Tuesday, July 21, 2015

MovieNotes: Bahubali: The Beginning

Title: Bahubali: The Beginning (IMDB)
*ing: Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, Ramya Krishnan, Tamannah, Anushka Shetty, Satyaraj
Director: SS Rajamouli
Language: Telugu (I watched the Hindi dubbed version)
Genre: Mythology, Action

Basic Premise

First part of a fictionalized tale set in ancient times in fictional Mahismati, depicting a family dispute for the throne running across two generations. The competition between the two cousins for the throne is depicted mostly in flashback. The rightful ruler is slain and his wife kept captive while the cousin takes the crown. Their son, who is the image of his father, is raised away from the family. Growing up, he is unaware of his true parentage but unknowingly takes up the cause to free his mother. 

A cliffhanger ending sets up the tale for revenge (to be taken up in the sequel).

What Works
The highlight of the film is its grand scale. The waterfall scene is visually stunning as are the blue butterflies. The background music adds its own touch in bringing the stunning imagery to life. The biggest highlight has to be the climax battle scene. The visual effects of the fight scenes are probably as good as any that the big Hollywood studios have offered. Then there is the Tolkienish touch given by the script-writers who invented a whole new language for the Kalakeya tribes.

The lead protagonists Bhallaldeva and Bahubali (senior and junior) are all about rippling muscles with one of them literally taking a mighty bull by its horns and breaking it down.

The leads are ably backed up by strong support characters like Katappa and Shivagami. I really liked the depiction of Shivagami’s character as a strong authoritative administrator and fair decision maker, who treats her son and nephew as equal unlike the usual clichéd depictions offered in most movies.

The second half moves at a fast pace. And just when the tempo reaches its crescendo, comes the cliff-hanger ending. Enough questions are left unanswered ensuring that audiences will flock once again to the theaters to watch the epic (hopefully) conclusion.

What Doesn’t
The treatment of Avantika by Shivudu was wrong and its depiction was in bad taste. What exactly was the director thinking? 

Some of the VFX effects seemed to have slipped up while showing the jumping sequences

A query - How were the rulers able see the details from across the battlefield. They were reacting to every single event as if they were watching on tv screens and not from the edge of the battle-field

A couple of songs could easily have been edited out without affecting the story at all.

Dubbing created its own problems as some meanings get lost in translation (although not the makers fault)

Rating – 8/10 for visualization and depiction although the story does slacken a bit in the first half.

Previously on MovieNotes: Minions

Monday, July 13, 2015

MovieNotes: Minions

Title: Minions (IMDB)
*ing: Pierre Coffin [as Kevin, Stuart & Bob], Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Geoffrey Rush
Director: Pierre Coffin & Kyle Balda
Language: English & Minionese
Genre: Animation 

Basic Premise
The Minions are living in depression in Antarctica after failing in their attempts to retain a master. Three of their kind – Kevin, Stuart and Bob, go out in search of a master, the most powerful super-villain of the world, to serve. They find one and are taken in to service but their accident-prone ways lead to trouble for themselves as they find their new mistress turned against them.

Prequel to Despicable Me.


Minions marks the first full-fledged movie featuring the cute, little, yellow, capsule shaped, dungaree clad creatures with big, round spectacled eyes who speak in their own funny sounding minion-speak, eat bananas and have only desire – to serve the biggest, baddest villain on this planet. 

The story begins with the minions being in constant search for a new master, as their accident-prone ways leading to terrible ends for their masters. Terrible for the masters but outrageously hilarious for the audience.

The minions decide to isolate themselves but lack of a master leads to them to a depression. One bright young fellow decides to go out in search of a master and is accompanied by two of his comrades (or buddies as they refer each other). What follows is a series of adventures where the trio land up in New York, manage to reach Orlando to a convention of villains, somehow managing to get recruited by Scarlet Overkill (the biggest super-villain of them all) who assigns them a task of stealing the Queen’s crown. They are adept to the task but have the crown handed over to them after managing to pull out the Sword in the Stone. Scarlet feels betrayed although they hand over the crown via a royal decree. She turns on them and in a final face-off is beaten by the minions. The movie ends with the minions meeting up with Gru, their ultimate master.

The movie is full of hilarious scenes and the minion-speak adds to the hilarity of every single scene. Whether it is the speech delivered by the newly crowned King Bob, a rousing speech but beyond the comprehension of the ordinary human audience, or Bob making a rat friend (his pucchis), Kevin referring to Queen Elizabeth as Lacucuracha (at least that’s what it sounded like), or trying to escape polar bears, every scene is a laugh-riot.

The movie ties up neatly into the Despicable Me series (but does this mean no more Minions standalone movie?)

Mandatory India Connect – The other Minions somehow land up in India via Australia while trying to reach England and are seen dancing in front of the Taj Mahal.

Wonder what the Queen’s reaction to the depiction in this movie is :D

Rating – 9/10. Critics might find flaws about a lack of story or emotions or other such critical aspects of the art of film-making but this is a complete one and a half hour laugh riot.

Previously on MovieNotes – Jurassic World

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

BookMarks #2 - Ten Days That Shook The World

Title – Ten Days That Shook the World
Author – John Reed
Genre – Non-fiction, History

“Ten Days That Shook the World” is a first person account of the events of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia in November 1917 leading upto the formation of the government of the Soviets. As the author says in the preface – “This book is a slice of intensified history as I saw it. It does not pretend to be anything but a detailed account of the November Revolution, when the Bolsheviki, at the head of the workers and soldiers, seized the state power of Russia and placed it in the hands of the Soviets.

The book begins by giving a background of the various parties involved in the revolution and its lead-up. It then proceeds to narrate the events of the revolution in Petrograd as witnessed by the author. The initial pages make for some heavy reading, especially for readers not familiar with the Russian revolution. There is quite a good chance of getting lost amongst the various factions of the Bolsheviki, Mensheviki, Cossacks, Cadets, Yunkers, and the multiple workers’, soldiers’, sailors’ and peasants’ organisations and their different leaders. Liberal usage of Russian terms adds to heaviness in the reading. Sometimes it does become a bit difficult to keep track of who is on which side. However the opening chapter does a good job in trying to explain the stands of the different parties during the lead-up to the events of November, 1917. 

The book is an account from the author’s perspective. The author details the various committee meetings he attends, and re-tells the speeches he hears there. The speakers are mostly unnamed but they give their perspective to the cause. Then there are the multiple speeches quoted from the sessions of the Duma in Petrograd alongwith the reactions of the audience. Overall the book gives a feeling of reading from the notes of a diary as the author tries to take in the multiple events happening at various places at the same time all connected to each other, and part of one big revolution.

The events described in the book show how challenging it is to execute a revolution. The leadership maybe willing and ready but are the masses ready to act? And what happens to the various government agencies which are in place? The revolutionaries might replace the leadership of the various government bodies but the workers in those organisations might not be sympathetic to their cause leading to more suffering for the public at large which might set the stage for a counter-revolution to throw out the revolutionaries. Also it stresses the need for a revolution to be “quick”, otherwise anarchy prevails leading to further revolutions, the Bolshevik revolution being a good example as it was the second one within the year.

Overall, "Ten Days That Shook the World" is a good read about the events in the Bolshevik revolution. It details out the events but leaves the interpretation to the readers although the author's bias towards the Bolsheviks does clearly come out.

Previously on BookMarks – The Call of the Wild

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Battle of the Bulge

In the last days of May, found an "event" on Facebook, which some of my friends were "going to". Turned out it was a 30 day abs challenge which people had decided to take up. Well, it seemed interesting enough, so me too decided to join this "movement". After all, the most visible effect of the sedentary lifestyle enjoyed by most office-goers including yours truly is a nicely developed paunch giving a well rounded appearance to your personality (Pun intended).

Getting rid of this paunch has been a ongoing battle for long, albeit a losing one. Exercise regimens have been initiated and let go. Multiple fitness apps have made their way in and out of the mobile phone. But somehow every single routine has collapsed for some reason or the other. With all these experiences behind me, I looked up the following chart, which was the cover picture of the event.

It was a set of 4 exercises (Sit-ups, Crunches, Leg Raises & Plank) to be done with increased repetitions over a period of 30 days with a rest day every 4th day.  The first few days looked light enough. So I decided to have a go at it. Printed out the picture and started striking out the routines as they got completed. The exercises were followed on a daily basis as per the calendar. So daily after returning from work, I would look up this chart and follow the instructions. 

Day 1 - 15 sit-ups, 5 crunches, 5 leg raises and 10 second plank. This was done easily without breaking any sweat. Although I did wonder if I would be able to manage the Day 30 routine with 125 sit-ups and 200 crunches. Decided to cross that bridge when it came and take it a day at a time. So day after day, the routine was followed with increased repetitions. The duration also increased from barely 10 minutes on the first day to almost 45 minutes by the end of the month. And somehow, I did manage to complete all the days without a single failure [started cheating a little on the plank in the last week though].

Some tips on how to keep it going
  • Do not look at the activities for the last day. Its a huge number but you can get to it by the end of the month.
  • Do the exercises in sets of 5 repetitions and have some background music to keep you distracted.
  • Take a little break between different exercises, but finish in the same sitting.
  • Keep having small sips of water in between
  • Keep a print of the schedule. Use a pen/pencil to cross out the exercise set as you complete. Nothing motivates better to do the next step than crossing out the previous completed step.
  • Try to maintain the same time daily.
  • Follow as per the calendar dates. Makes it easier to keep track and complete.
  • Find the next challenge to keep the spirit going
Overall Result - The weight has reduced slightly and the belt is definitely getting tighter. And it does feel good to have been able to complete 200 crunches at one go. The first battle has been won. But the war is still on. 

Here is the link with videos of how to do the exercises (Link

P.S. Taking up a new challenge for July. After all success breeds more success.