Saturday, April 25, 2015

Chop Chop Chop -- Snipe Snipe Snipe

Anyone who knows me, knows that I do not experiment with my hair - at all. So, when I uploaded my new look on social media - I knew everyone would be quite surprised. At that time, I wondered how long I would be able to maintain the same.

Well, not as long as I hoped... While I liked my previous  look, it was too much of a hassle and the length was totally in the way. In April, things just got out of hand with Kuku acting out, the weather which made me wonder why I did not chop off my hair, office stress, general irritation etc. So, I chopped off my hair in April. I did not go back to my old hairstyle but now have shoulder length hair. I like a no-fuss, easy hairdo for myself.

Now, I have hair that is easier to manage while not as long - Some folks did not like this look much - but, it is easy maintenance and so I am def happy :)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Update on my Classics Reading Spree -- So far so good

So, I am still into reading Classics. Maybe because I am reading a book from a different author, each time, I am able to continue doing so. What have I finished reading so far, you ask? Here you go:
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit  
  • The Legend of the Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
I am currently reading Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. I don't think I have read this book before. Nothing seems familiar or leaps to my mind as I read. I could not even connect to the title of the book. Hmmm.. thats nice in a way.

I have not taken up a challenge because reading a particular genre or author can get a bit boring after a while - this is more random and I can read as many as I like and go in any order I like. Maybe I should look up other folks's lists to identify the best way to go about this - Lets see. Too soon to talk 'bout it. My interest in Classics may wane anytime :(

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Badlapur -- Movie Review

The Arien wanted to watch Interstellar and I wanted to watch Badlapur. Nowadays, realizing that we may not be able to watch either, we quickly agree to the other's choice. The subtitles for Interstellar were in Russian and so Badlapur was the chosen one. We knew we would not be able to watch the entire movie in one sitting- thanks to Kuku- but we were determined to watch as much as possible in 1 sitting :)

We had heard a lot of positive reviews 'bout this movie. I thought Varun's promotional activity would involve his carrying the co-star and he did not disappoint. Yami looked a trifle uncomfortable inspite of her winning smile :) Read on for the movie review *Spoilers Ahead* 

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The movie is a revenge saga. The story begins with a bank robbery and the escape vehicle chosen by the thieves belongs to a young woman (Yami Gupta) and her son. Police men are chasing after the thieves almost immediately and in the ensuing chase, the kid who was seated in the front seat falls off the vehicle and onto the road. This shocks the bank robbers (Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Vinay Yadav). Yami Gupta is concerned for her child and screams for the vehicle to be stopped. The tension in the car as a result of the child falling off, the police chasing after them and their possible capture, results in increased tension and the death of Yami Gupta by a gunshot wound. It is clear that they cannot get away and so Nawaz tells Vinay to get off with the money at a corner and allows himself to get caught. He is immediately placed in Jail and beaten by the police officers but he does not reveal the name of his partner and pretends to be the driver with no idea that the gun was loaded.

Varun is the husband of Yami Gupta and he cannot believe the double tragedy that has hit him in an
otherwise normal day. He meets with Nawaz in the hope of getting the name of the partner but Nawaz spins the same tale to him. Varun does not believe him but he needs the name of the partner. Nawaz is sentenced to 20 years of Jail which was clearly unexpected. He does not contact his partner or reveal his name but he tries to escape every year and is caught everytime. Nawaz is diagnosed with cancer after 15 years and Varun signs his release order after getting the name of the partner from Nawaz's mom. Nawaz is not aware that Varun knows his partner's name. What follows is nail-biting and then a bit underwhelming, but good.

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I somehow did not expect Varun Dhawan to be able to carry this role - but he did a good job of it. Nawaz is an exceptional actor: he had the best dialogues and most of the funny ones. He ably supported the script. Seeing Vinay in a serious role after a long time, a good actor who played his part well. The women had only a small part to play and they did justice to it - they did not outshine the male actors - it was simply not possible with their part but they showed that they were willing to do anything for their loved one and there was no trace of the regular filmy heroine. Yami Gupta, Huma Querishi, Radhika Apte, and Divya Dutta were good.

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Wah Wah
  • Almost  every scene in which Nawaz appeared.
  • Dialogues were crisp and get full marks 
  • Jee Karda song was lovely
  • Varun's serious avatar - impressive for a person who is known for his romantic roles
Blah Blah
  • Treatment of the women in the movie was a bit on the crude, thoughtless, and objectification side
  • The 'second chance' dialogue towards the end was a bit underwhelming 

Go watch and share your comments!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Re-reading Classics -- Escape into paradise

Surprisingly, March has been a month of reading. I started with some of the books I loved and then moved on to ones which I could not remember at all. The ones I re-read this month include the following:
  • Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • Pollyanna by Eleanor H Porter
  • Emma by Jane Austen
I am currently reading Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. I am trying to read 1 book from an author and then going back to them again hopefully next month. Unfortunately, Emily Bronte, has written only this book. Though I recall having read it, when I re-read it, I could not remember much. It was quite surprising. I have not yet finished reading it, though. Hopefully, some memory will return.

I have always wanted to read Alice in Wonderland - I remember reading the book when I was a kid and getting lost in the book and being unable to figure out what was going on and getting very confused. I also want to read all the books in the Chronicles of Narnia series, by C S Lewis.

I know I tend to read a particular genre for quite a bit and then drop it like a hot potato. So, let me see how long this interest in classics perseveres. I may not even continue after this month. Fingers Crossed!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Absolute Barbeque -- Restuarant Review

After a long time, we were doing a team lunch and the venue chosen was Absolute Barbeque. Its quite popular and everyone knows about it , apparently, but I was clueless. I thought it would be similar to Barbeque Nation in concept and so was a willing recipient of the treat.

First, the location, it is near the Park Hotel near Innovative Multiplex, Marathahalli. Its on the 3rd
Absolute Barbeque
Floor. We were having our treat on Friday and so the place was packed. It took me a while to find our group (Yes, I was late). They had already started on the starters by the time I joined.

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When I joined I was asked if I was vegetarian or Non-vegetarian and when I said I was vegetarian, I was served a pineapple slice. The taste was a bit strong for me but I was unable to place it. A colleague mentioned that it was cinnamon. The pineapple, shorn of its external coverings, looked like 'Shawarma' - a non-vegetarian dish. (It took me the entire lunch to figure out the name of the non-vegetarian dish!) The other starters were the staples: Mushroom, Paneer, Corn etc. Then, I noticed water melon, some mixed vegetables including the big chilli (used for chilli bajjis). Apart from this, I was served crispy masala corn that I enjoyed quite a bit and a potato vada which was quite spicy. 

There was an option to choose an item and watch it being grilled - they called it the Wish Grill or Exotic grill. I was not in a mood to experiment - also, broccoli was one of the options and so I gave that a pass. I think the Non-Vegetarians had some very different options for the Exotic Grill - Rabbit, Quail, or Emu. I remembered to make a note to inform the Arien. 

The main course was a number of gravies, steamed rice, and a veg Dum Biriyani on the vegetarian side. I noticed that the staples were there in the non-vegetarian side. I had rotis and decided to get started on the desserts. The dessert section had a number of goodies: Phirni, Gulab Jamoon, Apple pudding, chocolate pastry, Italian pudding or mousse, and of course the Wish Ice-cream - the flavors chosen were bent, and beaten into submission and served as three scoops by the server. I did not try that either. I opted for the Gulab Jamoon, the chocolate pastry, and the Italian thingie.  

Whenever we have team lunches, we usually split up into two groups - the veg and the non veg groups. So, I do not have much of an idea on the non-veg starters.

Now, to the real question: How does this restaurant compare with BBN? Well, obviously they are quite similar but this place has certain exotic options for non-vegetarians. BBN has the Kulfi and they have the Wish Ice-cream. BBN has a decent number of different vegetarian starters and so has ABS2 though I liked the BBN's options better. Price-wise BBN is priced slightly less than ABS2, at least the one at Banaswadi. Ambience was good.

Rating: ***1/2

Friday, March 13, 2015

I - Movie Review

Got around to seeing my first Tamizh movie this year - I. The last time Shankar and Vikram got together, they gave us the hugely successful "Anniyan". So, naturally, there was a lot of hype surrounding this venture. However, according to me, it was all for naught! The movie released more than two months ago but if you have not seen the movie yet, watch the movie and see if you agree with me or not. *Spoilers*

Vikram as the bodybuilder

Vikram as the model
Vikram is into body building and is trying to win the Mr. Madras contest. At one of the contests, the other contestants were real body builders, I think, and it was difficult for me to accept that Vikram won the contest. Another contestant wants him to lose and Vikram wins in spite of not having the superior body.  But, then that is the typical bollywood way.

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Vikram is a great fan of Amy Jackson, a model who has been shooting a number of ads with Upen Patel. Vikram takes on a temporary bodyguard role for Amy while she is in town and he shares his card with her. While you wonder if Amy and Upen are having an affair, she is actually trying to fend off his unwelcome advances. As a result, she gets pulled out of various ad projects. In a fix, she contacts Vikram and transforms him into a model.

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Vikram after I
They are to travel to China for an ad campaign and Ojas Rajani is in charge of converting him into a model. Upen is surprised that he has lost out a number of campaigns as a result of Vikram's entry. Ojas, falls for Vikram. Vikram is unable to act and struggles to emote in the China ad campaign. The director of the shoot asks Amy to profess love so he can emote better. Amy is not comfortable but agrees. And soon, he is acting pretty well and the shoots are a walk in the park for him.Ojas lusts after Vikram and breaks the news to him.

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He refuses to believe until Amy accepts it. This shocks him but he completes the shoot. Ojas is upset. Amy feels very guilty and returns his love which surprises Vikram after an absolutely unnecessary and totally contrived dishum-dishum fight with a number of chinese extras and a local tamizh dialok delivery by the two actors!

They decide to get engaged when they return. Meanwhile, the ad agency which gave Vikram his
Vikram as the beast - Dream
break is planning to shoot an ad for a product that is good and Vikram refuses to shoot for the ad and also gives a statement to the media about his decision. This affects the ad agency adversely. Vikram and Amy get engaged and then things change. What happens next is not too difficult to imagine. The story is told in a non-linear manner, with the present story interspersed with flashbacks.

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I liked Vikram in his body building avatar. His physique is exceptional, specifically the torso. But, his legs are quite lean and do not appear muscular. At the contest, all the other body builders seemed to have very muscular legs. I thought he looked old in the model look, with a clean shaven face, which everyone in the movie raves about. His beast look in the dream sequence was pretty good and the other look was frankly scary. Kudos for carrying the different looks.

Suresh Gopi, a famous malayalam actor, plays a prominent role and Santhanam is Vikram's friend and supporter during all the changes from good to great to horrible. Upen Patel, Ram Kumar Ganeshan, and Ojas are caricatures. Ram Kumar Ganeshan is blessed with his dad's dialogue delivery and sometimes it is a major distraction. Not what I expected from a Shankar movie. Anniyan was far far better. Robot was very good. This movie does not meet those high expectations. A pity!

Wah Wah
  • Vikram's acting prowess.
  • Vikram's ability to don multiple looks for his role in this movie
  • Special Effects
  • Picturization of the Ennoddu Nee Iranthal (More like a musical) and Marasalaittean (Special effects)
  • Songs were ok.
Blah Blah
  • Old wine in new bottle - Typical revenge story with beauty and the beast thrown in
  • No twists at all - the one twist is also so clear early on that you are just waiting for it to happen - No surprise
  • Neither the role of the main cast or the supporting cast was well fledged out - some of the villains instead of being scary or terrifying were reduced to almost caricatures and were comical.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Collected Short Stories and The New Collected Short Stories -- Book Review

Finally, my first book review in 2015. Well, I have read these short stories a while ago when they were sold as separate books. Yes, a long time ago :) The Arien got me these two collections of short stories for Christmas. I got around to reading them this month. The Collected Short Stories is a collection of three books: Quiver full of Arrows, Twist in the Tale, and Twelve Red Herrings. Some of the stories are good, some are predictable, some are just ok. I think I preferred the stories from the "Twist in the Tale" book of this collection.

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If you have not read any of his books, you could start with the Collected Short Stories.

I have been reading and re-reading Jeffrey Archer's books almost as often as I read Agatha Christie's books. And, I enjoy them a lot. However, I do not like his newer short stories that much because somehow they seem quite predictable. Its also possible that after re-reading his books a gazillion times, I look for the Tell or can recognize the Tell of the author. I do not want to think that the master story teller is losing his touch. I like his novels though. He still weaves a pretty good story.

The New Collected Short Stories is a collection of three books: To Cut a Long Story Short, And Thereby Hangs a Tale, and Cat O' Nine Tales. I liked the stories from the "The Cat O Nine Tales" book from this collection but there are some good stories in the other books as well.

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Catch it when you have the time.. its a light read. Because it is a collection of short stories, you can put it down for a bit and then get back. That was the life saver for me. I tend to get engrossed in a book which irritates the Arien and Kuku but that did not happen this time.

Oh and No.. this is not really a review though the title pretty much says that :)