Thursday, 1 September 2011

Bodyguard - Movie Review

Disclaimer: I really loved Dabbang, enjoyed Wanted and did not like Ready.

Walking into Bodyguard I knew I was in for another masala, Salman Khan movie. The movie trailer promised a different love story packed with action. In a nutshell, the movie delivered what it promised; there was definitely a love story and abundance of action!

Bodyguard is the third Salman Khan film to be released on Eid, after Wanted in 2009 and Dabbang in 2010. However the movie failed to evoke the awesomeness of Dabbang, despite having similar over-the-top, logic-defying action sequences and story proceedings. The twist in the story was indeed out-of-the-blue but not life changing. It played along conveniently in the culmination of the film.

Having said that, the principal actors have all performed well; with Salman Khan doing what only he can. I love his expression and his innocence in the movie. Of course the innocence factor was over-stretched and got to the height of dumbness in the climax (which I shall not spoil).

Kareena was strictly alright; her outfits were interesting and wearing by a normal girl. Hazel Keech, as Kareena’s best friend, makes a confident debut and even outshines Kareena in a few scenes. Aditya Pancholi used his eyes (was he wearing coloured lenses?) to emote which is a rarity for villains in Hindi movies.

The new funny man side-kick debutant, Rajat Rawail, worked in parts but mostly failed to tickle. He has a long way to reach comedy success of likes of Paresh Rawal and Johnny Lever. Also the fat-man and dwarf/ small people jokes fall flat.

The songs in the movie aren’t chart-busting, with the exception of I Love You and title track Bodyguard. It was a pleasure to hear I Love You singer, Ash King, sing live. He has an amazing voice and is definitely a singing talent to watch out for.

Despite all the shortcomings, Bodyguard is a true entertainer and Salman Khan would most certainly pull off another Eid blockbuster release and complete a hat trick! Also Doc Martins will definitely see their sales rise after having Salman Khan prominently wear them in the movie.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Review of Michael Winterbottom's Trishna trailer

Trishna is Michael Winterbottom's latest cinematic offering and his third film adaptation of a Thomas Hardy novel, Tess of the d'Urbervilles. Trishna stars Freida Pinto and Riz Ahmed with original music by Amit Trivedi, and is set in contemporary Rajasthan.

According to Trishna's official Facebook page, "The movie tells the story of Trishna (Freida Pinto) who meets a weathly young British businessman, Jay Singh (Riz Ahmed), who has come to India to work in his father's hotel business. After an accident destroys her father's Jeep, Trishna goes to work for Jay and they fall in love. But despite their feelings for each other, they cannot escape the conflicting pressures of a rural society which is changing rapidly through industrialisation, urbanisation and, above all, education. Trishna's tragedy is that she is torn between the traditions of her family life and the dreams and ambitions that her education has given her."

The trailer for the movie is beautiful, with the music haunting you long after the trailer ends. I can’t wait to hear all the songs of the movie - hoping for another magical album by Amit Trivedi. It is also refreshing to see "modern" Rajasthan in the trailer rather than just the typical scenes of deserts, villagers and camels usually shown.

Riding high on her success in Hollywood, Freida Pinto returns to play an out and out Indian part as a young woman from Rajasthan – also a refreshing change. Of course will have to watch the movie to decide whether she embodies her Indian character as well as she does her Hollywood characters.

For more about Trishna, subscribe to the its Youtube channel, follow its Twitter account and ‘Like’ its Facebook page

Monday, 15 August 2011

Elite vs neighbourhood primary school in Singapore

There is an on-going uproar over primary school (classes 1-6) admission in Singapore with a recent article on Yahoo! News debating the issue of parent volunteers. Apparently competition is so tough for the most sought-after seats that parents have taken to volunteering and donating to the perceived “elite” schools. The assumption is that if a child starts their education in a superior primary school, that child will be guaranteed academic success, which in turn would guarantee life success; “because it is just all that simple”.

Let me attempt to explain the Singapore primary education system for the benefit of non-Singaporean readers. I might have some things wrong, having “graduated” from primary school in 1998.
  • Primary school: Primary 1 to Primary 6 equivalent to grade 1 to 6
  • Students sit for the Primary School Leaving Exam (PSLE) at the end of Primary 6
  • Students are segregated into streams based on their academic calibre in Primary 4
  • 4 streams are gifted education programme (GEP), EM1, EM2 and EM3
  • The GEP is a special programme for special students who are put through a special exam which identifies the geniuses, who are then groomed by special teachers in a special syllabus (you get the picture)
  • EM1 and EM2: students in both streams study all the same subjects with the difference that EM1 students study a higher level of Mother Tongue subject while EM2 students study the “normal” level of Mother Tongue subject
  • EM3: students identified as academically weak are assigned to this stream and are taught basic level subjects with the inclusion of technical subjects which are not taught to the other streams
  • PSLE results determines which Secondary School the children are allocated, keeping in mind a number of factors

Going through my Facebook update I came across a blog post by Kirsten Ham about going to an elite primary school and how inconsequential that was. I strongly agree with Kirsten and wanted to share the experience of going to a neighbourhood primary school.

So I am from a neighbourhood primary school and I loved my time there. I was also in EM2 just because my MT was Hindi and it wasn't offered on a Higher Level. But that made no difference to me and my friends. Like Kirsten, my parents have been very supportive of me throughout my education journey (I just graduated from my Master's course in the UK) and I give them all the credit to the fun I had in primary school and ever since.

My parents are not from Singapore and this meant they didn't quite understand the "gravity" of PSLE. As a result both my parents it like any other exam. I was even taken for movies a week before PSLE as a reward for all my studying by my mother. As you can imagine, this would be shocking for any parent to even consider today. Anyways I did well for PSLE with a 248 and went on to a good secondary school. I did far better than X, who was from an "elite" primary school. X's parents the make or break nature of PSLE. and she was always confined in the house being forced to study whereas I was left to my own studying with adequate supervision from my mother. Once when we were in primary 6, X asked me in all innocence how I had time to both study and have fun.

Based on my experience I believe that it is not the school that matters, but a multitude of factors including the attitude of the student, teaching of teachers and parental support at home. Best example of this would be that although my younger sister and I attended the same primary school, both of us had vastly different experiences. So parents really should not spend all their energy just on getting their children into the “best elite” school. That does not guarantee life success or even PSLE success.

My mother started teaching me from the moment I could talk at 2-3years old, and thus began my love affair with learning. It is that love that has propelled me all the way through graduate school despite my humble beginnings at a neighbourhood primary school. Also X, my younger sister and me all have gone on to achieve academic "success" despite our varied primary school experiences.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Transformers-Dark Side of the Moon - Movie Review


Disclaimer: I’ve watched previous 2 Transformers movies and my favourite is the first one.

The trailers for Transformers 3 have been playing for months and they raised expectations of a larger-than-life movie. So in preparation to watch the 3 movie in the Transformers series, I watched the first two. Needless to say I watched Transformers 3 in 3D (at the largest 3D screen in Europe at O2 Cineworld Sky Superscreen).

The movie is definitely lived up to the expectations of being larger than life. The high point for me was the integration of the US moon landing actual footage with the movie. It was a genius idea and brilliantly executed. I’m sure hard-core Transformers’ fans would have enjoyed the final fight between the autobots and decepticons; it was amazing but personally I felt it went on for a bit too long. In fact it reminded me of the final fight between Salman Khan and Sonu Sood in Dabbang, save for Optimus ripping off his “shirt”.

The actors (humans) did a great job through the frustration act of Shia LaBeouf got irritating after a while. The Witwicky parents were wasted and their matching outfits didn’t nothing for the viewers. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley can’t act. She is only adds aesthetic value. However that is not enough as her character is a constant damsel in distress who keeps holding back Sam. Personally I preferred Megan Fox’s character, which was more gritty and always up to getting involved in the fights supporting Sam.

All in all, the movie is great especially for people who have followed the Transformers series. The storyline does get unbelievable at times and the fight at the end is stretched, however the awesomeness of the movie makes up for it and delivers great entertainment.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Rang Rasiya (Colours of Passion)- Movie Review


The second day of the London Indian Film Festival 2011 (LIFF) featured the screening of the Ketan Mehta movie, Rang Rasiya, at the Victoria and Albert museum.

Rang Rasiya is a movie that tells the story of the Indian painter Raja Ravi Varma and his tryst with art, science and technology against the backdrop of religious and conservative British India. Over 500years later the issues tackled in the movie are still pertinent; MF Hussain and the uproar over his art. With many non-Indian characters and being set in British India, the movie is in both English and Hindi giving it a more realistic touch.

Rang Rasiya tells a beautiful story of an unsung Indian hero but as one viewer said, “the movie succeeds in conveying a message but through a torturous journey”. The movie starts off abruptly with many confusing characters; especially that of the wife and Kamini. Fortunately the despite the abruptness the story is not lost. The songs are lovely but don’t do justice to the on-goings of the movie. A song-less movie with a melodious background score would have worked better.

The movie belongs to Randeep Hooda who does an exceptional job as the great Indian painter. He acts convincingly and adds life to the story. Only thing off might be him having a six-pack even in old age (I’m guessing the girls won’t mind). For the actresses, Nandana Sen and Ferena Wazeir do a good job. Ferena performs well in her role though I wish her character was better defined. Nandana Sen acts well and the scene where she breaks down stands out.

Rang Rasiya was completed 2 years ago and has been in the news since then about the controversial nudity scenes by Nandana Sen. This scene is one of the most beautifully and artistically shot scenes. In fact it almost looks like a painting. Kudos to Nandana Sen for taking this bold step, and Randeep Hoodda for complimenting her. Many movies claim to showcase “skin-show” artistically but Rang Rasiya is the only movie to fully embody that statement.

All in all, Rang Rasiya is a lovely movie which tells a wonderful story of India. Definitely worth a watch if only to watch the story of Raja Ravi Varma. The movie is expected to have a proper worldwide release in September 2011.

Movie trivia: There are 3 versions of the movie; an all Hindi version, an all English version and a mixed Hindi and English version

Friday, 1 July 2011

Delhi Belly- Movie Review


Disclaimer: I love Imran Khan, Aamir Khan Production movies and movies that are different

Delhi Belly had its world premiere last night on the opening night of the London Indian Film Festival 2011 (LIFF). Being part the PR team for LIFF I got to be at the opening night and watch the movie. And what a movie?! Delhi Belly delivers everything it promised and more; its raunchy, crude, hilarious and a real movie.

The movie is all about the 3 actors who were amazing. In fact Imran Khan was the one who seemed a little miss-cast for his role. However it was a slight thing and it didn’t take away from the awesomeness of the movie. Vijay Razz is fantastic as a villain and only adds to the story and movie. The movie is majorly in English and its interesting to hear the Indian actors deliver their English dialogues.

Delhi Belly is hilarious and the audiences responded to its humour greatly. Some scenes literally leave you gasping for breath! Of course the movie is filled with raunchy scenes and crude language. Some of these were too shocking even for UK audience. The dream scene at the wedding stands out for this. The movie does get predictive towards the end portions through the final scenes are really great. Also Aamir Khan’s “item” number is brilliant!

The movie doesn't have any song and the sound track is woven into the background score. This is refreshing and ensures that the story doesn't get disturbed.

All in all, the movie is a must watch though I strongly advice that don’t watch this movie with your family!!

Interesting trivia: Aamir Khan was approached to play the villain