Monday, October 14, 2013

Durga Puja at Lokhandwala in Mumbai

Durga Puja is another big festival in the Hindu religion. Its the biggest festival for people from Eastern states in India like Bengal, Bihar, Assam and Odisha.
Durga Puja in Lokhandwala is the most celebrated Bengali style Durga Puja in Mumbai.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Lunchbox – The Real Taste of Cinema…Don’t Miss it

Disclaimer – Get carried away by all the praises about this movie. Unfortunately, it’s not biased at all!

A simple story can be a great story. Every story doesn't need to have highs and lows, action and drama, romance and comedy. There are some stories which don’t have any of these but they are great stories. The Lunchbox is one such rare piece in the world of cinema.

The backdrop is the running and busy Mumbai, but it is never forced in the movie. There is a common working man Saajan Fernandes played by Irfaan Khan who is about to retire from his work next month and then live peacefully in Nasik. A housewife and mother named Ila, played by Nimrat Kaur is trying to revive the love in her married life.

They connect to each other through the Mumbai’s famous Dabbawallas who wrongly delivers the lunchbox meant for her husband to Irfaan Khan.
There are letter exchanges between them but more importantly it connects the different human emotions of life and the small joys that one misses in life.

The film has few other characters which make you feel good about the life you have and are crafted so carefully that you don’t find a single flaw in their character.
Irfaan Khan has established himself as one of the best actors ever in the Indian cinema and he seems just irreplaceable from the stone faced yet emotional Saajan fernandes.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui as his trainee has blended truly in his role of a young, street smart and honest man.
Nimrat Kaur is another spontaneous actor who fits so well in the lead actor role.

Hats off to Ritesh Batra for giving us such a movie which taste will linger over so many years. The film never forces itself on the viewers and it never stretches away or makes your heart full of emotions. It just teases you with right proportion of human emotions like the best lunch you can ever have.

It’s sad that this film has not been nominated for the Oscars Foreign category from India, as it’s undoubtedly one of the best Indian films of all times.

There is nothing wrong in this film and it deserves a 5/5 rating.

Don’t miss this film.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Phata Poster Nikla Hero – Don’t expect too much, just sit back and enjoy

Phata Poster Nikla Hero Movie Review

Phata Poster Nikla Hero; the title itself suggests that this is a typical Bollywood masala. A lot of veteran Bollywood directors don’t like to experiment much with the subject and follow the regular formula of a Bollywood hit; that is a mix of comedy, emotion, romance and action. Phata Poster Nikla Hero is a regular kind of film from the ace director Raj Kumar Santoshi who has earlier given the cult comedy Bollywood movie like Andaaz Apna Apna and films like Ghayal, Damini and Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

PPNH is about a young man; Shahid Kapoor who has dreams of becoming a hero in the films while his widowed mother played by Padmini Kolhapure nurses the dream of making him an honest police officer.

His fate brings him to Mumbai and then the film follows in the footsteps of Munna Bhai MBBS and Dabang. However, the director is honest to accept about the inspiration from Munnai Bhai MBBS in a scene.

The film has some of the most accomplished comedy actors like Sanjay Mishra, Saurabh Shukla and Mukesh Tiwari who will make you laugh with their unique style. However, the films loose a bit in the screenplay area as most of the humour is created through one liner than the situational scenes.
The confusion drama doesn't hold for long and this is what it prevents the film from being an average movie to a good movie.

Shahid Kapoor has returned to the screen with his comfort area which is comedy and he does it well. Ileana looks good, though there is not much for her to act. This is a return movie for yesteryear successful actress, Padmini kolhapure and she has tried hard to act and look like a mother.
Zakir Hussain as a corrupt but stupid police officer does exceedingly well in this humorous role. He is another versatile actor who has done well in different kinds of roles.

The film doesn't bore you and neither its long, but it lacks the strong punch of Dabang or the feel good factor of Munna Bhai MBBS or the crazy comedy of Andaaz Apna Apna.

It’s an average movie from Rajkumar Santoshi which doesn’t disappoint you but doesn't delight you. Overall, it’s a decent family watch in the weekend over popcorn and colas. 

Rating : 3/5

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Bodhgaya Travel Diary - A trip to enlightenment

Even after staying for a continuous 18 years in Bihar, I had never been to Bodhgaya till my only maiden visit recently. I had not undervalued the importance of this place, but at the same time I was not curious enough to visit this place. Thanks to my wife, who forced me to travel to Bodhgaya and made me realise the importance of this place in the world history.

Bodhgaya is the place from where Buddha attained his enlightenment. Of, all the four pilgrimage places for Buddhists in world, i.e. Bodhgaya, Kushinagar, Lumbini and Sarnath; the most sacred and important is Bodhgaya. Bodhgaya is located in Bihar state of India, near the banks of the river Neranjana.

We traveled on 14th Aug 2013 from Patna, the state capital of Bihar by road. The driver was unknown about the route, so we took help of Google navigation. We took the route Patna-Bakthiyarpur road and then NH83 which passes through Jahanabad town.

The whole journey of 115 Km took us around 4.5 hours with a refreshment stop of 20 minutes at Jahanabad. Please note that one has to be extra careful while stopping at Jahanabad as this town is infected with naxal terrorism.

Our first stop at Bodhgaya was Mahabodhi temple. This temple was built by the King Ashoka who was the ruler of Magadh in around 400 B.C. The temple is the place where Gautam Siddharth at the age of 29 had achieved enlightenment in around 588 B.C after meditating for 6 years in Bodhgaya.

The tree, known as Bodhitree is the sampling of Maha Bodhi tree from Srilanka which is considered a sampling of the original Peepal tree under which Gautam Buddha had meditated and attained enlightenment. The place was extremely serene even though there were lots of devotees in the temple. There were monks; old, young and children who were chanting or meditating under the trees in the garden. I guess, this tranquility of monastery has got such soothing effect on the devotees that they always want to come back again and again.

I was lucky to meet an old monk from Thailand who tied a yellow sacred thread on my wrist. He asked me to chant Su-Kha-Ti. I don't even know that whether I heard the chant properly, but the gesture and motive of the monk was kind for sure. The chord of humanity is much more important than the lines of any chant in this world.

Bodhgaya is at least 15 Km from the town Gaya, which is a very crowded and congested place. Bodhgaya is full of monasteries and temples built by 10 different countries like Japan, China, Thailand, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, Myanmar, Srilanka and few more. The temples built by China, Japan and Thailand seemed to have the most beautiful architecture among all of them.

There is also a giant Buddha statute of height of 80 ft built by Japan which makes you think about the greatness of Lord Buddha.

The tourist seasons starts from October as the winter arrives in India. During those months the town is buzzing with tourists from all over the world and one gets to taste authentic delicacies of different countries.

The place has left a lasting impression on me and my wife and has forced me to study more about Lord Buddha and his teachings. Buddhism is one of the oldest religion that had originated around 400-500 B.C. This was probably before even the Hindu mythology Ramayana and Mahabharata happened.

There are lots of unanswered questions in front of me.

Bihar is the origin of Buddhism but why there is such less following of Buddhism in Bihar state in India?

Why people worship and follow Buddha so much even though he had left his family and domestic life to wander in search of enlightenment?

Buddhism promotes a lot about peaceful and simple living to its followers yet we see some of the Buddhist nations have been actively engaged in wars with other countries. I understand that no religion promotes war but still this is an unanswered question about Buddhism.

The visit to Bodhgaya has made me wanting to read a lot about Buddha and Buddhism. Hope, I am able to take out time soon to pursue my knowledge about Buddhism and can get some enlightenment about life.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Ek Thi Daayan – It’s Scary but the’ Witch’s Spell’ doesn’t last till the end

I was eagerly waiting for Ek Thi Dayaan since last one month and had to struggle to watch it on Friday night in a Multiplex in Mumbai after clearing a hectic schedule of prior commitments.
Well, it was a sense of relief as the film didn’t disappointed me. So go ahead and read it to decide if you want to watch this movie or not.

Emraan Hashmi, Bobo, the magician is in a live-in relationship with Tamra, a beautiful girl played by Huma Qureshi. He has a wonderful life as he is a successful magician, has a beautiful girlfriend and the couple want to adopt a lovable orphan kid.
But wait; there is a haunting past which keeps knocking every now and then in front of Bobo as he remembers his childhood life; when he had an adorable father, a sweet little sister and his stepmom Diana whom he hated her.

The story swings between Psychological Thriller, Paranormal and Supernatural situations forcing the audience to keep guessing on what lies behind the spooky events that unfolds every now and then in the film.

The events no doubt are scary and chill the bottom of your seat and even force you to jump out of your seat once or twice. The scenes where he thinks that the lift of his building goes to the hell where all the creepy people of his building who did sins in their life now stay in the hell of the building after their death scares you like hell. The mystery behind spotting a witch through the help of a book on Witches makes you think whether the witches are a reality.
After a long time I get to see the right kind of haunting cinema from the Bollywood which is different from the usual Vikram Bhatt movies.

Enters a psychiatrist who had counselled Bobo earlier and then he hypnotises him to go back to his past and reveal on how his father and his sister died. But the beauty of this revelation lies in the fact that whether this is a real revelation or just a story cooked up the disturbed mind of the magician Bobo.
His fiancée Tamra, with whom he gets married forces him to sell his old flat where he stayed as a kid to another character by the name Lisa Dutt played by Kalki Koechlin.
There is a mystery around the character Lisa Dutt and Emraan Hashmi goes on to unlock this mystery.

This is where the film loosens a bit and the climax goes on to follow a typical Vikram Bhatt or Ramsey style cinema.

Emraan Hashmi has matured as an actor and has a proven screen presence. Huma Qureshi is bold, sensuous and acts well. She is one actor who will go a long way in Bollywood. Konkana Sen Sharma as the Stepmother does well in her grey shades. The supporting cast played by Pawan Malhotra who plays the father of Emraan Hashmi also plays his part well. I really liked the role of Psychiatrist played by Rajatava Dutta and of younger Emraan Hashmi played by Vishesh Tiwari.

Kannan Iyer as the debutant director gets a thumbs up as he tries to break away from the typical thriller and horror movies that are being made in Bollywood. He manages to scare his audience and entertain as well.
The script and screenplay is good and Vishal Bhardwaj stands up to his name. Not to forget we get to see the magic of Gulzaar Saab lyrics again as we can’t stop hearing, humming and appreciating the song “Yaaram” from the movie.

Overall, the movie is a good watch and takes you on a drive to the mystery world of witches, hell, hallucination and horror.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Weekend Travel to GanpatiPule

It was an interesting weekend to visit Ganpatipule in Maharashtra as the traveller inside me keeps poking every month to visit new places and enjoy the experience.
I and my wife were thinking of a weekend destination closer to Mumbai where we can relax and spend some time together.
My first choice was lets Go to Goa !
Oh no..not again, Puja protested.
Shall we go to Daman, she asked to which I replied that Daman is more a boozer's paradise and this time I want to have an alcohol free weekend.

We finally zeroed down on Ganpatipule as alcohal and Goa were out of option and Ganpatipule is more closer to Mumbai to spend a good weekend.

The trip was really exciting as our train reservation was not confirmed till the last moment. At once, I got chickened out on traveling in the train's general compartment but then the joy of visiting a new place overpowered my fear of traveling without any proper comfort.

We boarded the Konkankanya express at night from Dadar Junction as the train had started to move slowly and then tried searching for a place to sit.
The train journey was not comfortable for us as we had hardly travelled without proper reservation by trains, but it helps to be positive and look forward to the joy one would get when they reach the destination.

Now, I am posting the short write up on Ganpatipule MTDC resort by my wife Puja who is a more avid traveller and adventurer than me.

This was our first trip to Ganapatipule, and as heard by many, no doubt MTDC resort was the best option to stay. The location is just ideal, bang on the beach and just opposite the famous Ganesh Temple. We stayed in the konkani cottage, which was about 700 mts from the main reception, but better located as compared to the rooms. Room service was not available in the konkani cottages but the overall ambience was quiet and serene. The restaurant 'Tarang' serves Indian, south Indian and continental food, which was just average.

Overall a very good experience and good value for money. The resort is not available on various travel sites...You need to book through MTDC only though online bookings are available...its better to book at least a week in advance to avoid disappointment. Since its a great property with budget accommodation, its full almost in all seasons.

Room Tip - “Konkani cottages are the best option since its a bit away from the main beach area, which gathers more crowd because of the temple...”

Taking my laptop back from Puja, I am writing on what made me like Ganpatipule so much.

Well, I am a beach bum and if you are also a beach bum then you must visit Ganpatipule. The beaches are clean, the surrounding is serene and peace is in the air. In terms of alcohol only beer is available at the MTDC resort and the food is just average, but still you would love this place for its sheer beauty and the solitude you can have with your friends and the loved ones.

There are many small experiences which made me fall in love with this place like traveling in the moring on the road which runs alongside the Arabian sea, having a camel ride on the beach, walking on the moist sand in the evening, relaxing while swinging in the hammock tied with the help of two coconut trees and just sitting and starting over the sea when the sun rises and sets.

Travellers, do visit this place if you are in Maharashtra and want to spend your time in a nicely located and clean beach resort.
Ganpatipule is now added to my favorite list of places where I can go again and again!

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Mumbai Diary 3 - Silent and Still

Well living on 22nd floor is fun and that too if you are in Mumbai, where the high rise buildings dot the sky, the cars crawl all night on the streets and the Arabian Sea envelops the City in its Whiteness and depth.
So, I tried to capture some stills of Mumbai outisde my 22nd floor apartment in Mumbai through the Lens.
So here the pics go....