Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I Love To...

Say silly things just because it makes her laugh
Argue intelligently just because it challenges her
Call her between work just because she loves that attention
Whisper 'I love you' just because of the glow it brings to her eyes

Feel her fingers run through my hair, because it's the ultimate relaxer
Feel her body next to mine while we dance, because it's the ultimate foreplay
Feel her arms around me when I cook for her, because it's the ultimate appetizer
Feel her hand in mine when we walk, because it's the ultimate reassurance

Rest my lips on her, because it feels so right
Smell her hair in the morning, because it makes me feel truly lucky
Rest her head on my shoulder, because I know she trusts me
Hold her tight, because she loves me as much as I love her

Be away from her just because of the joy I get when I see her again
Be close to her just because she makes the worst of days seem right
Talk endlessly because I know we never get bored of each other
Say nothing...because I know words are no longer a necessity

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Like a bride's veil
Shielding all the turmoil inside
The sheets of rain thundering down
Dissolve everything in a blurry haze

The blowing wind once in a while
Guides a reluctant drop inside
My skin tingles under its touch
Almost a gesture to join the dance

The rain spatters off the leaves
As they try in vain to catch a few
Like a lover clutching the sands of hope
Waiting for that long lost love

A few trickle down the power lines
Only to fall to the ground in mid journey
Akin to the rat race we reluctantly run
Only to know failure is just a mis-step away

The first step is the toughest
As the first few drops sting my skin
Then it is just a heavenly cleansing
But...what I need is a rain within.

Wednesday Words for the Wandering Mind...

I was reading an article about Van Gogh, when I came across this quote by him

"One may have a blazing hearth in one's soul, and yet no one ever comes to sit by it"

It seems to have this strange resonance with me which is borderline troubling. I think I like this one better.

"We build walls not to keep others away but to see who is strong enough to tear them down"

Monday, September 11, 2006


Even though he was one of the younger members of the family, he was also the most level headed. She was the second oldest among the five siblings. He struggled a lot to get his education. She, not so much.

Love marriage was yet to enter the vocabulary. Probably back then, there were more pressing issues at hand - like making a living. He worked in a textile mill. While she worked for the state government. And their marriage was arranged.

Even though she was soft spoken and quiet, she always had an independent spirit. And that was the driving force behing him leaving the family home to find a new home for his family. While a couple of his brothers were hot in the pursuit of wealth, he chose the simple pleasures of an average job and family.

Both of them worked hard to make the ends meet. And at times pulled up short. Sending three kids to good schools comes with a price tag. But her reassuring calm in the face of crisis and his complete trust in her abilities to manage the family, saw them through.

And these are my parents. Last tuesday was their 35th wedding anniversary.

The more I have seen of this world, the more I have realized how lucky I am.

My mom never really watched english movies. But she made sure that we developed a taste for good movies. Watching "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang", "Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory" are part of my childhood memories only because of my Mom. She never read much english literature. But she consciously cultivated a love for good books in us. Getting us abridged versions of "Around the world in 80 days", "Robinson Crusoe" were just her marvellous ways of doing that.

My dad taught me never to back off from a challenge. Whenever there was something that needed fixing around the household he would step in. He may not know Shakespeare but he was a genius at finding solutions to everyday problems. And I was always his little helper. More often a reluctant meddler than helper. Thanks to him, even today I am not shy about getting my hands dirty.

While we were by no means poor, it wasn't smooth sailing either. Most of the time we had 'just enough'. But my parents never hid anything from us. They treated us like adults and let us have our say. They encouraged us to be independent and responsible for ourselves. Never have we been scolded for bad grades. They used to just say "We don't have lot of money we can leave behind. All we can do is give you a good education. It is upto you to decide what you make of your life.". And that has stayed with me always.

Maybe we don't say this enough, but we love you. Wishing you a happy 35th !

Your little boy

~ B

Monday, September 04, 2006


Tears of blood stream down my cheeks
My heart wrenches in deep despair
My mind wanders without any direction
Loneliness has caged me from myself

I crave to see a familiar face
I long to hear a recognizable voice
But all I see are faces unknown
And all I hear are voices unheard

I hope to make some new friends
Maybe be the reason for someone's smile
But friendship seems a thing of the past
Acquaintances are all that remain

I hope to find someone I love
Someone who will see the real me
But they say love is over-rated
Dating games are all that remain

We are born in a crowded room
We bid farewell in an another crowd
But where are they when we need them most
When we are alive...but all alone

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Summer Sightings

I apologize for have been insanely lazy about posting reviews. Summer weekends are always packed plus work has been picking up too. So here are my mini reviews of some of the movies I have seen over the summer.

Superman Returns

Probably the most awaited flick of this summer. Everyone was curious to see how newcomer Brandon Routh would fill the big ol' shoes left behind by Christopher Reeve. Add to that we had the director who had given us the delightful first two episodes of the X-Men trilogy at the helm - Brian Singer. So the anticipation was high, to put it mildly. The former aspect worried folks than the latter. But surprisingly the latter was teh one which lost the movie. Brandon Routh did most things right. But that didn't make up for the flaws in the movie.

Superman has never been one of the dark superheroes (like Batman) so the treatment of the movie really failed the franchise. Superman had never been much about emotional intenisity. To put it simply, it was about flying around in a red cape and saving the world. Singer unfortunately overlooked it and there came the free fall without a parachute. Not even the always brilliant Kevin Spacey could break the fall.

My rating : 2/5

An Inconvenient Truth

Probably the most important movie to come out this year. If the blazing summers and the raging hurricanes aren't the cue for the world to wake up to the reality of global warming, here was yet another nudge.

Based on the presentation Al Gore has been giving around the globe, the movie awakens us to the stark reality of global warming. Even most of us who are aware of the dangers of global warming are not quite cognizant about how imminent the danger is.

Now only if we could get the mainstream media to dedicate some time to reporting on this rather than on John Mark Carr or Baby Suri.

My rating : 4/5

United 93

This was the first of the 9/11 centric movies to come out this year and my favorite among the two. More so because of the raw nature of how this movie has been made. The use of a near anonymous cast, including people actually involved with the incidents made it feel so immediate.

Paul Greengrass's measured approach to depicting the events of one of the darkest days in history, was simply brilliant. Trying to stay true to the information at hand, Greengrass has created a movie which almost feels like a documentary - and I mean that as a compliment.

My rating : 5/5

The Devil wears Prada

As if we needed any second affirmation to the fact that Meryl Streep is probably the greatest actress alive, she carries the movie all through and elevates it from a flick-based-on-chick-lit to a delightful movie. She brings the icy Miranda Priestly to life only like she can.

The mannerisms, the low voice, the icy glances etc combine to create a character on screen which is worthy of an Oscar nomination.

My rating : 3/5

World Trade Center

Probably it is the sheer gravitas of the events surrounding that dark day that tempered a fiery film maker like Oliver Stone into churning out such a restrained movie. And this subdued version of Stone works well.

Based on the accounts of two Port Authority police officers rescued from the rubble of the twin towers, WTC shows us the other face of tragedy. One which stands up to be counted when it really matters, the one which does its duty even at the risk of personal danger, the one which does the right thing because it IS the right thing to do.

It is tough not to be inspired by the bravery of the firefighters, police officers and all the others who were willing to rush into the burning buildings or step through the rubble even it meant saving just one life. They are truly America's finest !

My rating : 3.5/5

Little Miss Sunshine

A girl from Albequerque wearing geeky-glasses and a tummy, seems an unlikely candidate for a kid's beauty pageant. But throw in a coke snorting Grandpa, Neitzsche loving brother who is on a vow of silence, a gay cousin with a failed suicide attempt, a Dad scraping for his career as a motivational speaker, a mom trying to hold it all together and a VW bus. You have more than enough ingredients to make a delightful indie comedy.

The movie tracks this family's journey from Albequerque to Redondo Beach so that Olive can participate in the Little Miss Sunshine contest. The cast is simply outstanding and aptly cast - Alan Arkin, Steve Carrell, Greg Kinnear, Toni Colette are all exceptional. But the movie belongs to Abigail Breslin who brings Olive to life.

And hey, how can you not love a movie which ends with dancing to Superfreak :)

My rating : 4/5

Half Nelson

The plotline is simple - a friendship between a teacher with a coke addiction and his student. Sounds like made-for-Lifetime, right? Wrong. Unlike the usual student-teacher movies, it doesn't try to preach. There are no life altering changes which happen suddenly in the movie. Nor is there a montage depicting the budding friendship.

Ryan Gosling plays Dan Dunne, a history teacher in a junior high. For the most part Mr. Dunne is a good teacher. He tries to inspire his students to see value in learning history and tries to make it interesting. He also coaches the basketball team with enough conviction. But he also likes to spend his evenings snorting coke.

One of his students finds him passed out in the bathroom and from there gradually starts a friendship of sorts. How the friendship affects both of them is the true plot of the movie.

The movie absolutely belongs to Ryan Gosling. In an Oscar-worthy performance Gosling portrays the various dimensions of this character to a T. Whether it is the coke/alcohol induced rant about present-day politics or the patient approach to explaining history or the slacked out mode of a cokehead, Gosling does all of it in an effortless manner.

My Rating - 4/5

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Will be fine...

In the deserts I wander endlessly
Watching the blazing sands of time slip away
The scorching winds of sorrow burn my skin
Consuming me in a pyre of loneliness

The canteen of friendship is running dry
Memories of past lands still linger on
The allure of an Oasis still drags me on
But alas it's just a mirage

The mind yearns to say a million words
But the dryness of my throat sucks them in
The heart longs to cry out aloud
But even tears have dried up within.

Why am I all alone
Wandering this ghastly land
Maybe I am just a proverbial outcast
In the prosperous Republic of Love

Maybe I am destined to walk all alone
Without an reassuring hand in mine
Maybe someone up above looked at me and said
"All alone but he will be fine"

Life's Promises...

So many of them, But the one's kept
So far and few in between
But life's promises keep coming
Whenever hope feels like a distant dream.

When I stepped out of school
The promise of the fun and joy of college life
Held its arms wide open
With a whole new world for this school kid

Then came the life in a professional course
Promising excitement and challenges all the way
Internals and exams, all of that passed by
So did the fights and the easy life

Now the promise of a bright career is made
But life seems dull and lonely already
And hope seems like a fading dream,
But life's promises keep coming...


Far Away....

I am in a distant land
Far from the place I call home
Away from the shade of my parents' love
My friends' laughter too seems so far away

The times I rested my head on my mother's lap
Seems so so long ago..
The taste of the simple food she makes
Is also starting to fade away

Fear of my dad when I was young
And the rebellious ways of adolscence
All were just a few years ago
But now seems as if ages have passed

The smiles,the quarrels and the bad fights
The fun and laughter with my friends
The sharing of the good times and the bad uns'
Feels like decades ago

My home is where I long to be
My parents is whom I long to be with
My friends are the ones to share my life with
But...most things are easier said than done


Monday, August 14, 2006

A Moment of Silence...

I have quite a few reviews lying in my drafts. I will post them later this week.

But today all I can think of is that, now it is August 15th in India.

For most Indians, August 15th is the day when India gained independence. The day when the courage of so many men and women finally came to fruition. Their tireless struggles are the reason why we are able to enjoy our freedom.

But for me, August 15th just reminds me of the greatest tragedy I have faced todate.

It was the day when I lost two of my good friends to an unfortunate accident. Even though many years have passed, the incidents of that day and beyond are still fresh in my mind. That rainy night, hearing that news, the ambulance, the tears are all part of my memories of August 15th.

Wherever you are, all I have to say is, we miss you...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Thursday Thoughts...

Yesterday while thumbing through this month's Details mag, I came across a fascinating article. What was it about? Surrogacy.

To set some context, Surrogacy is the equivalent of artificial insemination for men...almost. There are also other cases where surrogacy is used, but this article dealt specifically with cases of single men.

If a single woman wants to have a child, she heads to the sperm bank finds a suitable swimmer and goes on from there.

But in the case of a single man, it is a lot more complicated. First he needs to find a suitable 'donor' to provide the egg. And lot of the time the donors are usually unwilling to do the 9-month deal of bearing the child. So he has to find someone who can bear his child. And that is where the surrogate mother comes into picture. she carries the embryo for 9-months and after birth hands it over to the Dad and moves on.

Surrogacy is legal in lot of states. California is one among them. This allows to build legally binding contracts surrounding the egg donation, the surrogacy, the custody etc. There are agencies who take care of the entire gamut surrounding these procedures. The costs surrounding all of this run upto $150,000.

Apparently around 100 single men do this every year. Their age range is anywhere between early 30s (the article featured a 30 year old) to late 40s and beyond. What fascinated me was the social dynamic surrounding this.

Most of these are straight single men. And given the costs of the procedure, they are financially stable. And when you factor in their willingness to go through the long grind of this procedure to have a child of their own, one can reasonably assume that they are caring individuals.

What are those social conditions/experiences that have caused these men to give up on finding a partner? Some may allege that these men are bitter. I refuse to buy that argument. The whole process is too gruelling just to be fuelled by bitterness. Unless it is driven by the genuine desire to be a parent, I highly doubt if a person will go through with this.

Is this the way our society supposed to evolve?
Are single parent homes, the future?
Are our social conditions conditioning us to be just by ourselves ?
I am not sure.
PS : I was mildly disturbed by the relief I felt when I found that such a legal option exists. Ah! the dichotomy !

Monday, July 31, 2006

Monday Musings

I came across this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson and it resonated with me in a strangely familiar manner.

"What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness.

It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own;

But the great person is one who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude."

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Weekend Recommendation - Transamerica (2005)

2005 was a fabulous year for movie goers. We were flooded with so many good movies. And each one of them broke away from the stereotypical storylines and stood out. Lot of these movies garnered good attention.

Unfortunately Transamerica was one movie which got lost in the crowd. Apart from the Best Actress nomination for Felicity Huffman (I thought she should have won), the movie didn't generate much press.

Felicity Huffman plays a pre-operative male-to-female transsexual, who gets a call from a 17-year oldwho claims to be his son from an one-time encounter in college. After some persuasion from her psychartist, she makes the trip to NY where he is in jail. She ends up bailing him out. All this while she withholds her identity. Instead she introduces herself as a christian missionary. The rest of the movie is about their road trip back to the west coast.

The movie, albeit flawed in parts manages to stay clear of the sentimental mush. The movie is funny and moving at the same time. The movie undoubtedly belongs to Felicity Huffman. Her nuanced and understated performance is what makes the movie for me.

My rating : 4 out of 5

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Summer Picks

Apologies for my inactivity. I have been caught in some of life's cobwebs.

I started writing this entry at the beginning of summer. It is almost the end of it. Oh well.

Well, summer is finally here after the ghastly rainy days of March & April. So when we are lazing around on the beach or on our patio, it is nice to have a book which is an easy-read handy. Something which doesn't put us on the edge. Something which doesn't demand too much of us.

well, I have just the books for you.

The Know-It-All : One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World

We all to think that we are pretty smart. (Especially since we read books and all. Ahem) Of course we are confronted by situations/people where we are forced reevaluate that assumption. The author A.J. Jacobs was also faced with such a conundrum.

Unlike us, he didn't seek the internet for help. Instead he decided that he was going to read the 32 volumes of the Encylopedia Britanicca - 33,000 pages, 44 million words. The book is like a toned down version of the same. Of course it is filled with hilarious anecdotes, perspectives and life experiences of the author in relation to each topic at hand.

Most of us would find no joy in reading the Britanicca. That's why this book is for us. The lovely dry humor of A.J.Jacobs makes this task a truly enjoyable experience.

Garlic and Sapphires : The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise

Folks who know me personally, will understand my liking for this book. It is plain and simple - I am a huge foodie - I love cooking, love finding restaurants off the beaten path and watch a huge amount of food network. So it is hardly surprising that I find a book about the travails of a restaurant critic appealing.

The book describes the early years of Ruth Reichl after she took over as the restaurant critic at the NY Times. (She is currently the Editor in chief of Gourmet magazine.) In a city where 4 out of 5 new restaurants close down within a year, reviews are of prime importance and critics are rockstars. Restaurants will do anything within their power to earn those stars.

To counter this, Ruth Reichl came up with approach of going to restaurants once in disguise - usually as an old lady and the other time as herself. She factored in her experience from those two visits (at times there are more than two) to determine their report card.

Ruth Reichl knows not only how to rate food but also how to take the reader on a journey alongside her table. A must read for any foodie worth his salt. (Pun intended)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Together (The complete version)

The café was always very busy during Sunday afternoons. Today was no different.

As he stood in line to place his order, he scanned the place for an empty table. There was none. Then his eyes started searching for any movement among the people seated to give him an indication that they were leaving. It almost felt like an episode out of a Discovery channel wildlife special showcasing the hunter and the hunted.

Then there it was. A middle aged man closed his laptop and started packing his things. As soon as the man stood up to leave, he stepped out of the line went up to the table. Both of them acknowledged each other’s presence with a smile. And he walked away.

He triumphantly put down his newspaper on the table. Reminded him of the way certain animals mark their territory.

As he walked back to the line he could sense a few unspoken “Damn you!”s being hurled his way. He stepped back in to the line with a smug look on his face.

Finally his turn to order came. The girl at the counter was a cute redhead. Probably around 18 years old. She bore the bane of all redheads – freckles, quite a few of them.

“What would you like?”

“Just a medium sized brew of the day, please”

She stepped back to get it. The regular coffee is pre-brewed while the more fancy brews like cappuccinos or mochas were made to order. She came back empty handed though.

“We are out of it. We are brewing a fresh pot. Would you mind waiting for a couple of minutes?”

“No. Not at all.”

“Great. That will be $1.50”

He handed her couple of Washingtons.

She handed back a couple of quarters and said “Here’s your change. I will let you know once the coffee is ready.’

He dropped the change in the tip jar and said a “Thank you”

As he stood back and waited for his coffee, he tried to push back the turmoil brewing within him.
“What was I thinking? Was I even thinking at all?”

“The one thing I thought, that I will never do. So much for self belief.”

The thoughts rushing about by were brought a screeching halt by somebody calling his name.

He turned his gaze and it was the redhead. “Here is your coffee. Have a nice day” She said with a lovely smile on her face. He managed to pull together a smile and blurt out a “Thanks. You have a nice day too”.

When he poured the milk into the coffee, it seemed to whip up a storm in the rich dark liquid.

As he sat down at his seat, the song changed. It was Frank Sinatra crooning “My funny Valentine”. It brought a smile to his face.

It brought back the memories of how he had serenaded her with that song.

They had had a silly fight a few days after their marriage. He couldn’t even remember the reason. He pulled a suit jacket over his pjs and used her hair brush like a mic. By the end of the song they were laughing in each other’s arms.

Jazz was the essential soundtrack to their relationship and marriage.

He remembered the first time he met her. It was at this very same café.

It was the summer of 2003. He was doing his usual Sunday afternoon ‘coffee and people watching’ thing. His eyes were scanning for an empty table when he saw her. He was never one to try and hit on women at a café

Just like anyone who has ever been in love would tell you, “There was something about her”.

She was sitting at a window seat across from the entrance of the café. Her beautiful dark hair was untied. A few curly locks of hair framed her beautiful face.

The breeze which crept in whenever the door was opened caressed those locks and moved them onto her face. And each time she brushed them away with a graceful motion of her left hand. She wore a beautiful bohemian skirt full of beautiful colors coupled with a crisp white shirt. Simple flat sandals completed her outfit.

She was gazing through the window when he approached her and said “Hi”

She looked up and said “Hello”. Her beautiful blue eyes and enchanting smile almost made his heart stop beating. He recovered well enough to ask “Do you mind if I join you at your table?”

She looked around the café and there was an empty table at the far corner. “Well, there is another table over there. Didn’t you see it?”

“I did. But then I would have to shout to be able to talk to you. I don’t think the rest of the folks in the café would appreciate it very much.”

She did a half laugh and half smirk and asked “Why do you think I would be interested in having a conversation with you?”

A woman who can match him word for word, he was already starting to like her.

“Isn’t this already a conversation? As far as I can see you haven’t backed away, so I don’t see why it can’t continue”

“Well, you do have a point. I guess you could sit at my table for a few minutes”. She winked and smiled at him. He almost died twice in the space of five minutes.

After getting the introductions out of the way, he found out that she had just moved here to start her new job. The conversation was seamless. It was like two friends catching up after a while.

That’s when the café started playing Sam Cooke’s “What a wonderful world”.

“That is one of my favorite songs!”

“Really? Mine too!” and then he proceeded to sing along with it. After a few moments of embarrassment she too joined in.

The next time they heard the song again, was when he played it to her over phone a day after their first date. A little over a year later they got married.

His trip down memory lane was stopped short by someone wanting to borrow a chair from his table. That brought him back to the chaos churning inside him.

“Well, it was harmless. I did manage to avoid anything further”

“Or did I? Didn’t I want more?

* * *

It was this last Friday evening. The office was emptying out. He looked at his watch

It read 4:15.

“Maybe I should stay back and finish off this work. Well, then again Lisa is not going to be in town this weekend. I could take this up on Sunday”

His decision making process was interrupted by a sultry voice saying

“Hey, beautiful”

It was Claire. She was the “it” girl of the office. Gorgeous blond hair, icy blue eyes and a smile which turned men into babbling babies.

There was no question about how people around her felt. Women hated her and men stole glances when their significant others were not around. He liked observing the reaction of the people around her more than her.

She somehow had a thing for him. Maybe his unavailable status had something to do with it. Apart from some harmless flirting, they were just good friends.

“Hey, you guys heading out?”

“Yeah, a bunch of us are going down to that swanky new lounge. Dave’s friend owns it. So we are the V.I.P room. YES!!!”

“As if you couldn’t get into any V.I.P lounge you wanted” He chuckled.

She gave him the raised eyebrow and said “Smartass!”

“Hey Lisa is out of town, right? Why don’t you join us? Come on, it will be fun.”

“I don’t know. I don’t drink much these days.”

“Good. Then you can drive me home because I plan to get drunk today”

* * *

Nearly four hours later, he was driving up to her house. Claire was fast asleep. She kept her word. That girl could really pull her alcohol. Thankfully he knew her house since she pulled the same act at the company Christmas party. He and Lisa had to drive her back home that time too.

He pulled up to her house and cut the engine. Miles Davis was finishing up the last notes of “So What”. He waited for it to end before he turned it off. “Kind of Blue” was Lisa’s album of choice for dinner time.

He got out and walked around to her side and opened the door. She was still sleeping. She looked so serene. Very unlike the Claire who was the life of every party.

He tapped on her shoulder. No response. He tapped a little more firmly. She woke up this time. She took a minute to comprehend where she was. Then she saw him kneeling beside her and smiling.

“Oh, I am so sorry. I had way too much to drink. I feel like an ass”

“Don’t worry about it. You are a party of one, when you are drunk. It was fun”

She smirked and took her purse and stepped out of the car and asked.

“When is Lisa getting back?”

“Wednesday night”

“She is a very lucky woman”.

As she said those words the look in her eyes changed into a blend of longing and sadness. She held that look for a moment. And then she slipped her fingers through his hair and kissed him firmly on the lips. It lasted a few moments and then she walked away quickly and went inside her house.

* * *

He didn’t make much of the kiss. He didn’t even think about it all of Saturday. That was until he got the call from Lisa today morning. He was awake but still lying around in bed when his phone rang. He almost didn’t answer it. Then he saw it was Lisa. So he scrambled to pick it up.

“Hey, love”

“Hey, you still sleeping?”

“Nope, I woke up a while back. How are things there? How is work?”

“Things are good. I just had a great breakfast. But….” Her voice trailed off.

“But? What happened? Are you ok?”

“I have been thinking”

“About what?”

“About my job. It keeps us apart so much…”


“I have made a decision. I am quitting this job. I am going to try and find something closer to home”

“Wow! Really? ”

“Yeah. What do you think? Are you happy with my decision?”

“Are you kidding me? I couldn’t be happier. With your skills, you will find a job in no time”

“Am glad you agree. I was worried about you not liking my decision”

“Of course I agree. Now you get your sweet ass down here”

She giggled and said “Three more days and I will be there. I got to go now. Have a meeting to head to. I will call you later. Love you”

“Love you”. And then the phone went dead.

* * *

Since that moment his insides were tearing up. His mind raced back to Friday night and the kiss with Claire. This trip to his favorite café was his futile attempt at seeking refuge from the guilt ravaging him from inside.

He knew how much that job meant to Lisa. She was willing to give it all up just to be with him.

“She is willing to give up her prized job to be with me. And what do I do? I kiss another woman. I didn’t try to stop it. I didn’t even say a word.”

He halted his thoughts for a few moments as his ears caught Ol’ Blue Eyes singing

“Let me try again - let me try again
Think of all we had before - let me try once more
We can have it all - you and I again
Please forgive me or I'll die - let me try again”

A loud sigh escaped him as he heard those words. He quickly looked around to see if anyone else noticed it. Luckily people were engrossed in their own thing.

* * *

She lied. She didn’t have a meeting to go to.

Tears were starting to well up in her eyes as she spoke to Brian. She was struggling to hold back the sobs and maintain a cheerful tone. The moment the call ended, she buried her face in the pillow. She cried harder than she ever had.

She didn’t know how long she cried. But after it she definitely felt lighter.

“How did this happen to me? How could I do this to him?”

* * *

Chris was the business analyst for the project she was handling. And like most women around him, Lisa too found him to be extremely attractive. Dirty blonde hair, hazel eyes and very sharp facial features combined with his tall, athletic frame to paint a very handsome picture. His smart and suave personality just added to his appeal.

As she was leaving the building, he called her name. He walked briskly up to her and said

“Do you know any good Thai restaurants around here?”

“Yes, there is one very close to our hotel. It is really good. I went there last week.”

“Good. Make a reservation for two, say around 7pm?”

“Huh? Why don’t you or your friend make the reservation? I can give you the number”

“Well, that is why I am asking you. We are having dinner together. So I’ll see you at 7 then”

Before she had time to respond, he was already walking back into the building. When he got to the door, he turned around, smiled and waved to her. And almost as a reflex action she did the same.

* * *

Nearly five hours later, they had finished dinner at the Thai restaurant, eaten dessert at the next door gelato joint. And now they had been at the bar in their hotel for over an hour. She was on her second dirty martini.

She noticed how incessantly he was flirting with her. Much beyond the normal realm of ‘colleagues’.

“Hasn’t he noticed the ring on my finger?” she thought.

She stole a moment to look at her ring. That is when she realized she was not wearing it off. She had taken it off in the evening to scrub her hands thoroughly and forgotten too put it back on.

An hour and one more dirty martini later, he was walking her back to her room. She remembered up to the point where she was about to give him a goodnight hug. The rest was a blur.

The next clear memory she had was of the next morning. She was woken up by a cell phone ringing. She turned around and saw Chris walking away tucking his shirt with one hand and the cell phone in the other.

For a while she was in a state of shock. Then the guilt started to kick in. She paced around the room like a caged animal.

“What should I do? Should I tell him? Will he forgive me?”

“But what is the point? It was just a drunken mistake. He doesn’t need to know’

“Redemption is the best among human qualities. I will redeem myself. He doesn’t need to know”
She thought about it long and hard. And that is when she made the phone call.

* * *

She walked to the bathroom and splashed cold water on her face. She thought about ordering food. But she didn’t feel hungry. She poured herself a drink from the mini-bar.

She pulled the chair close to the window where she had a beautiful view of the city. She put on her headphones and switched on her iPod. The song playing was “Fallen” by Sarah Mclachlan. The words seemed to speak to her.

"I've fallen...
I have sunk so low
I have messed up
Better I should know
So don't come around here

And tell me I told you so..."

Friday, June 02, 2006

Weekend Recommendation - The New World (2005)

It was one among the movies I watched this during this Memorial Day weekend. And probably my favorite of them all.

I really wanted to watch it when it was released last year. The beautiful Virginia landscapes would have been even better on the larger screen. Unfortunately it didn't stay on for more than a week. So I had to wait till the DVD came out.

When I say it is a long movie, I am not cutting any corners. It has a running time of 150 mins. I can see lot of you going "Whoah!". Trust me, it was not that difficult. Think of a lovely slow cooked meal. It is impossible to achieve that kind of tenderness and flavor with a fast food approach.

In fact that's exactly the directorial style of Terrence Mallik. If you have watched The Thin Red Line you will know what I mean. He is content to do the slow simmer than blast away with a blow torch. And if you think about it, human emotions are also pretty much the same. They usually simmer away within us and at times blow up too :)

The movie's star performer is undoubtedly Q'orianka Kilcher (With such a cool name how can you not be a star, ay?). She effortlessly portrays the transition of Pocahontas (Interestingly the movie never mentions her name) from a young girl smitten in love with Captain Smith (played by Colin Farrell) to the lovely lady who arrives on the British Shores and charms the King and Queen.

But ultimately the movie belongs to Terrence Mallik. The delicateness and tact with which he handles the entire story is mesmerising. The dialogue in the movie is sparse. And that only serves to enhance the experience. Almost gives one the sense that Mallik has taken a scalpel to the screenplay.

The cinematography is simply outstanding. The shots which intermingle with Smith's narrative are so breathtaking and downright poetic.

"The New World" is ultimately a discovery for all involved - Smith & Co discovered their New World on the shores of US, Pocahontas discovers a new world among the settlers and later in Britain and we discover the sumptuousness of a movie which does not hurry through the details but instead lets us take in every ounce of artistic flair that it has to offer.

My rating : 4.5/5

Monday, May 22, 2006

Thought of the Day

"Men should treat their women more like ladies
Women should expect their men to be gentlemen"

While this would be appear to be common sense, in today's world these practices are starting to fade away. As the famous quote goes "The problem with common sense is is that it is not very common"

And these two things form a vicious cycle and that is its greatest tragedy.

Friday, May 19, 2006

102 Movies You Must See Before...

I have been away for a while now. I was on vacation till May 5th.

I have one two many writing projects in the works, so for the time being I just working off the list of movies posted by Jim Emerson. For each movie I have seen, I have mentioned whatever it brings to mind.

"2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968) - Couldn't really sit through it.
"The 400 Blows" (1959)
"8 1/2" (1963) Federico Fellini
"Aguirre, the Wrath of God" (1972) Werner Herzog
"Alien" (1979) -
Ah ! Sigourney Weaver - The mother of all tough women on screen !
"All About Eve" (1950) -
Bette Davis at her very best !
"Annie Hall" (1977) - Romance of the everyday people.
"Apocalypse Now" (1979) - Dark, disturbing and brilliant!
"Bambi" (1942) - There are people's who haven't?
"The Battleship Potemkin" (1925)
"The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946)

"The Big Red One" (1980)
"The Bicycle Thief" (1949) -
A subtle depiction of the human plight.
"The Big Sleep" (1946)
"Blade Runner" (1982) -
Can you say "Kick ass !"
"Blowup" (1966)
"Blue Velvet" (1986) -
The arrival of David Lynch.
"Bonnie and Clyde" (1967) Arthur Penn
"Breathless" (1959) -
The Jean Luc Goddard classic.
"Bringing Up Baby" (1938)
"Carrie" (1975)
"Casablanca" (1942) -
Possibly the best movie ever made.
"Un Chien Andalou" (1928)
"Children of Paradise" / "Les Enfants du Paradis" (1945)
"Chinatown" (1974)
"Citizen Kane" (1941) -
Orson Welles all the way.
"A Clockwork Orange" (1971) - Twisted.
"The Crying Game" (1992)
"The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951)
"Days of Heaven" (1978)
"Dirty Harry" (1971) -
Do you feel lucky?
"The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" (1972)
"Do the Right Thing" (1989) -
Probably Spike Lee's best ever.
"La Dolce Vita" (1960) - The birth of the paparazzi
"Double Indemnity" (1944)
"Dr. Strangelove" (1964) -
My favorite Kubrick movie
"Duck Soup" (1933)
"E.T. -- The Extra-Terrestrial" (1982) -
Saying anything about this is a crim.
"Easy Rider" (1969) - The arrival of Jack Nicholson. Brilliant roadie movie.
"The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) - The best installment of the six-pack.
"The Exorcist" (1973) - Scared the shit outta me as a kid.
"Fargo" (1995) - Oh yaaaa ! Blakc comedy at its finest.
"Fight Club" (1999) - People remember it for Brad Pitt. Two words - Chuck Palahniuk
"Frankenstein" (1931) - The real deal.
"The General" (1927)
"The Godfather," "The Godfather, Part II" (1972, 1974) -
"Gone With the Wind" (1939) - "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."
"GoodFellas" (1990) - Good times !
"The Graduate" (1967) - Seduced by Mrs Robinson and the OST by S&G
"Halloween" (1978)
"A Hard Day's Night" (1964)
"Intolerance" (1916)
"It's a Gift" (1934)
"It's a Wonderful Life" (1946) -
Love Capra movies.
"Jaws" (1975) - Spielberg magic
"The Lady Eve" (1941)
"Lawrence of Arabia" (1962) -
A true epic.
"M" (1931) Fritz Lang
"Mad Max 2" / "The Road Warrior" (1981) -
Ass kicking !
"The Maltese Falcon" (1941) - Bogart at his best....almost.
"The Manchurian Candidate" (1962)
"Metropolis" (1926) -
"Modern Times" (1936) - Love that feeding machine seen
"Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (1975)
"Nashville" (1975)
"The Night of the Hunter" (1955)
"Night of the Living Dead" (1968)
"North by Northwest" (1959)
"Nosferatu" (1922)
"On the Waterfront" (1954)
"Once Upon a Time in the West" (1968)
"Out of the Past" (1947)
"Persona" (1966)
"Pink Flamingos" (1972)
"Psycho" (1960) -
The master doing what he does best - Scarying you like crazy !
"Pulp Fiction" (1994) - Oooooh ! Samuel L Jackson !
"Rashomon" (1950)
"Rear Window" (1954)
"Rebel Without a Cause" (1955) -
Two words - James Dean
"Red River" (1948) Howard Hawks
"Repulsion" (1965) Roman Polanski
"The Rules of the Game" (1939)
"Scarface" (1932) -
Al Pacino as Tony Montana. Perfecto !
"The Scarlet Empress" (1934)
"Schindler's List" (1993) -
I loved the last part where the real surviors visit Schindler's grave.
"The Searchers" (1956)
"The Seven Samurai" (1954)
- Classic Kurosawa
"Singin' in the Rain" (1952) - They don't make them like this anymore.
"Some Like It Hot" (1959)
"A Star Is Born" (1954) George Cukor
"A Streetcar Named Desire" (1951) -
Stellaaaaa !!!
"Sunset Boulevard" (1950) Billy Wilder
"Taxi Driver" (1976) -
You talkin to me?
"The Third Man" (1949)
"Tokyo Story" (1953)
"Touch of Evil" (1958)

"The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" (1948)
"Trouble in Paradise" (1932)
"Vertigo" (1958)
"West Side Story" (1961) -
I regret not having seen it on stage. Maybe one day.
"The Wild Bunch" (1969)
"The Wizard of Oz" (1939) Victor Fleming

Friday, April 07, 2006

James Blunt at The Warfield Theatre, San Francisco

Yes, people. I was the James Blunt concert yesterday. And it was faaanntaaasstic !

But firstly I have a rant.

The concert announced time was 8pm. I understand these gigs are unlikely to start on time.

15 min delay ? Fine by me.

Then there will be an opening act.

30 mins ? Am cool with that.

But then out of nowhere there is this british band playing. It was mentioned nowhere on the program. Added to that their brand of funsy british pop is not exactly my favorite genre of music. So I am sitting there twiddling my thumbs for around 45 mins. NOT FUN !

Also they took their own sweet time setting up the stage each artist went off stage. Not cool!

Anyway back to the details of the concert.

The opening act was Sierra Swan. The 28-year old singer likes to classify herself as a 'gothic blues' singer. Her voice has that smoky sultriness which made Fiona Apple so dear to us. They also share the similarity of piano-based vocals.

I was incredibly impressed by her vocal range and as well as the different shades of her music. Her CD is going to be out later this month. And her music is currently available on iTunes. You can listen to few of her songs on her website. My favorite is 'Ladder'.

Now about the actual show...

It was bloody good. But not as fabulous as the Michael Buble concert. (It is tough to beat the charm of a jazz concert. )

They played the songs from his debut album. In addition they also played a couple of new songs. The guy on the drums just hit it out of the park. He did a few riffs which were absolutely spectacular.

James Blunt's rendition of "Goodbye My Lover" (my favorite song) was incredibly touching. (Of course a few idiotic women had to scream all over it. Attention whores).

Apart from the keeping-me-waiting part, the concert was wonderful. I had swell time.

On a side note, if Sierra Swan is in town, sign me up.

My rating : 4 out of 5

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Nine Lives (2005)

I love short stories. I read a lot of them and write a few as well. The beauty of a short story lies in its ability to connect with the reader in such a raw manner. There are hardly buildups or character definitions. The length of a short story does not allow this luxury. The author should be able to strike that chord with the reader in those brief pages. And there in lies, both the beauty and the challenge of a good short story.

You must be wondering why I am talking about short stories in a movie review. Well, this movie is just that. A collection of nine vignettes portraying women of different age, backgrounds and lifestyle. As the saying goes "the apple does not fall far from the tree". Rodrigo Garcia is the son of the legendary Colombia writer Gabriel Garcia Márquez (Am a huge fan). Marquez is an absolute genius when it comes to the portrayal of human emotions. Rodrigo Garcia is just as accomplished. But film is his chosen medium of expression.

The movie boasts of an incredible cast of actors including Robin Wright-Penn, Holly Hunter, Glenn Close, Dakota Fanning and more. Each of them appear in a vignette which captures a slice of their life. In each of those short 10-15 minutes Rodrigo Garcia manages to say more than what most movies do in their entire length.

The 'nine lives' portrayed in it share a beautiful undertone of poignancy. It is that what makes us feel connected with each of these characters.

My favorite one among these was the one with Robin Wright-Penn. Ms Penn is one of those actresses who make acting seem so easy (She has one of the best smiles ever). There never a hint of strain or rehearsal.

The clip shows Ms Penn, a married and pregnant woman, running into her ex-lover at a grocery store (Reminded me of the Dan Fogelberg song "Same Auld Lang Syne"). The subtle nature in which Ms Penn portrays a woman trying to hold back a flood of emotions and trying to act coy, is outstanding. She uses all her elements to convey the turmoil which the character is going through. Whether it is the quickly diverted glance or the measured sentences, it leaves us with a heavy heart.

Rest of the 'lives' range from a teenage girl who is the bridge between her at loggerheads parents, to the woman who is petrified of her operation. These vignettes (I love this word) capture the different shades of a woman in a manner which very few have.

My rating: 4 out of 5

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Michael Bublé Concert at Berkeley

Yes people, I was at the Michael Bublé concert at the Berkeley Community Theatre this Saturday.


I have been to my share of concerts. And there have been some really good ones. But this just raised the bar way up high. I am going to a couple more concerts soon. And they have to be out of their skin to catch up to this.

More details...Firstly any jazz concert is incredible. Allows me to feel as if I have been transported back in time (probably the era I should have been born). And add to that the seduction, the energy and the intimacy of jazz, there are few things better in life.

Now coming to Michael Bublé. There are plenty of good singers in this world. And probably lot of them can sing as well as him. But there is that little bit extra which makes the difference between great and slap-dashin-friggin-awesome.

It is how the performer connects with the audience and lets them feel it is almost a private performance even though they are surrounded by thousand other people. He did that to absolute perfection. The guy is absolute charming and funny, in addition to his Sinatra-esque voice.

In case you didn't get to watch the concert and can't wait till the next time, rent "Caught in the Act". It is the recording of a show he did for PBS. I saw this on PBS and it was incredible. Chris Botti and Laura Pausini are guests on this show.

My rating : 6 out of 5 :)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Weekend Watch

I watched two movies this weekend. They were almost polar opposites in terms of genre and directorial approach.

A History of Violence (2005)

This was the first movie I saw. It seems like ages since I have seen a good action/thriller flick. And this didn't let me down. It was everything an action/thriller is meant to be. The narrative is a sprint. David Cronenberg just straps you in and takes you for a spin through the beautiful roads of a small town in Indiana. There are no pit stops or rest areas. This is not a marathon but a sprint.

One of the most beautiful aspects of this movie, is the characterization of the 'bad guys'. Ed Harris and William Hurt play these with an exquisite blend of coldness and creepiness, that has been very rarely been seen on film. Also the shorter length of the movie (96 min) was a refreshing change.

Tom Stall is your ideal family man. Great father, great husband and a diner owner who is loved by the people of this small town. The family portrait is disturbed one day when two criminals on a murder spree turn up at Tom Stall's diner. He reacts with alacrity to save his female worker and send these criminals to their fate. With that comes the swarm of TV cameras. And that brings some visitors from out of town. What follows is a peek into Tom Stall's past.

Is he the family man that his wife, kids, community and us believe him to be?

Warning: It has some serious graphic violence. Not over drawn out gore but authentic depictions of violence which may make you squirm.

I should also mention that this movie contains one of the most intense sex scenes seen on film in the recent past. As with all the best scenes of this nature, it is not about the nudity but about the two people involved in it.

My Rating - 4 out of 5

Broken Flowers (2005)

A movie of this nature demands certain characterstics of its viewers. A certain level of maturity and a contemplative nature is just a few of them. Without these, it maybe difficult to appreciate the elegance of its movie.

Jim Jarmusch's directorial style is very non-invasive. His camera is content to observe than to sneek in and peak within.

Don Johnston (Bill Murray) is at that stage in his life where he is passive about most things. Even when his current girlfriend (The oh-so-beautiful Julie Delpy) decides to leave him, his reaction is one of an inert nature. He just lies down on his couch and takes a nap. Literally.

Even when he gets an anonymous letter from one of his past lovers informing him of a son who maybe looking for him, he is not very roused. It is his neighbor (played by a delightful Jeffrey Wright) who gets excited at the prospect and gets him all planned for a trip around the country to meet all his past lovers in an attempt to figure out who the mother could be.

How does Don Johnston's journey end ? Well, that would be a spoiler. So I will refrain from it.

I can't think of any other living actor that could have played the character of Don Johnston any better. Bill Murray's performance is a study in subtlety. He conveys the inertness, the disappointments, regret and fascinations with minimal histrionics.

In the end you find yourself leaving Don Johnston with the hope that you don't have to live through the regrets that he has.

My Rating : 4 out of 5

Friday, March 10, 2006

Weekend Recommendation - The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

I actually thought twice before recommending this book. Then I remembered a conversation with one of my good friends about this book. She did not like it that much. And I rave about it endlessly. She was particularly unimpressed by the lack of plot. And I agree with her.

"The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" is not about complex plotlines. That is not Carson McCullers style of writing. Her works are entrenched in the vivid dimensions of the characters. Understanding the psyche of these souls and maybe even empathizing with them to some degree, is what makes such a novel enjoyable. Miss McCullers style of writing, almost demands that you do.

For anyone who decides to venture into this novel, I have to put in a warning. For me, this has been the most heartwrenching novel I have ever read. I think I fell in love with this book right from its title. Due to some odd reason this title reminds of a line which I have read ages ago. The original line is in malayalam, which roughly translates to "Life - An oasis destroyed by memories". Hopefully when I get around to writing my first novel, I too will be able to come up with such a eloquent and insightful title.

The central character is John Singer, a deaf mute. The people around him tend to put their worries and questions at rest with him. They see him as a larger than life character who will be able to help through in their times of anguish. But he too is lonely and has his own set of worries.

The beauty of Singer's character lies in how he is able to help those people even though he is unable to listen or talk to them. Because the craving to have someone interesting to talk to or listen to is driven by our brain. But all our heart really needs is...someone.

My Rating: 5/5

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Oscar de La RANTA ! - Part Deux

Let me say this once again - The Academy needs to stick its head in a toilet because it has shit for brains !

This is going to be a stream of rants. So be ready.

First one - Supporting Actress. Amy Adams not winning ? Come one give me an effin break. Don't get me wrong. Rachel Weisz did a wonderful job. But we have seen several performances like these. But Amy Adams' portrayal of Ashley was such a unique one. It is just incredibly sad that she didn't win.

Second one - Leading Actress. See, I saw 'Walk the Line' yesterday. Reese Witherspoon's performance was good. But just not good enough to outpace Felicity Huffman. The same reasoning from the previous one applies here too. Felicity Huffman's brilliant acting was the cornerstone of the 'Transamerica'.

Third One - The biggest joke of all ! 'Crash' winning Best Picture ? Come on ! It was bad enough that it (and 'Munich') got nominated ahead of 'Syriana'. And it winning the Oscar ahead of 'Brokeback Mountain', 'Capote' and 'Good Night and Good Luck'. That's just bloody ludicrous. It made a mockery of all those three brilliant movies.


I loved how Jon Stewart carried off the show with such ease. The best joke was the one about Bjork where he said "Unfortunately Bjork won't be able to join us. She was trying on her dress and Dick Cheney shot her" (A reference to the dress she wore at the 2001 Oscars).

My favorite moments from the show

- Philip Seymour Hoffman's acceptance speech

- The lovely riff between Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep

- Dolly Parton's performance

Friday, March 03, 2006

Verses for the Weekend

Since the weekend is going to be all about movies - with the Independent Spirit Awards and the Oscars, I have decided to stay off the movie recommendation. I am just posting one of my favorite poems and one of mine as well.

Have a good weekend, y'all !

Perhaps - (To R A L)
Vera Brittain

Perhaps some day the sun will shine again,
And I shall see that still the skies are blue,
And feel once more I do not live in vain,
Although bereft of You.

Perhaps the golden meadows at my feet
Will make the sunny hours of spring seem gay,
And I shall find the white May-blossoms sweet,
Though You have passed away.

Perhaps the summer woods will shimmer bright,
And crimson roses once again be fair,
And autumn harvest fields a rich delight,
Although You are not there.

But though kind Time may many joys renew,
There is one greatest joy I shall not know
Again, because my heart for loss of You
Was broken, long ago.

The Woman Within
Balaji Rajam

Her mis-timed giggles
Her non-chalant hair toss
Her pouts of fake anger
Are just glimpses of the lil' girl within

The tears on her cheek
The compassion in her eyes
The affection in her heart
Are just shades of the mother within

Her playful ruffling of my hair
Her burst of laughter at my jokes
Her reassuring grip on my hand
Are just traits of the good friend within

Her furrowed eyebrows at my laziness
Her anger at my reckless spending
Her concern at my falling sick
Are just faces of the wife within

Her changing of roles
Faster than she changes her clothes
And her ease in every single one
Is nothing but just the true woman within.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Picking Oskaahs !

Actor in a leading role

Philip Seymour Hoffman for “Capote”

Actor in a supporting role

Jake Gyllenhaal for Brokeback Mountain

Actress in a leading role

Felicity Huffman for “Transamerica”

Actress in a supporting role

Amy Adams for “Junebug”

Best Director

“Good Night, and Good Luck.” - George Clooney

Motion picture of the year

Brokeback Mountain

Monday, February 27, 2006

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room - (2005)

My political views mostly fall on the left side of the spectrum. So it does surprise people when they find out that am a staunch capitalist. Sure there are evils associated with the capitalist model. But its benefits outweigh the pros of any other alternate model. I grew up in a society which was (and still is to some extent) clinging on to socialist principles. I have seen both its postives and negatives.

Every society needs to evolve to incorporate the varying needs of its constituents. When trying to build a society from scratch a socialistic model seems to be a fair enough approach. It allows the government to channel the available resources into building the basic infrastructure.

But once this is accomplished, the system needs to evolve into one which provides impetus to growth. That is where most socialistic states failed. Government has no business to be in business. My state tried to ignore that rule and as a result ran so many businesses to the ground. The factory where my father worked was one among them. And my family and many others suffered as a result. Of course corporate greed has also resulted in similar situations. But I would argue that the inherent inefficiency of governments make them more prone to such mistakes.

Back to the movie, at hand.

"Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room " (nominated for Best Documentary) gives us a fairly detailed account of how the smoke screen of success was created by a group of unscrupulous managers, unethical financial institutions and to some extent, by the media with their superficial analysis. The central players in the story are Jeff Skilling and Ken Lay. They were aided by Andy Fastow. The myriad of insider trading deals and illegal accounting procedures, finally culminated in the fall of the firm in 2001. The upper management made millions but thousands lost their means of living.

Since then Andy Fastow has been sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison, which he will start serving once he has finished his duties as a key witness in this case. And the financial institutions involved will pay nearly $6 billon. The Enron debacle is one of the many that has resulted in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002

The trials of Lay and Skilling are currently in progress. And most likely these will result in convictions. There has been too much of public outcry for them to walk away free.

The most impressive aspect of this movie is that it has not let its heart rule its head or vice-versa. It doesn't go into an endless tirade of corporations like what The Corporation did. It deals with this case as it should be - as the greed for power and wealth.

At times it is almost reminiscent of high school drama - where a wallflower suddenly becomes Mr. Popular and he revels in his new found popularity. Going back to obscurity scares him so much that he finds any misdeed acceptable as long as it will let him keep his new found status.

The movie also brings up some interesting points about the media. How they touted Enron as a golden child while they knew very little about it. The superficial and rudimentary nature of their research is mind boggling. Maybe it is indicative of the human nature and society that we live in today.

My rating : 4.5/5

Friday, February 24, 2006

Weekend Recommendation - Born into Brothels (2004)

It was Martin Luther King Jr. who said "The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict". You must be wondering how is this quote relevant to this movie. Let me explain.

Soon after I saw the movie, I had a discussion with one of my friends who is also a documentary film-maker. She disliked the movie (primarily the second half) for the reason that the filmmaker got too involved in the lives of the characters. She felt that Zana Briski tried to aggrandize herself as a saviour of sorts.

While I see her view point, I continue to question the approach of staying inert while there is so much you can do to help. That is probably where this MLK quote becomes relevant. Also it would be sad to see yet another Kevin Carter.

Back to the topic at hand. The movie won the Oscar for the Best Documentary last year. The movie is dear to me for a multitude of reasons. The fact that it is shot in India, the place I was born and spent 22 years of life, makes it special for me. Probably more importantly, it illustrates the harsh realities that India faces. While the educated upper middle-class is riding the crest of economic growth, there is this lower strata of society which is being left behind. The ever widening gulf between them is alarming to say the least. And the sad part is very few people really care.

This is the story of how Ms Briski befriended a group of children while living in the red light district of Calcutta. She goes on to get them interested in photography by giving them simple point and shoot cameras. It follows this beautiful journey where one of the really talented kids gets to attend a photography conference in Amsterdam.

I have been part of a mentoring program similar to Big Brothers and Big Sisters for over two years now. So I very well understand how much of difference it can make in the lives of kids from tough backgrounds. All these kids need are some positives to focus on. It makes us realize the true value of the things we take for granted.

Going back to my friend's comment about Zana Briski being there 'too much' in the movie, I say this. I too get similar criticism because I always talk about the non-profits I am involved with. Some people feel that I am tooting my own horn. My usual reply is "If my talking about these non-profits, gets atleast one or two people interested to find out more and get involved, then I really don't care of what other people think of me".

In case you are still wondering how I felt about the movie, I own the DVD and the book.

My rating: 5/5

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Caché a.k.a Hidden (2005)

If you went to the theatre expecting a conventional thriller, you would obviously have been disappointed. Because it lacks most of the elements of a stereotypical psychological thriller like hyper background music, primordial screams and people running for their lives. Then again Caché is not your run of the mill psychological thriller.

This story of Georges and Anne unfolds in a way such that with each growing moment our uneasiness increases. From the first scene which is a long shot of their house, we sense something off-key. The amateurish feel of that shot conveys that it is actually someone else filming the house. And that is the key element of the story. The trouble starts with the couple getting tapes accompanied by infantile drawings of violent images.

The role of Anne is played by Juliet Binoche. (Who happens to be one of my favorite actresses. And also one actress whom I firmly believe that wakes up looking as beautiful as she is the movies). She handles the role with absolute ease. She portrays that blend of anxiety, anger and suspicion in an effortless manner. For someone who played the lead in "The Unbearable Lightness of Being", "Chocolat" and "The English Patient" this must have been a walk in the park.

Georges is played by Daniel Auteuil. He portrays a man stricken with guilt, anxiety and absolute fear in a very convincing manner.

Michael Haneke uses deft lighting, unconventional comera angles and prelonged silences to make us squirm in our seats. He defies conventional principles which dictate that a movie should answer all questions it initiates. Maybe it does. Maybe the answers are just Caché

There are couple of scenes of explicit violence. The way they catch you offguard is the troubling part rather than the scenes themselves.

My rating : 4/5

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Weekend Recommendation - Playing by Heart (1998)

I know. Am late on this. But hey ! I have a day job, ya know ? Anywhoo...

This is the movie which spawned the famous line

"Talking about love is like dancing about architecture."

I love the genre of maze movies. Another movie which springs to mind is "13 Conversations about One Thing". I enjoy how it almost mirrors life in a way. There are no random events in life. The twists and turns are mere components in the beautiful tapestry of life. And each one of them is necessary to complete the picture.

The movie has an outstanding cast of actors - Sean Connery, Gena Rownlands, Angelina Jolie, Dennis Quaid, Madeline Stowe (HOT!!!) and Gillian Anderson. Like the title of the movie, it plays every chord and tone the heart is capable of. From teen romance to senior citizen marital issues, it almost covers the entire spectrum. Almost.

And the movie is filled with delightful reparte. Lines which stay with you long since you finish watching the movie. As the poster of the movie declares "Seductively funny". I would like to add 'and charming' also to that. Ideal for lazy saturday/sunday afternoon.

Hope y'all have a good long weekend !

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A kiss is just a kiss...

MSNBC is running this article on the most memorable kisses.

I am thrilled two of my personal favorites figure in that.

The first one is an easy pick. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca. Need I say more ?

The second is probably a less known one. It again features Humphrey Bogart. And probably the most sultry actress to have appeared on film, Lauren Bacall. The movie is "To Have and To Have Not". The movie is filled with such crisp lines ("You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve?") but none better than this.

Lauren Bacall lands on Bogart’s lap and kisses him.

He (smiling): What was that for?

She: Been wondering whether I’d like it.

He: What’s the decision?

She: I don’t know yet.

At this point she goes in for another; this time he kisses her back.

Finally she stands, gives him a sidelong glance and says, “It’s even better when you help.”

Now THAT kind of sexiness cannot be produced by no amount of skin-show. And there in lies its charm.

Gaaaawd ! Am I born in the wrong era or what ?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A Dedication...

While I am not a big fan of the Hallmark prescribed day for love, I love the lengths to which people go to make this day special for the other. To have someone who will do that has to be a wonderful feeling.

So I dedicate this poem (something I wrote quite a while back) to all of my friends and their significant others who bring them so much happiness. Here's to you and here's to love.

I Love to...

Say silly things just because it makes her laugh
Argue intelligently just because it challenges her
Call her between work just because she loves that attention
Whisper 'I love you' just because of the glow it brings to her eyes

Feel her fingers run through my hair, because its the ultimate relaxer
Feel her body next to mine while we dance, because its the ultimate foreplay
Feel her arms around me when I cook for her, because its the ultimate appetizer
Feel her hand in mine when we walk, because its the ultimate reassurance

Rest my lips on her, because it feels so right
Smell her hair in the morning, because it makes me feel truly lucky
Rest her head on my shoulder, because I know she trusts me
Hold her tight, because she loves me as much as I love her

Be away from her just because of the joy I get when I see her again
Be close to her just because she makes the worst of days seem right
Talk endlessly because I know we never get bored of each other
Say nothing because I know words are no longer a neccessity

Friday, February 03, 2006

The past week in review and Weekend Recommendation

So far I have refrained from posting anything personal, this past week was too bizarre/interesting not to share.

Incident One

I meet Miss Gorgeous at a friend's party on Jan 21st. Start talking to her at around 11pm. And it goes on till 2:30am. The connection was too good to be true. The same love for classic movies, the liking for jazz, the same classic sense of style. By the end we were completing each other's sentences. I almost had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. We were the last leave the party. No, we did not leave together. But I did get her number.

The next morning I wake up beaming like a child on Christmas day. But all this was short lived. It turns out Miss Gorgeous had given me a wrong number. Why God? Why?

Oh well...the story of my life !

Incident Two

Wednesday I wore a lavenderish-pink sweater to work. (Stop it! You have to be man enough to wear pink!). That day evening, a random hot woman stops by my room at work and pays me a big compliment about my sweater. I have never met her. Except for the few times we passed each other in the hallway. The weird part was she even knew my name.

Ya, I know.

Incident Three

I get a call out of the blue to make a trip to NY for a business meeting. I am not going to go into the details. As I was sitting in a room with around ten people, making this presentation I get that feeling inside "I was born to do this".

Now THAT felt really good.

Incident Four

A good friend of mine calls me up after 4-5 months. We used to talk more often. But she started dating someone and everything else stopped. And it required a breakup for her to call me. I am ok with that. Because all of us have been guilty of this at some point. I am glad to be of help to her.

The weird part is that it is very uncanny how nearly all of my friends reach out to me during the disasters of their hearts.

So all in all it made for a very eventful few days. And now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Weekend Recommendation

In Her Shoes (2005)

I added this to my netflix queue on a whim as I was browsing 'New Releases'. And I would like to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how charming this movie was.

It is the story of two sisters. Cameron Diaz plays the spunky getting-drunk-sex-in-the-bathroom sister. While Toni Colette plays the plain jane successful sibling. Sounds like a over-used plot, right ?

It is indeed so. But this movie is evidence that in the hands of a good director even the simplest of plotlines can produce standout movies. Curtis Hanson ("8 Mile" , "LA Confidential") does a superlative job of ensuring that the movie doesn't walk the cliched lines (pun intended).

One of the best scenes in the movie, is when a blind professor gets the slightly dyslexic Diaz to read a beautiful poem by Elizabeth Bishop and explain what it means. The beautiful way in which he prods and coaxes Diaz into doing this, goes to show the amount of skill and patience required for teaching.

Most people would be quick to label this as a chick flick. Well, if having two female leads makes a movie a chick flick, so be it. I, a heterosexual man, am glad to say that I really enjoyed this 'chick flick'.

Have a good weekend, y'all !

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Oscar de La RANTA !

Ummm...yeah. I am a tad pissed off at the nominations.

Let's go through the list, shall we ?

Actor in a leading role

Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Capote”
Terrence Howard in “Hustle & Flow”
Heath Ledger in “Brokeback Mountain”
Joaquin Phoenix in “Walk the Line”
David Strathairn in “Good Night, and Good Luck”

No real complaints here. Maybe Jeff Daniels for "The Squid and the Whale", Eric Bana for "Munich" and Russell Crowe for "Cinderella Man". But one can have only so many nominees...oh well !

My pick : Philip Seymour Hoffman

Actor in a supporting role

George Clooney in “Syriana”
Matt Dillon in “Crash”
Paul Giamatti in “Cinderella Man”
Jake Gyllenhaal in “Brokeback Mountain”
William Hurt in “A History of Violence”

No real complaints here either. Probably there was case for George Clooney to get a second nomination in this category for "Good Night and Good Luck".

My pick: Jake Gyllenhaal. Simply because it was a more meaty character (pun unintended) than George Clooney's in Syriana.

Actress in a leading role

Judi Dench in “Mrs. Henderson Presents”
Felicity Huffman in “Transamerica”
Keira Knightley in “Pride & Prejudice”
Charlize Theron in “North Country”
Reese Witherspoon in “Walk the Line”

Huge rant here ! Where is Claire Danes in here ? Hello ! The most understated performance of the year and it isn't in the list ? Were Charlize Theron and Reese Witherspoon better than Claire Danes in "Shop Girl". I don't think so.

I am not the only person who think so. Even NPR agrees with me.

My pick: Felicity Huffman

Actress in a supporting role

Amy Adams in “Junebug”
Catherine Keener in “Capote”
Frances McDormand in “North Country”
Rachel Weisz in “The Constant Gardener”
Michelle Williams in “Brokeback Mountain”

My pick : This is probably the most difficult category to pick. I am going to go with Amy Adams because it is unlike any performance I have seen to date.

Best Director

“Brokeback Mountain” - Ang Lee
“Capote” - Bennett Miller
“Crash” - Paul Haggis
“Good Night, and Good Luck.” - George Clooney
“Munich” - Steven Spielberg

Another big rant here. I personally thought "Crash" was an average movie. And it was primarily due to the inability of the director to keep the narrative more taut. And he ends up on the list. Blah!

And Stephen Gaghan, who directed the most rivetting movie of the year - Syriana, gets left out.

Tell me again why is Steven Spielfberg on the list ? Is the Academy still feeling guilty for not having given him an Oscar during his early days?

And where is Woody Allen on this list? "Match Point" was such a brilliant piece of movie making.

Am glad that at least George Clooney is on the list.

My pick - George Clooney. But have a sneaky feeling that Ang Lee might win this.

Motion picture of the year

Brokeback Mountain
Good Night, and Good Luck.

This is the biggest joke of all. How does 'Crash' and 'Munich' figure on the list while 'Syriana', 'Match Point', 'Junebug' and "The squid and the whale' are missing ? The Academy should stick its head in a toilet because it has shit-for-brains !

My (unhappy) pick - Good Night and Good Luck.

Let's see how good my 'picking' is. Till then, smile and be good.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Back to Bedlam - James Blunt

There have been quite a few people who criticize James Blunt's voice. I say to them "Open your minds a teeny tiny bit". All voices are not created equal. But at the same time, each has its own charm.

Whether it is the smooth crooning of Frank Sinatra or the husky renditions by Mark Knopfler, they have their own individuality and character. What's the fun in listening to cookie cutter voices ?

James Blunt is one such artist. He is a singer-songwriter from the United Kingdom. Before his musical career he was a soldier with the British Army. He was station in Bosnia for a while.

This is his debut album. And surely he has won this battle. The War? We will have to wait and see.

Most of you must be familiar with the track "You're Beautiful". It has been playing on radio stations for a while now. That illustrates the main characterstic of James Blunt's music. It is the passion, hurt and love which shines through in his singing.

My favorite song from the CD is "Goodbye My Lover". It is very much like spoken word poetry. Very little music. Just a few piano notes finishing the silhoutte of Blunt's powerful expression of heartache.

My other favorites include "No Bravery" and "Tears and Rain". All in all a delightful collection of songs.

My rating: 4/5

Just so that you know, he is performing at the Warfield in San Francisco in April. I hope to be there.

Airport Musings

I had to fly down to NY for a business meeting. 10 hrs inside a steel bird for a 2 hour meeting. I would have wriggled out of this if it was any other city. New York, is well New York !

But this post is not about New York. It is about my love for airports. Why you might ask? Well, it must surely stem from my insane liking for people watching. Also in many ways airports are like movies - very good ones at that.

Nothing is more engaging than watching a kid explore the terminal

Nothing is more romantic than observing an old couple taking care of each other as if it was still the first date.

Nothing is more heartbreaking than watching a goodbye hug.

Nothing is more endearing than seeing a welcoming hug

And of course...Nothing is more funnier than the prices at the airport stands. Is homeland security paying attention to this? I guess not.

PS : I don't love airports that much when they announce 3 hour delays.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Weekend Recommendations - Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004)

Before Sunset and Casablanca are the two movies that I have watched the most number of times. They share a lot of qualities which makes them dear to me - Brilliant individual performances, sharp dialogue and of course both are beautiful love stories.

The majority of the sequels made, stem from a pure commercial interest. And usually occurs within a few years of the original to take advantage of the energy generated. Very few of them are created from a genuine need to revisit the lives of the characters. Before Sunset is one such movie.

Before I talk about these two beautiful movies, let me give you suggestion. Don't watch these movies back to back (It can be very tempting once you finish Before Sunrise). Wait a day and let the first movie sink in and let the anticipation build. It will certainly enhance the pleasure. Hey, rest of the movie goers waited nine years. You can certainly wait 24 hours :)

Before Sunrise (1995)

This is the first installment. It signalled the arrival of a talented director - Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, Slacker, School of Rock). It also was one of our initial glimpses of the incredibly beautiful and talented Julie Delpy.

The movie is set in the beautiful streets of Vienna. It is the story of how Jesse (Ethan Hawke) meets Celine (Delpy) on a train to Vienna. He convinces her to make a detour from her journey to Paris. And how the few hours they spend together changes their lives forever.

I know I am being very vague. But mentioning anything more will take away from your movie watching experience.

My favorite line - "If there's any kind of magic in this world, it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something. I know, it's almost impossible to succeed, but... who cares, really? The answer must be in the attempt."

My favorite scene - When Jesse and Celine are standing inside the listening booth in a record store. Watch for the body language. It will bring a smile to your lips.

Before Sunset (2004)

This is my favorite of the two. While the first movie is driven by the passion and exuberance of youth, the second is grounded in reality but lined with the yearning to breakaway.

The movie is set in Paris and nine years have passed since Jesse and Celine first met (The actual movie releases are also spaced the same way). The beauty of the movie is that it is set in real life - i.e; the length of the movie (77 min) is same as the timespan of the events depicted.

There are so many beautiful nuances in the movie which I want to talk about. But it is tough to go into them without spoiling it for y'all.

My favorite line - "Memories are wonderful things, if you don't have to deal with the past."

My favorite scene - The cab ride that Jesse and Celine share from the docks of the Seine to Celine's apartment. So intense and beautiful.

And the use of Nina Simone's music in the movie is an added bonus. Watch for some lovely shots on the Seine.

The chemistry between Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy is mind blowing. They actually co-wrote the script for the second movie. Julie Delpy is of course the superior of the two. She portrays that beautiful blend of fierce independence and vulnerability with hardly any effort.

And to add a slight warning, these are two movies which are not suitable for passive watching. The intricacies of the body language, the background score, the beautiful dialogue and the fabulous cinematography demand your full attention. Do yourself a favor and give that to it. And you'll be thankful that you did.

If you are a man or woman, who uses his/her head for something other than poking under a hair dryer, you will appreciate the way how these movies show that human emotions are not colors splashed across a canvas. They are more like the gentle outlines that provide the definitions to who we really are.