Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece

An idol is the idol maker’s way of giving form to his beliefs. You either breathe life into an idol and revere it or regard it as a masterpiece and appreciate it. But when you see a confluence of faith and art, what you get as a result leaves you awe-struck.

Ganpati or Ganesha is the elephant-headed Hindu God worshipped as the remover of all obstacles. Ganesh Chaturthi is a grand 10 day festival celebrated in India with much fanfare and religious fervour.

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‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ Movie Review : Stumbling to the finish line

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The promos of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag had the entire country in a tizzy, proven by the fact that the film managed to garner close to 30 crores on the opening weekend itself. How we love our movies glorifying the dregs-to-riches cliché! Everyone gushed about the brilliance of the biopic.  And almost every other person claimed on social websites to be #mesmerised and #inspired to achieve the level of fitness that 39-year-old Farhan Akhtar managed to achieve for the movie.

Fair enough. What then troubled me while walking out of the theatre 3.17 hours later? The length of the movie of course! In this day and age when even one day matches are facing heat from the T-20s, would a test match be able to vehemently hold its own? (Yes, hardcore cricket fans, I see you’ll raising your eyebrows there!) Admit it, most of us find them boring. Yes, we did watch the close to 4-hours long Lagaan and enjoyed every bit of it. But then, there was more to the movie that just one man running.

But let’s not take away from this competently made movie.

The story is about young Milkha Singh, a Partition refugee who is separated from his parents during the ensuing riots.  What follows is his struggle, journey and eventual success in emerging as a sporting hero in the newly independent India. The story of the growth of a care-free lad whose only worry is reaching school on time, to an athlete who refuses to compete in games of national importance due to the harrowing demons of his dreams – is narrated by Gurdev Singh (splendid performance by the underrated Pavan Malhotra), Milkha’s grooming coach in the army.

The movie movies back and forth, often employing flashbacks within flashbacks. However, in this case, the editing is done well enough to not leave the viewer confused.

You are left wishing for a bit more on the achievements by one of the greatest sportspersons that India has seen. His excellence in the various races has been delegated to 10 second clippings at the most. That the gore and nightmare of his childhood propelled Milkha Singh to great heights is treated with an unrealistic style (reminiscent of Imran Khan’s mind demons in Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na).

There is one scene where Milkha, having suffered humiliation in the qualifying games of the Melbourne Olympics, walks up to his coach (Yograj Singh) and asks him to write the world record for the 400m race. The coach’s deliberate writing of the number on an Air India tissue, the putting up of the paper on the mantle as a constant reminder and the relentless practice sessions unfortunately culminate into a scene where Milkha merely stands next to an indicator indicating his new world record. No heroic run there. So much for building up expectations!

Prasoon Joshi seems to have stuffed the movie with irrelevant sequences that do not contribute to the larger story of the athlete.

Here’s a look at what could snipped to make Bhaag Milkha Bhaag tighter:

(a) Sonam Kapoor’s carefully coiffed messy hair in an absolutely unnecessary love track

(b) A little less zooming in to and out from Farhan’s well crafted hot body

(c)The Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar-ish (and every other sports movie ish) bad-guy-beat-me-up-I-make-bad-guy-bite-virtual-dust segment

(d) Entire songs dedicated solely to watch the training sessions

Director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra has managed to extract the best from all the main characters, be it Divya Dutta (as the protective older sister with easily dispensable tears), Prakash Raj (in a different non obtrusive role, finally) or Pavan Malhotra.

And then there is Farhan Akhtar. The single force who sets the screen on fire and does not allow your eyes to waver anywhere else except him. From the tip of the hair to the little toe hitting the ground with gyrating force, every sinew in Farhan’s body earnestly speaks just one language – that of running. Once again he proves that his acting caliber falls nowhere short of his directorial skills. New found respect for Farhan for totally nailing it! Binod Pradhan’s camera work flirtatiously offers ample opportunities to gape open-mouthedly at Farhan’s finely chiseled body (that makes you secretly wonder whether it is Photoshopped!)

Clearly, a lot of research and hard work has gone into the making of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. However, it just falls short of a triumphant run across the finish line.

 

Building A Dream

(Written for Alastair’s Photo Fiction)

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Photograph by Alastair Forbes

“Steady now!”, Jacob whispered – his voice hoarse from all the hollering in the previous hour.

The first plank hung in the air precariously. The crane proceeded to sever its ties with the plank. One by one. Each snap of the connecting ropes cut across like a sharp whiplash. THWACK!

Just as planned.

After what seemed like an eternity (but was just a few minutes), all the ropes gave way.

Everyone looked at the plank, half expecting it to plunge into the water like every earlier attempt. Five minutes later (and after most of the onlookers had turned blue from holding their breaths), the plank stood still.

After years of planning, experiments, rejections and failures, Jacob had been successful in suspending the first plank without any support.

Jacob let out a war cry to every person who had ridiculed his idea – Who said you couldn’t build castles in the air?

Life on the Ebb

(Written for #FWF: Free Write Friday)

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Photo credit – Tumblr

Situation: It’s high noon. Sun blazing. You awake in a field and birds are pecking your skin… GO!

Prick prick prick. Peck peck peck.

I squint in the afternoon blaze. The birds relentlessly stick their beaks into my wasted body.

Hah!, I think sarcastically, do I even have enough left in me to feed you?

Happiness lasted till two week ago, before the mad guy with the wispy hair and stinking white coat decided to subject me to this torture. In one of his fanciful mood swings, he decided to test my resilience against attacking foreign beings.

Though I never understood how that would help his research in discovering the first ever bulletproof vest and startle the world with his invention.

But hey, I’m no scientist. I’m just a rat. But not your ever day grubby rat, mind you. I was born in a lab.

I was fed well and taken care of. My grey coat shone as silver and my bright eyes twinkled like diamonds. The only grouse I had with my upbringing was the daily exposure to those blinding red rays which made me itch for a good hour or two. But it was all for the high purpose that my life had to serve.

I should have known that life is not a comfortable bed of fresh bread. However irrational it sounded to my ears – I was reared to meet a painful, agonizing and humiliating death at the hands (beaks) of this brainless flying duds.

I lie here, helplessly waiting for the last drop of blood to be sucked out, the last piece of skin to be torn and the last heartbeat to be heard. Don’t be fooled my friends, you never know who is using you for what purpose.

Prick prick prick. Peck peck peck.

Out in the Blue

(Written for Friday Fictioneers)

Photograph by Douglas M. MacIlroy

Photograph by Douglas M. MacIlroy

“I’m a bird Mommy”, Jimmy had squealed.

“The airplane is flying, not us!” Julia had replied, her knuckles white from clutching the armrest.

“I know we’re birds Mommy, you and me”, Jimmy had whispered.

Julia was white as a sheet. But she had to do this. For Jimmy. Oh how her boy had loved to fly! And fly he did – straight in to an unfortunate mountain last summer.

Julia held her breath as the countdown began.

“3…2…1…JUMP”

She squealed and skydived right into the arms of the blue sky.

“We’re really are BIRDS!”, she shouted at an imaginary speck thousands of feet below – which looked like her son in a wheelchair.

A chance to live

(Written for Alastair’s Photo Fiction)

If the rumours were true, I was on my way to get the key to eternal happiness. I was desperate at the time. Exhausted with my broken life. Seeking redemption.

“Find the purple flower with a red shadow growing around the roots of the tallest tree on the banks of the Ganges”, the cherubic monk had said.

It took me 8 months, 21 days, 5 hours and 33 minutes. But I did find the flower.

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Photograph by Alastair Forbes

“Run towards the end of this platform and you will see –”

I didn’t wait for him to finish. I ran as I had never run before. The sweet taste of freedom on my lips.

Closer and closer to the darkness. The flower gripped in my sweaty palm.

I was out of breath by the time I opened the Great Oak Door.

What lay ahead surprised me.

“THAT is the key to life’s secret!”, I laughed aloud. Why hadn’t I thought of this before? It was the simplest answer.

What I saw was a –

.

.

.

Look inside you. Maybe you won’t take that long to find your key. 

 

‘Ghanchakkar’ Movie Review : More misses than hits

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The opening credits of Ghanchakkar roll to the sound of Richa Sharma’s nazal ‘Lazy Lad’ – a quirky well-written song that builds up similar expectations from the movie. But unfortunately, it all goes downhill from this point.

Emraan Hashmi plays the role of Sanjay Atre, a suave master safe cracker, on the road to salvation from the big bad world of robbery. And he does this by lazily watching TV all day. His laidback world is forever challenged by his fashion-crazy Punjabi wife Neetu (Vidya Balan). Sanju decides to commit one last heist with the accomplice duo Pandit (Rajesh Sharma) and Idris (Namit Das) to ensure that he will never have to worry about money again. The robbery goes without a hitch and Sanju takes the 35 crores for safe keeping. Things take a bizarre turn when three months later the duo return to claim their money, only to find Sanju suffering from a post-accident amnesia. They realize he has forgotten a lot of things, including the place where the money is hidden.  The rest of the movie is devoted to the hunt for the money.

There are alternating high and low points in the movie. Neetu, in the seductive red dress, devil horns and guitar strap velcroed to the shoulder – funny. Idris having phone sex and just wearing underwear in the next 5 scenes – not funny.

The biggest disappointment, however, is the abrupt and odd end. When you finally know where the money was hidden, you surely say, “Hey, I didn’t think of that!” But the scenes leading up to this revelation are sketchy and badly written. The introduction of a new character in the last 10 minutes greatly reduces the impact of a pivotal climax.

But let’s be fair, the story did manage to keep us guessing till the end – where did all the money go? Is Sanju faking the amnesia? Has Neetu stashed away the money? Who is the unknown guy who threatens Sanju over the phone?

Rajkumar Gupta’s first two films – No One Killed Jessica and Aamir were hard hitting and made the critics sit up and take notice. His attempt at a comic thriller, however, is a bit disappointing. He has tried and failed to capture the angst and insecurity of an amnesic, concentrating more on the sub plot.

Ghanchakkar-Vidya-Balan-and-imran-hashmi-wallpaperEmraan carries of the load of the movie with ease. He even manages to look dapper in the red polka dotted pyjamas chosen by his wife. This grossly underrated actor, seems wasted in this movie.  Vidya, as the feisty Punjaban, stays true to her character. And also manages to be the only eye sore as well. You wonder which Vogue or Femina (which she vehemently swears by) would advice a housewife to dress up in inappropriately garish upholstery!

Rajesh Sharma and Namit Das share as much screen time as the lead actors. Both have done justice to their characters – playing the part of a cheesy guru and the hyper, vegetable munching chela respectively.

The dialogues and screenplay seem forced at most times. Apart from a few laughable gags, there are barely any moments when you would want to even smile.

The music album is crisp, entertaining and effectively captures the mood of the story. It is a relief to see songs which are situational and take the story forward. Kudos to music director Amit Trivedi and lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya (who seem to come in a package deal these days!)

Despite the good plot, interesting characters and stellar acting, Ghanchakkar has failed to strike a chord due to the average execution. Quite forgettable, this  one.