Ms. Sloane :fight for a fair world can leave you feeling very alone.


MissSloaneAnd chasing up on Ms. Chastain, we happened again on Ms. Sloane, yes, I had seen this earlier but it didn’t talk to me so much as it did today.  The gun-kills in America hadn’t had quite the impact yet on our lives in the subcontinent.   Oh, yes, I do still rememberseeing  ‘Bowling for Columbine’ at a docufest, it was shattering and very disturbing.  And even the funny momentwhen Michael Moorecalled out to Moses (Chartonheston) to take away the gun laws and Mosesjust turned and walked into the sunset unheeding, could only bring a sigh.  Moore is a documaker I like, as much as I doAnandPatwardhan.   I believed these guys were very good storytellers and their camera of realism would move around and back in to make the real come alive just when you thought the camera was looking away and awaken us in our nightmares: as opposed to numb us and perhaps only sympathize.  They were activist film makers.   They continue to work at that thankless job, even getting some stick ever so often.    But now back to Ms. Sloane.

This is 2016 flick must have been timely but we like most often refused to recognize the prophets in our own land.  And come 2018 we had the worst tragedy with guns that involved children.

Ok ok, back to the film,  Sloane is a lobbyist, mean and deadly deal breaker and go-getter!   From the right side she takes up a job on the other side to lobby and bring about the senators to vote for a law that would do away with guns.   What chance of her winning? When the firm she worked for has been hired by the gun lobby?  And Michael Stuhlbarg is no less mean former colleague.

In the midst of the engrossing drama of a career woman who would stop at nothing to get to the goal, there is the nagging questionof; do the means justify the end?   Well, there are no easy answers to those Qs in these days wherein every problem seems to have a solution that can be bought.   Well, not all of it can be bought! andalso no man or woman is made to only serve themselves.  And this truth we continue to want to erase from memory and run up the same path over and over again, getting up from the slush we buried our heads in, time after time.  But, the world will continue on this path, because the means do most often justify the end.  The means is the end maybe true, but that is for another day.  Today, Sloane will draw amazing figures in gray.

Do we become the game we play?  Ofcourse!  We do!  We will fall in the pits those roads have pre-dug, but we will venture on all the same, thinking we will not be the ones to be hit by the pitfalls of those before us.   Well, this gripping drama, does dare to take on a question that America somehow won’t answer in spite of many lives that are laid down for it, and many young at that.   Well and, How many seas should a white dove sail? 

Ms. Sloane beats the means to try and get to the end, she works the gray into super shades of strength, and her vulnerability causes the fragile around her to find strength take wings and then have their wings fail in mid-flight.All of this is still griping and not the perceived predictable.

The lobbyists work the tale to an almost staggering epic victory.  But, well as much as we would want to be taken to victory on screen atleast (you plead), but no! even as the screen turns dark in it’s end, the light seems to flicker on with hope. But, those ache dins are not yet, but there is hope.  And yes, ‘almost’!!!

Chastian does a wonderful job of finding steel from her real to live this on reel and vice versa too, perhaps.

We sure hope that the flickering hope will not shatter having come this close and would find that last mile surge to make that the world a better place: one small place at a time, atleast.

Mark is a Strong presence on the side of non-violence.GuguMbatha-Raw as the fragile beautiful former victim conquers, stumbles and finds strength again.  Sloane gives her wings but she then walks on confidently having discarded those, from the strength she gained from the fire pits that Sloane walks her through, with the courage of Daniel.   Ah, yes, she does, like we all must, to find our strength within after we have walked with a savior a while.


Oscar 2018 – some of the films I managed to catch from the nominated list.


Not endorsing the academy awards, and this time with all the noise about the women’s issues and racist issues it was not going to be much about the cinema.  One awards night trying to make all things right might not be the way to be fair and black and women, and then celebrate cinema as top priority.   Well, in these days of instant solutions, it’s getting weirder with every passing day.  For now, am just talking briefly about the films I saw from what is now, a list.

The Shape of Water

A very involving film made by an adult with the heart of the child (his 7-8 year old self perhaps).   Or like JC said, you have to be like little children (to see the wonder).  And Guillermo del Toro goes right back to a childhood and looked at the world with a modern filter, and in visiting his favorite tale, the beauty and the beast’, the grownup he could work wonders with that immortal tale. And he placed that fantasy in the cold war era and shone it right into today and beyond.   Love does make the world go around.

The visual delights and very good performances from the actors took the movie to a deserving Best Picture prize.  The Beauty here is furiously so even though she now is mute, and the Beast is powerful artistry.   When you get fantasy to walk alongside on the solid ground you tread, itgets strong wings.  Diving deep into the waters, this tale of love; triumphs, lifts and soars.

Best Picture:“The Shape of Water”
Director:Guillermo del Toro, “The Shape of Water”
Score: “The Shape of Water”
Production Design:“The Shape of Water”

Darkest Hour

Darkest Hour is a History lesson of the English triumph in the Great War, and works at making the victory lastingly sweet.  Gary at the Oscars looked not at all like the English bulldog .  And that Gary has not been living in his native England for the longest time, only adds to the objectivity that brings soul and drive into the life of Churchill.  Oh, what if it’s manufactured history a little bit, all tales of valor are in the telling. And how much joy it is in the oral telling and how the myth adds to the legend and comes to life in us and gives wings to our dreams, lifts our today into rejoicing and hope, andshine light into the foreseen darkness.   The Darkest Hour is Gary’s complete grasp of his art.

Actor:Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”

Makeup and Hairstyling: “Darkest Hour”

Phantom Thread

Phantom Thread is such a fine weave, with a very rich finish.  It’s riveting revelation of a Man’s relationship with his art and women.  The gives and takes of the relationship: like Alma Elson says in the film: “Reynolds has made my dreams come true and I have given him what he desires most in return, every piece of me.” Oh right, it cuts deep and into nice precise slices and is laid out as beautifully as the clothes Reynolds sculpts out on screen.   Is this really Daniel Day’s last appearance?  Boy!  Does a knowing (or decision) of that kind add more edge and bite to the craft? Daniel Day does a fine elegant walk with his Reynolds: a very careful man, even seaming to attempt and succeed in placing a soul into the dresses he caresses out.  And in the physical act of getting to that impossible he stitches memories (a part of himself, a piece of his life) into the fine folds.  ON screen the sense of being fully conscious being played out does not allow us the viewer any less. Does love include the anger in the other?  How do you read into acts that seem and have been clearly articulated to mean ‘be thou gone’!  HOW?  Oh, yes, Reynolds is a difficult man to live with.  But Reynolds and the people on screen playing their roles set in London’s couture world of the 1950s are beautiful people.  Clothes also do make this man.

CostumeDesign:“Phantom Thread”
Best picture (nominated) :Phantom Thread

The Post

A Spielbergquickie and I bleddy liked it.  I have very little to say about Spielberg films otherwise. (In Bangalore, India), The only thing I seem to remember clearly of Schindler’s Listwas being stopped by the cops on the way back home, for not donning a helmet when riding my 50cc moped, the cops further angered that there was a girl riding with me.  So Spielberg is all romance for me! J  I waited months before I could catch Raiders, it ran for near a year, at Plaza, a theatre that played that film, has in these years grown up and become a metro station.  So, yes, Spielberg and I have been around a whileJ.   This tale set in the time of the President’s Men: a movie so thoroughly enjoyable, who would have thought a tale of journalists meeting in parking lotswould make for good cinema.  It did and The Postis as engaging.   It’s also a  lovely little tale of a woman in finding herself and the courage to live fully, dignified and in a world of men – boardroom men at that.  Meryl does just fine, her smile endearing and gracefully, striding confidently in the world muddied byWeinstein. Meryl will do so in the new world of bold women.  It’s nice to find a strong role played out with grace: her gentle eyes that convey the boundaries and the full freedom of being civilized evolved creatures.  Tom Hanks is perfect foil in playing a nice man yielding the whip and power kindly, contradictory as that does sound – an editor feared and respected.  He plays it with dignity attributed to the real life Ben Bradlee.  The fine art of writing in the newspaper about the powerful people at whose table you have dined played out so well and plainly.  Oh you long for the days when television had anchors who read out news memorizing many lines so as to gaze into your eyes through the camera.   Today’s newsroomsare like the cockfights that have been banned for being cruel.  The sport every night at 9 on Indiannewschannels have led to shouting over and beating up the other for entertainment and power, shutting out the other, shaming the other.  This kind of cacophony is also reflected in the ugliness of our public spaces and lives.  The Postcould help bring some relevance to the values mentioned in textbooks of journalism, which the students thought was like learning calculus when training to be a bricklayer.  

Mathew Rhys playsThis side after his That side in The American.  And in that brief role add much heft to this quickie.  And Bob Odenkirk brings urgent energy even in underplaying his physical acting.

Best actress (nominated) : Meryl Streep, The Post
Best picture (nominated):The Post

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Another fine performances film, theOscar  for best actress, supporting actor and a just miss for Harelson who was absolutely brilliant. Even the gap in his front teeth oozed the complexity of the character battling morale and mortality.It’s a grim story of an unsolved murder, mother’s anguish.  Three billboards is very unlike Frances McDormand’s last Oscar outing – Fargo.  She is not at all like that seeming vulnerable pregnant cop woman walking carefully on Ice, she is more up and personal in this. Sam Rockwell does a turn as a racist who finds direction towards redemption, after Harelson having left and the cop station has been set on fire.  The fire has cleansing effects.   And Frances McDormand celebrated the Oscar in typical style and drama.   And adding further to the drama was  someonewho stole the Statue and then the authorities got it back for her, all on the same day.  So, yes, much excitement over that and she got all the women to stand up and celebrate womanhood and even asked the grand lady and fellow nominee for the same award, Streep to ‘please stand up and then the rest of them will do too’, she said.   Cool! No prudes here.  JOnward to a better world!   Yeah, yeah #metoo!

Actress: Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Supporting Actor: Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Roman J. Israel, Esq.

A Denzel Washington flick, as Denzel has been doing lately, here to hegoes out and defines a unspoken hero, outspokenly.  It’s a fine moral tale for the times and ColinFirth does well to show respect to a man who has no ambition. Roman’s life is a gory end, for a man in pursuit of a just world.  It just wasn’t cut well at the table and also didn’t work out a very important tale to be very engaging on screen.  It does take a while to get interested in this tale of a backroom crusader.    And Washington does not disappoint, he puts his stamp on a black lawyer way differently than did MarshallMarshall fought for justice but a few decades before the system decayed again and now Esq, (a title of dignity, slightly above gentleman, below knight, he does explain), has to fight to clean it again.  Well, an ideal state is not a stagnant clear water pond, it’s a dynamic, so no fight is the last fight in an evolving landscape. Ofcourse Washington plays Roman with the sure-footedness of a knight.  He goes about the role, with an excellent sound track playing on his iPodthroughout the length of the film, the music only stops with the gunshot.  His activism from a time gonebydoes not fit in with the aggression of capitalism.  Roman falls, like one man against a system will.

Best actor- nominated: Denzel Washington, Roman J Israel, Esq

Molly’s Game

A movie about card games, how can that be interesting?  Is that a sport? But Jessica Chastain just rocks this party.  She skates on at deadly pace even along very precarious bends, deftly.  Molly does break her spine, and that only adds more steel.   And then Kevin Costner comes along to play daddy,  who finds her every time she snaps her wings to add strength for flight again.   Jessica is a very good Molly!  And there is another ice skating movie which I haven’t seen yet, the cute Margo Robbie playing a toughie (I, Tonya).  Jessica is so good that I am now looking to watch movies which have her in them.

Best adapted screenplay – Molly’s Game (nominated)


Chadwick Bosemanis having a fine year.  At the time of the Academy awards, he has had great success at the boxofficewith Black Panther, a first of a kind super hero who is Black.   We are not counting Hancock.  Though am sure that connection has been made and the market will work to see if Hancock and some bull can be flogged now that the viewers have bought into black panther, even if the only thing similar is skin deep.  But Marshall is good watch, the struggle of the first lawyer who fought on the side of the underdog, and in the days when everything seemed loaded against you.  There’s dignity and triumph  andBoseman is a solid defender.   An important piece of history that can add to the other lovely films like – Selma, The butler etc…  America, at this time in history might be fighting to keep the arts from the shallow politics of petty boardroom that Sri. Trump brings to the big fat white house.   But, all said, Hollywood still has rooms that are working on important stories being told well.  Unlike?   Unlike Bollywood which this year got Padmavati, a tale told grandly and not much else. It will probably be remembered for showcasing what a intolerant country we have become. A case of history having to repeat itself because we have forgotten our history. The burning and arson in this time of evolved materialism and technology went right back to the time of wicked Khilji.   So, that’s how we seem to play out reel and real.

Back to Marshall, it has fine performances by Kate Hudson and Josh Gad too.   This is enabling history lesson.

Best song : nominated : Stand Up for Something, Marshall

Along with I, Tonya we do plan to see: Coco – nice little Mexicantilt with even the big prize (Best Picture) going to another from the other side of Trump’s wall.   And then Call Me By Your Name, for the peach and also see another James Ivory treatment, so many years after Merchant having passed on.  The Disaster Artist which probably didn’t get much volume probably because Mr. Franco seems to have embittered a woman.


Solo – the bilingual that speaks in tongues like a fake Pentecost!


The girls are beautiful and so are the locales and both these are shot beautifully.   It’s sensuous!  and Dulquer is a rock star!  That is about sums the movie up succinctly.  Guns N’ Roses – Paradise City, would have sounded right when the credits rolled.  [Symbol]

There are 4 stories in here and Bejoy goes off on some Shiva path, for depth?  Well, can’t tell really why, all  it does is add an illustration to the title page of every each story

Dhansika, Arthi Venkatesh, Sruthi Hariharan, Neha Sharma are absolutely gorgeous and the camera is calm, firm and is often gentle and even  emits warm glow, not for a moment does it seem voyeuristic.  And then Ann Augustine who walks in and out of the ‘world of trilok’, with the camera looking on longingly for


The tales:
World of Shekhar
World of Trilok
World of Siva
World of Rudra

a wee bit more, we plead.  Haven’t seen Ann Augustine in a long, long time.    There is something to Bejoy’s camera when it gazes at women:  Juhi Babbar was ravishing in that short film where no words were spoken,  a movie Bejoy made over a decade ago with Mohanlal – Reflection.  Have you seen Aditi Rao Hydari in Wazir?  Exactly!, that’s the point!

There are strong performances in the film.  Dulquer Salmaan gets to play 4 very different characters in the 4 stories.  The stammer in the first story was over done so was that story, and it really seemed like Bejoy had gotten it all wrong.  But the other 3 tales are far better woven.

They are all tales or a very strong male, no no, the women are not just lookers-on, but it’s just that I felt the Solo was a Dulquer portfolio folder.

Bijoy was a director,  I found interesting from the very first flick of his I saw, Shaitan.   Oh! my o my, I thought it had huge promise and delivered too; it did seem to have a small flick feel with all the new comers, but what a lovely flick that was.  There was no better remix of the old favorite: Khoya Khoya Chand, that song of longing was fit with a beautiful eerie.   So there was great promise from very early on,  and he only somewhat delivered on them, somehow making one feel that he was holding back on that flourish which would have made it fantastic, or maybe he was just that touch impatient or restless to wait and find and let that magic work.  I felt that with David, Wazir and then again with Solo.  It’s like we felt about Ranbirmised but didn’t deliver, and still no denying that in there is a treasure trove in there,  and those stones were waiting to catch the light to reflect but does quite reach deep enough for that to happen.    These disappointments at the box-office could also be that process of the diamond being cut.  There is such throbbing energy of promise that is just short of that one deft cut.

So, we will wait until the next offering and sure hope Bejoy finds the right team that will light up cinema halls and make for film history.  Ofcourse it’s coming.

All Saints – inspiring reel take of the real!



Ah! It’s been said, that books pick you! Yes, they do and so do movies in this age of downloads and streaming. And All Saints was so timely; one’s belief finds thirst quenching sparking water. Timely for me in my microcosm, am sure it talks in deeper and urgent tones to others too.

So, to the movie:all saints

Michael’s (John Corbett) first assignment as newly ordained Parish priest, is a small job: clean up the church and its premise and ready it for the market. He sets out to do so earnestly. Ah! Right, cleanup has been reduced to this these days, not quite what Christ did with the rope around his waist, whipping the merchants out of His father’s house alone. Today the merchants own it fully. In our small church by the park, the voluntary position of the treasurer is usually with the guys who love money – they will treat it with care, like handing over the keys to the thief and he is thus reformed. Well, that theory is as whopped as all those solutions that grow back hair or pills that will rid you of envy and jealousy.

No big deal, there are only a few people who come in on Sunday mornings. I have heard this being said of the church I go to as well: it’s a church of just senior citizens and a handful of them. We should ask them to move to a church close by and do something else with the large plot that houses the church. The small difference being that in our case there is so much devious activity in an already demonic thought fueled atmosphere, thankfully not so with All Saints.

And Michael works at being a good priest, works out a couple of nice sermons and talk to the few old who still continue to hang in there on Sundays, before they are sent off to a larger parish. close by. Yes, you sigh, sitting here in a new urbane India, it seems the initial scenes of the movie is where we (our church) would be at in less than 5 years from now, if we continue down on the road we are on. The west has, we assume again, easily let go off its churches for more creative purposes. We see our future played out in another land’s history, and with the prayers of waiting on the messiah to come as our only hope in our rather stubborn apathy. Our solutions are all outside. Like a visiting priest who told me the other day, the solutions to the trouble the South Indian churches finds itself will come from the laity. I almost choked on my smile. This small congregation of ours believed our solution was the next Clergy in flowing shining white robes. So there goes that!! So, we continue looking into the dark clouds that offer no rain. 

Like empty hopes filled to the brim with superhero movies, I waited for a bishop/messiah to step in and give this tale which was also turning melancholy with the misty-eyed -camera looking sadly on at the small congregation. No! Messiah is not coming! But Yes! God is at work though.

And into this gloom several refugees come in, misery does love company! They’re members of the Karen people group, farmers from Burma who’ve been transplanted to the little town of Smyrna, Tenn. They don’t speak much English but they are Anglicans. And its right fit for Anglicans in this episcopal Church.

And about this time God starts to talk to Michael. One rainy night and he reads the signs and His voice in the thunder. The roads will smoothen out with god on your side, the angels will plough you land! We think, and we will sit through like we do at sermons that are soothing, like common candy, sweet only for as long as it lasts and soon forgotten. Michael now just has to say and the red sea would part! Well, if our Christian/life journey were to be thus, would not Christ have turned those stones to bread? Michael all inspired and with the light bursting out of him meets the bishop and tells him, that he will make a Church of All Saints, the property should not go on the market. Ah! The red sea lays still to the gesturing of his rod!

Yes, the story, true story, is more the real gospel, quite unlike the tele-evengalical spiel that ends with your cheque books and their promise of comfort and lots of money pouring straight out of our leaky roof and into our bank balance. This movie does not attempt to proselytize, just tell a transforming tale is all. The story is well told, and no, it’s not just a ‘Christian’ story, it’s a story of transformation, of love, and the reassurance that in humanity is our hope.

Oh yes, the movie is based on a true story and adapted for the screen wonderfully. Many of the church goers that are shown in the movie are from the actual congregation and the real-life Karen refugees from Burma too. It was filmed at the actual All Saints’ Church where the events took place, located outside of Nashville. It is definite impetus for sagging faith, most definitely for guys living in urban milieus; going with the generalization that all cities are just the clone of a big city we aspired to be and become, Became!

And importantly God’s voice was not in the thunder; the voice is so finely intertwined in the lives of all who have now become part of the community and from there comes salvation. The strength: to withstand the lashing of the storm, to bear a loved one leaving, the disappointments. There are thanksgivings and joy of providence of grace, there is all of it and the light that makes life come alive with meaning, God with you.

And meanwhile in a small town in Bangalore, in our little church amidst the apathy there rests this hope that the present priest will go and then will come a new shepherd and a sheep whose fleece will from years of apathy suddenly start to sparkle and crackle. God does work in mysterious ways, but it still would need us to put our hands and voices into what he called us to. We presently have left the church to come to when you absolutely nothing else to do, we come looking for some fun amidst weltering flowers expecting them to all perk up for us. Ah! Well, it’s beautiful to find momentary solace and a stirring in our hearts from the goings-on on the silver screen. Hopefully, and until such time as we heed that voice inside so dulled with material possession and consumeristic delight. And the hollow eyes and emptiness inside we continue to beg the outside to fill.

So going back to the story, it lives in you; am writing about this movie, month after I have seen it. It continues to be the flickering little light in my finding love and warmth in my brotherhood – at the moment cold awaiting the messiah from a pool that’s already quite deplete. Yes, as bad as the water table of our city, 2nd in line in the list of cities to run out of water after Cape Town. And Cape Town already has been hit. And like empty court verdicts that we think are cures, we await the man in white cloth to wake up the living-dead. While we continue to sing the lord inside to sleep, with songs of new cars for bad roads, and one more house in the country (good investment boss!!! She said! – to the Janis Joplin tune) But ofcourse there’s hope: there were only 25 members when Michael Spurlock took over as pastor and a mortgage it couldn’t afford. We have a few more than that at our Services.

All Saints reiterates the truth (that humans are gregarious) that we are meant to live together and we are made humans to be thus, there are no answers in cutting and running away and hiding behind material fortress. Nay! NO!

A good nice cinema: not preachy and the message not taking anything away from the script.   A very enjoyable uplifting tale!   could easily fit into list of : ‘movies at lent’.


Elijah at Horeb: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. – 1 Kings 19:12
the link to the reel / real:

The Neighbor – stay away from the window


The NeighborTheNeighbor2018

William Fichtner slow walk and working from home pace, is the pace of the movie’s narrative. It creeps upon you slowly and hits you on the head, bleddy hard too. I felt myself at various times restlessly wanting for the pace to pick up. Urging Mike (William Fichtner) to move faster – to his doom and even sometimes to safety. But no, and NO is right!

Mike with his easy routine and a wife who is intensely into her career and a son who is away is easily drawn into the distraction that moves next door. Beauty of the youth and as often as is its wont the recklessness of that phase of life which adds to the glow and zip, well, that somehow doesn’t sit well with you when you are older. WE know this but we continue to walk that path, so confident what was true to a million others will most definitely not be yours, and so does Mike, that damned slow pace doesn’t still help him get over that feeling of love/concern and that god-knows-what- is -this -thing that makes one feel this way. It does takes you down streets that has been your reluctant prayer to keep out of: keep me away from temptation. Oh how often we give into the other dictum: the best way to deal with temptation is to give into it. Oh, at various times it does even seems god sent, into your barren land an oasis for the many years of perseverance and boredom you braved. Oh, yes, deserving you say. Oh right, entitled!

Jenna (Jessica McNamee) is bang on as the forbidden fruit in the neighbor’s garden. Lovely, comely and also helpless, intelligent and sensitive, ‘perfect!’ as Mike’s friend Brain reassures him. You will find yourself tell Mike to walk away: hey Mike, ok you got to sip that much of the water now leave. And then even when circumstances turn right on its head to lead you away from the path to the house of the rising sun, cause the sun shine is always better on your neighbor’s grass. You can’t keep away, cause it’s as sweet as the leaf that Mike and Jenna shares. How am i to let a helpless girl fend for herself?

Mike’s darkness or his shade of gray leads him back on the road again and again. A familiar road actually as unique as it does feel to Mike at that time. But you already know from the encouragement Brian heaps on the hapless Mike that it is familiar road for the urban modern man. The easy way does most times lead you along the Chinese-Interesting- times* .

And when Mike finds enough spring in his steps it’s again to that garden wall, the wall that was to keep you away from that fruit of knowledge you so thirst for. This one fruit you have been asked to keep away from. the rest vast expanse all yours, but that tree blinds you to all the other realities that shine sparkle and live and with overreaching open arms beckons you to its throbbing with life, which has been denied only you, oh yes, you are convinced of that.

Well, it’s a nice little fable told well, and the pace of its telling only right. Oh, when Mike is left holding the tomato as the credits roll on, it could well be the very apple Adam looked hard and long at before he moved east of Eden to pick up the plough.


Rangoon – that bridge too far.



Wow! It was Friday, even before we could say ‘Thank God’, and He had given us a little more to cheer, it was Shivarathri, and the movie release – Rangoon. Thank you god! We said. A lil too soon we thought, thinking back a little afternoon that day.

I salivated at the thought of the treat from Wednesday (the next Wednesday was Ash) on. Even decided to do the piety of lent for a couple of days – practice run for the coming feast. Rangoon is a Vishal Bhardwaj film, and it had Shahid (with whom he has never really failed, not just that but even gave Shahid new life) and then gorgeous Kangana. Vishal had gotten back to form with Haider after a bit of a slip with Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, but then with MKBKM would have been difficult to get Imran to be Amir, and even the confidence of blowing the breath of life into Shahid didn’t help then. Cut to the present, Imran seems to have retired and must be in the same state of bliss as Abishek the Bachan! So, move on we will.

And come Friday we rushed about all the chores of the morning and got to the theater for the first show (yes, first day first show). Ah! Shiva’s slumber and the producer having to talk with the Censor board guys seemed to have effected the guys in Mumbai. The censor board is the joker in the pack that brings more tears than laughter. Our censor board is the most hardworking team on earth. Their sharp scissors can’t seem to have enough. They chopped off the kiss from the Bond flick Spectre and with it all of Monica Bellucci, making it a total waste of a cinema outing. We will save the stuff they did Under My Burkha for later. Moving on, after an hour’s wait the movie began. All the better for the lovely feast we thought, licking jowls in anticipation, thoughts that voiced itself in that hall, the 10 of us in the stall (the 11.30 morning show and it eventually got us to Rangoon at 12.30) were fairly well acquainted by now. And because of this instant camaraderie we also found out that in this digital age the movies are streamed at the theaters, show after every show, and that these guys had some issue with the film certificate.

OK, movie now. It was really nice to see Kangana on screen, it was nice every time she was on. Oh, Shahid was solid too, that boy has been working very hard, the debacle that was Mausam, an indulgent one which his father mounted for his son, did disturb his inner blocks. And he continues his good from from Udta Punjab. Saif’s struggle continues, he looks good, he gets to wear crisp tux en-all, the creases in place period wardrobe. Yes, he does carry it off and well, sometimes it just becomes that, and them clothes does not maketh the man. Earnest, oh he was! Also there was Richard McCabe, he had a lot of screen time, if he was out to get us to loathe him, he did a good job of that. He was just over the top, and his Urdu and Hindi mostly made you cringe. So it was nice to see him shot down after that fearless Nadia train rescue, very short lived that was, he came back and how! Kangana’s fearless Nadia would have made Mary Evans proud (yes another Aussie reference) and a lot many others too. She is fragile, strong and she soars, and she lifts your heart. Will the melancholy that only seems to add further to her sparkle consume her too soon? Her screen presence is almost Brandonesque.

The sets and the bridge to Rangoon, the scenic Arunachal Pradesh were just very small drops that promised a downpour this summer. So like one swallow and a few little water drops does not a summer thirst quench, Rangoon too does very little. Rather disappointing horse at the Race from the Vishal stable. So, in some ways it was like the debacle that was Rajni’s Baba(2002_film) . Well, scale it down a bit, and the impact in this small world would have the same feeling of hurt. Rangoon did however get me to dig out a copy of another war flick (Aussie reference again) about the girls who went on to entertain the troops – The Sapphires. And that lovely sound track.

Rangoon OST was bloody good too.bp-Full-Juke-box-out-rangoon-shahid-kapoor-kangana-ranaut-Saif-ali-khan

OK, now for the script. Yes, it had lots packed into it. Vishal was through, so when he made Saif’s Billimoria walk the tight rope and then take off his hand at the wrist very early in the movie, he was setting up a finale that would take the whole lovely bridge down and with it your heart and let you wallow in your tears of loss and love, and also love of our country, that heady concoction was flat beer – neither foster nor our own kingfisher. But there is that wooden feeling, quite like billimoria’s mechanical hand, or a hangover from cheap bad liquor.

Shahid does get you to leave your cushioned seat and stand up, with his rendition of the national anthem and his Bhagat Singh stance. Supreme court ruling of which stanza to stand for and when you could snore through, be hanged. Our patriotism being defined by lathi and gun yielding unruly, lacking any culture could do with this selfless lesson no? OK no! But then that is the farther-est we are from today. We understand en-mass chest thumping to lies and self love. Well, that is not the reason why the film didn’t do well at the box office. Rangoon does test your patience quite some in the first half and then the second half gets muddled up with too many of the subplots having to knit. Vishal does lose it every now and then, and sometimes when he thinks he has got it, he has lost you. Was it the big budget and scale that made him lose it? Was he infected with the same virus that got Anurag Kashyap when he was in Bombay ?

And for that triangle that Shadid, Saif and Kangana play, is but just a Tinny percussion discord. Can a girl love two men? Can two men live with the love of one girl? Well, NO answers, maybe they were not even the questions that were asked. But if you ended up asking, then you have Billimoria left alone to walk the tight rope with a tattered flag and a battered hand. Love is a just a thin veiled backdrop, but it still gets the lot of them to perform very brave acts like with grenades and bullets in the brain .

The old world trying to speak to the shallowness of the new world will let your art down. Like after all that tough kissing in the movie, the big question Kangana got asked many-times over was, ‘who is a better kisser, Shahid or Saif?’ hmm m…

Oh yes, Kangana does take a big part of you when she leaves saying, my soul left with the Soldier and of-course ‘Bloody Hell!’ nice touch with that as the famous last words, but the cgiafter a big let down. All puns and spoilers intended.

Bloody hell, Vishal rise up from that drunken mud wrestle and give us another.

Dedh Ishqiya


 Dedh was a cuss word in the streets of the small suburbs of Bangalore we grew up in, of the 70s and 80s. And this half measure does need some cursing, much more than the One and half I haven’t quite uttered.
Vishal is an artist who in 2013 has decided to feed us Rotis that are only half cooked. True that even these are better than the Rowdys and Chennai trains that go nowhere. Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola disappointed, so does Ishqiya 11/2.
I accept, we went in with the memory of the sweet taste of gaalis and Vidya from Ishqiya, and came out wanting to go back to the old. This 11/2 and not half the fun.
The parts we liked:
The guys are quite good. Naseer and Arshad are good together. Their timing delightful, though Arshad moves like he probably chewed one bhang more than he should have.
The English subs – a very cool idea. If it wasn’t for that, a lot of the Urdu shayaris would have been wasted on us aam jantha.
Vijay Raaz is in good form, he has a lot of screen time and dockhe makes good.
Huma promises but has no support from the script. She is the bodyguard to this petite aging Begum and she plays it straight.
Didn’t much care for:
Madhuri Dixit, there has been much made of her come back. She is all dainty en all.. but she’s quite like a mannequin that was given some lines to speak. Oh, yes, she looks very well preserved and there is even a whole song as the credits run for her to showcase Birju Maharaj’s deft moves, but it held back none, not at the theater I was at anyway. A person from the newspaper a couple of days later wrote that she was more enthused by Madhuri in the 1 minute trailer of ‘Gulab Gang’ more than this movie that she went to see. We sometimes make too much of a comeback: sometimes we expect great brilliance to come after a fading away. If you remember Pukar in 2000 it was more Namrata than Madhuri. And when the barefooted Hussain couldn’t quite get her to ride them horses around that time. Devdas was like: ‘ok, now we are tired, am going home’, and Chandramuki handed the bucket to Paro and left with Nene.
And Madhuri did come back 5 years later, and they (mostly reality shows on TV) crowned her dance queen with the ravishing smile.. and in the last 5-6 years she has been trying to freeze that to her image. Oh yes, that’s it, she does look a bit stiff.. And about that trailer, which pits these 80s girls on the big-screen for the first time, we think they might have waited too long.
There are some cool lines and Naseeruddin does the shayari well and the con man even better. And that time when an old Hakim (yes about 100 years older than Naseeruddin) holds his trembling hands and then just when Khalujaan (Naseer) thinks the Hakim might have gone to the other world in the course of listening to his pulse, the hakim wakes up from deep seance and delivers his cure: the mohabaat (seven course) will do it!
And Masha Allah! Mohabaat does heal!  kicks and lives again.
Oh right, and Babaan (Arshaad) does gets a few stages into Mohabaat and get into Huma’s skirt too.
And these being the 7 stages: Dilkashi (attraction), Uns (attachment), Mohabbat (love), Akidat (trust), Ibadat (worship), Junoon (madness)
and the last stage is Maut (death).
This team that worked on this flick are such heavies : gulzar, rahat fateh ali khan, vishal… and they even get Honey Singh to mouth Gulzar’s lyrics with the banal ‘horn ok please’… no, it is not crass as dinka chika… remember Vishal made Dhan Te Nan (kameney) sound classy, and gulzar got Bipasha Basu to light a Beedi… So, these guys when they pick up dirt, it does breathe life. But the energy and the hooks abandon them here. No – Dil To Bachcha Hai. No – Ibn-e-batuta … Kya Hoga soars some height but doesn’t quite get there.
Oh ok, it is a good outing at the theaters I accept, but it is difficult to settle for anything but the finest Biryani from these folks.

another letter to Wesley :) a response to one, really!

Dear Manoj and everyone,IMG_0827.JPG

Dear Manoj and everyone,

Thank you for the letter.

It’s indeed sad that we don’t seem concerned (well, it could be silence of helplessness) about what happens on our church grounds.   Or could it be that we (the congregation) like children in our homes leave it to parents and feel secure to go about living life and thus adding color to all lives (the parents included), did we then just, leave it to the PC?   And then came a grandpa and chased away the parents?  And the children now have to grow up overnight?

The charges are serious, and even though we know that there has been correctives and reprimands that has followed this letter, it has been outside of those addressed here – at the diocese offices.   And because we as a Wesley family are unaware we might be waiting on a larger discrepancy, a sin of omission perhaps, therefore not so serious we may contend!   But, it really just leads us further into our cocoon of apathy.  And that really is just a wasted chance of experiencing the Joie de vivre of togetherness… The 2 or 3 in His name and He will be in our midst?!

When we do away with the processes or not replace it with better ones it will lead us to this bleak deep darkness.    These processes and the guidelines to lead us in spirit were laid down in wisdom and by invoking the presence of the Maker by those who came before us (founding fathers/mothers).  So in our doing away with systems that are to be followed, we mock the creator and then His creation.


In these 3 years of this new PC we have had zilch done because all committees have been brought to naught by the Chair almost immediately after the meetings are done – even just speaking of the committees I have been on.  Reduced to the expenses incurred on chai and vadas for that evening.   And talking of the PC:  it has led into some dark depth and was soon condemned to non-existence, and is now the furthermost from the good intentions the many newcomers and young had brought to this present PC.  I suppose most of the intentions now roast on the kitchen-fires they have been asked to ‘go blow’!.   How actively the office worked to keep people away from the grounds as much as possible:  and leaving people with nothing to do, and let them hide their light under the bushel also allowed them to keep their money away from here too.

So, when the grounds suddenly went abuzz 2 Sundays ago, after the treasurer asked for money/contribution into the empty coffers, the questions were the same, how has it come to this?  Shouldn’t the Treasurer bring this to the elected PC first?   OH!  There is no PC!   Well, if there is no PC why are the Treasurer and Secretary still called by their offices?

“Who said we could have a school in our grounds, who?  How can we run something we know nothing of? And that is eating up all the money, is it not?” one loud voice dared to ask of the bell tower, cause the other walls had not spoken in years.   See how our lack of process manifests itself?  People didn’t even know the major projects taken up, people don’t know of major projects being subverted and readied for the kill.  People with the capabilities and willingness to contribute are kept away so that small minds can expand their chair space in this public space.

As there is no-thing as too late as long as there is life, I suppose we must take this as a big kick in the posterior to wake up… no no, not to smell the coffee, that ship sailed!!


Going forward:

Our lessons therefore would be to find out who this ‘our church’ really is now, and not be defined by people who are not of us at all; even though theirs’ be the high offices.   In this age of narratives, we have been sunk by a loudly declared perception.   Let me give you a physical evidence of a narrative I refer to, even though that narrative may have failed in getting a letter from the pastor’s office into the Minority Cell Office. The evidence:  Wesley has been posted a new pastor!   He is a nice person we hear, though we hear lots of not nice about people from the diocese, and lots of not nice about the newly proposed incumbent too.  And like a senior pastor told us a couple of days ago, ‘every member of the clergy is brushed with a coat of slander, so that is nothing to go by’.  I can only but agree!   So, what we have been handed is a pastor who will serve out his last 2 years here!  And this step was taken because we (Wesley) are but a small bunch of old folks.  Yes! a few from the stationing committee stated that too.   Nothing wrong with a senior pastor for Wesley!  But, here is what maybe wrong for us, just from how it played out for us in the last decade:  if we thought that we will find direction only from the Shepherd we may be waiting on the apocalypse.


The other thing also is that, the corporate board room style is not for us (church) and the clergy and corporate takeovers and slime and personal slander, that is not how we conduct business at a public place of sanctity we call Church.  For Christ sake?!


My priest has often asked me, ‘what is this atmosphere we need to clean, that you talk about,  I don’t understand’.  Oh, that was easy like Sunday morning!   So, when people complained to him about the empty pews, his answer:  ‘what do you want me to do, stand at the gate and call people in?’.   if these are all accepted answers (well, even though they are just question for question) then the role of nurturing our community really lies in our hands – the spiritual and the bodily too.   The priest just comes to live in our compound for a few years.

May god help us to be the people he called us to become/transform.

The Church or being part of it is not a calling to come and be at the church all the time, that’s what is asked of by people who question the drastic deeds.  We just need to give our best to him in the time we got and let others do so too, this then will allow for all of us to work in the field.  This present system has very few participating, and therefore our giving is small and the name calling loud.    We!  Yes, We are the body of Christ, not I and my family alone.   So, if we continued the way we are today, of taking the office and position and keeping it at home.  We are doomed.   Our mandate as a church is to be open and love (charity) all!  And not like the charity of alms which really is not charity. Eg:  expecting the unquestioning obedience and gratefulness and meekness from the maid who was given your shirt that didn’t fit you anymore.   We have to continually work towards undoing wrongs and connecting again.   We must live the WORD that makes us the Church!  Just the loud utterances and whining about the other being be sinner is the way of the world, that the lord called us out of.   No shinning white cloth can hide our inner stains nor any Surf wash it away.  We will have to cling to the cross and believe and then take it up and walk.   Difficult?  Oh yes, and then NO!  He sent us an enabler/counselor/ Holy Spirit (John 7:38-39) and then love and our being together.


We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say “It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.” -Fred Rogers, television host


So as much as there is clarity in looking back, we have to live forward with the lessons we got and go beyond the values that only money can bring.  Oh yes, money will get us new generator and stained-glasses and an office assistant to blame for all our wrongs. But no! No right?   His kingdom has no end!   Our behavior of not believing in the abundance brings about the destruction of His Church!

Ok! Enough said!  Now I will go and try and find my daily bread.

Oh and this lil quote: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” – Edmund Burke  (


God bless you all



PS: Dr. Tony, we must be careful what we ask for, we might get it.   You definitely got me to do this  J.

PPS: all views addressed here are just my limited ones!

Ps: Dr. Tony, we must be careful what we ask for, we might get it.   You definitely got me to do this  🙂

and all views addressed here are just my limited ones!


the above is a response to this mail below!!!!

letter to PC 060218 – Building



Thondimuthalum Dhriksakshiyum : ah! ever so nice to witness this crime story…

A very unlikely yet realistic love story is been told even before the beginning-credits have finished rolling out on screen.   SurajVenjarammoodu has moved on from the playing silly comedian to serious character artists and even lead artist with great smooth success.  No over the top comedy for him anymore it does seem.   And adds on to a very serious bench strength of character artistes in Malayalam cinema, some very good number are here.  There are folks who have come in from theatre and even mimicry troupes and have now become serious and very valuable additions to the character artistesrich pool.   And it is no wonder that Alencier Ley Lopez as A.S.I.Chandran even got the state award for acting.   The film is dotted with very good performances from its cast of character artistes and, that dude FahadFasil is so comfortable underplaying a complex role of a petty thief.   Thondimuthalum Dhriksakshiyum

Thondimuthalum Dhriksakshiyum ( to mean the loot and the Witness) is filled with such beautiful small moments, crackling dialogues, laced with sharp humor in retorts even in the time of very serious happenings, and all it does not take away anything from the engaging narrative but adding a dimension ever so welcome.    There is so much delight in the life these artistes bring to the role, playing every day routine lives:  the writer at a cop station, the culprit who is locked up, the autodriver father of the girl, the occasionally employed protagonist, the small time thief who rolled out parottas for a living before that, a supportive wife of a constable, all of them such good company too for the duration of the film.  Some of these guys stay with you for many days after.

DileeshPothan  has found a niche in what is already a good expanse of young talented filmmakersspace in Malayalam cinema.  His debut directorial MaheshintePrathikaaram was a so good, and TD just cements his place as a serious and consistent director.  Oh, and Dileesh is already an established actor,  adding to the same pool of character artist we spoke of earlier.   His turn as a cop with a major twist towards the end in Pokkiri Simonhad many shades of the characters he cast in TD.   His journey from assistant director to director is quite like the cliché: of the student going beyond the ways the teacher has walked with you.   Dileesh assisted Aashiq Abu in many of his films and am sure his skills grew and the treatment skills were liberally influnced.

It’s encouraging to find such a film that lifts up its narrative into a high clear view point in these days of rampant assimilation of fast depleting material wealth, this view of a slice of life is beautiful in its starkness and everydayness and fill it with hope in its realism.   It’s filmed too in what might look like rudimentary technique, but it is conscious unsullied looking camera that captures the subtleness of the life, and the camera completely into skin of its narrative,  thus invisible.

This movie turned the few viewing minutes into chuckles, edge of the seat and forgetting yourself completely as we walked the landscape with the actors and even spent time on the bench at the cop station.

There are films I watch just for the actors in them.  Fahad definitely is a fine actor I follow seriously and some of the fine directors I have known from his sensitiveness to the story and how then he delivers it.  These movies very often have good script and some also helmed by fine tellers.