Friday, November 23, 2007

Saawariya Movie Review


We do not know where and when the story of Saawariya takes place. It takes place in a city where it rains and snows, where boats take you from one end to another and where prostitutes are aplenty. A city where despair is woefully apparent, but only in the absence of love. Sanjay Leela Bhansali has taken new faces, Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor, and has made use of their innocence to etch out two characters, Ranbir Raj and Sakina, both madly in love. The twist, however, is that Sakina is in love with Imaan, enacted by Salman Khan, and is unable to move on with her life, despite being away from him for close to a year.

Saawariya is based on Fyodor Dostoevsky's short story, "White Nights", and the treatment of the script is fantastic. It is a completely different concept, with a fictional town created with beautiful, elaborate sets and the whole idea of using blues and greens in every shot with the sun never being shown was brilliantly showcased. Saawariya appeals because the simple nature of the story gels amazingly with the setting. The bright neons, the tall clock tower and the bridge around which the story revolves all play a part in this movie.

Ranbir Kapoor makes a good debut, bringing out his character's naivety and innocence, through his dialogue delivery and, of course, his dorky dance moves. Sonam Kapoor started out looking completely out of place but as the movie progressed she seemed to get into her character better, but there is a lot of scope for her to improve as an actress. Rani Mukherjee is the narrator of the movie - she is a prostitute in what happens to be a red light area of the town. Rani, plays her role with the right mix of spunky attitude and poor English, and steals the show in all her scenes.

From the happy, guitar based title track to the romantic, soulful number, Jaan-E-Jaan, music composer Monty has been a revelation. I had never heard any of his work before this, but he does a wonderful job in bringing the story alive with his music. The art direction in this movie, I think, was the big difference. The whole world of Ranbir and Sakina was surreal and I doubt the movie would have worked if it wasn't for that.

Saawariya will have its critics (I suppose it can get boring for some since there is no real urgency or quick tempo to the movie) but I enjoyed the movie. I enjoyed it because it was different; different from the mindless, star fuelled Bollywood flicks that I've become accustomed to. Sanjay Leela Bhansali brings to the screen a world where to love is the obvious thing to do, and to suffer because of that, is a natural consequence.

My Verdict: 7.5/10

Monday, November 19, 2007

We are the Champions!


I doubt I have ever been happier. On Saturday, the Longhorn Cricket Club won the the Central Texas Cricket League Division B Championship. It was an incredible victory and the fact that we reached the finals, let alone clinch the trophy, surprised most (including ourselves). One of my favourite series of books is the Glory Gardens series written by Bob Cattell, where he writes about this club team in England that takes part in a Cricket league and about their progress through each season. I loved those books because the Cricket matches depicted in that series seemed so real and it really made me want to be a part of a team like that. The camaraderie, team spirit and the knack of rising to the occasion (on most situations) were aspects that made me love that book series. And now, I can look back on a Cricket season that had its downs (the first 6 games) and its amazing highs (the last 5 games) and mark one more thing off my 'things-I-have-to-do-before-I'm-too-old-to-do-those-things' list.

On Saturday, we completed a streak of 5 consecutive wins and all the 5 games involved chasing down a total. The final game had us chasing 152 to win in 20 overs and we were looking down the barrel at around the 14th over when we needed close to 60 runs to win with our best hitter back in the hut. People say Cricket is a confidence game and I doubt the guy who won the game for us would disagree. Dhruv came in with 9 runs per over needed and he was pretty low on confidence. He played out two dot balls which just seemed to increase the pressure and then broke the shackles with a huge 6 over mid wicket. It was our game all the way from there as he motored along with our captain, Mohit, picking up 2s with ease and then hitting the occasional boundary to keep us on track. At a certain stage, we needed 33 to win of 19 balls and as if following a magical script, Mohit played a simple flick off his legs and the ball sailed over deep square leg. Yuvraj Singh would have been proud of that shot. The opponents hadn't given up and a tight 18th over brought the equation down to 23 runs of 2 overs. Dhruv used the spread out field to his advantage as he and Mohit ran twos off 4 off the 6 balls. The other two balls of the over, well, Dhruv cracked both of them for 4, giving the fielders no chance at stopping the ball. One over to go, 6 needed. Two 2s and one wide brought it down to 1 run off 3 balls. At this point, the whole team was going crazy at the boundary line with shouts of 'Jeetega bhai jeetega, LCC jeetega!!' getting louder and louder. The bowler ran in and bowled a fuller delivery towards the leg stump. Dhruv got into position and lifted it over midwicket, and even before the ball could sail over the fence, the entire team was on the pitch jumping on top of the man of the match. The last 10 balls had yielded 28 runs and we had clinched the Division B Championship.

It was an amazing season. I have never been part of a Championship winning squad and so I had never realized the magnitude of pride and joy that one feels for himself and for the team. The final 5 games would definitely count as the greatest comeback in Central Texas Cricket League history and the final game, between the Longhorn Cricket Club and the Excaliburs, would count as the best game of Cricket this wonderful little city of Austin has witnessed.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Deepavali...

Sometimes, the smallest things can make you miss home the most. Not being able to listen to the Sun TV announcer go 'Thiraikku vandhu sila maathangalae aana super hit athiradi thiraipadam!' (super hit action movie that was in theaters just months ago), or waking up at 4:30 am with the aim of bursting crackers and instead sitting and drinking coffee for a full half hour, or even the dread with which I sit while my mom puts oil on my hair and forces me to have a bath with sheekai (yes that’s how I say it). Deepavali was just such a special festival - the vain attempts at trying to burst a bijili in my hand, the abundance of good food and the ever present threat of being hit by a 'colour' or 'bomb' rocket. There is none of that here, well there are going to be some fireworks tomorrow from what I hear, but it’s not the same thing.

For me Deepavali was all about those small things. The joy of coming up with a complicated arrangement with old cans, lots of sand and crackers just to see the cans move an inch when the cracker burst was just amazing. Even tolerating the neighbour who kept commenting that we were burning our parent's money away (he was a big metaphor person) was part of the fun. For some weird reason he was known as 'Samosa thalai' (Samosa head). I still don't know why.

I watched the trailors of Saawariya and Om Shanti Om now and that kind of brought back all the memories of Deepavali. The big budget movies, released amidst huge huge hype, that I never got tickets to and always seemed to disappoint when I finally got to see them. The only movie I ever got to see on Deepavali was that Vikram starrer Majaa and boy was that a bad movie. But still, its part of the whole Deepavali memory that I cherish.

It's a great festival, Deepavali, and it was never about the fireworks for me (I even stopped buying crackers after a while). It was about spending that day with family, a great group of friends, and of course watching those 'super hit' movies on TV.

Happy Deepavali :)