Monday, December 24, 2018

York Christmas Market - Vlog Episode 4

I know, another one on Christmas but this one is a journey vlog, I think you'd like it for a few different reasons. ;)

What Means Christmas - Vlog Episode 3

I don't want you to miss out the cute stories so I am posting the link below:

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

My Vlog - Episode 2 - 3 Beliefs a Vlogger Needs

Thanks for the positive and supportive feedback of my friends, I decided to start my vlog. This is the episode where I talk about my plan for overcoming those limitations that I had discussed in the first issue.

I hope you enjoy it and subscribe to the channel.

Friday, December 14, 2018

My Vlog - Episode 1

I have started a Vlog recently. Here is the link for the first episode. I am not giving up on blogging, but planning to use the vlogging as a combination of blog, FB posts, and filmmaking. Enjoying it so far.

Hoping to have my blog audience enjoy the vlog as well.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Dil mein ek lehar si..

With apologies to other languages I will have to say that when the heart is heavy, when the head is muddled up with a million conflicting thoughts or when you don't know what really ails you..there's nothing like Urdu poetry to comfort the heart and soothe the soul.

Here is a ghazal for that kind of mood.

दिल में एक लहर से उठी है अभी
कोई ताज़ा हवा चली है अभी

भरी दुनिया में जी नहीं लगता
जाने किस चीज़ की कमी है अभी (Favourite)

कुछ तो नाज़ुक मिजाज़ हैं हम भी
और ये चोट भी नयी है अभी

शोर बरपा है खाना-ए-दिल में
कोई दीवार सी गिरी है अभी

तू शरीके-सुखन नहीं है तो क्या
हम सुखं तेरी ख़ामोशी है अभी

याद के बेनिशाँ जज़ीरों से
तेरी आवाज़ आ रही है अभी

वक़्त अच्छा भी आएगा 'नासिर'
ग़म न कर ज़िन्दगी पड़ी है अभी

Here is a Youtube link for this ghazal in ustad Ghulam Ali's voice.

Monday, July 30, 2018

You can't keep a good man down

I  am watching Gotham on Netflix these days. In small increments as it is a stressful show. Last week I got to the point where they assign the protagonist, Detective Jim Gordon, to the Arkham asylum. This is quite a step down for him - hard job, physical danger, and a disgraceful assignment.

But even then I was not much worried about it because I knew he would come back to his normal beat soon. And he did. He never stopped doing his best work even at that terrible job and he gave it his all even at the risk of his own health and life. Soon, he made his way back to his normal position in Homicide.

Thinking about it later, I realised that this is a common trend. Even when our beloved hero is in dire straits we never despair. When he's captured by his enemies, when he's under fire from his boss or being beaten up by goons we always know he will bounce back, maybe not in the next frame or next scene but ultimately he will.

If we know this about him, why don't we know this about us? We also go through difficult phases in life when it seems so bleak that we despair for ourselves. And we let it get us down. Why don't we have that same faith in ourselves - that in the TV serial of our life, we may be down now but in one episode or two, we will come back again. We will rise back to our previous glory and work our way up from there.

Because, be it cinema or life, you can't keep a good man (or woman) down.


Sunday, July 08, 2018

Noor: So be_noor - The Lacklustre Blockbuster

Some movies are made for entertaining audiences, some are made to make them think, and then some are made to torture the viewers.

Noor tries to be in the second category but falls in the third.

Having already wasted 2 hours of my life on it I don't want to waste more by writing a long review so here's a quick and dirty review.

The movie sucks. It sucks from beginning to end. It sucks with a passion. It sucks like it was its full time job to suck.

It's based on a book called Karachi: You Are Killing Me but I doubt that the book sucked even half that much. (I do plan to check out the book just to verify this.)

The writing is the weakest part of the film. It just...well, sucks. Lame scene followed by lame scene full of embarrassingly lame dialogue. But the lameness is not just in the dialogue, it's lame all over, the camera angles, the set-up, everything sucks consistently.

In one shot you can even see the cameraman in the mirror. Here is the shot for you.

Actually, even though it tries to be fast-moving film the movie doesn't even get going until well after the interval. Then 2 scenes later it finishes. The scene during the credits is the final torture and is accentuated by the weak casting and poor performances.

Sonakashi is not a terrible actress only a weak one, but this would be her weakest film. Given the ridiculously lame dialogue given her she does a great job of delivering them equally lamely throughout the film. And she looks fat and ugly in the whole film but I think that's what they were going for as it's commented on several times in the whole movie.

If you escaped watching it when it was in the cinemas count your blessings and don't watch it now on the streaming services either.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Why I love my smartphone!

Smartphones get a lot of flack. A lot.

"Phones are getting smart but people are getting dumber."
"Our phones are making us stupid."
"Remember the good old days when.."

These are just a few examples of crap people say about smartphones.

Keep in mind that anything taken to extremes can be bad including something so good as food, or a bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Or smartphones.

But if you don't take it to extremes, here are a few reasons why I love my smartphone.

"I love the internet, my friends live there."

That's true of the smartphone today. There was a time when I lived in US, I used to have to go through complicated procedures based on phone cards and landline to call my parents. From the smartphone not only did it become easier but also cheaper and I could have long conversations with my mum on absolutely nothing whenever I wanted.

With the fast internet connections and apps like Whatsapp my family can call me any time they want to talk to me.

No matter how much I hate Facebook it gives me a way to be involved in my kids' life and know what my friends are doing and thinking even when that thing is not crucial enough to warrant a call.

With the high-resolution camera, my phone lets me record wonderful things like a landscape on the way to work or a dance routine I want to review and remember later.

If I need to eat alone, and sometimes I do, my phone gives me multiple options for accompanying entertainment.

For my walks to the station my phones lets me listen to the music or an audiobook.

At work I have the option to watch a Youtube video and learn or amuse myself while I do some boring work.

It gives my friends an option to talk to me any time they want. And vice versa.

My smartphone removes the fear of driving to a new place with Google Maps being there all the time to guide me.

So, in short, my smartphone connects me with friends and family, helps me explore the world, amuses me, entertains me and informs me. I bet that's more than you can say about your wife.....and you love your wife, don't you? Well, let's not open that can of worms. Just suffice it to say I do love my smartphone and phoooey to anyone who dares to turn up her nose at it.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

The Big Bang Theory - Let me Fool You - GPS Logic Hole

The Big Bang Theory is my most favourite show. The paradox is that it's my favourite show because I love how they combine logic and humour in their writing, but the same love for logic often leads me to find faults with the story line or a particular item in the story when they go off the reservation.

I have talked about this sort of thing before in the episode where Howard misuses a robot hand and the one where Priya sneaks out to meet Leonard. In this post I want to talk about another one.

Season 6 Episode 13 - The Bakersfield Expedition. The guys are driving to the Bakersfield comic-con and Sheldon pesters Leonard to turn on the GPS turn-by-turn guidance. When he turns it on, it starts speaking in Sheldon's voice. Sheldon explains that he hacked the GPS software last night and replaced the audio with his own voice recordings.



In a non-Google maps GPS (SatNav in UK) software it IS possible to hack the software audio.
It IS possible to replace the audio files with any audio files of similar size.
BUT the audio doesn't read like a movie script. It is in fact made up of small audio clips with atomic level instructions. The files would say, for example "turn right", "at the next roundabout" or "you have reached your destination."

It will NOT read out the directions in a continuous audio with space to insert quizzes and information tid-bits in-between.

How do I know this?

I HAVE done this hack in the past. I found several flavours of audio packs online that could be used to replace the built-in audio of the GPS software. My favourite one was the one in Marilyn Monroe's voice. In addition to the normal directions in her sexy voice, when I reached my destination she used to say, in her seductive, breathy voice, "You have reached your destination, Mr. President."

Monday, April 30, 2018

Infinity War - Quick Comment

It's a serious movie, man. Full of amazing action, but also a lot of emotion. There are lots and lots of jokes and funny moments, even in the middle of a battle but ultimately it's about saving the universe so it's a serious movie.

Totally worth watching, though. Do yourself a favour and watch it in IMAX 3D the first time, if you can. If you can't, then the highest resolution you can find.

The thing I love about Avengers:Infinity War and generally about Marvel movies is that they are not about gadgets and hi-tech suits. They are about people doing the right thing even when faced with impossible odds. Using your powers, your capabilities, whatever they may be, for more than just your own good. They are about going into a battle you have zero chance of winning because you feel it's your responsibility to give it your all even when you are staring certain death in the face.

"...because that's what heroes do!"

Saturday, March 10, 2018

My Way or Thai Way

कोई मेरे दिल से पूछे तेरे तीर-ए-नीम-कश को
ये खलिश कहां से होती जो जिगर के पार होता

Koi mere dil se poochhe tere teer-e-neemkash ko
Ye khalish kahan se hoti jo jigar ke paar hota.

(Translation: Ask me how this arrow of yours feels embedded in my chest. I would not have this itch if it had gone clean through.)
It loses a lot in translation but a full explanation another time.

This is basically how I feel about Thailand. After spending 6 days there I feel like we merely scratched the surface. Everything I managed to do I want to do again and more of, whereas everything I missed I definitely want to attempt on the next try.

It was not the typical pleasure-seeking Thailand trip that a whole lot of people go there for. Instead, this was a family trip very much in keeping in with the tradition of my trips when I come to India. The difference was that this time we were headed for an off-India destination.

We picked Thailand for its nearness to India and its relaxed visa regulations. Also we had heard a lot about its beaches and its natural beauty. So we packed our bags and shot off to Bangkok by Jet Airways to try and make some great memories of this land of Buddha.

Even though we got to see the pretty beaches we had heard of that was not the most beautiful feature of the country. That credit goes to the people. Knowledge of English was a scarce and sought-after commodity in this country but that didn’t stop the natives from trying to help the silly tourists. Yes, we were the silly ones for not knowing the Thai language, they were in their country, why should they learn English for our benefit?

While we were there I did try and pick-up a few words of Thai from Google and YouTube and my efforts were well-rewarded. I always got a beautiful smile from the people whenever I tried a Thai word, even when I got it completely wrong.

It took me 6 days to learn to say “thank you” in Thai (for a male, it’s kob-shun-krup), but more important than the words is the intonation. It seems that you cannot speak Thai unless you smile with it. Nobody understood my thank you in Thai until I started to say it in the same cheerful, sing-song tone the Thai people use when speaking.

Swimming in the ocean, shooting the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, playing in the sand, visiting the shrines...we did a lot and still it feels like we needed another 6 months there. At least. A return trip is definitely indicated some time in the future.

We came back with camera-full of photos and heart-full of wonderful memories.

Now, I can see why I have never heard anyone say that they didn’t like Thailand and why so many people I know are addicted to this haven of leisurely fun and natural beauty.

[This time the photo is not from Google. It's my own shot of Sunset from Kata beach. No Photoshop.]

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

धीरे धीरे रे मना

धीरे धीरे रे मना धीरे सब कुछ होय माली सींचे सौ घड़ा ऋतू आये फल होय 

चाहे कितने ही घड़े पानी के डाल लो फल तभी होगा जब उसकी ऋतू आएगी। फल धीरे धीरे पकता है..

मैं तो कहता हूँ ज़िन्दगी में अच्छी चीज़ें धीरे धीरे ही होती हैं. सुनी है वो ग़ज़ल "रफ्ता रफ्ता वो मेरी  हस्ती का सामां हो गए..."? रफ्ता रफ्ताा यानी धीरे धीरे, क्या समझे?

फिर जगजीत सिंह जी ने भी तो गयी है वो ग़ज़ल अमीर मीनाई की -
सरकती जाए है रुख से नक़ाब आहिस्ता आहिस्ता 
निकलता आ रहा है आफ़ताब आहिस्ता आहिस्ता 

आफ़ताब यानी सूरज। जो  पूरी दुनिया को रोशन करता है. धीरे धीरे ही निकलता है न?

और शेर अर्ज़ किया है कि ...
जवां होने लगे  जब वो तो हम से कर लिया पर्दा 
हया यक-लख्त आयी और शबाब आहिस्ता आहिस्ता 

तो शबाब यानी जवानी और खूबसूरती वो तो धीरे धीरे आया और हया यानी शर्म जिसने हमारे हीरो पे इतना गज़ब ढाया वो खटाक से आ गयी।

धीरे धीरे का हमारे जीवन में बहुत महत्व है
दोस्ती धीरे धीरे गहरी होती है
प्यार धीरे धीरे परवान चढ़ता है

और दुश्मनी एक सेकंड में हो जाती है.
मुसीबत फटाक से  आती है
दुर्घटना एक पल में घट जाती है और बहुत बार जल्दी की वजह से घटती है

अंग्रेजी में कहते हैं
Haste makes waste.

और हिंदी में कहते हैं -  जल्दी का काम शैतान का

तो जल्दी और जल्दबाज़ी से तौबा कीजिये और इस शायर की बात पर गौर कीजिये जिसने धीरे धीरे के  सिद्धांत को न सिर्फ समझा है बल्कि पूरी तरह से आत्मसात कर लिया है

लगा लाये तो हैं उन्हें राह पर बातों बातों में 
और खुल जाएंगे दो-चार मुलाकातों में 

Monday, January 22, 2018

My Thesis on Laziness

People pick on me for being lazy. And I let them. Fighting with everybody is too much effort.

Hmm, maybe I am lazy?

But then who isn't?

I propose that laziness is a human being's native, stable state. Being lazy is what we aspire to. We strive for laziness all our lives.

You don't believe me?

Okay, consider this. Non-lazy people work, right?

What do they work for... Retirement.

That's the end goal, isn't it?

And what do people do after they retire?

  • They sleep till late. 
  • They read the newspaper. 
  • They lounge around. 
  • They have a drink at noon. 
  • They eat. 
  • They sleep. 

Sounds pretty lazy to me. 

Okay, I can see you are not convinced. I will give you another example.

What is it that you must do at least once a year or you'll go mad? Take vacations.

Everybody takes vacations as much as they can afford. Once a year, twice a year, once every month...whatever they can afford.

And what do people do on vacation?

  • They sleep till 10. 
  • Order breakfast from room service. 
  • Lounge around the pool. 
  • Have a mojito by the pool. 
  • Take a lazy swim in the pool. 
  • Lounge some more. 
  • Have another drink. 

What does this sound like? I will give you a starts with an L and rhymes with "hazy". 
Yes, LAZY!
It's lazy behaviour.

I think I have made my point though I had many more examples but you know...I am feeling lazy!

If you are not feeling lazy, leave a comment. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Movie Review - Shandaar - Salvage Operation

This was a flop, it was a train wreck. It has already been ridiculed in news stories and award functions so let's take that as granted.

You know this word - salvage? From a wreck, from the scene of a total loss what can be gathered or saved, that's salvage.

Considering that Shandaar is already a spectacular wreck let's see what we can salvage from it. It does have some pretty long animation sequences which are like its cardinal sins and some actor choices that I am sure the director regretted pretty quickly. But what does it do right?

The story. It does actually have basic story with some sub-plots. Most Hindi films only have basic story (lots of Hollywood ones too),  so that's at part with the industry. Two families coming together for a destination wedding that's also a business deal. The bride is fat, the groom is an asshole who doesn't appreciate her and the family is oppressive. This is the backdrop against which the love story of Shahid and Alia is played out. Shahid is the wedding planner and Alia is the bride's adopted orphan sister.

Characters. The cast of characters is good and varied, many of them are caricaturish but chalk that up to its mistakes. There are 4 main characters though that I really liked - 1. Vipin or Beeps (Pankaj Kapoor), Jagjinder Joginder or Tent House (Shahid Kapoor), Alia (Alia Bhatt), Isha (Sanah Kapoor).

That leads us to the actors. The performances by these 4 are excellent and watchable. The director has tried to leverage the Pankaj Kapoor-Shahid Kapoor real life relationship for comedy, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't but they both perform well.

Alia looks lovely, I do like her as an actress but Sanah Kapoor as the chubby bride-to-be Isha is what took my heart and the reason I decided to write this review. She's a sweet, warm-hearted person and has an adorable smile. Her genuine love for her adopted sister Alia, actually I should say the love shared between the two step-sisters, leads to a few nice, sweet scenes in the film.

I maintain that even a terrible film usually has a few scenes, or at least one that can be salvaged from it. Or maybe a quote, or a message, or a visual. Like Justice League. The movie was so bad I called it a bitter disappointment and was really angry with Zack Snyder for this crap. But it had many Wonder Woman scenes that were worth watching. Shandaar has many nice, worth-watching scenes.

There is some comedy in Shandaar which makes you smile and maybe a few moments which make laugh out loud.

Music is okay. Not great, but the Gulaabo song became popular when the movie first came out.

One of my tests for a film is - does it make you care about the characters and what happens to them? Shandaar does. The situation in the story is like - an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object. Something's gotta give. You want to know how it gets resolved. On that topic, the climax was also alright, entertaining and open-ended enough to make it a good ending.

Conclusion: Watch it with low expectations and you may be pleasantly surprised. 

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