May 2, 2006

The good, bad and the plain stupid

We watched two movies yesterday (well, the second half of one and another one fully :p) and while both were basically on the same subject – family – they were miles apart in how the stories went. Of course, this is no surprise given that the stories were set worlds apart – one in Detroit, USA and the other in Chennai (or Madras), India. But let me get to the movies themselves.

I like Tamil movies. They try to explore "real" issues instead of getting all fluffy like Hindi movies (not that there is anything wrong with fluff mind you :p) and while they still do adhere to the story-song & dance-fight formula, they do tend to be entertaining. We watched the latter half of "Bose" yesterday and it certainly was entertaining … but perhaps not in the way the director intended.

The story is about Bose, your ordinary Indian commando, who is cashiered from the army for shooting a minister in the family jewels to save a girl who is about to be raped by the minister. This being a Tamil movie, it is all about the corruption in politics and the lone struggle that Bose leads against the forces of the minister who wants revenge. What was funny (or irritating) about the movie was the fact Bose’s whole family appears to be composed of stupid people. His whole family knows the story about him shooting the minister but his mother brings a thug searching for Bose home, his father reports Bose to the police, his brother takes his whole family and runs to the very minister who is trying to kill Bose for protection. The sheer stupidity of the plot made me pause the movie and shake my head quite a few times but the action sequences seemed to be derived from Hong Kong flicks rather than recent Tamil movies and so, if you are an action aficionado, you might still want to watch this one 🙂

The other one we watched yesterday was "Four Brothers" – about a four brothers (naturally :p) who team up to hunt down their mother’s killers. Now this one, I must say, was most excellent 🙂 I don’t believe that the movie was shot in Detroit but it does give you a feel for Detroit (I used to live there, so that might explain the "feel" in part :p) and I loved the characters in the movie. There was so much camaraderie, so much brotherhood between those four disparate individuals that they seemed to be "real brothers" (as they say in the movie). It’s a bit violent but a good movie nevertheless 🙂

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Posted by Fahim at 6:57 am  |  No Comments

February 1, 2006

When copies attack …

We started watching a Tamil movie yesterday, "Ghajini" and it turned out to be a copy of, of all things, "Memento". Now I loved "Memento" but wouldn’t have for a moment thought that it would have worked as a Tamil film. While flashback’s are common in Indian cinema, the constantly backward flowing storyline of "Momento" is something that would have been hard for the usual Tamil cinema audience to grasp. Tamil cinema, which I love, isn’t usually about innovation – it’s about mass appeal, just as Hindi cinema is, but then again, on a slightly different level. Hindi cinema seems to be more about the glamour factor as well as the sugar-sweet love stories. Tamil cinema on the other hand, has a much stronger family value thread running through it though the ever-present love story does rear its head even there.

But I digress – back to "Ghajini". Within the first couple of scenes, it was evident that this movie was totally "inspired" by "Memento". What I was curious about was whether they retained the original backward story telling. They didn’t. Instead, they opted for a standard forward moving storyline with many flashbacks to fill in the full story. And no, it isn’t the exact story of "Memento" – that again would not have worked with Indian viewers. This was simply the story of somebody suffering from short-term memory loss who appears to be on a rampage killing people for an unspecified reason. As the story unfolds, we learn why he’s on this killing spree bit by bit and also how he came to get short-term memory loss.

We only watched part of the movie last night – unlike Hollywood movies, the Indian ones tend to be close to 3 hours :p So I still don’t know how it all works out but I have a feeling that the flashbacks and the normal storyline will culminate in one event where the protagonist will have one last flashback which reveals what real happened to him and then he’ll end up killing the guy he is after – the guy responsible for the whole thing. Confusing? Yeah, probably :p Go watch the movie!

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Posted by Fahim at 7:30 am  |  No Comments

April 27, 2003

Guys, girls and the Gilmores

I often talk about "The Gilmore Girls" – it’s funny, quirky and in a sneaky sort of way it satirizes humanity. All the people in Stars Hollow (that’s the village shown in the show) have some sort of a quirk and while it might seem impossible for so many idisyncratic people to be in one place at the same time, if you think about it, you will realize that most of these quirks are actually exaggerations of characteristics displayed by people all around us. Be that as may be, I’m going to talk about "The Gilmore Girls" in relation to relationships, yet once again :p

I’ve talked before about how Rory while in a relationship with her boyfriend Dean, seems to be attracted to Jess at the same time but seems to be unaware of what all this really implies. (Yes, I know I’m talking about characters in a TV show as if they are real people – bear with me … or you know where the X is, click it :p) This is the kind of attitude that I just can’t put up with though I can find explanations for Rory’s behaviour, I still get angry about it since this is the kind of thing I’d hate to have happen to me in a relationship. But first the background – Rory, is a very intelligent girl – quiet, bookish and dreaming of going to Harvard one day – who normally spends her lunch time with a book and her lunch. Dean on the other hand, is your average active teenager – into sports, cars but not really interested in books and stuff. Their relationship seemed to have nothing in common but still they seemed to like being with each other and very much in love. In to this scenario stepped Jess, dark and brooding, always in trouble but with a hidden-side because he’s actually very intelligent and widely-read.

As the last few episodes progressed, it has become more and more evident that Rory likes spending time with Jess and while Dean can see her slipping away, all he can seem to do is cling on to her even harder – which just drives Rory even further away. All this is about par for normal human relations but what I find reprehensible is the fact that Rory just won’t admit to even herself the fact that she likes Jess and that she now finds nothing in common with Dean. To me, it seems that she should simply tell Dean how she feels and move on since that does not keep Dean hanging on, hoping against hope that things will work out and will save him further heartache when she finally does tell him that it’s over – as she eventually will have to. Yes, this is a TV show and a character has to behave the way it is written but then, I think the writing is wrong – or maybe they thought that Rory would be the kind of person who would delude themselves as to the true state of affairs, but even that seems doubtful given how intelligent and mature she is in other areas. So the verdict? I’m just sorry for poor Dean – but then again, given that I’m a guy, most people would say that that is exactly how I would react :p

On the other hand, I watched a Tamil movie today where this guy and girl get married but the girl finds out after the marriage that the guy had had a child from a previous relationship and she divorces him – it’s a cultural thing, "society" in Asia expects the woman to be "pure" (their words not mine) when they get married and while it does not apply so much towards the man, there is a bit of it there too. Even after the divorce, they continue to be friends and both the guy and girl discover that they love each other – another one of those Asian things, you *usually* don’t know your spouse before marriage. Each one is on the verge of telling the other about their love but circumstances (and perhaps their own fears of being hurt) conspire to make them think that the other person loves somebody else. So the guy tries to do what he thinks is best and tries to get the woman married off to the guy he thinks that she loves and the woman tries to do the same for the guy. In the end of course, they discover the truth and get re-married.

Now that is a state of things I can more readily identify with – maybe it’s all cultural and I can’t understand the Western viewpoint but can empathize with the Indian perspective. I really don’t know if that is the case. But I do understand how you could love somebody but yet would let them go silently – it’s because you love them and want them to be happy and while to tell them first might be wise, there is also the fear that you might put an obligation on them to return your love (well maybe obligation is too strong – just that you would be burdening them to some extent) and you don’t want that because you love them. So you remain silent and try to get them together with the one you think they love. As I said, maybe I’m conditioned but *I* certainly prefer the second story to the first …

April 12, 2003

Of love and other matters of the heart

I just finished watching a Tamil (Indian language, also one of the three major languages used in Sri Lanka) movie that moved me and also made me travel back in time. It was about this guy named Hari who is loved by a girl – Sapna – and who rejects her because he doesn’t love her but is in turn rejected by the girl he loves – Raji – because she doesn’t love him in return. Sapna is bitter and wants revenge but Hari is not bitter at Raji but instead wants to continue his life but says that he will always love Raji and want to see her happy. Added to this mix is Raji’s childhood friend (I forget his name) who also loved a girl but was rejected and is now slowly wasting his life away thinking about her. Hari advices this guy and tells him that the best respect he can show his love is for him to live his life with his head held high but the guy commits suicide because he can’t face the fact that the girl he loved is getting married. (Yes, committing suicide on the failure of your love, or even because your parents oppose your love, is fairly common in this part of the world …) Hari says that he cannot respect that guy because he took the coward’s way out. And of course, this being the movies, Hari finally does win the love of Raji but that’s another story …

The movie evoked a lot of feeling in me because I was in Hari’s position at one time in my life and I do understand his stand and agree with him. I loved a girl once for around ten years but in my case she loved somebody else. I did tell her that I loved her (after ten years), or I think I did but am not too sure since I wasn’t very coherent :p Anyway, she and I continued to be friends since I felt the way that Hari did but maybe I wasn’t as strong as Hari and so needed an excuse to blame the girl anyway or maybe it really was so (I can’t be objective since I am involved in it ..) but I felt that the girl took advantage of the fact that she knew that I loved her and would do anything for her still. Be as it may be, I left the country and lost all touch with her and so don’t know how things are with her anymore, even after my return.

I’ve loved others since then but have yet to find the kind of love I seek. I often wonder if this is because I expect too much from love – I expect it to be the way it is portrayed in books and the movies (at least some of the movies – probably not the Hollywood ones <g>) where love is not a passing infatuation and an excuse to jump into bed but is rather a strong bond, a true understanding between two individuals. Almost a linking of minds you could say. A union between two individuals who understand each other totally and want to spend their lives together because they can’t imagine living life apart from each other.

Of course, that does beg the question of what would I do if I found such a person but she didn’t love me? I guess the only thing I could do would be to cherish that love and go on, maybe things will change in the future and she might love me or maybe she won’t. Either way, there is always the memory of what you had and if you stay friends, you at least have a good friend even if you might not have a lover. Of course, I just have no idea if such love exists or if I’m just chasing a pipe dream. I know that such love exists from my end but is it just limited to me? Or are there others who feel like me? Others who search for such a love? Or is the rest of the world just jaded people who know that all such things are just fine confections woven for our entertainment and I am the only naive fool around? :p I don’t know and to be honest, I don’t think I care either. What I feel and what I dream of will always be real to me and even if I don’t find the kind of love that I look for, there is at least the hope of finding such a love to keep me going …

November 3, 2002

Movies about children …

I watched "Legend of the Red Dragon" with Jet Li in it. Lots of martial arts action, cute kids playing at Shaolin fighting and some pretty funny moments thrown in for good measure. One thing that sticks in my mind is the mother of the female protagonist (Jet Li’s character’s love interest) saying "If you’re going to court my daughter, you need to have money!" and Jet Li says "I respect her, isn’t that enough?" and she responds "Not in this day and age!" :p I might be being very cynical but while that was supposed to be ancient China, I don’t think that has really changed at all at any time or in any place in the world – not really. A lot of people seem to put money before love and happiness. Maybe they are realists and I’m just an idealist but I can’t but feel that love and happiness should come first. Oh well …
All the movies today seem to be about kids :p I also watched a Tamil movie about a guy who adopts a child after he loses his own wife and child and about their relationship. The child’s father comes in to the picture later on and wants the child back but the child considers the guy to be his father and doesn’t want to go to his real father. While it was drenched in emotion, I still loved the movie and the fact that a person can love somebody else’s child as their own. Some people seem to think this is impossible but I don’t – I think you should love any child irregardless of whether they are your own or not. Children are perhaps the best part of humanity and it’s sad that children are not treated that way instead of being subjected to the whims and fancies of adults – who really aren’t adult at all in some cases.