Impressions of China : Just by chance : Even some 8 days before my trip to Beijing I had no idea that I will be traveling to China the coming week. It was out of a blue that I got an email from my Manager asking if I was interested to go Beijing to attend a meeting on behalf of her as she had some other commitments, I was very excited and also the dates did not overlap with the Mexico trip I had planned so shot back an email saying I was in within 5 mins, of course my visa etc had to be processed. it so happened that my assignment was until Nov 21 st and had to fly back on 22 nd from Beijing and land on the same day morning in SFO at around 9 Am thanks to the earth being the way it is, and I had enough time to board my flight to Mexico at around noon. Given this context where I had no clue that I will be visiting China any thing I see and did was exciting not to say that I was traveling on a business class ticket and staying in a 7 start hotel all on companies expenses. As it turned out my work schedule was not too busy and I had a chance to visit some important places in and around Beijing and eat at some authentic Chinese restaurants thanks to my Chinese colleagues, and during this short stint the following things I have observed about Beijing : Traffic : The traffic in Beijing is a pain, any distance which needs about 30 mins will easily take more than an hour, it's worse than Bay Area and seems worst than traffic in Delhi according to a colleague. Although the roads/ freeways structuring is similar to the states, Driving guidelines are not followed by public very similar to India but not as worse. Fog of Pollution : Although Beijing or any other Chinese city is not ranked among the top 20 most polluted cities ( it is Delhi and few more indian cities indeed) you can see a thick fog of pollution all over the city forcing the people to hide behind creepy looking face masks, so don't be alarmed if you see scores of people walking down the roads wearing these masks. Navigating Beijing : May be because Beijing is a international destination, all directions and street names are also written in English and best way to navigate Beijing is its subway. It's also very cheap, for 2 yuan you can travel any destination. Caution with taxis : If you are planning to take a taxi, it's better to order it through the hotel as most of the taxi drivers have no clue of English. And if your on a street by yourself and trying to flag off a taxi always make sure you don't get in to a black taxis as they may rip you off and also not as safe as the other Authorizes ones which are in yellow color. Spicy Food ! : I had always assumed that Indian cuisine is the spiciest one and if your are used to indian food you will not feel any other cuisine spicy but to my pleasant surprise food here is very spicy stuffed with lot of red chilli and black pepper, if you want test the spice buds try out schezwan cuisine they will put your tongue on fire. Menu with Pictures : One good thing about Chinese restaurants the menu comes with pictures of each dish making it easy to order for a foreigner. No '4' please : If you get on to any lift in China you will notice that there is no 4th floor and also corresponding 14th, 24th, 34th etc, there are no streets numbered 4 either, as according to Chinese tradition number 4 represents death. Shy and Warm people : One striking thing about people here in China is they are very warm and welcoming of foreigners and also feel shy and give a smile when you speak to them in English . Some use full chinese words : Hello : Ni hao Thanks : Sheshame Fork : Cha
Finding fanny : it’s a mad film but madness is fun
Set in a remote village somewhere in Goa, director Homi Adajania sets his story in a world which is far removed from the busy lives which most of India lives in, Angie played by deepika padukone introduces us to
5 characters in the village including herself. Finding fanny is about the equations between these characters and their unending quest for love to bring some cheer to their rather dull and incomplete life’s.
Ferdie played by Naseerudin shah is a lazy, lonely old man who is the post man of the village but hardly delivers any mail, his only friend and confidant in the village is Angie. Angie is a widow who’s husband played by Ranveer Singh in a guest appearance dies on the wedding day itself in a rather funny way and there is Mother in law of Angie “Mai ” played by Dimple kapadia who is also a widow , Pankaj kapoor plays don Pedro a painter who is obsessed with voloptrous woman and his latest obsession is Rosie (dimple kapadia) and finally there is savio played by Arjun kapoor heart broken as his childhood love Angie chose his only other close friend Ranveer over him .
The drama starts rolling as an unconsolable Ferdie starts weeping after he receives a love letter which he had posted 46 years ago to fanny, as he realizes it was never delivered in the first place and he has lived all his life thinking fanny has rejected him. Now Angie takes on herself to help Ferdie find fanny and for this she manages to bring all five of them to embark on a journey for finding fanny.
Finding fanny is not about any story neither is about finding fanny, it’s about these quircky characters their interactions with each other and their inherent deficiencies and how through this journey they try and resolve them. The director chooses a slow narration but it goes with setting and characters of the film but it never ceases to have funny moments as you will be laughing through out the film with most of the humor comes from the conversations between these unintentionally funny people, portrayed exceptionally by all the actors but it is the 3 veterans Pankaj kapoor, Naseerudin shah and Dimple kapadia are in full form as they dive in to their well etched characters with ease. Special kudos to Dimple kapadia who leaves behind inhibitions and plays her part with irreverence .
On the whole Homi Adajania delivers a refreshingly new and mad little film with a distinct style of his own.
Stand out ideas in the manifesto’s of BJP, Congress and APP
Focus on center- state relationship:
As election after election we see newer regional parties increasingly gaining strength in there respective states, there are increasing conflicts involving issues of the Federal structure of India and it is important to recognize that there are 2 engines of Power structures one at the central level and other at the state level which need to run in coordination for India to move forward and there have been many policy decisions which have been stalled in the UPA government because of the lack of trust and coordination between the center and state governments, so BJP’s inclusion of this very crucial problem in its Manifesto is a good sign and also this is a stands out feature of BJP as the Congress and AAP have no mention about this very important problem in their manifestos.
2) Digitization and E governance : There is a lot of focus on Digitization of all government records and ideas of National E-libraries for students is a very practical and significant one.
3) Judicial and Electoral reforms :
BJP promises a Judicial commission for Appointment of Judges, this has been a long pending reform bill and will improve accountability of the judges if implemented
State and National elections together :
This will do a lot of good for the country if implemented as it not only reduces the election expenses for both Political parties and Governments but also avoid situations where Governments delay or post pone certain decisions in view of the elections ( state or center) in the middle of there term as it is now.
4) Infrastructure :
BJP promises to build 100 new cities and many more Sataliite townships, this will transform india if implemented.
A lot of focus on Roads and connectivity for Northeast, Jammu and Kashmir stets.
5) Transport and Tourism :
The ideas of Bullet trains and Tourist/ Piligramage trains are truly new and fresh ideas.
1) Jan Lokpal bill :
AAP as expected promises a more Empowered, independent and Accountable Ombudsman that the present existing one passed by the UPA , this bill if passed is expected to curb big ticket corruption.
2) Decentralization of Power :
AAP promises a swaraj bill which will empower the gram sabhas / Municipal wards by providing them with funds directly to implement development activities in their locality according to their needs and priorities.
3) sweeping electoral reforms :
AAP promises radical changes in the way elections are conducted in the country which includes :
a. Appointment of Election commission by a multi member committee rather than Government
b. Political parties to be brought in under the purview of RTI to increase transparency in the way parties are funded and how parties spend their money.
c. The existing first past the post system to be replaced with Proportional representation.
If the above three can be successfully implemented then there can be paradigm shift in the politics of our country as this would help increase the winnability of good candidates who need not resort to money or muscle power, and also will curb corruption as the source of corruption today lies in the way political parties are funded today.
Congress manifesto :
Although the congress manifesto promises economic growth, inclusive development, tax, police, Judicial reforms, these all are policies which are also promised by the above two parties as well, unfortunately there are no stand out ideas or policies from the congress Manifesto.
Highway – An involving Journey.
After watching Highway, I drove back home and all along the ride which is about 25 mins, I did not turn on my music or radio because my mind was preoccupied with the characters of this film, Highway is one such experience where you think about the film long after you have left the theater.
Highway is a film about two people who unexpectedly end up in a situation where they have to keep going on the road without a destination and in the process they start enjoying this timeless and endless journey as they heal each others sorrows of their past through this life transforming and a spiritual experience kind of a journey.
Veera played by Alia bhatt is a duaghter of a big shot businessman of delhi who is kidnapped by Mahadip in an attempt to escape a shoot out from police; and then embarks on a never ending journey touching punjab; Rajasthan,Himachal, Kashmir captured beautifully by the veteran Anil Mehta and this visual dream is nicely complemented by AR Rahman’s calm Background score.
Veera although initially terrorized by this situation,slowly starts enjoying this journey of discovering the completely new India and also her new found freedom which she never had in her otherwise cosmetic life in Delhi; She also realizes that mahadip although is a criminal is still very Human and feels a certain comfort and warmth with him as she understands that no matter what Mahadip is not going to hurt her.
Imtiaz ali the director of this film is in top form as he takes his affinity to travelling and story telling through journeys as evident in his previous films, to a whole new level and makes a full fledged film on a Road journey where you completely fall in love with the characters whose interactions brings a big smile on your face in many scenes. the master stroke of Imtiaz is the casting of Alia as Veera where her innocent and charming looks will endear us but Alia not only charms us with her looks but her acting beats the thresholds especially in the finale. Although the film belongs to Alia, Randeep hooda too gives a solid performance.
Although Highway is a really good experience it falls short of being a great film because it fully does not convince why would Veera through out her journey never feels for her parents and also the dark secrets of her past looks a bit forced and contrived.
Highway requires some patience and also a connect with a different kind of cinema for you to enjoy.
Bullet Raja – It’s crazy fun
If we have to choose a genre to describe Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Bullet Raja, then it has to be the genre of Quentin Tarantino, like in Tarantino films in Bullet Raja too grave situations are treated with irreverence and violence is mixed with funny interludes.
Bullet Raja simply put is a story of 2 best friends Raja misra and Rudra on the lines of Jai- Veeru (sholay) set in the Heartland of UP’s rouge political climate. Raja meets up with Rudra accidenly when he gate crashes into a wedding of Rudra’s cousin sister to escape from some goons. Right from the word go two friends take off and also get involved in an encounter where our heroes successfully eliminate a mob who have come to avenge the bride’s father and there by unintentionally getting into the gangster politics of UP and in this process Raja and Rudra start killing, kidnaping with ease and elan and become superstars among the youth of UP, Raja meets with Mithali (Sonakshi sinha) in one of these kidnap episode and she goes on to stay with them as she falls in love with him. Post interval the film deals mostly with revenge of Raja.
The high point and USP of the movie is not so much the story but Dhulia’s treatment of these violent situations with casualness and in a over the top manner with dialouge which is rooted and locale, with express peace. On the whole Bullet Raja is a fun masala film Tigmanshu style.
Possible Good is better than Impossible best
As part of the run up to India’s General elections 2014, we keep hearing from these “ Left Liberal Intellectuals” right from Ramchandra guha to Arundathi roy that the country needs some one better than either Rahul gandhi or Narendra modi, the question i would like to ask them is who is that other alternative they can suggest ? and if they do have one in mind do they think it is realistic for that alternative to win the elections? As long as they don’t give answers to these critical questions, the stance they take of neither modi nor RG is rather a lazy and easy stance to take.
As of today there are only two choices in front of the citizens of our country :
Its either Rahul Lead congress or Modi lead BJP, now lets asses these two on 3 key factors :
- Past governance record
- Leadership Qualities
- What are their policies to shape the future of India
As far as Governance record of Mr Rahul gandhi is considered there is nothing to asses as he has not taken up any key responsibilities like being a minister or chief minister and yet sadly blames the system and talks of changing the system forgetting it is the congress party which ruled for 65 years and more importantly the last 10 years where if he was willing to had all the power at his disposal to change things. Worst part is he is absent during most of the debates on important legislations in Parliament and missing in action when protests like Jan lokpal movement and Nirbhaya happened. The country does not know what he stands for.
If we consider the record of congress party it self, there is no need to remind every one of the kind of indecision and policy paralysis our country is suffering after the revelations of one after another monumental scams. The congress party talks about empowering the common man, they fail to realize the Prime Minister of our country first needs to be empowered. Sonia and Rahul Gandhi’s two power center strategy has not only diminished the office of PM but also made Manmohan Singh a scape goat while Sonia gandhi enjoys power without accountability. the congress party and UPA has not only failed at the national level but even if you look at any Congress ruled states, the same symptoms of indecisiveness, populist welfare schemes rather than good governance and improvent in infrastructure and short term measure for immediate electoral gains is the norm whether it is AP,Maharashtra or Rajasthan, in all these states too the office of Chief minster is reduced to being a loyalist of the Family rather than a competent leader.
Take the top 5 states which are fast progressing states of our country, you will see that all of them are non congress ruled Govts : namely Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Orissa, Chathisgarh.
Lets contrast this with Modi’s Governance record as Gujarat’s CM and you will find there is a lot to chew about the things he managed to develop like 24 hr uninterrupted Electricity to whole of Gujarat, Tap Water supply to even far removed regions of Kutch, consistent GDP growth of more than 8 % for the last 10 years, many Infrastructure projects and massive Industrialization as attested by the top Industrialists of our Country and more importantly people of Gujarat giving the Mandate to Modi 3 times consecutively is a proof of his Government passing with flying colors. Now what is the biggest failure of Modi which these left liberals keep refering to, its the Riots of 2002, yes agreed one has to agree whatever the circumstances the handling of 2002 riots may be considered as a failure on his part. but you dont judge a leaders capability bsed on just one incident you have to judge it in a period of time and over the last 13 years when Modi was in power not a single riot took place in a state where there are many such places where riots and curfew would go on for months every single year prior to 2002.
Now consider BJP as party’s performance and in contrast congress we can see that the CM’s of BJP ruled states are leaders of their own making and highly competent and are empowered rather than running to high command for every decision to be taken and if take look at the BJP ruled states like : Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Chathisgarh, Gujarat, they are rated high on development and strong consistent leadership, with a exception of Karnataka, there too they got rid of Yeddyurappa knowing well that it is going to effect there victory.
Not only in terms of Leadership and Governance, Modi and BJP are better than RG and congress but even in terms of the policies for the future there is a fundamental difference, while the congress party is hell bent on distributing free bee schemes like Food security bill and Right to education bill which they themselves know will not be possible to implement but do it not just to sympathize with poor people but a blatant attempt to Glorify poverty and gain votes from it where as on the other hand Modi talks about improving countries Infrastructure, Industrialization which generates employment and make poor self reliant and independent rather than helpless beggars.
Having said this about Modi and BJP, i am no way saying Modi is perfect, no he may have many short comings, there are many factors on which Gujarat fares badly but important thing to realize is there is no Perfect option available, there is only a better option available in such circumstances important remember is
“Possible Good is better than Impossible best”
Jayprakash Narayan :
Jp sir as he is called is a hero for me, when i watch his interviews, speeches or when i read about him i feel a rush of inspiration in me and an urge to do something, to change something. His story from being a Physician who was deeply moved by the Loknayak JP movement against emergency to one of India’s most successful IAS officer to an activist for Political reforms to a politician who is toiling hard to reform our countries Politics which is stuck in a vicious cycle of money power, criminalization, cast equations. with a general acceptance by public at large that we need a crook to work a crocked system, Jp sir has accepted a humongous challenge to fight for new politics without involving money, criminals and vote buying there by giving a hope to many like minded people like me who are interested to contribute but till now had no option to participate in politics as the traditional parties were practicing immoral and unethical politics where there was no space for common people.
When you hear Jp sir you will know he is a man with a sea of Knowledge and immense wisdom coupled with logic,sharp and crystal clear articulation of problems of India and solutions to tackle them, I don’t know what should be done to see India as a developed nation but i know one thing for sure if we can implement what JP sir says we can see India as a developed nation.
Some Quotes from of JP sir :
“ The answer to bad Politics is only better Politics and more Politics ”
“ It is always a small group of thoughtful committed people who change this world”
“ The solution is not the change of players but change of Rules of the game”
“ I believe there are two sins in our country one Unfulfilled Potential and the other Avoidable suffering and i get angry when i see this all around but i don’t show my angry face instead i channel my anger in a creative and constructive manner.”
Ramgopal Varma :
In every ones life knowingly or unknowingly there will be one person who shapes our thinking, attitude towards life and influences the decisions we take, in my case undoubtedly RGV is the most influential person who has not only moulded my thinking but also provoked, enlightened and connected in may ways and made me a happier, stronger person.
The first ever time i heard the word director was when my father told me about RGV and then when i watched SHIVA (RGV’s first film) when i was probably 13-14 when i had a little more sense of cinema, i was blown away it was only gradually as i grew up watched more movies like RATRI, Kshana kshanam, and came to know all of these are RGV films, my curiosity started to grow,but my curiosity for RGV and his films peaked after i started watching and reading his interviews mostly in the film magazines at my barber’s saloon, his responses to most questions would range from extremely frank to funny to shocking but they had some connect with me sub consciously whether be his views on GOD/religion or the Hypocrisy of our society or his discomfort with social formalities, and slowly i was waiting, searching for his interviews. I remember a time when there was a ad on gemini TV that the coming sunday there is an interview with RGV and i was desperately waiting for that and almost felt a feverish frenzy before the interview got started the kind of anxiety we experience when we are sitting in an exam hall waiting for the Question paper. Although i never missed even a single interview of RGV, still did not understand the personality, philosophy or his beginnings until he started writing his blog “ RGVZOOMIN.com” which gave the most insight in to what shaped his personality and how he deals with his life and also introduced me Ayn Rand.It was this blog which really made think about life and what is that we get happiness from and how one should face conflicts, confusions and problems. I spent many hours day dreaming and having sleepless nights just thinking about these blog posts and RGV’s philosophy and still continue to do so.
RGV not only made many Path breaking films but he influenced a generation of film makers both in Telugu and hindi Film industries, there are approximately 30 – 40 directors today who were assistants with him and many more technicians who he introduced as he says “ I don’t give chances I take chances” .
The 2 most important things i realized from RGV is
- Success is that ability to do what ones wants to do from the time we wake up to time we sleep, instead of just going about life with a 9 to 5 secure job from which we are always hoping to get a break just because we are too afraid of tomorrow and just bend down to social pressures. Although i am no where near of achieving this success, at least i am aware that i am not.
- every one will have flops and hits in his or her life and it is more likely that one has more flops than hits. but when you have flop, instead of worrying start thinking, thinking will lead to decision- decision will lead to work – if it does not work well all you have to do is RE-WORK .
Some Quotes from RGV :
“ Your Life is your decision”
“ The point of life is there is no point to it and the best point one can aim is to live it point by point and point to point”
“ Ramusism is about all ism’s and no ism at all, taking what ever is suitable for you to achieve your goal and discarding the rest”
“ Its not about learning its about unlearning”
“ Stop worrying and start thinking ,thinking makes you reach a decision and the decision you reach will result in work and if the work does not result in what you wanted from it, all you have to do is Re-work”
Ram Lela is a well crafted and well casted film
As expected from a Sanjay leela bhansali film Ram leela is a visual treat as he mounts each frame deliciously with vivid colors and grandeur but what’s different and what scores in comparison with his previous films is that he creates two feisty characters Ram and Leela and backs them with equally sharp dialogues and swift peace until the interval, post interval the film goes down hill but thanks to the terrific performances from the leads and other ensemble cast I never lost interest in the film.
Ram leela is an indianized version of Romeo Juliet set In a fictional village in rural Gujarat where Violence is a way of life between to waring factions of Rajadi and Sanera and expectedly Ram and Leela belong to these warring families but what works most in the film is the sizzling chemistry between deepika and ranveer Singh right from the first scene they are together and the films most enjoyable moments are between them, unfortunately as then story progresses to the point where the two lovers are separated by there respected families, movie slips and many scenes don’t make much sense and too many songs and fights don’t help either.
Over all Ram Leela can be a good one time watch for its performances, ace camera work from Ravichandran and of course in the end it’s a Sanjay bhansali film as he is credited as writer,music composer, editor and Director ,it’s a signature bhansali film.
YJHD – A mushy love story with some fun moments
As I walked out of the theater after watching YJHD, I was in a dilemma if i had fun or was i bored, the answer is i felt both, with a title like “yeh jawani hein diwani” coupled with the fact that its a karan johar production i would have expected a run of the mill rom coms, what raised the bar for me was, it was coming from the director of wake up sid has ranbir kapoor and also it showcased a life infusing promo with the song “Batameez dil” but unfortunately it fails to live upto those expectations and falls closer to the run of the mill kind of films.
The film is about bunny(Ranbir kapoor) and his 2 best friends played by Kalki and Aditya roy kapoor who are these cool fun loving college students who decide to go on a trecking trip in Manali and in this trip bunny meets naina (deepika padukone) his childhood school friend who is a studios, shy topper who struggles with in herself to break free from her boring life, while bunny thinks of marriage as having dal chawal for the rest of life and never wants to settle down in life, takes up a job as a travel journalist, naina on the other hand is a doctor and quite a contrast to bunny as expected. Its the coming of age story of these 4 friends filled with rich locales, dazzling set pieces and dance numbers.
Although there are lot of fun moments which we enjoy watching these four friends with first rate performances from all of them, what lets down the film is an incoherent screenplay ,some cliched scenes and too many songs, although the music is good by itself, but the songs act like a speed breaker in the movie except the foot tapping well choreographed “Batameez dil”.
clearly YJHD is a not a must watch but you will not repent even if you do.
I am vidyuth chikoti, an Engineer by academics, Day Dreamer, Lazy thinker, trying to maximize time i spend on doing what i want to do, and one of the things i like doing is pouring out my thoughts on this blog, simply put an avg guy trying to be above avg.