Archive for August, 2013
My introduction to Shepherd Neame happens to be an English pale ale, and it is alive with hoppiness. The fruity hops make this very different from other EPAs I’ve tried; Canterbury Jack is a zesty, refreshing beer. The drink is mildly bitter and very light on the tongue. Halfway through the bottle I understand that the bitter hops of this beer linger on the taste buds for quite some time. With nothing complex going on with the flavour, and with another six beers from Shepherd Neame to drink, I say Canterbury Jack isn’t mind-blowing, but worth sipping on anyway.
Shoojit Sircar’s film is a political thriller that takes itself seriously and allows you to take it seriously. This movie review doesn’t contain spoilers
Madras Cafe is a Hindi movie that has nothing to do with Eid, Diwali, Ganpati, star power. It is a political thriller that isn’t adulterated with romance, and it doesn’t have songs for the masses to hum. Madras Cafe is that rare Hindi film which has nothing in common with the Bollywood fare that is thrown at you every week.
Madras Cafe is about the LTTE (LTF in the movie), why they plotted the assassination of Indian ex-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, how they executed their plan, and how a few men unsuccessfully tried to stop it.
A peace force is dispatched from India to Sri Lanka to restore calm before the upcoming elections, but the Senalese, who have been wiping out ethnic Tamils, are now constantly being attacked by the LTF – a Tamilian militant outfit created by Anna Bhaskaran (remember LTTE chief Prabhakaran?), and John Abraham, RAW’s most efficient agent, finds himself in Jaffna.
It’s hard to get over how unlike everything else in Bollywood this film is. Shoojit Sircar is an excellent director, and I came out of my hiatus to watch Madras Cafe only because I loved Vicky Donor (read my review of that movie here), and I’m happy to tell you Madras Cafe has no songs, no heroes flexing their biceps and thrashing twenty goons at a time, no flying cars… you get it, but let me go on… nobody’s trying to be witty or macho, and there isn’t even a hint of the possibility of a love angle. Nargis Fakhri (read my review of her film Rockstar here) is a journalist, and nothing happens between her and John Abraham… they don’t even seem remotely interested in flirting or even smiling at each other. Madras Cafe is all about the story, and because of the way it has been told, written, edited and directed, is what you should watch if you’re interested in seeing a Hindi movie that doesn’t embarrass you in any way. It’s a fictional story that takes place in a dark chapter of Indian history.
I tip my hat to John Abraham for, despite being very much a part of Bollywood, having the balls to not make Madras Cafe “salable” at the box office. This is his second triumph as a producer and perhaps his first as an actor (read my review of his action flick Force here). Shoojit Sircar’s Madras Cafe is a film that takes itself seriously and allows you to take it seriously.
I was looking forward to, in Lonavala, chancing upon beers that aren’t available in Mumbai anymore, and I’ll be thrilled the day someone tells me McDowell’s Ice beer is still made and sold somewhere in India, but till then I’ll appease my soul with strong lagers like this one. Knock Out is known for being strong, the name itself leaving no room for doubt as to what this drink’s sole intention is. The good news is that the beer doesn’t have the alcohol bite (that makes you twist your mouth in disgust) that almost every strong lager in this country carries without shame. Knock Out beer, with its fruity taste, is very drinkable. One Knock Out beer will help wash down spicy Indian or Indo-Chinese food and two Knock Out beers will ensure that the strong lager lives up to its name.
I LOVE IT when film-makers start explaining horror movies. It shows that they know what they’ve made and why they’ve made it. How they’ve made it isn’t important to me, as long as it delivers the goods. Which is why The Conjuring might be worth a watch after all, despite the hype and hoo-haa. Of course you know the family low-on-cash that’s just moved into a new house. And what a setting it is – everybody living in the cursed city of Mumbai would shamelessly kill to have a home like that, in a place like that. We’ll talk no more of the family till the next paragraph, and instead focus on the demonologist couple. They’re there and they care about people, helping out unfortunate victims of possession. The ones to feel sorry of are the families of those whose body a ghost/spirit/entity has taken over. The demonic force usually wreaks havoc on the entire family and haunts the house and latches itself on to every single person, which means there is no escape, and in the cases that it doesn’t happen this way, the family still suffers.
You actually feel interested in The Conjuring because the demonology experts are so real. They’re not your standard exorcists who either do the job or die trying. They’re real people with their own lives and a family to protect and live for. The soon-to-be-tormented family has moved in, and the disturbance begins soon enough. It’s not the people or the house that are haunted… it’s the entire land. Cursed by a Satanist who was caught sacrificing her infant and proclaimed her love to Satan before hanging herself from a tree. It’s eerie, this story. And soon enough, the not-so-well-to-do couple and their five daughters know that nothing is right and everything is wrong for them, and they leave themselves completely dependent on the demonologist duo’s expertise. What follows is a bit of fun: the duo forms a team (with two others) to record the goings-on in the house to present it as proof of a haunting in order to get a nod from the Vatican for exorcism, while the daughters in the family get thrown around by an invisible force. It’s based on a true story, the events of which happened in 1971, and this is far more paranormal activity than the third part of that franchise. This movie has an imaginary friend, too… but Rory isn’t dangerous like Toby.
As expected, the Catholic church takes time to help those in need, and I must mention here that the children hadn’t been baptised and the family isn’t a bunch of church-goers either. So we have a possessed family that hasn’t taken Christianity all that seriously (they get bonus points for that) haunted by the ghost of a Satanic witch along with other spirits and demonic entities; the family’s sleep and peace wrecked by the creepy sounds and disturbing sights they are subjected to in their new home, and a bunch of believers trying to help them out of the mess. That sounds like a great story to me, considering Christians wouldn’t be able to help anybody at any point, mainly because they themselves are seeking divine blessings all the time, which means they are the ones in need of help. Sorry, I didn’t mean to go off again, although I would’ve said the same about people who follow any other religion or even acknowledge the existence of god or a higher power. Anyway, The Conjuring has a few scares which might excite some of you, but The Exorcist it isn’t. What it is, though, is a carefully crafted film that is quite generous with the scares, doesn’t seem nonsensical and keeps you hooked for most part.
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