Monday, December 1, 2008

Movies - Yuvraaj, Dostana and Slum bala in my perspective..

Yuvraaj starring Salman, Katrina, Anil Kapoor and Zayed.. – My rating: ***

Looking at the promos, I didnt want to miss watching this on big screen. As expected this one is a complete visual treat. Though its a regular story (of brothers clashing over property) with a slow pace, what makes it worth a watch is the marvelous cinematography, Rehman’s music and great performances by the oh-so good looking and stylish actors.

It was an overwhelming experience watching the late nite show in our local theatre Urvashi, with all the ‘ceetis’ (whistles) and comments. There was a situation just before the climax where there was a reel problem for ten minutes and I was surprised to see most among the audience waiting patiently for the movie to resume. So you can imagine, it cannot be as bad as some reviewers make it seem..

The review I agree with..

I would not recommend you to watch this movie..
If you plan to watch it on small screen
if you are not a Salman fan
if you are not a movie freak
if you cannot appreciate various nuances of movie making and just rely on its story..

Dostana starring Abhishek, John Abraham and Priyanka.. – My rating: **1/2

I had this instinct which warned me it may not be my kind of a movie and that was exactly what happened! For sure, this is not my preconceived notion as I thoroughly enjoyed the first half solely because of Abhishek Bachchan’s comic acts. Priyanka looks great and has done her job well but John was a total let down for me! Being a Chief Editor of a fashion magazine, Bobby’s styling could have been better. He had looked so dignified and handsome in ‘Humraaz’ but they have made him look like a clown in this!! I had this strong urge to walk out of the hall during the 2nd half mainly in the scenes where Abhi and John were trying to brainwash Bobby and the innocent kid. They were far from being funny!!

On the contrary, my husband Anil was enjoying the movie to the hilt like never before!! So its all about perspectives..

Slum Bala (Kannada Movie) starring duniya-Vijay, Shubha Poonja – My rating: ***

I decided to watch Slum Bala purely on the basis of review ( It’s a movie with an underworld theme by a woman director! This would be in the leagues of Aa dinagalu and Duniya with a tighter pacing in the 2nd half and better dialogues. It’s a story of a simple but budding rowdy from a slum (as the title suggests) who is transformed into a dangerous killer in the hands of the politician for their benefit. Also, the violence shown is very minimal, which makes it a comfortable watch even for the soft-hearted.

I was surprised that I had failed to recognize its Duniya Vijay on the posters! He has been given a new-look in this movie, with a moustache which add some power to his character. You see him on screen and you realize looks don’t matter at all. How can we forget his outstanding performance in Duniya! With time he has only gotten better. An affectionate son, a vulnerable simpleton who promptly follows his masters orders, a devoted and possessive lover, a over-confident rowdy with a dare-devil attitude, he can portray all kind of emotions with equal ease..! Shubha Poonja has done a commendable job too, with a better voice modulation than from her character in Moggina Manasu!

Inspite of some short-comings, this movie is surely worth a watch and I insist all kannada movie buffs not to miss this movie..

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Movies this weekend - Fashion and Heroes

Fashion.. starring Priyanka, Kangana and Mugda Godse. My rating - ***1/2

In spite of the not so great comments and reviews about Fashion, I was sure that Fashion will not disappoint me!Traffic Signal was the only Madhur Bhandarkar movie which was not upto my expectations for various reasons. Thats old story now but I dont understand what different story people were expecting from Fashion Industry that they think Mr. Bhandarkar is getting repetitive and has nothing different to say.

Needless to say, movie belongs to Priyanka, who is at her best both in terms of looks and acting skills. I was pleasantly surprised with her fine expressions and the right body language, be it as a struggling aspiring model or as a successful confident super-model or as a vulnerable girl who tries to make a comeback, she has played it all, to the hilt. Kangana Ranaut's role is no different from the ones she has played before and she makes you feel as if the character has gotten into her skin! Even the debutants, Mugda and Arjan are so natural that you find it tough to believe its their debut! Mr. Bhandarkar, for sure has done a great job moulding all of them! Second half could have been a little shorter but if you have your expectations right and can appreciate a finely researched and well made movies, then this is a must watch for you and for all those aspiring models out there as it showcases almost all the aspects of the glamour industry.

Heroes.. starring Salman and Preity, Sunny and Bobby Deol, Mithun Chakraborty and Dino Morea, Sohail Khan and Vatsal Seth. My rating - ***1/2

Thanks to the good reviews coupled with a patriotism theme and having Salman in it, there was no way I would miss this movie! Its not a war-film and its a simple movie with a simple message - "You dont have to be a soldier to show your love for your country". Every Indian should watch this movie to experience the emotion of patriotism and to understand what it means to live life with a sense of pride in you, a sense of pride about yourself, your loved ones and our country.

This movie is about the journey of two care-free boys who take up the responsibility of delivering the last letters of three soldiers who died in a war. The story is narrated by the two boys who want to make a movie for their graduation project, how they witness the martyr's families coping up with their lives. It has great dialogues and some deep emotional scenes, my favourites being the ones with Preity as a lone woman who manages her family by herself and Mithun Chakraborty as a dad who deeply misses his dead son. If you love your country, go watch this movie and if you dont have any such emotions for your country then YOU MUST WATCH IT to understand it!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

trip to Yaana, Gokarna and Dandeli

Oct 8th to 12th 08.

After our last trip plan flopped miserably, we decided to keep this low profile and didn't bother much about making it with a bigger group. Luckily we found a perfect stay this time at Banana County Resort ( at Yellapur which was a center point to Yaana and Dandeli.

We decided to do night travel to save time. Sowmya, Dharanesh, Anil and me started from Bangalore around 7pm in our Chevy Aveo. I would have preferred starting after 11pm as it would be better if we reached Banana county in the morning, but Anil was keen on leaving as early as possible. As Sow had work that day, 7pm was the earliest we could start. We were told the best route is the Tumkur-Chitradurga-Daavanagere-Hubli-Yellapur (about 480Kms) stretch.

Never realised night driving could be so problematic, till we crossed Bangalore. Bumpy roads (at some stretches), lack of lighting on the roads coupled with Anil's reckless driving took a toll on the car tyre and boom went the air from one tyre, even before we had left Bangalore in a dusty spot. Ok, we understand its not so uncommon for vehicles to get punctured, but it was our first such experience and Sow n me found it as a amusing experience (may be coz we didnt have to do anything. Thanks to Dharani, we could fix it faster and started off in half an hour. But I had this question at the back of my mind, we had a spare tyre this time, but what if it happens again..?!!

The route was quite okay except for some rough unfinished parts. In the dark night, the tyres were screwed with the bumps / potholes. By the time we could see the potholes, it was too late to control the vehicle. And, God decided to answer my question and the second tyre ditched us at 4am between Ranibennur and Haveri, again at a super-dusty spot, aaaahh not again!! We had driven in worser roads in earlier trip but for whatever reason, this time it was too unreliable. Dharani went in search of some help and luckily spotted 2 people getting ready for their farming work so early in the morning.. They were sweet enough to take our tyre to a small cycle shop on their bike. As it was a very small shop, they couldnt fix tubeless tyres but managed to fill air for temporary use so that we could atleast reach Haveri.

Haveri was 20 kms from that point and when we were just 2 kms away, the tyre couldnt sustain further. Later we got to know that we had reached a village called Yellapur(thotada Yellapura), with not so helpful people! What an irony, we were actually headed to the Yellapur town in Karwar! it was just 5am then. At 6, Dharani n me decided to walk till Haveri town in search of the puncture shop. It was a day after Ayudh Pooja and we were not sure if the shops would be open. I was surprised Haveri is a district and I felt it ended by the time it started!! After seeing a series of closed shops, we almost lost hope and decided to look out for a cab company to take us till Yellapur. Luckily, we spotted a MRF tyre shop which was open early for Ayudh Pooja and they agreed to fix it if we bring the tyres there. Thankfully, there were autos in Haveri! We did not know we could fit tubes to tubelss tyres(another knowledge transfer from this trip!). By the time we got the tyres fixed it was around 930am. We have driven on worser roads (Kemmannugundi, Mysore-Mudhumalai stretch, etc) in other trips but all during the day. Though we learnt our lessons the tough way, I would advice one to refrain from long distance night-driving unless you are a patient and skilled driver!

Anil didn’t have the patience to stop for breakfast anywhere, so continued the Haveri-Hubli-Karwar way as the resort people warned us that if we take Haveri-Sirsi way another puncture is guaranteed! 90km stretch till Hubli was an amazing drive and we were happy we didnt listen to the auto drivers advice to take the shorter route via Sirsi! Hubli to Yellapur road is also in a good condition. Hence it took just 2 hours to cover next 150 kms. We called the resort guys to keep the breakfast ready so that we can attack food and crash into bed asap. My plans of covering Sathodi falls on the day we reach sounded impossible now!

Banana County had a refreshing effect on us and we almost forgot all the stress of the journey. We were welcomed with a very tasty soft drink called 'Cocum' and the breakfast was the simple idli (kadubu) chutney and sambar. I m not saying this just coz we were hungry, but the breakfast was one of the best I've eaten so far. We spent rest of the day catching up on all the lost sleep, exploring the resort and playing games(badminton with our bats, TT and carom). We ended our day making rafting plans for the next day. Hari, the resort manager booked for rafting through Emam(Call him on +919448331729 to book directly) from Dandeli which cost Rs. 1300 per person.

Rooms at the resort..

Day 1

Surprisingly we were up by 630 and ready by 8 (including Anil!!) for breakfast. Plan was to cover Syntheri rocks and reach Kali wilderness camp on time for our 230 slot. Unfortunately, we were informed that they wont be releasing any water from the dam and rafting will be closed today! So we switched our plan to visit Yaana and surrounding places. We started around 9am in the Bolero arranged by the resort (it was sensible to pay 2250 / day rather than risk with our Aveo!) and Gourish, our guide and driver suggested we visit the places in this order Sahasralingam - Sirsi - Yaana - Gokarna.

Sahasralinga between Yellapur and Sirsi is a beautiful rocky stretch of river Shalmala where 1000 lingams and Nandi statues are carved on the rocks amidst water. It's a place of worship basically but except for the very religious Dharani, we were more excited to play in water!

Next stop was at the famous and the very old Maarikaamba temple at Sirsi.

From Sirsi, Jog falls and Yaana were equidistant about 55 kms in different directions. As per our plan we proceeded towards Yaana as most of us have already seen Jog and we were really looking forward for Yaana. Unlike an year back where you had to trek for about 8kms, you can now take the vehicle almost till Yaana! This was the perfect season to visit Yaana with no leeches around and less scorchy sun unlike during summer. From the parking place to Yaana is just about half km walk amidst the forest and at the end of it we were so excited to get the first view of the marvelous rock formation. We find another gigantic rock formation few meters away with a temple below it. Guess what??!! Yaana had ended even before it had began! It was a huge let down for us thanks to the exaggerrated picturization in "Nammura Mandara Hoove" (a kannada movie)!! It was nothing like what we imagined a km stretch of rock formations with stream flowing alongside and waterfalls closeby and what not!! :-). But if you go with no fancy expectations, you will be amazed at the rock formation amidst the forest.

There are two gigantic peaks (shikaras) - Bhyraveshwara Shikhara (bigger one) and Mohini Shikhara. The story goes like, here is where Lord Vishnu tricked Bhasmasura assuming the shape of Mohini and burnt him to death. There is a temple at the foot of Bhyraveshwara Shikhara which is considered to be Lord Shiva's abode and footwear is not allowed inside the Bhyraveshwara Shikhara. With the uneven rock formation, had a tough time there getting pricked with rocks and stones, thankfully no leeches this time around! Though its a short trek inside the Bhyraveshwara Shikhara and weather not very hot, we were dripping by the time we were out. If you go down, you can refresh yourselves in the stream of flowing water. As Anil was very bored already, we decided to move on to Gokarna.

Mohini and Bhyraveshwara Shikhara

We were starving and didnt have patience to look out for a perfect restaurant in Gokarna. Had a normal meal in a small Kamat restaurant on the way to Gokarna. Reached Gokarna around 4pm, and the temple was closed till 5pm. As we had to head back to our resort in Yellapur, we decided to go to the Om beach instead of waiting for the temple to open.

Sowmya at Om Beach..

The water at Gokarna was a bit muddy and harshly salty and a little crowded as it was the early evening time (5pm).. A nice place to play, if you are a swimmer and can manage going a little inside. We wound up for the day around 6pm after a cup of tea n snacks in the only restuarant at the beach. The way back felt never ending taking 2 hours (for less than 100kms) to reach the resort!!

Day 2

We get a call at 730am from the reception informing us that the dam gates are open today and we are booked for 1030am slot. As its an hours drive to Dandeli from Yellapur, we got ready in a jiffy and started off in the Bolero around 9 and reached Kali Wilderness Camp by 1015am. The drive was through the Dandeli Wild Life Forest and the only wild animal we could spot was a fox! We had to wait for the pick up jeep to take us to the rafting point and we did some time-pass at Jungle Resorts.

The jeep arrived at last, there were 3 jeeps full of people for rafting. The start point for rafting was about 30 minutes of drive through the forest. 3 rafting boats arrived with the young and ardent instructors Mohammed, Rafi and Naved. Mohammed did the initial briefing about basic dos and donts. We were split into 3 groups of 12+12+7 people. We were asked to take cameras at our own risk, hence we handed it to the driver to click snaps till we are in sight.

Briefing about dos and donts, demonstration of how to wear the rafting gear by Mohammed.

Another group of 3 guys joined us to make the group of 7. Posing before jumping into the raft.

Kali river offers upto level(class) 3 rapids. Unfortunately, they had opened only one gate full of water on the day we went and we had to content ourselves with the basic level (level 1). It’s a 9 km stretch for over 2 hours on water with 7 rapids on the way. Anyone with no serious physical ailments above 12 years age, can raft, non-swimmers are also welcome.

Before getting on to the rapids, the guides teach the techniques of rafting. Naved, the guide encouraged every one to fall into water (even non-swimmers) and enjoy the experience of floating on water. He also taught how to pull someone (irrespective of the size) back into the raft. After playing around for about 20 minutes and learning the techniques, we were ready to hit the rapids. After few minutes we could hear the sound of the rapid, one on the left and another on the right. We were told the one on the left is a dangerous rapid known by the name “Death Trap” which is more like a water fall and some even have risked their lives trying to raft on it. The air between the water and the rocks sucks you inside and its almost impossible to escape that!

We move on to the right side towards the the first rapid called “Adi’s Beard” which is the most exciting one followed with smaller rapids “the Stitch” and other rapids with interesting names like “Smugglers Cove”, “Stanley’s Squeeze” etc. We didn’t realize how time flew and we had covered 9km stretch in 2.5 hrs! It was definitely one of the most thrilling experiences of our lives and we hated to get off the raft! If level-1 could be so thrilling then you can imagine the higher levels!! I totally recommend rafting to every one; it’s surely one of the must-do’s in life.

The pick up truck was waiting for the other end. We started back towards the camp around 1pm. As we had not done prior booking for lunch at Jungle lodges we had to find a restaurant in Dandeli city. The food was quite tasty in a small restaurant near the KSRTC bus stand. I was very keen to go to Sathodi falls but our driver discouraged saying it will be too late by the time we reach the falls with hardly any time to play in the water. As an alternative, we headed to Syntheri Rocks around 3.30pm. It was a pleasant 30km drive through Dandeli Wild Life Forest and this time we spotted a bison! We reached the parking place by 4-415pm, and it’s a short trek down to reach the water. We were disappointed to see the warning board saying 12 (or more) people have died in the water this year! As soon as the rocks and the water was in our vicinity, we could understand why. It’s a dangerous looking tall monolith, with cave like structure below with water flowing on the slippery rocks. We tried to wet our foot and realized one slip and we will be one with the flowing water..!!

There were hardly any leeches as it was post rainy season but somehow a leech managed to cling to Dharanis foot, which he realized quite late..! We reached the resort in 1-1.5 hours from Syntheri Rocks and ended our day 3 wondering if we can still make to Sathodi falls early next morning.

As Anil always needs sometime off to relax at home (before joining work) after a trip, we had to start directly to Bangalore and also got the car wheels aligned in a Maruti Service Center near Davanagere, which was just off the Highway. We had never entered any car service center earlier were impressed with the hitech software applications used! They did a good job at it and our car was ready in about 2 hours. We were expecting to see a big figures on the bill and were delighted to see just Rs. 396!! I remember paying about 1k for aligning one wheel in one of the wheel alignment centers in Bangalore!

Inspite of all the breaks for food n drinks and car repair, we reached Bangalore safe and sound by 9pm:-)

For more pictures, check

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Movie last weekend - Buddhivanta

Buddhivanta starring Upendra, Pooja Gandhi, Suman Ranganath with 3 other heroines. My rating - ***1/2

The last 2 kannada movies we(my movie gang) watched before this was Moggina Manasu and Taj Mahal. Though the storylines are not similar, both had similar messages for the youth. Moggina Manasu is about 4 different teenage girls and Taj Mahal is about guy who is madly and foolishly in love with a girl. Thanks to these movies we ended up feeling guilty for not giving our best to studies during college times. So, I recommended these movies to all the youngsters studying out there.

What I am trying to say is, after such serious dosages from these 2 movies, it was a welcome relief watching a mindless comedy with Upendra in the lead. Though I am never in favour of watching remakes and not a hard-core Uppi fan, I decided to give it a try as recommended by (their reviews have never let me down so far), afterall there must be something about Uppi as he has such huge fan following..! (Not that this is the first Uppi movie I have seen, like most women I disliked him in A but liked his performance in Rakta Kanneeru.)

Uppi is the whole and soul of this movie and he doesnt disappoint you a bit. I haven't seen the original but I can bet that no one could have done justice to these roles as much as Uppi. Not once, did he overplay or underplay any act, he was just perfect. With his witty lines (dialogues written by him), body language, costumes, hairstyles and the ease with which he portrayed different characters, Uppi left everyone in splits..!! He entertains you by making a complete fool of himself. I really missed watching this complete masala movie with the locals in a local theatre. The sophisticated multiplex audience are no fun at all..! Whenever Uppi gave a grand entry on screen (a la Anil Kapoor in Welcome) I wish I knew to whistle, there was nobody else whistling in there:-(.

I recommend this movie to everyone for some mindless laughs. Great, if you are a Uppi fan already, if not you will become one! If you can ignore the climax of the movie (girls esp., as it is anti-women) and just focus on Uppi and his dialogues, its a complete paisa-vasool..

Monday, September 15, 2008

Movie this weekend - "Atonement"

This movie set during the war times in London, started really slow and dull. With characters speaking the perfect Brit English (and no subtitles), I had to watch it with all my concentration. In normal circumstances, if the movie doesn't grip me in the first 5-10 minutes and if there are not many familiar faces, I would prefer watching TV, but as I had kept Kiran's VCD for too long, I thought I should give it a try as he recommended it and I am glad I didn't give it a miss.

I literally forced myself to sit through the first half an hour and then the movie began to take serious turns and atlast caught my interest. This is the story of an aspiring writer - Briony Tallis, a 13 year old girl, who changes the course of her sister and sister's lover's life by accusing him of a crime he never committed, with a stupid and blind assumption. It's about how she tries to seek atonement by trying her best to make up for the damage caused by her.

Watch it for its story, style of narration, the performances and ofcourse for its hard-hitting climax, which is sure to leave a lump in your throat.

Check this link for detailed info on the movie.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

At Makkala Mane

A friend of mine sent me an email about Makkala Mane at the right time. So, decided to spend time at Makkala Mane (meaning Children's Home in Kannada) instead of throwing a party for our 4th Anniversary. You can find more info about this place at

This was unlike other non-profit organisations I have come across. There was this free spirited - positive air about this place. The moments spent there were one of the best moments of my life, undoubtedly. We were struggling to take some heavy bags inside, the kids came running to give us a helping hand. They instantly made us feel at home with that sweet gesture. At the places we had visited earlier, there are lot of rules and regulations and we hardly got to interact with kids. The kids were gleaming with liveliness, so happy with each other and when I asked if there is something that they really want, they said we have everything here. That line put us to shame instantly. How many of us feel that way?!! One may think, these kids are taught to speak and behave in a certain way, but it didnt feel made up even for a moment!

It was like re-living our childhood days there with these enthusiastic kids. I remember being unbeatable at a game called "Kuntebille" (Hopscotch) during my childhood days. Thanks to these kids, we were able to recall the game and play with them after ages. I cannot recall having such pure, undiluted fun since a long time. I am not the kind who gells along so well with kids, but with these kids it was like being one among them. The age difference had vanished into thin air!

2 hrs flew like few minutes, but as it was getting dark we left reluctantly around 6 making plans for our next visit to Makkala Mane which true to its name, is a home for children and a happy one at that! Do yourself a favour and spend your spare time with these kids and let out the child in you. I am not saying this just coz they need us, but I think we need them too. Being with them reminds you of some basic things that we tend to forget in life - most important being simplicity, making best out our lives and exude positive spirit all the time.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

When our rafting plan flopped..

Our much hyped(among our friends) Sita Nadi rafting trip flopped miserably.. 8 of us were supposed to go and the very 4 ppl who had planned the trip dropped out, God knows for what reason. I dont understand how people dont care to stand up to their words and inconvenience others as per their whims n fancies! Nevertheless, we decided to carry on. The very day we wanted to start, we get a call from the resort manager saying rafting is closed due to low water levels probably till next monsoon! If it was a bigger group the trip could have been fun with or without rafting.. But we finally decided to cancel our booking and have fun watching movies, playing cards n other games at home..

I wanted to watch "Mukhbir" for 2 reasons:

> the confidence with which the director had annouced a money back guarantee if you come out of the theatre dissatisfied.
> was curious to watch the performance of Sammir Dattani aka dhyan(as he is known in kannada filmdom) in a serious role.

I must accept that Mukhbir not only left me satisfied but wanting for more.. It depicts the life of an informer (thats what Mukhbir means!) with an interesting style of narration. Though it starts slow, the story manages to keep you gripped till the end. Sammir has done a commedable job except in few sequences(he could have done far better in his first scene with Sunil Shetty and his conversation with Rahul Dev in the end). If you can ignore some minor flaws in the movie, it's value for your money and time! Go watch it for its story..

I decided to watch "A Wednesday" as TOI said dont miss it and it had Naseeruddin Shah as the lead protaganist. It excelled my expectations in every possible way. It gripped us right from the first scene till the end. I cannot imagine even for a moment, anyone else portraying that role with such perfection. As this is a movie with a message for every common man, it had some heated gyan (preaching) by the lead character at the end. For someone like me, gyans are always a put off, that is if not for Naseeruddin Shah's perfect portrayal with flawless dialogue delivery. It makes one sit up and listen every word with interest. It's a movie not to be missed for no reason..!

All my friends along with the reviewers recommended watching "Rock on". As this is a movie whose essence is music and the promos reminded of "Jhankar Beats", I wasn't so keen on watching it in theatre. So got hold of a DVD to give it a try. May be, 'Rock on' wouldn't feel so dull and mediocre to me if I hadnt watched it after 'Mukhbir' and 'A Wednesday' or if ppl wouldn't have hyped it so much or if I had some real taste in music, esp rock. Apart from all that, I personally could not relate to some characters, how can anyone drift apart from close friends for a trivial reason and not share some important things from the past (atleast friends and hobbies, if not love) with the life partner! One reviewer on Mouthshut said "Rock on teaches you stuff about being friends. About staying friends. About living your life to the fullest. The way you want to. Doing exactly what your heart desires. Keeping track of the important stuff in your life, in your relationships, and letting go of the trivial stuff." And this is something I already know and follow. Whatsoever, I decided it's not my kind of a movie and I am glad I didnt waste my 200 bucks by going to a multiplex!