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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top Ten Films 2015

Best films seen by me this year (be it on the big screen or on home video/telly) are:

1. Nebraska (2013) 
2. Whiplash (2014) 
3. The Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014) 
4. Masaan (2015) 
5. Labour of Love (Asha Jaoar Majhe) (2014/15) 
6. Margarita with a Straw (2014/15) 
7. Mr Turner (2014) 
8. Ex Machina (2015) 
9. The Science of Sleep (2006) 
10. Hunterrr (2015) 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

London-like Kolkata

Many keep asking me why I have stopped writing about Kolkata. Well, Kolkata has been my Love and one doesn't feel like writing about her unless there is some affirmative thoughts. Of late, she has been the cause of concern, there has been a certain hopelessness and frustrating disquiet about her which kept me silent. She has been the butt of jokes ever since it had been announced that she was going to become 'our London' some years back. It was a tall demand according to some, and an unhealthy, unfair one according to most.
As far as civic amenities are concerned, we still fall behind many of the preferred metropolitan cities. However, the effort is on, to smarten up and to provide Kolkatans with some of the much needed facilities. One such proposed London-like facility excites me. It's the promise of an integrated transport card, in a bid to encourage commuting by public transport and to thereby ease congestion on the city streets. The proposed Kolkata Transport Card would be on the lines of London's Oyster card, and it will be valid on all mass transport modes: private and state buses, trams, ferries and the metro-rail. The transport department has already started working on the integrated fare management and ticketing system. Let's look forward to this in the year 2016.

Monday, December 28, 2015


Imtiaz Ali, despite being a mainstream filmmaker, always makes films that are interesting to watch, that always move us with the moments of subtlety and poignance, and there's always a certain heartfelt honesty in the portrayal of human relationships. He seems to borrow heavily from his own experiences and I think this fact itself translates into bringing the narrative to life. The complex nuances certainly do not appeal to everyone, nonetheless his films manage to win hearts simply by virtue of their power, the profound effect they have on us. His latest, 'Tamasha', is thus no exception. It charmed me as much as his 'Rockstar', maybe a little more. Actually, I was mesmerized by his narration. The story was just an excuse, the intriguing narration held the key to a genuinely fulfilling experience. The message of breaking free of the exasperating, life-sucking monotony emerged loud and clear.
The characters of Ved and Tara have been so lovingly breathed life into by the lead players - Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone - that it is impossible not to be drawn towards them. The splendidly sizzling chemistry that these actors have between them actually worked wonders for the script. Ravi Varman's cinematography, A.R. Rahman's music, Irshad Kamil's lyrics - all added to this celebration of life as a stage where we enact our bits as mere players... and the story continues.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

TeeVee izzzz in!

The year 2015 has been all about binge-watching! Last year, I didn't even know such a term existed when it came to watching television.
Television has suddenly come of age in our country thanks to many a contemporary international television series becoming a rage on the internet. People, largely the youth, not only watched them online but kept discussing them on the social media, spreading the good word. Our English language entertainment channels couldn't be far behind, could they? They needed some catching up to do. Thus, they first came up with the premium HD channels, and subsequently, to compete with each other - and particularly to compete with a new entrant on the scene that promised a wide bouquet of hit shows from the U.S. as well as the U.K. - throwing at us some quality content (albeit heavily censored) even across the non-premium channels became the new norm.
Indeed I have bitten the bait. I have practically fallen hook-line-and-sinker for many of the shows aired this year, or are currently being aired. I have watched some of them in their downloaded format, courtesy some generous friends of mine, after I developed a strong liking for them just as the tv runs began.
These favorites of mine include 'Mr Robot' (which I've written about earlier, here), 'Downton Abbey', 'American Horror Story: Hotel', 'Gotham', 'Broadchurch' (a still from the series featured with this post), 'Sherlock', 'Limitless', 'Ray Donovan', 'The Honourable Woman' and 'Orange is the New Black'.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

It's the season of good cheer. Christmas is here. And Christmas has always felt special for me. There have been fond associations since childhood.
These days, I feel there is a greater read to celebrate the spirit of sacrifice and selflessness, and of sharing our joys with others, especially those who are less fortunate than us. The festival has a profound significance that extends beyond religion, beyond one's chosen faith. In the same true spirit of Christmas, let us pray for peace, let us pray for brotherhood and tolerance.

Merry Christmas!
(pic courtesy: Aamir Khan)