By: Keyur Seta
He also speaks about airplanes during Ramayana era and other interesting things related to mythology during the launch of his book Shattered Deams.
Author Shubha Vilas explained the importance of epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata by highlighting that such books were the only source of learning even for great emperors. “Shivaji Maharaj gained knowledge and wisdom only from these epics. How can a great emperor like him rely only on two books? So I feel it is now time to show how exciting and enlightening these epics are.”
He was speaking at the launch of his book Shattered Dreams, the second in the six part series on Ramayana. The first titled Rise Of The Sun Prince released last year. Prominent columnist Anil Dharker was the guest at the event, which took place at the Kemps Corner branch of Crosswords in Mumbai on Thursday.
Vilas spoke about the mixture of entertainment and enlightenment produced by such epics. “The heart requires entertainment but mind requires enlightenment. When there is a mixture of both, it becomes a complete experience.”
In his book, Vilas has described an airplane called Pushpak Vimana. There have been a lot of talks and debates currently over whether there were airplanes in India thousands of years ago. So, obviously, Vilas was asked about this. His answer became the highlight of the event.
“NASA has appointed two Sanskrit scholars on their payroll. Their job is to interpret Vedic texts, especially Vimana Shastra, which was written during Ramayana by Maharishi Bhardwaj. Vimana Shastra has detailed descriptions on how to make a flying machine. So, if NASA believes in it, there has to be some truth in it,” he said.
By referring to his book, Vilas also described the dissatisfaction among people these days. “Villagers look for something more promising in cities, city dwellers look at America for the same reason and Americans look at the moon. The wise prefer to be satisfied in the existing.” He also criticized the attitude of people living in cities when it comes to reading epics. “They ask, what is in it for me and how will it help me if I invest two hours in it?”
During the course of the discussion, Dharker pointed out about the growing interest among authors in mythology. “Few years ago, you (Vilas) wouldn’t have thought about writing such a book. Also, nowadays publishers have opened up to different types of literature. It is good that people like Shubha are modernizing our epics and teaching life lessons through it.”
By: Keyur Seta
(This post is a part of #UseYourAnd activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette Venus. Under this activity, we have to write about a woman who, after being just a wife, went on to join a profession.)
For those grown up in late 80s and 90s, like I was, it was a normal thing to see a woman either choosing to be a wife or a hardworking professional. Through the society, films and advertisements, we were always indirectly told that a woman can’t play both the roles. If she starts working somewhere after finishing college, it is obvious that she will have to give up her career after she gets married to serve her family and raise kids.
But no society can escape change and India is no different. The aforementioned notion about women has changed quite a bit over the years as now she chooses to be a working professional along with being a wife. However, the change is far from complete. There is still a long way to go before the regressive ideologies get completely washed out.
But be rest assured, we are reaching there slowly but surely. There are a number of unknown faces going through such self-realization. I would like to highlight the story of one such woman, whose name I am not aware of.
Many a times, we come face-to-face with real-life inspiring stories in the most unexpected situations. Had anybody predicted that I would hear an inspirational tale while I was looking after my grandmother when she was admitted in hospital, I wouldn’t have believed that person. But this is exactly how it happened in mid-2013.
The protagonist of the story is the caretaker or helper at the hospital, someone who works under the nurse. We found her to be cheerful and, energetic and full of life; someone who always smiled and happily chit-chatted even while doing petty jobs (petty on paper but difficult in reality). But some smiles are earned after prolong periods of sorrow and grief. Her case wasn’t different.
We came to know about her dark past after she narrated it to my granny after building a rapport with her over the days spent. Belonging to the lower strata of society, she was one of the many unpaid maids disguised as housewives. But the biggest pain in life was her drunkard husband. Staying with a man who regularly consumes alcohol and creates havoc can make any wife experience hell on earth.
Her case was even worse since her husband faced serious health issues and was strictly advised to keep away from the bottle. But temptation can make anyone logically blind and he too fell under this category. Despite being urged to stop his habit, he didn’t. The outcome was his untimely death, leaving behind his wife, two small kids and his mother. The woman’s grief was coupled by a frightening question of who will run the house and feed everyone.
Instead of looking for answers from and caring about anyone, she answered it herself by deciding to work at this hospital. Although she didn’t tell this, it is quite obvious that the initial period would have been terribly tough to deal with. But here she is today, smiling her way through the tedious and thankless job and feeding her family. When life presented her with muck (keechad), she grew a lotus in it.
There are many out there constantly proving or trying to prove the regressive theories wrong.
By: Keyur Seta
‘Common Man’ is no ordinary title. The term has given a unique and respectful identity to a large majority of Indians falling into the middle-class and upper middle-class category. They may be divided by religion, caste, language, region or what not, but they stand united under the umbrella of ‘Common Man’.
This title has given them a voice. It has highlighted the fact that the betterment of India can only take place when the life of people falling in this category is bettered. This can be seen from the fact that the main agenda of each political party in India is to serve the Common Man. Whether they have been able to achieve it is a different story. Hence, it won’t be an overstatement that ‘Common Man’ is a revolutionary title.
Today, the person who coined this title breathed his last. India’s greatest cartoonist R K Laxman returned to heavenly abode at a Pune hospital after a prolonged illness at the age of 94. May his soul Rest In Peace.
There is no doubt that he was an excellent cartoonist; easily the best the country has seen. However, he has influenced my life more by his ‘Common Man’ feature. In fact, I live this theory every moment as it has become the most important philosophy of my life.
Needless to say, the name of this blog is solely influenced by Laxman’s ‘Common Man’. Although I also considered Naseeruddin Shah’s character in A Wednesday while naming it, the germ of this philosophy was created by Laxman. Today, the name of my blog has played a large role in whatever little acceptance it has received from readers, friends and well-wishers. All thanks to R K Laxman!
The man has passed away but his legacy of ‘Common Man’ will be kept alive in various ways. The ‘Common Man’ might fail every now and then but he will never get tired.
Rating: * *
By: Keyur Seta
A film about the ideologies and teachings of an inspirational personality, who has a Godly status among his followers, should ideally be a soul-stirring affair. If not this, it should at least be filled with moments that touch you.
Director Atul Kale’s Balkadu has such instances but they are only few and far between. The film overall turns out to be a wannabe type due to some weak writing and execution. It also bears striking similarities with Mahesh Manjrekar’s Mee Shivajiraje Bhosale Boltoy.
The story revolves around Balkrushna Patil (Umesh Kamat), who is a school teacher staying in Mumbai’s Nala Sopara. His professional and personal life, including his relation with his childhood sweetheart Sai (Neha Pendse), is far from perfect.
As he teaches History, he starts suffering from a condition where he hears voices of historical personalities. Among these voices, the most prominent one is that of the late Shiv Sena Supremo Balasaheb Thackeray. At the same time, Balkrushna’s heart bleeds to see the condition of Marathi people in Mumbai. Will Thackeray’s guidance turn out to be an inspiration for him?
Balkadu’s motto is to spread Thackeray’s message for his followers to fight for their rights. But the primary objective of every film is to tell an interesting tale and this is where it falters. The biggest weakness here is the writing. There is hardly any story in the first half. This ensures a screenplay with errors and without any flow.
Things remain the same post-interval. The protagonist’s manner of enlightening and the way the revolution spreads is unconvincing and, at times, unintentionally hilarious. His idea of Marathis moving from the outskirts of Mumbai into the heart of the city is also impractical. Due to these issues, the inspirational message, barring few moments, hardly has any effect on you, especially the speeches, which appear corny.
Another worrisome aspect is the justification given for vandalism. Also, abhorring the idea of Marathi girls marrying non-Marathi guys is regressive in today’s era.
From the music, the Powada song is the only impressive number. But it is quite funny to see a teacher singing and dancing to such a song while teaching history. The camerawork falls in the good category while the background music is too loud.
Apart from some genuinely funny moments, it is Umesh Kamat’s performance that keeps the film going. He gets his act right by portraying various emotions with ease. Prasad Oak is highly convincing as the bad guy. Neha Pendse isn’t bad. As Balkrushna’s mother, Supriya Pathare provides an entertaining act. The actor playing the channel head is average. Anand Ingale is likable while Tiku Talsania is over-the-top. Pushkar Shrotri impresses in a cameo.
Overall: Balkadu doesn’t create the desired effect due to various issues. The film stands some chance at the box office due to the hype.
Director: Atul Kale
Producers: The Great Maratha Entertainment
Writers: Ganesh Pandit and Ambar Hadap
Cast: Umesh Kamat, Prasad Oak, Neha Pendse, Supriya Pathare, Anand Ingale, Tiku Talsania
Release Date: January 23, 2015
Rating: * * * *
By: Keyur Seta
When was the last time Bollywood produced a well-crafted edge-of-the-seat action thriller? It is extremely difficult to answer this question. But director Neeraj Pandey has answered it with Baby and how! He has come up with a hardcore mainstream action flick but at the same time steered away from the usual clichés seen in our films. The last point also forces me to say that Bollywood has finally come up with an action flick of international standards.
Baby revolves around Ajay (Akshay Kumar), who is a top covert intelligence officer of India. He is part of a secret team called Baby, which is formed after the 26/11 attacks. He works under Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) chief Feroze Khan (Danny Denzongpa), with whom he has a great rapport. Ajay gets another feather in his cap when he foils a deadly terrorist attack on Delhi.
But soon, Bilal Khan (Kay Kay Menon), a terrorist arrested in Mumbai, manages to escape with the help of his group members. He joins his team to help them carry out something very big in India. The mastermind behind all such terror activities is the very dangerous and sinister Maulana Mohammad Rehman (Rashid Naz).
Baby is one of the rarest Hindi films of today’s era which doesn’t allow you to take your eyes off the screen. This is its biggest victory for which the writers deserve high applause for a watertight screenplay and witty dialogues. The unpredictability in the narrative, especially towards the ending moments, also plays a role in making this film way different from the normal action flicks. The climax deserves special mention for the nail-biting experience it provides.
Another reason why Baby stands out is that it keeps all the typical Bollywood clichés and stereotypes away, not only in terms of the narrative but also in terms of character traits. Plus, it doesn’t make a hue and cry about it. For example, the fight scene featuring Taapsee Pannu isn’t presented in a way to show that girls can also rough up men. Everything happens as if it is normal. However, the same isn’t the case with the character of Ajay’s wife.
Other minor drawbacks include the usual action flick errors, especially during few moments in the climax. But such hiccups are understandable for such genre of films and they don’t spoil the fun in any way.
Sudeep Chatterjee’s camerawork is also a major factor in the film rising to such levels. He continues from where he left in Dhoom 3. Apart from a short romantic track, there are no songs. The makers should be lauded for not compromising on this. Specific background tunes create the desired effect. But few sounds shouldn’t have been so loud. The editor too has packaged the product perfectly. Thankfully, the action sequences are believable and not at all over-the-top like we have seen in numerous south remakes.
Lastly, Baby wouldn’t have been what it is without Akshay Kumar’s brilliant act. The Khiladi is in prime form in a role only he could have essayed. This is something he hasn’t played in the last few years despite doing quite a few action flicks. Danny Denzongpa and Kay Kay Menon play their respective characters well.
Rashid Naz highly succeeds in creating terror despite his role not being lengthy. It shows that you don’t need villainous antics if you have perfect expressions and body language. In fact, it is difficult to believe him to be a fictional character. Anupam Kher and Taapse Pannu excel in special roles. Rana Daggubati, Mikaal Zulfikar and others provide good support.
Overall: Baby is a new-age, powerful action flick that impresses you throughout. After A Wednesday and Special 26, Neeraj Pandey reinforces his image as a quality filmmaker. The hype and the final product will make Baby a profitable venture at the box office.
Director: Neeraj Pandey
Producers: Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar and Shital Bhatia
Writer: Neeraj Pandey
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Danny Denzongpa, Kay Kay Menon, Rashid Naz, Anupam Kher, Rana Daggubati, Taapsee Pannu
Rating: * * ½
By: Keyur Seta
Director: Aditya Sarpotdar
Producers: Video Palace and S K Production Films
Writers: Kshitij Patwardhan and Sameer Vidwans
Cast: Ankush Choudhary, Siddharth Chandekar, Sai Tamhankar, Sonalee Kulkarni, Sachit Patil, Pallavi Patil
Review: Director Aditya Sarpotdar’s Classmates focuses on a group of college friends and their life after college. Such a subject instantly reminds you of Sanjay Jadhav’s Duniyadari. Funnily enough, Classmates turns out to be like a remake of Duniyadari, with the additional elements of political war and suspense woven into the main plot. In spite of this, the film keeps your interest alive only to dish out some disappointment in the end.
The story commences in 2015 when a group of friends inaugurates a music section in the college from where they passed out. Starting a music section in the college was a dream of their friend who is no more. A shocking incident just after the inauguration forces them to go recall their college days during the final year 20 years ago.
In 1995, Satya (Ankush Choudhary), Aparna aka Appu (Sai Tamhankar) and their group, from TYBA, are known for their aggressive ways. First year students Ani (Siddharth Chandekar), Aditi (Sonalee Kulkarni), Rohit (Sachit Patil) and Heena (Pallavi Patil) also become a part of their lives. The college elections that year changes their lives forever.
Just a couple of minutes into the film and you get a déjà vu about Duniyadari. As the minutes roll by, you get a scary feeling that you are being re-served the 2013 blockbuster in a new bottle, not only in terms of the basic scenario but also the traits of two or three main characters. Thankfully, inclusion of political and mystery angles make sure it is not a complete remake.
These elements do lift the film as it keeps you guessing till the end. Sarpotdar’s manner of presenting various twists and their timing ensure dramatic thrill regularly. However, the final twist and conclusion isn’t much convincing, although it takes you by surprise. You feel there is something amiss. Plus, the final scene brings back memories of Duniyadari. The film also suffers from being dragged in the second half. Its high length of 153 minutes isn’t justified.
Music (Amitraj, Avinash-Vishwajeet, Troy-Arif, Pankaj Padghan) plays an important part as the songs suit the situations and prove to be hummable. The camerawork and background score are also as per the need.
As for the performances, the film mainly belongs to Siddharth Chandekar, who perfectly gets into the skin of his character and provides a mature act. Ankush Choudhary too packs a punch but his character is very similar to the one he played in Duniyadari. Sai Tamhankar proves to be effective once again in two starkly opposite characters.
Sachit Patil performs well while playing an interesting character. Sonalee Kulkarni, Pallavi Patil and Sushant Shelar play their respective characters well. The rest of the actors provide decent support.
Overall: Classmates is an average college film. Its similarities with Duniyadari will also go against it. Due to a good amount of publicity, the film will do well at the box office in the first week.
Rating: * *
By: Keyur Seta
Director S Shankar’s latest movie ‘I’ took three years in the making. This is visible from its final product as it is extremely challenging for coming up something like this. So the long period of making is justifiable. But what isn’t justifiable is the faulty storyline and shoddy narration, which make sure that the humongous efforts and Vikram’s brilliant act don’t hold much value.
'I' tells the story of a simpleton Lingesan aka Lee (Vikram), a body builder, who is crazy for the model Diya (Amy Jackson). He not only gets to act with her in ad films but also gets her love. However, he pays a price for it when he becomes a scary-looking hunchbacked man. How did Lee transform into something like this? Will he ever return to his normal self?
‘I’ has Shankar’s trademark stamp all over it; right from the action sequences to the creative manner of linking scenes. But what takes the cake hands down is Vikram more than outstanding performance! The actor has set a benchmark of dedication in a role that is physically and mentally draining. Hats off! The film also shines in the areas of VFX, prosthetics and camerawork.
Unfortunately, as stated before, these plusses don’t ensure a satisfying experience due to a number of major issues the film faces. They can be listed as below:-
- The basic storyline has two dimensions. The first is professional rivalry, which is fine. But the second is as unintentionally hilarious as a love triangle between a male, female and transgender!
- The first half is an action masala entertainer, very much on par with south Indian film standards. However in the second half, the film becomes a disturbing and depressing saga about the terrible skin ailment of Lee.
- Advertisement film actors are portrayed as famous film stars. Seriously, how can those promoting products like soap, shampoo and sanitary napkins enjoy the same stardom a commercial film actor enjoys?
- The ‘number one’ ad film star ruins the future of a fellow female star after she refuses to sleep with him. To regain her lost stardom, she takes the help of a man who is not only novice but also someone who has nothing to do with the acting or ad world. She even begs in front of him to help her out!
- ‘I’ portrays people from the transgender in the most pathetic manner. It is scary to see that even in 2015 we are portraying them as a means for cheap humor. The film also shows insensitivity towards people hit by seriously terrible skin ailments.
- A lot of action sequences are just too over-indulgent. The biggest example is the bicycle fight scene atop roofs. The same is the case with the many one-liners, which are straight out of those silly south Indian dubbed films we see on Hindi movie channels.
- There is an unintentionally hilarious character of a doctor. He treats a host of diseases like common ailments, hair fall, skin diseases, dental issues, inspecting reactions of some dangerous and almost unknown viruses, etc. When need arises, he also supplies his plumber to his patients (this is not an exaggeration).
- Talking about unintentional hilarity, it is aplenty in the behavioral traits of the characters and the things they say.
- There is an overdose of songs and they aren’t impressive either. To be frank, it is the bad Hindi lyrics that are more at fault. But their length adds to the already high length of 188 minutes! A song where Vikram appears as an animal-like creature deserves special mention for being annoying!
Coming to other performances, Amy Jackson and Upen Patel are decent. Ramkumar Ganesan is more funny than villainous. Suresh Gopi, who plays the doctor, also suffers due to the writing. The rest of the actors aren’t much to talk about. They are also hampered by the script.
Overall, ‘I’ is disappointing due to its writing despite some technical brilliance.
(Note: The following article is not a car review. It lists down the author’s opinions on the features of the car.)
By: Keyur Seta
The mention of Tata Motors instantly brings to my mind the Tata Zest experience, which was an interesting and memorable bloggers’ activity in Goa in association with Blog Adda. The same memories were revived when I came to know of another Blog Adda activity with Tata Motors, this time about their upcoming car Tata Bolt.
As per the exercise, we, the bloggers, had to visit a mall, where the Bolt is displayed for the public, and inspect the car and write down its features. To be honest, I hardly possess any knowledge about cars. So my description about the features is more like that of a layman.
Space: The comfort of the passengers holds high importance as it is the first thing that a passenger notices. It holds more importance if one goes on a long drive. I found Tata Zest to be well spacious. But I found Bolt even better on that aspect as I was able to stretch my legs well forward, both in front and back seats. Talking about wideness, the back seat is also as wide as in the Zest.
Dickey: You realize that the makers have cut down the space of the dickey in order to make it spacious. But when you do check the dickey, you realize they have compromised its space on a lesser degree only. Plus, its design is such that it doesn’t make much of a difference in terms of the space.
Body: The body of Bolt is smooth, shining and attractive. It feels good to caress it. What’s more important is that apart from the looks, it also appears strong.
Engine: Without going into the technicalities of the engine, let me tell you that the look of the engine was a pleasant surprise for me. Its super stylish looks made it very attractive, which isn’t the adjective we use to describe engines of normal cars. It looks somewhat similar to the one we see in sports cars.
Steering: Bolt has a modern electronic steering, which is comfortable to operate.
Modes: You can switch on any of the three modes. 1) Sport: As per the name, it is useful when you just wish to zoom ahead fast. 2) Eco: Helps in fuel efficiency. 3) City: This one is a balance of the first two.
Entertainment: It has eight speakers that produce impressive surround sound. And as expected from a new age car, its music system has gadget connectivity features with touchscreen facility.
Petrol Version: Revotron 1.2T with Max Power of 90 PS @ 5000 RPM
Diesel Version: Quadrajet 1.3L with Max Power 75 PS @ 4000 RPM
(The mileage and price are not revealed yet. They shall be revealed later this month at the launch [January].)
By: Keyur Seta
Actress Kangana Ranaut has spoken about herself during her innumerable interviews. However, very few of us know that she considers Swami Vivekananda as her biggest inspiration and motivation. She spoke about this little known aspect about her life during the 153rd Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda at Ramakrishna Mission, Mumbai.
“There was a time in my life when I couldn’t face tough situations. I was a lot confused about a lot of things. One day, my Yoga Guru gave me few books on the teachings of Swami Vivekananda. That changed everything. His book on Karma Yoga provided me with a lot of inspiration. Only I can understand how his teachings gave me another birth. I am Vivekananda’s product,” said Kangana with a broad smile.
She added, “I always wanted to connect with R K Mission. I am happy that I finally got a chance to be here and speak.”
As always, the address by Swami Sarvalokananda, secretary of RKM Mumbai, contained messages for the youth. “When Swamiji went to the west, he used to proudly say that he is from India. But today’s youth show a lot of hesitation to reveal that.” While speaking on leadership, he said, “We need servant leadership.”
Arunagiri Mudaaliar, Chairman and Chief Mentor of E Cube India, pointed out how Vivekananda’s teachings also help management students. “His most important teaching which the management students adhere to is – Before managing external environment, manage yourself internally.”
Dr R Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Advisor at BARC and Dr Srikumar Banerjee, from the Atomic Energy Commission, Mumbai also spoke about the relevance of Vivekananda’s message in today’s times.
A large number of school and college students were invited for the event since Vivekananda’s birthday is also celebrated as National Youth Day in India. This time, his birth tithi coincided with his birthday.
Rating: * * * *
By: Keyur Seta
A real story that deals with treachery, plagiarism and some amount of tragedy is obviously expected to have its share of serious or sad moments. But despite Tim Burton’s Big Eyes dealing with the aforementioned elements, it manages to be a delightful and peaceful saga and that too while doing complete justice to the subject at hand.
Big Eyes tells the real life story of artist Margaret Keane. In 1958 in North California, Margaret (Amy Adams) flees from her abusive husband along with her daughter and settles in San Francisco. As she loves painting, she becomes a street painter that draws people’s sketches. Frankly, she has no other career skill. She specializes in drawing big eyes of their subjects as she feels eyes always reveal everything.
As sheer co-incidence, Margaret meets Walter (Christoph Waltz), a fellow street painter. He encourages her to be a bit cunning and dream big. Their friendship soon blossoms into love and they get married. But can Margaret trust Walter?
The basic story is developed hurriedly at the start. But you don’t mind that since it doesn’t stop you from getting completely involved and feel for the characters of Margaret and her daughter. The proceedings become streamlined after the character of Walter is introduced and the goodness in terms of the writing and presentation is carried on till the climax that is both moving and hilarious.
But a massive twist in the second half and its presentation becomes the biggest reason for the film being such a well-made product. The amusing thing is that the twist was always in your face from the start but you never noticed or thought about it.
The writers have purposely stayed away from keeping melodrama at bay. This surely works well, but in doing that, they haven’t added conflict elements even when it was required. This probably is the only major negative point one can think of.
Bruno Delbonnel’s camerawork is also largely responsible for the film being so pleasing. It is sheer joy to see the colorful visuals and streets from his lenses. The art designer also deserves similar praise for creating the old era of the 1950s and 1960s with perfection. Some soulful background tunes add to the pleasure.
Coming to the performances, Amy Adams is excellent! She displays absolute perfection while playing Margaret Keane. There is not even a moment when you can stop feeling for her. She is rightly being nominated for the Oscars for this act.
Christoph Waltz too brings alive the cunning and funny character of Walter through his abilities. Having said this, you also can’t ignore that he is becoming repetitive. As the younger daughter of Margaret, Delaney Raye displays mature acting skills. Madeleine Arthur, as the older one, is decent and so are the rest of the actors.
Overall: Big Eyes is a peaceful saga that fills you with joy. The film has the ability to impress even those who don’t or hardly watch Hollywood.
Director: Tim Burton
Producers: Silverwood Films, Electric City Entertainment and Tim Burton Productions
Writers: Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski
Cast: Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Delaney Raye
Genre: Biopic/ Drama