Review: Dil Dhadakne Do

Zoya Akhtar’s next film is finally here! Dil Dhadakne Do (or DDD, or D3, or Dcubed) is about the problems in the lives of the rich and affluent, which are magically fixed by taking a five-thousand-euro-a-family cruise. If I had five thousand Euros, I really wouldn’t have problems, but these guys have some.

(For all desis mentally converting five thousand euros into local currency, it’s 3.5 lakh Indian Rupees. This is approximately equal to the price of four glasses of Coke at your local multiplex.)

So DDD is about the 30th anniversary of the Mehras (why are all rich fictional families called “the Mehras”?), a dysfunctional Punjabi family living in Mumbai, played by Anil Kapoor and Shefali Shah. Their “iklota waaris” is Ranveer Singh, who takes more pleasure in flying planes than worrying about the weakening of the Dollar, as he should be doing. Their daughter is a budding entrepreneur Priyanka Chopra who is married to Rahul Bose, who belongs to another rich family.

Now rich is an understatement. These people are super rich. By the time you finish reading this sentence, they would’ve earned enough to buy your house and still have spare change to buy a car. Kids throw fits when their private planes are being sold, servants stand beside the dinner table with rotis on a plate. You get the idea.

Aamir Khan lends his voice to a Dog who acts as the narrator. This seems kinda pointless, but maybe Aamir just wanted to be a part of a movie called D3 which didn’t completely suck.

Did you notice how I’ve written over two-hundred words and I haven’t even started the review? Because this is how DDD begins. You feel restless for the movie to lift off in the first half.

This doesn’t mean the film is boring, though. A run-length of nearly three hours seems massive at first, but DDD soars effortlessly. Alternating between moments of laughter and misery, Zoya Akthar ensures the presence of a little humour even in the darkest scenes. This helps in not taking the movie too seriously, which is important not to exhaust your brain.

“Money can’t buy you happiness” is something this movie tries to convey, and it succeeds a fair bit. Life problems isn’t something you generally associate with people, and DDD provides an interesting insight into that dichotomy. You’re shown problems of multiple failing marriages, bankruptcy, patriarchy, love which are basically solved by spending lots of money. So that message was pointless.

This review is turning out to be negative, but that isn’t my viewpoint on the film at all! It’s superbly written (the Kagti/Akhtar partnership strikes again!) with sharp, witty dialogues written by Farhan Akthar. Carlos Catalan returns after working with Zoya on her previous films, picking off where he left off. The shots of the cruise and gorgeous Turkish locales make the film look like a million bucks.

Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy deliver some catchy songs. One of my sequences in the film was the song Galla Goodiyan. While egregiously named, it’s performed by the entire extended cast and is shot in a single take, culminating in everyone meeting at the bar. As soon as the movie ended, I wanted to go back and watch this song again. The camera fluidly traverses while giving you fleeting glimpses of everyone, successfully preserving the entire picture in your mind. An outstanding aesthetic and technical achievement which made we want to stand up and scream “DID ANYONE SEE THAT”.

(This video embedded above isn’t the complete song – which explains the single cut you see midway. But you get the idea.)

With a star-studded cast, lack of chemistry is bound to be an issue. A big payday is obviously ensured, and DDD could very well have been big-name actors just hamming their lines and collect a fat paycheck. Surprisingly, this isn’t so. The actors are perfectly cast, creating an ensemble which is hard to take your eyes off. Everyone hits the right notes with utter perfection. Shefali Shah is brilliant as the depressed housewife who has to put on a facade of happiness for the society. Watch her in a short-but-bittersweet scene where she binges on cupcakes as an act of defiance against her husband’s tiresome quips about her diet. Priyanka Chopra displays a varied range of emotions as the underappreciated daughter of the Mehras, who doesn’t boast about her self-made status. Anushka Sharma is a dancer on a cruise ship and she doesn’t really have much to do other than look pretty, which she does. Ranveer Singh walks away with the best lines in the film. He effuses boyish charm and his cocky nature goes extremely well with his comic timing. There’s a spectacular scene in which a lady threatens to slice her wrists, and Ranveer helpfully points out that wouldn’t achieve that using a butter knife. While this cast sets the bar quite high, they don’t hold a candle to Anil Kapoor who smashes that bar and delivers a career-best performance as an acrimonious, philandering business magnate who never misses a moment to criticise his wife. The cast really holds the film together and in addition to some excellent camerawork, makes it hard to take your eyes off the screen for a second.

While casually mocking the way the privileged take their lives way too seriously, there arises a small problem. The characters are perfectly believable, but I had a hard time relating to any of them. This is eventually, my biggest grouse with the movie. While Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara also showed rich folks, you could connect with them as it wasn’t about the problems of the rich – it was a road-trip with old friends and made me want to call up my school buddies and go backpacking across Europe. In many ways, DDD is the perfect film. The production values are stunning, the direction is expertly done and the writing is top-notch. However, Dil Dhadakne Do ironically fails to connect with your heart because it crucially misses the most important part of any film – soul.

None of this really matters, though as it has no bearing on the ending – which is terrible. It looks like a frantic finale lifted straight out of an Aneez Bazmee movie. I won’t go into the specifics, but it leaves a sour aftertaste after a delectable main course. A pity. It’s almost as if Kagti and Akthar gave up at the end and let the dog use the laptop.

In conclusion, one can harshly say DDD is Zoya’s weakest film. It doesn’t have the emotional gravitas of ZNMD, and it doesn’t come even remotely close to her directorial debut Luck By Chance (few films do, anyway). It still remains a wonderful film and certainly deserves a watch.

Why You Should Watch This Champions League Final

Hype. Every UEFA Champions League final has hype around it. Why not? The best clubs in the Europe (and therefore, in the world) come face-to-face. It’s one of the most watched sporting events in the year, telecast to over 200 countries, with over three hundred million people watching it. This year, it’s extra-special. Barcelona and Juventus face off in Berlin, and they’ve both experienced remarkable seasons.


Barcelona had a poor 2013-14 season, by their standards. They lost the domestic club competition, Copa del Rey to their arch rivals Real Madrid thanks to this incredible goal by Gareth Bale (some say Bartra is still running). They were ousted from the Champions League in the quarter-final round by eventual runners-up Ateltico Madrid, their worst run in the competition since Liverpool eliminated them in the Round of 16 in 2006. They failed to defend their league title at home after Godin equalised at the Nou Camp, enabling Atletico to break the dominance of the Big Two. To further rub salt on their wounds, Real Madrid won the Champions League. Manager Gerardo Martino left the club, and newly elected club president Bartolemeu was widely condemned. Other problems included a transfer ban be imposed on Barcelona, investigation into Neymar’s shady signing revealing disturbing details about his father’s orgy, and Leo Messi scoring “only” 41 goals for the season.


Juventus won the league comfortably in 2013-14, further asserting their dominance over Italian clubs. With the Milanese clubs suffering, Antonio Conte’s Juventus amassed a record 102 points in the league. Roma, runners-up with 85 points, never posed a threat. In other competitions, their performance wasn’t as good. Roma killed them off with a lone goal in the quarter finals of the Coppa Italia, and they didn’t even make it out of the groups stages of the Champions League. Although Juventus did manage to reach the semi finals in the Europa League, a club of this size wasn’t performing acceptably in Europe. Conte’s famed 3-5-2 system wasn’t working outside Italy. The club seemed to be stuck. They were winning the league comfortably every year since Conte took over without any real opposition, but failing in other competitions.

Act One

Widely tipped to be the next Pep Guardiola, Luis Enrique’s stint at Roma after leaving Barcelona B wasn’t entirely convincing. He left Roma after they failed to qualify for any European competitor that season. He then guided Celta to a ninth-place finish and the newly elected Barcelona board offered him the top job. Enrique quickly got to work by offloading the under-performing Fabregas to Chelsea, Sanchez to Arsenal (who had had a career-best goal scoring record the previous season) and surprisingly, Bojan to Stoke City (literally the “next Messi”). Lucho then proceeded to do what Barcelona never do – buy competent defenders. Jeremy Mathieu and Thomas Vermalean were the signings. Luis Suarez, arguably the world’s best striker, arrived from Liverpool but was suspended for three months for deciding to have Breakfast at Chiellini’s. Perhaps one of their most crucial signings of the season, Ivan Rakitic was bought as a replacement for Fabregas. The stage was set for the new season.

Barcelona began the season with comfortable wins, and led the league early on. This was exactly how Martino began the previous season too, so the jury was still out on Lucho. Immediately, the change in playing style was evident. While maintaining the Barcelona ethos of possession-based football, it was clear that the Catalan club were moving towards a more direct style of play. Although they still dominated possession matches, there seemed to be a greater emphasis in moving forward – a departure from the build-up play we have grown so accustomed to seeing. In addition to this, Lucho implemented his infamous squad-rotation policy which he used extensively at Celta. This was expected to keep the squad at their toes. Neymar had grown accustomed to playing in Spain this time and he was combining well with Messi.

All seemed to be going well. A 3-2 loss to PSG was seen as nothing more than a minor roadblock, but this was a warning sign of the problems to come. Playing a high line and encouraging the fullbacks to support the attack, Barcelona were susceptible to counter-attacks, especially from the flanks. A team which hadn’t conceded a single goal in the season, had let in two in the first half. Possession dominance did little here and Barca’s build-up play wasn’t very convincing in breaking down the PSG defence.


After a falling-out with club president Agnelli (reportedly over transfers), Antonio Conte decided to leave Juventus after three successful seasons at the club. He took over as the national team’s manager. Controvertially, Massimiliano Allegri was chosen to replace to Conte. Allegri previously managed Milan to a league title in 2011, but Milan since then had regressed. Moreover, Conte was a fan favourite and a rival club’s manager taking over as Juve’s manger did not go down well with the fans. It was widely felt that Pogba and Vidal stayed put in Turin simply because of Conte. Allegri’s arrival could change that. Simply winning the league title would not be enough – Juve’s squad was sufficient for that – he needed to do more.

As is with any managerial change, fans were divided over Allegri’s appointment. Most of them were convinced about his incompetence. It was believed that the Milan squad was certainly not so far behind the league leaders to have such a poor showing in the Serie A. Allegri’s arrival would disrupt the harmony Conte had so carefully built into this team, and it would be far too long for the players to trust him, if at all. Few, however, did point out his ability to deal with dressing room egos and the fighting spirit he instilled in Milan to rise from dire situations. Running a club with an eccentric owner like Berlusconi and a bizarre policy of signing aged players on free transfers is not particularly easy or engaging. Most opinions had been based on the final six months of Allegri’s tenure at Milan, which was terrible. The Old Lady was on the verge of a fourth consecutive Scudetto, and it seemed that this dream would not be achieved. At his official unveiling, Allegri was pelted with eggs and spat at.

The season began with a tense 1-0 victory over Chievo Verona. The squad was still adapting to Allegri’s tactics. New signing Patrice Evra had a poor start to the season, bringing his poor defensive form from Manchester United with him. However, fears of being unable to defend their league title were quickly obviated as Juventus stacked up wins. The Vidal saga was successfully resolved, and Pogba was also certainly staying. Allegri, however, was criticised for persisting with 3-5-2. One of the biggest problems with Conte’s Juventus was scoring goals. The team generally contributed together to score, but there was no star forward. This changed with Allegri as Tevez was having a superb season. He scored crucial goals, such as the lone goal against Milan at the San Siro, and a brace in a thrilling 3-2 victory over Roma. Perhaps the most memorable goal of the entire season was Tevez’s outstanding solo effort in a 7-0 thrashing of Parma. The Argentine forward picked the ball up in his own half, expertly dribbled past three defenders, and slotted the ball into the bottom corner. The Juventus stadium stood up in rapturous applause as Tevez had recreated his own version of Maradona’s famous Goal of the Century. Juventus had found their star forward in a 31-year old with his bulldog-like approach.

Act Two

Barcelona’s outstanding league from papered over the cracks, as Lucho continued to experiment and rotate. Nearly a month later, Barcelona were absolutely destroyed in El Clasico. It was Suarez’s debut game, and we all had the answer to the question everyone was asking, “How do you fit Messi, Suarez and Neymar in a team?” The answer was “you cannot”. The dream combination wasn’t meant to be. Problems from the PSG game resurfaced as Barcelona’s defence was unable to cope with the pace in the counter and was left exposed at the flanks. Isco and Modric pulled the strings from midfield, and James put in a MotM performance. Messi was completely marked out of the game. Enrique lost the tactical battle, and that’s putting it politely. He tried playing Mascherano and Pique together for the first time, and the latter had a shocker. Bizarrely, their best defender, Mathieu, was moved to left-back. Xavi and Iniesta were under-par, and Busquets was clearly unfit. Lucho was afraid to change things and his ineptitude in big matches was showing. He failed in 2/2. Had Ronaldo been in better form, the result could’ve been much worse.

El Clasico was followed by a defeat at the Camp Nou to Celta, and saw Barcelona slip to fourth position.

In the Champions League, things were looking rosy. Suarez had finally got his first official goal and in their final game vs PSG, Barcelona won 3-1. Lucho dropped the traditional 4-3-3 to adapt an unorthodox 3-3-1-3 – a hugely attacking formation with Messi hanging behind Neymar, Suarez and Pedro. Mascherano had a wonderful game in midfield, but the problems at the flanks still persisted. Despite the result, Barca really didn’t create too many chances. More importantly, it showed a drastic change in tactics.

Back in the league, after a few wins, Barcelona began 2015 with a loss to Moysie’s La Real. The fantastical partnership of the front three was simply not working. The club immediately went into meltdown mode, as off-pitch problems escalated. A tiff between Enrique and Messi saw the forward retaliate by – and I’m not making this up – following Chelsea on Instagram. The club seemed ready to sack Enrique who had seemingly lost the dressing room. Zubizarreta and Puyol stepped down from their board posts and Bartomeu called for early elections only a year after being appointed as President. Real Madrid, meanwhile, had gone on a massive winning streak and were threatening to storm to the league title. This was the darkest period of the season, and was a test of character for the entire club.


Allegri started the Champions League campaign with a win over Swedish club Malmo. However, away losses to Atletico Madrid and Olympiacos put further progress in Jeopardy. When the Greek club came to Juventus, Allegri dropped 3-5-2. He adapted the 4-3-1-2 formation, with a three-man midfield comprising the brilliant Marchisio at the base of the trio. His enhanced workrate enabled Pogba and Vidal to attack more freely. This proved crucial for Juventus as earlier seasons have shown that both are capable of scoring goals from midfield, having been top scorers in the previous two seasons. The most striking feature of the new system was the lack of total reliance of the midfield to support the attack. Llorente and Tevez found it easier to break down defences, and the previously inefficient wingbacks now provided more to the team as fullbacks. The new system witnessed the rebirth of Juventus playing exciting, free-flowing football instead of just grinding out wins. A 3-2 win over Olympiacos was fun, and the new system was here to stay after the 7-0 rout against Parma.

Juventus sat at the top of the table four games into the season, and did not lose their spot. While Roma was on their tail with the gap between the clubs being one point in January, Roma stuttered as Juventus romped on.

Juventus finished second in their group after a tense draw against Atletico. Their 10 points put them just a point above Olympiacos, and Juve scored only 7 goals in 6 matches. Their European troubles were far from fixed, but Allegri had made this team his own. This may not be like previous seasons. They faced Dortmund in the first leg at home. While persisting with the midfield diamond, Juventus were able to hold off pressure from the German side. Oddly for a home team, Juve played on the counter. The narrow midfield did leave wide spaces, but Dortmund never really took advantage of this. Nevertheless, Juventus were lucky to win 2-1, as Dortmund looked the better side. The return leg saw Juventus execute the perfect away performance. Disregarding Klopp’s jape of an Italian team coming for a draw, Juventus comfortably win 3-0. Allegri switched to 3-5-2 25 minutes in, when Pogba was injured but this changed nothing at Juventus continued to defend superbly. Tevez’s early goal enabled The Old Lady to defend and then pick Dortmund apart on the counter. An impressive 5-1 win on aggregate.

Juventus began their Coppa Italia campaign with a comfortably 6-1 over Hellas Verona. Parma almost held them to a draw when big-money signing Morata scored in the dying minutes. This added to his previous crucial goal against Dortmund in the first leg. One of Juve’s most interesting games came in the second leg of the semi-final of the Coppa Italia. Fiorentina handed them a defeat at home, but Juventus came back strongly in the second leg. Without Pogba or Tevez, a victory seemed difficult to achieve. This is where Allegri’s genius showed. His surprising inclusion of Matri paid off as the latter scored the opener. If it wasn’t evident before, this game was conclusive proof that Marchisio is the most important member of the squad. A product of their youth system, Marchisio showed unmatched understanding of the game and kept the passes flowing with his supreme footballing intelligence. Vidal and young Sturaro were effective in shutting down any Fiorentina attack. Yet another surprising inclusion, Pereyra doubled the lead for Juventus. A 3-0 away win set up a mouth-watering finale against Lazio, but Marchisio would miss out due to his booking.

Juventus followed this by beating Monaco 1-0 over two legs in tense encounters. Monaco had shown throughout the campaign that they were a tightly-knit defensive unit and Juventus found it hard to break them down. In the company of giants such as Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern, Juve were the “easy draw”. They were eventually drawn against Madrid, and how wrong the Italians would prove everyone…

Act Three

A tense week later, Barcelona convincingly beat Atletico 3-1. A clear shift in philosophy was further evident in their 1-0 victory against Atletico in the Copa del Rey. Ateltico tried to pressure Barcelona and break down their passing moves – a tried-and-tested method that had worked over the years, but not anymore. Enrique’s men dealt with the pressure by dropping the traditional methodical build-up and cheerfully launching balls forward. Instead of overloading the centre, the full backs were given freedom to lead the attack from the wings. Perhaps the most surprising move was Messi’s shift to the right, to accommodate Suarez in the centre. The individual skills of the trio worked wonders as Barcelona were tremendously successful in moving the ball forward rapidly.

Following the win against Atletico in the league, Barcelona would lose only one more game in the league. Enrique had abandoned squad rotation and settled on a fixed first team and implemented his tactics more rigidly. In the second El Clasico of the season, Barca won 2-1 with an outstanding performance from Pique, who had resurrected his form. Strangely, Barcelona’s goals came from a long ball and a set piece – unusual ways for them to score.

Messi was in his best ever form. Although not his highest goalscoring season, his influence in games was more pronounced than ever. In a systematic dismantling of Manchester City, he nutmegged everybody and their mother and put in a stellar performance. Barcelona hadn’t played such crowd-pleasing football since the times of Ronaldinho. Lucho had found a way for MSN to work. Barcelona met Pep’s Bayern in the semi-finals of the Champions League and successfully avenged their 7-0 thrashing two seasons ago. One of the goals in the first leg included Messi shuffling inside the box, causing Jerome Boateng to stupidly fall down, and gently chipping the ball over Neuer to score a delightful goal. Keep in mind that Boateng and Neuer are currently the best in the world in their respective positions.

The league title was secured with a win against Ateltico with the lone goal scored by Messi at their home ground – a poetic end considering the previous season’s events. Messi followed this up by scoring an outrageous individual goal against Bilbao to win the Copa del Rey.


With the beginning of May, Juventus were staring at a treble. A 1-0 win over Sampdoria gave them their fourth Scudetto. While not the record-breaking 100 point season they had last time, the fans did not care. Three days later, Morata returned to haunt Madrid, as he scored the opener versus his former club. Juventus won the first leg 2-1. A week later, Real Madrid faced a rigid defensive setup at the Bernabeau and could only salvage a 1-1 draw, knocking out the defending champions at their own home ground. The goalscorer who knocked them out? Morata. In his first season, Allegri had created history. This was Juve’s first Champions League final since 2003. Fittingly, this year also marks the thirtieth anniversary of the horrific Heysel stadium disaster where 39 Juventus fans never returned from Belgium.

Juventus beat Lazio in extra time with Matri scoring the winner against all expectations. Their tenth cup win was labelled as their own La Decima. Allegri was moved to tears as his players celebrated and fans chanted his name. Chants of “Grazie Allegri” echoed across Rome as 60,000 people revelled in his achievement. What a way to win the fans’ hearts.


Praise for Messi has flown from around the world, with the general consensus being he is not from this planet. Neymar has shown that he is the successor. Messi has mentored Neymar the same way Ronaldinho mentored the young Argentine. Suarez has been integral to the attack as well. When not scoring goals, he constantly makes surging runs, drawing defenders towards him. His central positioning creates ample space for the other two to work their magic. In the build-up to the final, the trio have combined to score a total of 120 goals. Irrespective of the outcome of the final, Barcelona will finish the season with a win percentage of over 80 – a staggering statistic. A win for Barcelona will clinch yet another historic treble for the Catalan club, one which will have been achieved after a shift in philosophy and proof that the club has evolved beyond traditions.

Allegri has become only the third coach in Juventus history to win the domestic double. No one has one the treble for them. In a world where Italy is seen as a failed powerhouse of yesteryear, Allegri has done the impossible and brought Italian football back into the limelight. A win in the CL final will easily be Juventus’s most remarkable achievement after the horrors of Calciopoli.

The defensively unshakable Juventus has the potential to throttle any attack thrown at them. The offensive powerhouse of Barcelona has an array of methods to dismantle any defence. This is a classic case of unstoppable-force-meeting-immovable-object. For the first time since 2010, both finalists stand a chance to win the treble. Both clubs have overachieved this season as they defied all expectations to reach here. Both debut managers will want to announce themselves at the big stage.

This will be Xavi’s last match for Barcelona. The Catalans would love to gift one of the old guard a wonderful parting gift. GiGi Buffon, one of the best keepers of all time, has never won the Champions League, and would want to avenge the horrors of the penalty shootout in 2003, which of the source of much pain for him. Moreover, the Serie A has become a weak league, with no club posing any major threat to European giants. A win for Juventus will send shockwaves about the community.

If anything, you should watch this simply to observe the Suarez/Evra clash. Chiellini, unfortunately, will not be served.

Who do I think will win? Common logic dictates Barcelona. They’ve amassed what seems to be the greatest attacking trio in the history of football. They have a solid, in-form midfield. Juventus lacks star players, but has a lot of young players motivated to win. They are – and I cannot stress this enough – a defensively outstanding unit even with Chiellini out. Barzagli and Bonucci will be solid at the back. My only concern for them is, Barzagli will not be completely fit after returning from an injury. They’re still prone to attacks from the wings. Clear underdogs, but this seems to be their story all season. They were written off even before the season began and no one predicted them to go past Madrid and Dortmund. Perhaps the Italians have a surprise up their sleeve…

You Are Anderson

I’ve been meaning to write this post ever since the third Sherlock series concluded, but I never had the time to. Mainly because of laziness, but lack of time sounds cooler.

Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t find it disappointing at all. I honestly felt that it was one of the most intriguing, well-written and wonderfully directed series currently on air. Even the second episode – The Sign of Three – was an achievement in character development, pacing and writing. I’m not here to talk about the show in general, though. I’d like to focus on a cheeky move Moffatt & Co. pulled on us all.

They decided to introduce a new character to the show.

Well technically, he wasn’t a new character. He was an existing one.

It was Anderson. You are Anderson.

Ever since Sherlock jumped off the rooftop of St. Barts’, fans have spent countless hours coming up with meticulous theories, each more convoluted and contrived than the previous. We spent two years watching and re-watching the final moments, trying to figure out what we missed. We even extended our scope of study beyond the final episode, linking theories with events from the previous episodes (a theory said John was still under the effects of the nerve gas in Baskerville). We obsessed over the tiniest details, convinced that they were vital to the theory we were constructing. I was particularly obsessed with some chalk markings on the road which outlined the path for the cyclist who hit John right after Sherlock fell. I was convinced that these had been deliberately laid out by Sherlock to ensure that the cyclist (obviously from his homeless network) crashes into him while Sherlock pulls some stunt in the confusion. All this despite being repeatedly told the chalk marks are simply production markings.

So, Anderson. In the Christmas special (which was the perfect birthday gift, btw), we see an obsessed Anderson. Gangly beard, surrounded by notes, building theories and analysing patterns. He’s convinced that Sherlock lives on, and he’s coming home.

Cue the first episode of the series. Anderson is delighted to see him back, as the very foundation of his many theories was Sherlock’s survival in the first place. We see a group of like-minded individual from all walks of life who participate in formulating theories – some as enthusiasts, and others equally as obsessed as Anderson. In fact, he loses his cool when they don’t take the entire process seriously.

His wall is littered with photos and notes and those threads from detective movies to make connections and come up with wild ideas. He’s formulated multiple ideas by now, each of varying degrees of complexity, knowing that Occam’s razor doesn’t apply to Sherlock and doesn’t put hilariously complicated methodologies beyond him. This increases his expectations by several notches, as he expects the actual escape plan to be a brilliant, yet simple procedure which would explain everything.

At the end of the episode, Sherlock “tells” Anderson the details of his plan. Anderson listens intently, paying attention to each detail, after all this, he has a look of dissatisfaction on his face. He’s disappointed that it wasn’t as clever as he thought it would be. He even exclaims he has a better way to do it. Of course, it’s still not clear if Sherlock revealed the actual theory to Anderson, as Anderson would be the “last man” who Sherlock would tell anything.

Doesn’t this all seem familiar? Anderson is simply a mirror for your thoughts about the show for the last two years. You have built plans, scrapped off old ones, debated vehemently with friends and lost yourself for hours looking for that crucial piece of information. Obviously, there was no way to satisfy you, the audience, with any theory, as everything would feel unsatisfactory. While the writers have written brilliant scripts in the past, they wrote themselves into a corner at the end of the second series. They’d set up a conflict splendidly, but the cliff-hanger had to be resolved very delicately, especially after keeping audiences guessing for so long. Any other writer would’ve tried to make up some far-fetched theory that would leave us shaking our heads in frustration. Not Moffatt & Co., though. They attempted something unique and pulled it off with some style. They both, gave us and did not give us, a theory, and will probably never tell us. Like Anderson, we realised what fools we’ve been made off and tore away all our theories, never to be resolved. We’ve gone back to our lives, knowing we’ve been tricked. That, or we’re satisfied that our theory is better than Sherlock, giving us a sense of superiority.

To summarize, you are Anderson. And you’ve been played.

Carpe Noctem

This article was first published in Echo, IEEE DTU’s Annual Magazine.

8AM. Eat breakfast. Concentrate on the food. It’s 8.20. Time to leave. Grab the bag. Walk down the stairs. Remember about forgotten keys. Run back. Get them. Get in the car. Turn on the ignition. Drive down empty roads. Try to block the sun out. Fail. Curse luck. Continue driving. Red light. 70 seconds. Contemplate sleeping for a minute. Decide against it. Good judgement. Green light. Continue driving. Straight roads. Car beside takes dangerous turn. Shout at her. Realise it won’t make a difference because the windows are rolled up. Reach college. Find parking space. It’s 9.05. It’s late. Run to class. Try to pay attention. Fail. Drift into sleep. Get jolted awake. Three hours pass. It’s 10. Nothing wrong with the watch. Run out for coffee. Run back to class. Survive. 1PM. Lunch. Talk. Laugh. Eat. Coffee again. Consciousness returns slowly. Drowsiness recedes. Eyes open completely for the first time. 2PM. Lab. Try to do practicals seriously. Fail. Laugh about it. 5PM. Another coffee run. Get back to car. Drive home happy. It’s 6. Watch TV. Eat fruits. Laze around. 8.30. Time for dinner. 9.30. Get to room. Open books. Try to study. Realise it’s boring. Close books. Open computer. New Game of Thrones episode. Start watching. More WhatsApp messages. Reply. Await reply. Converse. Facebook. Friends’ party album. 176 photos. See them all. Realise life is boring. 12AM. Headphones. Music. Full of energy. Feel alive. 1.30. Football. 2.30. Hungry. New Hide ‘n’ Seek packet. Empty in ten minutes. 3.30. Discuss football. Wish slow death upon referee and his family. 4. “Is there a movie to watch?” There is. There always is. 5. Tired. Want to sleep. Only fifteen minutes of movie left! 5.15. Progress with novel. 5.45. What’s that light? It’s the sun. Awake all night. No sleep. Force sleep. Fail. Manage a little sleep. 7. Alarm rings. Snooze. 7.10. Alarm rings again. Snooze again. Repeat. 7.45. Jolt awake. Rush to get ready. 8. Eat breakfast.

This has been my life since college began. Admittedly, some of these habits already existed in the final year of school, and they’ve only amplified since joining DTU. It’s unhealthy. I should be getting more sleep. My lethargy during college hours is evidence enough. It sounds easy, and it probably is. Falling asleep is the easiest thing in the world right? Hit the sack and count sheep, or make up implausible scenarios in your mind. Not for us nocturnes, or zombies as many of you prefer to call us. It’s not because we can’t sleep. Rather, we choose not to. Mostly because there’s so much to do, and it’s not just studies. There’s a reason I’m able to watch so many movies, watch football, listen to music, read books, catch up on TV shows and write useless articles like these despite spending half the day at college. The reason is sleep, or the lack of it.

Now, I’m not recommending this sleep cycle to anyone. I’m also not saying I’m unique in this respect. There are many who sleep only much lesser than we are told to and still function normally. The fact that you need 6-8 hours of sleep is actually a myth. Your brain needs two hours of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep (which looks exactly as spooky as it sounds), which it finds in those six hours. If you force it to, it will find those two hours in four hours of sleep, too. There’s just a smaller window now. I won’t bore you with details, though. You came here for reading an insightful article with life-changing advice (sure), not a scientific paper (wait for IOTA!).

You can adopt this cycle if you want to. Be forewarned! The initial stage is the toughest. Your brain will protest this sudden departure from schedule. You may not sleep for a week or two. You may also feel that the system isn’t right for and you’d be correct – it doesn’t suit everyone. You’ll certainly have bags under your eyes. Soon your brain will realise you’re serious about this and give in. Congratulations, you’re one of us. Have a cookie.

I would be lying if I said there weren’t any disadvantages. The weariness is an obvious one. You’ll also feel hungrier than usual, especially at night, and your cravings for chocolate and other delicious snacks will rival that of pregnant women. In short, you’ll gain weight unless you remain physically active during the day. You’ll also find sudden affection to coffee, and might spiral into caffeine addiction. Don’t. Caffeine is the most addictive substance in the world, so you might get hooked to it before you realise it. Drink coffee, but drink in moderation.

Till now, all you’ve seen is negativity. You find no discernible reason to stay awake unnecessarily. You probably hate sports, don’t even like TV shows (or watch them on weekends) and you want your beauty sleep. You probably detest coffee. All these are valid reasons (apart from hating coffee, that’s just plain wrong), until you realise that the advantages heavily outweigh the disadvantages.

When you find that you sleep less, you’ll realise you have loads of time. In today’s world, time is money. You don’t need special preparation to pull all-nighters anymore, because you pull all-nighters every day. When exam time approaches, you’ll find yourself with a lot of time to complete your syllabus, so you can stay awake all night on the day before the exam (because you study last minute anyway), managing to stay remarkably sharp because night time is your most productive period. You’re also tuned to stay awake during the day, so you can study in those times too. In short, you’ll find yourselves with many more hours than you believe you had.

It’s not just studies – it extends beyond that. As you progress through college life, you’ll get involved in societies and participate in projects that demand time. With great responsibilities, come many deadlines. And to meet them all, you have to work longer, harder and efficiently. Lower sleeping hours enable you to do all that. Sure you’ll feel physically exhausted, but mentally, you’ll be ready for any challenge.

When you begin to miss your long sleeping hours (you’ll know when you begin to day-dream about sleeping), there’s always the weekend to catch up! On Saturdays and Sundays, I sleep long hours and wake up late in the morning. Of course, this in no way makes up for the sleep lost during weekdays, but it provides the mental satisfaction of having achieved that good, long sleep twice a week and relaxes your mind. Two days of lazing around will do wonders to prepare you for the challenges that lie in the week ahead.

So go ahead, carpe noctem! Seize the night!

–Aditya Salapaka is known for not sleeping. That is literally the only reason people know him.



I recently finished the second season watching NBC’s Hannibal and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s one of the best – if not the best – crime dramas on television today (along with the splendid True Detective). Even if you don’t agree with this hyperbole of mine, a few episodes will be enough to convince you that it is, at least, an extremely underrated show.

It’s been twenty years since Jonathan Demme’s wonderful Silence of the Lambs released, and even then the film didn’t catch public fancy immediately. A murderous cannibalistic psychopath and a female FBI agent seemingly did not appeal to the average movie goer.  Irrespective, Anthony Hopkins’ fifteen-minute appearance as Hannibal Lecter was so terrifying and convincing, it was enough to earn the film the Academy Award Grand Slam (not that it matters). Tight scriptwriting and superbly envisioned characters gave us a memorable film. Hopkins did reprise his role as Hannibal in the eponymous sequel with decent success, albeit not to such a level. We wanted a greater insight into Hannibal’s life, which Silence of the Lambs did not provide, and although we had a glimpse in the sequel. It was a decent attempt.

However, the TV show has really hit the nail on its head with its adaptation of Red Dragon. Having not read the book, I cannot comment on the faithfulness of this adaptation, but it certainly is an enjoyable one. Although the show is titled Hannibal, it focuses primarily on Will Graham (played by Hugh Dancy). Will teaches at the FBI academy and tries to solve crimes by predicting the chain of event that might have preceded the murder. Dr Hannibal Lecter is his psychiatrist, and is often responsible for most of the events in the show.

While we’re not shown how a psychopath was made, we’re given an idea of one manages to be a part of society without letting the clouds of suspicion shroud him, or tarnish his reputation. This is the show’s greatest achievement. I’m in admiration of Mads Mikkelsen’s fabulous portrayal of Hannibal Lecter, which, while being quite different from Hopkins’, is worthy of applause in its own sense. There isn’t any specific reason to his madness – much of it arises from a sense of curiosity. Hannibal toys with others’ minds simply to see what would happen. (Before you Google, Mads is that villain from Casino Royale. Before you Google that, Casino Royale was the new Bond’s first movie).

The writers have shown him to be a skilled cook with an interest in various cuisines. To emphasise his love for exquisite food even further, each episode of the first and second season is named after an element of French and Japanese cuisine, respectively. Naturally, as his profile suggests, he likes to cook with human flesh. Something so utterly disgusting portrayed with an undeniable charm, generally set to light classical music. I say charm, because it’s fascinating to watch – almost as an art from, while you know exactly how horrifying the task at hand is. Mikkelsen goes over all this with such ease and slips into his character so convincingly, it’s hard to imagine he himself isn’t a psychopath. Mads Mikkelsen plays Hannibal with such disdain, coupled with expressions of mild interest while cooking human kidneys, plating the food and relishing it while sharing it with unsuspecting guests – it’s a privilege to watch him operate.

Importantly, the writers are aware of the pacing and don’t rush the show. Initially, I was sceptical of this gradual approach, but I realised it was important to glide through plot points, tying them intricately with one another. Anything different would make the plot seem convoluted. While the first season showed Will and Hannibal’s friendship blossoming, the second season takes it up a notch in ways I cannot explain without divulging too much information. The scenes in which they’re conversing provide some of the series’ most chilling moments. Each line is deliberately enunciated to create a tension which is deliciously thick, often leaving you gasping for breath. I was missing their interactions at the beginning of the second season, but it was fixed with brilliantly as the season progressed.

Of course, Hannibal isn’t without its flaws. After a while I was slightly sceptical of Will’s uncanny ability to perfectly predict the nature of a crime, which seemed more like tired writing than anything to advance the plot. Moreover, the romance in the second half the second season (which ends as abruptly as it begins) seems like an unnecessary complication. Laurence Fishburne, who plays Jack Crawford, head of the FBI Behavioural Science Unit, seems lost and utterly clueless about the events happening in his own department right under his nose. Even as a major character is killed off, their colleagues seem to weep only for three minutes, following which they completely ignoring their absence and not being bothered with it at all, which was a pity, as that murder, and the following scenes, were one of the most chillingly executed sequences in the show. Gore might also be a problem for some viewers, as the show is not at all reluctant in showing you organs or blood or other unspoken horrors. Certainly not for the faint of heart, but with the drama associated with the show, you may be able to tolerate the gore.

As the tension builds up, the second season concludes with two magnificent episodes. The second season’s finale was one of the best TV episodes I’ve ever seen (it’s also rated 9.9 on IMDb, for the curious). It is thematically different from the rest of the season, while still retaining the general tone of the series, giving us an unforgettable visual treat. The finale is emotionally satisfying and more – an impeccable end to an outstanding season. The inevitable cliff-hanger it leaves us with makes the wait for the next season even longer…

…which brings us to the bigger problem. Hannibal airs on NBC. Their viewership ratings aren’t that great (you probably didn’t even know it was airing in the first place). Call it poor marketing or niche interests… we arrive at the same conundrum. What happened the last time a genre-defining, ground-breaking, innovative show with a passionate fan-base failed to meet the high expectations of NBC executives? It didn’t exactly end well. NBC seems too trigger-happy in cancelling shows and I don’t want Hannibal to meet a similar fate. I hope that Bryan Fuller has more influence on the NBC board than Dan Harmon did.

At this point, I can only urge you to go on a quick two-season binge of Hannibal, and you’ll come out of it wondering why you hadn’t seen it before (you can buy me some cookies later).

For Indian viewers, Hannibal airs on AXN in the same week as the US! I haven’t seen an episode there, though, so I have no idea about the extent to which they will censor gore. It can’t be worse than Star though, who feel the book with Ishmael as the main character is Moby-**** (true story).

Mumbai or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Rain

So Mumbai. Here I am. Land of opportunity (wait that doesn’t sound right). Land of filmstars maybe. Land of too many people, that’s for sure. And land of constant rains. That no one will disagree with.

I have an opportunity to intern at L&T in the summer. Surprisingly few people knew about L&T at DTU, leading me to wonder if they’d ever looked at those Metro diversion boards which are, you know, spread throughout Delhi. What was even more exciting was the location of the office – Mumbai. I immediately signed up, and the thought that the legal age for drinking beer here is 21 didn’t cross my mind at all. Dad was pretty enthusiastic that his useless kid was actually going to learn something after twenty years of burning his paycheques (heh heh heh). I was wise enough to keep my mouth shut about the fact that it was going to cost more to keep in Mumbai than in Delhi.

Settle down, lads. Regular readers (if there are any from the few decades ago when the blog used to be updated regularly) will know about my obsession with detail simply because the mundane things are the most interesting. This will be a long blog post. Or as you fancy kids prefer to use – #longreads. (Using hashtags outside twitter still bothers me more than it should. Oh well. Have to change with the times.)

I received news in January that I’d be interning at L&T. So I booked all necessary flight tickets for a fairly busy schedule. My exams ended on 31 May, and I flew to Bengaluru to meet my grandparents on the fourth of June. After a week of stay, I travelled to Mumbai on 13th where I’d meet mom and dad who were flying in from Delhi. And then both would be flying back to Delhi, and then back to Bangalore and the back to Delhi again later this month. (Don’t ask why). I also booked tickets for my return to Delhi from Pune, where I have to meet more relatives. Add some hotel reservations for parents to this and dad’s blood pressure was significantly higher after the entire process ended.

My flight to Bengaluru was just a day after Gopinath Munde’s tragic death, which meant security was tighter than usual. I got into the airport at 8.30 when the flight had to leave by 9.15. GoAir systems decided that it was the perfect time to freeze, which left me stranded for twenty minutes at the counter. They reassured me that they won’t leave me because of “our own problem”. I badly needed to make a coffee run before the flight because I hadn’t slept a wink all night – charging devices and watching Warrior (great film). All these technical issues destroyed my wonderful plans and an incredibly long security line meant I already had three missed calls from GoAir telling me to hurry up. I was running to the gate and wanted to melt under their glaring faces.

Bangalore trip was great. It’s too pleasant there, kinda like the two days Delhi gets in a year. It’s changed a lot, though. What I hadn’t noticed before were the roads – they’re awful to drive on not least because of poor planning (thanks for great roads, Lutyens).

As expected, the BLR-BOM flight duration itself was shorter than the drive to the airport. Why even call it Bengaluru Airport if it’s not in Bengaluru? It’s in Devanhalli. (BTW, grandpa introduced me to The Ventures in the car. Nice tunes.) The airport is also severely lacking in fast food joints because masala dosa is clearly the only food every passenger from Bengaluru will ever have before leaving.

Saw an episode of Hannibal on the flight. Lady beside me was clearly freaked out. Will blog about Hannibal later (I swear).

Typical problems happened when I landed in Mumbai. My flight was delayed, and so was my parents’ and somehow both pilots completed the journey much faster than expected, and both of us landed at the same time, not half-an-hour apart as originally planned. All was well. Which meant that all was not well and something would certainly go wrong. Called up dad who told me to come to “belt 5”, which was confusing because there were only four belts at arrivals. After a few moments of confusion, I found out that Mumbai airport has two terminals for arrival. -_-

Fortunately, they aren’t too far apart. Fifteen minute walk at the most. Walking fifteen minutes with a bag, a suitcase, dead earphones and what felt like 102% humidity isn’t a nice experience, though.

I was united with my parents and we headed straight to their hotel in Powai. Ramada is a decent hotel (no, not that Decent Hotel). I was fascinated with the keycard entry, the safe in the cupboard, the remote operation of the lights from the bedside when I realised that this was my first stay in a hotel in six years. Apparently, these are regular features in hotels nowadays.

After like three minutes, I went to see my flat in Powai. I share a 3BHK flat with 9 (!) other people. These aren’t students, though. All of different age groups, so none of that Pyar Ka Punchnama stuff happens here. As you can imagine, privacy is out of the window. So is cleanliness. Fortunately there’s a maid for cooking food, cleaning the place and (thank god) laundry. There’s still no internet at the flat and I’m blowing off all my 3G data. There’s also no AC, but that would be asking for too much. There’s a TV, though which means I can still watch the world cup at night, which is all I care about, really.

Unfortunately, I don’t live in the good part of Powai. Not Andheri east or so-posh-it-feels-like-Europe Hiranandani. I live in NagaSakiNaka and it resembles a civilisation trying to find its feet in the aftermath of a nuclear accident. The lake even looks like a nuclear wasteland. L&T has like fifteen buildings spread out in the entire area. The whole place looks as if it exists only because L&T exists. (This is true, apparently.) My locality is fairly safe, though, given it’s a place where families live. So obviously, I tried to stay away from the flat during the weekend, choosing to sleep in the hotel on the bouncy bed for one last time in the AC.


Monday meant it was my first day at work, ever. Woke up feeling positively happy, excited and ready to take on the world. Put on a shirt and some pants and walked to the office (it’s that close) and reached the gate to enter… only to find that my name wasn’t in the approved list or something. :\

A few minutes and frantic calls later, it was sorted out and I walked to HR where I met a guy named two other interns named Drimson and a girl who’s name I don’t remember because I’m not even sure I saw this famed, mythical girl-studying-mechanical (there are like three in the country). Both of them looked at me like I was ET because they could not comprehend why I’d fly in from Delhi to intern in Mumbai by choice.

I didn’t have a chance to justify my actions because HR guy picked that moment to brief us about L&T, which understandably is a massive company. Chairman AM Naik recently approved a diversification plan for the company, which saw the birth of L&T Hydrocarbon (where I work at), and it’s already a $2 billion dollar company, despite being only three months old. It took some time, but he finally got to the important stuff – when we have food, where we have food, what we have for food, do we need to work on Saturdays (we do) and so on. HR also informed me that the clothes I was wearing were too informal.

After getting my ID card made, I went to my mentor and was immediately assigned some top secret project. For your eyes only, stuff like that. All I can say now is that we’re trying to find more Transformers lying in the ocean bed (we’re on the Decepticons’ side, though). Oil rigs are the perfect cover.

The vending machine has become a big source of income for the company since I’ve joined as I eat KitKats by the dozen. I also discovered the existence of a Café Coffee Day machine which prepared the elixir of the gods from coffee beans, not that crappy instant coffee powder. There weren’t any mugs, though. I expressed my displeasure at this to a friend who interns at RBS in Gurgaon, who said they don’t have mugs either. You have to bring your own mugs. Why can’t India’s largest construction company construct a few mugs now and then?

(Side note about RBS. Kilol sent me some photos of her workplace and it looks like that ship from 2001: A Space Odyssey. There are free vending machines and everything. There’s also a gym and a foosball table. The closest thing we have to a gym is giving a helping hand to the guys at the Heavy Engineering department. Getting your laptop confiscated is also nice for cardio. Oh, I haven’t got to that part yet.)

The RBS Workplace

Pictured: The RBS Workplace. Not Pictured: Foosball table.

Everything was going perfectly fine, so something had to go wrong somewhere. The universe punished me for working late. I left the office about half-an-hour later than usual on Thursday (confirmed Decepticon sighting!) and was immediately stopped by security at the exit. I wouldn’t have been stopped if I walked with the crowd, but I wasn’t because I was working late.

“Bag me kya hai?”

“Sir, laptop.”

“Gate pas hai?”

Shows ID.

“Laptop ka gate pass. Hai?”

Puzzled look.

“Andar saab se mil ke aao.”

“Saab” was the security in-charge. He cheerfully informed me that he’d confiscating my laptop. He made me write a statement where I proclaimed “hosh-o-awaz mein” that I’m an ignorant buffoon for not knowing the rules and security will now keep my laptop. I headed back to the office to take help from the mentor, but he couldn’t do anything as he didn’t have the authority to issue a gate pass. Red tape, man. It screws us all. Even in non-governmental organisations.

So I spent the night without my laptop, thinking about it all the time. Worrying constantly about its safety (so this is how mom feels). Friday couldn’t come sooner.

I ran to work the next day, rushed to the office and my mentor printed a laptop gate pass which the VP signed. I got the date wrong, so I had to get it printed again. Now here’s where I’d like to mention that all my bosses were super-cooperative. Everything was done perfectly on time, and there weren’t many hassles.

I jogged all the way back the entry gate where I laid the form down with a flourish… only to be rejected immediately. The form was for employees only. As a trainee, I’d have to draft a letter. I didn’t understand how it made a difference, but then again, the universe is a weird place.

So I went back to my office, typed the letter, and gave it for signing a third time. After I received it, I went back and laid it down with a little less flourish. The security head saw that I’m from Delhi, and started chatting about the city. He lived in Palam and Dhaula Kuan (poshmax!) for a few years, and was in praise of the city, being massively critical about the safety, especially at night, which is a valid point. Here in Mumbai you can roam the streets freely at 3AM without the fear of being gang-raped in a moving bus.

He signed off on the letter, and now I have my laptop back. I asked security if they’d finished my blog post on Hannibal. They hadn’t. I promised never to hurt someone I loved so much ever again. I can bring it to work every day now.

If you’ve stuck around till now, congratulations! You’ve read a two thousand word post and wasted a lot of your precious time when you could’ve been doing, you know, other productive thing (lol we both know you were going to Reddit anyway. Or 9GAG if you’re a tool). Nevertheless, I’m done with a week and apart from a few problems with the maids at home, I’ve settled into routine, apparently. If there is such a thing as routine. I’m not sure if I’ll blog anytime in the future, but that’s mostly because I’ve run out of ideas.

(Maybe you can leave some ideas in the comments?)

Of Movies And Big Screens

Four months into 2014, and I remember that I have a blog which I swore to maintain. Who did I swear to? Myself. Does this mean that I die if I don’t update my blog? No, since I haven’t updated it, and I’m quite alive. Does this meant that swears are pointless? Indeed. But why am I mentioning this? To increase the word-count of this post Because why not? Then why am I writing this post? I know you’re all dying to be blown away by another one of my literary masterpieces and the last few posts have made you hungry for more. And I decided to throw you all a bone.

A few days ago, I was sitting at the Nescafe in the college with Kilol and Fahad, when the topic of movies came up. FabFahad mentioned that he doesn’t watch English movies because “laptop screen pe movie dekhi nahi jaati“. Kilol seemed to agree with this sentiment, in the sense that everyone is entitled to their own opinions.

After my initial urge to smash Fahad’s head in with a hammer had subsided (not Kilol’s though, she’s cute), I began to wonder about this. What is a movie experience? How would you define one? Movies are unique in way – they’re completely different from other forms of artistic media of expression like books and music such that they’re specifically shot to be shown on the big screen. A book publisher chooses a typeface and font size, but the author may not specifically recommend one. A musician may want his music to sound in a particular way, but may not have issues over its method of distribution (digital or physical media). As long as they reach their customers, they’re happy.

Movies, though. Filmmakers are extremely specific in the way content is delivered. The choice of aspect ratios, the nuances in sound mixing and many more are pondered upon meticulously by them. Because they want the viewer to be lost in their world to guarantee as much immersion as intended. (This is the cornerstone of the smoking-message debate). I understand this.

Certain movies like Avatar and Gravity simply do not work outside the cinema hall. Avatar is probably the best example. I remember watching it in 2D at PVR and being completely blown away by the visuals. So profound was the effect that I convinced myself to ignore the (many) plot holes and errors in the film. Notably, Avatar and Gravity made a lot a money owing to their use of 3D, which convinces many studios to start producing 3D films and converting films shot in 2D to 3D during post-production. The re-release and subsequent success of Titanic and Jurassic Park to name a few reinforces the fact that the audience cherishes a grand movie watching experience. The rise in the sales of large-screen TVs, Blu-Ray players, home-theatre systems further provides proof of this phenomenon.

Till now, this felt like an essay I’d write in an English exam (basically full of bullshit to inflate the word count), but this post isn’t about the others. It’s about how feel. Looking back at all the hundreds of movies I’ve watched (claiming to be a movie buff in the process), I realized that most of them weren’t seen in the theatre. They were either seen on my TV, laptop or even a tiny phone screen. If you were to hold me at gunpoint and ask me to rattle off my favourite movies of all time, it would closely resemble IMDB’s Top 10 list.

I saw The Shawshank Redemption on my 21″ Sony TV on Zee Studio, which had censored a lot of portions. Just like it did then, Red’s concluding monologue about the Pacific Ocean gives me goose bumps till this date.

At the age of eight, when my beautiful little face was contorted by pockmarks (thanks a lot, VZV), dad brought home a VCD (remember those?) of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. My jaw still drops when the Battle of Helm’s Deep is fought.

Owing to its length and severe lack to time due to exam preparation, I saw The Godfather: Part II in four instalments on my 17″ monitor with god-awful speakers and running subtitles to decipher what everyone was saying in Italian accents. Al Pacino’s wide, bulging eyes, when he slapped Diane Keaton right across the face, will remain etched in my mind.

I saw JJ Abrams’s take on Star Trek on my 40” TV which begins with a stunning set-piece immediately followed by some of the most iconic movie themes I’ve had the pleasure to experience. In a hilarious reversal of status quo, I tried to recreate the experience by catching its sequel in the theatres, but nothing came close to capturing the sense of awe I had experienced with the first one.

There are many more additions to this list, notably Psycho, L.A. Confidential, The Dark Knight, The Matrix, Inception, Toy Story 3, Looper, Primer… none of which I managed to catch in the theatre, irrespective of their release dates. They’re all examples powerful, though-provoking, cerebral cinema which I aspire to watch whenever I decide to watch one. And I don’t think I need a cinema hall for that.

If I were a filmmaker, I’d probably be offended by someone remarking they were underwhelmed by my creation simply because they saw it on a smaller screen. By extension, I believe good cinema is only one which can convey the desired emotion irrespective of its medium of distribution. Otherwise, many classics won’t be held in high regard, as it’s safe to assume a majority of the movie-going population hasn’t seen many of them in a cinema hall.

This post/rant ends here. Have a drawn a conclusion? I think I have. But can I say this with absolute certainty? Definitely not. I clearly had higher expectation from this post. Part of me hoped I’d get a clearer answer when I end it, but that hasn’t happened. I can say that Fahad’s opinion is incorrect, but surely cannot vouch for the validity of mine as well. I can feel a sense of frustration welling up inside you, as you realise this post will end in the top wobbling. I’ll leave the decision up to you.

P.S: I wasn’t lying about the head-smashing. I can totally do that.



P.P.S: It just struck me that Fahad may be referring to poor posture leading to a general sense of discomfort. In which case this rant was totally pointless.

A Test of Character for the Red Devils

A Picture of Despair (Photo credit: /u/hubwub on /r/reddevils)

22nd September 2013 shall forever be a turning point in Manchester United’s history. It will be seen as the moment when United players and fans alike were asked the question. A question of character. Of resilience. Of having to do what is necessary. Fate will be rewritten as per how this questions is answered.

Phenomenal scenes at the Etihad stadium were witnessed today. United’s new manager – one after nearly twenty years – attended his first derby game. Moyes has managed Everton for a while now, and isn’t a stranger to ruthless derbies. The Merseyside derby has been contested fiercely each year. But this was an entirely new level. The Manchester derby is more technical than physical than its Merseyide counterpart. And David was tactically outplayed in every department.

City figured out United didn’t have a plan B. United haven’t been able to withstand pacy games for a few years now. After Ronaldo’s departure and a sharp decline in Nani and Young’s forms, the speed has been sucked from United’s traditional counter-attacking play. United depend upon slower teams in the Premier League and a reason why their record against Chelsea is poor is because of the latter’s speed in play.

But that is all history. The Ferguson era is over. We cannot dwell on glory-days gone by, like other clubs. We must look ahead. Just like Fergie did when he lost 6-1 to City. He attacked next season and won the league right under their noses.

Another Important Defeat (Photo credits: The Daily Mail)

Another Important Defeat (Photo credits: The Daily Mail)

Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United F.C.

It’s all in the past. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Which is why today’s 4-1 humiliation at the hands of one of our biggest rivals is an important loss in this transitional period. It goes to show just what is wrong with United today. This isn’t David Moyes’s United. This is Alex Ferguson’s United being handled by David Moyes. Moyes has to bring some sweeping reforms into the club and make players adapt to his style. Having a manager who isn’t comfortable with the current style won’t help. This may backfire (like Pep’s Bayern) initially, but the other alternative isn’t working.  When Ferguson was appointed as United manager in 1986, he didn’t have a tip-top trophy-winning squad. These were unfit, pot-bellied players having tea at halftime. Fergie transformed this into Europe’s biggest club, but it took time. He eyed long-term success and he achieved it. He brought in the Class of ’92 who were the harbingers of trophies. Moyes has to do the same.

There isn’t a dearth of talent in the youth system. Januzaj and Zaha are already sparkling and Lingard is turning heads in the youth squad. Tom Cleverley’s presence in the dying moments of the second half today showed a transformed midfield. Rooney is approaching new heights as demonstrated by his performance against Leverkusen and his stunning long-range free-kick today. The main problem is underperforming players like Young and Nani, who’re clearly past their prime now.  Tough decisions have to be made. Moyes isn’t one to shy away from them as he had no problem in letting Rene and Gill leave. They must learn to adapt or exit gracefully.

Rebuilding Manchester United is a tough task. It will take a lot of time. The last time it happened, it took six years. But it was effective for twenty. Hopefully, that time frame will be lowered now. We must show faith in our new manager, just as we showed in our old one, during his early years. I’m completely prepared for trophy-less seasons in the near-future.

As for us fans, this is our question. Of character. We must show our trust in Moyes. We must not lose faith. We must believe.

In conclusion, I’ll leave you with my Facebook rant just after the match.

All you Manchester United “fans” who turn their backs on this club at an inkling of poor form, your fickle nature disgusts me. If you can’t be with your team during defeats, you shouldn’t show up for their successes. We’ve been through worse and we’ve always risen from the ashes. We will rise again. Glory Glory.

Review: Man of Steel

Man of Steel theatrical release poster

Man of Steel theatrical release poster

I was one of the rare persons in my friend-circle to not be too excited regarding Man of Steel. I’d read that Chris Nolan would be returning to reboot the Superman series, and having done such a fantastic job with the Batman series (which no one would touch by a long stick after the sad demise of Batman and Robin), I was intrigued. However, when I found out that he would be involved only in the production and story, and not directing, my heart sank a little. It plummeted when I found out Snyder had been handed over the directorial responsibilities. Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of Snyder’s films. I disliked Watchmen, generally and hated Sucker Punch. Of course, I loved 300. I was worried that there might be too many slow-mo sequences in Man of Steel as well, which would destroy the movie like Sucker Punch. Nevertheless, a little Nolan touch couldn’t hurt, so I had to know how the movie was.

It all starts off in Krypton. The planet’s core has become unstable and will soon lead to the creation of a singularity which will consume the planet. Pike sends Kirk and Sulu to disable the machine which is killing the core. Unfortunately, it’s too late and Vulcan is dest–

Wait. Wrong movie. I can’t be blamed, though. Because this is exactly how Man of Steel opens. Krypton is being destroyed, villains to fight, too late to stop it, yada yada yada. There’s also some babble about some Codex or something (reminiscent of the babble in Prometheus) to be sent with Kal-El to Earth, which is seen to by Jor-El. Zod is there to ensure this doesn’t happen.

On Earth, Kal-El (now Clark Kent) hops from job-to-job, falsifying his identity and disappearing after being forced to reveal the full powers of his superhuman strength while saving people around him from dangers. In second act, the film alternates between real-time and flashbacks continuously as you see Clark’s childhood, teenage and young-adult days as he struggles to cope with his unusual powers. None of this is particularly confusing, and I personally felt this portion was handled nicely. Lois Lane (played well by the charming Amy Adams) is also introduced as a beauty-with-brains Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist who tries to decipher the Superman’s real identity. Halfway into the movie, Zod arrives to seek out Kal-El, leaving us with a massive and really, really long battle sequence which constructs the film’s finale.

Now you’d be an idiot if you walked into a Superman movie and detested the action. Clark Kent isn’t an intelligent detective like Bruce Wayne was. So there’s less of intellect and more of bad-guy bashing, upholding humane ideals and dealing out justice. The supposedly true embodiment of America. Here is where Zack Snyder seems to take over the reigns of the horse and boy does he race well. The action sequences are unlike anything you’ve seen before. This is CGI-porn at it’s finest. We haven’t been strangers to massive on-screen battles which leave large cities in ruins (consider the Transformers movie series or more recently, Marvel’s The Avengers), but watching just a few individuals battle it out is a sight to behold. There’s a particularly gripping choreographed fight sequence between Zod and Kent where they fly through the city trading blows. There’s no slow-mo involved anywhere and yet you’re able to keep track of the action.

There are a few problems though – ones which cannot be ignored. The film was shot in 2D and converted to 3D, which explains why the colours look terrible. It’s a pity Nolan (as Producer) allowed such a travesty to happen, as he’s always been particular to shoot movies in good ol’ normal 2D, opting for IMAX cameras only in The Dark Knight Rises, and ignoring 3D even then. When you see Superman flying over green pastures bisecting hordes of zebras, you want to see it in glorious, gorgeous 2D.

There’s also the excessive use of shaky-cam which may lead to bouts of dizziness for the inexperienced. Znyder also prefers to zoom in really quickly onto the subjects in certain scenes. This, too, is used a lot, but works to a large extent.

Maybe Znyder tries too hard. Maybe he doesn’t. Maybe it’s perfect. But many may not agree with his skills here, and opinions are certain to be divided on this.

But he does manage to extract great performances from his cast. Russel Crowe as Jor-El manages to make the otherwise boring opening act watchable. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane portray Clark Kent’s adoptive parents who love their son, but know that he’s destined for greater things. They’re instrumental in convincing Superman (and you) why he shouldn’t reveal his powers to the rest of humanity. Michael Shannon is terrific as General Zod. Here we have a villain who has a fairly justifiable agenda to conquer the Earth and pursue Clark Kent. He’s every bit as menacing as a villain and is equals Superman’s ability. He’s ruthless and unrelenting in his quest to fulfill his mission. Henry Cavill is also fantastic as Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman, exhibiting just enough vulnerability when required, and bringing the action-movie-man looks when the time comes to battle. Surprisingly, however, it is Antje Traue as Zod’s sub-commander Faora who kicks ass in the final act. It’s difficult to explain how, or why, but you’ll understand when you watch the film.

While watching Man of Steel, my mind continuously wandered to Nolan’s Batman, and here’s where most of the film’s criticism lies. There’s hardly any humour. Not that there was much in the Batman series, but there was general amusement throughout the movies, something which is a staple of Nolan’s directorial flair. Not here, though. As a result, it pales in comparison to Batman Begins. It simply fails to be a satisfying reboot to reach the fairly high standard Batman Begins set (as a reboot).

What really binds the movie, though, is Hans Zimmer’s exceptional music score. You might complain that it is deafening during the final act, and you’d be right, but it makes the action sequences all the more exciting to watch. If you listen to the soundtrack while pooping, it would be the single-most epic poop you’d have ever pooped. The sound effects, especially when Superman takes flight, sound so marvelous reverberating through the hall while shaking your seats. It’s a visceral experience, with each sound punching your gut knocking the wind out of your stomach till you gasp for breath…

…which puts me in the unusual position of wholeheartedly recommending a film to watch at the cinemas, despite it being only a good film. Man of Steel isn’t the best superhero film, but probably one of the better Superman films. It is, however, an extremely promising reboot and I eagerly await the next edition. You must keep in mind that Batman Begins wasn’t the classic it’s successor was, so we can hope for a better Superman film from Znyder-Nolan-Goyer in the future.

My rating for Man of Steel: 7/10

Review: Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

I have a confession to make. I have a slight man crush on Ranbir Kapoor. He’s undoubtedly one of the finest young actors in the country right now. Not only are his acting skills impressive, his choice of movies is also generally unconventional and bold. A risk which no A-lister will generally take (referring to Wake Up Sid! and Barfi! in particular). So when I heard about his participation in YJHD, I was intrigued. Director Ayan Mukherjee had returned after a long time, his debut film being the surprisingly mature Wake Up Sid!. This raided my excitement level. The trailers didn’t look particularly promising, but hey. Don’t judge a book by its cover, right?
Never have I been so wrong.
Within the first five minutes, I knew I had made a huge mistake spending Dad’s precious money. We’re introduced to Deepika Padukone, a nerdy girl with biology textbooks being her only companion. She leads a frustrated lifestyle simply because she’s sick of studying and wants to enjoy life. So when she learns that her acquaintances (played by Kalki, Aditya and Ranbir) are planning an excursion to Manali, she leaves her place in an impromptu decision and decides to accompany them. The first half chronicles their adventures in Manali (actually shot in Gulmarg and passed of as Manali, much to Omar Abdullah’s annoyance). Initially shy and reserved, Deepika quickly loses her inhibitions when she bonds with her aforementioned acquaintances and showcases her wild side. Now since this is a Hindi movie, she inadvertently falls in love with Ranbir (named, I kid you not, Bunny. How does one fall in love with someone named Bunny?). Obviously, since this is a Hindi movie, she can’t be with him because Ranbir wants to travel the world, against the wishes of his caring father and step-mother.

This is typical Karan Johar. The cinematography and locations are prime with no blemish in sight. People break into perfectly choreographed dances given the opportunity. There’s even that moment when the leads know they’ve fallen for each other. Now since this is Karan Johar, he can’t seem to satisfy his endless appetite of marriages. So naturally, the second half there’s the wedding. That’s right. An entire half. The funny thing here is the second half is significantly better than than the first. You can imagine how the first half was, if I’m stating that I enjoyed watching yet another Karan Johar Big Fat Indian Wedding.

There are some inexplicable moments throughout the movie. An extremely experienced and adventurous trekker, Ranbir tires faster than Deepika, who you’d remember, has had practically zero adventures. The duo trek to an abandoned mountain completely obvious to their instructor who specifically advised them against it, without any repercussions. The narrative hinges itself on certain plot points which will leave you scratching your heads, most of which I cannot reveal because spoilers.

Credit where it’s due, though. The film isn’t entirely unwatchable. This mostly because of Ayan’s masterful direction. The friendship amongst the four is beautifully done and you can feel their troubles as they to through them. There’s a wonderfully understated romance between Kalki and Aditya, which tends to become a major plot point in the future. But Ayan doesn’t unnecessarily give us mushy-mushy scenes. It’s a refreshing take on relationships; a mature one – something he has proven he can handle in his directorial debut. Of course, the two leads do get together in the end but I loved the way the eventual fate of the other two was decided.

Some scenes stand out for the emotional impact they have on the audience, although these are few and far between. There’s a powerful, poignant moment where Ranbir reconciles with his step-mother as he longs for catharsis. It’s beautifully shot and never overstated. There are no words spoken and there’s no over-the-top crying. But it manages to moisten your eyes when you least expect it.

Then there’s the cast. The ensemble cast is excellent. This is not exaggeration. Everyone hits the right notes. Farooq Sheikh and Tanvi Azmi are nicely cast as Ranbir’s caring yet misunderstood parents. Kalki is a revelation as she fits well into the vodka- guzzling adventurous-girl role torn between love and stability. Aditya exhibits the right amount of vulnerability when required as he plays a financially unstable bar owner who struggles with his gambling problem and alcohol addiction (which I learnt was basically his role in Aashiqui 2). Ranbir is great as always, oozing charm, although his character seems a little too perfect to be successful in the real world. It’s surprising how Ayan managed to extract every shred of emotion from Deepika as well. In what is arguably her best performance till date, she’s able to essay her equally incredulous character with ease, never once failing to drop the high level of chemistry she shares with her (alleged) real-world boyfriend.

In the end, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is essentially a flawed film, but only because of the incredulous plot. However it’s made immensely watchable by a fantastic assortment of actors. I’d certainly not recommend seeing it in a movie theatre, but it won’t be a bad idea to rent it on DVD (or those new-fangled Blu-Rays, if you’re classy) to watch it on a lazy weekend.

My Rating for Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani: 6/10