Friday, December 27, 2013

Six Suspects

Six Suspects is a murder mystery novel written by Vikas Swarup, an Indian diplomat. He is well known for his debut novel Q & A which has been made into Academy Award winning film Slumdog Millionaire. I have read this novel around 9 months before. It is just yesterday I’ve got the mood and time to write my opinion about Six Suspects. Actually I am running out of movies in my hard disk, and I don’t know what else to do in the little leisure time I get.!!

A suspect is someone who is accused of a crime. Here we have six different suspects as the title suggests and the crime they are accused of is a murder. It is a high profile murder occurred at the capital city of India and the victim, Vivek ‘Vicky’ Rai happened to be the son of U.P home minister. Vicky throws a party in his farmhouse in Delhi to celebrate his acquittal from a murder case which he did before 7 years. That’s where he was killed. Inside the farm there found six individuals, each one with a revolver in their possession and indeed with a motive that is enough to kill Vicky Rai.

Let’s see the suspects one by one.

  1. The actress – Shabnam Saxena, a Bollywood actress and heartthrob of many youngsters who lands herself in a bloody mess that takes away her name and fame.
  2. The bureaucrat – Mohan Kumar, a corrupt bureaucrat who claims himself as Mohanlal Karamchand Gandhi after a mishap when he attends a reality show.
  3. The tribal – Eketi, a tribesman in Andaman and Nicobar who is on a quest to trace and recover a sacred stone that belongs his tribe.
  4. The thief – Munna, a petty thief who falls in love with a very rich girl and daughter of a politician that leads himself to problems that are unimaginable.
  5. The politician – Jagannath Rai, an ambitious politician who wants to take over the throne and become chief minister. He also happens to be father of the victim.
  6. The American – Larry Page, who visits India to meet his fiancé whom he knew through internet.

What is interesting about the novel is the way it is presented to the readers. The characterization of each suspect is superb and narrated cleverly. After the prologue, each character is introduced through a back story, their motives to carry out the task, i.e., the murder of Vicky Rai and the evidences in separate chapters .Though all the characters are etched out in a neat manner, the part of the actress and the politician are outstanding. The politician's dark and dirty games in order to attain the throne is superbly written. Others are also good except 'the American' part which I find damn boring. He could've been cut out from the novel and title can be changed to Five Suspects!!

Another interesting aspect about the novel is, many events in the story are derived from real life incidents. The case for which Vicky Rai was acquitted is based on Jessica Lal murder case. Other events like driving over the platform killing homeless people, hunting deer and other protected species from forests are also based on real life events. I don’t know their real life counterparts though. The novel also parallels the Indian political scenario, the corrupt politicians and bureaucrats, the way they operate for their benefits, the industrialists who run the government by bribing the ministers and so on. Being a diplomat, the author would not have much difficulty in expressing these things.

Apart from these aspects, the novel has nothing special to call it a great piece of work. Its like a commercial movie. No wonder if it is made into a movie in the future. By the time I started reading it, I was told that it was murder mystery novel. That’s the first reason I chose to read it. When we read a mystery novel, we know that at the end the mystery will be revealed. The revelation should be shocking enough to make you speechless. Unfortunately here the revelation is not much shocking, or at least for me it was not. I felt that, as the end is approaching, I found the plot getting convoluted. Nevertheless, this could be read for its distinctive style of narration and the real life inspirations. If you are an avid reader, and likes mystery and investigative genres, Six Suspects will keep you engaged and I could say you won’t throw it away in the halfway of reading.

Happy reading…!!!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Regional movie trivia - facts about Indian Films

Previously I have posted a few trivia about English films. Not only they are fascinating. Trivia from our own regional language films are also good to know. Here are some of them listed below. Happy reading..!!
Bala succeeded in shooting a scene in the 2007 Ardha Kumbh Mela without anyone's knowledge for his film Naan Kadavul.

Andha naal is the first Tamil-language film without song sequences.
Antha naal (1954)
The ring-tone in Abhishek's mobile 'Aye Handsome' in the film Jhoom Bharabar Jhoom is voice of his wife and actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan!!!

Some of the parade scenes in the film Dil Se were shot during the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of India's independence.                 

Most of the young actors who appeared in the film Salaam Bombay! were actual street children

The role of Shekar in the Maniratnam film Bumbai was initially offered to Cameraman Rajiv Menon but he turned it down. By the way, don't they look same? !!
Arvind Swamy
Rajiv Menon
The producers and director of the film Kamasutra: A tale of love bribed the Indian authorities “protection money” to avoid prosecution, when they became aware of the content of the film. Before that the film was shot under a different name.

The slaughter house scenes in Gangs of Wasseypur were actually shot in a slaughter house in Allahabad. The back story of Sultan Qureshi is told as a fearsome butcher who at the age of 12 could slaughter and skin 1 buffalo in a single day. Similarly, Sultan in the contemporary time scale of the film could cut 60 buffaloes in a day. Both of these were developed on seeing a boy and man doing it.

When Aparajito won Golden Lion award at Venice film festival, its director Satyajit Ray was utterly flabbergasted as he felt that the film had some serious flaws. It is the first Indian film to win the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. 
Satyajit Ray - the legendary director
From the film Aparajito
Former France president Francois Mitterrand personally went to Satyajit Ray’s home in Calcutta to present him with the The Legion of Honor, the most prestigious award in France, instead of inviting him to France for the award ceremony.
Ray and Francois Mitterand at the Award ceremony
Prince Charles served as a clapper boy for some of the scenes while on a visit to the set of Mangal Pandey – The Rising.
Here are the links for my other trivia..
Trivia I
Trivia II
Academy Award Trivia

Irandam Ulagam - my opinion

It’s been a while since I have updated my blog. After joining job in May, I didn’t get much free time as before. Being in a banking sector, my weekend is restricted to only one day, Sunday. That one day leave used to go off in either washing or sleeping or both. I almost forgot that I am having blog account and it was not updated after April 2013. Even now I have no big intention to post anything. But after seeing different reviews and opinions about the recent Tamil flick Irandam Ulagam, I feel that I also should post what my opinion about the film. A few days back, I watched the film with my colleagues in Ramesh Theatre, Ramanathapuram. One reason I chose to watch the film in that theatre rather than the one in my hometown is that, it was a well maintained, neat cinema hall with fantastic acoustics and ambiance.

Before watching the film itself, I’ve heard many reviews from friends and blogs with most of them happened to be negative. Much of them said that the script is worst, sema mokka film, can’t bear the length, no logic at all, blah blah blah. I don’t deny that the script is weak and lengthy. But the film is not as bad as the negative criticisms it got so far. Tamil cinema audiences enjoy films like Azhagu rajas, sagunis, singams, thalaivas, vaalibar sangams, etc, etc without any logic and story. But this is a fantasy movie. Why expect logic in a fantasy movie? Funny, isn’t it?

At the interval, my friend asked me how the film was. I said “story ellam sumaar than.. but parkirathuku sema colorful a iruku.. Fantastic visuals” (its little boring, but very colorful).

He replied me, “yes. Ithu vara tamil la intha mathiri visuals yarum try pannathilla. Brave attempt” (no one has tried visuals like this in tamil cinema).

I agree with my friend completely. Irandam Ulagam comes with never-seen-before visuals in tamil cinema. For that one reason I’d like to watch the film one more time despite its boring second half. This is neither the best of Selva, nor great like his previous ventures Puthupettai, Rainbow Colony. But surely a milestone in tamil cinema when it comes to visuals. So much vivid and I was amazed at the visual presentation of the film. Had the director concentrated a little more on the script, it'd be more terrific. I am not trying to exaggerate things here as a Selvaragahavan fan. As a movie buff, I quite liked this film because of its vivid imagery, despite some flaws the film has come along with. This was what came to my mind while coming out of the theatre.  Apart from the fantastic imagery, I liked the actings of Arya and Anushka also.

I still don’t understand why people don’t welcome such a new, brave attempt. Who knows... If it comes from a newcomer director or the same has been made in English by a James Cameroon or a Spielberg and dubbed into regional languages, they will silently watch it keeping aside the logic and other things and praise it, like how they praised Avatar and Jurassic park.

Ok. Let’s stop here. I am not going too deep. This is not  a review of the film. I just wanted to share how I felt after watching the film. Those who haven’t seen the film yet, please watch it in theatres and give your honest opinions. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Special 26 - an excellent heist thriller

Remember the tamil film Guru Shishyan released in late 80s? In that film, there comes a funny scene in which Rajini and Prabu pose as bogus CBI officers and conduct raid in another police officer’s house. At that period of time, there actually happened ‘real’ bogus raid in a Mumbai jewellery shop by a group of persons posing as CBI officers. It is reported that they were never caught by the police. I don’t know whether that scene in Guru Shishyan was inspired by this event or accidental. But Special 26 is not accidental. It is made entirely based on those events.

Kollywood and Bollywood have a great similarity in getting plagued by masala flicks. There is a two way communication between these woods in remaking films. One need to forget that there is a word called ‘logic’ and should not even think of what the story is while watching those films. But there used to happen rare occurrences of good films then and there. Here comes Special 26 as the above mentioned the occurrence.

Special 26 is special because it deviates from many stereotypic elements of a usual bollywood masala flick. The mass hero turns into a thief and the most wanted villain turns into a honest government official. There is no song-dance (except only one), no songs set in foreign locations, no forced comedies, and no 1:10 fight scenes. Also, an Akshay Kumar film without any item number is very unusual. It’s about well dressed professional conmen who carry out raids by posing themselves as CBI officers. Their targets are the big hands having loads of unaccounted cash and jewels so that the crime could not be reported. They are perfectly professional and vanish without any trace.

The plot-driven approach by Neeraj Pandey (remember A Wednesday) works very well here, accompanied by the well acted cast and fantastic production design. Being a film based on real events, thankfully it didn’t turn out as a docu-drama. The script is well written and executed, making the story to go on in a gripping fashion. The narration spans across different places – Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi, Rajasthan and Chandigarh. There are many funny and comic moments which are not induced and rather subtle. 

The production design deserves a special mention here as it brought out the mid-1980s look very exquisitely. Old model dialing phones, type writers, the Rs.100 note, rickshaw-men, taxis, hand-drawn posters, costume design and hairstyles and other aspects are well researched. The 80s lifestyle is reflected realistically in a finespun way – buying imported goods from Bombay, lack of awareness about family planning (Anupam Kher has more than 6 children and one more is on the way), lovers communicating through letters, using money order service to send a sum of Rs. 100, etc. The photography is very proficient with long shots and color tone reflecting the period of the film. The background music is good but it reminded me of Billa and Don theme music at many places in the film. 

Special 26 bears a fantastic casting and amazing performances. In fact the performances by the trio – Akshay Kumar, Manoj Bajpai and Anupam Kher – is the biggest + of the film. Akshay Kumar as Ajay is the mastermind behind the fake raids. What an amazing performance Akshay ji! – as a silent, well-planned and determined in the job. This is the first time I liked him on screen. 
Manoj Bajpai who is very famous for notoriety in his works, takes up the role of real CBI officer Waseem. About his acting, he is no different from Akshay – an equally amazing performance. Special 26 will give a special place in the career of Akshay and Manoj and they will be remembered for their respective roles. Anupam Kher as Mr. Sharma j is Ajay’s accomplice. I don’t need to elaborate about his perfection here, as the versatile actor delivers an as usual excellent performance. Overall, the trio delivers A-one performance and adds more charm to the film overall. 

Jimmy Shergil has quality acting but unfortunately not given much part, as much of the focus is on Akshay and Manoj Bajpai. Divya Dutta makes presence in a few scenes as lady constable. Rajesh Sharma and Kishore Kadam as Joginder and Iqbal, are the other two accomplices of the team. They have no big part except raid scenes. I feel the romantic subplot between Kajal and Akshay is inappropriate here. Kajal has nothing to do except passing letters to Akshay, and weeping down tears. One difference from other films is that she already knows Akshay is a thief. The romance part gives a sense of boredom and is the only barrier in the gripping script. Either she could’ve given a more important role or ruled out from the film simply. Other than this aspect, everything is fine.

A movie without any conventional entertainment factors doesn’t mean it will fail to entertain the audience. Special 26, as a whole, is a very well entertaining heist thriller – with its well drafted script and charming acting that won't let down the audience.. Enough said. Enjoy the heist..

Thursday, April 4, 2013

This picture explains everything...

This is how I feel every time I book a tatkal train ticket through IRCTC. 

Image source: some facebook page.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

oh dreams.. you are fascinating!!

It was an afternoon, a couple of weeks before I guess. After taking lunch, I was sitting on the cot. My laptop was placed on the cot with a song playing in windows media player. I could not recognize the song as I was hearing it for the first time. It started with a mild prelude, sort of a song in a melancholic situation. Suddenly there was a sound in between. What is that…? It’s like the sound of a vehicle horn and what’s the need for that in this song. I wondered. In another few seconds, I heard something falling down on the floor. I woke up suddenly and realized that I was in dream. The song I listened to and the horn sound I heard were in fact in the dream which I had a few minutes before during the nap. I saw my laptop screen and it was not even turned on at that time. 

Later after a few days, I heard the same song again while I was travelling in a town bus. It was from the tamil film ‘Paradesi’. Oh.. wait.. where is the horn sound? It was missing now. I wondered how. I mean, how the horn sound came into the dream. I still have no clue about how that sound came into my dream.

Yesterday afternoon, I had this dream that a granny was taking food in my house. I saw her eating fish curry with brinjal. She is a relative to my family, of the same age as my grandmother and used to visit my house often. I saw also in the dream the same day where a man of late 30s, may be diplomat, was walking in the corridor to meet his superior officer. He had a file in his hand and while walking, he drops a book by mistake. A young man takes it and opens it. In the first page there was written something and the handwriting was quite familiar to me. And that’s the end of the dream. I couldn’t remember whether these two incidents occurred in the same dream or in different but both happened while I was sleeping yesterday noon.

Not only these two incidents, there are quite a number of dreams which threw me a lot of questions. The basic questions are ‘how’ and ‘why’. In fact dream is one thing that fascinates me like anything. I am now obsessed with them for a few months to an extent that I started making a log of my own dreams in a separate notebook.

What is a dream?
Ok. What is a dream, by the way? One greatest advantage of internet is that it serves as a source of information for almost anything and everything. My obsession and curiosity made me spent considerable amount of time in searching over the internet for stuffs related to dreams. The more I read, the more I am interested in dreams.

Researchers define dream as a picture in your head that appears while sleeping, which may or may not be related to the events of our life. It can include anything ranging from images, thoughts, emotions, etc. It may be very very vague, or extraordinarily vivid, or scary enough to take away the rest of your sleep, or pleasant enough to make you smile for next couple of days. More importantly it may or may not be meaningful. This is the most interesting aspect and beauty of dreams. 

Dream researchers claim that sometimes our dreams have our own life incidents, like a replay, with certain unfamiliar events mixed up. Our dreams are a result of our actions and thoughts throughout the day which we incorporate them. Why we see them in our dreams is still a mystery to the researchers. Some say that they really do have a purpose while some others say that they don’t have sense at all. That’s the beauty of dreams. 

Why did I dream of the granny?

As told already that dreams are a reflection of our actions, I could relate some of my dreams (which I remember) very well with the events associated with my life. I deduced to some extent the reasons for the occurrences narrated above. When I slept yesterday, I was reading a novel. It is a memoir of an intelligence officer. I have started reading it only a few days before. It was so much interesting and impressive the way the author described his office, the corridors, and all. The corridor I saw in my dream was more or less same as how I imagined the office when reading the memoir. That could be the reason why I saw a man walking with a file in his hands. The booked he dropped resembled another book I had taken from district library a few weeks before.

The granny visited my house my a few days before. On that day my mother prepared fish and brinjal for lunch. She took lunch in our house and appreciated my mother for its deliciousness! That may have a reason how she jumped into my dream. A coincidence was that, my mother again made fish on the day I had this dream. 

That makes perfect sense. At the same time, they sometimes do not have any meaning at all, like the song and horn sound. In the above narrated incidents, the actions took place in my dream are those happened earlier in my life. There are also occurrences of dreams where the actions haven’t happened really but you may either want it or don’t want to happen in your life.

I used to go to an ice cream parlor with two of my best buddies while I was doing my post graduation. Once while chitchatting in the parlor, my friend told that what I will do if my project guide visits the shop now. Actually I was eluding from my professor at that time due to delay in the task I needed to accomplish. So she made such a statement just funnily. And that night I had the dream of sitting in the same ice cream shop with the same friends and suddenly there is a voice “Ashik... What a surprise!” A very friendly and familiar voice and Yes it’s my project guide. I was shocked. And that’s the end of the dream.

Simply saying, dream is all about our day to day actions and thoughts. The question of how a particular event is reflected in our dream is answered. The ‘why’ is still unanswered and the purpose still remains a mystery.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Pepper Juice - homemade remedy for throat infections

Throat infection, sore throat or simply throat pain is a form of bacterial or sometimes viral infections. It often causes inflammation in tonsils, cough and cold. Most sore throats often get alright in 2 or 3 days without any medical treatment. At times it used to be quite annoying to an extent that we couldn’t fix our mind in work. 

Not only throat pain, whatever disease or infection hit us, we all want it to go away suddenly. We run off to doctors, he gives medicines and it works fine. But we often forget the handy, homemade remedies available in our home itself. I’d like to say ‘not aware’ rather than ‘forget’ because most of us do not know about such easy and very effective remedial measures. As for throat pain, it can be cured with just a pinch of pepper. Looks quite easy, isn’t it?

I like to call it Pepper Juice. Let’s see how to prepare it. Its not a very big deal. Anyone can make it easily with the availability of a glass of hot water and pepper powder. enough. There is no kitchen without pepper powder in it I hope.
Take a pinch or two of pepper powder and put it in a glass of water, say 200 ml. If you think it will be too spicy, add a small piece of jaggery cube to the mixture. If it is not spicy enough you feel, add one more pinch of pepper powder. Boil the mixture till it gets warmer. That’s it. Pepper Juice is ready. 
Drinking the extract once in every 3 or 4 hours while having throat infection will give you instant and effective remedy. The next day will be a day with a great relief. Why go to doctor when you have a handy remedy! Your time and money are saved.

Not only this throat infection, pepper can also be used as an effective medicine for other infections, cold, and mainly toxic contents in our food. There is a proverb well said about pepper’s significance. 

பத்து மிளகு இருந்தால் பகைவன் வீட்டிலும் சாப்பிடலாம்.

It means that when you have pepper with you, you can even eat at your enemy’s den. Such an effective natural medicine it is. Adding pepper to our daily food will improve immunity generally. Let’s utilize it effectively for own benefits.  

P.S: The entire credit for this post goes to my mother!!