Category Archives: Entertainment

Another blog…


Well, guess what? Iv been itching to write some fiction stuff for some time now and I finally got started on that. Here’s the link to my new blog which will have only fiction material that I write. You can also find it on my blogroll.

Cheers.

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Oscars 2011 Predictions


Here are my predictions for the 2011 Oscars. Predicted winners in Italics Bold.

BEST PICTURE

  • Black Swan
  • The Fighter
  • Inception
  • The Kids Are All Right
  • The King’s Speech
  • 127 Hours
  • The Social Network
  • Toy Story 3
  • True Grit
  • Winter’s Bone

Actress in Leading Role

  • Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
  • Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
  • Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
  • Natalie Portman, Black Swan
  • Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Actor in a Leading Role

  • Javier Bardem, Biutiful
  • Jeff Bridges, True Grit
  • Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
  • Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
  • James Franco, 127 Hours

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Amy Adams, The Fighter
  • Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech
  • Melissa Leo, The Fighter
  • Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
  • Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Christian Bale, The Fighter
  • John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone
  • Jeremy Renner, The Town
  • Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
  • Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

Directing

  • Black Swan, Darren Aronofsky
  • The Fighter, David. O. Russell
  • The King’s Speech, Tom Hooper
  • The Social Network, David Fincher
  • True Grit, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

  • Another Year
  • The Fighter
  • Inception
  • The Kids Are All Right
  • The King’s Speech

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

  • 127 Hours
  • The Social Network
  • Toy Story 3
  • True Grit
  • Winter’s Bone

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • The Illusionist
  • Toy Story 3

Documentary (Feature)

  • Exit Through the Gift Shop
  • Gasland
  • Inside Job
  • Restrepo
  • Waste Land

Art Direction

  • Alice In Wonderland
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
  • Inception
  • The King’s Speech
  • True Grit

Cinematography

  • Black Swan
  • Inception
  • The King’s Speech
  • The Social Network
  • True Grit

Visual Effects

  • Alice In Wonderland
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
  • Hereafter
  • Inception
  • Iron Man 2

Sound Editing

  • Inception
  • Toy Story 3
  • Tron: Legacy
  • True Grit
  • Unstoppable

SOUND MIXING

  • Inception
  • The King’s Speech
  • Salt
  • The Social Network
  • True Grit

Movie Review: Restrepo


Restrepo is a documentary movie about a platoon of the US Army that battles the Taliban in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, for a year. Having been pinned down by the Taliban on all sides, the platoon decides to fight back and build a new outpost called Restrepo, named after one of the fallen soldiers, deeper in the Korengal Valley. This was done to put further pressure on the Taliban and provide an additional fire-base for the US  troops. How the platoon defends these posts and fights the Taliban is captured in this documentary.

This is unlike any other war movie you would’ve ever seen. No visual gimmicks. No recreated sound effects. Its gritty. Its hard-hitting. Its as real as things can get. The explosions are in-your-face. The gunshots ring in your ears. By having no specific storyline, the movie successfully captures the raw war zone in all its grime and glory.

The movie gives the viewer a very good insight on how the war in Afghanistan is being fought by the US troops and why they are finding it so difficult to win the war in this “Graveyard of Empires”. The platoon takes fire from an almost invisible enemy day and night. The majestic mountains belie the darkness they hide within, as the sounds of gunfire erupt in all directions forcing the platoon to scramble for cover, wondering where on earth they were being fired from. The Taliban are never seen, yet they cast an ominous shadow on all the valley, like ghosts from another world. They have their informants in the villages who pass on crucial info about the Americans. The platoon cajoles, bribes and threatens the villagers, yet fail to wean them away from the influence (or fear) of the Taliban. The villagers know that one day the platoon will be gone and then they will have the Taliban to answer to. That basically sums up the entire US strategy in Afghanistan.

Faced with a battle hardened and blood thirsty enemy, a harsh and indomitable terrain and a hostile local populace, the platoon struggles for its survival everyday. Their body language clearly shows that they know that victory is all but impossible against such odds. Most war movies Iv seen involve soldiers shouting out patriotic slogans and being happy to fight in battles and die for their nation. Here its different. Is it because the platoon knew that they were faced with an impossible task? Or is this how all soldiers in all war zones are? Weary and tired of war. Disillusioned by the deaths of countless friends. Broken by nightmares of blood and fire.

A gem from the ’70s


Suddenly remembered this song in the morning. Its been stuck in my head since.

An absolutely beautiful composition by Illaiyaraja, great lyrcis by Valee and sung by the evergreen SPB, from the movie Ilamai Oonjal Aadukirathu. A great movie too, starring Kamal Haasan and Rajni. Definitely among their best performances. The last scene as Rajni drives off in his car is very poignant.

Introducing: Google Music (India (Labs))


Google has launched a new online music service (for fans of Bollywood songs) called Google Music India. Google has a tie up with other sites like in.com and saregama to allow streaming of songs from their music libraries. To be fair, a pop-up window basically just plays all these songs from one of the aforementioned sites. However, I dont think the majority of people were using in.com to listen to music earlier. With Google coming into the picture I think a lot more users would find it easier and more natural to use Google Music India to listen to online music. Google claims this service is to help fight the rampant music piracy in India. Users can only stream the songs online and cannot download them.

I tried it out and found that Google Music(or should i say in.com?) has a pretty comprehensive music collection. Whether you want to listen to a soothing retro Kishore-da track or the electrifying Tanvi in Delhi-6, the obscure Altaf Raja or the Pakistani rock band – Strings, you’ll find your type of music here. More power to the cloud.

http://www.google.co.in/music

Presenting: Youtube Movies


Yes thats right!! Youtube now has a dedicated movie channel where hundreds of full length movies have been uploaded. You can access it by going to http://www.youtube.com/movies. As of now a bulk of those movies are on the edge of what we could classify as C-grade ( and highly NSFW) cinema, nevertheless there are a few classics up there and a few good documentaries too. Surprisingly the one category which has a slew of good movies is “Bollywood”. Among cheesy fare such as “Vivah” there are also quite a few classics like “Padosan“, “Amar Akbar Anthony“, “Andaz Apna Apna” etc. A good collection for people who want to watch retro Bollywood flicks. I even stumbled across the National Award-Winning “Kanchivaram” and started watching it. The quality was good and streaming was smooth .

This new feature could also provide a very good platform for documentaries and small budget indie films to reach out to everyone. Even though the current collection of “good movies” is minimal, im sure that within a years time this would turn out to be a popular destination to watch a good chunk of movies.

Last year Youtube launched its “Youtube Shows” where people could watch some popular TV shows from certain networks. And now movies. This is a gradual move by Google to make Youtube a one-stop entertainment portal. This is in sync with their plans for Google TV, where an android based device connected to a TV set will run the Chrome Web Browser, effectively merging the internet and television. Google wants people to be able to browse the web, watch TV shows and movies, all with Google TV.

This brings into spotlight, the timing of the launch of Youtube movies, as it has happened just days before the Sept 1st Apple Press Conference, where Apple is widely expected to announce the new “Apple TV” — their own digital media receiver which is touted to run on iOS.

And the great game unfolds….once again.

Movie Review: Peepli [Live]


Aamir Khan has the “Midas Touch”. This phrase has been so often repeated, in newspapers, blogs, television etc. that it threatens to become a cliche. But the cerebral star has done it once again, pushing the boundaries of commercial Indian cinema with Peepli Live. Aamir has an uncanny knack of spotting potential in the most unlikely places, be it with “Jaane Tu…” or “Peepli Live“. Both movies were helmed by newbie directors and were filled with a fresh but talented bunch of actors. Yet, against all odds, as the producer of both the movies, Aamir managed to transform these low key affairs into box office hits.

As an actor too, Aamir has constantly rewritten the rules of the game. He has torn down barriers and taken leaps of faith to reach the status of being the most bankable actor in Indian cinema today. In the formula-driven hindi film industry he has re-arranged the variables, eliminated the constants and turned traditional logic on its head. It seems laughable to compare him to his contemporaries. Its clear that his only competition is with himself. The rustic Bhuvan vs the suave Akash Malhotra. The starry eyed DJ vs the poignant Ram Nikhumb. The beastly Sanjay Singhania vs the peppy Rancho. He has done it all and then some.

To cut a long story short, Peepli live is an intelligent satire about phony politicians and a manic media. A debt-ridden farmer, Natha, decides to commit suicide to claim compensation for his family so that they could be free of debt. His threat of committing suicide is a bandwagon on which politicians and the media go for a free ride. Instead of seeing the rot in the system which causes destitute villagers to commit suicide, local leaders see an opportunity in Natha’s threat to play a game of political oneupmanship. If the political class is blinded by the upcoming local elections, the national media is blinded by TRPs. In their quixotic quest of making a poster boy out of Natha, the media fails to see the sufferings and hardships of the villagers. In the end, it is a disillusioned local reporter, Rakesh, who realises that the political system and the media can not be depended upon to confront the malaise of poverty and destitution rampant in the villages of India.

Filled with witty dialogues and dark humour, Peepli Live boasts of a brilliant ensemble cast with each actor leaving an imprint on your mind; be it the manipulative elder brother or the slimy politician. Famous news reporters are good humouredly lampooned and the indian bureaucracy is shown as what it has often perceived to be: elite, lazy and disconnected. The background score blends in perfectly with the rustic setting of the movie. For once in mainstream Indian cinema, we have a realistic portrayal of a village minus the happy-farmer-singing-and-dancing-in-lush-green-fields stereotype. A definite must-watch, Peepli Live is surely one of the defining films of the year.

If a small no-frills movie like Peepli Live can receive so much critical and public appreciation, then it would behoove messrs Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar well to rethink their strategy of blowing up exorbitant sums of money on big stars and stylish movies whose plots are all fizz and no substance. With their access to seemingly bottomless pits of money, they could do Indian cinema a whole lot of good if they had the courage and conviction to make more sensible and intelligent movies like Peepli Live.