Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Skyfall - Bond dynamics

Skyfall - Bond dynamics   

Watched the Indian premiere of the movie at PVR Phoenix yesterday night.

For a Bond buff like me there is no greater thrill like watching this latest 007 movie on its India premiere. And I have thank @Ashok Gautam entirely for the pleasure. That too the movie which marks the golden jubillee of the most charismatic human character created in the modern era. 

Bond's impact on the public's perception of espionage, through both Ian Fleming's novels and the films made of them, is hard to overestimate. He is the most successful adventure hero on celluloid spanning generations.What is it about James Bond that makes  people like me go gaga over him in a manner that beats the first crush of a teenage girl ? Maybe its the  concept of masculinity and virility which is exuded from his screen presence. Also the charm,the style,the elan and the magnetic personality which  we sorely want to imbibe in ourselves. Or is it the ruthless, cold,daring,calculated cruelty that appeals to some primordial instinct. Some of the atraction may also stem from his devotion to the country and call of duty. Whatever it may be and whatever people may think of me, I remain and will always remain Bonded.

There is no need for a review of the movie or knowing the story. It is not a matter on which any intellectual discourse is necessary or required. One goes  to a Bond movie for the guns, females, locations, chases, actions, stunts, oneliners and above all the romance of 007. This time Bond is more ruthless and focussed. Not many girls or gadgets are there and no explicit scenes were shown. rather Bond's persona has been given some emotional touch and the man behind the name has been explored. The movie also tries to change tack somewhat and in future we may see a different Bond evolve. Q and Moneypenny has changed and M will change next time. The villain in this movie is Javier Bardem and he has done a very good job. Old timers may find the movie slightly hollow in content  but then evolution has to happen. Daniel Craig is the fittest looking Bond and a veritable eye candy for all his female fans who will drool over him. Men like us can only feel envious or admire him.

Still for those who would want to know for the record, the storyline as per wikipedia is as below:

MI6 agents James Bond—also known as 007—and Eve Moneypenny assist on a mission in Turkey in which an MI6 operative has been killed. A computer hard drive has been stolen containing details of all NATO agents operating undercover in terrorist organisations. Bond and Moneypenny chase the assailant, the French mercenary Patrice, and attempt to recover the disk. During the chase, Bond is shot in the shoulder. He nevertheless continues his pursuit until he is shot at long range by Moneypenny, who is attempting to kill Patrice. He is posted as "missing, presumed killed".

The head of MI6, M, comes under political pressure to retire during a meeting with the Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, Gareth Mallory. On her return from the meeting, MI6 is hacked and an explosion occurs in the offices, killing a number of MI6 employees. On hearing the news of the attack, Bond returns to London. Shrapnel taken from his shoulder wound points to Patrice, and Bond is sent to Shanghai, where it is known the mercenary will shortly arrive.
Five of the agents' names are released, with the promise of more releases in the ensuing weeks. Bond finds and follows the Frenchman, and witnesses him carry out an assassination. The two men fight, and Patrice falls to his death before Bond can find out who he is working for. Searching the assassin's equipment, Bond finds a gambling chip, which leads him to a casino, where he is paid €4 million for the kill. Sévérine, who Bond saw earlier at the scene of the assassination, warns him that he is about to be killed, but promises to help him if he will kill her employer. Bond beats his attackers and joins Sévérine on her boat. They travel to an island, where they are taken prisoner by the crew and delivered to Sévérine's employer, Raoul Silva. Silva had previously worked with M and blamed her for his capture, torture and imprisonment by the Chinese. Silva kills Sévérine, but Bond overpowers his guards and captures Silva for return to the UK.
Back at MI6 headquarters Q attempts to decrypt Silva's laptop, but while he is accessing the computer it hacks the MI6 systems, allowing Silva to escape into the London Underground tunnel system. Pursued by Bond, Silva disguises himself as a policeman and attacks M during a public enquiry into her handling of the stolen hard drive. Bond arrives to join Mallory and Moneypenny in beating off Silva's attack, and M is hurried from the building by her aide, Bill Tanner. Bond drives M away from the scene in her car and, after exchanging it for his own Aston Martin DB5, drives her to his empty and remote childhood home in Scotland, Skyfall Lodge. He instructs Q to leave an electronic trail for Silva to follow, a decision supported by Mallory.
At Skyfall, Bond and M are met by Kincade, the gamekeeper to the Bond family estate. The trio are only lightly armed, but they improvise a series of booby traps. When Silva's men arrive, Bond, M and Kincade fight off the first assault, although M is wounded. Silva arrives by helicopter with a second wave, and Bond sends M and Kincade off through a secret tunnel at the back of a priest hole to a chapel on the grounds. The second assault uses firepower from the helicopter, and Silva throws incendiary grenades into the building. Bond detonates a stick of dynamite with two gas canisters and retreats down the same tunnel as M and Kincade. The resulting blast causes the helicopter to crash, killing a number of Silva's men. Silva sees Kincade's torch beam, follows and arrives at a frozen lake ahead of Bond. Bond attacks Silva's sole remaining follower, and the two fall through the ice, where Bond kills him. Silva meanwhile makes his way to the chapel and forces his gun into M's hand where he begs her to kill them both. Bond arrives and kills Silva, but M collapses from her earlier wound and dies. Her position as head of MI6 is taken by Mallory, while Moneypenny decides not to return to the field as an agent.

Friday, 26 October 2012

If nothing really changes

I eagerly waited for my world to change
sometimes with hope, often praying for it.
I wanted it to be more colourful
with lots of lovely patterns drawn .
I wished it would be less suffocating
and more open for me to breathe .
I searched every nook and corner
for that elusive sense of blissful serenity.
I desired myself to be surrounded
by the warmth and assurance of love.
I tried very hard to experience within
the golden touch of abundant joy.
Nothing happened , as everything remained
the same inspite of my fervent wishes.
Then I decided , if nothing really changes,
I have to change myself, the fault lies in me.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Seasons change

After about a week of hiatus , started the regulation pre morning jogging again today after realising yesterday night that the five funfilled days of Durgapuja has increased my weight almost instantly. But more than the physical aspect of the exercise, what was noteworthy today was the perception of the weather change which has happened in between. Strangely we don't realise the subtle changes in 
our daily grind or preoccupation.

This dawn, at about 6 a.m. before sunrise , as I set feet outside, I could distinctly felt the cool air a little more chilly and the weather having that slight bite of cold. As I jogged on the sun rose and I found that the shrubs, plants and bushes which were of bright green foliage just a week back now had changed hue with brown leaves which showed signs of dryness. They would soon be dry and the landscape will change. Autumn was in full swing . In Mumbai winter is as transitory as the dewdrop on a grass before the sun rises. But still , the prospects of clear skies and migratory birds dotting the waterbody just behind my building suddenly made me feel looking forward to winter with an eager expectation.

Seasons have to change, after all .

Seasons change

After about a week of hiatus , started the regulation pre morning jogging again today after realising yesterday night that the five funfilled days of Durgapuja has increased my weight almost instantly. But more than the physical aspect of the exercise, what was noteworthy today was the perception of the weather change which has happened in between. Strangely we don't realise the subtle changes in 
our daily grind or preoccupation.

This dawn, at about 6 a.m. before sunrise , as I set feet outside, I could distinctly felt the cool air a little more chilly and the weather having that slight bite of cold. As I jogged on the sun rose and I found that the shrubs, plants and bushes which were of bright green foliage just a week back now had changed hue with brown leaves which showed signs of dryness. They would soon be dry and the landscape will change. Autumn was in full swing . In Mumbai winter is as transitory as the dewdrop on a grass before the sun rises. But still , the prospects of clear skies and migratory birds dotting the waterbody just behind my building suddenly made me feel looking forward to winter with an eager expectation.

Seasons have to change, after all .

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Chakravyuh- a story of no comebacks.

I have always liked #Prakash Jha for his attempts to raise the social issues and examine the contemporary political milieu in his films. He blossomed into direction with the hard hitting Daamul and then gave us such wonderful movies like Mrityudand,Gangaajal, Apharan etc, all dealing with socio-political themes. With the superhit Rajneeti and then the lukewarm Arakshan, he seemed to have made the
 necessary adjustments with the demands of commercial Bollywood setup and diluted a lot on the sharpness of his commentary on the issues he raised on celluloid. But he had gained a lot on the other aspects of filmmaking and production value, no doubt.

It is thus with some trepidation and prejudice that I entered the theatre on the Vijaya Dashami evening to watch his latest offering #Chakravyuh and from the initial information gathered about the movie, I had already put its story as a cross between Namakharam(Beckett) by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Ravaan by Mani Ratnam and Drohkaal by Govind Nihalani.

As the story unfolded my anticipation about it was proved correct . The storyline is based on the much used Beckett syndrome as was done in Namakharam and had small traces of the other two movies. But that does nort take away any credit from Prakash Jha for his presentation of a good movie as he addresses the issue as an impartial observer without taking sides.

Why is the film not excellent. Well let me tell you the reasons. Firstly the movie is too long and could have been edited by about 20 minutes shorter. Secondly the heroine Eesha Gupta is totally misfit and a bad choice. She spoils every scene which she is in and that includes the climax. This also points out to the dearth of good actresses in Bollywood. Not all roles can be played by Vidya , Kareena or Priyanka. For an athletic looking heroine as needed for this role of a lady IPS officer, someone like Neha Dhupia would have been a good choice if not some better stage actress from NSD.

Thirdly Arjun Rampal even after taking much pains to suit the role he plays could not come out of his heavily urban accent which was jarring . But one should give due credit to him for taking all the pains for the physical part of acting. As long as he does not speak the dialogues , he fits the role to a tee. Fourthly there was no need for the item number by Sameera Reddy for its titillation value.

After the negatives let me point out the positives which redeems the movie from being another run of the mill Bollywood fare as dished out in numerous movies where the oppressed versus state (police) has been depicted ad nauseum. The best feature of the movie is , as I said earlier an unbiased presentation of the story. The first half of the movie follows a somewhat documentary format whereas the tempo and the drama picks up in the second half. The action scenes are very good and the night scenes stand out. Also the location totally matches the story and serves as the perfect backdrop to deliver the message. The camerawork is also superb. Production value is of a high order and some scenes are better than Hollywood movies. The honest efforts by the director to make things believable to the best possible extent is apparent

Inspite of a predictable climax once the storyline is more or less fixed on the lines of the police mole who has a change of heart and becomes a renegade and a not so tight screenplay, the director shows touches of his creative brilliance in making some scenes speak for itself. He is ably supported by the acting of the entire crew other than the aforesaid two mentioned earlier. #Abhay Deol with his underacting is superb and #Manoj Vajpayee has done a great job as the revolutionary leader, once again. But the surprise package is #Anjali Patil , who gives a powerpacked performance. Om Purie has played such parts many times earlier.

But the biggest positive of the movie is the human touch which the director has given to the story which will make the audience think. To generations of Indians being fed on the pseudo nationalism and fake patriotism glorifying the state, the director tries to expose some hard hitting truths. The questions raised in the movie remains unanswered and will probably remain so because we are actually afraid to know the answers. Till then there will be many more insurgencies, the state oppression will shed blood of its own citizens, the police and the forces will be used against the poor and the oppressed and they will in turn also lose their lives in defending the mistaken notion of patriotism at the behest of politicians who are nothing but hand maidens of the rich and the corporates .

The movie is a good watch but not good fun . It will entertain to a certain extent but will also make you uneasy at some points. You will not come out of the hall with a clear conscience. But still I liked the movie. And I recommend it to people who would put content and message above simple entertainment.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

You , you and you

With the setting sun as witness, 
I remembered you. 
With the gentle breeze blowing, 
I reached out to you. 
Seeing the green grassy paths, 
I wanted to walk with you. 
In the crowd of known faces ,
I constantly searched for you. 
With a cup of steaming coffee, 
I waited patiently for you. 
Hearing a bird chirping away,
I hummed a tune for you.
Standing inside a jampacked train,
I was day dreaming of you.
Whatever it was,felt never alone
I was always there with you.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The legend of Master-da : Chittagong

Generally my wife is not too demanding and very understanding about my limitations as a good husband but whenever she wants something to be done she makes it sure that it is done in an emphatic manner . And me too, feel glad to carry out her instructions in the tradition of the most obedient husbands. She is not an avid movie goer and likes to watch movies that are different from the run of the mill kind. Last week she had announced of her desire to watch the movie  Chittagong and I happily agreed to take her along as I too wanted to watch the movie. 

Then I discovered that the movie has got a very bad release at the Mumbai distribution circuit with lesser number of shows.I also noticed that other than a 12.15 p.m. show at Max Cinemas Nerul , it was not running at any other cinema at Navi Mumbai. Inwardly, I was relieved that this only daily show at Navi Mumbai was running in my neighbourhood. But online booking is not enabled for this cinema and we generally watch movies here the old fashioned way , by advance booking manually.

To confirm the showtimings, I called the Cinema thrice in the morning but somehow could not get connected. So right at 12 noon we were there , me and wife, before the small ticket counter. Imagine our surprise when we were informed that the  movie Chittagong was not having any show there. Like us there were a few other families too. In fact one of my colleagues and FB  friend @Pinaki Halder too faced the same predicament as I found him in front of the ticket counter along with his daughter. On pointing out that the newspaper advertisements carried the name of the theatre , the semi-literate counter person expressed his helplessness and directed me to speak to some Manager sort of person on mobile. By this time I was exasparated and with the loss of face in front of my wife, I was getting angry too. Before I could blow my top, she led me away from the scene and we returned home.

But I was not satisfied and then after a little research, thanks to internet and Google , I located a theatre at Bhandup (HDIL Broadway, Dreams Mall) for which tickets were available online. The theatre was about 27 kms away from my house. I booked two tickets for the 4.30 p.m. show. While booking the tickets, I noticed that we were the only two persons who have booked the tickets for the show. While it would definitely be a most pleasant and welcome experience for both of us to watch a romantic adult movie together in an otherwise empty hall, for the movie which we were visiting , it was an ominous sign.. With much apprehension and trepidation,we embarked upon our journey to watch a movie. I was reminded of the excitement which we used to have in our good old salad days when we decided to watch a movie. Only this time it was a matter of angry determination  which led me to Bhandup about which I knew very little and there was a distinct possibility of getting dejected with the outcome of the whole exercise.

My son who was at Dadar and returning back home also became excited with this adventurous streak displayed by his otherwise boring progenitor and probably with a fair degree of pity and empathy decided that he too should join the fun. He was directed to reach the theatre directly and have his lunch somewhere on the way. With all these arrangements, we started off at about 3 p.m. from our house. The only silver lining was that I had visited the mall twice before and had a fair idea of its location. 
Saw the movie Chittagong today. The first reaction as the movie unfolded was of surprise. I went with the expectation of watching a documentary like and slow but decent movie but what i got to watch was far more superior fare. The movie touches the heart. Its beauty lies in its simplicity and unpretentious screenplay. Contrary to my prejudice, it is not about Masterda but based on another revolutionary, Mr Subodh Roy (Jhunku) who at 15 years of age was the youngest freedom fighter to be sent to the Cellular jail , Andamans. Also other characters of Ganesh Ghosh, Anant Singh, Loknath Bal, Nirmal Sen and above all Pritilata Waddedar, the first female freedom fighter to die in an encounter with the British are brought out very well along with the towering figure of Surya Sen.
The beautiful camerawork blends very well with the simple narrative structure of the story and brings out the essence of Chittagong. The period is recreated very well and art direction ,set designing and costumes depict the place, time and the characters wonderfully. The music by Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy is probably the best contributor to this movie . It literally creates the scenes from the pictures . I have not seen Ashutosh Gowarikar's Khelenge Hum Jee Jaan se . So will neither comment nor compare the two movies.
The director has done a tremondous job and should be really applauded for this movie. I always maintain that we cannot match hollywood with action, stunt or massively mounted sets . Indian movies should dwell more on the emotional quotient. This is what has been done in this movie. The cast of actors are mostly drawn from the team of Gangs of Wasseypur, probably because Anurag Kashyap is connected with this movie. Manoj Vajpayee in the role of Masterda brings life to the role but all other supporting cast including Nawajuddin Siddiqui have displayed a brilliant teamwork where everybody has coplemented the other's acting more like that seen on stage. Probably Barry John must have some hand in this. He himself is excellent in the role of the conscious District Magistrate feeling the pangs of conscience but with a typically stoic British stiff upper lip.
 Only 27 persons were in the hall to watch the movie. I watched them closely during interval and the end. None of them seemed to have disliked the movie. Everybody waited for the title to roll out at the end. So what is wrong with the movie ? Why are the distributors and cinemahalls not encouraging such movies? Why do people take their children to watch Chhamak Chhallo and mindless violence of Agneepath but not the simplicity and the piece of history. I will probably never get the answer. But request everyone to see the movie. If any of you my friends, after watching the movie,claim that you did not like it then I will refund the price of the ticket. But the best thing for me was that both my son and wife liked the movie very much.
As a child we were often given his example as the epitome of a revolutionary and a freedom fighter just a notch below Netaji.. Much before I learnt about Che Guevara, Surya Sen aka Masterda along with Bhagat Singh had  fired my imagination as the ultimate in patriotism. I still remember a bestseller book in Bengali named "Aami Subhash Bolchhi" which I read when I was just about 12-13 years old where the exploits of Masterda and the Chittagong armoury raid was described at length. 

Actually Surya Sen is not from a distant past in our history . On calculation I find that he died just about 28 years before I was born and was born after my grandfather. But the collective amnesia which have covered us , maybe because of our efforts to discover our national identity just after independence and then to become an economic power, have probably made us forget and discard everything connected with the freedom struggle and the period under British rule . Except for the mandatory and inescapable reference to the Mahatma, everything else has been relegated as sentimental and useless stuff which has no relevance in our quest to live in a better world, materialistically.

From my interactions with people everyday,more so in Mumbai, sometimes I wonder how we Indians are living our lives without any sense of history, geography or society at large. People are so much disinterested about knowing anything that doesn't help them in getting admission in a good school, buy a new flat,make gains in the share market,earn more salary and bonus or take them or their children to a foreign country that they are happily erasing all references to their connection with the society and its fundamentals.Maybe what I am saying will offend many but I think it is necessary. I don't claim to be a messiah or someone different from others. I share the blame too by having the same traits.

Coming back to what I had mentioned. A revolutionary freedom fighter who waged an armed struggle with the might of the British empire, someone who led  a kind of guerilla outfit  long before guerilla strategy became fashionable after being used by the Latin American groups is forgotten. And to think of it he was a  person from the generation of my grandfather. Someday our children will also forget and  care less about their grandfathers and will not bother about the times which we have lived.

But have the things really changed ? Is there nothing to be learnt from history ? Are Engineering MBA combinations with fat salaries the pinnacle of achievement in life ?  These are some useless questions which bothers me nowadays, I am afraid.

But the silver lining is that the director of the movie Chittagong was a NASA engineer .And the current heartthrob of the nation  AK is also an IIT graduate. Some good things still happen.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Reform factor

There is a lot of sound and fury that is going on the issue of the so called economic reforms initiated by the government last week. The main reason for so much heat and dust being  raised on this matter  is perhaps the timing of the announcements. They seem to be not only late but also felt unnecessary at this stage by many who would have supported the proposals a decade back. If we examine the proposals in the context of the the global economic scenario with a neutral and unbiased perspective we will find that indeed there is a serious problem that faces India . But surprisingly the problem is not only related or confined to the economy alone. Rather it is a telling indictment on the lack of leadership and the fractured  polity which is acting as the dragging force pulling progress behind inspite of the not so bad performance of the economy, overall.

The pressures of a slow down are showing up now as the stagnating economy throws up major challenges to all the sectors. We have a pro capitalist Prime Minister who seems to be shackled by the chains of populism . This creates confusion in the atmosphere and every move to kick start growth is seen with a lot of valid suspicion. The government seems to be running away from confronting the issues either on the floors of the parliament or with the public by seeking a fresh mandate . Whatever be the merit of all the  reformist measures proposed, it is doubtful that they can be implemented  by the government . In a democracy, whether you like it or not , whether it suits you or not, only the parliament comprised of elected representatives of the people in the country has the power to change laws and pass regulations.

What is being forgotten in the debate for and against the policy  for FDI is that the country actually needs a growth strategy which is inclusive and investment oriented at the same time . The sectors like agriculture and small scale industry should be an integral part of the policy. The only way by which the inclusive growth is possible is by creating more job opportunities and flow of funds to the above-named sectors. The burgeoning population of India is sometimes touted as a capital for the country. Paradoxically  it is the same population which makes over reliance on heavy industries a dangerous proposition. The basic premises of a capitalist economy embracing the concepts of free economy is what the votaries of reform like to happen in India. But one should not overlook the fact that an economic system which which prioritizes profit making above the welfare of people is self destructing , more so in the context of a country and population like India. Those who point out to the effect of trickle down effect of the capitalist system may note that the effect and end use is lost all along the way due to massive corruption.

Talking only of efficiency and cost effectiveness in the face of poverty and glaring social disparity is not only erroneous, it is downright obscene. The thought process of the people who blindly follow either capitalist or communist model of economy without analyzing the cause effect relationship and the social dimensions of the country has to undergo a drastic change. This actually needs a large dose of empathy towards the ground realities faced by the people. Also the fact that we managed to steer clear of the financial crises hitting the world in 2008 because India not being fully integrated to the global economy should not be overlooked while making an objective evaluation of the proposal to open up the banking sector, insurance sector and pension sector to increased FDI . It represent a clear risk.  All out privatization is never the answer to economic slump. Mobilisation of the entire population to growth by a sustainable model and increasing the skill level of the polpulation is the only way to fight back the deceleration. That should be done without corruption eating away into the efforts. Otherwise you will waste all your efforts capitalistic or socialistic like filling a big bucket with its bottom eaten away by corrosion.

And off course, the will and ability to govern is the last but not the least which is needed.