So I recently watched ‘Rocket Boys’ & ‘Oppenheimer’

But first, CONGRATULATIONS EVERYONE FOR CHANDRAYAAN – 3’S SUCCESS!

It is just fitting that I finished watching the Sony Liv series ‘Rockey Boys’ based on the lives of Homi Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai, along with some bits of Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam just a day after the successful landing of Chandrayaan – 3 on the region near the South Pole of Moon.

Although the series is a somewhat fictionalized version, it stays true to the overarching events that showed the birth of the Indian Nuclear and Space Programme over a period of 30 years from 1940-1974. It is a slow-burn kind of series but nevertheless, entertaining. I am just glad that somebody had the audacity to adapt the lives of great Indian scientists and tell whether they were flamboyant or serious or both, which one cannot grasp easily as everything of the past looks a tad bit serious somehow. I am currently reading ‘Surely you’re joking Mr. Feynman!‘ and it tells details of major events like the building of 1st atomic bomb or the Manhattan Project as if it was just another day in a manner which makes you nothing but chuckle in amusement.

Talking of the Manhattan Project, I also watched Oppenheimer in IMAX a few days back. And I watched it alone. It is the 2nd movie I have watched alone in a theater, strictly for educational purposes. The first one is, Mohenjodaro, again for educational purposes only. The sheer intensity of the movie makes it an enthralling watch. And it again brings to light the various sides of scientists who are also people after all.

It is indeed a good thing that important scientific events and people get a chance to relive through TV shows and movies. With the amount of progress being made in tech, we take things for granted easily. I hope to see more such movies and series where they talk about sciency stuff. Like ‘The Vaccine War’ 😉

P.S.: What’s more annoying? Brits claiming that India is using its aid to fund the space programme or people calling Chandra-YAAN Chand-Ryan.

Header Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

So I recently watched: Tumbbad, Article 15, Hot Fuzz

Of course, it is unfair and lazy to write my reviews of 3 movies in one blog post as a movie reviews writer, but I am not a movie reviews writer and I just want to get past this writer’s block so it is what it is. Also, I am writing all of these together because I am going to discuss Cinematography of all these 3 together.

Article 15

Article 15
https://www.ewanmulligan.com/#/article-15/

I once wrote off Ayushmann Khurrana as a Roadie. I am not going to take it back yet but I am impressed. Not only by the movie he chooses but also his drastic shift of tone in the recently released movie ‘Article 15’.

The movie is based on caste-provoked-hate-crimes (remember Budaun?) and how an honest new police officer deals with it when everyone else wants to ignore the heinous crime just because trying to solve it might upset the balance and status quo of the society. There have been several Hindi movies on similar narratives but this one stands out. It deals with the biases we all have, but we ignore them like nothing, head-on. It not only tries to shake that upper caste nonchalance and ignorance that we have now progressed and we view everything from an urbanite spectacle, but it also is a fine example of filmmaking. I was sincerely impressed by the fact that the screenplay kept on becoming more interesting the more I watched it. And to top it all, the cinematography was both beautiful and yet scary. It was also philosophical obviously that in order to clean the menace, one has to do the dirty work.

Although, it reminded me of the first season of True Detective but it is a movie to which I was hooked from start till it finished. It was an experience which made me think of my own place in the society and the privilege we take granted for. Well done!

Tumbbad

tumbbad
Via Prime Video / Eros Now

Tumbbad is like nothing you have ever seen in a Hindi movie. I can certainly vouch for that. I had watched this movie last year and I liked it so much that I haven’t rewatched it again, what an irony! It is probably because it is amazingly scary and beautifully weird.

The story shows a range of time from 1918s to 1940s. It is about man’s greed and the lengths one can go to in order to fulfill it. Except for the glaring CGI work at the very climax of the movie, it is an achievement to make such a movie, I felt. The production design, the haunting music, the scale and grandeur, and the performances are all top-notch.

I could have written more about it but it has been more than 6 months since I watched it but I can still not forget the wonderful imagery this movie portrayed. Each shot has been meticulously designed and planned. It is a pity that not many have watched this yet.

Hot Fuzz

Llyod Stas Poster for Hot Fuzz
http://collider.com/edgar-wright-posters-lloyd-stas/

You must have also come across a movie which you enjoy like anything and want to discuss that with some friends who have same taste as you in the movies but then you don’t discuss it with anyone and just feel sad because your friends don’t have the same taste as yours and also they don’t get it the way you do. Sigh, me too!

I watched ‘Scott Pilgrim vs the World’ a few days back and was happily surprised that something like this can exist. Then I read about its director Edgar Wright and thought of watching some more movies of his.

So I recently watched ‘Hot Fuzz’ and what a fun ride it was. Without going into the details of the story, I would just comment about the editing of this movie. Brilliant! The distinctive cuts, the music, the parody, and the overall visual comedy had me in splits. I am going to watch the rest of the movies of Edgar Wright soon, is all.

A word about Cinematography

Since I am a man of not so simple tastes, ahem, I think I am not impressed by a few things which others might do. Same way, they might not get impressed with things which I find very interesting. One of the things like that is movie cinematography. Movies mean different to everyone, we all know that. So, for me, Cinematography: the camera placement, the editing, the subtext matters a lot.

In all of the movie I wrote about in the paras before, Cinematography is a thing which carved its own niche into my mind. Article 15 shows the same grim, dark and scary wide shots of a rustic Village scene multiple times in which the protagonist has to immerse himself into in the movie to cleanse it otherwise his own surroundings keep getting dirtier, representing our myopic view of thinking about our own lives and only dealing with things when we are affected by it. Tumbbad shows grunge from a close-up which shows how greed can turn anyone into a devil. Totally contrasting to the previous two, the editing of Hot Fuzz shows how to make a serious matter funny while adding music to it to transform into something else.

There are so many movies around. Only a few of them make you think about that particular scene and the intention of the director behind them. I like those ones.

So I recently watched ‘Mission Mangal’

I distinctly remember this. I was in a bus travelling towards my office and while it took a U-Turn in front of ISRO office on Outer Ring Road towards Marathahalli, Bengaluru, somewhere far away Mangalyaan was getting inserted into the Mars orbit. I was following the news on Twitter and the event just happened. The Bus completed the U-turn and the ISRO HQ remained as calm as it has always been, as if nothing happened. No fanfare, no bursting of crackers like Diwali or post-elections scene outside political parties offices, not even a single soul but the guards visible from outside. That’s ISRO for you. I looked around me, and nobody was bothered to share my happiness as they were busy in their phones or were dozing off. I sighed and continued with reading more about the news.

That was 2014. ISRO has done a lot since then. They do use Social Media now but still only those who are interested follow. But for the first time, someone has brought them on to a medium which nobody in India can ignore. Yeah, the movies.

So, I recently watched Mission Mangal and felt happy. Neither the movie was mind blowing, nor it was a bore, neither it was 100% scientifically accurate, nor it was completely filmy. It was just a feel good movie with an appropriate amount of stuff which could make your heart fill with joy when you realise that ISRO was able to do this near impossible feat so nonchalantly. Of course, this is just a fictional tale of how the mission came to be. But it surely reignited the feeling of pride that we live among such geniuses of humans who are so good at their job that one can only wish them more successes.

I had brushed it off when they had announced that such a movie is being even made. But I got interested in it lately when the reviews came in and it paid off. I won’t go into the details of the movie as that’s irrelevant. I am rather happy that such a movie was made. There’s a scene in the movie which showed the reminiscences of actors’ childhood times of becoming scientists. That did me. And I believe that’s what have been the intention of making such a movie. Apart from earning money and all.

If even one out of 100 can get inspired from such movies which show human’s scientific prowess while they deal with life’s daily chores, the job is done.

Hoping to see more such initiatives which can rekindle the childhood dream in you.

So I recently watched: Avengers Endgame

Goosebumps!

Rarely it happens that I am this excited to watch a movie. But the hype was spilling over the brim and the wait had become way too much longer. I watched the movie on Tuesday after it had already earned billions of dollars at the BO. And then when you hear, the once dreaded and termed forgettable, Avengers Theme Music… BOOM!

I have in fact watched only 16 of 22 movies (73%) of all the MCU movies. But I have followed them with much more excitement since last 2-3 years. That is also due to the utter disappointment caused by DCEU even if Wonder Woman and Shazam were good. But MCU movies have made a place of their own in terms of sheer entertainment value they have provided. The cameos by Stan the man Lee to top them all.

There have been several very popular videos on how Avengers (or MCU movies) are not much memorable, their video doesn’t have any definite color grading which makes them like a TV movie, or not much emotional connect, or not having much depth and so on. But nobody would have anticipated as to what 22 MCU movies over a period of 12 years would culminate to. Amazing!

This sort of fest-like-hype has not really happened for any movie I know of. When probably the only ‘Universe’ kind of movie franchise, Star Wars had its Episode 1 getting released in the late 90s, the Internet hadn’t flourished that much. So the younger generation (worldwide) had not experienced the hype which generates nowadays due to the bombardment of information from all directions.

I am not going to review the movie because my excitement will overrule my judgement. But I liked it very much. It has everything one could ask for, and more. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of Endgame. I might watch it again in IMAX.

So I recently watched: Netflix’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

bandersnatch
bandersnatch

So I recently watched: Netflix’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.

Bandersnatch is probably a first of its kind Interactive Movie, like a computer game, in which the viewer can choose the actions of the protagonist and some other characters by choosing from 2 options. That choice changes the outcome of the scene and it could lead to a different movie ending if you had chosen something else. It has been made in such a way that based on your choices, it can go from a sad morbid ending, to totally whacky scenes, and to a slightly different sad morbid ending, to something which might not make sense at all.

Although the premise of the movie is not as interesting as other Black Mirror episodes, it is certainly a movie from the future. The mere concept of allowing viewers to choose the actions, couldn’t have been possible with traditional TV or Movie experience. Netflix and other streaming services allow it to work and full credits to Netflix for bringing this up. It might set a trend of more such movies, I hope.

Black Mirror, in general, has always come up with something which makes us rethink the way technology has been moving ahead and how much dependence we have got over it. Bandersnatch uses this concept in a novel way and it even indulges us in making the viewers think about their own choices. As I said, the story of this particular movie isn’t very intriguing but I wonder how much of an effort they must have put behind it. I finished one ending and before I could click to go to credits, it gave me another choice and like a rabbit hole, I kept on going on and on for another 30 minutes. This movie was originally supposed to be 1 hour 30 minutes but you can surely keep it going for some more time. I am sure, others would experience the same curiosity. You may keep exploring more endings on Reddit and you might never give up. If you have time, of course.

Well, the minimal poster I made above represents the choices flowchart.

I wonder if there are actually any books which make the readers do the same. As in, say at page 50, one character has a choice. The author would have written there if the character makes choice A, directly jump to page 78 or if the choice is B, ignore the pages 51 to 81 and start reading 82 onwards. Now, that would be really mind-boggling.

Moral of the story remains the same, in life too, we make choices and most of the times, the outcomes end up being different. Since we cannot change the past, we have to live with it. But there are still some choices, we can go back to. Again, that depends on what you choose at that point in time.

Happy decision making!

 

So I recently watched: Mukkabaaz and Hidden Figures

If someone asks, although no one would ask, that why am I writing reviews of these 2 movies together, then the answer would be: I am doing so because:

  1. I watched them back to back.
  2. Both tell exactly the same story of underdogs defeating the system and excelling. Although, both movies are kind of filmy. I will explain this below.

Since the movies were both released in 2017 and a lot of time has passed since l will try to summarize their stories below.

In Mukkabaaz, a bright talent, Shravan Singh played by Vineet Kumar Singh, in boxing is at the center stage. He is fighting the system, the federation, the society, his own family and a ‘red-eyed’ District Federation Chief Bhagwan Das Mishra Jimmy Shergill. Shravan messes with the boss of the federation that leads to an all-out war of egos that follows Shravan with his slow but steady rise in the boxing career. Although, it still is a love story at its heart amidst a political-social-sports drama.

In Hidden Figures, the story revolves around 3 genius ladies working at NASA in the early 1960s. Although the movie is based on real people, they fictionalize their stories to an extent to make it more feel-good underdogs story. The underdogs here are brilliant minded American African women who are trying to break many society and stereotypical shackles and helping NASA put men into space before the Soviets do it.

Basically, both the movies feature underdogs who overcome the environment around them and succeed. The hardships they face are pretty realistic like getting into caste debate overlooking the talent when it comes to Mukkabaaz or segregation from coffee mugs to toilets for African American and to top that women African Americans. Despite all the bad happening around the lives of the protagonists, eventually, they succeed, sometimes by fate and sometimes by their sheer hard work and relentlessness in getting what they want.

Although I liked both of these movies, in the end, I was left slightly underwhelmed by their filmy treatment. I mean, they tend to end happily and some things feel contrived. For example, Jimmy Shergill’s character has got nothing else to do but just to satisfy his ego he keeps on pestering Shravan Singh. In Hidden Figures, there are times when some of the white men and women still appear the good guys / and girls just bound by the society. But they still make you entertained and ponder for a while about the times there were and the times there still are. Human society has always been champions of classifying people based on some criteria or the other, all the time. South Park once captured it brilliantly when they said when all religion systems are done and dusted in future, people will still be fighting over the names of their atheistic organizations.

Will there be a time when we will move beyond a person’s background, ethnicity, color, gender and just see everyone on their merit? Well, I am pretty sure it won’t happen in my lifetime. Till then you will have to keep punching the system until you can fly your rockets.

Featured Pic Credits:

  1. Photo by Ryan Tang on Unsplash
  2. Photo by Bill Jelen on Unsplash

2018, the year Hindi Music Industry died or how selling nostalgia is easy

Since I travel to and fro from work to home on a 2-wheeler, I don’t often listen to music while driving. (Those who do put earphones while riding a 2-wheeler deserve a small-non-fatal pat on their back by a more-wheeler). So, nowadays I mostly listen to music on weekends (or while doing dishes). I am not the only one but it has been observed since last 1 to 2 years that top 10 Hindi music hits comprise of at least 5-6 songs which are a rehashed version of some 80s or 90s songs. And this trend has been on a rise more so in 2018.

If you notice top songs on this list https://www.saavn.com/s/featured/hindi/Weekly_Top_Songs/8MT-LQlP35c_ or even the 2017’s top numbers on this list https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/hindi/bollywood/photo-features/best-hindi-songs-top-10-hindi-songs-of-2017/5-baarish/photostory/59470017.cms you will find the same stat.

Have we finished our quota of original music and lyrics in Hindi music industry? Or this fashion of remixing 90s hits as official songs of the movie has become such a thing that if some movie presents original songs, they are looked down upon?

Remixing has been there since forever. But when I was growing up, most of the remixes came out only as private pop albums. They had a very limited audience of monkey-wash-jeans-wearing teens and this genre deservedly died down in a couple of years. However, movie music is the very crux of Indian Cinema. More and more of old is being served to us and I feel our appetite is now being crushed. I don’t really remember listening to any song in last 2 years which has had a really long-lasting impact on me. Rarely any song from past couple of years has hit the right note and only a handful of songs have deserved repeated listening.

I would be wrong to say that only Hindi music industry has died, of course, it has stooped to a very low level. But Hollywood has been doing the same lately. The number of franchises which should have gone done and dusted is still continuing by putting out same content in a different wrapper year after year.

Check out this video by NerdWriter about Intertextuality in Hollywood:

I understand that it is easy to sell Nostalgia. All 90s kids will remember this and that. It is pretty easy to dole out stuff repeatedly to keep generations after generations harping on the same stuff. Star Wars released in the 1970s. Star Wars is still releasing in 2018s. The core audience is still the same. Also, our innate desire to tell our friends or spouses or offsprings about the life we live or lived or the pop culture we followed will keep fueling the fire.

I will cease to watch more Jurassic Park movies after this summer when I am done with next sequel. 🙂