Of late, much has been consumed in the form of books and movies. Here’s a quick look at which measured up and which didn’t:
Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson
When the subject grants you complete access, the information will be insightful and thorough. And Isaacson does justice to a subject who perhaps lived four lives in one.
What comes across is the fact that Jobs was no saint. He wasn’t the best human being who lived. But he was honest in his work (if not his personal life) and a visionary to boot. Isaacson doesn’t idolize Jobs but does a great job of bringing out the human side to the man we have come to idolize.
The detail in the book is fascinating and if anything, it reads more as a thriller than a biography. At the time I was reading this, I had glanced through a couple of other books and there was a 5-hour marathon reading I went through of this book.
In the last few days, I’ve had the chance to catch up on some movies. Rather than get into details of each, here’s a quick review of all:
Guzaarish. (Rating 2/5) Absolute rubbish. So Sanjay Leela Bhansali continues to live in his own little world. Where the houses are grand, servants are loyal, incomes are nil and lifestyles are lavish. Go figure! There’s a great deal of confusion about the period of the film. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan dresses like she’s just returned from 15th century Spain and Hrithik dresses like he’s stuck in the 1980s. Aditya Roy Kapoor (or could be Kapur) is as pleasing as Shakti Kapoor in Raja Babu. Shot beautifully, the music is average. The story is strong, but the screenplay sucks. Performances are mostly over the top with too much English. Shernaz Patel is a disaster. The sentences of this review are largely staccato because that’s how the film felt.
Udaan. (Rating: 4/5) Stupendous! Rarely does a film with such a hard-hitting subject tug at the heart so much. The story of a broken home where the older son is kicked out of boarding school for a third offence. He returns home to find out that his father – whom he hadn’t met in 8 years – had remarried and has a six-year-old son. Readjusting to life in Jamshedpur with his step-brother, the protagonist Rohan is torn between his dream of becoming a writer and living up to his father’s expectations and demands.
The abusive father (Bhairav Singh), played brilliantly by Ronit Roy, is easy to hate. Constantly insulting Rohan and even his own younger brother, Bhairav Singh is easy to hate. And no, there’s nothing redemptive about him as he decides to marry a third time, this time, “for himself”.
Udaan is the story of flight, of freedom and of growing up. Even when Rohan rebels against his father, he is always restrained. You can almost feel him reasoning within whether he should go the whole hog or stay within boundaries. When he finally does snap, the punch he lands on his father is one that almost makes you cheer.
Also commendable are roles played by Ram Kapoor (as B Singh’s younger brother) and Rohan’s step-brother Arjun played Aayan Boradia. For a young debutante, Aayan’s portrayal of the terrorized son is outstanding. A must-see movie, this is about how not to raise kids.
Of late, the wife and I have taken to watching Marathi movies in a big way. We loved the recent Atul Kulkarni starrer Natrang and the superb Harischandrachi Factory and some other older ones. So we decided to rent Samaantar.
Now, I don’t want to classify or bracket this movie as an art-house one. It was more than that. But I am still unclear about the precise topic of the film. Was it about a man who rose from the ashes (almost literally) to become successful and lead a full life? Or was it about a man who lived his life to recover his sense of family and then decided that he wanted to end it on his terms. Not mercy killing, not euthanasia, but death by choice. Suicide.
So everyone, their uncle and his dog have had something to say about Slumdog Millionaire (SM). And not without reason. It is by far the most globally acclaimed Indian-subject film in a long time. And I say Indian subject since contrary to others’ views, I do not believe that SM is an Indian film at all. However, I do believe that with the amount of Indians involved, it is not unusual to feel the excessive affinity that we are currently experiencing.
I haven’t seen the movie yet. I will rush to the preview show tomorrow night if I can get the tickets. But I have been watching some rushes and trailers and I cannot understand what the brouhaha is all about. Especially this dude — some Nirpal Dhaliwal (hu?) — who seems to insist that no Indian could have made a film like SM. Obviously he hasn’t seen Salaam Bombay or the likes as Gaurav rightly points out. What’s he on? And who’s he?