Somerset Maugham’s 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.

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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 enforced to prevent an outbreak. Most of the travellers are ordinary folks headed on business and personal trips.

Continue reading “Somerset Maugham’s Rain”

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Review of Vidya Balan’s ‘Ishqiya’.

It was one of the early movies that defined Vidya Balan’s box office prowess just before Kahaani and The Dirty Picture catapulted her to commercial fame. The ‘Naseer-Arshad’ duo shared an easy chemistry that reminded us of ‘Sanjay Dutt – Arshad’ act in Munna Bhai. Arshad’s version is a variation of his popular Circuit act but Naseer enjoys playing a shy romantic smitten by Vidya Balan.

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It is Abhishek Chaubey’s debut movie as a director but his mentor and co-creator, Vishal Bharadwaj’s touch is seen everywhere – dialogues, witty repartees, songs and the twist n turns in the plot are in the tradition of what we have seen his earlier moves as well. Overall it punches much above its weight and set the stage for a sequel.

The movie is about a two con men trying to escape a mob boss by crossing across to Nepal with the help of an old associate. They land up to meet his widow and get pulled into a bigger mess than they bargained for.

Appeals to the Classes and the Masses – The primary setting is Gorakhpur, Eastern UP and the dialect n tone quickly sets up the scene. Movies like Gangs of Wasseypur and Omkara have educated about the idiom to expect in such rustic settings. However Ishqiya manages to pull off a magical act wherein it is able to connect with the Multiplex audience as well as the interiors. The language is raw and rustic but avoids being typecast as vulgar and crass. Continue reading “Review of Vidya Balan’s ‘Ishqiya’.”

Review of American sitcoms, drama, mysteries et al

Varied memories are triggered by the assorted bunch of reviews that are covered in this section. Binge watching, college days memories, odds and end movies that I happened to discover, and classic stories with universal appeal. They all fall in one way or the other in this list. And one thing is for sure, all these formats and stories provided me great entertainment. And I never quite mind watching a rerun …

Wonder Years

# Title My Review Link
1 Lynch – Frost’s ‘Twin Peaks’. http://wp.me/p44iYk-2fZ
2 Review of ‘Ally McBeal’ ! http://wp.me/p44iYk-28v
3 Review of ‘According to Jim’ http://wp.me/p44iYk-25R
4 Review of ‘Sex and the City’ http://wp.me/p44iYk-24F
5 Review of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ http://wp.me/p44iYk-241
6 Yes Minister! http://wp.me/p44iYk-1In
7 Brick Lane – a layered masonry! http://wp.me/p44iYk-1Dk
8 Ted Danson’s Cheers! http://wp.me/p44iYk-1AA
9 Frasier … http://wp.me/s44iYk-frasier
10 Ray Romano’s ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’! http://wp.me/p44iYk-1zc
11 Agatha Christie’s classic, ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’ http://wp.me/p44iYk-1yE
12 Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case! http://wp.me/p44iYk-1yz
13 Poirot’s ‘Train’ Mysteries http://wp.me/p44iYk-1y5
14 Boney M’s ‘Brown Girl In The Ring’ http://wp.me/p44iYk-1w5
15 The Wonder Years http://wp.me/p44iYk-1p0
16 Review of the movie series ‘Gods Must Be Crazy’ by Jamie Uys http://wp.me/p44iYk-1ll
17 Review of ‘Mind Your Language’ http://wp.me/p44iYk-z3
18 The ‘Curtain’ falls – au revoir Poirot … I mean David Suchet! http://wp.me/p44iYk-4e

The world of Marathi Cinema.

Access to entertainment and movies in today’s world is literally on your fingertips and your mobile serve as a ready and convenient platform. It makes all of us less discerning of the content that we consume though all of us do junk some options as they unspool.

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Now imagine a time about 25 years ago when movies were a rarity dished to us by our national broadcaster, Doordarshan. It meant we explored movies in all languages and I came across a few memorable Marathi movies during this time.

# Title My Review Link
1 Anandache Jhaad by Smita Talwalkar http://wp.me/p44iYk-1a8
2 Review of Marathi movie – Lalbaug Parel (Zali Mumbai Sonyachi) http://wp.me/p44iYk-12A
3 Review of Marathi Movie ‘Matichya Chuli’ http://wp.me/p44iYk-12x
4 Review of Marathi classic movie – ‘Ek Hota Vidushak’ http://wp.me/p44iYk-11D
5 Smita Talwalkar’s ‘Kalat Nakalat’ (Knowingly-Unknowingly)! http://wp.me/p44iYk-E7
6 Review of Sakharam Binder, a classic Marathi play by Vijay Tendulkar. http://wp.me/p44iYk-BC

Review of James Bond’s ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’.

OHMSS could have been a great Bond movie in its classic avatar. But it was the first time Sean Connery was out and the first and last time George Lazenby was in. So despite have a great Bond girl (Tracy), a credible villain (Blofeld again), a great villain lair (Piz Gloria up in the Alps), a formidable buddy (Draco) and an amazing climax the movie failed light up the Box Office vis-a-vis the preceding Bond movie, ‘You Only Live Twice’.

And it rarely leads to animated discussions amidst James Bond fans debating the ‘all-time-favourite’ Bond movie list. Alas! If only Sean Connery had chosen to star in this one instead of ‘Diamonds are Forever’ that followed.

Diana Rigg George Lazenby

The New James Bond – Well finally Sean Connery moved on and we had the launch of George Lazenby as the new ‘James Bond’. It was his first movie and he didn’t quite have the acting chops yet. Yet he manages the cut when it comes to fight n chases. He is rather wooden when it comes to emoting and the romance scenes with Diana Rigg don’t have the usual savoir faire.

Continue reading “Review of James Bond’s ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’.”

Review of James Bond’s ‘Quantum of Solace’.

Daniel Craig had a stellar start to his James Bond avatar in ‘Casino Royale’ as he brought back the original gritty and grim Bond seen earlier in roles essayed by Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton. The movie ended on a sad note with Bond silently mourning the loss of Vesper – the Bond girl who had sufficient heft in character to have a meaningful impact on him.

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Conceiving ‘Quantum of Solace’ as a revenge saga where Bond goes rogue to avenge Vesper’s death is an appealing premise but ‘Quantum of Solace’ fails to score on many other counts. It is definitely the least popular Craig movie and is often rated off the Top 10 Bond movies in an all-time list. Continue reading “Review of James Bond’s ‘Quantum of Solace’.”

Review of Daniel Craig’s ‘Skyfall’

It is the best of the 4 James Bond movies starring Daniel Craig and definitely in the Top 5 on the ‘all time Bond movie list’. It was a hugely successful commercially but more importantly it instantly connected with Bond fans on what is expected of a Bond movie. Daniel Craig may best it yet in an upcoming Bond movie but as things stand this one will be his signature piece as James Bond.

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It also marks farewell to Judi Dench as the matriarchal boss, ‘M’. Her stint of 7 movies over 17 years stands testimony to her stellar contribution to the franchise – this movie proves to be her finest hour yet. She is set as the ‘centre-piece’ so we even dispense the conventional ‘Bond girl’ narrative in this adventure.

Gritty Action Sequences

It starts off in Istanbul – a racy bike chase on the rooftops of the Grand Bazaar. Soon action moves onto a movie train. Its up to fisticuffs as the train traverses a beautiful terrain. Bond’s associate, Eve, is forced to take a shot to bring curtains over the scene. She hits Bond instead of the villain and he falls in ‘slo-mo’ into the river. We know what happens next. Bond will survive somehow, somewhere and he will be back. Continue reading “Review of Daniel Craig’s ‘Skyfall’”

Review of James Bond movies.

55 years, 24 movies, 6 leads to essay the role of a charismatic spy – 007 – with a licence to kill. James Bond’s onscreen persona as a glitzy and glamorous spy has defeated Fleming’s original vision for the character. (Fleming even stated that he named the character James Bond as he thought it was a dull name exemplifying an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happened). Silver screen has a power to shape mass perceptions far more effectively than the written word that always reaches a rather niche audience.

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Who is the best Bond ever is surely a question that can spark a fierce debate among fans. Yet the series owes a lot to Sean Connery who set the ball rolling and for many fans Daniel Craig’s style too hits the spot. So all the more reason to eagerly await the 25th Bond movie that is expected to release in 2018.

# Title My Review Link
1 James Bond’s ‘S.P.E.C.T.R.E.’ http://wp.me/p44iYk-2vk
2 Review of James Bond’s , ‘Skyfall’ http://wp.me/p44iYk-2vh
3 Review of James Bond’s ‘Quantum of Solace’. http://wp.me/p44iYk-2vm
4 Daniel Craig’s gritty Bond Debut – Casino Royale. http://wp.me/p44iYk-2v6
5 Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond Movies http://wp.me/p44iYk-2vr
6 Professional and perspicacious – Timothy Dalton’s foray as James Bond. http://wp.me/p44iYk-2tu
7 The Arched Eyebrow – Roger Moore’s innings as ‘James Bond’. http://wp.me/p44iYk-2j8
8 Review of James Bond’s ‘On Her Majesty’s Service’ http://wp.me/p44iYk-2vo
9 The name is Connery. Sean Connery! http://wp.me/p44iYk-2jJ

 

Daniel Craig’s gritty Bond Debut – Casino Royale.

The sixth James Bond bought his own interpretation to the character and reminded us of Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton. And the modern millennial audience seems to love this reburnished avatar where Bond can be gloomy, gritty and grey.

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But the Bond avatar can be charming as well as he encounters a perfect ‘Bond’ girl in Vesper. She looks the part – self-assured, glamorous, witty and intelligent. She get many zinger lines including her introduction : ‘I’m the money’. Bond and Vesper inevitably have skirmishes before they hopelessly far for each other.

The movie is based on one of Ian Fleming’s earliest novels and accordingly we are introduced to a James Bond who is still earning his spurs and the much coveted ‘007’ epithet a.ka. ‘Licence to Kill’. He still to develop his savvy persona but he demonstrates a far grittier character than even his noted predecessors – Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton. Continue reading “Daniel Craig’s gritty Bond Debut – Casino Royale.”

Vidya Balan’s ‘Begum Jaan’ – a tale of lost potentialities.

In 1983 Shyam Benegal’s movie ‘Mandi’ released to critical acclaim. Over the years it has become a cult classic as it is a humorous take on the lives and times of a group of prostitutes. Their ‘Madam’ essayed by redoubtable Shabana Azmi negotiates tricky politics as the brothel is located in a prime location within the heart of the city.

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Juxtapose that situation to the promise of ‘Begum Jaan’ wherein we have the fiesty Vidya Balan lead the battle as the partition of British India runs a border line across her fiefdom. Alas the potentialities are all lost as the movie tries too hard to convey a message and fails in the process.

The comparison to Mandi is inevitable as the situations faced by the leading ladies are quite similar. Circumstances and politics are arraigned against them and it seems inevitable that they will thrown out of their ‘home’. Yet the it is not all a sob story – Mandi finds a way to celebrate life and discover humour behind the painful and sordid tales of the individual ladies who have been dealt a raw deal by life. Naseeruddin Shah’s ‘Tungrus’ is such an unforgettable character – am sure he would have reminisced about it as he essays the role of Raja Saab who is Vidya Balan’s patron and protector. Continue reading “Vidya Balan’s ‘Begum Jaan’ – a tale of lost potentialities.”

Professional and perspicacious – Timothy Dalton’s foray as James Bond.

Timothy Dalton was different from Sean Connery and Roger Moore in his portrayal of James Bond. Sadly he didn’t get much credit for grounding the character in reality – ironically the same facet was brilliantly exploited by Daniel Craig and it has won him great admiration from the Bond fans. Talk about being ahead of your time.

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Timothy Dalton was also unlucky since his third outing as James Bond got inordinately delayed due to legal disputes between the Studio and the producers. If he had got the opportunity to do a couple of more Bond films, he would have been in a better position to build his own fan base. Continue reading “Professional and perspicacious – Timothy Dalton’s foray as James Bond.”