Monday, January 6, 2014

Dhoom 3: Bollywood at its uninspired best - I

Warning1: While I have tried my best to not reveal any plot twists that may ruin Dhoom 3 for you, this review of the movie may still kill the fun ... if you can even call it that ... for you if you have not watched it yet.

If it were not for my friends with who I went to watch 'Dhoom 3' and the jokes we shared at the expense of the situations in the movie, I would have stunk up the movie theater with the vomit that I'd have spewed 'cos of all the nausea from an overdose of uninspired and unoriginal mash that is Dhoom3.

The film is full of action sequences. But, not one of them is an original one, let alone awe inspiring. Unless one considers blatant imitation, of sequences from a few hollywood action flicks, inspiring. I could name the movies that those stunts originally appeared in right off the top of my head. And I don't even watch that many movies.

While the last scene was unfolding and the two main characters are falling off a dam, I was praying with folded hands to bollywood movie gods ... please, please, please, let them both take off their shirts while they are in the middle of their fall and button the two shirts together to make a parachute out of it. Now wouldn't that have been something?!

Here are a few that I am still able to recall:

1. Mission Impossible: Remember when Ethan Hunt walks down a wall tethered to a rope. Happens in Dhoom 3. Only, you will be able to tell that there was no wall when the character is walking down the wall ... the damn feet are off the wall.

2. Bad Boys 2: Remember when the "Bad Boys" drive down a hill and through the hutments on the slope, trashing everything in their way. Happens in Dhoom 3. I won't say any more ... you've got to see this one to believe it ... err ... actually, don't see it - watch Bad Boys 2 instead ... even if you've watched it before.

3. Transformers/Iron Man: Remember how the Transformers, or for that matter Iron Man, disassemble and reassemble on cue and all that metallic clickety-clank that one hears of steel rubbing against steel. Happens here too. Only, there are like eight joints that need to be established, but the clickety-clank sounds as if an entire F-15 is reassembled.

Okay, there is nothing against reimagining stunts. But, the stunt has to be done well, even if in front of a blue screen. The CGI has to be spot on so the viewer cannot tell the difference between reality and special effects. Remember the upside down Ethan Hunt, falling to within a few inches of the ground, in the first three Mission Impossible movies? The basic concept is the same in all three, but the execution gets better and better.

You don't want to obey the laws of physics when you think of a stunt ... that is okay ... stupid ... but okay in the reel world. But, do not go so overboard that that stunt comes out as something that a five year old thought of when made to do his homework against his wish. Can you think of any vehicle able to jump fifteen feet into the air, across a chasm that is at least twenty feet across, from a take off point ten feet from the edge with no ramp. And no, this wasn't a navy harrier. This was ... some thing ... made from two bikes joined together at their front and back wheels. Yeah, that is what I thought - WTF ... right?!

The best thing that I recall about an action sequence/stunt from Dhoom 3 is quite simple really - the wiggle of the bike's tail that Aamir Khan's character drives - but it seems genuine and it seems beautiful ... the way the bike first goes into an imbalance, the rear wheel begins to skid away and then comes out of it - exactly like it would happen.

Warning2: If you have not watched Dhoom 3 yet, and you still want to watch the movie after reading my rant above, now is when you should quit, 'cos what comes next is something that will definitely ruin the movie for you.

So there is a "twist" in Dhoom 3 on which the movie's plot literally hinges. This twist is borrowed ... or ... whatever else they call plagiarism these days ... straight from another hollywood movie - The Prestige. If you've watched The Prestige you already know what I am talking about. If you haven't watched it, watch it before watching Dhoom 3, 'cos if you do it the other way around you'd definitely end up ruining the fun watch that is The Prestige. This last comment itself should tell you all you need to know about Dhoom 3 - this movie is so mind numbingly unoriginal and uninspired.

PS: Yash Raj Films: I want my money back + I want money for the five man hours I spent traveling to and from the movie theater and three hours spent inside + the  money for the gas + the money spent on my soft drink and popcorn + the money spent when I logged in to my blog wanting to get this off my chest! Okay, okay ... keep the damn money ... but please don't make another movie like this one.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Down with Article 377

Just read The Honorable Supreme Court's judgement on Article 377 in it's entirety. Couldn't help but wonder about those who petitioned the SC to rethink the earlier Delhi High Court ruling of 2009 that had decriminalized homosexuality. Those who moved the petition can be broadly classified into two categories:

1. Those who think homosexuality goes against our faith, our religion
I mean, seriously?

At their simplest, all religions preach a lesson of love. They don't preach a lesson of love with an asterisk. All religions teach us to be accepting of others. They don't teach us to be accepting of only those who do it the way we do it.

If anything, in India, a case can be made for bestiality to be legalized too! Don't believe me? Consider this: Hanuman (monkey god to those of you who belong to the less interesting parts of the world) is a cross between a human and "a monkey" - his mother was a human and his father an ape. Hanuman was one of the closest friends and aides of Lord Rama. In other words, one of our most revered deities didn't have a problem hobnobbing with a creature like that - a creature borne out of an intercourse between a human and an animal. Then why do we? Lets drop the act you hypocritical self professed protectors of our faiths and religions.

2. Those who think homosexuality is unnatural

Are you kidding me?

It is not just us humans who "go the other way". There are numerous species that engage in homosexual acts. From the smallest of nematodes to the biggest of mammals like bottle-nose dolphins and bonobos. There must be some reasons, from an evolutionary standpoint, that some species, including humans, engage in homosexual acts. There must be some benefit to the species, in the long run of the evolutionary time line, that engage in homosexual acts. The research is on going. Some day we will find out.

I personally believe, we, the human species, is going to turn into hermaphrodites. Just give it a couple of million years - provided we survive till then of course. The reason I am convinced is that the process of human reproduction as it is now, where only the female is capable of producing an offspring, is inefficient. If both the male and female can produce the offspring, it will be better for the species in the long run. Now wouldn't it?

It is just wrong

By (re)criminalizing homosexuality, the SC has exposed an entire segment of our society to the whims and fancies of a police force that is already known for it's utter disregard for, not to mention willful violation of, human decency and dignity. Our country-men and -women of the LGBT community can now be incarcerated just because of their sexual orientation.

We can't keep our girls and women safe from rapists, but we will put those who are probably least likely to harm them, in prison, because they don't like to have sex with the female gender. Can it get any more asinine than that?


There is a lot of room on the Indian Tri-color for other shades. Let us assimilate them, not discriminate against them. The violets, the indigos, the blues, will make our flag and our society, more colorful and more fun. The unity in diversity that we are so proud of, will be strengthened not weakened.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hero. And Hypocrites.

Nelson Mandela is no more.

Learnt about Madiba's demise when I just got in to my hotel room in Chicago after a long day at a conference and turned on CNN. Reactions of the who's who of the world were being telecast.

Among other things, President Obama said, " ... The day that he was released from prison gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they’re guided by their hopes and not by their fears.  And like so many around the globe, I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set, and so long as I live I will do what I can to learn from him." And later on, President Obama goes on to say, " ... So it falls to us as best we can to forward the example that he set:  to make decisions guided not by hate, but by love; to never discount the difference that one person can make; to strive for a future that is worthy of his sacrifice."

Now it may just have been the incredibly cynical bone in my brain, or it could be that I was dead tired and hungry, but, I remember having called President Obama a hypocrite and a sanctimonious ba*****. And I found myself thinking similarly of other world leaders' - Tony Blair's, David Cameroon's, Bill Clinton's comments too. I mean, really? You want to call the great man your hero, but you don't want to act on the many lessons that his life has to teach.

Madiba's body is probably still on the same hospital bed where he breathed his last. Had he been in a grave, he would be turning like crazy thinking of the gall that these people have. Of calling someone their idol, their hero, their inspiration, and then making decisions, especially in their politics, that are diametrically opposite to what they purportedly believe in. We really are hypocrites of the top order, aren't we?

I am almost a hundred percent certain that there are people in Obama Administration, in the White House, who are pissed that Nelson Mandela chose today of all days to die. Afterall Chris Matthews' interview of President Obama was to be broadcast today on MSNBC, and their audience got distracted a couple of hours before the President was to begin his defense of Obamacare on TV.

Fareed Zakaria said it best, in response to a question from Wolf Blitzer, that it'd be naive of us to expect the current crop of world leaders to learn any lessons from Nelson Mandela's life.

Mahatma Gandhi died, and we still killed each other. Martin Luther King Jr. died, and we still killed. Nelson Mandela has died, and we will continue to kill. So lets drop the act.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Oh god ... the small things!

I was chuffed to bits!

Had just reinforced the front buttons on a jacket and an overcoat - all on my own. Was going to the windy city after all - for a week, and a few buttons were coming loose. Had held a needle in hand after ... god knows how long. No needle pricks - not a single one. No tangled thread in other buttons. Unreeled about exactly as much thread that I ended up needing. My mother and both my grandmothers would be proud of me I thought.

The packing was a bit last minute. But, having thought through the night before what I needed to pack along and what I didn't, made it about as easy as last minute packing for a week long trip to Chicago for the first week of December can get.

Shirts smartly folded. Underwear nicely rolled up and tucked away. Sweatshirt - check. Sweater - check. Socks - check. Handkerchiefs - check. Jacket - got it - with freshly sewn buttons. Overcoat - ditto.

A pair of flip flops - in the back pocket of the bag. Toiletries - in the front one.

Passport, visa - in the carry bag. Documents - front pocket. Books - one for the way there, another for the way back - check, and check. Laptop, power cord and charger - packed. Cell phone charger - got it. Chewing gum and breath mints - of course. Jeans - on. Wallet, watch, belt, a handkerchief - on again. Socks and shoes - on the feet. Phone - in pocket.

Gotham city, here I come.

I step out of the door. Backpack on my back. The other bag in my right hand. And but of course, a nagging thought occurs - did I forget something. Naah ... I didn't. Everything went smoothly today morning. Starting with the needle work! Mann I was good, wasn't I?! How could I forget anything ... today of all days.

I put the bags on the back seat of the car. Slam the door. Get in the front. Turn the key. Ramp up the heater. Turn my playlist on. Take a sip of water from the water bottle. Spill some on my right leg. 

And right then it occurs to me ... damn ... did I pack any other pants for the trip? F*** me!

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

It took a village ...

It took a village to make Sachin Tendulkar into the Sachin Tendulkar that we love so much. And what a village it was.

Watching Sachin thank everyone, from his immediate family to his coaches and friends, his agents and managers to the sport's governing bodies, and his comrades in cricketing kit, made me wonder: what if every kid got such a support to do what he or she loved to do.

Curiously, I also couldn't help but wonder, what if his mother or his father or someone else in his immediate family had asked him, "Sachin, it is all well and good to be good at cricket. But, what do you plan to do to make a living?" Were those sorts of questions never asked of him? There can be only two answers to that question.

One - no, such questions were never asked. In which case, people around Sachin were cognizant enough to have recognized that they should let this kid with curly hair and a panache for holding the cricket bat do what he loved to do - play cricket. That they will not take this joy away from him, irrespective of whether he is able to eke out a living doing this or not.

Two - yes, such questions were asked. In which case, people around Sachin ensured that they would do everything within their power to let this kid with curly hair and a panache for holding the cricket bat do what he loved to do - play cricket. That they will do everything they can to make sure he becomes the best at what he loves to do.

In either case, the village that raised Sachin, so he could become the cricketer that he would, so he could become the man that he would, was one hell of a village. R E S P E C T.