Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ghajini - Moview Review

Saw the movie with mom and my granddad. It's quite an event to take him out to a hall. Tall strapping man, finds it difficult to adjust in the movie hall seats and hates traveling long distances in the car [so comfortable new halls in noida are not an option :-( ]. So we went to sangam..... yeah we got all the whistling and hooting crowd..... Was fun, i must admit, [though parking is a huge issue.....]

It is, as we used to say in the old days, FULL paisa vasool.

The music is by A R Rahman and the lyrics by Prasoon Joshi.

Aye Bachchu - Singer: Suzanne D`Mello
Bekha - Singer: Karthik
Hai Guzarish - Singer: Sonu Nigam, Javed Ali
Kaise Mujhe - Singer: Shreya Ghoshal, Benny Dayal
Latoo - Singer: Pravin Mani, Shreya Ghoshal

[updated: adding a jpeg by Abhijeet Kini which i got as a forward.... The mail's subjectline was "Don't allow women to see Ghajini ...." LOL.......]

Well... there isn't too much original content I have to write in the review, as Gautam Ghosh and Amjad Maruf have written exactly on the lines I had been thinking. I'm gonna be a complete plagiarist and paste their posts below. Hope they won't mind ;-)

Ghajini Review - Aamir and Asin excel
So I finally caught this movie that’s been bombarded on us with hajaar marketing messages. From ushers getting the ‘Ghajini’ haircut to Aamir himself becoming a barber and giving his fans in Delhi the buzz cut.

I finally gave into the persuasion and caught the movie.

First things first, Aamir as the wounded, angry and forgetful beast of a man is terrific. His portrayal of pain and rage - a potent combination- makes you flinch. The performance is unlike any he has done in the past. Even his earlier action turns [in Sarfarosh] pale in comparison. Either the guy has gone on honing and developing his craft, which is stupendous - or he’s always had the talent and we’ve just never got to see it so far.

Asin is a breath of fresh air - in an industry reeling under the collective size zero weights of dignified haughty unreachable beauty [think Aishwarya, Katrina, Deepika, Kareena] she’s ebullient, beautiful but yet down to earth. Of course, the script demands her to be so, but except for Kareena’s role as Geet in “Jab We Met” I don’t remember a similar performance.

Where I thought the film was weak was at its emotional core, the love story between Aamir’s character Sanjay and Asin’s character Kalpana. Somewhere in comparison to the rage filled revenge theme it seems too humdrum and bland by comparison. That’s funny. Remember that Aamir was introduced to us 20 years ago as the next door loverboy. He has strived to lose that image, and how successfully!

Maybe that’s what the film’s message is.

That even an ordinary love story can drive people to extraordinary lengths. And if that sounds similar to another recent film, I am knowingly doing it ;-)

p.s. Oh, and when was the last time a Hindi movie was named after the negative lead? Even Sholay wasn’t called Gabbar Singh or Mr. India wasn’t called Mogambo!

p.p.s. Oh did I tell you how awesome the action sequences were? After a long time some hard core hand to hand fights. Though it did seem to make Aamir look like a cross between Mike Tyson and Superman!

p.p.s. Aamir’s looking cross. Period ;-)

Amjad's: ***Of Arrogance, Confidence and Entertainment***

“There is a very little difference between arrogance and confidence -‘I can’ do it is confidence and ‘Only I’ can do it is arrogance” – Aamir Khan (quote from Ghajini)

SRK and Akshay Kumar consider only themselves as entertainers and no one else. That’s arrogance. Aamir by doing a Ghajini showed them that he too can do a mindless blockbuster entertainer. That’s confidence. And what a confidence - he has just “rub”ed the “King” the wrong way.

In all his pre-release interviews Aamir Khan had clearly stated that the audience, who has become used to his “Hatke” and intelligent movies, will be surprised to find him doing a complete masala entertainer. Yet the critics reviewed the movie as though Ghajini was an intelligent movie. It is not. It was never meant to be. It’s a film which ensures total entertainment for the 3 hours. Hence it was discomforting to read reviews of veteran reviewers like Khalid Mohammed & company who have ripped apart the movie and these are the same reviewers who finds films like Om Shanti Om and Rab Ne…good enough for a three / four star rating. Such double standards.

Though Ghajini is a mindless entertainer, it does not imply that the movie is dumb and unaware because the film caters to everyone amongst us, including the lowest commonest denominator, not because it doesn’t know better, but because it chooses to.

The other aspect of Ghajini that the critics are going bonkers is with the comparison with “Memento”. The only similarity between those two movies is that the lead character has short-term memory loss and remembers things via tattoos, photographs etc. The critics should know that an exact copy of Memento would not have rejected by the Indian audience. While adapting the basic premise of the memory loss, the director has created a legible variant, which has to be appreciated. Some cynics screamed that Ghajini does not have the non-linear film-making aspect of a classic like Memento. Why confuse the audience like Memento had done, particularly if the filmmakers’ intention is only to entertain. The same audience who wanted this non-linear shit is the one that had rejected a movie like Chocolate. Yes, the gimmick worked in Rang De Basanti. But Ghajini was not meant to be a classic or intellectual movie but an entertainer. And I bet that those who are talking about Memento now must have never heard about this movie till Ghajini was announced a year ago.

The movie moves back and forth in time, as it juxtaposes an effervescent romance in the past against a brutalized, spaced-out present. Aamir’s violent acts are not justified but you are made to see the reasons for his actions considering his past life. The film is riddled with logical loopholes but the director doesn’t give you enough time to think about them with his strong narration style. The gripping screenplay makes you want to know more about Aamir’s tribulations. Watching Aamir grapple with his 15 minute memory span makes for an engaging watch.


The scene where Aamir puts all his things – guns, mobile, wallet into their proper places courtesy the notes and sleeps and gets up and walks into the bathroom clueless and sees the note of “open your shirt” and opens it and sees all his tattoos and burns in rage. This brought out the psychological and emotional state of Aamir.

The scene where Jiah Khan requests for a conversation with Aamir in the canteen. She jots down whatever Aamir says. Notice the irony out here – what is the difference between Jiah and Aamir. He notes down on his body, and she on her notepad. Memory is unreliable.

The scene where Aamir has to witness Asin’s brutal murder was heart wrenching. The audience drew a collective gasp when Asin gets killed.

The action sequence in the climax that is cheerful in its gratuitous violence and enjoyable too. And the chase he gives to the villain along a narrow path flanked by houses – a labrynth - brings out the claustrophobic feel of the space - the way it mirrored the road to Ghajini that was built and broken thousand times in Sanjay’s mind.

The crucial pre-climax sequence where Aamir Khan is lying in the hospital confused and lost after his life-saving tattoos and clues and pictures have been destroyed and the consequent Aamir’s outburst.

Asin’s compassionate nature is brought out through creatively written scenes. Watch her help the handicapped children enter the museum gate and then help a blind man walk to his stop all along informing of the happenings on the street.

And some beautiful nuggets like - Aamir trying to recognise Jiah by her rapid breathing after the chase. A robotic Sanjay beating up a bad guy in cyborg-ish style, Aamir visiting Asin’s boss’s party, the climax where Aamir for a moment forgets what he is fighting for when he comes face to face with Ghajini.

The romantic track involving a tycoon-in-guise-of-common man and a model-in-guise-of-tycoon’s girlfriend does not water down the impact of this action film. It has humour and sweetness. It is this portion that endears the film to the audience and lends the surrounding violence some poignancy and beauty and touches you. You feel the pain of Asin when Aamir informs that he will out of India for 10 days, you have a lump in the throat while watching the scene where Asin hands him money, you want Kalpana to know that Sanjay is indeed a rich businessman before she dies.

Given the unfortunate events, the violence is justified. Even family audiences and children won’t mind it. What sets apart the action from the “Sunny Deol” Rajnikant” type is the total absence of dialogues and the smart camera work.

A R Rahman is in full form in Guzarish, Kaise Mujhe and Bekha. Prasoon Joshi’s lyrics though are a bit of let down. Superb editing (Anthony), excellent cinematography (Ravi K Chandran) and tremendous sound (Resul) take the film to a higher level. Action by Peter Hains and Stunt Shiva keeps you on the edge of your seat.

The flaws the critics are so vocal about:

“How come no one recognizes the chairman of a big cellular company?” - Oh yeah, and can you guys recognize the chairman of Airtel, Hutch, etc. in person?

“The rich boy – poor girl love story has been witnessed umpteen times in Hindi movies”. Really! And what about movies like KKHH, DDLJ, DTPH, etc that were seen umpteen times.

“Asin pretending to be super-rich Aamir’s girl friend” - Haven’t we come across so many incidents in real life too – A woman going public that she is SRK’s mother, or a model claiming to be wife of Abhishek Bachchan, etc. So why do you think there is no logic in what Asin does. Moreover, after a point she herself confesses to Aamir (Sachin) about the lie.

“A google search by Asin would have given her the information about Aamir’s indentity” - But why would she want to know about Aamir when all she wants is to take advantage of the misunderstanding of her employer.

“Ghajini doesn’t have a gun in the climax? – Why not assume that he must have forgotten to carry.

“Why was 8 pack needed by Aamir in this movie?” Oh Yeah, and those 6 packs of SRK were so critical to the story of OSO, right dear critics?

And what the villian has to do with pharma industry? Don’t we have real life thugs who are into while collared business but are goons in the sly?

If you critics can go on, so can I.

What I would have liked to see in the movie

Interesting complications like all Aamir’s clues being destroyed are resolved in simple ways. But would it have been digestible to the viewer if Aamir with all the clues gone, had still managed to track the killer.

It would have interesting to know how Aamir transformed from a suave tycoon to a revenge-seeking person.


Asin impresses in her debut and though she goes a little overboard in comic scenes she makes it up by acting brilliantly in the second half when she acts serious. When she is scared, we are scared for her too. When she helps a few kids glide past an obstacle or helps a blind man her generosity feels straight from almighty.

Aamir pushes the envelope all the time. There isn’t much of dialogue for him but his well-toned physique, facial expressions and body language does all the talking. Aamir adds his own touch to both the humorous and the intense portions of the film. A rich business man, a lover boy and a short-term memory loss patient - Aamir is absolutely convincing in all the roles.

Pradeep Rawat and Jiah Khan are strictly okay.

Before the films release, Aamir had said that if people walk out with his 8 pack abs in mind, then the movie has failed to connect. But thankfully the audience did not talk about Aamir’s physique but the movie. So the movie did connect with the audience.

Ghajini has two tones, primarily. One that shows Sanjay locked in the grim darkness of his revenge, where the word Ghajini is driving him and the other where the film ends up locking Sanjay in. That might as well be heaven, where he is locked with the divine Asin, and love is guiding him.

Don’t ask serious questions about rationale and you won’t get any wrong answers in this movie. Just sit back and relax and enjoy the great entertainer of 2008.

Finally, the only time the audience hated Aamir in the movie was when he leaves his cell phone in the car when Asin calls for help. If this does not convince the critics that the movie connected with the audience. Nothing will. Not even the record breaking historical Box Office collections !

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Nikhil N Moms Surprise Birthday Party

We organized a birthday party for Nikhil and Mom. Nikhil knew about the party but not the surprise that awaited him.....
Mom had no idea it was her surprise birthday party till she cut the cake, got flowers and got serenaded with songs.....

Partha gave Nikhil his gift....
From Nikhil n Mom's Surprise Bday 15 dec 08

Nikhil love the Super Bike Gloves and kept wearing them for a long time......
From Nikhil n Mom's Surprise Bday 15 dec 08

Gunjan n Nikhil got so tipsy on shots that they can't even High Five....
From Nikhil n Mom's Surprise Bday 15 dec 08

The Posers....

From Nikhil n Mom's Surprise Bday 15 dec 08

From Nikhil n Mom's Surprise Bday 15 dec 08

From Nikhil n Mom's Surprise Bday 15 dec 08

The Beauty and the Beasts..... ;-)
From Nikhil n Mom's Surprise Bday 15 dec 08

Partha and Annie make such a cute couple....
From Nikhil n Mom's Surprise Bday 15 dec 08

We made Nikhil stand on a chair and bought out the guitar and sang some some songs...
From Nikhil n Mom's Surprise Bday 15 dec 08

He was feeling so shy...
From Nikhil n Mom's Surprise Bday 15 dec 08

Then we sang a twisted and personalized version of " Purani Jeans"....
From Nikhil n Mom's Surprise Bday 15 dec 08
We had quite a captive audience...
From Nikhil n Mom's Surprise Bday 15 dec 08

Then we cut the cakes.... [Had done this cake earlier. Did the real butter frosting this time.]
From Nikhil n Mom's Surprise Bday 15 dec 08

From Nikhil n Mom's Surprise Bday 15 dec 08

From Nikhil n Mom's Surprise Bday 15 dec 08

The great Cake Swap.......
From Nikhil n Mom's Surprise Bday 15 dec 08

Yeh to hona hi tha....
From Nikhil n Mom's Surprise Bday 15 dec 08

Then we wished mom again at 12 and surprised her with Flowers and a card.....
We her also stand on a chair and sang "yeh chand sa roshan chehra..." she was quite a sport about it :-)
From Nikhil n Mom's Surprise Bday 15 dec 08

From Nikhil n Mom's Surprise Bday 15 dec 08

He loved the twisted and personalized version of “Purani Jeans” we sang for him........
From Nikhil n Mom's Surprise Bday 15 dec 08

We all really enjoyed and had a blast.....
From Nikhil n Mom's Surprise Bday 15 dec 08

The gang.........
From Nikhil n Mom's Surprise Bday 15 dec 08

For all the fun filled pic andwhat we did with partha..... Click Here Nikhil n Mom's Surprise Bday 15 dec 08

PS: Need to thank Amit, Bhaskar and Gunjan for getting the music together...... and the guys at TGIF, CP for the cooperation and good service......

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Caramel for the Carmella ~ Dipali's Anniversary @ The Log Hut

It was Dipali's anniversary, we were going to The Log Hut. Wanted to surprise her with something special...... Decided to do a Caramel Cake with Creamy Caramel Frosting, which I had seen a few days back on Deeba's blog [That had Butter frosting, knowing Dipali.... butter frosting wasn't a good idea, used a cream based frosting instead]. This cake was soooooooo Dipali...... difficult to understand, yet when you do..... the most awesome cake and most awesome person. Grammer gone for a toss, but the lady and the cake both deserve these superlatives.

Met Dipali, while do a play with Living Room Theatre called Urban Tadka. We hit it off instantly. We use to have a blast during practices. We went out a lot, did crazy stuff, went on a neemrana property spree [Patudi, Neemrana and Kesroli]. Morning walks at Lodhi Garden, Humayun's Tomb, All American Diner, Sagar, Cafe Coffee Day, Stone, Movies, ran the Airtel Marathon........ We can chat for hours.

Her infectious smile can mesmerise anyone.....
Her thoughfulness is... beyond thoughts.... She's a wonderful mom, manages husband's work here, makes time for friends, teaches children, learns dancing and spanish [n tops at that with scores of 92%], does theatre, I could go on and on about the live wire she is.....

Am so glad we met......

At the Log Hut we had decided to make out own cocktails. Vikram and Amit [each of them should have a post dedicated to them] set up the hut[Vikram's farm]. These guys had carried everything one could think of in order to make cocktails....... are they planned or what....... they even had a cocktail book......

Amit was busy fixing the drinks..... I was clicking away, Dipali n Vikram were freaking out on the lovey music playing...... The warm fire saves us from the icy winter breeze at the farm.

She was thrilled with her cake and did an impromptu twirling dance with it....... :-)

Happy anniversary Dipali n Sumeer[not in pictures, cause he had to be away for some work]. May god bless you with all the togetherness in the world.....

Deeba’s Recipe Source: Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater, as published on Bay Area Bites
(Deeba’s changes in brackets alongside in italics)
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar (1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F
Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.
Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.
Sift flour and baking powder.
Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}
Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.
Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.
Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.
When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.
Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}
Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

200 Ml heavy cream
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, whip up the cream.
Add the caramel syrup and salt, mix well

[Update: Made this cake again for Nikhil N Moms Surprise Birthday Party. This time did it with the real butter frosting..... was yummy]

Monday, December 8, 2008

Daksyani Making Quiche

I found the recipe of a Mushroom Quiche on Deeba's blog. The pictures were so tempting and also it was like a daring baker's challenge for me.Have only eaten them till now, didn't ever dream that I'll be able to do one.

Then I thought of Geeta Chachi[Daksayani's mom]..... She love this sorta food...... The dilemma now was that she's allergic to mushrooms. So now what do I do..... I went hunting round the fridge to see what could put in....

Finally we came up with Broccoli, Garlic, Corn, Olives, Gherkins, Celery and Basil Leaves, with mixed herbs. The measures and method is described very well in Deeba's post "TO QUICHE OR NOT TO QUICHE...A mushroom quiche & wholesome lunchboxes!".

Daksayani is Geeta's chachi's daughter...... and the Apple no...no.... APPLE of my eye....... I totally adore her..... She loves pottering around in the kitchen with me. We have a blast together. Last time we did Chocolate Fudge Brownies and it's posted at "Daksyani Making Chocolate Fudge Brownies".

All Ready to start cooking.
From Daks Making Quiche Dec 08
Collected the ingredients with me
From Daks Making Quiche Dec 08

The base ready to go into the oven
From Daks Making Quiche Dec 08

Daks making her own mini Quiche
From Daks Making Quiche Dec 08
Yeh to ban gaya.....
From Daks Making Quiche Dec 08
Preparing the filling
From Daks Making Quiche Dec 08

From Daks Making Quiche Dec 08

Pour it into the half baked base
From Daks Making Quiche Dec 08

Caught messing around with some left over dough... She's just to cute....
From Daks Making Quiche Dec 08

Her face, hair and hands were full of flour....
From Daks Making Quiche Dec 08

Decorated it with tomatoes n cheese, half way thru the baking
From Daks Making Quiche Dec 08

I think it came out quite well.... contrary to what I thought...... ;-) Thanks for encouraging me Deeba.
From Daks Making Quiche Dec 08

From Daks Making Quiche Dec 08
We had a blast making it together....
From Daks Making Quiche Dec 08

She freaked out at the finished product.....
From Daks Making Quiche Dec 08

Then we shared the rest of it between Geeta Chachi and Mala Chachi at night......

PS: check out all the pictures at http://picasaweb.google.co.in/nachiketa.chandra/DaksMakingQuicheDec08#

This post is being sent to “KIDS DELIGHT” by Pari of Foodelicious.