21: The Movie Review

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If you’ve ever visited a Crossword book store, you’d be familiar with the line, ‘Never judge a book by it’s movie.’ 21 however is an exception in this regard. This uber-slick adaptation of the novel Bringing Down The House, is by far one of the most brilliant movies I have seen in recent times. It captures your imagination right from the opening credits and there’s not a dull moment till the very last frame. The production values on this movie are top-notch. The players’ perspective camera shots have been rendered beautifully and maintain the breakneck speed of the movie.

I won’t give too much of the plot away. The story revolves around how 5 mathematically gifted students crack the Black Jack system with the help of their professor Mickey Rose (Kevin Spacey) and earn thousands of dollars each time at Las Vegas.

The star of the movie is young Jim Sturgess who plays the wide-eyed, geeky, boy genius Ben Campbell to perfection. Kevin Spacey too is at the top of his game as the shrewd professor who leads the ‘team’.

What makes this movie click in my opinion is the fact that it is realistically possible to employ the techniques used by the scammers in 21 unlike other other successful scam movies like Ocean’s Twelve and Catch Me If You Can.

The movie also features many a memorable dialogue like ‘Winner winner chicken dinner’ and ‘Dazzle Me!’ (which drew quite a lot of applause). This movie should be a serious contender at next year’s Oscars in my opinion. I would definitely love to watch this one again and would recommend it to each one of you. Go get dazzled today!

Rating – 5 out of 5

What the Ratings Mean:

0 – Terrible Beyond Imagination
1 – Mostly Pathetic
2 – Strictly OK
3 – Good
4 – Very Good
5 – Bow Down and Worship!

The Spiderwick Chronicles Review

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The fantasy genre has become the cash-cow of Hollywood following the immense success of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Narnia. The Spiderwick Chronicles aims to continue this very trend and is more or less successful in doing so if you ask me. For someone who didn’t particularly enjoy the aforementioned hit movies The Spiderwick Chronicles turned out to be thoroughly watchable.

The movie following the fantasy genre trend, is an adaptation of a popular series of children’s books by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, though I won’t go as far as saying that after watching the movie I am tempted to pick up the books. The target audience of the movie is obviously the baccha party as is evident from the fact that the lead character is a young Jared Grace (Freddie Highmore). His acting skills are pretty decent but I still prefer apna Darsheel Safary.

Story wise the movie has nothing that will blow you out of the water. It’s the same old, ‘Family moves into old, abandoned, haunted house – gets into trouble – uncovers the secrets behind the house and finally lays the bhoots to rest’ (just like Monster House, Haunted Mansion etc.)

Though the special effects flip flop between breathtaking and ordinary computer game graphics, they also give us two of the most lovable characters in the movie Thimbletack (a pint-sized, sometimes jolly sometimes angry mythical creature who talks in witty rhymes) and Hogsqueal (a magical pig with two snouts who aims to eat anything that flies including a Griffin!)

All in all, the movie is a nice timepass for the baccha log but I doubt whether the kids will go absolutely nuts over this one a la Harry Potter.

Rating: 2 ½ out of 5

What the Ratings Mean:

0 – Terrible Beyond Imagination
1 – Mostly Pathetic
2 – Strictly OK
3 – Good
4 – Very Good
5 – Bow Down and Worship!

Bevde Kahin Ke!

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Over the years I have attended my fair share of disaster daaru parties as a part of the sober junta minority. Since my thought processes weren’t hindered by alcohol I was able to pay close attention to the diverse kinds of bevdas (who are either a source of amusement or a total pain in the backside). Magnanimous as I am, I will share the wisdom I have acquired over the years sipping Pepsi at these parties. Be sure to make notes, young ones!

1) The ‘Gutter’ Bevda (a.k.a. Tanker, Balti etc.) – Baccha log, if you observe closely, you will notice that the name of this kind of bevdas itself is a pun. Firstly, these drunks have mind boggling guzzling capacity. Leave a khamba in front of them and they will down it like Rasna. They are also a very open minded kind. Desi daaru or Champagne, Cobra or Kingfisher, sab chalega for them! The second meaning to their name refers to their abode – the gutter. I mean obviously, after drinking so much, a jal samadhi is inevitable!

2) The ‘Do Boond Mujhe Bhi Pila De, Dekh Fir Hota Hai Kya’ Bevda –
If the gutter bevda is characterized by an enormous drinking capacity, this kind is exactly the opposite. Just the mere mention of alcohol in their drink is enough to get their heads spinning (even if there’s nothing but Mountain Dew in their glass). Rum cakes, chocolate liqueurs, and even last nights grape juice have been known to produce a wide range of entertaining outcomes. Some may ‘rediscover’ their long lost singing and dancing ‘talents’ while others may experience Nirvana (not Kurt Cobain’s band, the real deal!). Extreme cases may even believe that they are superheroes and try to fly out the window. Promptly empty a bucket of iced water on their heads to avoid injury…to them.

3) The ‘What Goes In, Must Come Out’ Bevda –
These drunks are mostly amateurs and have gross misconceptions about their drinking abilities. They wrongly assume that they can drink as much if not more than the great Gutter Bevdas only to learn later that the laws of physics are still applicable – drunk or not. Therefore what goes in (daaru), forces its way out (puke). If you are the host of the party, just seat these kinds in the bathroom right from the start, at least that way they won’t puke all over your mom’s favorite rug!

4) The Pravachan Bevdas – These are ‘social drinkers’ as in they love to get drunk when there are a lot of people around. As soon as the booze kicks in, they slip into nostalgia mode and start to graciously share their years of experience with the others. From little Chunnu’s tummy ache to marital problems to career issues, sab ka jawaab milega! As long as the drinks keep flowing, so does the advice. But don’t underestimate them, they do give out some really good advise at times as well. Sadly the rest of the drunk junta most probably forget what they say by the end of the night.

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Long Road To Jawahar.

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Starring: Mom, Dad. Bro, Bro’s wife (Sis), Scared Bengali Driver (SBD), Tata Sumo and Your’s truly.

Dateline: 5th April 2008

The Scene: It’s 9.30 PM. Yours truly and family are returning home from Shirdi in Scared Bengali driver’s Tata Sumo. Halfway home the road forks into two, we have the option of taking the Igatpuri route to Mumbai(straighter ,shorter road, pathetic condition) or the ‘Paryayi Rasta’ (Optional Route) via Jawahar (Zig-zagging ghat but good roads and virtually no traffic). We decide to avoid the cratered Igatpuri road and opt for the Jawahar route instead.

35 kms to Jawahar: The road looks very scenic, dense forests on either side of the road, perfect roads and NO TRAFFIC! We all agree it was an awesome idea to take this road.

33 kms- We notice that the road looks a lot like the ones we see in bad thriller movies like Kaal and Darna Mana Hai. Random Vivek Oberoi and Ajay Devgan jokes follow.

32 kms: The road is getting very curvy. I feel like I’m on a F1 track loaded with chicanes while bro imagines he’s riding on his imaginary Bullet. We hit a sharp, curve…Scared Bengali Driver brakes hard. The car comes to a standstill. SBD suspects a flat tyre. Mom and sis panic. SBD assures this wont take long. SBD and Dad step out to inspect the car. There is no flat tyre, instead something called a ‘balance rod’ has snapped. We are not quite sure what that does but realize we are in deep shit. The jungle road no longer seems scenic. We take back every joke we made about Kaal, Darna Mana Hai and every other bad horror movie. We see an Ambassador far in the distance and frantically wave. The Amby stops. It’s a ‘Maharashtra Shasan’ car. SBD and Dad explain situation to the driver who inspects the Sumo and confirms SBD’s prognosis. SBD seems proud of the fact that he is correct. Driver expresses helplessness as his ‘Saab’ is running late, he however mentions a gaon 4 kms away where can find a grill welder who might wake up and help if we request him. SBD says we can make it there provided we drive very slowly. We drive on.

28 kms: Almost half an hour later we reach a signboard which directs towards a narrower,curvier road , with absolutely no lights which leads to the gaon. Not eager to explore we keep going ahead.

26 kms: We keep moving ever so slowly on the road to nowhere. Every 15 minutes or so a truck passes by in the opposite direction, becomes smaller and smaller as it goes farther away, then finally becomes a tiny speck of light on the horizon and then disappears. Trippy stuff!

25 kms: Hurray! No Vodafone coverage. Maybe Dad’s Tata Indicom phone will have full network like the ads promise….Negative…no network again! Damn you Kajol!

23 kms: SBD is almost in tears. He says that the car is jinxed and that it runs huge repair bills every time he makes an outstation trip. (Great timing!). Mom contributes to the jinx conversation, says that the dress she is wearing is the same one she wore when the family (excluding me) missed their flight from Delhi to Mumbai. Bro rubbishes the jinx theory and says that they missed the flight because Dad took a 45 minute halt to have a plate of mix-pakoras. 5 minute argument about the pakoras.

22 kms: SBD says, “Hey look at that! What a huge snake!”. Mom doesn’t quite catch it at firsts and asks if there are snakes on the road. We unanimously deny. (The snake however was REALLY HUGE!)

20 kms: SBD goes into Nat Geo mode, says that ‘the biggest danger on this road are the leopards’ Mom hears him this time. SBD changes and talks about furry little brown rabbits which can also be seen on the same road.

19 kms: I have officially decided to make this into my next humor piece and start paying attention closely. The others think I’m crazy because I’m laughing alone in the backseat. Dad tries to divert mom’s attention and points to the Great Bear constellation in the sky. Mom however is more worried the possibility of real bears on the road.

17 kms: Progress seems smoother now. We reach a Police Naka-Bandi. The cops do not know whether there is a garage in the vicinity but assure us that we will find one at Jawahar….22 kms away! WTF!

16/21kms: Dad , who suggested we take this road in the first place, recounts the days of his youth when he frequently traveled on these roads. Memories of trucks skidding off the ghats, cars breaking down and adivasis attacking and looting motorcyclists are fondly recalled.

15/20 kms: The jungle seems to get denser. Dad talks of a time where he had to spend a night in the jungle with no one by his side but for our dog Rambo. Rambo had to be given up as he attacked my cousin sisters one time too many. Dad and bro sigh in his remembrance. We consider getting a dog again.

14/19 kms : We see 3 villagers dressed in white overalls walking in a straight line going God-knows-where. Just what we needed to complete the horror movie scenario! On a brighter note, Vodafone coverage is back!

13/18 kms : SBD spots another animal. ‘Is that a wolf?’ he asks. With the help of quick word-play, mom is made to believe that it was a dog.

12/17 kms : Another animal spotted, this time by me. I see silhouettes of two men and a horse. As we turn and get a closer look, I realize it is actually a cow.

11/16 kms : We see a signboard which confirms that it is indeed 11 kms to Jawahar and not 16 as it would be according to the cops.

11 kms: About a kilometer later, another signboard says that we are 11 kms away from Jawahar. I suspect that we are driving in circles.

10 kms: Mom is very worried. Bro suggests that she should do some of Baba Ramdev’s KapaalBharti (She took lessons for the same all of last week). Mom however cannot distinguish KapaalBharti from Vividh-Bharti.

9 kms: I receive an SMS from IDEA that sounds more like a threat. ‘Uninterrupted roaming is a good idea. To continue enjoying coverage…switch your network to IDEA NOW!’ I cannot afford to mess with IDEA and promptly search for it on ‘Phone settings’

8 kms: IDEA does not show up as one of my available network options. In fact there are no options. We have no coverage again! YAY!

7 kms: IDEA shows up on list of available networks. I hurriedly select it. 5 minutes pass and IDEA still won’t let me use its network.

6 kms: BPL Mobile shows up as another option. I switch to it. Screw IDEA!

5 kms: Mom wonders who won ‘Star Voice of India: Chotte Ustaad’ – Aishwarya or Anvesha?

4 kms: We see signboards which say Jawahar is farther than we think it is…AGAIN! Who the hell does these measurements anyway? I also need to pee.

2 kms: A new signboards contradicts the previous two. Since it mentions the shortest distance, I stick with it. Bro and sis are hungry. Dad says that the nearest dhaba is at Char Roti Naka. What irony no?

2 kms: We’ve definitely driven more than 2 kms. I’m getting a feeling that the signboard was wrong again.

2 kms: Yup, it was wrong!

1 km: We spot a petrol pump. Woohoo, we can get the car fixed and they’ll probably have a loo as well!

At the petrol pump: They, in fact, have no mechanics on hand. I get down to go to the loo. There isn’t one. The guy at the pump points to the back, which is a wide open ground… Man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do! I hear a dog barking ferociously not so far away. I guess man’s best friend isn’t amused by what a man’s gotta do! The guys at the pump assure us that we will find a mechanic at Jawahar

At Jawahar: We reach the village and ask a few locals where the mechanic lives. They deny the existence of any such creature. We drive ahead and ask other locals the same question. They point to a bunch of garages…all with their shutters down.

We find one with the door slightly open. Thankfully the mechanic is awake and has the parts needed to fix the vehicle. As he starts to hammer away, his neighbour walks out to see what’s causing the commotion.

The neighbour is none other than the driver of the white amby! He apparently lives here. We ask him what happened to his saab. He says his saab is in Mumbai and that the guy who was in the car was a random stranded fellow whom he helped! On a normal day we’d punch the living daylights out of an idiot of his caliber but we make an exception today.

6th April, 2008. 0300 hrs : We arrive home almost 4 hours behind schedule.

7th April, 2008. 0056 hrs : I have just finished writing the article!