Sunday, August 31, 2008

What have you been watching lately?

These days, amidst all the clutter of news channels and television programs, finding a good program to watch non-stop for an hour is a skill in itself. I’d much rather choose to watch a program along with the advertisements for a continuous hour, as opposed to flipping between the channels for an endless duration and watching nothing end of the day.

Cutting the long story short, I wanted to get some tips on great programs running in TV these days. Following are mine:

Man vs. Wild

Call it captivating, disgusting, entertaining, or daring, Bear Grylls (the host of this program – from Discovery Channel) has it in him to pull off whatever he does. If I see one program, this is it. Being an ex-Special Forces and the record holder for the youngest Brit to climb Mount Everest, his background gives the show a lot of credibility. Of course, critics apart, eating those live snakes, moths, fish, raw zebra meat, frogs, and the like in his quest to survive are, in my opinion, the show’s ultimate clinchers. I’m waiting for the DVD format.

Planet Earth

[From BBC] This show brings the most spectacular picto-cum-cinematography ever. Every frame of this show is a portrait and a statement in itself. I’m not sure if this is running on TV these days, but I got the entire 5 DVD set for 400 bucks, and the clarity of the images and Attenborough’s husky voice is stunning. Nature is spectacular, and if one show has managed to record it all, this has to be it.

Ice Road Truckers

[From History Channel] You just wish you were driving one of those vehicles, just for a day. Captivating - to say the least. I just love this show. Switch off the lights, relax and watch the program. It's the best part of your day.

What’s awesome is that such programs still bring sanity and respect to Television – amidst the swarm of saas-bahu soaps and irksome and constantly bickering news channels.

Any other program to watch out for?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

Some movies are timeless.

The odd sounding "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" is one. [Thanks Ash!]. It's a tad old, but if you are a serious movie buff, there is no such thing as an old movie. This one keeps you riveted, till the very last scene. No, the last frame.

Download a copy from one of those torrents, or get in touch with me!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Delusion called God

God Delusion, the last word in atheism, was unforgiving. The book is loaded, argumentative, incisive, ruthless and even nasty at times. If you can live with the tough language and the tight flow – mind you, you don’t have any racy storyline to keep you riveted – this turns out to a great read.

If you do want to read this book, I’d recommend surfing the initial 100 pages, giving the next 100 pages a very light curse, and then concentrating on the last 100 or so pages. The last pages are the essence, and are crystal clear, with less of rhetoric, but I suspect most won’t last till the last page. I would not be surprised if you feel cheated, of Gods, of religion, of the so-called holy-books, of people around you. But then, you must have felt so even before getting to this book. This book is not supposed to be a light-hearted fiction anyway, so you should know.

Like an American colleague of mine wrote to me once “Though few know of my apostasy, you wouldn't believe how wonderful it is to be mentally free!” I guess I can’t add to those words without spoiling them. I emphasize ‘American’ since he was one to be brought up in a conservative, rural part of the religious America – of the yesteryears.

I’d leave with one last wonderful quote (from the Wikipedia link above): Robert Pirsig's observation in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”: When one person suffers from a delusion it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion.

This book from Richard Dawkins is the last nail in the coffin for religion - if you can manage holding this book in your home that is.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A shining beacon in the night sky

Yes, that’s what Taare Zameen Par stands out to be. I had come across countless reports showering praise on the movie, Aamir Khan and his directional debut, but I just couldn’t squeeze in a little bit of time to watch the spectacle the movie is.

It’s gladdening on a number of counts. It’s portrayal of a poignant issue plaguing the society in a rather mature way puts it far apart from the clutter of the routine, senseless movies. And there’s no frivolity – no Basu’s or Sherawat’s running around trees and encircling bare male bodies wearing a handkerchief for a cloth.
I’ve followed the ‘movies’ section of the ‘Ergo’ tabloid that is circulated in these parts for about a year now, and the section invariably contains one of these women striking an incisive still at the camera, amongst some ‘heroes’ who invariably look like immature school kids. In all the year I’ve watched this, the only thing that seems to change between the posters is the title of the movie and the color of what they are wearing. It’s almost like I can find a crap movie whenever I want to, but, lo and behold, sensible ones come only once in a long while. Love (the hetero-sexual movie-love) and sensuality are essential parts of human emotions, but it doesn’t have to be taken so far. I wonder how long people can take such crap. The two subjects have been abused beyond imagination, and it’s time for sensible directors to come up with the likes of Taare Zameen Par to put an end to this madness.

Coming back, the best part is that the movie went on to become a hit amongst the audience. I loved the parts that emphasized how much emphasis we place on not letting kids just let them be… and rather want them to follow the routine school-college-corporate mayhem. Classes, schools, exams… all the despicable items of a child’s life - accentuated further with tuitions and coaching!

Jeez, kids these days are a mess! I was thoroughly disappointed with the schooling culture in metropolitan cities (Chennai etc) and the race to ‘getting marks’ – even in the initial parts of schooling days. Say this based on our experience – what is really the correlation between achieving high marks in schools and your performance in real life?

I just loved a sight yesterday - when I ran into a bunch of kids playing football using make-up goal-posts in the open parking space of the apartment complex where I happen to stay. It was a wonderful sight… personified with childhood innocence that took me back by almost 15 years.

I think I’ve said enough. If you haven’t watched the movie yet – do not wait. This is a piece of art. Send it to the Oscars.