Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Soldier Is Never Off Duty

That is one catchy tagline for any film buff. I'd done my bit of work for this weekend, so I thought I would pamper myself a little.
Now this is not exactly a review, let me warn you. It's what went on in my mind-brain (for those who believe the two are separate.)
I went to the cinema with the thought of seeing 'Holiday' because my wife who is always concerned about my workaholic tendency wanted me to relax lest I go crazy because of overwork or loneliness or both. (We are in what the shrinks call 'a long-distance relationship'.) 
I saw the posters lining the main hall and one of them was Filmistan. That confused me for a bit because some of my film industry friends had praised Filmistan as a good film without stars so that urge to watch 'meaningful' cinema and do my bit to encourage indie film surged up my consciousness.
However, my conscience finally voted for Holiday. For film critics or reviewers this could point to what a large section of movie fans contemplate before spending their money.
For one, indie films generally take up a social problem. They are heavy to watch in the sense that they either make you uncomfortable or guilty or angry or sometimes they bore you to death. Now I don't earn a six-figure salary. So try as I might I don't qualify for being in the upper class where you are paid to take only major decisions and leave the dogwork to subordinates. I spend my working weekdays doing largely my boss' bidding and fortunately or unfortunately being the sort of person who likes to complete my work and get it out of my system, as soon as he finds me sitting idle, he'll conjure up some extra work for me. Even if I have my hands full, he'll dump work on me and then quip, 'You should learn to multi-task.' 
Secondly, the faces in indie films are very strange. I agree that that is how a normal human being looks - not made up or trying hard to be something he's not. You might call me a racist but after spending my weekly off in office completing my pending work I'd rather spend my only free evening watching a handsome man and a beautiful woman for two hours if I absolutely have to.
Thirdly indie films are more realistic. Like I am sometimes confused about the things that happen inspite of my best efforts to avoid them, similarly the indie film hero or heroine are confused at what life offers them. Now why should I pay my hard-earned money to see other people who are caught in the same vicious circle that I am? I want to get out of this vicious circle even if it is to happen vicariously. So at the end of a 7-day week I'd rather watch a glamour-filled, illogical song-and-dance sequence than a drab picture of the society, however logical, relevant and necessary that may be. Newspapers and news channel are doing that job more brilliantly.
Finally even though I have some little bit of intelligence to appreciate indie films I vetoed the idea and bought a ticket for 'Holiday', hoping that it would help me to relax.
And I shamelessly declare that it did. So those of you who think I'm an idiot can stop reading (unless you've already taken the decision).
The story in a nutshell is how a soldier of the Indian army comes on a vacation to Mumbai and his parents want him to marry. By chance he nabs a terrorist which leads him to involve his army colleagues into successfully thwarting a serial bomb blast plot in the city. The villain is naturally incensed and bays for the hero's blood. The soldier offers himself as a sacrificial goat for the good of the country and ultimately manages to save the country from terrorists. He doesn't marry his lady love though, from which a seasoned moviegoer like me (nowadays that's no virtue because the Harry Potter series and other multiple-sequel movies have taught even children the trick) can easily deduce that the story has been deliberately kept open for part II.
To the credit of of the writer-director (AR Murgadoss, of Ghajini fame), he has used every hat in the scriptwriter's wardrobe - a love interest, put the hero into trouble, give him a mission, put him into more trouble, then a little love trouble and finally dump him into a no-win situation and then bring him out of it successfully. To those of my friends with a writer's orientation, here's an example of what people like and what 'works' with the target audience. 
Mind you - what people like, not what you would have them like or what you think they like or what you feel they SHOULD like. If it has grossed 85 crores in 5 days it means that word-of-mouth publicity is out and people who are seeing the movie are recommending it to friends and relatives. 
Spending 100 crores or more on publicity doesn't ensure an audience - it's the boyfriend who woos his girlfriend to accompany him to the movie who fulfills the producer's ambition, it's the wife who pesters her husband; the children who coax their parents to take them to the movie and the husband-wife who, after enquiring with a host of people including friends and acquaintances that the movie is worth watching which finally lures the audiences into the theatres.
So to remind you again Holiday 85 crores in 5 days. Compare that with Filmistan - 5 crores (almost) in 5 days. 
Time for the second lot of sceptics to stop reading (unless they haven't already done so.)
Now what did I learn from Holiday?
1- Akshay Kumar can still be unmarried.
2- Sonakshi Sinha hasn't lost any weight. (Not that I mind it but I'm stating it because both she and the media have been trying to underline that she doesn't mind being overweight yet she has in the past few months cut it down. That, to me is confusing.)
3- The only motivation for heroines to sign movies is the money. Because Sonakshi's character-graph is disgusting. To her credit, she has played it very naturally. 
4- Girls in Mumbai still come out with a tea-tray when they have to meet prospective grooms. I got married 18 years ago and even then none of the prospective 'brides' I met came out with tea-trays. I wonder if that was so because I don't drink tea?
5- That in order to be called 'modern' a girl has to wear shorts, she has to slap her father and smoke and drink.
6- That the modern heroine is an athlete, a boxer and a basket ball champ yet the director 'uses' her talents only to make the hero fall in love with her.
7- This is something I felt was a good eye-opener for us citizens - if terrorists can find people to become suicide bombers, if soldiers can risk their lives to protect the country, why aren't common citizens willing to risk their lives to save their own kith and kin?
To be honest, the opening scenes of Holiday were actually regressive and painted a very sorry and incorrect picture of young Indian girls, but when the tussle between the terrorists and the hero started, the film did leave me spellbound for some time.
And to be honest, I enjoyed the film. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

India Was One

India Was One by An Indian

The Blurb

…Suddenly, he saw something shiny at the bottom of the abyss. He squinted to see what it was. He ran back to his binoculars and turned them to see what it was. Sharp barbed wires that separated the two mountains came into focus. He had come as far as he could in his country. But she was standing in another country.

He was in South India and she was in North India…

Have you ever imagined India being divided into two countries? What happens to the millions of Indians who are from South India but are now residing in North India? Kaahi & Jai were two such people who got trapped in this situation. Everything was going smoothly for them and suddenly, their world turned upside down.

How will they get together? Will India become one again?

Take an exciting journey with them from their college days in Mumbai to their life in the US and back to India when they find out that India is divided.

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Meet the Author

The Author calls himself An Indian. We have no pics of him. But the Author does have something to say to every Indian out there....

Dear Readers,

I wanted to tell a story peppering it with Indian languages and narrating my experiences, inter-weaving them with some imaginary tale. When I mentioned this idea to my wife, her very first question was, "Who is your target audience?" That made me "think outside the box". After reading the book, you'll agree that there is no target audience. I'd say - 10+, any sex, from any country, any ethnicity, any religion - is the intended audience.

When I wanted to tell a story, I wanted to "lull" the reader into thinking that they are just reading a travelogue. Making them wonder where (if at all anywhere) the story is going. Is it just another boring experience written by a NRI? AND THEN BOOM. It hits you. Suddenly, along with the characters, the reader's dream world shatters.

This book is broken up in 3 parts. And it is intentional. Let me explain why.

The first part is about the Indian culture. Most Indians (in India) already know it. But what about NRIs? They may find it nostalgic. And what about their kids? They may have a better understanding about their roots and culture. And the non-Indian find it very fascinating. 

The second part is about life in the US. Readers who are in the US may find it a bit like a travelogue. However, others may find it very interesting. Those who can't be here get a glimpse into the US life of an Indian (and the US life in general).

The third part is for everyone. 

Hence, you'll notice that different people react differently to this book. There is something for everyone.

I hope this helps you.

Thank you,
An Indian   

The author was born and raised in Mumbai, India. He came to the US in 1989 and lived in New York.  This book is for those who like travel, history, romance, culture, cuisine, sports, political-thriller, etc. It’s dubbed as a realistic-fiction. A fiction based on some real events.  He currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

He is very clear about his Target Audience..  

AudienceHow will he benefit?
Age 10 and aboveWill learn about India
Any ReligionWill Understand India
Indians in IndiaWill feel proud of India
NRIsNostalgic moments
Kids of NRIsWill connect with their roots
Non IndiansWill want to visit india
People who Love IndiaWill know what the book is conveying
People who want to know about India Will fall in love with India

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