A Man Called Ove

Ove, a character so endearing that I spent my entire Sunday binge-reading this novel moving a mere 40 feet around the home.

A man of principles, set in his ways, who only understands the black and white is left with a body but no life when his wife of 40 years, the only person adding color to his life, passes away and he is pushed to take early retirement from work because he isn’t open to adapting to the new ways – aka computers. The entire story is set in his residential neighborhood where he is the unofficial Head of Homeowners Association despite being voted out because of his strong opinions. Ove is a complete coconut: hard and rough on the outside and soft and supple on the inside. Six month after his wife’s passing he has made up his mind to end his life and despite repeated tries he is interrupted by something or the other – his new neighbors, the kid who needs his bike repaired, his friend who is about to be taken away to an institution because his wife is too old to take care of him but more than anything the challenge, or shall I call it ‘reason to live for’, he is presented with at every turn of day. He tells himself he is doing it because his wife would like it that way. He is too manly to admit he has a heart that’s too big to not help others.

Fredrik is a first time novel writer but his prose turned me into a complete fan. I can’t wait to read his other novels if Ove is anything to go by. One of my favorite paragraphs from A Man Called Ove:

“Death is a strange thing. People live their whole lives as if it does not exist, and yet it’s often one of the great motivations for living. Some of us, in time, become so conscious of it that we live harder, more obstinately, with more fury. Some need its constant presence to even be aware of its antithesis. Others become so preoccupied with it that they go into the waiting room long before is has announced its arrival. We fear it, yet most of us fear more than anything that it may take someone other than ourselves. For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.”

This man certainly has a way with words that is one of the most attractive qualities in a person in my eyes.

In a lot of ways Ove was a reflection of some people I know in my life and reading this gave me a newfound appreciation for them.

Be careful when you start reading this because you won’t put it down before you finish. (9/10)

A Man Called Ove

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Tumhari Sulu

#MainKarSaktiHai

Every housewife is more – some of them far more – than just a housewife. While women in the workforce get to play out their personalities with a legit tag of a working woman, the ones working in their homes are often ‘discounted’ as bhenjis. Here comes Vidya Balan to show you that personality trumps title and ambition trumps education!

Never have I seen a non-body-conforming Bollywood actress carry herself with so much confidence on the silver screen. A housewife, married to a sales manager and with a 11 year old boy facing peer pressure she is living a middle class life. Her twin sisters rub in their success every so often on their visits and tell her what’s right and wrong for her but she doesn’t let herself be belittled and goes on to become a RJ for a borderline raunchy late night radio show. With her unique people skills she shows the owners of the radio show that a saree-clad bhenji has more to offer than meets the eye. She takes the vulgar out of the show and is fully enjoying her work when the typical Indian husband surfaces in her otherwise loving husband. The loss of authority in his job and the happiness of his wife in her job don’t sit well with him so she leaves her job for 5 minutes to join it back in a jiffy as soon as she finds him a tiffinwaala job with the radio channel. Yeah, the last 5 minutes of the movie were just as confusing as my previous sentence. Not sure what happened there and why all of a sudden she decides to rejoin when she just handed in her resignation – but maybe someone else can explain that to me.

Fabulous acting by Vidya Balan and Manav Kaur. Totally not important to this review but I have a thing for men with strong jawlines. 😉 (6/10)

TS

Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana

Ah, these little gems of cinema shining through brightly amongst the behemoths of big budget movies of Bollywood! With a tiny production budget of 9 crore rupees this movie does what many 100+ crore ones can’t – engage the viewer until the end. I watched this movie from 10 pm – 1am on a weekday night and didn’t regret the ensuing lack of sleep even a tiny bit.

The story of an arranged, then canceled and re-arranged marriage in a small town in India it felt like this story could have been your next door neighbor’s. So realistic, so down-to-earth and simple despite it’s complex topic.

Rajkumar Rao is a powerhouse of acting! It boils my blood when I see stars being treated as deities when they have zero acting chops and then there’s someone like Rajkumar who is one of the finest actors we have in the country and yet he only gets roles by lesser known producers and directors. Oh well, their loss I say. I would blindly go watch a movie starring Rajkumar Rao vs a certain star referred to by a three letter acronym.

I had never seen Kriti Kharbanda’s work before but was equally thrilled to see an actress who not only looks cute but also has the acting skills to match Rajkumar Rao’s. What fantastic casting!

Had it not been for the somewhat dramatic ending and the sudden change of heart of the groom’s family in the end this one would have gotten a full ten. Even with a 9/10 it gets a must watch recommendation!

shaadi-main-zaroor-aana

Secret Superstar

The medium may not have been the most illustrative but the message was rock solid! Domestic violence is unfortunately a common occurrence – not only in the lowest echelons of society but everywhere. Physical violence, as in this movie, is visible but emotional abuse is a struggle not only grossly overlooked but one that women are often blamed for even if they are the victim. Anyhow, I digress.

Insu is a very headstrong 15 year old wanting more from life than the beatings her father gives her mother. She has a beautiful relationship with her mother in which she is at times the daughter and at times the mother. Her own strength blinds her to the sacrifices her mother has made and the reasons why she is not willing to divorce her father. However, since actions speak louder than words Insu’s determination eventually rubs off on her mother and this time she decides to put her foot down not inspite her children but because of her children.

A special shout out to the casting director who found the perfect actors for each character. Aamir Khan wasn’t the star of the movie. Meher Vij and Zaira Wasim shone much brighter this time! They looked like a real life mother daughter duo and acted so well that you could fever along with them as they went through the ups and downs of their journey.

Unlike other Aamir Khan productions this one was a little blurry at the edges with incongruencies – be it the way he portrayed social media to be a messiah of the passionate or the grandmother’s role that literally just existed to tell Insu how her mother saved her from being aborted. Overall a great watch and that will hopefully give more women the courage to be equals. (7/10)

SS

Shubh Mangal Savdhan

Ayushmann Khurrana has this ability of getting scripts that allow him to play the every day man and he does an incredible job portraying the guy next door with a conviction that I keep hoping guys next door can actually be as cute as him. 🙂

In Vicky Donor Ayushmann took on a role of a sperm donor – a courageous move for an actor who is setting out to build his career in Bollywood. In this movie he plays a man with erectile dysfunction – an even more courageous move. Kudos to him for breaking the mold and bringing to light issues that actually exist but nobody wants to talk about.

It’s very easy to turn subjects like these vulgar and tasteless but the director nicely navigated around that without leaving out the humor entirely. Were some of the scenes exaggerated? Yes. Was it weird to see the family react like that? Yes. But nevertheless, it was an entertaining watch and a departure from the typical Bollywood formula. (6/10)

SMS

Budhia Singh – Born To Run

This one is Dangal gone a bit awry. The movie itself wasn’t bad, nor was the execution of the story. Maybe the story itself just didn’t deliver that feel-good ending and hence didn’t provide the same uplift of spirits as Dangal did.

This is a true story about a poor 5 year old boy who gets raised by a coach because he  discovers his running talent and wants him to represent India in the Olympics. Progressively, he trains the child to run longer and longer marathons – 48 of them! -, which culminates in his desire to have him run a 70+ km marathon. The kid gets a lot of attention from the media and government and eventually the child welfare commission steps in and takes him away from the coach as they deem it cruel for a little child to run that long. Similar to Dangal there is a merciless drive in the coach but with this one you really question the coach’s motives. He has a much darker shade of grey than Aamir Khan had. He’ll go to any length, including dangling a water bottle in front of a running 5 year old boy to make him run longer when he is about to collapse from thirst. Eventually the child gets taken away from him and the coach is killed by local politicians. Today, Budhia Singh is in a boarding school for sports but he is not allowed to run marathons by the government. The ending of the movie is a call to action to do something about it and help Budhia live his passion.

Manoj Bajpai is as fine of an actor as it can get. He slips under the skin of any character but his madness for fame as Biranchi Das, the coach, made you want to punch him multiple times during the movie, which the director tried to soften up a bit by inserting a scene or two showing his softer side.

Overall, a good movie without the fairy dust of a Dangal. (7/10)

Budhia singh

Chef

Ok, I like to be lazy too at times but if I had a couple of crores on the line I would probably put in a bit more effort in localizing the content of my production instead of literally remaking the American version of it with no changes whatsoever. I know calling it ‘Bawarchi’ would have been unacceptable for some people’s social norms but even the name wasn’t changed. You can’t just take an American movie, slap a few Indian faces onto it and expect it to resonate with the viewer. There is a nuance to Indian characters that was grossly overlooked, some scenes were just purely awkward and that kid, Svar Kamble, could use some acting school.

The ending of the movie is just so conveniently non-sensical that you want to dig your face into a pizza right away. Save your $12, buy a pizza instead! (2/10)

chef