Review of Somerset Maugham’s Short Story ‘Rain’

Rain is probably the best short story written by Somerset Maugham – in its length and characterization it is more like a novella but of course it conforms to Maugham’s formula for a story – it has a beginning, a middle and an end.


The story’s popularity has sustained over the years as it has been made into movies and plays. Sadie’s role of a prostitute out to have a good time has been portrayed on-screen by Joan Crawford, Gloria Swanson and Rita Hayworth. The short story has often been selected for anthologies and is prescribed reading material for students attempting to master modern English literature.

The adventure begins off on simple terms. A ship headed to Apia is stranded near Pago Pago as a Cholera epidemic is suspected and a quarantine is enforced to prevent an outbreak. Most of the travellers are ordinary folks headed on business and personal trips.

Continue reading “Review of Somerset Maugham’s Short Story ‘Rain’”


Johnny Gaddar – a thriller that keeps you hooked.

Post the recent success of Andhadhun it was time to visit an old classic by its director, Sriram Raghavan. The year was 2007, it saw a launch of new actor with potential – Neil Nitin Mukesh and of course one of the movies where Dharamendra still shows his magnetic charm. Add to it a strong support cast featuring Vinay Pathak, Zakir Hussain, Govind Namdeo, Rimi Sen and Ashwini Kalsekar, and we are set to have good fun for little longer than the normative 2 hours.


The movie is not a suspense thriller. Throughout the film the audience is 2 steps ahead of the actors in knowing what is happening but the fun is trying to outguess the next move in the story and / or simply to reckon how Johnny (Neil Nitin Mukesh) will survive. He pulls it off magnificently  – well almost! Continue reading “Johnny Gaddar – a thriller that keeps you hooked.”

Karwaan – a meandering journey …

“मैं अकेला ही चला था जानिब-ए-मंज़िल मगर

लोग साथ आते गए और कारवाँ बनता गया”

Majrooh Sultanpuri’s  noted couplet seems to have inspired the road movie and it is quoted on the Van that is like a central character in the movie. Well this journey is not a popular movement – it focuses on 3 characters and is more about self-discovery than sparking a popular movement.


Literally a launch vehicle for Mollywood star Dulquer Salman, the movie has a quirky story-line and may test the patience of the Multiplex audience that have little patience for what appears to be a meandering and rambling journey. Thankfully consummate actors Irrfan and Dulquer engage our attention and prevent the movie from becoming a lost cause. Eventually Mithila Palkar and Kriti Kharbanda in a cameo add more funny moments to a somber journey involving exchange of dead bodies shipped to wrong locations. Continue reading “Karwaan – a meandering journey …”

East is East – an immigrant’s angst v/s aspirations to be British!

Veteran Indian actor, Om Puri, plays a Pakistani immigrant and this is of little consequence to the target audience for whom his primary identity is being a man from the East. Set to a comic tone it still features a clash on multiple counts. Set around 1971 an uncertain Puri is worried about Pakistan losing its war against India and has a haunting insecurity about his children being accepted by the British society.


He tries to push them towards adopting rituals and lifestyles that are alien to their reality. Puri is shown to be dictatorial and won’t accept any dissent from his family. His loving wife – a simple Brit tries to compromise and bridge the yawning gap. Inevitably the youthful rebellion finds its voice albeit it is not as coherent and caustic as would be the case with today’s millennials.

The movie is regarded to be cult classic and hailed as one of the gems featuring Puri who went on to occupy the space of an Asian immigrant when it came for movie being made in UK. While the cast seems to be mostly inexperienced and the staging of film’s scenes have a Theater like feel to it, still it scores in providing a realistic narrative that doffs its hat to stereotypes but doesn’t end up becoming a farce. Continue reading “East is East – an immigrant’s angst v/s aspirations to be British!”

Anaarkali of Aarah – a pataaka version of Pink!

‘No’ means ‘No’ – the Pink delivered the message already for the multiplex audience. To translate it for the masses reaching the C segment audience takes a rare gamble. The movie works brilliantly riding on a power-packed performance by Swara Bhaskar and the skillful direction of Avinash Das who weaves a raunchy story line without making it appearing vulgar. Unfortunately it still performed poorly on the Box Office. 

Anarkali From Aarah

The movie is mostly predictable. Apparently it is inspired from some real stories that provided the basic premise for the story. So we are visiting the boondocks of Bihar for a change and the prevalent culture of folk music and Bhojpuri numbers is familiar territory for us. Enough Hindi movies have featured such item songs to tell us what to expect. Continue reading “Anaarkali of Aarah – a pataaka version of Pink!”

Silver Jubilee of Bond Movies – Spectre

Guess the makers got carried away in making James Bond’s 25th outing something special. They tried to weave in a pattern trying to fit every past Bond villain into a bigger picture of Spectre. Since it was a retro effort and tried to force fit every story in obviously the plot was weakened and lacked credibility. Such a pity that the movie turned out to be a turkey and is regarded to be possibly the worst-ever Bond movie.


Strong Opening Sequence –  Bond’s pursuit in Mexico seems different and larger than life. It showcases great cinematography without seeming to do so. It is outlandish as usual but Craig lends it an air of credibility. It ends with one more clue that sets the chase to pursue SPECTRE and provides a valid excuse for Bond to go rogue once more. Continue reading “Silver Jubilee of Bond Movies – Spectre”

Lipstick Under My Burkha -a flawed masterpiece!

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

                                                                                                   – George Bernard Shaw

The setting is authentic – small-town story revolving around the lives and frustrations of 4 lower middle class women across the ages of teenager to one knocking at the senior citizen club. Split by religion and customs they are united for being trod upon brutally by a patriarchal society where rebellion and dissent are not viable options. Obviously the ladies are forced to resort of lies, subterfuge and leading double lives to pursue their dreams.


So where does one draw the line? Can we condone shoplifting, promiscuity, dual lives or Cougar like pursuit of a young man? If not does the movie serve any purpose? Has it become fashionable to toast human failings when so many people still try hard to stick to the straight and narrow path of their station in Society? Continue reading “Lipstick Under My Burkha -a flawed masterpiece!”

Vishwaroopam II – an unappetizing mishmash.

After a long and torturous wait the movie released to disappoint and sank without a trace – quite unlike the original that was a great success and India’s answer to action movies from Hollywood. What went wrong is quite easy to spot – a 5 year hiatus to a movie that was primarily shot in one stretch does make the content dated.

But more importantly the movie reuses a lot of its selling sequences again in its current avatar – a ‘vada-curry’  fare that may find patrons for the morning breakfast but not audience who have been there and seen it already.


A few things that still work in the movie –

Production Values – Apart from leveraging its premium footage from the original movie, the additional sequence to are pleasing to watch. In fact beginning with the combat training and slipping into the London countryside sounds like a promising start. The underwater sequence may not make much sense in the plot but are shot quite well. It is a bit of a pity that this alone can’t save the movie.

Continue reading “Vishwaroopam II – an unappetizing mishmash.”

Review of R K Narayan’s, ‘Waiting for the Mahatma’.

It is a bit like ‘Waiting for Godot’ – the final moment with the Mahatma solemnizing the union of Sriram and Bharati never quite arrives in the end. Mentioning this upfront is not really a spoiler – one gets a sense that Sriram’s ambition to marry Bharati is likely to come up with a cropper. In fact the novel has a sense of ‘been-there-and-done-that’ in many ways. The Malgudi settings, Sriram as a ‘man-child’ character doted upon by his granny, Bharati as a the no-nonsense modern woman are themes that we encounter recurrently in Narayan’s novels.

waiting for the mahatma

Narayan has made it an industry to introduce us to young men sequestered in comfortable circumstances who are aimless and bereft of a purpose in life. Often their mother or granny dote upon the protagonists even as the ‘father figure’ is left vexed and reduced to making caustic comments. Further the character is tongue-tied in the presence of the fairer sex although he naturally falls in love with a girl at the first sight. In some novels the story has a natural arc that sees the character mature and achieve a sense of closure. Continue reading “Review of R K Narayan’s, ‘Waiting for the Mahatma’.”

Review of Charles Fuller’s, ‘A Soldier’s Story’

‘It has a dramatic opening – a  Black master-sergeant, worse for wear after a drinking binge ,has been fatally shot and he jeers at his murderer, ‘They still hate you’.  The setting is an US base during the early days of World War II. It is an era that we experience from books and movies as the segregation of races was still a reality and conflicts / violence  was occasioned by the churn in civil society and the supremacist Ku Klux Klan was known to be active.

a soldier story

Enter Captain Davenport (Howard E Rollins – a promising actor who passed away early) as a Black officer from the military justice team who has been assigned the task of investigating the murder much against the wishes of the Commanding Officer, Colonel Nivins. Continue reading “Review of Charles Fuller’s, ‘A Soldier’s Story’”

Review of Die Another Day – a forgettable swansong for Pierce Brosnan’s Bond.

Bond movies have a template and being preposterous at times is very much a part of it. But even the absurdities have limits that the movie seems to forget. It becomes as good a turkey as the Moonraker. Rather sad as it starts off with a gritty version of Bond. Bond’s mission is a failure, he is captured and tortured. Eventually he gets an opportunity and is forced to go rogue – shades of the classic ‘Licence to Kill’.


Yet the second half leaves us bewildered – a melting Ice Palace in Iceland, an ‘invisible’ car that has no impact and an absurd ‘mirror-in-the-sky’ that reminds one of a plot gone bonkers the Moonraker.

Continue reading “Review of Die Another Day – a forgettable swansong for Pierce Brosnan’s Bond.”