Saturday, August 30, 2008

Rock On!! Movie Review

It is good to see Bollywood movies breaking the norm, because for me a Hindi film that is not run-of-the-mill is worth seeing. Rock On!! starts off with 4 guys tuning their instruments in a 'studio' that could only be called that because the acoustics of the dilapidated room seem to be good enough. We get a glimpse of how they go about making their music - Aditya (Farhan Akhtar) explains the theme of his lyrics which is to ask the most basic of questions (Why is the sky blue? Why is the earth round?), Rob (Luke Kenny) on the keyboard says he will start off with D major as Kedar (Purab Kohli) on the drums jokes that that's the way he always starts and Joe (Arjun Rampal) mentions his contribution to the song on the guitar. It's nice to see how Magik (the somewhat lame name of the band) come up with their music and the scene ends with Aditya claiming that no one 'takes over' in their band. It's immediately evident why Magik ceases to exist as the film jumps to the present day.

With the four band members either still living or trying to escape their past, Rock On!! moves between the past and the present nicely. The present seems to move along a bit too slowly though, but maybe that's because it’s such a stark contrast to the great high of the music that Magik dishes out. One of the highlights of the movie is Magik taking part in a music competition that could give them the break they've been striving for. Aditya brings the crowd into the mix as he makes them go 'na na na na' when he raises his hand and he goes into the zone using the energy from the crowd to elevate what on paper sounds like a pretty ordinary song. Sure, it’s quite unrealistic how the crowd responds to a raised hand but it worked for me and the guys on stage aren't just good musicians, they are good showmen.

Farhan Akhtar likes to make impressive debuts. Dil Chahta Hai was a classy directorial debut and now he takes the lead in a group of exceptionally well cast relative unknowns. The movie is about doing what you love and when you're presented with a chance to follow your passion, go ahead and take it for not everyone gets a second chance. It is a simplistic view and Joe's wife Debbie (Shahana Goswami) beseeches her husband to do what is right for his family rather than follow a dream that derailed his life the first time he chased it. Shahana plays Debbie with the right mix of street smart spunk and the love that she has for her all too innocent husband is apparent when she has a mostly one-sided conversation with Aditya about how not everyone has luck on their side. The rest of the cast do amicably and Purab Kohli getting to play the funny guy, puts a broad smile on your face with his rendition of 'I will survive'.

Rock On!! is, however, longer than it should have been and at times, the director's focus on showcasing the artistic excellence of his shots dilutes the actual emotions that come out from the actors. Some of the scenes between Aditya and his wife, Sakshi (Prachi Desai) seem artificial just because of the above mentioned reason. The ending montage that lets us know what the protagonists go on to become, also seemed a bit unrealistic. But there are more highs than lows in this movie, and with Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy doing a great job with the music, you've got a more than decent offering from Abhishek Kapoor and Farhan Akhtar. I like that some movies from the Bollywood stable are pushing the boundaries as to what Indian filmmakers can do, and that's reason enough for me to recommend this movie.

My rating: 7/10

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Full circle at the dumpster

I'm back from Southern California and the new semester starts in a couple of days. As much as I try to deny it, I'm going to be a junior at college. I've got 4 months left as a teenager and I'm pretty sure 20 is going to be the new 13 - neither here nor there. But to happier thoughts now. Following my trip to LA, I have decided that I am going to live for some time, somewhere in California (Malibu would be ideal, but I'm not picky). Is it just me or does the sun just shine brighter in California?

When I left for Cali, the apartment was, to put it extremely mildly, a mess. There were spoons dipped in Nutella hidden underneath the sofa cushions, stuff overflowing from the trash can, boxes and suitcases lying around and a huge mattress spread across the dining area. I lived through this mess for three months and so I had reached a new level of tolerance for all things insanely smelly and dirty. However my room-mates for the year, who had just moved in, couldn't stand the unique smell of stale food and Febreze and so took the vacuum cleaner and went to town on the carpet. When I came back home last night, the apartment was, as Ravi Shastri would say, 'Clean as a whistle' (whatever that means). My room-mates were quite pleased with their work and I was relieved that I didn't have to unclog a toilet or scoop chocolate paste off the backside of a cushion.

Since my room-mates had gone back to India and Dubai earlier in the Summer, I had three new sub-leasing room-mates and so I took care of the bills and they would pay me back. All the bills that I had paid for the month of July had been carefully tabulated in a notebook and I had kept it on a desk so that the residents could drop off their cheques with the amounts specified on the notebook. As I was surveying the clean apartment yesterday, I noticed that the notebook was not in its usual place. I asked one of room-mates, who shall be known as "IS", whether he had seen a book with a white coloured cover. IS replied, "Oh, I think I threw it away while cleaning up the apartment". After collecting my thoughts, I repeated the question just to receive the same answer, yet in a more concerned 'Oh shit!' tone. Another one of my room-mates, who is widely considered to be the smartest person in a 100 mile radius, said calmly, "I guess, you guys just have to dig through the dumpster and find the book".

"We look like classy hobos", said IS as we looked for our trash bags next to the dumpster. Luckily our trash bags were unique and so we narrowed down our choices to 5 trash bags filled with old food and spoons dipped in Nutella. Since I was the only one who had anything to lose, I took out my trusty w810i and started flashing the torchlight as I rifled through one trash bag after another. The wise room-mate announced that he thought we would never find the book when I triumphantly lifted it out of the fifth trash bag. I don't know what I would have done if the book had been lost (I had no idea what each person owed me exactly) and so I was extremely proud of my terribly hungry self for being able to go through the trash at 10 in the night and find the book with the white coloured cover.

The summer had thus ended for me, in the same way as it had started - in the midst of crap, holding on to the one book that would get me my money back.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

We won a gold?? We won a gold!!!

S: I just got a text. India won a gold...

Me: What?

S: We won a gold!

Me: We won a gold? In what?

T: Hairiest Athlete category probably.

S: I'm serious man, India won a gold... in the 10 meter air rifle. Abinav Bindra won the gold.

Me: Really? 10 meters doesn't seem like much of a distance. Is this a prank?

D: Hey R, check this out online. Maybe someone is trying to play a prank on S.

R: He's right man, Abhinav Bindra won the gold in the 10 meter air rifle.

D: Holy shit, we just won a gold!!!

Abhinav Bindra, I salute you.

Update: Abhinav Bindra receiving the gold medal.

I bold and orange, because I can

Driving without music: I had to wake up at 7:30 in the morning today to drop a friend off at a Cricket ground. At about 4:30 AM I figured that I could do with some sleep before driving 30 miles back and forth. I also decided that I would burn an awesome mix to entertain me when I make the long drive back home. The CD was going to be a collection of Clapton, Mayer, and Jack Johnson songs, but when I inserted the burnt CD all I saw was 'Error' on the stereo display. It is so not fun driving on your own, with no good music and only concrete and more concrete as the sights to take in.

Last Week of Work: At the end of this week, I would have successfully completed my first internship. At work, I have 6 other colleagues who are interns and all of us work in cubicles in a big room. Three of us go to UT, three go to Oklahoma University, and one goes to Texas A&M. The rivalry amongst these schools is pretty intense, but unfortunately all the jabs that we, the Longhorns, have made have been met with silence. The A&M guy likes UT (he is part of a rare breed), and the OU guys don't really care when we make insanely funny jokes (Why doesn't Texas drown in the Gulf of Mexico? Because Oklahoma sucks).

An Indecisive E-Shopper: I have been scouring the web for a good digital SLR camera for a while now. I am an amateur at photography and I did not want anything too complex or too expensive. I finally settled on the Olympus E-410, a very portable DSLR that was in the lower price range. Whenever I need to make an expensive purchase, I get cold feet. Until I start supporting myself financially, I think this trait of mine is going to persist. As a result, I put off the decision for a few hours and when I came back online, I couldn't decide which merchant to buy it from. So I had to do what I always do when I don't know what to do: call mom. After some forceful "Camera vaangu da!"1 from her, I finally clicked the purchase button.

I can now put so much vetti scene with the camera!

California Calling: Right after I get done with my internship, I head off to Los Angeles, California. My sister who has to always one-up me in everything is joining USC after a year in LSE and I'm using that as an excuse to go to my favourite state in the US (Ok, I'll be glad to see you too sis). This time I have the license to drive and so hopefully I can drive down the Pacific Highway - I've heard the view is breathtaking. I would also love to go clubbing in LA, but the entry for the clubs is going to be on the steeper side...

And I doubt my mom will be like "Club-ukku po da!"2.

1 "Buy the camera"
2 "Go to the club"

Monday, August 04, 2008

In My Fourth Semester, I

I usually post my end-of-semester post a week after I'm done with my final exams. This time, a week after finals, I was in London and Paris. Not even my imaginary blog fan could have forced me to write anything during my euro trip, and so now I post my long awaited (you are welcome, Angelina) post on what I did in my fourth semester of college.

In my fourth semester, I

1. finished a self-study course 4 weeks before I had to, but missed the early final because I didn't pay close enough attention to the date of the exam.

2. kept wickets, bowled off spin and took two wickets, took two catches (one as keeper and one as bowler) and opened the batting in a game that we won with a bonus point. Personally one of my better days on a Cricket field.

3. had no class on Friday.

4. got a kick ass car. It was my dad's car but he moved back to India and I was the lucky beneficiary. The next thing to do is to get a custom license plate that reads NEON.

5. wrote a piece on Chennai in chaste Hindi and it was published in a book called Sandesh. Ok, everyone in my Hindi class got published but a year ago, I couldn't even frame a sentence in Hindi.

6. discovered the cold, sweet tasting beauty that is Starbuck's Mocha Frappucino - double blended.

7. won the election to become the Vice Captain of the Longhorn Cricket Club. Gave impromptu speech about how the captain or vice captain is not necessarily the best batsman or the best bowler because clearly I wouldn't have had a shot otherwise.

8. played my most successful April Fools prank to date.

9. decided that the 5-5-5 deal (three medium pizzas for $5 each) from Pizza Hut was the best bet when hungry. The food was cheap and it came to me.

10. witnessed my first ever hail storm. The lights went out, our old rickety apartment started to shake and the dashboard of my kick-ass car that was parked facing the sky cracked. The experience could have been better.

11. did not buy a single text book. I consider this a big achievement since I was naive enough to shelve out $150 dollars for a Calculus book in my first semester.

12. took Micro-Economics because it sounded cool. It turned out to be the most boring class I've ever enrolled in with the professor telling us to remember that the supply curve faced upwards because the word 'up' was in s'up'ply. As a result, I ended up honing my crossword and sudoku skills in class.

13. accidentally used inappropriate innuendo with my Hindi professor in class. We had to use two verbs in the future tense and come up with a sentence. Most of the verbs were used up when my turn came and so I said, "Main so-oonga, tum daloge".

Other Awesome Reads:
Things I did in my third semester of college
Things I did in my second semester of college
Things I did in my first semester of college