Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sakshi: The witness (1)

Fourth day and still no signs of movement. The flicker on the screen was proof that the heart was alive but then the body just didn’t seem to realise it.

The present 
It was 2:30 am. Sakshi had just got her last cup of coffee for the night. Usually she used to get late. But today work was at its peak. It was a night of celebration.  Mumbai Indians, the local cricket team had won the cricket IPL (Indian premiere league)  T20 trophy for the first time.  Party was in the air and thus being the founder of a successful start up, that dealt with driver service for party animals , their phone had not stopped ringing since late evening .  While business was  on the rise , she was still maintaining a  tight back office workforce to curtail expenses. This eventually led Sakshi herself routing/answering calls for assistance during hi-traffic days.
Water drops had slightly begun to trickle down the glass façade of her cabin as a ping popped on their assistance app.  Another driver request by a partygoer !.The request had  location details of a pick up, a famous pub in Bandra.  The time requested was immediate and the name read- Karan Khanna. That name rang a bell in her memory. Was rather a painful one.

The past
Sakshi still remembered the night clearly. After all it was the night when the entire world partied- New years eve.  Any given night of the year , Bandra in Mumbai  is always a popular party hotspot ,but this time the scale had just gone up . The state government,buckling under popular pressure had lifted the time restrictions on bars and pubs that night, which meant the partygoers could party till the wee hours of the morning.  So the mood was upbeat. Lot of people who usually left the city before New year, actually stayed back. The experience of non-stop partying in Mumbai till the wee hours of the morning, was a nostalgia which most of them wanted to revive. Something  that the younger generation also wanted to experience.
“Won’t be late papa.  Will come by 1am max”.  Sakshi cajoled her father.  Not that she had too. But then their bond was more than special.  Sakshi had lost her mom when she was barely nine years old.  Well  he was the one who had bought her up single handedly both as a mother and father. He was the witness to her growing years, her aspirations, break-ups, struggles, tantrums and finally the realization of her dreams.  After all he was very much responsible for the proud tag that Sakshi wore on her sleeves of a successful general manager of a tech firm.
“You don’t have to convince me sweetheart!  Know you will be safe . And yes don’t worry about me. Take your time. After all this is the party you deserve. Don’t know when was the last time you went out, all because of me…”. His voice began to trail off. “Well papa while I was growing up, you ensured that I never miss mom. Now it is my turn to ensure you don’t miss her too”!. Sakshi gave him a fond hug. He had never been this emotional. Post retirement in the initial years he was the most active one in their colony. But then slowly as time passed he developed a sense of loneliness that only a companion could replace. The fact that Sakshi had not married and preferred to take care of him , had also created a factor of unwarranted guilt in him. Sakshi had tried reasoning that this was her choice , but no avail.
“ Well Sakshi if you really mean that, then you also need to keep me happy by listening to me.  I can take care of myself tonight. Want you to enjoy yourself and even party for me . Am ok. Your friends must be waiting . Go now your dad is old, need to sleep else won’t get it”. He said with a wink in his eye. “Bye dad and Happy new year”, she wished him. “ A very happy new year to you too beta. Always see the bigger picture and may your life find new meaning this coming year” he said, kissing her head.  Sakshi rushed out holding back her emotions. Her friends were waiting and the venue was at least an hour away.
That night Sakshi had the time of her life. They had been to a beach party at a bungalow near the beach. The awesome décor,cool breeze,the lovely music,amazing food,it was just perfect. Drinks flowed amid the dancing and it was not much before the clock struck 5 am. All her friends were heavily drunk and so was Sakshi. Somehow she recollected it was way past her usual time and that she needed to get home.
“Get up Karan, need to get home fast. Just get me a cab yaar, will manage.” she said, waking up her boyfriend who was half asleep on the bar counter. “No ways, am dropping you baby. Can handle this,plus their won’t be much traffic now. Let me just go to the washroom , you will be safe with me”.  Karan remarked.  Sakshi had not booked a cab. Even if she managed to get one, she wasn’t feeling confident in travelling alone, as her head was starting to get heavy. So she gave in. What should have ideally taken ten minutes took them twenty.  Karan dropped the keys twice before he could even open the door. “Don’t worry yaar. Just that there was water in my hands. Am not sloshed” he said , trying to comfort her.
Sakshi got into the back seat and just dozed off.  The clock in the car faded out to 5:30 in front of her eyes.

What an existence this is.  Should never happen to a person. The body just doesn’t respond. The senses are neither completely dead nor alive. No wonder they call it coma. But then there was someone responsible for this. But who?...                                                        -to be contd...(part1 of 3)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Movie review: Mission impossible–Rogue Nation, A self-destruction worth looking forward to!

Whenever you think of some of the best action and thrilling sequences that Hollywood has produced, the Mission Impossible (MI) series ranks right on top of your mind. Yes we do have the Bond, Bourne and Arnie movies, but the sheer consistency of MI when it comes to showcasing death defying concepts/stunts is something admirable. The 5th part of the installment just takes this to the next level.
Within the first few minutes of the movie, when you see Tom Cruise (Ethan Hunt) hanging on to dear life outside an airplane- a massive A 400, you know you are in take-off mode for a pure adrenaline rush.
The plot is more or less what MI fans would usually expect. As it is, most logic goes for a toss because the fans of this franchisee are more pleased by death defying stunts than logic. IMF (Impossible Mission Force) is virtually disbanded as a unit and their main agent Ethan Hunt is on the run. His ex- colleagues are now a part of the CIA.  Ethan’s objective is to disband a syndicate that only he believes exists. The twist this time around is that the syndicate realises Hunt is after them and challenges him to either find them or die getting targeted.
How Ethan finally manages to achieve his mission, inspite of various twists and hairpin bends, ultimately forms the crux of the movie. He is supported well by Benji (Simon Pegg) who provides the comic relief too in this movie, William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) whose role is somewhat subdued in this movie as compared to the last one and Luther (Ving Rhames). But the one who gives Ethan a run for his money and matches him kick for kick is Isla Faust (Rebecca Ferguson). Playing a mysterious beauty with brains character, one is kept on the tenterhooks till the very end, as to which way will she swing, between good and bad. She oozes confidence in all that she does. Whether it is gate crashing the opera in a slit evening gown, or emerging out of the pool in a bikini, or kicking ass with smooth moves, she leaves an impression. Add to this she goes all out riding a BMW bike in an all leather biking gear in the climax, a scene that definitely stays with you even after the movie ends. The start of the chase where all the bikes run down the steps in Morocco, in close pursuit by Ethan on a BMW car, before disappearing deserves a special mention.
Some of the scenes do bring back memories of the earlier ones,
MI5 - Earlier (comparo)
•The airplane scene at the start – The train scene during climax of MI 1
•The security hack scene- Combination of the Kremlin scene of MI4 and epic data stealing scene of MI 1
•Final Bike chase during climax- similar to climax bike scene of MI 2, but much better.
But still what works for MI 5 is all of these have been executed in a different manner, with newer twists and turns in the same genre. The sheer pace at which every action scene unfolds on screen is pure delight for an adrenaline junkie.
Last but not the least, Tom cruise take a bow. With every installment, he has just managed to reinvent himself as an actor and push for something bigger and better, whether it is the plot or the death defying stunts, which he manages to pull off time and again with such finesse.  His age reflects only in his looks but not in character, as once again he revels in a plot centered around him. A special mention also for the director Christopher McQuarrie, for managing to do full justice to this installment and not disappointing the fans of this franchisee. However personally enjoyed Ghost protocol more over this installment, since that for me was a better blend of story and action.
Go for it guys, before this article self-destructs in 5 seconds!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Theater/Play review: - ‘Chaar small’, par sirf naam mein.

“Dost, chaar small dena”! In any other situation this would have sounded like an order at a bar counter but here we were finally, after braving the horrible traffic of a typical Mumbai evening, at the booking window of Prithvi Theater,Juhu. Chaar Small by T-Pot productions was playing that evening. A collection of 4 short stories centered around a bar is what one could guess, from the poster displayed outside the venue.
The humour was served right on toast by the cast, with an introductory aarti asking the viewers to put their phones on silent!  Pretty innovative I thought. The lighting, set, innovative posters (one to back the above aarti), a superb live band etc just created the perfect ambience for the spirits to soar further!
Once the stories/acts start spanning out one after the other, you realize that the common link in all of these is not the bar but it is the city of Mumbai. The city of aspirations and thus migrations, underlying issues and yes humanity or what is famously called as the spirit of Mumbai, forms the crux around which the plays revolve. The bar just provides a perfect setting for the stories to evolve. After all what is Mumbai without its famous nightlife.
Purva Naresh's Do Deewaney, Sanjay Dadhich's Daddu Tiwari and Trishla Patel's Lash-ting Impressions and Ghar Ghar all centered around the above theme
The first act is Do Deewaney, a sweet love-story about Amar, a local boy, and Arifa, a migrant girl from UP. The difference in their personalities, their aspirations, perspective of life etc is bought about beautifully intervened with the character of Mumbai, through this play. Beautiful lyrics, background score and the ‘bhelpuri’ chemistry between the two protagonists immediately transports you to a bollywood love story. The climax however sends home the shocking message that Life in this city is equally unpredictable as the mood of its people.
The second act is Lash-ting Impressions, which simply is the amazingly well executed ‘creative keeda’ of the lot. The central character is a shape shifting emotional pothole which in Mumbaiya language is called Khadda. This khadda is given a life and the life around the colony where it resides, is seen through its perspective. Hat’s off to the actor for breathing life into such an inanimate role. His presentation (costume and make up), expressions, body language steal the show. The character is ably supported by the numerous cast members (especially the human gate formation) all throughout the act which keeps the lively tempo going besides adding to the creative spark.
The third act is a narrative - Daddu Tiwari. The story of a migrant boy whose childhood shuttles between his native village and Mumbai. How the experiences affect him and eventually mould him as a person is showcased through the act. Wonderfully crafted comic sequences, that add able support to the narrative , have you in splits throughout the play. However felt it ended on a bit scattered note. Nevertheless the fact is that of the lot, this somehow manages to leave a bigger lasting impression over the others.  Maybe the fact that one relates to most of the sequences helped it achieve so.
The last one is Ghar Ghar, a story of how a place that was once someone’s house, has fallen prey to the mad development in the city and is now a bar. This is the most masala act of the lot and is liberal in its use of bollywood elements and situations.
Usually when one sees a compilation of short plays, you're bound to get impressed with at least one fine act. Perhaps that's what the makers of such concepts aim for. However in the case of Chaar small you are spoilt for choice. Personally would like to rank the short stories/acts as follows (first to last):-
•Daddu Tiwari- for the sheer powerful narration and comic relief.
•Lash-ting Impressions- for the amazing creative concept and use of stage, elements and seamless co-ordination of multiple actors.
•Do Deewaney- for the depiction of the sweet romance in the city that somehow has become rare to spot these days & lastly.
•Ghar Ghar- a decent attempt, but the script could have been stronger especially when compared to the rest. However the presentation and performances make up for it.
This original play is directed by Trishla Patel, who deserves a standing ovation for pulling this off.  Chaar small may have the word ‘small’ in its name but definitely packs a ‘Patiala punch’ when it comes to creating an impact.
“Dost aur chaar small lana”!