Tag Archives: Movies

More Evil Laughs

Well.. I got so obsessed with my own poor jokes that I dug them out from old tweets and FB status messages.. so here’s more…

1.
SS: Why didn’t you come to the Halloween party?
Me: I was there.
SS: Oh really, what costume?
Me: The Invisible Man

2.
Me (after the MAITRI Diwali night): The name MAITRI (NCSU Indian Grad Student Assoc.) makes sense. By charging $3 for the party, they are making me part with MY THREE dollars.

3.
(Not exactly what transpired, but this version is better)
My mom: Kiran bought a car. That’s huge!!!
Me: You mean, like a Limo?

4.
Obama snatched the Nobel Prize from me.. Now I’m gonna try for the No-Whistle prize.

5.
Q: Which is the favorite day of the year for environmentalists?
A: St.Patricks Day. Because it is totally green.

6.
FB status: I saw her. I felt that the force was strong with that one. It indeed was! Now I have five fingers engraved on my cheek! God! I should stop watching Star Wars!

7.
Me: I see two hot chicks in front of KFC, and the first thought that comes to my mind is “Oh boy! They are in a dangerous neighborhood. They may get caught and fried!”

8.
Me: What if a house stands right through a timezone border in US? Will half of the house be 1 hour ahead of the other half?

9.
FB Status: Facebook suggested “Wed at 12:24 pm”. I thought, “Okay. Do I at least get to know who I’m gonna wed?” Then I realized it meant Wednesday!

10.
Me: I was wondering…. Saas sans saans is just a dead mother-in-law.

C’est La Vie

I got a topic to blog about (Finally, after more than a month!)
And quite obviously, it is about another round of troubles. For some reason, I often find myself in trouble through the most bizarre ways.

It all started when I went to HDFC Bank to pay the fee for a US Visa Interview (VI). I filled up my name as it should have been (and I thought it was, until 5 seconds later!) in the passport. But the snake eyes of the clerk, who matched it with my passport, found out that I had written my name wrong. According to my passport, I had no Given Name. My entire name was my surname. So I was wrong about my name all along. He told me that if I don’t fill up my name as in passport, there will be a problem in my VI. It was all weird since I have once traveled to USA with this passport, and by giving my name as it should have been. Evidently enough, my B1 visa had my name correct. The Given Name field indeed was Deepak here. It was funny that nobody had noticed that till now. I failed to notice the discrepancy for a whole 9 years.
The clerk suggested that I write my name like in passport in all matters henceforth. I didn’t think so. I didn’t want strangers to call me Mr. Deepak Ranganathan, and my friends to call me “” (I don’t know how to pronounce a nullity of characters)

I told him I’m not paying the fee. He asked me the quintessential question of modern day bankers, “Why Sir?”

Like in
Telephone caller: Hello sir, we are offering an excellent personal loan for you.
Me: Not interested
Caller: Why Sir?

“I’d rather change my name in the passport before scheduling the VI”, I replied.

So I was here in Palakkad, for a vacation of 10 days, one of my mission objectives being the change I have to make in my passport. The lesser objective was to be a couch potato at home, which would have succeeded, if not for the constant power cuts which made sure that I moved around so that I didn’t sweat.

On Tuesday, I set off on my crusade to the passport office – a grueling journey of 3 hours in shaky buses with little padding on the seats and not enough room for your legs. It was close to 10am by the time I reached there. The queue was already a gargantuan slithering python. Slowly it moved until there were about 10 people ahead of me. It was 1pm. Closing time already. We pleaded and cried to the lady at the counter. It was just a matter of 12 more people. She was ruthless when she asked us to come back the next day. After having so many trysts with trouble, I should have seen this coming. I start to wonder if a little optimism is a dangerous thing. It seems like that to me. Murphy’s law is a fundamental principle around which the world revolves.

The next day, I caught the 5am bus, so that I will be in the forefront in the queue. Luckily enough, I was about 20th (!) in the queue at 8 am. The counter opened at 9am, I filed my application by about 10, and I was told I could collect my passport back at 3.30pm. I had to kill time till then. ( Wandering aimlessly in Malappuram was better than a bus journey to and fro) I had my breakfast, then went to an autowallah and asked him to take me to any cinema where a good movie was running. Unfortunately (again!), there was only one where a morning show was there. The movie was “Malabar Wedding”. I hadn’t even heard of it until then. As my luck would always have it, the movie was a bore, except for a few scenes which were humorous. There were like 10 people in the entire theater.

It was about 2pm now. I went back and waited in the passport office. By 4, I was back in the return bus. Later that day, I couldn’t sleep on my back, nor could I stand up. My buttocks hurt because of 12 hours of journey in the last two days. My feet hurt because of hours of standing in the queue. But, as a consolation, I got my passport corrected.

I’m not frustrated by the whole incident. I think I have found an equilibrium with the whole trouble-seeking phenomena. Nowadays, I just blog about the trouble I faced, with an air of a connoisseur carelessly using French terms to philosophize. Sigh! That’s life!

Superlatives of 2007

I nicked this idea from one of the blogs that I read – Gypsy. But, what the hell…everyone can have their own list. I’m amazed why this didn’t become a tag though. So I’m gonna make this a tag. This, as the title says is a list of superlatives. You can add any list of superlatives of last year, but keep it to a maximum of 5 items per list. (For eg: Books I struggled to finish is my invention)

Top 5 moments of the year:

  1. I “apparently” hurt my right elbow while doing pull-ups and had to undergo a surgery, and the funniest part was that it was not for any injury.
  2. My hard disk crashed a week after Times of India wrote that whoever had 320 GB of hard disk space were terrorists, depriving me of a place in the coveted list.
  3. My cousin Kavita appearing out of thin air and getting in touch after about 10 years. I should thank Orkut for that.
  4. My car was hit by another car on the side, deforming the left rear door. This made me think that whoever buys new cars in Bangalore should be mentally tough enough to see their car turn into an ugly piece of metal. Ladies, sorry to say this. Guys, please keep some distance with vehicles driven by ladies. There may be some good drivers among the ladies, but the truth is that a majority of them don’t know what to do under stress while driving.
  5. Ahh..the marriage proposals…how can I forget that? It seems my relatives are more eager to see me caged than anybody else. Thank God that my parents are understanding. Let me count… I got 4 marriage proposals, all of which were rejected rather mercilessly even before the topic gathered heat.

Best 5 movies that I watched: (Released this year)

  1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (This might be highly biased)
  2. Ratatouille
  3. The Bourne Ultimatum (Except for the shaky camera at some places, which almost gave me a headache. The story was well paced and just good.)
  4. Die Hard 4.0 (A good action movie after “True Lies”)
  5. Chak De India (Need I say any more?)

Best 5 movies: (Released earlier and watched from home)

  1. The Departed (DiCaprio proved that he is not some chocolate boy who spits the farthest.)
  2. The Shawshank Redemption (Yeah.. I got around to watching it only last year)
  3. The Prestige (Another well-crafted movie from Christopher Nolan. Amazing performance from Christian Bale.)
  4. Rear Window (Hitchcock all the way! Believe it or not, all scenes except the climax were shot from a single room!)
  5. Sin City

There are more (Amelie, Run Lola Run, Das Boot, Nuovo Cinema Paradiso) but the list says only 5 šŸ™

Worst 5 movies:

  1. Ghostrider (Why, oh, why did I watch a movie with Nicholas Cage in it? He just sucks. Period.)
  2. Wild Hogs (Comedy which made me sick.)
  3. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
  4. Billa (But it was worth the money because of Nayantara *EVIL GRIN*)
  5. Om Shanti Om

Best 5 books:

  1. The picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
  2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – JK Rowling
  3. The Argumentative Indian – Amartya Sen
  4. Three Men on the Bummel – Jerome K Jerome (Not quite as good as it’s prequel, but still utterly hilarious)
  5. Cryptonomicon – Neal Stephenson (This is an amazing book. Became a big fan of Stephenson after reading this book)

5 books which I struggled to finish (Because I fell asleep before completing a page)

  1. Crisis – Robin Cook (I think this will be my first and last Robin Cook book. I don’t like his writing style)
  2. Cold Mountain – Charles Frazier (A really sloth novel with too much detail about the surroundings than the characters.)
  3. Asterix and the Class Act (Class Act is not an Asterix story. It is rather a collection of Asterix short stories. This was not remotely as funny as the stories.)

I don’t think there are more šŸ™‚

Top buys:

  1. My new T-shirt (okay I bought it this year, but I like to cheat) which reads:

    Alcohol and Calculus do not mix…Never drink and derive.

  2. The 160GB Seagate Barracuda hard disk which crashed.
  3. My personal web space.
  4. Rubik Cube from CMH Road while at the junction. Bought it for just 30 rupees (He started from 60 rupees and I started from 20 rupees. Quite a bargain, ain’t it?), but I am becoming increasingly addicted to it nowadays. My fastest time: 7 minutes 13 seconds. (Nowhere near Ajith‘s abilities, but I think it is good enough for an amateur with 1 month of Rubik Cube solving experience) Later, I went to Landmark in search of a better Rubik Cube, but I found the exact same make which was worth 90 rupees.

I now throw this tag open. I don’t like being partial. Anybody who likes can take it. Only condition is that you have to let me know by commenting here. :p

Chuck it out, India!

Disclaimer:
1. I am not trying to be patriotic here.
2. I am not trying to preach here.
3. All I’m trying to do here is to be honest.

I saw “Chak De India” yesterday. Too late to write about a movie which was released almost a month ago, you may say. But who said I’m going to write only about the movie? This post is about some of my musings after watching the movie.

The movie kept intruding into my thoughts for quite some time after I finished watching it, not allowing me to think clearly about anything else. This has happened so many times before, whenever I watched a movie which was educating or expressing. Entertaining movies, even when its storyline remains in memory, won’t haunt me like the other two. Haunt…it is literally the word which best expresses my feeling after watching the movie.

“Chak de” is the typical sports movie which is completely predictable, has several moments of adrelanin rush and where underdogs come out big. But more than that, it mentions (sometimes highlighting, sometimes as passing comments) several shortcomings of the wonder that is India, starting from the suppression of women, to the tepid acceptance of the people from peninsular India and the North East, to the media playing the devil and ruining one man’s life.

Two initial scenes struck a chord for me:
1. The scene where the North-Eastern girls, Mary and Molly ask “Does it ever feel good to live as guests in one’s own country?”
2. The scene where the guy comments that Tamil and Telugu are the same.

(RNI) RESIDENT NON-INDIANS
Now, feeling alienated in a place where you have spent your entire life, is not new to me. I am an Iyer, a person of Tamil ethnicity, but nevertheless a Keralite.
We are a small community of Tamil-speaking people who have been in Kerala for generations. (Like… from my great-great-great-great-great grandfather.)
We have been in Kerala our entire life, we have learnt Malayalam, we follow the culture of Kerala. We are in most rights Malayalees, with some added culture and customs of Tamil.
Yet we are neither accepted as Keralites in Kerala, nor as Tamilians in Tamil Nadu.
My Malayalee “friend” (or is he, really?) calls us “Paandi” (A not-so-nice term for a Tamilian), and say we don’t belong there. I can speak and write better Malayalam than him. I’ve often found it amusing when a shopkeeper tries to communicate with us in half-Tamil, even if we talk to him in fluent Malayalam, as if we didn’t know that language well.
Tamilians often make fun of the corrupted Tamil which we speak at home.
Some dudes/dudettes from our community call themselves KBCT (“Kerala Born Confused Tamilian” after “American Born Confused Desi”) just to show off that they are cool. (Or is it “kewl”?)

LIKE PEAS AND CARROTS
About the ignorance of North Indians about anything south, I guess the ignorance is mutual. We too don’t know much about North, except perhaps from the history books. But knowledge is not the factor here. You can get the knowledge any time. Many North Indians look at us with a kind of fascination as if we are some exotic people. I think this mostly is a resultant of the difficulty of South Indians to talk Hindi properly, which prevents a Northie and a Southie from mingling as much as two Northies do.

The casual questions that my colleagues ask me mostly pertain to:
1. How Kerala has a lot of Christian population
2. How come I don’t eat meat. They thought all Keralites were non-vegetarians.
3. A fascinated musing on the high literacy rate of Kerala.
4. Making fun of the heavily accented English of most Mallus.
5. Whether I know how to climb coconut trees (Duh!)

I myself have asked questions to Northies which might have sounded really stupid to them. I’m not blaming anyone here. I’m just wondering, and marveling at the sheer complexity of the Indian society. Like peas and carrots, as Forrest Gump says. They really go together well, but not quite.

I learned the what and why of “Unity in diversity” in India in my history lessons. But I still don’t know the answer to the How! That’s why India is a miracle to me. All Indians are bonded in the eyes of an outsider, albeit being a very loose one, but inside, it’s just a mob.

PATRIOTICĀ PEOPLE
Few comments I heard from some friends and the media about the movie, almost made me laugh. The media and the vast majority of youngsters are just as predictable as the movie. For some, it was a movie that every patriotic Indian should watch. But for others, it was a movie made with the exact ingredients of a money-making movie. There was little or no third opinion.
These are the same people who have debates about India over a cup of coffee.
They can be broadly classified into two. One group, where people feel immensely proud to be an Indian, and show that only by sending SMS/Forwards which ask you to forward this to 10 people if you are a “true” Indian, blogging and proclaiming that you should watch this movie if you are a “true” Indian. I was one among them, posting once about a youtube video right here in this blog. I have moved on realizing that knowing your India is not enough, you should move your India forward.

The other group, think that India is going to the gutters, and there is no way they can stop it. So they should also live their life in the little time India has left to stay out of the gutters. Who the hell cares about India? They care only about themselves. I don’t even want to talk about this group. The reason is not their selfishness, but rather their pessimism about India.

Still, I wonder whether a patriot is someone who watches/reads about and relishes some patriotic deed done by characters in a movie.
I read a review which said that Chak de is a must watch for every patriotic Indian. What the hell does that exactly mean? How does a binary deed, that either you watched a movie or didn’t, dictate your Indianness?
While I completely agree that Chak de, or Rang De Basanti for that matter, will invigorate the love for your country in you, be honest in telling me how long does that vigor stand? One month? Or maybe two… Then after a hiatus, someone else again makes another movie, and again another round of discussions, blogs etc. go on babbling about how proud they are to be Indian.
I’m not blaming their pride. I’m blaming the ephemeral nature of their pride, which stays only in their words, and not their deeds.

People will now counter saying that this is as patriotic as a civilian can get. We can never be as good a fighter as those great people who took beatings and those who died for our country. But I’m not talking about fighting against corruption, black money and blah blah here. Those are strenuous territories to tackle. Rather, do something at the grassroots. There are much easier things that you…me…we can do, and be patriotic. A patriot (and this is not a wordweb definition) is someone who does something good for the country, or his society. And sending SMS/Forwards is not doing any good.

We can keep our surroundings, if not our city, clean. Even if it is not clean, don’t mess it up further, uttering that old engineer guy’s seemingly bright phrase, “infinity plus one is still infinity”. You can be the lone good guy in traffic without breaking traffic rules, even if it means you are taking more time to travel. A single person army cannot improve things by following rules. But do you know what it does? It will give you a sense of satisfaction that even if you’re not doing something great, you’re not worsening the situation. Does it do any good? Yes it does. Humans have this amazing nature of imitating others. After all, we were evolved from monkeys. What you do, your friends (whatever meager fraction it is) may start doing tomorrow, their friends on the day after that.

People who do these and more, are the everyday patriots. We have a fire inside us. We just have to sustain it with splinters. I can also say that you will get occasional fuel from movies.
All I wanted to convey here is that remember, talk your talk, and work your work in your India every day, instead of remembering only when “patriotic” films are released.
Now for the title. Apart from being a pun, I meant that we should chuck out our bullshitting, our bland talks and do something worthwhile, for our country. However minuscule it is, doesn’t matter. And if you got it inside you, go for better deeds.

JUST DO IT, INDIA

PS: Oh, and the movie… It’s good. Go watch it.

Terabithia and Imagination

I’m back with another post so soon! *BROAD GRIN*
Honestly, I thought that the chances of India winning the Cricket world cup was more than me posting once in a month. Thanks to some amazing blue-shirted superhumans (or subhumans), I’ll never ever have the doubt again.

I’ve been thinking about my blog of late. I realized that I’m confused about what to write. In fact, the only fact which I’m not confused about is that I’m confused about everything else. I was confused from the moment I created the punchline for my blog. That’s evident from the punchline itself. It’s always been cerebrations from my confounded mind. It’s always evoked laughter; either it was funny or it was so silly that you laughed at my plight. The only difference in the latter case was that the readers laughed away as they unsubscribed me from their feed reader thinking that this blog was a pile of crap. Because I see a steady dip in my readership of late. I think it is a vicious circle. A dip in readership makes me diffident and I don’t post often. That results in a further dip in reader count.
Anyway, instead of whining about this, I’ll write about something better.

The post actually starts here!
I remember I promised about several movie reviews long back. I’m afraid that’s not gonna happen. (Go on! I don’t mind you heaving a sigh of relief!)
It’s actually going to be about another movie (no..not a review), and how it reminded me of my childhood.
The movie is Bridge to Terabithia
When it was released, I tried to get tickets for that in PVR once, but they were sold out. Later, several of my friends said that it was pathetic and not worth watching. But being an avid lover of fantasy that I am, I couldn’t say no to a free show of the film yesterday.
My immediate response after the movie was over (It was just 1.5 hours) was “Yaaaawn!”
The movie indeed was not that good.
But all our senses are so deceptive. I couldn’t help thinking about the movie after watching it.
Then I started realizing that there was something different in the movie.
It is not the normal movie-ish story. Our mind is so corrupt that we expect stereotypes in “good movies”. And stereotypes are exactly what is missing in this movie. Even the bullies are not stereotypical.

The movie, simply put, asks you to keep an open mind and imagine…imagine as much as you can. It tells you that you can weave fantasy too. The way Lesley and Jesse imagine things up… I suddenly remembered all the fantasy which I created when I was a kid. I used to go to my dad’s ancestral house for summer vacations. It was a rural area with lots of paddy fields and more macadamized roads than asphalted ones. My grandmother and uncles used to live in the house which was surrounded by trees for about a mile in all directions. All were our land, with cultivation in a part of the land. I used to love the uncultivated land, because it was the best one to explore.

The protagonists in Terabithia swing across a river to woods, where their imaginary land of Terabithia starts. They have all wonderful creatures out there including a giant troll. (which, by the way, are an important ingredient in any fantasy! Sigh! I had enough of trolls)

Even I had a treehouse constructed atop a mango tree in my Terabithia. Although I didn’t imagine trolls and all, I imagined myself to be living atop trees (Don’t get the wrong idea now. I’m still human!)
My treehouse was a kind of outpost made of sheets of wood perched on the mango tree. There were multiple entries (I took a cue from the hideout of the Three Investigators). My uncle had made rope ladders with knots, or you could use the plain old way through the tree trunk. I even had ropes to swing like Tarzan. It was real fun. Everyday, I would climb the tree to my outpost and consider myself to be the guardian of the jungle, keeping vigil on everything around. My company was a small kitten whose name I don’t remember now. I used to make stories where little animals used to come to me with grievances and I, being a good ruler, give proper judgments and advices. I even used to invite my little brother atop, posing as a doctor treating his ailments. Everything was complete…even the background music which I hummed myself when I did something kingly.

I miss those days. This movie made me miss those days, which were forgotten till yesterday. It brought about a sense of nostalgia into me. The movie was not good from a reviewer’s perspective, but it was good from my perspective. It was a touching story.

I wish I had some good friend like Lesley in my childhood. I fell in love with Lesley and her Terabithia.