Saturday, December 22, 2007

Taare Zameen Par

Many of you might have already seen the movie of the season “Happy Days”. It was a refreshingly good movie that reminds everyone of their college life. That movie was a noble attempt by the director Sekhar Kammula in this age of commercial mass masala movies in Tollywood.

But yesterday, I saw one movie that reminded me of my school life (at least to some extent). It was “Taare Zameen Par”(TZP), a movie about a gifted child. It’s hard to believe that this movie is the first one for the director, who was none other than the well-known perfectionist, Aamir Khan. He acted and produced the movie too. I thought that this movie is one of those art films about children. But I was proven wrong in the first 15 minutes of the movie. The film opens with the camera focussed at the dirty water of drainage. The camera work of that shot was great, in fact excellent. We were shown some footage and then the titles come. Even the titles were interesting with a series of cartoons on the screen. The film drags a little bit in the second half but the protagonist played by Darsheel Safary and Aamir cover it up well.

The story is simple and to-the-point. It was about a 8 year old boy, Ishaan who suffers with a disease (is it?) called dyslexia. He can’t differentiate between various alphabets and he finds difficulties with certain objects too. But he’s a gifted artist. He’s the second child of his parents. His father is one of those filmi fathers who loves his son but feels that strictness is the only way with which we can keep children at bay. Ishaan’s mother and brother love him a lot. As he can’t differentiate between alphabets, he finds it hard to focus on spellings and always fails in exams. We were shown that our protagonist is studying third standard for the second time as he failed in the previous year. His father had to shift him to a boarding school in the middle of the academic year as the dean of the previous school feels that this boy is mentally retarded.

In his new school, Ishaan feels that his family completely deserted him and there was no one in this world for him. He doesn’t talk to his family or even with his classmates. Some scenes during this part of the movie made my heart very very heavy. Everything seems to be dull until the entry of a new art teacher, Ram(played well by Aamir Khan – but how can we ever expect a worst performance by him?). He brings new lease of life into the students but fails to make on impact on Ishaan. Ram is bothered about this boy and tries to focus on his problems and finds that Ishaan is suffering with dyslexia. The rest of the film is about whether Ram succeeded in curing Ishaan and how the world recognized Ishaan.

The positives of the movie are the performances of the lead actors, music and screenplay. The protagonist Darsheel Safary is a gem. He acted so naturally that his acting might cause some of the so-called seniors blush. My favorite scene of the entire film is the climax scene in which Ishaan slowly shows his painting to Ram and the way he peeks to see Ram's painting. However, there are some negative aspects too. We were told that Ishaan is in third standard because he failed the previous year. But if Ishaan can’t spell out a single word, how did he get through the previous classes? And we were shown that Ishaan wanders through the campus every now-and-then and he even goes to some dangerous cliffs(in the campus). Does any boarding school allow its students to live dangerously?

But overall, the movie is a refreshing one as compared to the present movies. As told before, it brings out some of the memories of our school life. And it brings in front of us, an excellent child artist and a visionary film maker who doesn’t compromise in anything except the perfect. He took such good care about the movie that even his name comes after the child’s name in the title. Kudos to the team of TZP.

Bathi Bandh

One of the catastrophes that threaten the existence of mankind is Global Warming. Scientists have been warning us about this for quite sometime but no one seems to take notice of this. But there was one particular awareness event in Mumbai last week(I think the date was 14th December, 2007), which is worth an applause. This event is called “Bathi Bandh”. Bathi, in Hindi, means light while bandh means stop. So the phrase “Bathi Bandh” means stopping of electric lights. The whole idea of the event is something like this: All the Mumbaikars were to switch of their lights on that particular night. This might help reduce the global warming by at least a minor margin. We were shown on TV’s how the city was engulfed in darkness and how the people were sitting beside earthen lamps: all for a noble cause. But there was something which really made me sit up. The organizers did not forget the people who live in slums without any electricity and running water. Lampposts were kept in some regions with a switch to shut them off and a board written “For those who don’t have a bathi to bandh”. What a noble thought!!!!!!!!!

Ad world

As we all know, promotion is the key to success for any product. You see lots of hoardings on your way to office, you see a lot of advertisements on TV, you see a lot of catchy lines on the newspaper. The sole purpose of all these is to catch your attention. But on seeing a couple of recent ads on TV, I was awestruck. Interestingly, both are for rival cellular service providers, Airtel and Vodafone (formerly known as Hutch). If you recall the history of Hutch, they relied only on a pug and its master to conquer the market. They were innovative right from their day one.
Coming back to our present scenarios, let me first present Airtel’s ad. One small boy waits for his mother to give him his supper. Suddenly he hears some noise outside and runs out. We were shown that his house is fenced (from which we understand that he’s living in sort of border). Another boy, probably from the neighbouring country, asks our boy in some alien language (at least it was alien to me), to give him his football that came to our first boy’s backyard. The first boy hesitates and then kicks the ball to the second boy. Then the second boy asks the first boy to join him for football and they both sneak beneath their respective fences and start playing together in the no man’s land. Then a voice sounds from nowhere, “Deewaren mit jaayen”, which means something like we remove all boundaries. Then the theme music of Airtel comes and the ad’s finished.
Then the second one, Vodafone. One guy was shown waiting in the elevator and looking suspiciously(or with interest) at all the girls who board the elevator. Even the lift-boy is annoyed by his behavior. Then we were shown that its night and our guy is still waiting in the elevator alone. He looks dull and exhausted. Then another girl boards the elevator and smiles at our guy, after which he sneaks next to her with a smile. Then the camera focuses on the guy’s mobile which displays the text – “Daily Astrology tip: You’ll meet your soul-mate in elevator today”. Then the theme music of Vodafone comes in an orange background and we were shown the text “Daily astrological alerts. Call XXX(I don’t remember the number)”.
I hope now you understood why these ads caught my attention. The innovativeness of these ad-makers is truly a big round of applause.

Money Matters?

We have heard the phrase “Money Matters” quite a few times. It simply means “matters involving money”. But sometimes I feel the question hitting me hard – “Does money matter?”. I’m very uncertain about the answer for this question. Sometimes, I feel that it matters and sometimes, it does not.
Let us come this way. Being an earner, I know the importance of money. Money helps you gain a particular status in the society. If it’s not for the money that you earn, many people do not even care about you. Money helps you buy importance among others. It helps you satisfy some of your dreams and wishes. Right now, I’m writing this article sitting leisurely in front of my laptop and hearing my favourite music in my home theatre. All these were not even in my distant dreams a couple of years back(when I was a non-earner). This way, money MATTERS.
Now the other way round. I want to enjoy my evenings in a peaceful rural area. I want to stay with my parents and take good care of them. I want to hang around with my childhood buddies forgetting about the rest of the world. But all these are not possible for me(at least for now), even though I’m earning more than what I need. Sometimes, I feel that it’s the money that plays spoil-sport with our dreams. I can’t buy the freshness of an evening, I can’t buy peacefulness for my soul, I can’t buy the happiness that I see in my parents eyes when I was with them, I can’t buy the freedom I’ve in the company of friends…….. This way, money DOES NOT MATTER.
Can anyone answer this question for me?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Leg Power

Being a lazy guy, I was postponing a certification exam in Lotus Notes for quite sometime. Last week, I got the mood(at last) and started preparing. Once satisfied, I took a day off and started revising and then went to a nearby test center to enroll for the exam. To my surprise, I was told that they are no longer offering service for Prometric exams and gave me the phone number of another institute who's offering the exam.
I went to that center and found that there are no slots for that day and hence registered for the next day. On the exam day, I got a call from them that the Prometric website was down for the entire day and I can't take the test that day. Having no other option, I asked them to re-register me for today.
And when I called them today for confirmation, I was told that the website is still down and they don't know when it'll be up and running again. All I can say is - "Hail my leg!!!!!!"