Pick This Flick 15-The Boy in the striped pyjamas  

Posted by Praveen in ,

Remember that brilliant airtel ad where 2 boys from neighbouring countries play football on both sides of an international border? I was among those who were completely bowled over by the beauty of that ad. And so it was a pleasant surprise to see that concept being used in an entirely different setting in a movie. 'The boy in the striped pants' directed by Mark Herman is an adaptation of a novel by John Boyne. The movie is set in the horrible times of Nazi Germany. It is the story of friendship between 8 year old Bruno(Asa Butterfield), the son of a Nazi army officer and a Jewish boy Shmuel(Jack Scanlon), who is inside a concentration camp. Bruno and his family moves from their city dwelling to the countryside. The new mansion is situated in a lonely picturesque place with a 'Nazi concentration camp' nearby, where Bruno's father is the commander. Bruno feels lonely in the new place. He sees the concentration camp from his window and mistakes it for a farm. He wonders why the strange people there wears 'striped pyjamas'. The explorer that he is, he finds a way to reach the fence separating the camp and his mansion. There, he strikes up a friendship with the Jewish boy Shmuel.

What makes this film standout is the innocent viewpoint on such a horrible thing as a concentration camp. The scenes where the Nazi tutor teaches Bruno and his sister provides many such occasions of innocence. When his sister reads a lot about the troubles caused by 'the jew', Bruno wonders, 'I don't understand. One man caused all this trouble?'. Also, the way he describes the smoke that rises from the gas chambers doesn't make you think that people are actually being roasted inside those chambers. Bruno's mother Elsa (Vera Farmiga) fits in easily into the role of a wife who disagrees with her man's inhumanly work. Another cameo role is that of Pavel(David Hayman), a Jewish man who's treated as a slave in Bruno's household. The scene where he treats Bruno's injury and reveals that he's a doctor is notable. The scenes between Bruno and Schmuel are the highlights of the film. There is another scene where Bruno happens to watch a propaganda film on concentration camps, which shows the camps as heavens on earth. Bruno later realises thats not the case. All this builds into a shocking climax. Don't miss watching this gem.
Other Recommendations
1. October sky
Are you short of inspiration at any point in your life? Then, October sky is the perfect pill. Directed by Joe Johnston, it tells the real life story of Homer Hickam(Jake Gyllenhaal), the son of a coal miner who ends up as a rocket scientist. Coalwood is a town in US where all the male population works in coal mines. They don't have dreams or aspirations beyond that. Its around this time that the Russians launch the Sputnik satellite. The sight of this moving gracefully over the october sky stirs up big dreams inside Homer Hickam. He joins hands with the geeky Quentin(Chris Owen), a guy whom everybody else keeps at a distance, and plans to make a rocket himself. He has his 2 friends Roy Lee and Odell for company. Their venture hits a lot of roadblocks at first but they persist and in the end succeeds in building a flyable rocket. Their science teacher provides them with constant support. At this point, Homer's dad comes into picture. He wants his son to end up as a miner like himself and finds Homer's pursuits worthless. The emotional tussle between dad and son are beautifully picturised. Infact, it reminded me of those classic scenes between Thilakan and Mohanlal in the malayalam movie 'sphadikam'. The rest of the film chronicles how Homer and his friends pave their road to victory. The climatic scene will uplift you with its sheer warmth.

2.Following
After Memento and The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan is now a world renowned director who is known to make his movies with a reasonable load of intelligence. But, the first flashes of brilliance occured way back in 1998 in the small film called 'Following'. Just over 1 hour in length, this film is also non-linear in character much like memento. Its about a young writer who follows strangers whom he find in the streets so that he can get ideas to write his new novels. He has set certain rules for himself on who all should he follow and till when should he follow. He gets into trouble the day he breaks this by following a strange man in a black suit. The man confronts him and asks him about his intentions in following him. The man then introduces himself as Cobb, a thief. Cobb takes him as his protege and takes him for house break ins. There are some interesting scenes at this part where Cobb reveals that he steals not for the sake of stealing but to help his victims to have a re-think on their lives. So he messes up with their personal items without actually stealing it. And underneath all this lies a shocking mystery which is revealed bit by bit in Nolan's trademark non linear way. This sure is one hell of a thrill ride. Its shot on a shoestring budget with the actors and crew having regular weekday jobs. Even the balck and white was an idea for cost cutting.

PS- Going home morrow. Sunday's the big day. A.R.Rahman Live in Concert in Calicut. Woohooooo!!!!!!!

your crusader Praveen

Tasty Avial @ Bangalore!  

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Njaan Aara-The quest for identity

The rain Gods seems to be rocking to Avial's rain song 'Karukara'. The heavy rain that lashed Bangalore as a sort of welcome to Avial on Friday does tell us that. The song has impressed the Gods so much that the rain continued well into the night thus delaying the concert til 10 PM. The atmosphere in PESSE college was electric with the students dancing and head banging in the rain during the rock competition that preceeded the Avial concert. Then some big sound glitches and half of my friends left. At last, it started much to the pleasure of a patient crowd waiting there. All the hits from the first album were belted out with 'aadu paambe' and 'Nada Nada' receiving real crazy response from the crowd. The scream for encore was so loud that the band were soon back on stage to belt out the snake song once again. And yeah, it was the first rock concert for my 3 roomies. They were threatening to beat me up when the concert was on the verge of being cancelled. But much to my relief, it happened. And, they did like the first taste of a live concert. Hope I will have more company in the future.
Rex on song!
Mithun-high on concentration

Avial was back again to rock Bangalore on Saturday. This time it happened at the Le Rock pub in Brigade road. The relatively small pub was jam packed with not even enough space for a breath. The overflowing beverages made sure that everyone's spirits were 'high' even before the concert started. The band's podium was so small that the cramping up was evident during the show. Still, the show didn't suffer a bit. Tony's Malayalam dialogues had the whole house screaming. It was funny when he replied with a 'we don't have' for screams of 'we want more'. Mithun's precise drumming and Rex's funky guitar work complimented each other well even in those short jams that they did between songs. I enjoyed this show more as I concentrated more on the music than the photography. Yes, a sore neck is an obvious casualty. Well, the news is that they are currently working on their next album and it will be out next year.
at Le Rock

Tonykuttan rocks :P Crowd on a 'high' at Le Rock

PS- I did miss the new Avial song 'Chi me sape'(a collaborative effort with French band A67) in the concert.

India's future horrible PMs  

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Lately, People of India haven't been very lucky when it comes to its Prime ministers. A seat which was once adorned by the likes of Lal Bahadur Shastri has recently become a magnet for some spineless, sleepy and even brainless souls. The exotic line of not so good PMs started with Morarji Desai, whose mansion reportedly didn't have a urinal. Obviously, such a facility doesn't serve a purpose other than space wastage in a house where the official drink is produced by humans themselves. Then there was the infamous V.P.Singh who rivals our current HRD minister Arjun Singh in implementing stupid rules. Next in line is the one and only Devegowda who was never seen in public with his eyes open. He's famous for sleeping in a vareity of poses in every public meeting that he attended. Then comes a certain puppet who always obeyed the 'mistress of puppets'. So, who's the next in line to join this illustrious company? And what will happen when they take charge...Here are 3 probables and 3 improbables..

1.Rahul 'empty head' Gandhi
A name which is on every lip(each of those lips were paid Rs.1000 each) these days. His educational qualification is still under a question mark. He had successfully sued and made quiet an allegation by a reputed magazine that his harvard degrees are fake. And, now he has surrounded himself with some real Harvard MBA graduates to give him sound advise. Still sometimes his loose tongue brings him bad name on occasions like when he claimed India's independence as his family's achievement. The day he becomes PM, India's fake degree holders will replace the real degree holders in all jobs. All public department heads will be given an opportunity to fill the new job vacancies with unworthy candidates from their own family.

2.Maya 'statue' wati
I can't help but shudder at this thought of her becoming PM. Famous for her opulent birthday
celebrations, the amount spent for which runs to 100s of crores, she has also managed bridge the caste divide in gaining support. Recently, she started a mega project to fill the state with statues of leaders like Ambedkar and herself. When she becomes PM, January 15(her birthday) will be declared a national holiday. Birthday bash collection slips for a minimum amount of 1 lakh will be sent to every Indian citizen's house, failing to pay which you will be brought to justice by a high speed court(read-her goons). Every city centre will be adorned with a statue of the lady and a blue flag.

3.Na'no'rendra Modi
Pre-Nano, he was a demon for the media. Post-Nano, he's a saviour for the media. We have the India Inc singing praises of this man whose long list of achievements boasts of one of India's worst riots. The surge in the developmental side in Gujarat is being praised all over but many are turning a blind eye to the selective development happening there. There are certain places where development is stunted purposefully. Hitler must be turning in his grave and wishing that there was a 1944 model Nano. I better stay away from the task of writing about India's state under the Nano boy.

4.Sanjay 'Jhappi' Dutt
This is not a 'Vaastav' situation, just some imagination. His story is a perfect case of how films can blind common man and create a hero out of a villain. With just the Munnabhai series, he managed to wipe off the stain of arms that he possessed. The 'Jaadu ki jhappi' was accepted happily by atleast a section of the public. After marrying Manyata, he was also affected by the loose tongue disorder. But I still wonder why the 'Jaadu ki jhappi to Mayawati' dialogue evoked such harsh responses. Anyway, I purposefully kept him away from Mayawati to avoid a 'jhappi incident' in my blog. When he becomes PM, a new law will be enacted so that common man can keep 'harmless' weapons like AK-47 and AK-56 in their homes. Munnahai will be screened in Doordarshan as part of national integration every week. Khal Nayak will be screened every alternate week for national disintegration.

5.Lalit 'IPL' Modi
The IPL man is riding high on the 'commercial' success. Obviously, he will have 'power' dreams in the near future. The day he becomes PM, he will come up with a rule to conduct the Indian general elections to be shifted to south Africa, whenever it clashes with the IPL schedule. Postal ballot facility will be provided for those who can't travel till South Africa. Cheerleaders will accompany those who are travelling to South Africa.

6.Rakhi 'dumbo' sawant
This is the depths of far fetched imagination. She's currently in the news for a reality show in NDTV imagine which will conduct a nationwide search for a perrect husband for her. The day she becomes PM, all newspapers will be asked to keep the 'page 3' news in front page with banner headlines like 'Rakhi again slaps husband'. The IIT entrance examinations will be done away with and will be replaced by a Dumbness Quotient(DQ) test.

your crusader Praveen

Madrasas,flying shoes and cutting hands  

Posted by Praveen in , ,

Its election time and its the only time the voters (are made to)feel like king. Its the time the politicians come back to earth after a 5 year trip to Mars. The folded hands, smiling faces, hollow
speeches all make their customary appearances. The silent brick walls have to bear with the ultimate shame of carrying some filthy politicians posters. Open jeeps make an appearance too with the neta holding the ear shattering mic. If the mic doesn't work properly, you can see the neta slapping the party worker standing beside him, as happened last week during Captain Vijaykanth's election rally. If you are unlucky enough, the shameless soul will surely land up at your doorstep for some small talk and a request for votes thrown in between. And then there's the usual distribution of money, sarees, tv, rice etc. Above all there is the dirty game of attracting voters using policies and manifestos aimed at appeasing certain communities. All the parties compete with each other in this regard.

The first such case is the announcement from the HRD ministry some weeks back that Madrasa education will be equivalent to CBSE education. Also, the Government came up with pension plans for Madrasa teachers. Barring a few well managed madrasas, a majority of them are ultra orthodox stoneageic institutions which impart only religious teachings. Science and maths are unheard in most of these institutions. Coupled with that is the proven cases of 'terrorism classes' being conducted in these elite institutions. After the recent spurt in terrorist activities, there were recommendations to keep an eye on what's happening in the Madrasas. And India's one and only truely secular minister Arjun Singh decided to do something on this. What better way to do it than continue in the same vein as his brilliant quota policy. If you thought only the congress does such things, think again. Yesterday, the left Government in West Bengal allocated more than 500 crores for the upgradation of madrasas in the state, a clear move to win some support from the minority communities. And, all this money is given by sacrificing the allocation for higher education. By equating madrasa education and CBSE education, Govt aims to bring the madrasa students to the mainstream. But isn't this a segregation of a different kind? Also, what significance does religious education has in the context of the nation? Are there any more such plans, for example replacing IAS with IRS, the Indian Religious Service and CVS, the Communal Violence Service?
No discussion on voter appeasement is complete these days without a mention of the honourable Varun Gandhi. He seems to think more on the lines of Hitler than the man in his second name. Hate speeches, a speciality of Hitler is adopted with all sincerity by the latest useless scion from the Gandhi family. He strayed into Aghoric territory when he talked of cutting the hands of members of certain communities. Such immature and highly unpardonable comments could've been dismissed as the ramblings of a demented guy. But, the BJP had other ideas. It played a clever game using him. Infact, it all looks like a drama carefully planned by some talented script writers in the party itself. After that farcical arrest drama, he's given the stature of a hero and above all a young national leader of the party. If all that is not enough, you have the party's manifesto which rekindles the old Ayodhya temple issue.
PS-Amidst all this was the funny shoe throwing incident by Dainik Jagran journalist Jarnail Singh at finance minister PC Chidambaram. It was almost similar to Muntazer al-Zaidi's attack on Bush last year. Jagdish Tytler, the Congress leader accused in the 1984 anti-sikh riots now walks free after being given a clean chit. And added to that is the election ticket being given to him. And when Jarnail raised a question on that regard, Chidambaram deftly got out from it. The rest, as they say, is history. I really wish Tytler was there to receive the shoe on his face.

Pic courtesy-IBN Live

your crusader Praveen

Launch of new Photoblog  

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Announcing the launch of my new photoblog Myopic lenses. You can expect to see a photo a day dealing with some aspect of life around us. Myopic lenses brings you the world around us, as seen through a pair of myopic eyes armed with an equally myopic lens... It can make you smile, it can make you cry, It can make you think...It all depends on how myopic your own eyes are..

Been away from the blogs for quite sometime. Was enjoying the last weekend at home. Give me sometime to catch up with your blogs. And don't forget to bookmark and visit this new photoblog of mine everyday- http://myopiclenses.blogspot.com/