Kakka Muttai – Not just for kids

KaKaaka_Muttaikka Muttai – This heartwarming Tamil film won the National Award for Best Children’s film in 2015 and the two boys who play the lead won Best Child Artistes. It is a simple story to look at but touches upon several relevant issues – in a light and matter of fact manner. keep reading

Unputdownable vs. Unpickupable

Every book lover would have a list of books they deem ‘unputdownable’. Books that you cannot put down till you’ve finished reading them. Books you like to read over and over again. But every once in a while you come across a book that you just cannot connect with, a book you struggle to continue reading. A book, which you abandon halfway, or sometimes after the first few pages itself. I call such books ‘Unpickupable’. I have had my fair share of Unpickables. These books haunt me and keep making me feel guilty for not doing the right thing, which is to complete the books. Believe me, I have tried real hard to finish these….but with not much success. Here are some books that are a thorn in my side….a stone on my chest….a mark on my conscience….simply because I have not been able to finish reading themUnpickupable

  1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte – This book is on every list of must reads….100 books to read in a lifetime….10 most romantic books….best books by women authors….all time greats….And now, it makes its appearance on my list of Top 5 Unpickupable books! I have tried reading this not once, not twice but 6 times in the time I’ve been a reader. The first time was in high school because it was a classic, and we were supposed to read classics. Another time was when I became serious about reading and wanted to read all the books that were considered a ‘must read’. The most recent attempt was 2 years ago, where I met a few people who were discussing the all time greats and I felt very ‘uneducated’ for being the only one who hadn’t read Wuthering Heights. But…every time I started reading the book, I just couldn’t get past the third chapter where the supposed ghost of Catherine comes to haunt Lockwood. I have no idea what happens after that. The book is ‘Unpickupable’.
  2. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller– Another iconic book that all avid readers swear by, I haven’t been able to complete this one. I’ve had it on my bookshelf since I was in college. I get caught in a Catch 22 situation every time I think about it. Don’t want to read it…don’t want to miss having read it. What do I do? Currently for me, the book is Unpickupable.
  3. Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan – I have no idea what this book is about. I read 2 chapters without registering a single word!!!! It was as if the book was written in gibberish! I have never felt so clueless as I did when I put down the book at the end of the second chapter. The book was therefore deemed Unpickupable! Sadly, I had registered this book as ‘currently reading’ in Good Reads and it keeps popping up every time I log into the ‘My Books’ section of Good Reads, where it keeps taunting me with ‘update progress’. I need to learn how to remove it from there. Wipe off its existence!

Do you have any books that are Unpickupable for you? Do share them in your comments…to let me know I’m not the only one guilty of abandoning books….

#books #unfinishedbooks

 

 

 

 

Follow your Own Rules

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Wadjda is the first film made entirely in Saudi Arabia  – a country where they do not have cinema; and it is made by a female director – Haifaa Al Mansour (Saudi women aren’t even allowed to drive). So this makes it interesting enough to warrant a watch. But that isn’t the only reason. It is a beautiful film! A simple narrative of a young girl Wadjda (played by Waad Mohammed), who longs to have a bicycle – but girls aren’t allowed to ride bicycles. The main story is about everything the enterprising Wadjda does to put together the 800 Riyals she needs to buy a bike  – from making and selling friendship bands to charging money to earn illicit errands, and ultimately signing up for a Koran recitation competition just for the prize money.

However, there are several threads that weave through the main story – subversive plots that give us a glimpse of the struggles and suffocating restrictions the Saudi women face every day. Be it the fear of your husband taking another bride for not bearing him a son, to being frowned upon or disciplined for committing a ‘sin’ like putting on nail polish. Even little girls are constantly reprimanded for ‘playing where they could be seen by men’ or ‘singing when they could be heard by men’. The beauty of the film is that it does not make it very tragic or heavy. In fact, throughout the film, there is an underlying spirit of hope, courage and defiance that  makes you root for not just Wadjda and her mother, but almost all the female characters.

The tag line on the poster for this film says “When the rules don’t fit, find the courage to follow your own.” and that is exactly what young Wadjda tries to do. Makes you raise a toast to all the women who stood up for their dreams.

#foreignfilms  #mustwatch  #wadjda

What an experience!

 I like watching regional films and I’ve seen several good ones – Marathi, Bengali, Malayalam and a few Telegu movies. I’ve always watched these on DVD, obviously with subtitles. So when a malayalee friend suggested we go watch a Malayalam film on the big screen, I thought, why not? It would be a new experience. She told me it was a supernatural thriller, which, if I was paying attention, I’d have known means horror – my least favourite genre. But I just registered the ‘thriller’ part. 

So we get settled in our seats and the movie starts. And guess what? There are no subtitles!!!! Can you imagine? Watching a Malayalam movie – I don’t know the language; which is an out and out horror film- a genre I dislike; and there are no subtitles! I should have walked out – even my husband, who thought this incredulous, insisted I should, when I updated him in the interval. But I didn’t think it would be fair to leave my friend alone, in a cinema hall with just 7 other people in the audience. So I stayed. And, surprisingly, it wasn’t all that bad! With my friend giving me the gist every once in a while, a smattering of English dialogues and the power of music and expressions, I could not just follow the story, but also get involved in it.

In the end, it turned out to be quite a memorable experience. I came home feeling I had really proved to myself how much of a cinephile I was!

Romance with a capital R

Yes, it is cliched – February….Valentine’s Day…Love…Romance…However, sometimes it’s kind of nice, to go with cliches. And, as luck would have it, in the last 10 days, I have read a couple of really romantic books and watched a couple of classic movies that appear in all the Valentine Special lists. So here I’m sharing one book and one movie which I think really capture romance with a capital R.

Book –

anna

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – This one is actually a YA (Young Adult fiction) but I loved it! 17 year old Anna has been sent to France for a year, by her father, much against her wishes. Having to leave her best friend, a potential boyfriend and the comfort of her home are making Anna feel pretty sorry for herself. Add to that the woe of being a new student in her senior year in high school! And then there is the language issue…Anna doesn’t speak French! But then Anna meets Etienne St.Clair, this half French, half American hottie with a British accent. He is charming, friendly and gorgeous too! Anna and Etienne’s relationship is what I loved about the book. Left me with a warm fuzzy feeling, with a little bit of wistfulness…the kind that makes you wish such things happened to you…

Movie – large_z5OumSkVlFiMDGlGWLg5GlkH87r.jpg

A Walk in the Clouds – They were showing this 1995 film starring Keanu Reeves on Tv the other day so I landed up watching it and enjoying it even though I had already seen it 3-4 times before. This film has all the ingredients of a great romance – a chance meeting, the gallant boy stepping in to help the girl in distress, a hard hearted father, loveable grandparents, a near tragedy and a happily ever-after ending. Keanu Reeves is drool-worthy, especially in his Army Uniform. The locales are beautiful – the Napa Valley Vineyards give you some serious travel goals. Even the title is so romantic…A Walk in the Clouds. Watch this one, curled up with your loved one with a glass of wine. Or with your friends on a girls’ night.

#romance #valentinesday #february #booksmoviesetal

5 Movies to Celebrate Teachers’ Day

Being a teacher, I have always been partial to movies that showcase teacher-students relationships or are about inspirational teachers. So what better topic for a post close to 5th September than a Teachers’ Day special – 5 Movies to celebrate Teachers’ Day.

Kindergarten_Cop_(Original_Motion_Picture_Soundtrack)

Kindergarten Cop – I thought of this movie for the list because it portrays what it takes to be a Kindergarten teacher – working with 4 to 5 year olds is one of the most challenging jobs. Undercover cop Arnold Schwarzenegger is on the hunt for a drug lord’s wife and kid and lands up having to be a teacher to a class of 5 year olds! It’s fun to see how a tough, aggressive cop has to change his tactics to deal with a bunch of kindergarteners.

chak-de-india.441Chak De! India – We all know and love this one. In fact it is one of Shah Rukh Khan’s finest performances (some would say his only good performance). Here, tainted Coach Kabir Khan is determined to turn around the Indian Women’s Hockey team in order to redeem himself. He needs to be really tough to get the motley crew to focus on being a team. And who can forget the fiery ‘sattar minute’ speech?

Free

Freedom Writers – Hillary Swank is assigned a class of uninterested and troubled teenagers, who even the school doesn’t believe in.  They only know violence, drugs and abuse and are just waiting till they are old enough to escape the town. Here we see Swank as a teacher who goes above and beyond her call of duty to do right by the students. She takes up two extra jobs to pay for additional resources when the school refuses to pay for them. Her personal life also gets affected but she doesn’t give up. She encourages the students to express their feelings by writing journals rather than hitting out. Soon her belief in the students’ potential manage to turn around the situation.

0d86f46d0e26a0d3ac80a29a2b0f0b2fDead Poets’ Society – Robin Williams is an English teacher at a stiff, elite, all boys’ boarding school. The school believes in Tradition, Honor, Discipline, and Excellence. Mr. Keating (Williams) comes in bringing with him passion for poetry and his unorthodox ways rattle the authorities. The students, however learn to find their own passions and stand up for themselves. The scene where Mr. Keating encourages the students to tear up the pages of a book that ‘instructed’ how to enjoy poetry, is iconic.

imagesTaare Zameen Par – I don’t think I need to say much about this one – as I’m sure this is a movie on everybody’s list of favourites. Amirs Khan as the unconventional art teacher Nikumbh sir has set the bench mark for every teacher. This movie brought to light the need to be sensitive to every child’s individual learning needs.

#booksmoviesetal #happyteachers day #top5moviesforteachers

5 Short Films Worth Watching

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ahalya

 

 

Short Films or Shorts is a format that is currently picking up. Earlier these were considered a plan B where talented film makers, strapped for budgets, made them just to add to their portfolio – a step towards their final goal of making feature films. Today, Shorts are a trend, with mainstream bigwigs making some really good films. Anurag Kashyap, Sujoy Ghosh and Imtiaz Ali, to name a few. This format is attracting big names from the acting fraternity too. Naseeruddin Shah, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Radhika Apte and Irfaan Khan have been seen in some brilliant Shorts.

I enjoy watching Shorts for two reasons – one, the time of course. Technically, any film under 40 minutes is considered a Short Film. However, most of the ones made are no more than 15 to 20 minutes. They say, the shorter the film, the better it has a chance to be screened at film festivals – the ultimate goal of their makers.

The second reason being, the tightness that the format asks for. The story and editing has to be crisp. Also, most of the films have a twist or a surprise in the end. This format makes for some really good suspense / thrillers.

Here are my top 5 (click the links to watch them)-

  1. Interior Cafe Night – This 14 minute movie by Adhiraj Bose is set in a quaint cafe in Kolkata. The cafe owner (Naseeruddin Shah) chances upon his old flame  Shernaz Patel after 30 years and love is rekindled. In contrast, at another table, a young couple (Shweta Basu Prasad and Naveen Kasturia) is parting ways. The story is about love lost and found again, about second chance. I loved the performances – so real, subtle, sweet and poignant. Do watch.
  2. Ahalya – This Sujoy Ghosh’s Thriller starring Radhika Apte and Soumitra Chatterjee is goosebumps inducing, especially the spooky end. It’s in Bengali, with subtitles. I won’t give any hints about the story but I’ll say this – It’s a must watch!!!
  3. India Tomorrow – This marks Imtiaz Ali’s foray into Short Films. A five and a half minute short about a sex worker teaching her stock market broker client a few lessons about investments. The film highlights the fact that everyone has dreams and a plan for a better future.
  4. The Road Trip – This is one of a set of six short love stories, called Love Shots by Y Films – a Yash Raj Films offshoot. Starring Nimrat Kaur, it showcases an argument between a couple who were on their way to Pune, by road from Mumbai. They ran into trouble and as they wait for help, the argument ensues about whose fault it was. This one too has a twist in the end. the other 5 Love Shots too are worth watching.
  5. Tubelight ka Chand – This is a heart warming tale of a street urchin Tubelight, who wants to own the moon. Produced by Anurag Kashyap’s Pocket Films, this is one of the earliest short films I saw and since then I got interested in them.

TTT (Terrible Tiny Talkies), Pocket Films and Y Films are some of the major producers of Shorts. Some of the Telegu, Marathi and Bengali shorts are also very interesting.

Watch these 5 to start with and do leave me your comments and feedback.

#shorts #shortfilms #interiorcafenight #ahalya #Indiatomorrow #loveshots #tubelightkachand