Sunday, April 28, 2013

PAST FORWARD: Sunset Special: A photo essay of my personal voyages

PAST FORWARD: Sunset Special: A photo essay of my personal voyages

Sam: Jaisalmer


Sam is easily the most visited place in Jaisalmer but sadly has turned a bit commercial now. Most tourists come from far off places to watch the sunset at the Thar Desert sand dunes which at times look like a belly of a dancing damsel.

Be aware that the camel care taker may at times rip you off for the fare to watch the sunset. But watching the sun alter its length here is a life time experience nevertheless. Most hotels around Sam arrange for a camel ride into the Thar followed by Rajasthani cultural programs every evening.

We stayed at Chokhi Dhani for 2 nights and I definitely recommend it for a sojourn of at least a night. The sunset hues are absolutely breathtaking and the sky is brilliantly filled with stars once darkness takes over. While in Jaisalmer, miss Sam at your own peril.

                                                                   At Sam - Jaisalmer  

Kerala: Alleppey

I was at the Alleppey beach at sunset - one of the southern most tip of India way back in 2010. The sunset is breathtaking as the sky simply erupts into an explosion of crimson light. After sunset, there is only a sparse crowd left on the beach unlike many other beaches in India (Goa for example) and this lets you enjoy solitude. A stroll at the incredibly picturesque Alleppey beach is a wonderful and an unforgettable experience. It was our first day in Kerala and this splendid experience at the beach was an ideal setting for the entire trip.

                                                           At Alleppey beach - Kerala    

Tarkarli: Malvan

We went to Tarkarli over a long week end. The plan was to spend a night at the MTDC resort in Tarkarli and then another one at Ganpati Phule. Since July had just begun and it was not a tourist season, we throughly enjoyed our stay in a tourist-less Tarkarli and fell in love yet again with the pale romantic rays of the Sun. Spending a couple of days at the villages in Malvan are truly a much required break in today's frenetic life style. It was raining when we reached there but the grey clouds finally parted and light shone through to allow our cameras go click-click.

                                                                     Tarkarli Beach

Koteshwar: Kachchh


The village of Narayan Sarovar in Kachchh - that's the place where I belong. Every visit here has been an anticipated one. Though born and brought up in Mumbai, I do believe I am a Mumbaikar at heart but sometimes its the roots that you want to return to. I have recently started visiting this place once a year and already possess some amazing pictures of a beautiful sunset at the one of the western most tips of India. The Koteshwar temple is about a km away from the Narayan Sarovar village.

                                                            At the Koteshwar jetty


Marine Drive: Mumbai


Most times at Marine Drive I haven't had my camera to capture the sunset pictures but this time was different. I got this one when I was here a couple of months back with some close friends.

The Marine drive and Nariman point make Mumbai the financial capital of India and I always wonder if people working here would for a moment stop to relish such an amazing sight while rushing home after work. I never did when I was working here and now I know what I have missed.


                                               On one of the bank holidays at Marine Drive
                                                 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

DJANGO UNCHAINED : FILM REVIEW

                                                DJANGO UNCHAINED : FILM REVIEW




When you think of cow-boys and gun toting action, Clint Eastwood movies immediately come to mind. I have been a huge fan of his movies especially - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Django Unchained too is a similar kind-of movie wherein the director dwells in the civil war America when slavery ruled and the slaves were treated like dogs. But then there always emerges a Hero be it fiction or real life – as Coelho puts in his book ‘The winner stands alone’. Django is a blood soaked story of a slave turned bounty hunter who fights white men to win back his love.

The prime deficiencies to me were too much violence used to exaggerate those bloody effects and unusual length of the film. After about 120-150 minutes (normal length of English films), you feel like going home because you anticipate it is going to end but it doesn’t before taking you to the climax.

Django (Jamie Foxx) is a slave. Fate intervenes in his life and he is freed by a whimsical German dentist turned bounty hunter Waltz (Christoph Waltz). In return he asks Django for identification of a few reckless guys which he does. Together they succeed in killing those bad guys. Waltz promises help to Django to free his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) held captive by a ruthless and evil white man Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). DiCaprio superbly plays a notorious rich man and an owner of numerous slaves who loves watching them indulge in deadly fights.

Django and Waltz hide their motive and try to free Broomhilda however Calvin helped by another black, a nigger-hater Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) understand the real motive of the duo and try killing them. Waltz is killed in an exchange of fire but Django succeeds in killing everyone else after a bloody battle to ultimately free his wife and himself from the clutches of slavery.

Christoph Waltz in an award winning role is exceptional being both witty and a bounty hunter dentist. His immaculate vocabulary too is fascinating. Jamie Foxx acts with the much needed brashness and carries the lead role quite well. DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson (with an unfriendly glare) are unforgettable in their respective vicious roles and contribute a lot to make the movie watchable. I have seen few other movies by Quentin Tarantino and anticipated this to be a good one and I wasn't disappointed. He also brings together Franco Nero (erstwhile Django) together with the new one and the scene attracts a lot of interest. Tarantino has tweaked and successfully presented the age-old formula in a new way and it certainly works.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN - FILM REVIEW


                                    OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN - FILM REVIEW 




In all good v/s evil showdowns in Hollywood movies, when you think of a kidnapping scene, Bruce Willis' Die Hard immediately comes to the mind. The Antonie Funqua directed film Olympus has fallen too like many other films has derived inspiration from this all time best movie. Well, there is no Bruce Willis in this film but Gerard Butler does a pretty good job to keep the baddies at bay. And the stage is set. More so, the location which the baddies attack and keep people hostage is no ordinary building but the safest building on the planet - The White House.

Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is one of the top most security agents in the American President's security team. He has a personal relationship with the first family especially Presidents little son Connor. While the President and his family are returning from Camp David on a Christmas night, the convoy meets with an accident. Banning tries his best to save the first family but is not able to save the First Lady, an event which leads to his demotion.

Banning now works for the US treasury department. After a few months, the South Korean Prime Minister comes to meet the President accompanied by his security guards who turn out to be North Korean terrorists led by Kang Yeonsak (Rick Yune). They are able to breach the security with the help of another ex-security agent Dave (Dylan Mcdermot). Within a few minutes Washington DC is attacked by terrorists who jump the gun to trigger panic and reduce the White House into rubble. The president, the Vice President and the Secretary of Defense are held captive. The terrorists want the President to withdraw US troops from the Korean Peninsula. They also want to gain access to a system called Cereberus which has three codes - one each with the President, the Vice President and the Secretary.  With gaining access to Cerebrus, they can detonate the nuclear missiles in its silos. Kang was confident of getting the access codes possessed by the VP and the secretary and intended to capture Connor Asher to get access to the code from the President. However, he has to flush out an intruder in the house - Mike Banning.

Banning surreptitiously moves inside the White House since he possesses inside information from his erstwhile job. He achieves his prime objective to save Connor and then moves in to kill the terrorists. Kang however succeeds in accessing those codes and activates the detonation nuclear missiles. The climax leads to a hand to hand fight between Banning and Kang. Banning gloriously conquers Kang but has still job to do which was to deactivate Cerebrus. He eventually succeeds and the saves the President and his country. He thus earns his lost reputation and job.

It’s a fast action movie and keeps the adrenalin enthusiasts glued to their seats. People who have an addictive clinging with the Bruce Willis’ movie wouldn't stop comparisons. And that goes against the film. But this is not Die Hard and Butler is no Willis. But he adds a fresh lease of life to the film. If you think you want to see Bruce Willis like charisma in this film, you would be disappointed. Morgan Freeman is also a positively contributing factor in his role as an acting President but gives a feeling that he could have done more. Aaron Eckhart also has acted well as the President. Having said that, Olympus has fallen is definitely a watchable film.

THE CALL - MOVIE REVIEW


THE CALL




With the IPL going on, movie goers like me are starved of choices. But watching a movie like The Call is definitely a pleasant experience. I do love watching thrillers but with an irresistibly charming Halle Berry in it.. the fun just doubles!

Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) works as an operator in the the department of LAPD - 911. She gets a call from a teenager seeking help as a man enters her house. While Jordan is on the call with the girl, her intelligent and purposeful tips help the girl to hide away from the intruder. However while they are on the phone, it suddenly gets disconnected before Jordan calls her back. The phone rings alerting the intruder who succeeds in finding the girl. The girl is kidnapped and is murdered later on. This incident leaves Jordan devastated and puts her in a horrid state of mind. She refuses to take calls and works as an instructor preparing new joinees for the emotionally draining operator job.

On one of those OJT's (On Job Trainings), one of the operators gets a call from a kidnapped girl and she is not able to handle it. A reluctant Jordan takes the call on her behalf and talks to the girl who in this instance is a teenager yet again. She initially calms her down and keeps giving her helpful suggestions on what to do next.

The girl has been kidnapped from a mall and was put in the trunk of a car. Jordan empathizes with the young girl and yet again takes on the mantle to save her from the kidnapper who also kills a few others who try to intervene.

The kidnapper doesn't know that the girl is on the phone with a 911 operator and when he finds it out he talks to Jordan for a while before throwing off the cell phone. His voice rings a bell in Jordan's mind and she immediately knows that he is the same guy who had kidnapped and killed a girl earlier whom she had failed to save.

This time she decides to save the girl by herself. She drives to the place where the kidnapper and the girl had disappeared and locates an underground place where he was hiding. She fights with the man and rescues the girl.
The movie is gripping and keeps you on the edge of the seat. You do not have to wait longer for fear to arrive. In such a fast film, the interval is an unwanted and an uneasy break and given a choice you would want to avoid it.

The end of the film however disappointed me. When Jordan locates the kidnapper, her next step is suicidal. She decides to enter into hidden underground arena all alone to rescue the kidnapped girl. And more so, our girl works for the LAPD but still leaves the killer to die instead of handing him over to the police.

The Call is a good film though. Enjoy it with whoever you would want to!