Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The enigma called Clooney - 'Up in the Air' reviewed

Directed by Jason Reitman of Juno fame and adapted from the book by Walter Kirn, ‘Up in the Air’ deals with a very interesting topic. And a topical one at that. The recession hit most of us and yet there were people and businesses that found opportunities in the crisis. George Clooney works for one such company. His job is to fly across the country and fire people. But as heartless as this may sound, he has built it into an art. When this new-girl-from-ivy-league joins his firm and suggests a way of overhauling the entire company’s work style, he takes her with him on a few trips to show her what it is that they really do. And this is the part that touches you. He could be mechanical in his job as this girl is and follow flow charts in his responses. Instead, he chooses to listen to people and counsel them. He does it so well that he convinces a majority of them that this is indeed a new beginning and not the end.

His hectic life doesn’t allow for strings to be attached and he plays the archtypical loner. With no family obligations and no girlfriend to ‘settle down with’, he loves his life and advocates everyone to let go of emotional baggage as well.

The movie is interesting as it throws up a perspective that is so relevant in today’s scenario and yet so fresh. Clooney not only makes us swoon (as he usually does) but also carries this film with elan (as he usually does). There are times one wants to shake him by his shoulders and there are some when you just want to protect him. He is ably supported by Vera Farmiga who plays his counterpart in a skirt and beats him at his own game of no-strings-attached.

The film is not only funny in its satire, it also transforms seamlessly into a thoughtful take on relationships and life. Watch it on a lazy Friday night.

Rating: 3.5 on 5
Paisa Wasool Moment: Definitely his suitcase packing skills!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Was Edmund Hillary really the first person to climb Mt.Everest?

Many believe that it was not Edmund Hillary from New Zealand who was the first to scale the mighty Everest. They believe it may have been his skilled Sherpa - Tenzing who actually was the first to climb on. But not many people know that long before 1953 when 'Sir' Hillary climbed to the top of the world, another man had in all probability already conquered the Everest.

George Mallory started climbing rocks even before he could walk. His one dream in life was to climb Mount Everest and be the first person ever to do so. He made 3 attempts over the years in this regard, each without maps, venturing into land that no human had ever seen, temperatures that no one had ever experienced and no knowledge of how the body would react at that height. In 1924, when he left the last camp with his climbing partner Irving, many believe he managed to reach the summit.

The truth about Mallory's success remains a mystery. Both climbers failed to return back to safe grounds and it was only 75 years later that his body was finally discovered. Besides his skill and determination, one of the reasons that the myth of his success remains alive is that he always carried a photograph of his wife Ruth in his pocket when he climbed with his ambition to leave it on the top of the highest peak in the world. When his body was found 75 years later, perfectly preserved in the ice with his garments in good condition, the photograph was not on his person. It is believed that he left it on the peak when he and Irvin climbed atop and became the first ever humans to see the world from that height.

29 years later, with better technology and knowhow at hand, Edmund Hillary made history by being the first person to reach the pinnacle of Everest with Tenzing. They spent only about 15 minutes at the summit. Hillary has been quoted as saying that 'They looked for evidence of the 1924 Mallory expedition, but found none'. They said that they searched for Ruth's photograph on the peak but there was none. Hillary also later claimed that even if subsequent explorations discovered that Mallory and Irvin has indeed been the first people to reach the peak, historians should not allow his name to be changed or removed as a successful climb also means getting back alive.

Believe what you will.

Photographs taken of the Mallory expedition by his climber friend Noel - Click here

Years later, Mallory's grandson, also called George Mallory, reached the summit of Everest in 1995 via the North Ridge with six other climbers as part of the American Everest Expedition. He left a picture of his grandparents, Ruth and George, at the summit citing 'Unfinished business'.

If this post piqued your curiosity, read the account as told by Jeffrey Archer in "Paths of Glory"

Or else, just read the bible called Wikipedia here

Thursday, February 4, 2010



Resolution 2 and 9 underway. But most of all, need to fulfill resolution 10.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!

--Rudyard Kipling

Monday, February 1, 2010

Yeh Rann Hai...

It has become fashionable these days to criticize movies which are hyped before releasing. More importantly, it has also become fashionable to criticize movies made by Ram Gopal Varma. We love to bash him. It is one of our favorite pastimes. His films, his attitude, where he goes and with whom – its all under our scrutiny. Thus, even before the film Rann released, the common reaction amongst the multiplex viewers was how it was going to fall flat on its face. It was almost as if they were waiting with bated breath, to see RGV crumble yet again.

Well, he didn’t. He stood tall. I am almost having second thoughts about writing this review because I expect a lot of backlash. So let me do this – I will play devil’s advocate and see this movie from the eyes of the critic and from my own eyes. Whom you choose to believe is completely your decision.

Critic – There was a time, when RGV was known to have a golden touch. Movies like Rangeela, Satya, Company, Kaun and even Sarkar showed shades of his talent. Unfortunately, like a lot of creative people do, he slipped. And he has been slipping ever since. RGV ki Aag was a disaster of monumental proportions and he couldn’t redeem himself even with a Rann.

Me – RGV is a man who borders on genius. And like most geniuses are, the lines of his creativity blur sometimes. He has made complete disasters and he has given iconic films. So let’s leave the baggage behind and see this film for what it is. Rann is a take on the media industry and how it is intertwined with politics. The muck of conspiracies and corruption are portrayed as this movie pans out.

The ensemble star cast has some very powerful actors. Paresh Rawal is brilliant as the cunning politician who will go down but take the country with him. He is supported by Rajat Sharma who is a veteran actor and portrays his character of a businessman advisor to Paresh with √©lan. Monish Bahl plays an ambitious owner of a news channel and is believable in his treachery. Sudeep who plays AB’s son in the film is ambitious yet doesn’t realize where his conscience draws lines. The 2 people who are unnecessary in the film bordering on being irritating are the 2 women – Gul Panag and more so, Neetu Chandra. I did not expect much from Neetu Chandra except for her to be attired frugally and stand around but her constant whining with the only dialogue she’s given (“What happened Jai”) made me want to reach out and give her a good shake!! Gul disappointed after showing her acting poweress in films like Dor. Amitabh Bachchan doesn’t need a review. He plays his part well. And no, don’t listen to the critics about Rajpal Yadav overacting. He had the audience in splits and did his part in lifting the spirits of the film.

Critic – It may do well to shoot a teenage horror film with a handheld camera but a venture like Rann could do without the trembling hands. Also, what’s with the close up shots of characters. It’s unnerving seeing them so close all the time! RGV, get a new style!

Me – Every director has a style. Tarantino is different from Guy Ritchie who is different from Spielberg. RGV likes to get into the character with close pans, very unnerving shots. And with the kind of films he chooses to make, it’s an effective tool. But yes, I must confess, I could do without the camera shaking sometimes.

The background score of the film was very apt. Brilliantly penned lyrics that talk about how the country is being eaten internally, the score doesn’t distract you for a moment and yet manages to weave into the story. I wish they did not have to drop their version of “Jana gana mana” that they created initially. It was so effective, I had goose bumps when I heard it first.

The film is not a path breaking documentary on the Indian media industry. Neither is it a masala film on family dramas. The story is predictable, with no apparent twists. Yet, it is told in a manner that is hard, effective and honest.

Don’t listen to the critics. Watch it. And form your own opinion. I stand by mine. I liked it.

Rating: 3.5 on 5

Paisa Wasool: The lyrics of Jana Gana Rann -

Jana Gana Mana Rann Hai
Is Rann MeinZakhmi Hua Hai
Bharat Ka Bhaagya Vidhaata

Punjab Sindh Gujarat Maratha

Ek Doosre Se Ladd Ke Mar Rehein Hain
Is Desh Ne Humjko Ek Kiya
Hum Desh Ke Tukdey Kar Rahein Hain

Khoon Bahaa Ker
Ek Rang Kar Diya Humne Tiranga

Sarhadon Pe Jung Aur
Galiyon Mein Fasaad Danga

Vindh Himachal Yamuna Ganga
Men Tezaab Ubal Raha Hain

Mar Gaya Sab Ka Zameer
Jan Kab Zinda Ho Aagey

Phot Bhi Tava Shubha Name Jaage
Tav Shubh Aashish Maange

Aag Mein Jal Kar Cheekh Raha Hai
Phir Bhi Koi Sach Ko Nahi Bachaata

Gahe Tava Jaya Gaatha

Desh Ka Aisa Haal Hain Lekin
Aapas Mein Ladd Rahein Neta

Jana Gana Mangal Daayak Jaya Hai

Bharat Ko Bachale Vidhaata

Jay Hai Yeh Marann Hai
Jana Gana Mana Rann Hai

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