going through the same competing phase in the B-school where everyone is desperate for a job and competition is literally cut-throat. I always try to convince myself that some things are not made for you. Even if I get a really high paying job, will I be really happy? Because I like to do some other things and for me, job is a way to get money so that I can live my life. Maybe it is a defeatist attitude but I know my capabilities. All I need is satisfaction. We have to learn somehow compete without effecting our feelings.

I also felt in a few places that the film advocated inaction instead of doing the right thing. When Coach Shah had to decide who should be the captain of the team out of Abhi and Rohan, he avoids confrontation and makes Jeet the captain. Do you think it was the right approach? Shouldn't the better captain be chosen? 

You remember how brilliantly Chak De! India tackled this issue. Kabir confronted the two players - Preeti and Komal  - that they played for themselves instead of the team? 

Coaches have to take tough decisions and that is what they are for, no?

Another thing that was disturbing was the character of Rohan's mother. She just doesn't say anything. Her husband insulted Rohan all the time and treated her like a servant. Shashi in English Vinglish was criticised because she didn't say anything to her kids. During the climax, Rohan's father is supporting Abhi because he doesn't want his son to defeat him. His mom just didn't say anything at all in the film, just kept crying. Perhaps it was the realism that Karan wanted to show but in a film about competition and standing for your self, shouldn't she have said something? 

The father doesn't even let her love her son!!

But perhaps the most disturbing part of the film was the character of the dean. The film said that gay people cannot be ever happy in life and they will die lonely. I mean why is that? Yes, they do have a difficult life but don't they have a right to be happy? Sudo says, hum jaise logon ko partner nahi milte. Because Sudo is fat and Dean is gay. Why it is that gay people can't have have someone in life? And as always, some of the worst stereotypes about gay people were shown in the film. Sexual innuendos ("I am all wet"), love for pink, etc. At so many times, Abhi and Rohan joked about being gay. Gay hai kya? Ab tu kiss to nahi karega, nahi main gale bhi nahi lagunga. When will our films stop showing them in such poor light? Critics and audiences hailed Dostana but I think it was one of the worst films to come out of Dharma Productions. Just treat them in a normal way. In fact, some critics have said that the chemistry between Abhi and Rohan is so strong that they seem a perfect couple.

To hammer through the idea that Abhi and Rohan share the most epic dosti imaginable, we are treated to every possible flirtation with homoeroticism you could possibly conjure up. There's the running joke of Abhi asking Rohan, "You're not going to kiss me, are you?" whenever their unmanly friendship feelings emerge, and Rohan typically counters it with, "I'm not going to even hug you!", right before he goes in for that all-important meaningful hug. Then there are the many meaningful looks, the casual sleepover Abhi has at Rohan's house and of course, the limp chemistry they have with Shanaya, compared to what they have with one another.

While it can be amusing and even cute at times, I wish dearly it wasn't in abundance here, because tucked away deep inside this sort of lazy comedy is what could've been the emotional heart of the SOTY - an actual, genuine, honest-to-god love story between two men. The two male leads have clear chemistry with one another. Not a whole lot of the plot would need to change; the flimsy characterization given to Shanaya almost seems to confirm the existence of the romance as subtext. The love triangle is never truly about her, and at one point the film gives her a rare moment of individual agency by having her get upset that the boys are squabbling over her. "You just want to own me!" she yells at them, because it's true: she's little more than a pretty accessory to both of them.
Just read this excellent post on the same. 
Diving into the aggravatingly shallow world of Karan Johar: Student of the Year

But still, I will say I liked Student Of The Year. It is a film with a heart. I wouldn't watch it again though. I so wish I had seen it on the big screen. I love melodrama. I miss Hindi films terribly :(

What are your views on the film?

Dialogue of the Day:

सपनों का कोई class नहीं होता
- Rohan, Student Of The Year

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Of The Quest For An Entertainer, Diamonds, Capella Cover, Badtameez Dil, The Dewarists And Songs...


Long time no see.. this week followed the same old typical things..

As I do not know how to write, I have become a collector of articles. So, this week Ranvir Shorey wrote a very interesting piece in Pragati. He talks about how to make an entertaining film without thinking of the 100 crore club. He says,

On the other hand, creating an entertainer or a project (in common film industry parlance) is mostly about logistics and market trends, an endeavor with no soul but fanfare. Ironically, it then becomes unfair to expect the entertainer to entertain in the true sense of the word. Without creative labor, making an “entertainer movie” is redundant. It only portrays the want of a hit rather than a desire to create a product of creative inspiration for the audience. Many leading makers of All Out Entertainers are terrified of failure, which is the reason why they make only those kind of movies. They shy away from taking a risk or putting in the hard work required to portray their own creative voice onto the big screen.

The complete article here:
The quest for an All Out Entertainer

My friend D is going to propose to his girlfriend. So he ordered a diamond which he will put in a custom-made ring. For the first time in my life, I saw a diamond in the shape of diamond. And since he has become an expert in diamonds, he told me there are four characteristics that differentiate one diamond from another. These are called the 4Cs - Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat. My knowledge of diamond is limited to the first chapter in Class 10 Chemistry book on the differences between diamond and graphite. Question: Why is diamond a bad conductor of electricity while graphite is a good conductor of electricity :) It is exactly ten years to the Class 10 board exams. It was 2003 I remember. And now it is 2013! The funny thing is anything after 2000 still feels so recent but it is thirteen years since 2000. I am getting old. More on the 4Cs of diamonds here

AR Rehman on his Twitter posted a link. At first I thought what is so special about it. Later I realized my foolishness in not noticing it. I only realized when the song went viral and I looked carefully. It is fantastic. This is basically called capella singing: singing without musical instruments. The person singing makes all the sounds and combines it later. It is simply brilliant. This is the song Jiya Jiya Re from Jab Tak Hai Jaan. This guy Alaa Wardi has made a number of other covers including that of Pehla Nasha. Check out YouTube.

Jiye Jiya Re

But my favorite cover was a song by Adele. I loved it. 

Rolling In The Deep

People are just brilliant.

Talking of videos, Badmateez Dil from Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani. I don't know how many times I will say this but Ranbir Kapoor is a rock-star. He is just brilliant in the song. The choreography has some Shammi Kapoor touches. Ranbir has just terrific screen presence. He has a knack of picking excellent roles. That guy will go places. There was some surprise in media circles when he refused Kai Po Che given that it has done so well. But you cannot blame him, sometimes your intuition fails . But I must confess Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani hasn't got me crazily excited like some other films but I am eagerly awaiting for it. He is one of my favorite actors.

And since Downton Abbey finished, I have now started to watch The Dewarists. Why didn't I watch this earlier! It comes on Star World India. It is an excellent concept in which two musicians from different parts of the world come together to make a song. It shows how the musicians collaborate to come up with a song, all for the love and passion of music. They do not have to meet expectations of anyone for this, so they come up with their best song. All the episodes are available on YouTube. It is hosted by Monica Dogra of Dhobi Ghaat fame, who herself is an artist. I loved the episode Kya Khayal Hai in which Swanand Kirkire (of Bawra Man fame), Shantanu Moitra, Zeb and Haniya get together to make a song. You will fall in love with Swanand Kirkire's humility in the episode. I was just amazed by him in the show. He writes all his songs in the toilet. That is the brilliance of the show... the artists are just driven by one thing and that is their passion for music.

Kya Khayal Hai: The Dewarists

And I don't know what has happened but since the last few days, a terrible feeling of loneliness has engulfed me. I was, in fact, in a cheerful mood a few days ago but I don't know what has happened. That feeling when you realize your incompetence in every thing, when you realize that time is running out, when you realize that you will never be what you want to be, when you realize that happiness is something so far away, that everything is just so hollow. I don't know what is it? Perhaps the weather that has been in single digit temperatures for the last six months. Perhaps the homesickness that has finally seeped in me. Mom is very worried these days. 

It is so strange that love and loathing, joy and distress, quietness and noise, all eventually blur and one is left wondering where one started and the other ended. In our life, my mother once told me because we cannot alter our kismet, we must know a way to tide through its ruthless currents. And the songs are that one device.
 - Anuradha, The Last Song of Dusk

When will I sing my songs? Or will I ever?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Of Settling Feeling, Gun Control, Patents, Downton Abbey and Ponzi Scheme, Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, and Roger Ebert..

So long time no see..

What do I write about this time? So some usual stuff happened this week.

You know I was speaking to one of my friends yesterday. And he said one very interesting thing, which at first I thought he is kidding but he wasn't. So he tells me that he is now tired of going places. He is getting this settle down vali feeling. I was like what is this feeling. He says he is getting mature day by day, he wants to get married, even the girl he is dating he thinks that this relationship is going to last for a long time. He wants to have his own small home and he wants to go back. Is there any such feeling? Because honestly I have never had any such feeling. Maybe because I am single. On the contrary, of late I am getting this feeling that I don't want to ever settle down. I want to see the world. I want to live in different places in the world. I know this feeling is so unlike 'me' but I really want to go different places. If only I had enough money to travel :( Did you ever had any settle down vali feeling

So, this week it was a funny week in some ways. My friend D asked me if I wanted to go 'ammo' shopping with him. What?!?! I was like what are you saying? He has an AK-47 and he regularly goes for shooting/hunting. I told him if I go to a gun shop here, I will be put in jail and be labelled as a terrorist. But the funny thing is if I had a gun in my hand, people would come and shoot me instead :) But he told me next time he goes shooting, he will call me. That would be interesting but I know I will chicken out at the last minute. Gun control is a big thing here. People are so much against gun control. And given the lobbying power of National Rifle Association (NRA), even President Obama, a Democrat, is hesitant for gun control. Republicans are more right-wing and hence do not like gun control, even after the Connecticut shooting. D tells me that you can get twenty rounds of ammo just for $7. 

These days the big issue here is the same sex marriage. So, on all social networking sites, this symbol went viral when the court hearing began. Basically, President Clinton had signed the Defense of Marriage Act that didn't give the same rights to same sex couples as traditional marriages. Now, the US Supreme Court began hearing arguments against the Act. But the funny thing that I find among some of the Indian people here is that they are such big homophobes back home and suddenly all their homophobia is non-existent just because everyone is doing it and they become the most liberal people. Hypocrites. If only something like this was possible in Indian movies too.

But the big news in India this week (apart from Rahul Gandhi's metaphorical beehives, his imaginary Rani ki Jhansi and happening bosses) was the Supreme Court refuting Novartis the right to patent a cancer drug. The NGOs claimed it as a victory for the generic drugs while Novartis claimed that it will kill innovation. Both the parties are wrong. Just read this excellent piece by the always so brilliant Swaminathan Aiyar that actually talks about what has happened in the case.

West should learn from India’s high patent standards

The Economist (UK), no basher of multinationals, acknowledges that over-liberal “proliferation of patents harms the public in three ways. First, it means that technology companies will compete more at the courtroom than in the marketplace. Second, it hampers follow-on improvements by firms that implement an existing technology but build upon it as well. Third, it fuels many of the American patent system’s broader problems, such as patent trolls (speculative lawsuits by patent holders who have no intention of actually making anything); defensive patenting (acquiring patents mainly to pre-empt the risk of litigation, which raises business costs); and “innovation gridlock” (the difficulty of combining multiple technologies to create a single new product because too many small patents are spread among too many players).”

Every Sunday he writes an excellent column on the Indian economy in the Times of India. Last week, he wrote a very interesting one that was perhaps the first article of its kind praising the Indian slum system. Must read.

And this week a professor sent me an email. She has got a teaching award and she wants one student to write a letter of recommendation for her. And she asked if I could write it for her. I said of course I will write it. It is the first time I have to write one for a professor :) 

I finished Season 3 of Downton Abbey. There are just eight episodes in each season. They finally showed cricket.

And Matthew is dead just after his son was born :( What will happen to Mary? Season 4 will come next year.

But Downton Abbey is a great study on financial planning. An article was published in Forbes about the lessons that we could learn from the mistakes of Lord Grantham. At one point, he says to Matthew that 

There’s a chap in America, what’s his name? Charles Ponzi who offers a huge return after ninety days.

It is so funny. Charles Ponzi was infamous for his Ponzi scheme. A few years ago, Bernie Madoff was arrested for one of the largest fraud in the history. And Lord Grantham wanted to invest there. It is these small details that make it such a good show. Meanwhile, the article here:

Love is like riding, or speaking French. If you don’t learn it young, it’s hard to get the trick of it later. - Shrimpy

I finally got a chance to watch Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola. And I loved it. It is not as good as other films of Bharadwaj but still it is a treat to watch. The film is about a village in Haryana, controlled by Mr.Mandola who wants to convert the farmer's land into a SEZ. At the other end is Matru, inspired by the Chinese Mao Zedong, who is with the farmers and wants the farmers to retain their land. And a whole lot of other issues are weaved into the narrative - the role of the government, middlemen, Naxalism, etc. The film is extremely witty and characters are lovely with one main character being the gulaabi bhains. Bharadwaj has been a master of references and I am sure I missed most of them here because the subject is left wing extremism, a subject which I have little knowledge of. But I did catch some of them, such as Mao refers to the great Chinese leader. In one scene, Mandola says to Matru, left hand vaali beer lo, tum left ho na. One of my favorite scenes was when Matru explains to Bijlee that she suffers from Meena Kumari complex meaning that she tried to find happiness in her own sadness. Vo dukh mein sukhi rehti thi. I think I too suffer from this Meena Kumari complex :(

This phrase Meena Kumari was first coined by Shekhar Gupta of the Indian Express, who had written a super article on the Meena Kumari politics of the Congress Party.
The Meena Kumari Politics

Back to Matru, Pankaj Kapur was terrific in the movie. In fact, all actors were amazing Imran Khan, Anushka Sharma, Shabana Azmi and Arya Babbar too. The problem with this is that Anushka might be typecast in this sort of role. She has played this fiesty girl or as the critics are calling her as the Liril girl so many times already. But I have really started to like her. Will wait for her in Peekay, though with Sanjay Dutt in jail, the film might be delayed.

At one point in the movie, Mandola plays a game called Neta-Janta, which someone remarked was so similar to the Chor-Police. Matru tried to include contemporary events in the narrative as well. It is a film so relevant to our times. The diversion of fertile land for SEZs,  the Tata Motors Singur controversy, the role of FDI, and the Lokpal were some of them. At one point Chadhuri Devi talking to Matru about his dream project says, yeh sapna nahi, sapnon ka lokpal hai.

And as always, Bharadwaj had a Shakespeare reference. At one point, Bijli is shown reading Macbeth, and Matru says, 'fair is foul, and foul is fair; hover through the fog and filthy air', which summed the entire premise of the movie. It means that whatever is fair to the common man is foul to the witches and to the people related to them. And whatever is foul to the common man is fair to them. Matru wanted to bring development to the village and he saw the farmers as the 'foul', while villagers wanted to retain their land perceiving Mandola as 'foul'.

But  my absolute favorite scene in the movie was when Chadhuri Devi gives a monologue on the necessity of corruption in an economy. She spoke with such force that anyone would be convinced. And somehow what she said is very true. She says,

मसला है देश का, देश लोगों से बनता है, लोग याने समूह, भीड़.. और भीड़ का कोई चेहरा नहीं होता.. भीड़ को चेहरा देता है उसका नेता..तो जो चरित्र मेरा है वही मेरे नेता का होगा और वही मेरे देश का..जब मैं आध्यात्मिक था, तो देश बुद्ध था, जब मैं विलासी तो रजा मिहिरकुल.. मैं कमज़ोर पड़ा तो सिकंदर और टूटा तो बाबर..मैंने व्यापार किया तो देश घुलाम हुआ और बाघी बना तो आज़ाद.. जब मैं आज़ाद हुआ तो मैं स्वार्थी हुआ, स्वार्थी तो भ्रष्ट, भ्रष्ट तो धनवान, धनवान तो सफल और सफल तो प्रगतिवान..
देश की प्रगति के लिए मेरी व्यक्तिगत प्रगति अनिवार्य है..


And Roger Ebert passed away. More than film writing, his writings are literary masterpieces. He taught us how to watch movies with a heart. All my favorite authors on Hindi cinema consider him as their guru. In fact, Beth Watkins first saw Indian cinema on the big screen, Taal at Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival.

Roger Ebert quotes

We will miss you. 

And you what? A guy sends me a business proposal if I could manage his movies quote page on Facebook and we can combine ours into one. I was like no. It is my page. If only I was good at writing :\

More later.

Dialogue of the Day:
Ek kal hamare piche hai, ek kal hamare baad, aaj aaj ki baat karo, aaj hamare saath 
- Ra.One

Try as you might, you can’t ignore your instincts. It’s like they say; always follow your intuition.
 - Meredith, Grey's Anatomy