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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Films Seen in 2010: Top Ten - and more

As the year 2010 comes to a close, here's looking back at all the films seen, be it on television, on home video, or in theaters, and, as per tradition, I offer my readers a selection of the very BEST from amongst them.
The Top Ten films are as follows, ordered according to personal preference:
1) Mr Nobody (2009)

2) A Single Man (2009)

3) Wonder Boys (2000)

4) Udaan (2010)

5) Peepli Live (2010)

6) The Kids Are All Right (2010)

7) The Social Network (2010)

8) Les Roseaux Sauvages / Wild Reeds (1994)

9) The Hurt Locker (2008)

10) The Wings of the Dove (1997)

As I have seen 300 films the whole year, the above listing required some deliberation and some re-appraisals. However, there were so many exceptional and interesting films that comprised my movie viewing experience this year that it would be sinful not to doff my hat to some of those films. Hence, I would love to have them randomly culled from memory. I am sure some of my readers would settle for many of them in their own listings, and I would be more than happy if they do. I thoroughly enjoyed watching them. And, here, they all get a special mention:
Love Sex Aur Dhokha,
Arekti Premer Galpo/ Just Another Love Story,
Little Children,
Crazy Heart,
All the King's Men,
An Education,
Good Dick,
The Private Lives of Pippa Lee,
Assassination of a High School President,
Final Destination,
The Freshman,
The Wendell Baker Story,
Dorian Gray,
Breaking the Waves,
The Men Who Stare at Goats,
Confessions of a Shopaholic,
My Beautiful Laundrette,
The Time Traveller's Wife,
The Lovely Bones,
Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge,
The Other Boleyn Girl,
Were the World Mine,
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day,
Alice in Wonderland,
Well Done Abba,
Can't Think Straight,
The World Unseen,
Little Ashes,
The Japanese Wife,
Romance and Cigarettes,
The Imagination of Doctor Parnassus,
Twelve and Holding,
Becoming Jane,
Bombay Talkie,
the Open Road,
G. I. Jane,
Up in the Air,
Last Life in the Universe,
Shutter Island,
Gone Baby Gone,
Me & Orson Welles,
Room to Rent,
Never Been Kissed,
Shrek Forever After,
The Draughtsman's Contract,
Step Up,
Half Nelson,
The Indian Runner,
Hotel Rwanda,
You Can Count on Me,
Rumble Fish,
I Love You Phillip Morris,
It's Complicated,
Rails and Ties,
Grey Gardens,
Tere Bin Laden,
I've Loved You So Long,
Shukno Lanka,
Pineapple Express,
My One and Only,
The Brothers Bloom,
Paris, je t'aime/ Paris,
The Informant,
The Boy in Striped Pajamas,
Y Tu Mama Tambien,
Los Abrazos Rotos,
Lafangey Parindey,
Nowhere Boy,
Bin Jip/ 3 Iron,
Smart People,
The Witches of Eastwick,
Big Bang Love - Juvenile A,
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,
Knight & Day,
Get Him to the Greek,
The Dreamers,
The Boys Are Back,
Zwartboek / Black Book,
Eat Pray Love,
Do Dooni Chaar,
Despicable Me,
Angus, Thongs & Perfect Snogging,
The Boat That Rocked,
Fifty Dead Men Walking,
Band Baaja Baaraat,
The Town,
Moner Manush,
Phas Gaye Re Obama,
Marley and Me,
Head-On/ Gegen Die Wand,
District 9
Donnie Darko.
'Donnie Darko'

Happy movie viewing in the coming years, friends. Long live cinema, and the magic of cinema!
Wishing all a Happy New Year in advance!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Merriments

Christmas in Kolkata isn't about looking at snowclad
landscapes or singing carols by the fireplace or other such things that the images from the West have always haunted us with..... thanks to umpteen films and books and television specials, but Kolkata dazzles and shines in its own way at Christmas.
The Christmas revelries in Kolkata obviously dates back to the colonial past which still makes the citizens nostalgic about many a good thing that has had Kolkata (then called Calcutta) basking in the Yuletide merriments.

In my childhood, I remember some of the traditional centreposts
of the city's British heritage still being there and, despite makeovers and evolutionary changes, decorated rather regally.
I am talking about Park Street and its string of eateries
on both sides of the street, the New Market, the entire stretch
from Lindsay Street to Esplanade, the shops in front of Tiger cinema and the Grand Hotel, used to thrill me with their aura and splendour.

For a young child, the Christmas merriments used to be simple
yet plentiful.... watching a movie at the Lighthouse cinema,
or at Metro, or New Empire....
feasting on the scrumptious delights....
laying hands on some cherished toy-cars.... the list goes on.
But nothing can beat the joy of me and my sister finding our socks filled with goodies galore on the morning of Christmas.
I do not till date know how my mother - a far cry from one who would happily imbibe a a typically Western custom - made my Dad a co-conspirator to play Santa Claus.
Christmas makes most of us relish the days gone by.

For most people childhood remains the best part of their life,
and most have a lot of memories to cherish, wishing they could
revisit their childhood and re-live those moments.
I, however, am not too fond of my childhood per se,
but I surely do miss the Christmas merriments now.
They seem like oases of hope and promise, from afar.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Natural Highs

Natural Highs

[I came upon a beautiful piece on some of the things which give us a natural high, and hence thought of sharing the same with my readers, some parts were edited and composed afresh by me.
Think about them one at a time BEFORE going on to the next one...

1. Falling in love.
2. Laughing so hard that your face hurts.
3. A hot shower.
4. No queues at the supermarket
5. A special glance.
6. Getting some special mail.
7. Taking a drive on a pretty road.
8. Hearing your favorite song on the radio.
9. Lying in bed listening to the rain outside.
10. Hot towels fresh out of the dryer.
11. Chocolate milkshake (or vanilla or strawberry).
12. A bubble bath.
13. Giggling.
14. A good conversation.
15. The beach.
16. Finding a long-forgotten 100 rupee note in your shirt pocket.
17. Laughing at yourself.
19. Midnight phone calls that last for hours.
20. Running through sprinklers.
21. Laughing for absolutely no reason at all.
22. Having someone tell you that you're a beautiful person.
23. Laughing at an inside joke.
24. Friends.
25. Accidentally overhearing someone say something nice about you.
26. Waking up and realizing you still have a few hours left to sleep.
27. First kiss (either the very first or with a new partner).
28. Making new friends or spending time with old ones.
29. Playing with a new puppy/kitten.
30. Having someone play with your hair.
31. Sweet dreams.
32. Hot chocolate.
33. Road trips with friends.
34. Swinging on swings.
35. Making eye contact with a cute stranger.
36. Making chocolate chip cookies.
37. Having your friends send you some homemade cookies.
38. Holding hands with someone you care about.
39. Running into an old friend and realizing that some things never change.
40. Watching someone's expressions as they unwrap a gift from you.
41. Watching the sunrise.
42. Getting out of bed every morning and being grateful for one more day.
43. Knowing that somebody misses you.
44. Getting a hug from someone you care about deeply.
45. Knowing you've done the right thing, no matter what others think.

..... that's all friends!
You may add your own contributions to the list and even speak about your not approving of any of the ones featured by me above.
Friends, let's see if we can collectively expand the 'natural highs'.

Let's acknowledge the significance of friends in our lives:
"Friends are the angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."

Friday, December 03, 2010

A tête-à-tête with Shaiju Mathew

I was unaware of Shaiju Mathew even a year ago.
An e-friend of mine had first mentioned him and told me that he was too talented and literally inclined and had been contemplating his first novel.
Soon, we became friends on Facebook, and within a few months, he gave me the good news: He was ready with his first book. It was published, and I would be soon able to pick up my copy of the same. My excitement knew no bounds. I was overjoyed to see him promote his book extensively through the excellent online platform that Facebook offered.
His book has met with stupendous success. Shaiju has become a sensation as a budding author. His book, 'Knocked Up' has not only garnered superb sales, but has also received good reviews from many quarters.
So, here, for the readers of my blog, I present a tête-à-tête with this young achiever:

Ani: Hello, Shaiju, I am too keen to find out more about you, now that I have read the book. Please tell me about your literary beginnings. Who have been your early influences?

Shaiju: Well, I started young when I was introduced to the world of books by my elder brother when I was in Class 5. Although as a kid I used to read a lot of comics like Mandrake, Superman, Tintin, Archies, Chacha Choudhary, Amar Chitra Katha etc... but the first novel I read was Enid Blyton's The Magic Faraway Tree. Since then at every stage of my life the likings changed from Enid Blyton to Mark Twain, from Famous Five to Hardy boys ...from Shakespeare to English Classics written by Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy etc from RK Narayan to Khaled Hosseni...I still like to read magazines and Readers Digest. I still remember when I was a kid my best friend from school used to gift me Sputnik and Misha magazines which he used to subscribe from Russia.

Ani: How inspired and encouraged were you by your parents, and your teachers?

Shaiju: My parents were strictly against me reading novels during my regular school days but they never discouraged me from reading during my holidays and vacations. In fact, my dad used to narrate to me Shakespearean classics when I was just a kid. My English teacher was very particular that everyone in our class should read books to improve our vocabulary and we also had a library period where we used to pick up books from the library for reading.

Ani: 'Knocked Up', your first novel has definitely had some personal impressions, something semi-biographical there? Do you identify in particular with any of the characters?

Shaiju: You see, every writer conciously or subconciously draws parallels or inspiration from his / her life while writing a book. Even I have done the same thing. My book is part fiction and part reality, and, yes, every character in my book is influenced by people around me and Sid's character is somewhat similar to me during my teenage days.

Ani: Sid's cool. I must say, the situations in the tale are naturally funny, and they have been narrated with effortless ease, did you style it in any particular way?

Shaiju: I am an avid reader and, to tell you frankly, if you check out most of the books in stores these days you will only find Chetan Bhagat clones. The same IIM, IIT graduates and their stories. There is no novelty.

Ani: That's very true. Plus, there's an upsurge of a certain kind of young confusion flavored writings.

Shaiju: But, I still cherish the books written by literary greats like Munshi Premchand, Tagore, Mark Twain, Jerome K Jerome, Ruskin Bond, RK Narayan and Sudha Murthy because their language is simple and the narrative is uncomplicated. Such books are rare in the market now. So, 'Knocked Up' is an ode to these literary greats. That doesn't mean I am trying to compare myself with them but I am showing my gratitude to them & also trying to take their legacy ahead by writing simple stories that will connect with people from every walk of life and people from every age group.

Ani: Saiju, you seem to be quite accomplished as an individual with multiple skills and talents. I was genuinely awestruck when I read about you on the blurb. Do you feel privileged?

Shaiju: I definitely think I am God's favourite child and I am blessed that he has bestowed multiple talents on me so that I can entertain others and bring a smile on their face.

Ani: Your debut has been a huge success, the talks are even on for a movie adaptation; does all that mean more pressure for you?

Shaiju: I don't understand the term 'pressure' when it comes to creativity.... because, every artist in this world works towards appreciation of his/her art by the world. For me, success means more and more people liking my work and not on the basis of money generated for my publisher which is last in my agenda. 'Knocked Up' is a success because the story connected with the readers and touched their heart, so in that way I will have pressure on me to deliver another good story, but I am a person who likes to tell a story from the heart the kind that I myself loved reading during my growing up days.

Ani: Very well articulated..... do tell us about your future plans....

Saiju: Currently, I am working on few Hindi movie scripts and also on my next book. Apart from that, I am working towards a new concept in publication industry through Magic Moments which is a One Shop Stop for all aspiring and established writers. We are a group of creative people associated with the cause of writers in India and trying to bring more visibility and respect to fellow authors.

Ani: I feel that Magic Moments has really set out to do some inspiring work in that sense....

Shaiju: You know, authors in India - unlike their counterparts in the West - are a neglected lot. If you would see... most of the authors we have in the market are not full-time authors but they only work part-time, because writing in India doesn't pay well. I am encouraging authors to be business partners with us on individual projects and share profits instead of royalty, and also would want to promote them to the fullest to garner more visibility and recognition, so that people can slowly start taking writing as a full-time career.

Ani: Wow! That's commendable. Writers need not be ashamed of mentioning 'author' on their passports, eh?

Shaiju: I hope this endeavor works out.

Ani: I wish you all the best. In all your endeavors. And, I thank you for sharing your thoughts, in this candid conversation. May God bless you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

♫ Smile♪

♫ Smile♪
Sanjay Leela Bhansali's latest cinematic offering - Guzaarish - opens with the song 'Smile'. The song is a personal favorite of mine. Hence I warmed up in my plush seat in the auditorium, as the montage showcasing the details of Ethan Mascarenas' daily rigors unfolded on the big screen. Ethan (played brilliantly by Hrithik Roshan), the protagonist, was paralyzed below the neck - the aftermath of an accident fourteen years ago - and his days now consisted of being washed, dressed and fed by his nurse, Sofia (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan).

This is the song:

"Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though its breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you'll get by
If you smile with your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll find that life is still worthwhile

If you just

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That's the time you must keep on trying

Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile

If you just
Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though its breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you'll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

that's the time you must keep on trying

Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile"

Unable to use his hands to shoo away a fly that lands on his face, Ethan does as the song suggests, and smiles. The smile reveals the incandescent soul of the protagonist, and that of the supremely crafted film that banks on the visuals and the emotions more than any realism in the narration or in the screenplay.
Ethan spreads hope and happiness to others by hosting a radio show called Radio Zindagi and the song 'Smile' is shown being played for the same. Being a quadriplegic, he cannot actually play, hence Sofia does the job of playing the record for him.

The song 'Smile' has been sung in the film by Dominique Cerejo. But, actually, it is a song based on an instrumental theme used in the soundtrack for the 1936 Charlie Chaplin movie Modern Times and was composed by Chaplin himself, while John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons added the lyrics and title in 1954.
In the lyrics, the singer is telling the listener to cheer up and that there is always a bright tomorrow, just as long as they smile.
'Smile' has become a popular standard since its original use in Chaplin's film.The song was originally sung by Nat King Cole, charted in 1954.
A cover version of the song had also been sung by Cole's daughter, Natalie, on her 1991 album, Unforgettable...With Love.
Singer Michael Jackson recorded the song for his 1995 double album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I. It was planned to be released as the eighth and final single from the album in 1997 but was canceled days before its release date. Only a few copies from the Netherlands, Germany and South Africa (where the record distribution was started previous to the withdrawal) were saved as the other copies were withdrawn. The remixes on this release have never been released commercially since, but some can also be found on the "Is It Scary" promotional 12" records from the UK.
Michael Jackson's brother, Jermaine Jackson, sang this very song at Michael's memorial service on July 7, 2009, at the Staples Center, Los Angeles.
Jackson had never performed this song live; an HBO special was once planned with the song being performed, but Jackson collapsed during the concert's rehearsals. During the final concerts of his History World Tour, the song was played at the beginning of each concert in memory of Princess Diana. In the documentary 'Living with Michael Jackson', Michael had himself mentioned the song.

[Trivia: Courtesy - Wikipedia, and Google News.
Note: No copyright infringement intended.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

'Bolt' has won my heart!

Dogs in films aren't new. And dogs in animation films aren't new either. The Disney brand-name itself has had many successful associations with cute and lovable dog characters in the past, yet what makes their animation flick 'Bolt' stand out, and stand tall, is its clever narrative that has been blended beautifully with the picture-perfect animation.

'Bolt' is the story of a small white dog who has spent his entire life on the set of a television series without being aware of that reality. He thinks he is having a normal life, and yet it is just part of a one big act, orchestrated by the studio majors. The eponymous character thinks that he has super-powers - a whole lot of them ranging from super-bar & super-speed to laser vision. When he learns the truth, he is absolutely crushed. And then begins his real and biggest adventure to get back to his owner, co-star, Penny, a young girl with a heart-of -gold. Bolt is joined in his adventure by Mittens, the female alley cat, and Rhino, a TV-obsessed hamster.

The film's voice cast features John Travolta, Miley Cyrus, Malcolm McDowell, Susie Essman, Mark Walton, Greg Germann, James Lipton, and Grey Delisle. It is directed by Chris Wiliams and Byron Howard. The original music has been scored by John Powell and the soundtrack has the brilliant track 'Barking at the moon' sung by Jenny Lewis, and also the Miley Cyrus and John Travolta end-credits number 'I thought I lost you'.
This computer generated animation flick has been handsomely produced by Walt Disney Animation Studio, who had released it in theaters in 2008, but I couldn't catch it on the big screen due to poor exhibition schedule (once again for an English-language film) here in Kolkata. I am thankful to my sister for making me watch it eventually.

Monday, October 25, 2010

'Dhobi Ghat' [Mumbai Diaries]

It is the story of four lives, four characters, and more.... a story that is woven in Mumbai - a city of ever-changing dynamics, yet a city that charms and enthralls all with its unique character, a city that is a mute witness to the harmony and turmoil that binds the people who inhabit or just set foot on its terrains..... and, hence, Mumbai itself is the fifth character in the story.
Shai is an NRI banker who comes to Mumbai to pursue her passion for photography with little focus and understanding of the dynamics of the city. Her path crosses briefly with Arun, a reclusive painter who pushes her away the moment they begin to get close. The two are connected by their dhobi (washerman), Munna, who toils away with the hopes of becoming an actor. And, then, there is Yasmin, the recently married Muslim girl who records her life in Mumbai for her brother back home.

Eagerly waiting for the release of the film.....
For the uninitiated, 'Dhobi Ghat' marks the directorial debut of Kiran Rao, wife of Aamir Khan, and is produced under the prestigious banner of Aamir Khan Productions. It has received rave reviews already, after having been screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and the BFI London Film Festival this year. 'Dhobi Ghat' features Pratiek Babbar, alongside Aamir Khan, Monica Dogra, Kriti Malhotra, Danish Hussain, Jehan Manekshaw, Kitu Gidwani, Ashok Varma, Sanjivani Oagle, Aasha Pawar, Babita Sehgal, Rohit Tiwari, Jitendra Shinde, Nafisa Amin Khan and others.
The film's brilliant images have been captured by the promising cinematographer Tushar Kanti Ray, and the film boasts of an original musical score by Oscar-winning Argentine composer Gustavo Santaolalla.
First it was expected to be released in India this winter, however, the release date had then been relegated to the 25th of February, next year. Now, it is likely that the film will release a tad earlier than that, possibly on January 21st, before the cricket World Cup begins. Till then, all us fans have to just make do with catching up on the buzz generated, and feasting our eyes on the scenes. Happy viewing, folks!

aamir khan
(mumbai diaries)
a kiran rao film






Releasing January 21, 2011

[Pics & promotional material courtesy: Aamir Khan Productions Pvt. Ltd.]

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Facebook, Orkut, social networking, and 'the pests'

There's a new kinda breed.... the Social Networking Pest.
Of late, I have been come into contact with this very kind.
Earlier, on Orkut, it was easy to weed out the ones from amongst the e-friends who seemed to have a different agenda altogether - but, now, on many a socially networking site online, especially on Facebook, these very people are likely to have a brush with the users, and the experience can be anything between mildly unpleasant to grossly obnoxious.
It's an irritating phenomenon - these people just want to get on your nerves in the guise of e-friendship, they want to get unnaturally intimate, they judge you, they pester you like nuts!
You would wonder, 'What have I done to deserve this!'
Omigosh! They try to contact you at every single pretext with the sole objective of disturbing you emotionally, maybe they want you to join them in their psychologically dysfunctional tirades. You are asked all kinds of silly things. Every attempt to ignore them makes them even more desperate. They keep posting ridiculous stuff on your wall, or as messages, mail you spam content, and if, God forbid, they get hold of your cellphone number, they'd bombard you with messages. Do they all suffer from Attention Deficiency Disorder? That's what you'd wonder. You'd try to block these irritating creatures, but such attempts would turn futile as they'd soon be found to resurface under some other garb, on some phoney profile, and, worse still, they might get really nasty and revengeful and even attempt to hack your account.
In the recent past, Facebook has been taking, or trying to take, stringent measures against these pests, many improved features and filters have come up whereby one can have special privacy settings, and there's now a more active supervision by the authorities. I commend them for that. And I hope that we may curb the pest syndrome soon, very soon.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
PostScript: Let me inform the ones who do not know me that they are welcome to be my e-friends; in fact, all - but the pests - are welcome to join me on Facebook too. The list of my e-friends on Orkut have become too large and hence I am not very eager to accept new friends there, it becomes difficult to interact with a very large number of friends, you see. Hence, all you have to do to be my e-friend is too click on the link below and send me a friend request, or message me..... e-friendship is healthy, it's an absolute pleasure for me to buzz with you on an array of subjects, just make sure that it isn't inappropriate, crossing the norms of social decorum and courtesy, and that our online exchanges doesn't make either of us uncomfortable in any way.
Anindo Sen

Create Your Badge

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ani & Bonnie: Talking Pujo

Ani: Shubho Bijaya, buddy.... hope you had good times...

Bonnie: Shubho Bijaya to you too. Ya, the Pujas are fun, no matter what.

Ani: Why the 'no matter what' tag?

Bonnie: Because of the simple reason that different people enjoy it differently.

Ani: That's true. But it is enjoyment that matters, and I think no other festival involves so many people all at once and helps them let down their hair and have fun. People just let go of their stifling routines and enjoy, in the collective spirit.

Bonnie: Oh.... that's a tall order, but yes, more people are seen smiling than not.

Ani: Come on, don't be an exclusivist, you scowl like a cynic!

Bonnie: I know, I may sound cynical, you know that the religion and the dictates might take a backseat here and there.... however, basically, DurgaPujo is all about a certain majoritarianism. It's not as inclusive a festival as we might think it is.

Ani: Hmmmm..... you have gone deep in your analysis.

Bonnie: Ohkkkaay..... won't spoil your mood. So, what exactly do you want me to talk about?

Ani: Look, since childhood, I have never been much into the exhaustive and wholesome celebration of DurgaPujo, and it was much like the accounts of Rituparno Ghosh, where he talks about the innocent questionings and the simultaneous personalized fancies.

Bonnie: But, I thought, you were more like the Chandril of yesteryears (Ekla Pujo Folkla Pujo, remember?)....

Ani: Hahaha..... that was a phase in my adulthood.... the University days.

Bonnie: Speaking of Chandril reminds me of the giant billboards seen this year at major Pujo pandals where he is seen embracing his friends with the toothy grin on his face, all for the lure of lucre, eh... that too for a coconut oil giant!

Ani: That's a way of looking at things, maybe he has evolved. All artistes should, else they might stagnate. Pujo has evolved too, no?

Bonnie: True, DurgaPujo is much more than an annual faith-based ritual now, it's a mammoth social event in Kolkata's calendar. Hence the flow of big money, the corporate giants, the muscle power of the political goons, the hysteria for Pujo themes, the tug-of-war for getting the high-profile celebs for inauguration and even for them showcasing the event as brand-ambassadors.....!

Ani: But don't you think pandal-hopping has become even more difficult a task in general, with the chaotic traffic and the crowding at the big locations?

Bonnie: Absolutely so.... but then, there's the soft option for the unwilling to have a peek at all the big Pujo pandals and the extensive affairs therein right from their drawing rooms, courtesy numerous television channels and their sponsored live broadcasts.

Ani: By the way, what was the latest and most striking feature that came to your notice this year? Let's round up our discussion with that....

Bonnie: Easy-peazy... lemon squeezy... that's an easy one. The most electrifying part of the Pujas is definitely the immersion ceremony, better known as visarjan, or bhaashaan, and this year reached a new high with the disco bhaashaan that beat the immersion blues like crazy..... young guys, often bare-bodied - displaying their well sculpted gym-bred torsos, and gallant girls grooving in a brazen manner on the roads which got converted to mobile discos thanks to strobe lights and what not cruising along gently, right in front of them in a separate lorry, or tempo, blasting the latest remixed tracks at full volume..... unbelievable raw sexuality.... beats the inebriation of intoxicants of other kinds that have been otherwise rampant over the ages.

Ani: Good heavens!

Bonnie: It's not for nothing that Durga Puja has now earned the moniker 'the Rio carnival of the eastern hemisphere'!

Ani: Wow! I thought that the Pujo trends this year had just ranged from the techno-savvy (be it solar lights and bluetooth facilitated, and air-conditioned venues) displays to the umpteen Tagore tributes, but you have narrated a whole new dimension for me.

Thanks, for all the blabber. It was fun chatting up the festive pomp and show. I hope my readers like it too.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Happy Pujo!

Kolkata exemplifies its spirit best during Durga Pujo, the annual autumnal festival that celebrates much more than the ritualistic traditions involving the worship of the Mother Goddess.
The Pujo frenzy, the madness, the excesses are all pervading, and hard to escape or remain indifferent to, for each and every Kolkatan, and he or she need not belong to any particular sect or creed or community for that. 
Yes, it is that time of the year again!
the festive spirit in the air of the city is unmistakable for even the lay visitor.

The entire city is decked up in resplendent colors, and lights.
The energy is simply infectious, the buoyant spirit happily envelops us.
People go all out and spare no effort to soak in the madness, often to get carried away as well.

I wish all my friends and well-wishers happiness and contentment.
May you all light up from within; do your bit to redeem all darkness.
Happy Pujo!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Remembering James Dean

James Dean died on this very day in 1955.
He lived a short life. But even though he died at the age of 24, after a fatal car-crash, this American actor has become a cultural icon, a cinematic legend, with no parallels.
I was introduced to the works of this genius at an impressionable age, as I was just getting hooked to the magic of classic Hollywood films, thanks to the American Center Library, Kolkata. I can never forget the day, I rushed from college to catch a screening of the James Dean starrer "Rebel Without a Cause". Needless to say, I was mesmerized by Dean's portrayal of teenage angst on screen. I couldn't sleep all night. I kept thinking about the film, and about the protagonist played by Dean. The other two films of his, "East of Eden" and "Giant", I saw thereafter, it wasn't too easy to watch English language films from the Fifties in the late-Nineties, here in Kolkata, as the age of DVDs was yet to arrive..... but I had to see Jimmy Dean on screen, he conveyed exuberant passion like none else! He was the classic bad-boy of Hollywood. He achieved a cult star-status even for the brief 3-4 years that he acted.... he lived life large.... he lived his dream, he instigated us to dream too.

"Dream as if you'll live forever,
live as if you'll die today."
- James Dean

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hollywood, Hundred

Hollywood has completed one hundred years.....
recently, there was an exhibition of photographs held in Kolkata, commemorating the centenary through an array of rare black and white compositions, with a special emphasis on the stars, and their respective styles, of the golden era of Hollywood.
That reminded me that it was high time to doff my hat to the aura of Hollywood, and I do the same by posting a list of the hundred films from Hollywood, some typically produced by the studios, from a bygone era, and many from the recent past as well, recalling the power and the lure of Hollywood, the magic and romance of the same, some gorgeous ventures backed by the studios, whereas some distributed with the atypical elan that one has come to associate with Hollywood over the years.....
I have to admit the personal bias, and the limitation of personal access, that has gone into the compilation which - for lack of a better term - I'd like to call My Essential Hollywood, recommended viewing for all fellow cine-buffs.....
Starting from Chaplin's 'The Gold Rush' to James Cameron's 'Avatar' (pics on the top, respectively)......

1) The Gold Rush (1925)
2) City Lights (1931)
3) Morning Glory (1933)
4) The 39 Steps (1935)
5) The Informer (1935)
6) Modern Times (1936)
7) The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
8) Bringing Up Baby (1938)
9) The Wizard of Oz (1939)
10) Stagecoach (1939)
11) Gone With the Wind (1939)
12) Rebecca (1940)
13) The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
14) The Great Dictator (1940)
15) How Green Was My Valley (1941)
16) Casablanca (1942)
17) My Darling Clementine (1946)
18) The Fallen Idol (1948)
19) All About Eve (1950)
20) High Noon (1952)
21) Singin' in the Rain (1952)
22) The Quiet Man (1952)
23) From Here to Eternity (1953)
24) Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
25) The Seven Year Itch (1955)
26) Paths of Glory (1957)
27) The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
28) Vertigo (1958)
29) Ben-Hur (1959)
30) North By Northwest (1959)
31) Psycho (1960)
32) West Side Story (1961)
33) To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
34) My Fair Lady (1964)
35) The Sound of Music (1965)
36) Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
37) Bonny & Clyde (1967)
38) The Graduate (1967)
39) MASH (1970)
40) The Godfather (1972)
41) Jaws (1975)
42) Taxi Driver (1976)
43) Star Wars (1977)
44) Apocalypse Now (1979)
45) Raging Bull (1980)
46) Blade Runner (1982)
47) E. T. - The Extra Terrestrial (1982)
48) Scarface (1983)
49) Back to the Future (1985)
50) The Color Purple (1985)
51) Platoon (1986)
52) The Color of Money (1986)
53) Hannah and her Sisters (1986)
54) The Untouchables (1987)
55) Wall Street (1987)
56) Die Hard (1988)
57) Frantic (1988)
58) Rain Man (1988)
59) The Accused (1988)
60) Sex Lies and Videotape (1989)
61) Casualties of War (1989)
62) When Harry Met Sally (1989)
63) Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
64) Pretty Woman (1990)
65) Goodfellas (1990)
66) Home Alone (1990)
67) The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
68) Thelma and Louise (1991)
69) My Own Private Idaho (1991)
70) Schindler's List (1993)
71) Philadelphia (1993)
72) What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
73) Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
74) Ed Wood (1994)
75) Pulp Fiction (1994)
76) Speed (1994)
77) Forrest Gump (1994)
78) The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
79) 12 Monkeys (1995)
80) Dead Man Walking (1995)
81) Jerry Maguire (1996)
82) Titanic (1997)
83) As Good As It Gets (1997)
84) Donnie Brasco (1997)
85) Boys Don't Cry (1999)
86) Fight Club (1999)
87) Girl, Interrupted (1999)
88) Magnolia (1999)
89) Any Given Sunday (1999)
90) Gladiator (2000)
91) Monsters, Inc. (2001)
92) Adaptation (2002)
93) Mystic River (2003)
94) Cold Mountain (2003)
95) Finding Neverland (2004)
96) Million Dollar Baby (2004)
97) Syriana (2005)
98) Ratatouille (2007)
99) Into the Wild (2007)
100) Avatar (2009)