Sep 19, 2013

Madras Cafe... a mind-numbing experience

What do you think makes a good movie? And what are the side effects of watching a great movie?

Is a movie good when it makes you laugh? Makes you cry? Perhaps makes you feel a range of emotions? A movie with colorful characters and beautiful locations may be? What about the music, song and dance? Or may be a good movie is the one that takes you away from daily grind and gives you a break that you think you deserve…. But, once in a while there comes a movie that challenges all of your definitions and assumptions, makes you stop and take stock of what you look for in a movie, possibly changes the way you look at cinema experience. For me, that’s what Madras Café did.

I went to movies after a long time. And watching Madras Café was more of a convenience that of choice. It was the only movie that was available in the time slot that I could go. I had heard rave reviews of the movie and John Abraham’s new found acting skills. But as usual, I wasn't expecting the reviews to be accurate. I was in for a surprise this time.

If I use words like realistic and heart-wrenching, it would be an insult to the movie. The movie is anything but heart-wrenching. What it is, is mind-numbing. The movie walks you through the times and lives of people during the 80's Sri Lanka. I’m not very good with politics, has never been. So, pardon me if I don’t use real names of people that are portrayed in the movie. But just because I don’t know the names or don’t wanna utter them, does not by any means reduce the intensity and sincerity with which they are portrayed. They are as real as one might see in a documentary. They are real because they are clear in what they represent. For example, Anna in the movie is not a traditional villain. He is not a garishly dressed, loud mouthing and laughing person who captures the hero and spills all his plans to him. In contrast, he is a well attired, soft spoken, clear sighted person who knows what he wants. There is an uncanny realism in his speech. Like the foreign reporter says to John… “He has clarity in thoughts. He is not just a power crazy terrorist.” Where Anna portrays the unrelenting idealist; John and the rest of the team plays a dedicated and smart team of RAW agents who dedicate their time and skills in protecting the country. The sheer amount of work and complexity of challenges that are shown in the movie take your breath away. And you are left with an awe-struck feeling of helplessness.

Sep 4, 2013

Mitch Albom is at it again....

There are very few books that I can re-read. Very few that can keep me engaged or engrossed enough even when I know what happens next. Very few authors are capable of beckoning my attention over and over again. Mitch Albom is in this very short list. The first novel of Mr. Albom that I read was “Five People You Meet in Heaven”. Ever since then, I’ve always found his novels to be…interesting. They have always been something that I can recommend to someone else. With “Tuesdays with Morrie”; Mitch Albom moved a little closer to my heart and after “For One More Day” he reached my re-readable list. I've read “For One More Day” more than once. And that’s a rare scenario in my world. So, when I saw his new novel in Crossword, I didn't hesitate… I remember I didn't even read the back-cover. I simply picked it up. Friend with whom I was in crossword, asked me if I’m sure I wanna buy that book, I told her, I can buy a Mitch Albom any day blindfolded. And I wasn't wrong.

Time keeper is very similar to his earlier work and it still is very different. This also has a touch of magic and fable-ish story telling style to it…but this one is very somber. Coz the Time Keeper is story of Father Time. The one who counted time for the first time. It’s the story of his fascination and obsession with measuring everything, its story of his unquenchable thirst for knowledge and its story of his torment and salvation from that very same obsession. It is also the story of Sarah, a geeky, intelligent, shy and socially inept teenager. About her angst to fit in and find the first love and heartbreak, her attempt to end it all. And lastly, it is also the story of Victor. World’s thirteenth richest man, a businessman, an elderly gentleman, husband to a devoted wife, boss to a hoard-load of people, a man of enormous success… a man afraid of the end of the life approaching soon. A man out to outlast death.

With the genteel touch of his earlier stories, Mitch Albom spins a story that touches your heart. Makes you smile, and make you cringe. It’s a story that teaches you to appreciate what you have and what is important. Thought the message that novel imparts is age-old wisdom, the way Mitch handles the story is simply… simple, yet effective. It’s such a fluid story that I finished the novel in less than 2 days… it’s a story that doesn't leave you even when you are done reading it. That I think is what should be seen as a sign of very good novel. There are parts of the novel when you wonder, where is this all going? How is it all going to come together? The answers come only at the last 30 odd pages or so… and when they come, you also complete the journey that you never knew you were on.

In Mitch Albom’s own words…

“There’s a reason why God limits our days.”

To make each one precious