Raees

I know I am massively late reviewing this one. It’s been two weeks since its release. I watched this one just a few days after it came out with my family and wrote the review on my plane ride back to California. However, I lost the darn draft, which is actually far less consequential than losing one’s brain like what seems to be happening to King Khan these days. The last movie of his I could tolerate – besides Dear Zindagi in which he had a cameo role – probably saw the light of day in 2006. Movie after movie after movie he is cheating his massive fan following out of their entertainment budgets.

I saw Raees at home in a comfy home theatre, with incredible sound and the perfect back lighting so I can’t even blame the crowds and tiring experience of standing in a line to get into the theatre for the bad taste this movie left in my mouth. Other than Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s stellar acting – as expected – Raees has absolutely nothing to offer. I slept through at least a third of it and, no, I was not jet-lagged when I saw it.  Apparently, I was not the only one. My sister, who went to a theatre to see this (!) and normally is never in agreement with my tastes also slept through it.

Mahira Khan, who acted extraordinarily well in Pakistani TV serials was just a controversy stirrer for the publicity of this movie. No role, no sense, no acting.

SRK, you seem to be a smart guy with LOTS of money. Maybe put it to use somewhere else? (2/10)

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Ok Jaanu

Ok, stop it! Making a movie tailored to just millennials isn’t going to cut it Mr. Ali. And that too one that’s more predictable than the sun rising from the East. Even the US elections presented a far more thrilling show this year.

Boy and Girl feel attracted to each other, move in with no strings attached and six months later when it’s time to move to foreign lands for career reasons they realize they are not just in lust but in love too. Hoopla! Time to get married and then “we’ll figure it out”.

The Humma Song was the only reason I dragged myself to watch this millennial drama in a theatre. While the songs were all a treat everything in between was a wash.

I am being generous with my rating because of the juxtaposition of Naseeruddin Shah’s love story to the Kapoors’ fling. (3/10)

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Two Beacons Of The Future

Yesterday was the sixth and final activity of my year-long commitment to organize Gratitude & Giving Back events for my family and friends.

The New Year makes a lot of us set resolutions for the future, finding things we can do today to make our tomorrow better. One way it manifested for me was to find a way to connect two things that are true beacons of the future and help with a cause that supports both: a greener world for children! So this time I planned a volunteering activity at an Elementary School that needed trees to be planted around their campus.

It started with a very useful 15 minutes of instructions on how to plant a tree. Despite having helped my dad in our garden a handful of times I learnt quite a few tips and tricks, from digging the right size of hole, to creating a platform, “tickling” the roots, building a berm, installing posts, etc.

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After the tutorial we went on to pick a whole slew of tools like shovels, gloves, posts, bands, support ledges, mattock and pick.

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From here we went to find our marked spot near the playground and carried our 12 foot tree and mulch to the exact location where work was about to commence.

Now one may think that a rainy day and drenched soil may make it hard to spend the day outside planting a tree but it actually made it easier and much more fun (except that it was quite the act of heroism to clean our clothes and shoes afterwards). We had a blast measuring, digging, using all our strength all while listening to desi party music (thanks Anusha!). Driving the posts into the ground was the hardest part and with every pound I was in awe of how my dad does everything around our huge garden at home all by himself at the age of 64!

For Type A people like me a little competition adds a whole new level of motivation so it was even more fun that our playground area needed three trees and we were “competing” against two other groups that ended up being quite a bit slower than us. Girl power!

For those of you familiar with Aditi-isms, my sister had the brilliant idea of planting an apple tree – likely the only apple many kids will hold in their hands in the future unless we plant more real trees.

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Knowing that one day this tree will carry a beautiful crown of colorful leaves, providing shade to children, likely oblivious of what went into getting it to spread its wings here brings a warm smile to our hearts.

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After two hours of solid work, and leg , arm and back muscle toning we proudly named our tree “Baum” – the German word for tree. Here is a picture of Baum with Anusha, me, Kevin (our guide) and Aditi.

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Our tree will grow to about 40 feet and will turn a beautiful red in the fall. We can’t wait to come back in a few years and check out Baum in all its glory!

Umrika

Where do dreams come from? Where do they lead you? In this case a mother’s obsession with sending her favorite son to the promised land of Umrika (America) becomes her loss and the reason for the entire family to fall apart.

The son – that never made it to Umrika – lives a life in the shadows of Bombay, while her loving husband pretends to be the son and writes her letters from Umrika, which not only serve to keep the mother appeased but entertain the entire village. Years later the younger son sets out to find his brother. When he finds him no further than Bombay he decides to fulfill his mother’s dream himself. While one side of the story is described in much detail and finesse the repercussions of this dream are left to the viewers’ imagination. (6/10)

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Meet The Patels

When I had first heard about this movie about a year ago I thought is was a fictional comedy that would be light hearted and entertaining. Now that I finally got around to watching it I stand corrected. It is a poorly-made wannabe documentary that seems like a string of complaints despite the somewhat genuine effort of Ravi Patel to try the Indian “dating scene”.

As an ABCD myself I never thought I’d say this but this is a truly screwed up generation of neither here nor there. Transition pains are a real thing and no one says they can be erased from this equation but mocking a whole culture to prove your new ways right – when you aren’t even sure they work for you – is not the most graceful way to deal with those pains.

Ravi Patel serial dates a dozen or so Indian-American girls, still keeping his gori girlfriend as a backup option, only to come back to tell his parents he wants to marry the gori girlfriend he had never told them about. The documentary ends hinting that they will marry but a bit more research tells you he ditched her again eventually and is now married to a Muslim girl. Confusion galore! (3/10)

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Amal

When a movie wins several awards and stars Naseeruddin Shah you sit down with a certain level of expectation to be delighted. The entire 101 minutes the story kept building and building until the climax, where either I didn’t understand what just happened because the Director wasn’t very forthcoming with what he was trying to do or the end is just miserably bad. If anyone has seen this movie and can tell me whether Amal can read or not please enlighten me.

The story and its climax aside the Casting Director should be banned from ever suggesting a cast again. Other than Naseeruddin Shah, Amardeep Jha and to some extent Seema Biwas none of the characters showed a spec of authenticity. You really miss the target when your main character – a poor rikshaw driver – is not only monotonous as hell but he’s got a full on Canadian accent while speaking Hindi. I so badly wanted to connect to his character and root for him but Rupinder Nagra’s terrible acting killed any affection one could develop for his character. His shopkeeper friend and the little girl he is tending too are equally “too fancy” to be depicted as lower class.

A story that had potential to be really move the audience was mercilessly slaughtered by bad acting and a plot that is slower than Delhi traffic. (2/10)

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Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things

Living more with less has been a quest that’s been intriguing me for quite some time. My family often thinks I have gone cookoo when I decline their offer to buy me new fancy clothes from India, more stuff for the kitchen or when I am unable to let them know what I want for my birthday. But in all honesty, I find more peace when I own less “stuff” and whatever I own is organized. To the extent that last year (and this year again) I went through an exercise around Diwali that looked like this.

While I am not an extremist that lives in an empty apartment with just one chair and mattress I like to keep things streamlined and neat. A few things that help me do that are to constantly ask myself a few questions:

  • Have I used this item in the last six months? Or am I going to use it in the next six months?
  • Does this item bring me joy?
  • When I die will my family look at this and ask “what did she need THIS for”?

Having said that, I have the hardest time letting go of things that have any sort of emotional value but then you could say they bring me joy so I keep them around.

Minimalism is a documentary that kept me engaged throughout its 79 minutes runtime because it’s from the heart, not extreme in any way and shows you how this concept has changed the lives of many people that have adapted this lifetime in whatever way they saw fit. It also rebels against the corporate “lock up” that I also feel a bit burdened by from time to time. What an irony that I work in the advertising industry which essentially goes against my grain to the hilt. Maybe early retirement is a dream that may come true one day.

There are ways to live a more meaningful life and this documentary shows you stories of many that are. (10/10)

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