Thursday, May 31, 2012


Watch at your own risk!

Cast: Raghubir Yadav, Yashpal Sharma, Raj Tandon, Anya Anand, Manjusha Godse
Director: Gitanjali Sinha

I went for the film immediately after watching Arjun, The Warrior Prince. I had seen in the papers that the movie had won an award at the Los Angeles Film Festival and decided to find out more about it despite the new faces involved.

THE STORY: Avinash (Raj Tandon) has just failed his IIT Entrance and finds out that he has scored 78% in his Twelfth Standard. He feels dejected and lonely. While he lives in Mumbai, his parents (Yashpal Sharma and Anya Anand) live in London. Both are too busy to give their only child quality time. That’s when Avinash decides to go to his grandfather in the village. He had not met Dadu (Raghubir Yadav) in ten years. Grandfather and grandson bond together and soon Avinash’s confidence is reinstated.

MY PERCEPTION: The film has a strong storyline and that’s the only thing that works in its favour. Five songs drive you nuts in the 100-minute long film. The scenes are very slow – typical of a film where the editing is quite sloppy or negligible.

Youngster Raj Tandon has done a neat job of his role as the dejected teenager. Manjusha Godse plays his friend and she is not too bad. Raghubir Yadav is a good actor and plays an affectionate grandfather.

What I fail to understand is how a teenager is able to put up with his Dadu’s constant preaching? The dialogue from grandpa to grandson consists of sermons throughout the second half of the film. It is so unnatural.

VERDICT: Watch at your own risk!

RATING: **Shaky


Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Leave your high expectations home and enjoy the film for what it is

Director: Arnab Chaudhuri

None from my family was interested in watching this film and so I went on my own.

THE STORY: The young prince of Virat refuses to go to sleep unless his nursemaid tells him a bedtime story. That’s when she tells him the life story of Arjun, The Warrior Prince. This unfolds into the film over three sessions. It begins when Arjun and the other Pandava princes are sent to Dronacharya for learning the art of warfare. The film goes on to show how Arjun becomes brave over time and becomes a great warrior.

MY PERCEPTION: The animation was very good. The background structures of Drona’s training centre, forests, cities and more were well sketched out. The film moved fast and ran for about an hour and a half. The cattle, sheep, horses and elephants were simply gorgeous.

I felt it could have been more colourful. There was a lot of green, brown, black and white with very less colour otherwise. Even the crowning ceremony scene of King Yudhishthira was quite dull. A lot of creative license has been taken with the story of Prince Arjun. Like the scene of Draupadi’s swayamvara – the version where Arjun dives into the water to pierce an arrow in the fish was quite surprising. And I have read many versions of Mahabharata.

The scenes kept jumping from one bit to another. Anyone who does not know his mythology well is bound to be quite confused. It could have been better streamlined.

Another shock was the complexion of many of the characters. Why so dark? They looked like tribals living out in the sun instead of royals. The worst was that of Lord Krishna. I just about managed to recognize the chocolate brown Krishna because of the peacock feather that was fitted on his head. Thumbs down for this!

One scene stood out best – the last war scene when Brihannala changes into Arjun and takes on the mighty Kaurava force headed by Bheeshma Pithama along with the young Virat prince. The battle formation and fight sequences were excellently made. Kudos to that!

VERDICT: It’s worth a see! Leave your high expectations back home and just enjoy the film for what it is.

RATING: ***1/2 (More than Smart but less than Snazzy)


Tuesday, May 29, 2012


This is the first of the 8-book Krishna Coriolis Series by Ashok K Banker, who is also the author of the 7-part Ramayana Series. I had been wanting to read Mr. Banker’s books since a long time and finally managed to order Slayer of Kamsa and Prince of Ayodhya (Book 1 of Ramayana Series) from Flipkart. That’s been a while and it took me more than a month to complete Slayer of Kamsa since the day I began to read it. Read on to find out why…...

Being fonder of Lord Krishna and his miracles than of Lord Rama and his tough life in the forest, I started with Slayer of Kamsa. The book has been written after a lot of research and the author obviously has visualized the scenes of yore extremely well. The narration is excellent and the language is superb.

I have heard of lot of stories of Lord Krishna as a baby, as a young man, as an adult, as a king and even of his death from my grandfather and my mother. I have read a lot of stories about Him too. I was very keen to read Mr. Banker’s works as I kept reading about them on the internet.

Once I began reading Slayer of Kamsa, I found it mighty heavy going. What I had expected was – I don’t know by what right, but then I did have expectations – to read a lot about Lord Krishna, the slayer of Kamsa. About 9/10 of the book is about Kamsa. It’s fair enough that the author was keen to set the right background about the kind of villain and rakshasa Kamsa was and why it was necessary for Lord Vishnu Himself to incarnate on this earth to do away with the demon. But reading pages and pages; chapters and more chapters of Kamsa running amok – killing, pilfering, ravaging, torturing and more was enough to shake up my very soul.

I am a determined reader and was totally bent on completing the book. But I felt my interest slipping as I could not absorb so much horror at one go. A book of this size – 300+ pages would have taken me – at the max – two days to read, if it had been absorbing. But I could read only a few pages of Slayer of Kamsa at one time. I also made it a point not to read it before going to sleep – my favourite reading time, actually – as I did not want to get nightmares.

Now, having done away with what irked me about the book, I need to mention here that there were at least three highlights about the greatness of Vasudeva, Lord Krishna’s biological father. While I have been aware that Devaki and Vasudeva were Lord Krishna’s parents, I have but heard of them in passing – how they get married, are kept in jail by the evil Kamsa, give birth to seven children who are killed by the rakshasa until finally Vasudeva manages to move Baby Krishna to Nandagopan’s home.

Ashok K Banker has described a few scenes about Vasudeva that bring to light the greatness of the man who was deemed fit to father the 9th avatar of Lord Vishnu. It made for a brief but interesting read.

Another interesting description was the way Kamsa transforms from a human being into a full-blown rakshasa. While the character is totally revolting, the author has written the chapter in great detail, offering a visual that is so real to one’s mind.

Considering that the book is part of the Krishna Coriolis Series and is about Lord Krishna – the slayer of Kamsa, I wish there had been more about Krishna Himself. The scenes portraying the arrival of the baby and His being shifted to his foster home move in brief flashes. I was quite disappointed with that.

The author’s writing style and narrative is simply superb. I still have a lot of hope that Book 2 of the Krishna Coriolis Series – Dance of Govinda – will be more positive and will have a lot to say about Krishna. I plan to buy that one after reading Prince of Ayodhya. I sincerely hope that these live up to my expectations.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Film Review: MEN IN BLACK 3 (MIB3)

The film was simply superb, well-directed and tightly edited

Cast: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Michael Stuhlbarg
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld

This is the third film in the Men In Black series. I have watched the first two on television at my son Vignesh’s persuasion and had felt quite revolted with the ugly aliens that crawl all over the films. Despite that, he suggested that Venkat and I accompany him to MIB3. Venkat agreed immediately while I was pretty hesitant. Viggy convinced me saying that it was an opportunity for me to write a review on my blog. Also, recently I have been reading a lot about the Extra-terrestrials and Galactics who have moved to earth to help human beings to shift to The Golden Age. That finally clinched the matter and the three of us went to Cinemax Sion to watch the 10 pm show on Saturday.


Boris the animal (Jemaine Clement) is an alien who has been incarcerated on the prison on the Moon since 40 years. It was Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) who had had Boris arrested, after chopping off his left arm. Boris manages to escape prison and his first job is to find a way to go back in time and kill Agent K before he cut off his arm. He does just that and it seems that only Agent J (Will Smith), K’s partner, seems to miss K. Everyone else in the secret agency is clear that K had died forty years ago. That’s when J decides to go back to 1969 and ensure that K survives. The only way to do that is to kill Boris in 1969. Will J be able to manage this?


The film was simply superb, well-directed and tightly edited, running for an hour and 45 minutes. There were not too many ugly aliens and the scenes portraying time travel were simply beautiful. I only wish we had watched it on Imax’s Big Screen. I remember seeing the promos of MIB3 there and it had felt as if I had been a part of the movie.

Will Smith acted very well as the emotionally attached Agent J while Tommy Lee Jones as the stiff-faced Agent K was equally good. The surprise package was the young Agent K from 1969 played by Josh Brolin. Brolin looked quite a bit like a younger version of Tommy Lee Jones and fitted the bill perfectly.

The film moves fast and smooth keeping the audience hooked from beginning till end. I would have enjoyed it better with captions as I did not understand each and every dialogue uttered as I could easily do in The Avengers.

The surprise element was the presence of Griffin (Michael Stuhlbarg), a highly evolved being from the fifth dimension with intense eyes. Griffin is the one who finally manages to help Agent K place the ArcNet around the earth to protect the planet. I have been doing a lot of reading up about the fifth dimension into which the earth will be moving on December 21, 2012. Vignesh and I were quite fascinated to know that such a character was part of a Hollywood film.

VERDICT: You must watch it if you are fond of Sci-fi.

RATING: ****Snazzy


Saturday, May 26, 2012


I am sorry that I took so long to write about the sixth book in the Harry Potter series. That’s because the books get darker and darker with less of a fun element as the series progresses. I could not get myself to read the last two books with as much joy as I did the other five. Of course, there was no way that I was going to deny myself from finding out what happened after. I have but read this book four times.

The sixth book begins with the Minister of Magic visiting the English Prime Minister – that is the Minister of Muggles. Of course, it is not very surprising that the normal minister does not enjoy his magical counterpart’s visit. But it’s amazing the way the author has written the scene – the detailing too great for words.

This is followed by the Unbreakable Vow that Snape takes with Draco Malfoy’s mother. Could Dumbledore still trust him or was the school principle getting senile with age? Read the book to find out more about this one.

Dumbledore takes Harry’s help in bringing Professor Slughorn out of retirement – another cute scene so well written – to teach at Hogwarts and Slughorn goes on to become the Potions Professor much to the students’ surprise and delight. They are happy that Professor Snape is not teaching potions any more. But much to Harry, Ron and Hermione’s horror, Snape is the new teacher for Defence Against the Dark Arts.

While Harry improves tremendously in Potions – especially with the help of the book that he ‘borrows’ from the Half-Blood Prince, he begins to hate DADA, no thanks to Snape. Their hate-hate relationship continues while Harry does his best to convince Dumbledore that Snape is an enemy. Would the principal listen to Harry? No, it seems.

Harry is also not very happy with Draco Malfoy’s strange activities and is convinced that Malfoy is a Death Eater now. But no one seems to take him seriously – not even Hermione and Ron.

Things turn murkier when murder attempts on students bring terror into the youngsters’ lives. While Harry has special classes with Professor Dumbledore, they are usually trips down memory lane through the pensieve. Harry learns a lot about the young Voldemort aka Tom Riddle as Dumbledore builds up the evil wizard’s life story piece by piece. He is preparing Harry to face his nemesis and it appears that the event is all set to happen in the very near future.

The story drags Harry and his friends deeper and deeper into dark magic while some light moments cheer up the readers with Felix Felicis and Ron’s swallowing a love potion hidden within Chocolate Cauldrons.

Darkness clouds around the introduction of Horcruxes, spells such as Sectumsempra that almost leads to Malfoy’s death and the silver and opal necklace that almost does Katie Bell in. It took me a couple of readings back and forth with the 6th and 7th books before I understood what Horcruxes were.

Who is the Half-Blood Prince whose book Harry has been using during Potions’ class? While Hermione disapproves of his using a book that belongs to a stranger, Harry scoffs her off believing that she is jealous of his doing excellently well in his worst subject so far.

The worst is yet to come during the climax. After reading this book, it finally hit me that fate had dealt such terrible blows to Harry Potter - one after another - and I felt very sorry for the young hero for the first time. While it had been all light-hearted before, it is not so any more. Black magic is rampant in this book as Lord Voldemort gets stronger. Harry hates it when the people around him are affected by it and believes that he is responsible. Is he?

There is no way you can get off midway once you are on the Harry Potter rollercoaster.

And that’s how I went on to read the seventh book, not wanting to miss the ending. Will good triumph over evil? It looks tough.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


What a movie! Simply superb!

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Glegg, Samuel L. Jackson, Stellan Skarsgård
Director: Joss Whedon

Vignesh has been telling me about this film since before its release. Somehow, I was not sure that I would enjoy it. All his friends had watched the film in the first week itself while he had been out of town. Finally, yesterday, the two of us decided to go to Imax Big Cinemas to watch the film at 8 pm on the big screen. Am I glad we did!


Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is not of the earth. He is keen to have a territory to rule over. S.H.I.E.L.D. is an espionage agency run by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Just then, their research department headed by Scientist Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård), is testing out a Tesseract. This is a glowing object that appears to have extraordinary powers.

They lose control over the experiment when the Tesseract turns into a portal and Loki enters earth. Loki mesmerizes Selvig and The Hawk (Jeremy Renner) to work for him.

Fury gets together Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) to rescue humanity from Loki. But the four are constantly at loggerheads. Moreover, Loki’s adopted brother Thor (Chris Hemsworth) walks in through the same portal. Is he friend or foe?

Watch the film to find out whether The Avengers will be able to see eye-to-eye in fighting Loki. Will the earth be saved?


What a picture! It’s a cute story that has been handled so well. Every actor plays his part to perfection. It’s not just the heroes who have performed well. Tom Hiddleston as Loki was simply amazing. The evil smile to his mean expression is nothing short of perfect. Clark Glegg as Agent Phil Coulson touches your heart with his sweet smile and quiet efficiency. I shed tears when he died in the movie.

Then there are the heroes – Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man was just great. Chris Evans plays Captain America who is from the 40s. The hair-cut and the make-up were perfect and the acting was equally good. Mark Ruffalo is excellent as Dr. Bruce Banner and also as Hulk. Chris Hemsworth as Thor looks absolutely gorgeous befitting the role of a Greek God and has done a commendable job of his role.

Scarlett Johansson not only looks beautiful as the Agent Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow, but also performs superbly. Her expressions – especially in the eyes – change so fast that it’s just amazing. Samuel L. Jackson is as cool as a cucumber in his role as Nick Fury.  

The cinematography, the 3D effects, the editing, direction and more – everything was perfect.

I don’t much care for violence for the sake of it, but simply love the baddies getting bashed up by the goodies. I am sure most of you agree.

The war between The Avengers and aliens in the climax has been shot so well. With the stunning 3D visuals, it feels as if anyone from the audience needs to just raise a foot to jump into the fray.

VERDICT: You must surely watch it if you have not seen it yet. You can definitely watch it a second time, same as I am planning to do.

RATING: *****Super


Saturday, May 12, 2012


One more mega flop from Yash Raj Films... I am not surprised as the producers appear to be living in the last century

Cast: Parineeti Chopra, Arjun Kapoor
Director: Habib Faisal

We usually see all the movies at Cinemax as it is very close to home. The film was released today and I was happy that Venkat and I got a chance to see it with friends at PVR Cinemas at Phoenix Mills. It looked like that was the highlight of the evening. Read on to find out more.


Even as kids, Zoya (Parineeti Chopra) and Parma (Arjun Kapoor) used to strike sparks. Living in a small town in North India, both belong to families of politicians. While Parma’s grandfather wants to win the elections, Zoya’s father is equally enthusiastic. It’s very common for bullets to fly around at the least provocation. Both Parma and Zoya grow up to become proud and egotistical brats who throw their weight around. One day, in a fit, Zoya slaps Parma. He plans his revenge and marries her in two different ceremonies – one Muslim and one Hindu. He ditches her immediately after making love to her. Not just that, he also has her Hindu wedding pictures sent to the mobiles of her family members – just her pictures. Her ashamed family members are ready to murder Zoya while Parma’s grandfather goes on to win the elections. That’s when Zoya sets out to take revenge. Will Zoya get her vengeance or will Parma change his ways is what the rest of the film is all about.


I usually do at least a small bit of research before going to watch a film. As I knew Parineeti Chopra was the heroine, I did not bother and went ahead to watch the film, much to my regret.

The film has a story that would have done well in the 1970s or maybe even the 80s. I am amazed how film houses refuse to evolve with the changing trends. Today’s Bollywood brings forth films like Vicky Donor, Agent Vinod, Tezz and the like. I wonder what kind of an audience will want to watch this film with such a horrible theme. Even Parineeti Chopra’s debut film Ladies vs Ricky Bahl produced by Yash Raj Films was such a fun watch.

The only thing going for the movie is Parineeti Chopra. She looks beautiful and acts superbly well. She has lost oodles of weight or rather the puppy fat that she had carried in her first film and appears great. A special Kudos! Sadly, I was misled into watching the film because Parineeti was acting in it.

Another person who has done well is Gauhar Khan. She has proved that she can give the Sheilas and Munnis a run for their money while they can never match her acting ability. Yeah, Gauhar Khan can both dance item numbers as well as act. Congratulations!

Arjun Kapoor has a very very long way to go. And he needs to go to an acting school before that. Need I say more?

VERDICT: If you like a lot of violence in a small town setting with an unhappy story thrown in, then maybe you should watch this film. Otherwise, STAY WAY and donate the cash to your favourite charity. That way, you save a lot of headache.

RATING: **Shaky (One whole star belongs to Parineeti Chopra)


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Film Review: VICKY DONOR

A couple of hours of unadulterated fun with a strong story outline

Cast: Ayushman Khurana, Yami Gautam, Annu Kapoor, Dolly Ahluwalia, Kamlesh Gill
Director: Shoojit Sircar

I had been wanting to see this film since I watched the promos on TV. While Vini was busy with her MBA finals, Viggy and Venkat did not want to go. Finally, Vinitha and I went to see it yesterday, in the film’s third week of release.


Vicky Arora (Ayushman Khurana) is a jobless graduate who lives with his widowed mother Dolly (Dolly Ahluwalia) and paternal grandmother Biji (Kamlesh Gill). Dolly runs a beauty parlour and the house runs on that income. Both the women have spoilt Vicky rotten and he just loafs around, not taking life seriously.

Dr. Baldev Chaddha (Annu Kapoor) runs an infertility clinic and a sperm bank in Delhi. Recently, he has been facing a number of failures and dissatisfied clients. That’s when he advertises for sperm donors. Unable to find a good one, he zeros in on Vicky after he happens to see him. The doctor has Vicky’s forebears checked out and decides that he would be a great sperm donor. But will Vicky agree? Chaddha chases Vicky diligently until the young man is completely convinced. Of course, the money goes a long way in persuading him. A few years later, Vicky falls in love and gets married to Ashima (Yami Gautam) without letting on that he is a sperm donor by profession.

Watch the drama that unfolds when she finds out the truth, especially after it has been diagnosed that she cannot have kids.


Considering that the subject is a sensitive one, the story and screenplay have been handled superbly well. The dialogues are Punjabi based Hindi and typically from Delhi, with a lot of humour. I simply loved it. Kudos to writer Juhi Chaturvedi and director Shoojit Sarcar!

Both Ayushman Khurana and Yami Gautam are Bollywood first-timers. While Yami has done a good acting job, there is definitely room for improvement. Ayushman has done a terrific presentation of Vicky. He’s a natural in the role. Congratulations to both!

Annu Kapoor – while we see very less of the versatile actor, he has done an excellent job as Dr. Chaddha.

Dolly Ahluwalia and Kamlesh Gill as Vicky’s mother and grandmother have acted so naturally that their characters come alive. I suppose it’s a combination of acting and directorial skills. Their characters have been superbly visualized and executed. Their drinking bouts at home and at Vicky’s wedding are hilariously wonderful and absolutely real.

VERDICT: Two hours of unadulterated fun with a strong story outline and very good role-play by all characters.

RATING: ****Snazzy


Sunday, May 6, 2012


He has reached the peak of his career in Bollywood and has delivered his best over and over, especially in the past few years. Now where to go from here?

Aamir Khan has taken the perfect step with his latest TV Show Satyamev Jayate.

I was more interested in watching the show because of what its title suggested than the reason that it is has been produced and anchored by the man himself.

 The show began and Aamir Khan went ahead and immediately introduced the women on the show one by one and got on with the programme. The onus was clearly on the guests and not on the anchor.

What I liked best was the way Aamir handled the subject. This was about female foeticide – real life cases, the problems that pregnant women face all over the country. He brought proof on the show as to how it is not just the lower class and uneducated who are party to this. There was this lady doctor from Delhi who had had some terrible experiences when she became pregnant with twin girls.

The stories were revealed in such a way that it brought tears to not just the audience on TV but all of us at home who were watching the programme. Aamir Khan was in tears many times too. Yeah, it’s easy to point out that he is an actor and so could probably cry at will. Only if you watched the show you will know the tears for being genuine.

Another thing I liked very much was the way the programme ended. Aamir Khan brought out the fact that a district in Punjab – Nawanshahr – has completely eradicated the problem. Through interviews and videos, it was shown very clearly how this could be made possible throughout India. HOPE! That’s the need of the hour.

You need guts to face TRUTH! This show is not for the weak-minded, but the lion-hearted.

Click here to watch Episode 1 that was aired today.

Satyamev Jayate is aired on Sundays from 11 am to 12.30 pm on Star Plus

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Film Review: ORU KAL ORU KANNADI (ஒரு கல் ஒரு கண்ணாடி)

The first prize goes to Santhanam. His comic timing is just awesome! 

Cast: Udhayanidhi Stalin, Santhanam, Hansika, Saranya
Director: M. Rajesh
Edited by: Vivek Harshan

The earlier day, when we went to see Tezz at Cinemax Sion, I had noticed that this Tamil film was on. I asked my sister Lakshmi whether it would be worth a watch. She told me that it was a comedy and that it had good reviews. That’s when Venkat and I decided to see it.


Saravanan (Udhayanidhi Stalin) receives a cover by courier first thing in the morning. He is shocked to see the contents. It is his girlfriend Meera’s (Hansika) wedding invite to which she has attached a handwritten note insisting that he should not attend the wedding that is to take place at Pondichery. A desperate Saravanan calls up his best friend Partha (Santhanam) and gives him the bad news. Not that Partha is extremely bothered. Saravanan insists that Partha drive him over to the marriage venue immediately so that they could stop the wedding and claim the bride. As they drive from Chennai to Pondichery, the film goes in flashback as to how Saravanan meets Meera; the building up of their relationship and finally the incident that makes Meera change her mind and marry the guy suggested by her father. Watch the film to find out whether Saravanan succeeds in stopping the wedding and getting together with Meera or his dream just goes down the drain.


Udhayanidhi Stalin happens to be the grandson of Karunanidhi, ex-CM of Tamil Nadu. While he has produced some films, this is the first one where he plays the hero. He was quite good portraying the irresponsible guy whose main way of passing time is checking out girls.

Hansika has a glamourous role and she has done well. Her acting skills have definitely improved but the rate at which she is putting on weight, she might find it difficult to find heroine roles.

Saranya plays Saravanan’s mother. While she has a jovial demeanour, she is terribly hurt by her College Professor husband who refuses to talk to her since 20 years as she is not a graduate. The way she swings between humour and pathos is simply amazing. A special Kudos to Saranya for her versatility!

The first prize goes to Santhanam. His comic timing is just awesome! While the dialogues were not so fantastic that one would tend to memorise them, his delivery was superbly timed. I always thought that Santhanam made for a great comedian. I continue to believe that. Congratulations!

The film ran for 2 hours and 40 minutes and could have been edited down to 2 hours. The editing by Vivek Harshan was not at all good. The movie tends to become slow at many points. While the film goes back and forth – which is good – it could have been made tighter in a number of instances.

I have to mention the choreography. It was nothing short of terrible. To begin with, every song – there were four duets – is a slow number. Then there are the dance steps that were so bad that one could not miss them. The choreographer – Dinesh, I think – needs to go learn dancing himself before he is let loose on the filmy community.

VERDICT: I think most of you like comedies. Then this is definitely for you.

 RATING: *** Smart

* Silly
** Shaky
*** Smart
**** Snazzy
***** Super