Non-review: English Vinglish


It’s about believing in yourself when nobody believes in you.

I have never had problems with the English language. I’ve always been good at it. The various rules have always been easy to understand. I don’t really understand why people struggle with it; all you need is practice.

But I get English Vinglish: it’s about believing in yourself when nobody else does.

It’s not about starting something. It’s not about success. It’s not about an underdog taking a chance. It isn’t about learning English and showing people that you aren’t “illiterate”. It isn’t about standing up for yourself.

It is simply about believing.

It was an unexpected pleasure to watch this movie. And the only reason wasn’t the fact that I was watching one after a long time. The story was simple and well-told. It was real and believable. Very heart-wrenching. Very relatable, even if not exactly in terms of learning English.

If you set your mind – and heart! – on something, you can certainly achieve it. If you can stand up for yourself, you can always find a way. There is always one, just hidden behind “complications”.

It is only belief that would help you fight the barriers.  Which would never be easy, of course. Which wouldn’t always work, unlike in a movie. But you’d know you tried.

At the end of the day, that is all that matters.

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Nuts for Scrat


It’s official: I’m nuts! As nutty as anyone can be. And at least as nutty as a…nut! Maybe more.

Definitely more.

So where is my squirrel?

Yes, I would like to order one Scrat, please and thank you. To be delivered immediately. Here we have an example of true love and dedication. A perfect one. Where you (would) do everything in your power to get to your beloved, be it rain or shine.

Or freezing your saber-toothed-squirrel-rat butt off during an ice age or glaciers or monstrous-looking fish or other squirrel/rats who can also fly.

For someone like Scrat, I’d happily be a nut. Or, to be politically correct, an acorn. And exist in the ice age. And wait for my love to come for me. Wait patiently.

Because waiting is what I do best.

Waiting for the dawn. Waiting for the sky to get clear. Waiting for all the scraps that you might remember to throw me. Waiting with my heart pinned to my sleeve. Waiting for your approval and attention.

Waiting.

Because I think you’re Scrat. Because I believe you’ll come. Because I don’t want to give up.

Even though, I know I will wait too long. Even though, I know I am a pessimist. Even though, I have probably already given up.

Calling Scrat, one Scrat, stat please…this acorn is ready to roll. Assuming, of course – actually, hoping; crap! – that my squirrel has not been crushed under some car’s wheels.

And while I am it, still a better love story than Twilight!

Plain Old Plane-ness


I don’t really like travelling by air. I get air sick. I was reminded of this fact after a double dose of Air Force One, airing on Star Movies India a few days ago.

Maybe I should have been reminded of how serious and dangerous it is when a plane is air-jacked and all. But living in Pakistan does help develop an apathy towards such kind of potential threats. And of course, when air travel is not that common an occurrence in someone’s life.

I’ve flown only once. It was a million years ago (and only about half a million flights), barely squeezing sightseeing of three countries in one go. After that, I clocked a total of fifty minutes to and from Rawalpindi/Islamabad ‘cause my parents didn’t feel trains or buses were safe enough for a teenager travelling alone. (Ironically enough, in the latter scenario, I had been collected by my uncle before my family reached home). Nervous as hell, afraid of boarding the wrong plane or answering a question wrong, reading every sign ten times and then once more, filling up the paper bag for the steward on the return journey; but safety first.

Come to think of it, that was how I felt when I was travelling with my family too. The only difference was that five necks, not all of whom could read, would crane up to look for directions to the boarding gate or baggage claim. Yet, I was the only one filling up those bags.

I think there was only one three-hour international flight (my first!) in which I managed to keep my food down. Home food, fast food, airplane food. Desserts or drinks. Even a handful of airplane peanuts. Sigh. (Don’t worry. This is not what this post is about.)

I couldn’t even watch an in-flight movie. However, thankfully my airsickness does not disable me from watching movies about airplanes.

And when I say movies about airplanes, I mean movies based entirely on airplanes. A small Google search indicates that it is impractical to take into account all the movies that feature planes. So I’m just sticking to the simplest normal ones.

What I really like about these movies is the air of mystery and drama created by the locked-door mystery. The difference here is that you obviously can’t really leave the plane and run before it lands and your only resources are what are already inside it *dramatic music*.

Here are the ones I’ve seen.

Air Force One: All the main action happens inside the presidential plane, including the hijack, blackmail, killing of hostages and of course, the rescue of said hostages, thanks to the POTUS who refuses to abandon his family or advisers. There is help from the outside but Harrison Ford is The Man of The Hour. Or the hundred and twenty-four minutes of running time. The movie keeps you on the edge of the seat till first, all the terrorists are eliminated and the good people regain control of the airplane. Then, you hold your breathe again when you realize that the airplane can not land! And of course, it is held until Ford is finally inside the military aircraft sent for an exchange with all crafts up in the air.

United 93: A prime example of real-life threats that exist in these times, not least because it is based on the events of September 11, 2001. I have seen this one only once, mainly because it is too emotional for me. But it aptly embraces the locked-door mystery, even while I condemn the events behind it.

Red Eye: I guess I have to admit it extends a little outside the airplane setting but most of plot does happen during the flight. I do like Rachel McAdams and I admire her acting in this one too. She makes her character very believable. And yes, it has the terrorist element to it too, though of a different kind.

Snakes On A Plane: Okay, I had actually decided to not mention this one but it turns out, as I am writing this post, it comes up on HBO. Coincidence? Yes. I don’t believe in signs from the above. Or at least not about movies and blog posts. But I still thought I’d add it to this little list given the circumstances.  However, that does not mean that I like it. I like Samuel L. Jackson movies generally but I wonder why he decided to do this movie. Does he really need the money, seeing as he is in every other action film? Oh wait! *enlightenment*

Flightplan: Now here’s another favourite flick. Jodie Foster has always had my admiration and she doesn’t disappoint. All the good story elements are present. Loss, death, mystery, missing daughter and panic all of which then tumbles into a conspiracy, terrorist plots, bombs and paranoia. She’s innocent! I kinda yell out. But the circumstances continue to put seeds of doubt. I saw her board the plane with her daughter. Didn’t I? And that is when we are putty in the hands of Robert Schwentke has us (Google rocks!). Also, apologies for putting Flightplan right after SoaP.

Annnnd…that’s all folks! *looney tunes music*

Gal Mithi Mithi BOL


The movie, Bol, however, is not meethi in any way. Unless maybe you count the ending, ’cause that would definitely leave you with an ‘awww’ feeling.

No, this is not really going to be another movie review of a film that is taking the country by the storm. Well, at least, judging from the number of people flocking to watch it. Or maybe that was only because it was a Saturday. (Still, I feel obliged to say: Spoiler Alert!)

I liked Bol. I would recommend you to watch it, although I would rate it at least PG-13 for language.

But it’s not simple as that. Because, the movie, in itself, is not as simple as that.

I can’t decide whether the movie is controversially intense or intensely controversial.

Seriously!

And if I had to choose, I think I would totally go with Option C: All of the above.

I loved how in such a short time span Shoaib Mansoor was able to point out the various problems in our society.

So, we get to see how poverty defines the lives of a religious nut and his non-conformist daughter who dares to defy him, and the things each does to survive, even ending up murdering. All the women in that household live a life of oppression and the one person who isn’t technically a woman certainly has the tendencies. Which is another major cause of consternation for the religiously strict father.

The movie also touches upon rape and sexual assault in reference to kids, how it is considered a stigma and why murder becomes a result of such things. We bear witness to police asking for bribery in order to overlook a case. The general money matters are solved using other people’s money and then playing a ‘gamble’ to pay off the ‘loan’ and maintain family izzat. Ironically enough, only the people belonging to Heera Mandi, people who had been discarded because of their profession, were the only ones to step up. Meanwhile, the women are not allowed to do anything, and especially, not allowed to work: it is a man’s job to provide for his family. Except that when the cat isn’t home, the mice definitely play.

Tensions continue throughout the film, which ends with some very important questions: why do you keep having kids if you don’t have the means to feed them? Why is giving birth not a crime?

These are valid questions, of course, considering the vicious cycle of poverty and population problems in the country.

What I felt was that the non-conformist daughter could defy her father in taking her mother to the doctor and having her sister married off to the Shia neighbour she was in love with and was meeting secretly every day, to whom her father had expressly said no to. So she could have defied him to go earn some money and showed him that he was wrong. Wasn’t this what she was already trying to do when she talked back to him and earned a slap for her effort? Couldn’t she easily have hidden the details to her strict overbearing father, while making sure they did not starve? Nope! When it came to actually doing something, she preferred to play the damsel in distress conveniently.

And then, how once the evil and dominant father was removed from the midst of that family and everything worked out very well is a concept I find very problematic. Really? And what’s with the ultra-modernism? Is the only reason ‘compare and contrast’? To make us think?

Controversy for the sake of it or with an actual motive?

Such argument apart, what the movie actually did for me was simple: it made me really thankful to the Almighty Allah for my father.

I’m not kidding.

I was sitting in the dark theatre and watching that moulvi break the small mirror with his daughter’s face and all I could think was: Thank God! Thank God! Thank God!

I can’t even imagine my father talking to me loudly, let alone this.

Thank God!

But you know the best part?

When the President of Pakistan is watching the reporter’s broadcast about the hanging…when it ends, there is no ‘channel’ to go to. It’s as if there was a cable/power outage at that very instant.

Shrrrrrrrrrr.