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Posts Tagged ‘Books

Atonement-Slumdog mish-mash

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NB: This post contains spoilers for the book Atonement and for the recent ‘Indian’ movie Slumdog Millionaire. Also, it will most probably not make sense if you haven’t read the former (which I strongly recommend) and seen the latter (which is not a bad choice either).

Atonement‘ by Ian Mckewan has got to be one of the best books I’ve read. It has a wonderful, languid style of describing thoughts and landscapes, and yet manages to keep the story fairly tight. The book is essentially told through the eyes of a twelve-year old girl called Briony, and it describes the epic tale of her sister and her friend/ lover/ neighbour who get caught in a cruel chain of events with the Second World War as an imposing backdrop.

Slumdog Millionaire‘ by Danny Boyle is a decent movie which narrates a tale of love and destiny with the great slums of Mumbai as the primary backdrop. Watching the movie, I got the feeling that it was nothing spectacular, and could had in fact been much better.  and

I can see why the movie has been widely appreciated by a non-Indian audience. It has a lot of astonishing/ striking things which might not seem that odd to someone who has stayed in India all his/ her life but would certainly pique the interest of someone foreign. It’s more or less the same reason why I liked the movie ‘Cidade de Deus’ (City of God) so much. Slumdog, however, is NOT that awesome a movie. It is most certainly NOT the 34-th best movie of all times (at the time of writing) as indicated by the IMDb rankings. Rehman’s music in the movie, while pretty decent without a doubt, is NOT his best by any stretch – (Roja, Bombay, Dil Se, Swades and Taal come to my mind immediately). The acting is ok, but definitely NOT Best-Actor material: the lead actor perpetually oscillates between shock and anguish.

My favourite part in Atonement (and I don’t know whether it’s there in the movie since I haven’t watched it yet) is right at the end, when a now-senile Briony hints (Again: Spoiler Alert!) at the possibility that perhaps, all that she has described in the preceding chapters might not really be accurate – maybe what she has narrated with great conviction might not have happened at all. But she sincerely believes it to be so true and inevitable that she convinces herself that it is, in fact, the truth. And you don’t really care that you’ve just been cheated out of a standard conclusion to a book with all the makings of a classic.

Now imagine if the creators of Slumdog had incorporated this into the ending – Jamal keeps on telling how he was destined to know the answers (which is a roundabout way of saying he was quite lucky), but just before the movie ends – he reveals that maybe the crap which he dishes out to the police officer as explanation might not really be true.

That would had been an awesome movie – maybe not a feel-good awesome one, but a whoa!-awesome one for sure.

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Written by sujaybedekar

January 20, 2009 at 5:54 pm

Resolutions – I has dem

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I was reminded of a post I saw quite some time ago on kottke regarding Twitter trends at this New Year. It (the post) mentioned how people included booze-related keywords like ‘hangover’ and ‘alcohol’ more frequently when they are twittering closer to the weekend than around Wednesday.

If a similar twitter trend was to be done for the word ‘resolution’, I’m pretty sure it would spike real hard in the first and last weeks of the year and would be relatively lull in between (unless people upgraded their computers and got better monitors).

Trying to validate this hypothesis, my resolution for the year is three-point-five-fold –

1.  This is the year I will be a strict conformist (not that I have been particularly anarchist/ non-conformist in the past). Specifically, my aim is to limit my book-reading to entries in this list. I’ve read so far just 10 out of all these, and had never heard of almost half of these until recently, so it is a fairly unrealistic resolution yes. End of specifics.

2. I will try to explore more the field of behavorial economics – or whatever the field of economics the freakonomics guys are experts of. (The book is not quite as cool as the blog is, btw.)

3. I will visit one new country this year – and not just so that I can add new pins to my Cities Visited facebook app.

3.5. A mini-resolution – to not save posts as drafts too often and to post them instead.

The fate of my 2008 resolutions has not been that great –

1. Stop wasting time on pointless stuff, and waste time on relevant stuff. Corr: be less ambiguous/ obscure FAIL
2.1 Stop cracking crappy jokes which test the limits of patience of unfortunate people who happen to be in the vicinity. FAIL
2.2. Be more respectful, less rude, more polite, more punctuational (i.e. use better punctuation) – in general be a more boring person, just to see what it feels like. somewhat FAIL
3. Not drink more than once a week, and not drink on 3 consecutive weeks. occasional  FAIL
4. Stop resolving to get into shape and actually get into shape (Not intended to sound like Neo. Stop trying to hit me and hit me’ ) – PASS then FAIL
5. Stop resolving to go get myself a girl, because it seems like a waste of a resolution – epic PASS, which by itself is an epic FAIL
6. Embark on one memorable >=7 day trip (preferably solo), inside or outside India. – PASS, Thankfully.
7. Watch a match at Old Trafford Almost PASS  (I watched one at Stamford Bridge. Old Trafford, here I come this year! )

As part of my resolve to accomplish resolution 1, I’ve already created an elaborate spreadsheet with macros and all to document my progress. All I need to do now is just sit and read 🙂

Hopefully, this will be the year of optimism and great motivation and minimal financial shocks. Amen

Written by sujaybedekar

January 7, 2009 at 7:52 pm

Flakes

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Coincidences. Sigh.

Up until a few weeks ago, which is like more than a quarter of my entire life, I hadn’t seen snow ever. I mean, even the freezer in my house used to be on perpetual defrost or something, thereby depriving me the chance of making snowmen and all. Traveling to places where it snowed was always ruled out as a holiday option because the places used to be invariably too cold (duh, I know).

Then I come here to the US, where it snows everywhere and all the time – at least in all places I’ve been to so far. My cousins dismiss 8 inches of snow like I would dismiss 8 inches of rain. And – here’s the coincidence part I sighed about at the beginning – as I sit in a Greyhound bus staring out at the infinite snow along the road, reading the book Snow by Orhan Pamuk, which song should play on the music player but Snow (hey o) by RHCP. You just can’t make such stuff up. Srsly.

The aforementioned book is pretty good, btw. The author won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006, and funnily I read his Acceptance speech first, which was quite interesting (link). The book has in common with other good books those two crucial ingredients which are seemingly simple but quite elusive when you sit down to write – small sentences, simple words.

On the topic of coincidences, here’s another one: The other book I’m reading in parallel – The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – has a reference to the Sohrab and Rustam story. (That story was one of my favourite stories ever when I read it more than a decade ago – it still is, in fact) And Snow also has a reference to the story. Made me smile 🙂

Written by sujaybedekar

March 28, 2008 at 4:12 am

Posted in arbit, Books, Music, US

Tagged with , , ,

It’s February and I am happy

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February has never been my favourite month of the year… until now 🙂

October will always be speshul for many reasons (spelling inspired by Lolcats– brilliantly hilarious site, although I have a lingering suspicion that it is not as clean a site as it seems to be) . December and January are nice too, because I like the new-yearly thingies people do. February always felt like the English football team – famous in spite of- rather because of- a clear lack of numbers.

Anyhoo, February started off with me meeting up with a friend from school days, who’s doing mighty fine – best of luck to him for his ‘kaarporet’ life. Then was the Manchester United – Tottenham Hotspurs game, which was a nail-biter (lots of nail-biting actually happened). Man U equalized in the very last minute of injury time, although one could argue that the goal Spurs scored should had been disallowed for handball …

Then came the Derby. A once a year event (i think), it seems strange now that how come I never went to one so far, having stayed all my life in Mumbai. This was near the top of the strange-how-come-never-done-so-far list, coming in after “OMG I haven’t watched a cricket match at the Wankhede stadium for like ever”. There was drama right from getting hold of people to come along (rubbed a few people the wrong way in the process) to getting the crap scared out of you when you innocently talk on the phone and some random fellow pats you on the back and tells you – ‘You’d better put that inside kid, you’ll get fined a cool seven grand if someone sees you using it here.’ The races were brilliant, absolutely brilliant. The weather was awesome. No favourite won, which meant that all odds and analyses went for a toss. Watching people wandering around with huge wads of 1000-rupee notes was amazing, although it made me feel somewhat inadequate. And I finally got to use ‘lambi race ka ghoda’ in a literal sense.

Then we moved on to Andheri, where I finally bought a watch which costs more than the legal minimum daily wage. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was on discount, which I discovered (rather, my mom did) after going home. This does imply that my ability to estimate watch prices is not that great, but let’s pass that for now.

Then came Monday, which was bonus day, which was not too bad.

Then came Tuesday, when my boss in Mumbai nonchalantly informed us (me and my desk-mate Prady) that we’ll be going to New York by the end of this month. This signifies a big step up in work, and is probably the right tonic to make me work harder. The day ended with me watching two diametrically opposite movies at Ravi-Mota’s place:

First was ‘The Angrez‘- a movie which has apparently achieved cult status in the Indian grad circuit. Especially worth a look are the old Hyderabadi lingo parts (sample).

Second was Fight Club, which was funny because (i)the last time I watched this was in 1st/2nd year in college, and (ii) I happen to be reading the book right now, and I think it is written quite well.

Then came Wednesday, when I treated my family to a nice little dinner, which is always nice.

Today is Thursday. It’s 9 degrees Celsius outside, which finally gives me a valid reason to wear my Manchester United sweater to work without being ill in the first place. In a few hours, there’s going to be a team-bulding excercise a.k.a. party a.k.a. free booze and food at the company’s expense for GFFX (Global Finance Foreign Exchange, my team@work). This has been planned again by Prady and me. The phaartay will happen at the unimaginatively/arrogantly titled The Club, which holds a special place in Maharashtrian history because it has the honour of being Madhuri Dixit’s wedding hall choice (either that, or she was engaged there. One of the two for sure). Had the place not been so ridiculously expensive, there would had been advance bookings running into decades by now.

Tomorrow and the day-after also have the makings of pretty hep-&-happening days. For someone like me who is used to leading a fairly quiet (dull?) life, this is a big deal 🙂

Disclaimer: If I sound like a bad parody of Audi, it’s entirely coincidental. Seriously.

Written by sujaybedekar

February 7, 2008 at 5:13 pm