My 2 cents

A new address

Posted in Me, Something New by urmilesh on April 22, 2011

Hey there.

Until now I have had two blogs, this one for posts and one on blogger for pics. But I realized that I don’t really need to have 2 blogs at this point of time, what with the Bermuda triangle of Twitter-Facebook-Gmail already eating up so much of my time, and thus I have moved all my content back to one blog (blogger since I already have storage from Google, don’t want to shell out extra bucks).

Also, rather than buy it back from some random stranger one day when I am filthy rich and famous, I have chosen to block the domain name for my name. Smart decision I know ;-)

So if you are one of the few who still come to this space, please consider moving to http://www.urmilesh.com – it’s not my site, just an intermittently updated blog. There will be no more updates here in the foreseeable future.

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The songs of Raghu Dixit

Posted in India, something I like, Songs by urmilesh on April 16, 2011

Have been hearing a lot of Raghu Dixit lately. Just putting a small post here to let you know that I like what I heard.

You should get a listen at http://raghudixit.com/music/ and judge for yourself.

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Dhobi Ghaat (Mumbai Diaries)

I am not sure if Dhobi Ghaat is an apt title for this movie, just ‘Mumbai Diaries’ would have worked better for me. Or maybe ‘Bombay Diaries’ since no one in the movie refers to the city as Mumbai anyway, not that I am complaining.

Most of our movie experiences depend on two factors – our expectations from the movie and our mood while watching it. This is one movie where these factors become crucial, really crucial. Most of the people watching the movie with me (not just my gang, the entire hall) did not like the movie and were pretty vocal about it (sadly during the movie also), I enjoyed it. This is one movie which wants you to let it be, had no pretensions of being conventionally engaging, does not offer any sort of  closure for any of the lead characters, does not have any larger than life characters and does not have any item song (shudder!!!).

Yet it is engaging and interesting, makes you think enough for it to be called smart, and is funny and endearing in enough places. You are invited to view the lives of young Munna (Prateik Babbar, the best of the lot in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na and very good and endearing here) and Yasmin (Kriti Malhotra, simply the most outstanding performer here), through the eyes of Shai (Monica Dogra, looking okay but performing just adequately) and Arun (Amir Khan being Amir Khan). As an added attraction you also get a peek into the lives of Shai and Arun.

Yasmin is the one you empathize with most even though she has the simplest story. You feel for her as she tries to find (or create) capture-worthy experiences in her apparently routine and to some extent boring life. Her interview of her maid and maid’s daughter is easily the highlight of the film, the one scene where even the naysayers in my theatre were hooked. It was interesting to notice how Arun’s attitude towards her story changes as the movie progresses. At the start he had her story at his beck and call, pausing and rewinding as he pleased/needed. But later, the story took over him and ultimately his decision (of moving house) was controlled by the story, a far cry from him having the control.

Munna is next in the list of characters that made you feel for them. He has dreams, and he is working towards them even though it is highly unlikely that he will be able to realize them, he keeps on working towards them. Even adding Shai to the list of apparently unachievable dreams that he has. Where the film succeeds is in making viewers also want the success of Munna. Prateik is endearing and honest in his performance and I feel this is only the second of many such performances.

Shai should have been the more intriguing of the two observers since she is an outsider, more than Arun anyway, but it is Arun who is sucked in more. Shai is in turn intrigued by Arun and is apparently oblivious to the feelings Munna has for her, though she genuinely cares for him and is in no way using him. Initially I felt that Shai was looking at everything with Slumdog Millionaire eyes, but her genuine feelings for Arun as well as Munna made me feel otherwise. Her story is the one that comes closest to a closure in that she has something to look forward to when the movie ends. Munna is looking at a life of responsibility and hardships and Arun is plain lonely, but she has a choice and a chance to pursue what she wants.

The best way to watch this movie would be the way Arun watches Yasmin’s videos, at our own pace pausing/rewinding at will – continue if we are interested or just leave it. So once again I would say wait for the DVD, else you might be in the majority who won’t like this experimental movie.

In one of the pre-release interviews Kiran Rao said she was not comfortable being known just as Amir Khan’s wife. While I do feel she is a talented director, I think she will have to face that predicament for some more time. This movie would not have been made, analyzed so much, and gotten an international release without Amir Khan’s name attached to it. Amir’s name has a certain credibility which ensured that scores of people went in to watch a non-conventional movie on the first weekend of its release and the ones who liked it are a small subset of those people. Even the ones who liked it might not have gone for it had it not been an Amir Khan production. This was an Amir Khan film first for most of us. But looking at it, I feel the audience of a Kiran Rao film is already building up.

Road To Sangam

Posted in Last movie I saw, Lucknow, Movies, Movies I recommend, something I like by urmilesh on January 23, 2011

‘Road to Sangam‘ is a movie that was on my watch-list for a long time now, but somehow I never got a chance to see it, not least because it did not get a major release. Thanks to the Fremont Main Library that had a DVD, and to the lazy Saturday morning, I finally got to see it.

I have been watching a lot of movies that I could not catch up on when they released, and quite a few of the recently watched ones had Paresh Rawal in them – and I am in awe of the man now. I will do a separate Paresh Rawal post soon and so here I will keep my awe in check :)

‘Road to Sangam‘ is the story of a simple man who is caught between the turmoil of his times. How he chooses to fight being a part of the herd and follow his heart, is what the film tries to depict, and it does a very good job of it

Paresh Rawal is Hasmat Bhai, the most well-written character and the protagonist of the movie, an expert motor-mechanic and a devout muslim. He lives a non-confrontational life and goes about his job with honesty and commitment. His life is thrown into a turmoil when his idea of religion clashes with the preachers. He believes in honouring his word, finishing the job he started – you can say that an honest day’s work is his religion. But when he is unable to deliver on a commitment due to the local Muslim community leaders calling for a boycott of all work (to oppose of arrest of suspects in a blast case, and the death of an innocent in the stampede following a protest), he begins to question the decrees of those leaders. After much debate, with family, friends and community members, and most importantly with his own self, he decides to follow his conscience. The fact that the task at hand involves the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi makes his resolve only stronger.

The movie is about this thought. Can you follow your conscience against the face of any opposition? Everyone has a limit to which he will listen to his inner voice, as is seen by Hasmat Bhai’s various friends helping him covertly. Hasmat Bhai is the protagonist because his commitment to his inner voice is the strongest. He may have his limits but clarion calls to toe the community line do not define them. It is the genuineness with which this thought has been portrayed that makes this movie worth a watch.

Sure, it has its drawbacks. It gets preachy at times, and the sermon to Mr Kasuri (a very one-dimensional Om Puri) by Hasmat Bhai comes very close to overkill. But most of the times the director stays far far away from pretentiousness. The characters other than Hasmat Bhai are not that well-written and do not engage you as much, except when they are interacting with Hasmat. Also, by focusing on one community, the director is providing ammunition to those who might want to dub him partisan. But I feel the story could as well have been set in any community and to look at it with a narrow vision would be a folly.

Paresh Rawal as Hasmat Bhai is a not a revelation since we know how good an actor he is, but it sure is refreshing to see him play a not over the top character for a change. Being from Lucknow, I can appreciate the nuances he brought to the role to depict an Allahabadi, and his portrayal of the internal struggles of Hasmat is too good. Pawan Malhotra, as the Maulvi was a revelation because it took me a while to realize that it is him. The voice that he used, the mannerisms, the expressions, and his diction all added to the character and showed how he could be revered by some and feared by others. Om Puri, as I said, carried the same expression throughout and didn’t have too much to do. The rest of the supporting cast was adequate and the interactions that Hasmat had with them which made the movie watchable.

I would have recommended watching this one on DVD, but since it is not running in cinema halls anymore that is a moot point. It is not engaging throughout, and has a few troughs among more frequent crests. But the central thought has been depicted with simplicity and genuineness, and for that you should watch it.

Deepawali

Posted in Bangalore, India, Life, Me, something I like by urmilesh on November 5, 2010

I wish a very happy Deepawali to all readers of this blog. And I leave you with one of my favourite Deepawali pics (all time favourites actually) with two of my best buddies. The underlying message is, enjoy your crackers but also care about your (and others’) eardrums.

Have a good one.

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Something to think about…

Posted in India, Life, something I like by urmilesh on September 23, 2010

I am the last person you would call religious but I just had to share this.

I was working, listening to songs to drown out the voices/noises of the conference call Nazis around me, without paying too much attention to the song actually playing. And then these lines caught my attention.

Very apt, especially considering all the commotion surrounding the temple/mosque at Ayodhya debate. I am not putting the lyrics here or embedding the video because I feel you’d do well to listen to it.

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Studio 60 once more

Posted in something I like, TV by urmilesh on June 1, 2010

Six episodes into the first (and only) season and I am hooked. I am actually not watching more than one episode a day because I want to prolong the season one as much as possible.

It is one of the smartest shows I have seen (and I have seen a few) and isn’t too difficult to follow either.
Why was this show cancelled?

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Studio 60

Posted in Random Thoughts, something I like, TV by urmilesh on May 17, 2010

Ever since I have been enthralled by The West Wing (West Winging as Amitabh Bachchan calls it), I have been a great fan of Aaron Sorkin’s writing.

So it was with much anticipation that I started watching “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”. 2 episodes into the series, and I have not been able to figure out why it did not get an extension beyond one year. Within the 2 episodes it has shown itself to be funny, smart, witty, not thinking audience to be dodos, giving enough of a glimpse into behind the scenes atmosphere of a TV show (applies to US only I guess) to elicit interest without being overbearing, and being played out by good actors.

I do hope that while watching the remainder of its one and only season I do not end up agreeing with the decision to cancel it.

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A tale of three centuries…

Posted in Bangalore, cricket, something I like by urmilesh on April 16, 2010

The first time I saw GOD (he was still called Sachin Tendulkar then) bat in a stadium, it was an India-SriLanka test match in Lucknow. He did not disappoint me, he scored a fluent 142, India won the match, and I got my money’s worth.

The next time I got to see him bat live, it was in Kanpur, in a one day match between India and Australia. Once again he stepped forward and treated me to a brisk century (100 off 89 balls with 7 sixes), India won the match and I was on top of the world.

The only format in which I have not seen him bat live yet is the Twenty-Twenty format. This aberration will be taken care of tomorrow when I get to watch his team (it literally is the Indian team of the nineties, they win only when he does well) Mumbai Indians in their league match against Bangalore (in IPL). So keeping the past tradition in mind, a century is in order and a win looks inevitable.

Can’t wait :)

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test post

Posted in Uncategorized by urmilesh on March 25, 2010

this is a test post using mobpress on my phone. Please ignore.

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