Jan 29, 2008

"The Golden Compass"

Okay, here is my derivative for "The Golden Compass":

The Lord of the Rings meets Narnia meets Harry Potter meets a NatGeo documentary about bears meets Polar Express.

Visually magnificent because any movie that stars Nicole Kidman in designer dressing gowns and a parallel universe is going to be a treat to watch. The new child star, Dakota Blue Richards, has done a good job as its central character, but I think a more powerful individual would have suited the role a bit better. That does not mean that a wide-eyed breathy performance by Dakota Fanning would have been just as great.

Psychologically, it translates symbolically to a fantasy-hungry childhood, which I feel comes forth by the author's respective deprivations. The beautiful goddess-like creature is the head of a group that hunts down children, steals their 'demons' (aka souls) and thus creates indecision in them (all decision comes from thus the soul). The heroine, Lyra Belacqua, is the only one who can read the "Golden Compass", a device that tells you the truth, the answer to any question which you may have. The bears are friends as well as foes. Dust (an ethereal, magical, highly controversial particle) cannot settle on children. Once the demon (which walks beside you in the shape of an animal .... I am reminded of a Patronus ... and changes shape constantly once you are a child) is taken away by the Gobblers, it forces you into a life of cleanliness and conformity and acceptance to the Majesterium, the people who 'tell other people what to do'. The world which Lyra is a part of, a parallel world to the world as we know it, is perhaps not as parallel as we think it is.

Overall, something you can palate if you liked the likes of Narnia and LTOR and Harry Potter. Otherwise, you can just make your kids popcorn or other snacks while they watch it.

Jan 28, 2008


Juno is the story of the very average American teenager with an above-average capability of street-smart euphemisms and this-equals-that logic. Juno MacGuff finds herself in a nine-month-long dilemma when she decides to give birth to a needless pregnancy and give the child to a married couple who wants it quite badly.

The film is heartwarming enough - but doesn't really have as much of an edge. Which I guess is maybe what they were going for. Taking the edge off of teenage pregnancies. Good one.

The real star, of course, is Ellen Page, playing the role of smart (in an endearingly non-sassy way) Juno who deals with it the way she deals with it. Nothing more, nothing less. And then comes along a dilemma. An occasional shout-out, but life goes back to normal.

Cute, charming and funny. The film is centered around Page and she carried it off well. So I'd say a good choice for an Oscar nomination. But she'd probably stand down to the other big stars that she's competing with.

"Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"

The original Sweeney Todd was written in 1847 by a thirty-two-year-old Liverpool playwright by the name of Christopher Bond. It has been one of the most popular plays in the history of British theatre. But the characteristic Hollywood off-beat heroes Tim Burton, Johnny Depp and Helena Bohnam-Carter team up to make the gruesome even more gruesome - as now it has the power to be displayed on screen.

Despite the blood and gore and meat being pressed into pies, I found myself sympathizing with the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The movie is - in its spirit, anyway - sympathetic and charismatic. From the white streak in Depp's hair to the cute rendition of Pirelli's famous oil by Toby the little master, the production design is magnificent. Tim Burton, the genius striking oil, is behind this whole machinery and what I love about this guy is that he actually has the sense to see the deeper meaning in the everyday characters that we've come to accept unconditionally. For Willy Wonka, when Warner Brothers came up with stereotypical ideas, he said,

"They thought the Charlie character should be more proactive and that Wonka should be more of a father figure, and I'm sitting there thinking, 'Willy Wonka is NOT a father figure! If that's your idea of a father figure, yikes.' Willy Wonka's a weirdo."

The lyrics to Sweeney Todd have been yet another plus. Stephen Sondheim, the man behind West Side Story as well as the original Sweeney Todd adaptation, is a co-writer of the film and has probably broken his previous records of perseverance and musical talents as he must have coached the entire casts (not to assume that the cast was a bunch of dummies themselves - I'd like to see him try that on Reema, maybe, and then he truly WOULD be a magician) - the whole set up works almost lyrically. The entrance of Todd into London with,

"There's a whole in the world like a great black pit
and the vermin of the world inhabit it
and its morals aren't worth what a pin can spit
and it goes by the name of London"

and Depp's fluent, spiteful, hate-filled voice smoothly makes you truly hate London and its pits. Needless to say, the entire film is a shockwave to the senses with its combination of blood and ballads. The greatest success of this movie is, perhaps, making all of that work in coherence with the theme, the music and even the corny London cockney and "I feeeeeel youuuu, Joooaaaannaaaa!". Regarding the chemistry of the film, Stephen Sondheim remarks,
"The show is really about obsession ... Todd is a tragic hero in the classic sense Oedipus is. He dies in the end because of a certain kind of fatal knowledge: realizes what he has been doing."

It is receiving raving reviews all over and deserves to. Depp has already bagged the Golden Globe. If Daniel Day-Lewis hadn't been in the picture - I'd say he'd get the Oscar too.

Jan 27, 2008

A Haunted House of Mirrors.

This is interesting. On a recent news piece on Barack Obama winning in South Carolina and Hillary Clinton winning in Nevada, I read this comment on Al Jazeera English regarding the US elections slash democracy slash victory-effects-on-the-globe.

To the non US residents reading this. Please understand the antiwar movement and other efforts at change here are being squelched and subverted. There are some of us trying to change this insanity but what can you do when you're trying to peacefully spread a message from a 'free speech zone'. The dissidents of this country have no forum for discussion really except for the internet. The press and news don't cover anything important and their the ones with all the power to disperse crucial information. I look around and see my country turning into Nazi Germany all around me and so few care. One is considered unpatriotic or a 'terrorist' just for expressing critical opinion. The self censorship here is depressing. The economy is dying and no one wants to loose their job because of personal views. The democracy here is long dead. We're trying but need international help.

This sounds .. so hauntingly familiar.

Could it be?

That behind the 'smokes and the mirrors' lie people are just as frustrated with democracy and Western imperialism in the United States as ... we are?

For those who visit this page, read the entire debate that is going on between the critical, the patriotic and the mixtures of the two. You'll find some questions that you've often considered yourself. But if you'd said them out loud - you'd be considered a true believer of the "pro-fundamentalist, anti-American" dogma.

On the other hand. It seems faintly reassuring and starkly deja-vu-ish when Wayne, Ron and Brian say it here...

Ali's Hall of Fame.

Absolutely unbelievable.

When my mom made potato parathas (doesn't this phrase have a nice ring to it?) and called Ali for lunch, he asked, "What do I eat the parathas with?"

Of course, the parathas were to be eaten on their own or with some curry of some sort. But no. Ali wasn't satisfied with normal curry.

He went to the fridge to hunt for something palatable (not!) to have with his paratha. And guess what he found.

Strawberry yogurt.

He had his aloo paratha with strawberry yogurt. I kid you not. I have photographic proof. Chacha Jani is coming next week. This is going to go down in the ultimate Ali Hall of Fame.

Jan 26, 2008

The Day that is Saturday.

An unbelievable calm has transcended.

It is a holy day, a holiday.

And I have only appreciated its thorough, divine, utter greatness today. Why? Because it has come to me after a whole five months.

I guess they were right. Distance does have an instigating power.

Jan 25, 2008

"Edward Scissorhands".

A modern myth about the invention with a heart and scissors. Johnny Depp never looked cuter. And that's saying something.

They say that myths always truly reflect society in their own way. And perhaps this is our way of dealing with abnormality. We are fascinated at the same time disgusted. In this paradoxical way, we accept the abnormal, curse it, make it a part of our society that becomes the butt of all our frustrations and anxieties - and also reject it, when we exclude it from what we call customary.

Perhaps it takes an eccentric old genius like Tim Burton to see behind the veil of abnormality to call it beautiful, turn it into a majestic myth, take a handsome man like Johnny Depp and turn him into Edward Scissorhands, the monster of Frankenstein and the product of modern society.

A truly amazing film that speaks volumes more than its run time.

Jan 24, 2008

The Edge of Reason.

I'm a very rational human being. I've always prided myself on that.

When people around me are cursing and going nuts and fulfilling every textbook principle under the heading of 'mob thinking' I'm usually the one asking myself why God deprived human beings of reason sometimes. When people go and confuse "Jihad" with political agenda, religion with culture and self-righteousness with morality, I can usually find it in myself to see the vague and blurry lines - and manage to come out of the insanity around me with my sense of self and of the world in one piece.

But I am sorry today. I am sorry because this bloody world of materialism, globalization and capitalism has won over all that for these moments. And I didn't even see it coming.

I blame you, Saira. You should have stopped me. You knew this is what happens when you go inside. You knew it and you let me go in. You shouldn't have. I was so happy. So playfully ignorant of a world that was filled with those scents and colors and lights. And bam. Ten minutes take place and my eyes won't stop looking glassed over.

2 hundred thousand. 2. And 5 zeros.

For three pieces of clothing.

And me.

A person who used to mock and scoff and deride every woman in the world who had the guts to express a desire of this kind. A person who could break down markets and their effect on the public when it came to consumerism. A person who could elegantly and swiftly glide out of a momentary lapse of reason through reason itself and call it a psychological need for social approval.

And right now my eyebrows are still fixed the way they were when I walked out of there. My eyes are still unblinking at the thought of it.


There it was.

Standing on its three pieces on the third floor of Park Towers. Gold and maroon and pearls. Twined like a royal magic carpet ride on the border of the dopatta. The small fitted blouse that was to be worn over the jamawaar gown that was zaree-filled. Two rows of ridiculously beautiful and even more ridiculously expensive lines of Aisha Varsey.

Why. Why was she born.

Who told her to become a fashion designer. And buy a shop in Park Towers. And spray that great designer scent. And drape her shop with those snazzy, crystal-tipped curtains. And why are girls so goddarn sentimental. And why did I go in.

Effing dream merchants.

My God. It's Barbie dolls all over again.

Only this time.

It costs 2 hundred thousand rupees.

One more political assassination and it's going to go double.

I'd forgotten what it was like. I'd forgotten what it was like to have a fantasy.

To want something so unbelievably out-of-reach it drives you insane - while at the same time giving you that rush that won't go away. That you don't want to go away. When all my rationality has failed. I am not thinking that in that amount four girls could get married with dowry, that all my beliefs, morals, principles are against these acts of hideous spending, that all my life, I've been such a staunch believer of the level-headed, economic virtuosity that drives most rational human beings, that all this is nothing but a play of market forces and a result of a post-modern equation. My brain is at the highest point of struggle against nature and living in the world of fashion designers, the dignity of work, ethics, logic, reality - and being a girl.

Oh my God.

This is going to take a while.

Jan 23, 2008

Hollywood Buzz.

Heath Ledger found dead in his apartment. At age 28, the Australian actor was critically acclaimed for his roles and has been found dead today as a result of a possible drug overdose. For more you can read this news story.

Oscar nominees have been announced. Plenty of familiar faces. George Clooney, Daniel Day-Lewis, Viggo Mortensen, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ratatouille, Atonement, Juno, Away from Her, Sweeney Todd and Elizabeth. For more read here.

Unbelievable about Heath Ledger though. Of course didn't know him personally, didn't find him to be that great an actor either, but it's a shocking piece of news, in any case.

Jan 21, 2008

Comfortably Numb.

There is no pain, you are receding.
A distant ships smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I cant hear what youre sayin.
When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse,
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone.
I cannot put my finger on it now.
The child is grown, the dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb.

Okay, so it's not twisted as that ... but that is close to what I want to say.

So why am I not using all my forces of articulation to express the pang that rings in my ears before I sleep - and be turned into an insomniac?

Because there is no point. You gotta do what you gotta do.

The world'd be a much better place if more people realized the meaning of that sentence.

Jan 19, 2008

"Everybody Loves Raymond".

Yeah I do too. I think this guy is hilarious. The best part about him, just like Seinfeld, is that he doesn't bank on his charm to do the hilarity of his bits. Comedic genius is gradually being redefined in our glamor-obsessed post-modern context and that's why I like to laugh at someone who can just be funny for funny. The same reason why I like Peter Boyle, who plays Frank Barone, Ray's deadpan, wary-of-the-world father who turned "Holy Crap!" into one of the top catchphrases of the time.

"Everybody Loves Raymond" is one of those golden-era, timeless comedies that have had a great run on television with good reason. A lot of people question Romano's simple slapstick comedy and why it has the power to leave the audience in splits. You can't stop critics, I guess. But "Raymond" can only be enjoyed if you actually sit down to watch it. At the time of its eighth season, someone told me Ray Romano was the highest grosser on network television at that point. I couldn't see what all the fuss was about. But I agree now that no one can deny that Ray Romano is one of the topmost classics of the 90s and is more of a legend than Will Smith in that god-awful excuse of a blockbuster.

Jan 18, 2008

"The Devil Wears Prada"

I know it's been a while since this movie's been released. But I got to see it again recently and I realized what they mean when they say that Meryl Streep is one of the greatest living actresses of the day. Nominated for an Academy Award for her role as Miranda Priestly, the Don of the Fashion World, this movie is truly an ode to what a fantastic magician she can be, as she performs flawlessly a role that could have seriously been screwed up by any other actress. That's the magic of a performance. You look at it and think - it's perfect.

One of my all-time favorite flicks. And once again. A big hats-off to the queen of thespians.


"A Catch of Consequence"

Okay, this is what I call review, synopsis, criticism in a nutshell. An American-history version of a Star Plus soap opera written by Diana Norman. She's poor and unkempt, runs the local Bostonian tavern at the time of American independence, saves the rich English redcoat from drowning, they marry, his ex-wife kills him in order to get hold of all the estate, the heroine is now in a dilemma, carrying the English guy's baby, stranded in the middle of London, lives in shambles for a while, until opportunity knocks at the door again, she finds herself face-to-face with a chance to avenge her husband's death, her life in the gutter and earn back millions.

And wouldn't anyone be surprised. She does.


Jan 16, 2008

"I am Legend"

Cast Away meets War of the Worlds meets 28 Days Later meets the the even more evil version of Gollum of Lord of the Rings, I give you the 1.36 hrs of plain torture. And I'm not just talking about the hero.

Needlessly gruesome, filled-with-loopholes stupid and so not-worth-the-time.

Jan 15, 2008

More than words.

I have funny associations with the languages I do or do not know.

When I think of Urdu - I think ... velvet takhts, off-white ghararas, mushairas, the balancing of ghazals, the depths and articulate expression of beauty and pathos.

When I think of Punjabi - I think ... a deep mellow sweetness that touches the heartstrings, sufi poets, roti, green fields, a pleasant evening around family and friends and a big platter of food.

And of course. My fiance.

When I think of French ... I think of complicated desserts, I think of cute-cum-funny gurgling noises at the bottom of the throat, hoop skirts, the Eiffel Tower, Rousseau and a fantasy of speaking it in a very fast pace.

When I think of Arabic ... I think divinity, I think of an inexplicable, irrationally pacifying sense of relief, morning prayers, late night azkaar, the tilawat of Sudais and the breaking of fast in Medina.

And of course. My fiance. Don't ask why.

When I think of Mexican, I think of sombreros and whats-his-name Bugs Bunny cartoon guy that sells hot tamalis. Spanish reminds me of conquests, Italian of pasta and pizza, Japanese of inedibles, Chinese of more food and hordes of men and women on bicycles, Hebrew of a time that is buried under big books of history, Sanskrit of cultural legends and Persian of Ghalib and Mir and what must their tombstones have inscribed upon them.

And English.

People find it odd that I dream in English. That I curse in English and get angry in English. When I was in fourth grade a couple of mean boys in class called me a 'kafir' because I yelled at them in English. It would be much after Ali's birth that I would realize that banter means something very different for boys.

Language to me has always been a comfort zone. I like to get lost in it when I'm day-dreaming. Seriously. I don't know what 16-year-old girls dreamt about before they went to sleep but my favorite activity before sleeping was to make word-chains in my Language Master and make sentences out of every new word and a story out of those sentences.

And what do you know. That reminds me of my fiance too ...

One from the must-see list.

Jan 13, 2008

Gold is gold.

I could never understand women's fascination for jewelry when I was a kid. My mom is a big jewelry buff and can eye out something gaudy to something classy within the sparkle of a diamond. So I've always been bored with her rapturous speeches regarding some great set she saw or some nice new style that's been in lately.


Since the past couple of ... years, now, in fact ... Mom's fascination has rubbed off on me. I have begun to have that expert eye (nothing compared to Mum's though) and have finally begun to comprehend why gold prices continue to rise (socio-political as well as geo-economic reasons aside). Now that I have some trinkets of my own ... now that Mom is making me buy stuff for my own wedding ... it is making me think ... I actually would love a certain diamond cut and a particular fashionable design in a locket set.

And I swear if every woman didn't have this same obsession for it all - I'd consider myself incredibly, incredibly shallow.

Jan 10, 2008


Out of the 276 kids I taught this previous semester, I have failed almost a hundred of them.

Only about 5 kids have managed to get an A grade.

I have just lived up to my reputation.

Jan 9, 2008

Qasr un Nakhail.

Maybe it was the winter, maybe it was the small but vegetable-filled bowl of soup as the appetizer (which proved to serve an ironic purpose) or maybe it was just nerves but the shashlik looked like this even after I was done with it. The shawarma, the handi ... didn't want to eat any of it.

Or maybe it was the fact that Arabian food just doesn't taste as good unless the environment (and by environment I mean geographical boundaries) is as authentic as name of the dish itself.

Jan 8, 2008

Pakistan Zindabad.

Numbers have suddenly begun to make sense.

The Gross Domestic Product of Pakistan - composition by sector - is thus:

agriculture: 19.4%
industry: 27.2%
services: 53.4% (2006 est.)

The Labor Force by occupation however...

agriculture: 42%
industry: 20%
services: 38% (2004 est.)

Not surprisingly enough. The percentage of population below poverty line is 24% (FY05/06 est.).

And the public debt of Pakistan is 71.4% of the GDP (2004 figures).

The military expenditures are 3.2% (2006; 3% 2007 est.).

Conclude what you will.

Source: CIA Factbook.

Jan 7, 2008

Ahl e Khirad.

This started out as a criticism to Post Modernism. And ended up being a criticism on humanity, religion, faith and all the hoopla that is life itself.

Lo and behold. "Ahl e Khirad".

Infiraadi khayalon ki sanjeedgi.
In gehre ujaalon ki pecheedgi.
Hum zehno'n ke parcham ke ghaazi banay
Khudaa'i ki apni namazi banay
Huquq e baraadar kay aa'eena daar
Charhaata hai dunya ka gard o ghubaar
Zamanay ki laat'thi jo parr jayegee
Aql ye khuda se bhi larr jayegee
Samandar main ghoata jo marayngay hum
Jahan se siyaah ko sudhaarengay hum
Tafreeq aati hai har ik qism ki
Pat'thar ki moorat ya soorat sanam ki
Deeda dileri hai shaan e khudaa'i.
Hum par qayamat bhi hai roo'namai.
Muhabbat, yaqeen aur haqq ke fasaanay
Haqeeqat, sadaqat ke beetay zamaanay
Hum jalwaa'gar hain, sadiyon ke shaahi
Khirad ke ghulam aur gur ke sipaahi
Humain kaam hinds'on se aagay nahin
Ye pakkay gharonday hain dhaagay nahin
Hum barh rahay hain quw'wat se apni
Qudrat pe ab toh uboo'rat hai apni
Na jhut'la sakay gee aql khud ko khud se
Koi pooch le jo sawaal aa ke mujh se
Jawabon ki lambi qataar'en hain haazir
Manzar nazar main hai, hera'an hai naazir.
Ye kesi aql hai! Ye kese hain insaan!
Ke jisko bana ke Qudrat hai naal'aan!
Ye kese makaan hain, ye kesa zamaana
Sawaalon ki uljhan main har ik hai maan'aa.
Is Ahl e Khirad ne sawalon ko seencha.
Aur agay barha khud ye ban ke maseeha.
Mujhe koi aakhir ab ye bata day
Jahan kion bana tha, kis ne banaya?
Kis ne hai dalaa zameenon pe saya?
Kis ki hukumat pe chalti hain saansain?
Kis ki ijaazat main pal'ti hain saansain?
Main kis ki ibaadat karoon, kis ko maanoon?
Hayat e rawan ko kis simt jaanoon?
Kaha ko main jaaon, ye hindsay kidher hain?
Laashon ke manzar, khirad kioon sifar hai?
Insaani rishta aql se bari kioon?
Muhabbat main jazbaat hi afreen kioon?
Akeli aql kia humari hai kaamil?
Nahee kia sitaaron main koi aur aaqil?
Karo'ron, meel'on jahanon se oopar?
Talay paray hain khirad ke kioon munh par?
Mujhe in sawaalon ki kari'yaan mila do.
Adl ka koi bhi qanoon laa do.

Taa'ruf ho mera, main ahle khirad hoon, jahan deeda'var hoon
Khud se pereshan main rooh ka sharrar hoon
Main khud main khudaa'i main hi jalwa'gar hoon
Main pehchaan hoon sab ki, main woh baakhabar hoon
Sawaalon jawabon ki ik ik lar'i hoon
Main dunya main ab bhi pereshaan khari hoon

Lahu se bhari bastiyaan dekhti hoon
Lutay huay aanchal main jaan dekhti hoon
Main vaa'iz ka ghafil bayaan sunn rahi hoon
Firqon main bat'ti azaan sunn rahi hoon
Shahadat ke jhootay kafan maine dekhe
Nihatt'ay lahu pe jashan maine dekhe
Main kis ko sunaaoon, main kis ko bataaoon.
Main heraan khari hoon, main kis simt jaaon.

Ahle khirad ne ye ik baat maani
Insaaniyat ki ye lambi kahaani
Aadam (AS) se le ke humaray asr takk
Pur ho chuki hai bud'i ab kasar takk
Khatm ho chala hai ab ye drama
Khirad ne ab ye hi imaan jaana
Bun'ta hai apney liye hi toh jaala
Ubhray ga insaan kia is se aala.

Majaz. January 7, 2008.

Jan 6, 2008

Coffee with Reja.

When most women of your age are concerned with latest Portia designs (not that I have anything against clothes or fashion), latest Star Plus happenings (I do have a grudge against Star Plus watchers), and what Mrs. X said in response to Mrs. Y's spiteful comment (let's not even go there), it's hard enough to find someone who actually gives a damn about what's happening in the world, someone who watches news and has views about them, and especially someone who's managed to gain an insightful, critical yet non-wannabe-ish, perspective about the lengthy and convoluted details of history. I pay my respects to the demise of common sense in women. We're really helping nature in going down the phylogenetic scale of intelligence.

Reja is not someone I had thought I would meet after DHA ended, let alone having coffee with for two hours and enjoying every bit of it. In a nutshell, our interests collided when we both ended up giving our English Literature exams. Last year sent her off to England after she tied the knot and while she is visiting here again - we got to catch up over a mug of coffee and hot chocolate and one of the most terrible-tasting Tiramisu ever.

What is great about chatting with a friend, apart from the fact that they're your friend, is the fact that they start talking and discussing the same things you've probably debated in your head for long. And when you finally have the chance to hear and have the discourse about them ... it gives you not only a sense of perspective, but a satisfaction of thought and self.

Especially for Pakistani women who like their coffees without Star Plus or a drastic dash of hedonism.

And of course. Without awful-tasting Tiramisu.

Jan 5, 2008

"Becoming Jane".

After numerous attempts at scoring hits with Jane Austen's classic formulae for success such as Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice etc, filmmakers have found their new interest in biopics. After all, making matronly authors who spun yarns in their attics while taking care of their nieces and nephews and worrying about financial turmoil, into gorgeous, dramatic, bold, independent young women that fall in love with wicked, handsome yet highly lovable young men is what cinema is all about.

Enter "Becoming Jane", a film that is more of a drama than a biopic (oddly reminiscent of Kirsten Dunst starrer Marie Antoinette), where art imitates life and we see - or at least believe that we do - the woman behind one of the most popular romances in history.

I just wonder if they'd make a Brokeback Mountain over Oscar Wilde. I'm not sure how it'll turn out. But I'm guessing he'll be played by George Clooney for sure.

Becoming Jane is for all Austenites, James McAvoy-fans, dramatic-romance addicts and a night with nothing to do but cry foolishly.

Jan 4, 2008

"Taare Zameen Par".

Aamir Khan presents the story of a dyslexic child, Ishaan, who is sent to boarding school by his frustrated parents. The two hour flick, "Taare Zameen Par" is probably the only Bollywood flick of the year - or of its history in fact - which manages to understand the whole point of cinema. It impacts the audience, touches the heart, and puts forth one of the most unspoken, uncredited issues of what a child goes through each day. What we call normality is the luxury and the snobbery - and perhaps even ignorance - of those who possess it. The transition of a healthy, happy Ishant to a sullen, scared boy does not take place by a single beating. It takes a great amount of ignorance, disdain and carelessness to turn a human being, filled with life and all its glory - into a creature with life, sure ... but nothing of its beauty and spirit.

An emotional experience to say the least.

"No Reservations"

Although Rotten Tomatoes has flushed it down the toilet, I still found it quite entertaining.

You see, when people go out to watch a weekend flick, a nice, romantic, watchable movie they're not really looking for an over-emphasized, thickly intricate plot structure. They're just there because they're too tired of over-emphasized, convoluted, un-understandable life. So the maximum that someone can do to make a weekend romantic flick watchable is to make sure that the movie doesn't turn too boring too fast. Once you've taken some eye-candy, some basic tearjerker of a plot, one dramatic climax - you're on your way to a box-office hit. So with Catherine Zeta-Jones (half your work's done), smooth-talking Aaron Eckhart (of "Thank You For Smoking fame") and Abigail Breslin (a Little Miss Sunshine - ring a bell? No? Well, cute, blue-eyes, long auburn hair, no explanation required) who possessed that charm that can make marshmallows melt ... the movie ended up serving its purpose. End of story. The story revolves around a high-minded, experienced and well-respected chef and her attempt to change her life - by no effort of her own, might I add. With the turn of events she begins to change (ain't that groovy) and the next 1.45 hours are spent dealing with it.

My verdict: enjoyable for the general weekend flick. Also leaves you addicted to song "Via Con Me" by Paolo Conte. Translation given here. But more important - is the song itself. I'm really tapping my feet as I write. Bobbing my head to one side and to the other ... chips, chips.. du-du-du...

Jan 3, 2008

Ashes, dust and the whole forensics shebang.

The Scotland Yard is now going to involve itself in the Bhutto probe.

I thought democracy (of a certain feudal kind) was the best revenge?

"Charlie Wilson's War."

It is the story of an all-American Congressman, it is the background on the 'war on terror' and it is also one of the most interesting flicks of this season. Charlie Wilson's War marks as a bold and cinematically unique move towards understanding the aftermath of the Cold War. Nine-eleven, Al-Qaeda, WMDs aside, this movie brings to light the seismic changes in global politics and how the United States of America has been maneuvering its titanic influence in the shaping of territories and the future of the people living in them.

The film is moving and powerful and it does not fail to impress, considering the breadth and controversy that it had chosen to depict. A very wise move, on the directors' part, was to hire Aaron Sorkin, the genius behind critically acclaimed shows such as Studio Sixty, The West Wing and Sports Night. Tom Hanks slurs perfectly, Hoffman is his usual best and Julia Roberts may not look or talk like Joanne Herring as much as she should have - but she pulled it off anyway.

Must see for people interested in world politics and everyone who witnessed the Cold War firsthand. For those of you who're only interested in mindless entertainment, it's with great regret that I inform you that Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks and Philip Seymour Hoffman have left that building.


The tale of star-cross'd lovers, Cecilia and Robbie, this almost 2 hour flick challenges you to think about your most primary defense mechanism: fantasies.

Freud believed that whatever we lacked in our loves, whatever our Id hoped for, we'd make up for it in our dreams, in our daydreams, in our fantasies. Sometimes these 'lackings' took the shape of numerous symbols - but that is where Freud's tangents got all the more digressive and phantasmal (even for a subject matter such as dreams) so we'll leave it at that.

Briony is a ten year old girl who wants to be a writer. Robbie is the hired-help-cum-boy-wonder who is having his conflicted romance with Briony's elder sister, Cecilia. Briony, filled with her need to have the attention in a world lost in separate psychological battles, and a deep but unfulfilled and unexpressed infatuation for Robbie, begins to believe her fabrication. She believes it so truly - that she forgets the ambiguity, the possibilities and the extent of disaster that her rapid imagination bring to the lives of Cecilia and Robbie.

Well-written and certainly well-directed. McAvoy's arriving but Knightley seems to have convinced her critics that her face is not the only reason why people want to see her onscreen. The movie is dark and suitably so, as the theme involves around similar aspects of human nature. Thumbs up and a deserved Golden Globe nomination. Don't be surprised if it scoops up a couple of Oscars in the go.

Jan 2, 2008

A National Quandary.

By this time everyone in and outside Pakistan knows about the assassinated leader. Enthusiasts have memorized her degrees, her date of birth, her favorite slogans, her reign as two-time PM, first-woman-leader of the Muslim world and everyone is asking the same question: what will happen to Pakistan.

In retrospect Pakistan has spent a very tough year. With suicide bombings, strikes, riots, judiciary controversies, political chaos, army vs. military suitings, and even with Mother Nature pitching in to make it a memorable year when rain destroyed everything it possibly could, Pakistan continued to face challenges much bigger than its size. The bad news is - none of it managed to give Pakistan what it needed. A hope for the future.

Benazir's assassination proved to be the final nail in the coffin as it turned out to be the grand finale of what was truly an abysmal year. Rumors and analyses are rife regarding a certain 'redemarcation of boundaries' in South East Asia in the next ten years. Other options include descending into civil war or a very bitter (even more so than '71) parting of ways. The four provinces, with their neo-separatist loyalties significantly pose threat to the nationalist vision of Pakistan. In the light of these dilemmas, one can only wonder if we are actually the 'failed state' of 1947.

I have nothing to add to these theories except more speculation and brooding which of course is of no use. I can only plead - to anyone who hears my voice and understands the word 'freedom' - to do whatever you can to keep this country from falling apart. If something happens to it, Allah forbid, we have no friends who can take us, no sympathies from neighbors (we've seen to that), we have basically nowhere to go except this land which we take no pride in, which we forsake a little everyday. Keep praying, everyone. Because from what I hear - Uncle Sam is right at the door for another Apocalypse.

"The Usual Suspects".

Quite possibly one of the best movies of all time. Romantic comedies included.

Bryan Singer proves that even though you may look like an eighteen-year-old you may still have the prowess to create a film like this.

Starring Gabriel Byrne, Benicio Del Toro and Kevin Spacey in the role that made him Kevin Spacey even before there was "American Beauty" - "The Usual Suspects" is the story of five criminals brought together in a line up. What is interesting about the story and the movement of the story is that it continues to evolve and dissolve into confusion up until the very end - which makes it a treat to watch. When directors understand that audiences are not idiots and do not want narrators to hold their pinkie fingers and guide them along the plot, and that audiences are actually thinking and experiencing human beings (despite how comatose they may be from watching all the idiot box) - it all results in a film like "The Usual Suspects". Call me a sucker for thrillers (more for criminal stories than psychological thrillers, yeah!) but this movie was brilliant. Absolutely, five-star-quality, unbelievably brilliant.

Square One.

Which is a whole digit more than zero.

For the time being, that's all I'm going to say.

Until I have more, of course.

Which you and I both know - I shall.