Airtel 4G: One for the Digital Nomads


There was a time when I struggled to do my work as a freelancer simply because of my data plan. No matter what they claimed, it was always difficult to manage my work with existing alternatives. I was constantly on the move, relying only on my phone for a connection with the outer world. I had to attend Skype meets with my clients, exchange large folders on Dropbox and maintain many digital publications. This is why I found it very difficult to manage it with sub par speeds that also used to get disconnected very often.

That is why I am looking forward to the new Airtel 4G. I think it will be useful for video conferencing, arranging and attending webinars and heavy data exchange. I have in fact missed out on some of these opportunities in the past due to my poor bandwidth. I remember when the Skype call broke down and I lost a client. As a digital nomad or a so called solopreneur, it means to me a lot.

In fact it has been a long cherished dream for me to be a complete digital nomad. This is because wanted to travel more but I never earned or saved enough to leave everything and go backpacking. That is why I had to work even as I traveled. I already do it but only partially. The main problem I face is due to irregular network strength and poor bandwidth. Even when I have 3G connections, in a lot of places I end up with sub par speed, especially when I am out of the metropolises. This is exactly where a new solution was required and I hope this is the change that I was hoping to see.

Basically with the improved bandwidth of 4G I aspire to achieve the following,
Firstly, with better speed real time communication would not be a problem. I can have a Skype chat from my Hotel room in some remote provincial town, without the fear of getting disconnected, or even worse, not even being able to connect.

Part of my work involves photography and videography. I need to send them to my clients on a regular basis but with low speed it is hard to exchange such heavy files. With better speed I can share my work in real time as I go, thus leading to quicker deals and transactions and I do not have to wait for the trip to end to submit my work.

Finally maintaining my online presence is also important for my line of work. Bandwidth issues always make it a nightmare to handle blogs and social networks when I am on the go. I hope 4G will sort out this issue for me.

Honey Diet: Crash Diet that doesn’t crash you


Diet was a word unheard of at a point in India. Still people lived a normal life. Although life expectancy is increasing with modern medical advancements, we are seeing more and more health issues cropping up. Modern lifestyle and food habits have had a role to play in this development. That is exactly why various new types of diets have come up over the years, promising to sort out what people have lost due to modern lifestyles. However, such crash diets are always full of risks. Technically, people use crash diets to loose weight, so as to satisfy conventional beauty standards of our society. Especially nowadays, western beauty standards have invaded our lives too and so anorexia is a clear and present danger in Indian too, especially among urban women who gets influenced by the fashion industry. In the west, we have already seen cases of anorexic models losing their lives by pushing themselves too much. Such incidents did not happen in India earlier but nowadays we are beginning to see them here too. In a globalized world, we cannot avoid such a phenomenon.

So, the question is, what can be a sound alternative? Everybody wants to improve the way they look nowadays, but how can one lose weight, especially in this maddening Indian summer when people always tend to gulp that second bottle of sugar rich soft drinks or grab that cup of ice creams? Most people tend to go for something unhealthy and threatening in a desperate effort to shape up. But the good news is that there are alternatives that are as organic and as healthy as they can be and still as effective as possible. Honey diet is one of those options. So, what exactly is a honey diet? Well, it is simply something where honey replaces refined sugar in most of your items. Why does it work? Because, the internet tells us that honey acts as a very effective fuel to help our liver produce glucose. In turn, the glucose maintains the sugar levels in the brain and makes it release hormones that burns fat. That is why, despite being so sweet, honey is an excellent option for any kind of weight-loss diet. In order to achieve the desired results, simply replace the sugar in your diet with honey and see the difference yourself after a few weeks.

I just noticed that Dabur Honey, one of the biggest brands selling branded honey, has come up with a detailed website dedicated to Honey Diet. It offers your nutritional information as well as help you plan your diet according to your personal needs. Just have a look at it and discover many more health benefits of honey and also recipes and diet ideas to overcome your glut for sweetness this summer.

Ek Nayi League: What can it be?

Some new videos have surfaced starring Kapil Dev. He is promising here to bring “Ek Nayi League” (A New League). It is not sure exactly what is he going to do with this new show but the promos do create a sense of intrigue. So, I am trying to understand what it is all about.

Five different Videos have surfaced so far. All of them are pretty short and Kapil talks about various aspects of the show and also mentions different celebrities in this regard. In different videos he mentions MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Sania Mirza as well as Kapil Sharma. Now, it is obvious that it will be a show involving several big names and these celebrities will be the main draw of the program along with the format of the show.

The other noticeable thing is that they are aiming for diversity in terms of the celebrities chosen. There are people from other sports and also from the entertainment and the list is not dominated by cricketers only although it is presented by Kapil Dev. This should attract diverse types of audiences to the show but again it creates more intrigue regarding what the show would include.

Not Necessarily Cricket:
In cricket a batsman getting hit wicket is not good news. But In the videos Kapil is saying that if one plays by heart, they will get hit wicket. So, this is definitely not the conventional game of cricket. At first I thought it would be something like the celebrity cricket league but after seeing the whole video I think cricket is only lending the terminology to this show.

So, overall, I think the whole show is about creating something fun and witty, involving all the big names from different fields. I think it will be like a game show with different types of tasks or activities with their own set of eccentric rules. They will use cricketing terms like googly and hit wicket to make sure that people can easily relate to it but actually the rules of the games will be different. This will make the proceedings interesting as the rules will be very different from the actual game. I guess all the celebrities will be asked to do tasks that are beyond their comfort levels because if only cricket is played, the cricketers will surely overshadow the rest.

I am looking forward to this show very eagerly now. I believe it will be the mother of all game shows. More importantly I think it will be highly rewarding and engaging for the viewers to. This is because they are already offering the fans a chance to win INR 1 Lakh simply by guessing what the show is about in the Ek Nayi League website. Go ahead, try your luck.

Asus Zenfone 2: Expectations of a Redefined Smartphone Experience

I am not a fan of extremely expensive smartphones. However, I do aspire to have some of their functionalities for convenience in my kind of work. Until recently, there was hardly anything in the market that would have enabled me to meet by needs without breaking my bank. Thankfully the ongoing price war of high quality smartphones has made a life a bit easier for me. So, I am really looking forward to the Asus Zenfone 2, which promises to take this game to the next level with its premium specs. I am primarily looking at five different aspects that I think will enhance my relationship with the phone.

Asus Zenfone 2

Premium Looks:

One of the biggest struggles with the phones in my budget is their look. Those cheap plastic bodies are insufferable while but the classier ones are beyond my reach. However, I loved the old Zenfone with its sleek design although I could never buy it. Now Zenfone 2 comes with the same looks with even more polished contours.

Enhanced Speed:

With the unprecedented 4GB RAM, the phone promises to be lightning fast. As I do a lot of surfing combined with photography and instagramming, my phones tend to get slow after some heavy usage. I think this enhanced RAM will also enhance the speed and make it easier for me to multitask without having to wait indefinitely while jumping from one task to another.

Better Viewing Experience:

I am actually snobbish in this regard. I never watched media in my earlier phones. 4 inch was too small for me. But I think the 5.5 size is perfect. It is large enough for comfortable viewing experience and yet not too large to become a nuisance for my pocket.

Working on the Go:

More importantly, I think it will be a great companion for my work. As a freelancer, I aspire to be location independent. Besides, I travel often. But the laptop is too heavy to carry around and the existing phone is not exactly a workhorse. Besides, it is tiresome to really type on small screens but I do not feel like investing extra money on a tablet either. With high processing powers and large screen, I think Zenfone 2 will be the perfect compromise between all formats and will enable me to do what I must do. Also, it seems to have a much larger batter compared to most other phones in the same range. The bigger battery will enable me to work for longer hours.

A Backup Camera:

While I use a DSLR, it is good to have a backup. Generally phone cameras are not up to the mark. But the 13 MP camera of Zenfone 2 with PixelMaster technology should be enough for a lot of occasions and will help me avoid carrying an extra bulky camera.

Once in every few years comes a product that shakes up the entire market. I think Zenfone 2 has the potential of being that one this year.

The White Ribbon: Looking Up Amidst Chaos

Optimism is not something that comes to your mind when you first watch Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon. It is one of those complex pieces of cinema that can not be fitted into any distinct genre. Set in an idyllic German village just before the World War I, this film is carried forward by a narrator who later turns out to be one of the protagonists of the tale, the village teacher. Apart from him, the village contains some typical characters like the baron, the pastor, the doctor, the farmers and their families. As the narrator unfolds the story, we get to see that the seemingly sleepy and isolated village is suddenly witnessing some mysterious, disturbing and violent happenings. Just at the beginning, the doctor’s horse trips over a wire strung between a couple of trees and the doctor gets severely injured. Did someone plot that? A few days later the wife of a farmer meets with an accident in the mill owned by the Baron and succumbs to her injuries. Was the Baron responsible for it? Then the Baron’s child goes missing and is recovered later in a beaten and bruised state. Was someone taking revenge on him?

As these events set up the basic premise of the film, it takes a break from the grim proceedings and provides us some more insights into the lives of the principal characters. The younger self of the narrator, the teacher is in his early thirties and is trying to woo a young girl who works as a nanny to the Baron’s newborn babies. On the other hand, the Pastor comes off as a strict disciplinarian who ruthlessly imposes his puritanical views on his children. Literally, the “white ribbon”, is basically a ribbon that is tied around the hair of his daughter to signify “purity” in her. He preaches virtues of love but metes out severe punishments to his children for minor offences. On the other hand, the doctor recuperates and returns to the village and soon it is revealed that he also has many dark chapters in his life including his illicit relationship with the midwife. The midwife also has a mentally challenged son who also falls prey to the unknown assailants just as the Baron’s barn is set ablaze by someone.

All these incidents create an impression that something sinister is lurking around the corner and lures the audience into believing that a rustic whodunit is about to unfurl. The teacher gets intrigued by all these disturbing incidents and tries to investigate on his own. At this point, the plotline offers us a bunch of suspects who could be the culprits as well as red herrings. As the film nears its finale, more and more contrasting clues come up. As a matter of principle, what exactly happens at the end of a film should not be disclosed in a review. But actually it is not the kind of film that can be ruined by a few spoilers. Nevertheless, it should be suffice to say that the film ends without offering any definite answers or solutions.

Coming to the technicalities, this film is shot completely in black and white which suites the period as well as the mood of the film. Cinematography is excellent to say the least and it succeeds in creating a sense of claustrophobia even through the open pastures. Another noticeable aspect in this film is the limited use of background music. Only dialogues and atmospheric noises create a very realistic feel without any distractions. The film boasts of a very impressive cast including the children, probably more so because most of these actors are famous or even remotely familiar to me except Burghart Klaußner, as the pastor, who played an important part in Good Bye Lenin.

As far as overall impact of the film is concerned, it works at multiple levels. Haneke uses an unsure and unreliable narrator and drops multiple clues here and there. But in the end, it is not a film that ties up the loose ends. The bizarre incidents are merely the props used to show us the bigger picture. This little village is a microcosm of the society that was going to breed the most dreaded fascists the history has ever known. Superficially, it seems like any other village isolated from the rest of the world with only passing reference to the impending war a few times. But through their constrained yet hypocritical moral values, the characters portray the germination of worse things to come. This subtle yet effective symbolism is the greatest strength of this film. It not only becomes a critique of the early twentieth century German society but also a grim reminder to the possible repercussions of Talibanistic mindset that is brewing up in many corners of this world. One can very well relate to the straight-jacketed and abused children of the film to the ones whose schools are being bombed nowadays. Yes, one can very well argue that it can not be the sole reason for creating such monstrosities as the Nazis but that is where the greatest success of this film lies. It does not give us any answers. It just raises questions and makes us uncomfortable.

It is a film thriving in symbolism that makes it topical and relevant despite its period settings and this is why I find it a reason to be optimistic. When the entire world is in chaos, it is hard to be optimistic. But as I find profound works of art as this, I understand that there are human beings capable of seeing beyond narrow and short sighted biases and look up towards a better world by accepting one’s faults. The White Ribbon not merely criticizes but goes the core of the problem. It is a study so deep and subtle that it may go unnoticed if one views it superficially. It is a film that has to be seen with right set of expectations but it surely rewards the ones who do so.

Three Nations and Three Films: Women Centric cinema from the Middle East

This article was written on the occasion of last year’s Women’s Day for a print magazine called Eclectic Vibes. Considering the fact that the day has arrived again, I am reproducing it in this site.

Asghar Farhadi’s A Seperation has more or less taken the world by storm. Nevertheless, discussing its success in the festival circuit is merely stating the obvious. What I find more interesting is the pivotal female characters in this and for that matter several other films from Iran in particular and the Middle East in general as this is a region that does not offer a very optimistic scenario with regards to women empowerment.

It is all the more important because the strong female character are rarely seen in the mainstream Indian cinema nowadays. So, keeping the Women’s Day in mind, I am discussing three women centric films that represent the restrained yet potent film industries of the Middle East. The first one is of course A Seperation from Iran which is the flavour of the season. Another lesser known film that I want to discuss is the Egyptian film 678 by Mohamed Diab and I will wind up with Siddique Barmaq’s festival favourite Osama. These are not necessarily the best films of that genre and from that region but they offer us a contrasting insight into three different societies, one hanging onto the status quo, one yearning for change and one descending further into chaos.

A Seperation (Iran, 2011)

A pregnant woman (Razieh) gets a housekeeping job in a well to do Iranian couple (Simin and Nader). She has a little daughter and her ill tempered husband cannot stick to any job. On the other hand the family she works for is about to fall apart as the husband and wife are on collision course, much to the dismay of their teenage daughter and her grandfather who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Simin wants to move to the US for a better future of her daughter but Nader resists and hence she files for divorce. As the story progresses, the internal conflicts start taking toll on their personal lives. One day Nader discovers his elderly father lying unconscious on the floor and also suspects that some amount of money was stolen. So, he confronts Razieh and after an argument throws out of the house and injuring her. Later on it was revealed that she has suffered a miscarriage and hence Nader must face legal punishment or settle it off court by paying a good amount of money to the poor family.

The beauty of the film lies in its moral ambiguity and subtle emotions. There is a conflict between the abhorrence towards the man who pushed a pregnant woman and the empathy towards the same man whose family is falling apart. One may feel for the poor lady who loses her child but cannot ignore the understandable greed for the settlement money. The most innocent and honest characters turn out to be the children from both the families. But then, that is expected from the Iranians who are always good at making children act.

A Seperation, through a humane tale, also mirrors the contemporary Iranian society in a realistic manner. It is not as Talibanized as one would like to think. Women do work and have a say in the important matters but there is always a fear of authority that is looming large. That is why when Razieh must change the cloths of the ailing old man, she calls a helpline and asks if that will be considered blasphemy. Nevertheless, eventually the film connects because of it tells a universal story of a dysfunction family that everyone can relate to. It keeps the emotions restrained rather than dramatizing it too much, which would have been the easier way out. Farhadi is supported in this venture by an excellent ensemble cast of natural performers.

678 (Egypt, 2010)

Somewhat based on true events, 678 tells the story of three women in a society that is in the threshold of great change. Fayza is a lower middle class governmental employee married with two children. Every day she commutes to work on a crowded bus numbered 678 and almost every day she is subjected to sexual harassment at the hands of deprived male passengers. The second woman Seba hails from a wealthy family but is also a victim of a gang assault and hence a vocal supporter of female rights. The third woman is Nelly a much younger woman with strong opinions who also suffers a sexual assault and gathers the courage to file a historic lawsuit in a nation where the subject itself is considered taboo. Fayza gets influenced by the feminist sermons of Seba and she eventually resorts to violence by attacking assaulters. She uses a small knife to attack the lewd males where it hurts the most, their genitalia. But it isn’t easy being a feminist in a conservative land. Enquiries ensue and the women must give up or gather the courage to stand up openly and fight.

This is the most hopeful of the three films discussed here and is not surprising considering the wind of change that is sweeping the country. Director Diab is also apt at handling lighter moments such as the hilarious interrogation of the stabbed molesters. Through the film, he also successfully portrays the class difference in the society. Fayza is the bravest of them all, but she is also the first one to be weakened by adverse conditions and doubt her own acts owing to the repressive background she comes from. But eventually her more liberated friends make her have faith in herself and eventually it paints an optimistic picture of a brighter tomorrow in a society that is finally bracing for a change.

Osama (Afghanistan, 2003)

In case anybody is wondering, it has nothing to do with the dreaded terrorist (I did when I first heard the name). It is about a little girl who comes to be known as Osama. The Talibans have taken over the country and banned women from all possible spheres of social life including the workplaces. Osama’s family consists of her mother and grandmother and none of them can now work for a living. The male members of the family are already dead but the stubborn, fundamentalist regime doesn’t consider it a reason enough to compromise with their “ideals”. So, the family finally comes up with the only possible solution, making young Osama masquerade as a boy and do small menial jobs to sustain the family. But even that is easier said than done and death by stoning is the standard penalty for such “crimes”.

This must be the most pessimistic film out of these three and probably out of all films I have even seen in my life. It offers no hopes and has no redeeming features. It starts with a somber mood and the prospects get even darker for the ironically named protagonist. It is believed that the director originally had a brighter ending in mind but eventually the ground realities made him opt for this bleak finale that is enough to shake anyone’s conscience. This film was another festival circuit favourite when it was released and made Barmak the face of Afghan cinema. It is a must watch for anybody who wants to have a peek into the Taliban regime but if anybody is looking for a lighter and satirical portrayal of contemporary Afghanistan, Barmak’s Opium War (2008) may be a more interesting option.

Agent Vinod: Interpretations and Reference spotting

Spoiler Alert: This is not a review. This is just a bunch of jumbled thoughts. Sensitive young souls who are still planning to watch the film… read no further.

Long wait for a film getting elongated by circumstances is not new to me. In 2009, I had to wait one week extra for Vishal Bharadwaj’s Kaminey because in western India the release was delayed by bird flu scare (or was it the flying pigs who decided to flu?). I was burning my ill-gotten calories in the Himalayas when Inception released in 2010 (along with Udaan & Tere Bin Laden). When Shaitan released in 2011, I was slacking in Guwahati, a place where limited budget films are bound to get limited releases. Continuing the tradition, I was ogling at multitude of women of confusing ethnicities in Goa when Agent Vinod released.

So, the first thing I did on my return was to book a ticket for the film although by that time the negative vibe was visible everywhere. I had to catch it because whether good or bad, Sriram Raghavan returns only once in 4/5 years. Now, having watched the same, I’m facing a severe dilemma which is not due to the quality of the film but due to my inability to guess the intention of its makers. This is exactly why I am rambling here even though nobody cares about my ramblings. I must express my confusion to get over it and do something else. But before that, let me share a few observations to clear the air.

Agent Vinod


• I still think Agent Vinod was a good film, at least 70% of it. The remaining 30%, as you can guess, mostly include the last few reels of the film. While the build-up is decent, eventually the plot turns out to be a done to death one.
• The opening credit was good but I do not think it was worth all the hype. It was just good, not great, including the BGM.
• Dialogues are consistently witty but sadly out here loudness is always preferred over sharp and clever wit.
• The smart parts are occasionally ruined by subsequent spoon-feeding.
o “Yeh Rubaiyyat darasal ek detonator hain”! Was it really necessary to underline, embolden and italicize the obvious?
• Exotic terrains were explored but not fully exploited in the film. Otherwise why get back to the same old Delhi for the climax when you had the Trans-Siberian railway, Sub-Saharan hinterlands and the Helmand province at your disposal.
• It pulls off one of the best long shots in Bollywood. Not sure if they used some trickery to make it look like one shot. Even then, the job is well done.
• Also notable is the parallel flashback scene involving an LTTE guy with Rakkama Kaiya Thattu playing in the background (I remember the Hindi dubbing of Thalapathi where the song went like Janeman Aja Aja…)
• Turning the rich guy into the villain is as clichéd as it gets, but it prevents the other cliché that is blaming everything on the “parosi mulk” (neighboring country).
• Whatever it is, Agent Vinod is a cool spy because he can pull out hot Middle Eastern woman out of a dirty sack like a magician pulls out the proverbial rabbit.


Now, coming to the business end, I think the mass negativity around the film is a result of its confusing tone. I think so because while it does not scale the expected heights, considering the type of “blockbusters” we’ve had in recent times, a disappointing climax cannot be the only reason for such hostility. So what exactly is Agent Vinod?

A big, racist Camel Joke?
• Personally I wouldn’t mind the same. I’m not sure how many people have seen the OSS 117 series by Michel Hazanavicius and starring Jean Dujardin (The guys who made The Artist). The OSS 117 films also spoof the genre. Not exactly laugh riots but they maintain a wickedly entertaining racist tone throughout. Two third of Agent Vinod somewhat falls in the same category. Eccentric villains played by good actors are introduced in gay abandon and they manage to amuse rather than scare.
• Shahbaz Khan shows up after a long time (Do not remember his last appearance but still remember his costume epics in DD). Ram Kapoor gets a break from innocuous hosting duties of discredited “Swayambhars”. Adil Hussain gets some well-deserved screen space (In the suave zone of Danny, not that of Amrish Puri).
• But above all, veteran Prem Chopra plays a wealthy Sheikh who loves his camel more than anything else. And finally towards the last reels when the film moves dangerously close to the glycerine soaked ending of Anubhav Sinha’s Dus (2005), who saves the day? Yes, the dromedary!

A Bond clone with an umbrella reference to the master of referencing?
• Hopefully this is not the case because if so then it fails on both counts. Neither the action achieves the high of a Bond flick, nor does the referencing achieve the finesse of Tarantino. Raghavan himself has done better work at referencing in his previous films.
• Bond is not only about style but also about high voltage action accompanied by wanton destruction of public property. Agent Vinod, like many other recent Bollywood films, prefers rapid editing & CGI over real action. In fact, I think Gadar was the last satisfactory Bollywood action movie, at least for me. Coolth cannot replace the impact of a raw punch by a real son of the soil. Dhoom series, Krishh, Don etc. made the same mistake and sadly Agent Vinod also continues the same.

A bridge to assimilate the “classes” and the “masses”?
• This seems to be the most clichéd but also the most potent possibility. While the director could not let go his own sensibilities, with a huge budget they had to make it more acceptable to the dreaded “masses”! I wish they’d cut down a few locations, reduced the budget and experimented more with the content.

Reference Spotting:

Now, I’d like to point out a few questions that are playing with my mind. These are about real and perceived references in Agent Vinod. In a film like this, it is easy to spot references even when there is none and that is what causing me all the trouble. Some of the references including that to Leone (Sergio not Sunny) are obvious and there is no need to reiterate the same again. But there are some others that I want to be clarified,

• The Russian sections start in a place called Borodino. Was it deliberate too? Is the director a fan of the Great Corsican too?
• Was the thankless cameo of Rajat Kapoor a reference to his thankless cameo in That Girl in Yellow Boots?
• Was the “City Under Threat” scenario a reference to Harry Baweja’s Quyamat (2003), which in turn was a reference to Michael Bay’s The Rock(1996)?
• Was the sinister corporate honcho (Dhritiman Chatterjee) a reference to and continuation of the faceless mastermind in Mission Kashmir (2000)?
• The direction of the chopper towards the end was a reference to Hitchcock?
• Was there a Dr. No/Ursula Andress reference at the end? It was the best one!

PS: I do want the makers to work on a sequel/prequel whatever it is with more serious action and a less clichéd McGuffin.

Midnight in Paris: It’s not Fantasy, it’s Magic Realism

This article was originally published in the January Issue of Eclectic Magazine


When I was a geeky school kid I used to read Homeric epics, again and again. I loved that era of classical antiquity, those brave warriors and those mythical femme fatales who mercilessly demonstrated the banality of my times. The “present” always seemed mundane and pointless (and it still does). Nostalgia can be an aphrodisiac at times, but it can also be overwhelmingly melancholic.

Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris is an ode to nostalgia as well as a dissection of the same. The entire film is summed up in the first line of the fictional novel being written by its protagonist.

“Out of the Past” was the name of the store, and its products consisted of memories. What was prosaic and even vulgar to one generation had been transmuted by mere passing of years to a status at once magical and also camp.” – Gil Pander

The Plot:

Midnight in Paris, as the name suggests, is a love letter to Paris. It starts with a familiar yet enticing montage of La Ville-Lumière, languid and sinful music, a sumptuous Parigot orgy that gives an impression that it is to Paris what Vicky Christina Barcelona could not be to Barcelona. But as the film progresses, we see that it is much more than that.

Gil Pander (Owen Wilson) is a successful Hollywood screenwriter who is fed up and disillusioned. He is on vacation in Paris and is gradually being seduced and consumed by the city. He plans to stay there permanently and work on his novel, an idea ridiculed by his beautiful but nagging fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her snobbish parents. Inez bumps into an old friend Paul (Michael Sheen), a smooth talking intellectual whose eloquence does not necessarily mean factual accuracy. Gil abhors Paul as much as Inez adores him. After a few meetings, Gil finally takes a break from his social circle and decides to roam around the streets of Paris at midnight for inspiration. As the clock strikes twelve, a vintage car arrives from nowhere. The passengers include the likes of Cole Porter, Josephine baker, Zelda and F Scott Fitzgerald and Gil is invited to join them. Soon it becomes evident that he has somehow travelled back in time to the Paris of 1920s, an era that he loves. Soon he gets to meet more of his idols including Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, Luis Buñuel, Salvador Dali, Man Ray, T S Eliot and many more. He travels back in time every night and starts living a double life that gradually alienate him from the real woman in his life. He even shows the manuscript of his novel to Stein and falls in love with Adriana (Marion Cotillard), a woman whose beauty surpasses the adjectives known to Gil. This cycle continues until he finds a portal to another era, the Belle Époque of 1880’s and encounters Toulouse-Lautrec and Paul Ganguin among others. What happens next is best left for the viewers to figure out.

Woody as we know him:

So how does one describe this film? It is a surreal stoner trip to a bygone era, time warp within a time warp, eulogy to a bunch of people idolized by the director and eventually an amusing tale full of wisdom and erudite references. In many ways, it marks Woody Allen’s return to form and a return to his forte. This is what he used to do in the 70’s and 80’s. Be it Zelig (1983) or Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), Allen has tackled absurdist topics as well as plentiful references to his idols on several occasions. His recent films were somewhat lacking in that respect but with Midnight in Paris he compensates for everything.

The beauty of the film lies in clever writing. In fact it is probably one of the best original screenplays in recent times. It deals with the absurd and the impossible but never loses focus and gets across the point. It is full of wisdom, some of Woody’s own and some borrowed from the real people referenced in the film. For instance, Hemingway tells Gil,
“…when you are sharing your body and heart with a great woman the world fades away…. You conquer what most lesser men have never conquered before, you have conquered a great woman’s heart, the most vulnerable thing she can offer to another. Death no longer lingers in the mind. Fear no longer clouds your heart…”
The wisdom is complemented with eclectic humour. When Gil meets the surrealists, the discussion proceeds thus,

Luis Buñuel: A man in love with a woman from a different era. I see a photograph!
Man Ray: I see a film!
Gil: I see insurmountable problem!
Salvador Dalí: I see… rhinoceros!

Nevertheless, for a film that has Van Gogh’s The Starry Night looming large over its poster, it is only expected to have such references. There is also an obvious yet hilarious tribute to Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel.

The Cast and Crew:

None of these would have worked without the right actors. Apparently the script was fine tuned to fit Owen Wilson and it turns out to be a wise decision. He brings back the Annie Hall persona of Woody Allen that is vulnerable and in a troubled relationship. But he does not allow it be a mere caricature. He is ably aided by a host of actors who have small but effective roles playing real life characters. The best of them were Corey Stoll as Hemingway with his sharp and rapid-fire dialogues, Kathy Bates as an authoritative Stein and Adrien Brody as a gleefully over the top Dali. This motley crowd is captured with the backdrop of a seductive city by Darius Khondji, who also lives up to his reputation.

Then there was Marion Cotillard:

From the sexy and murderous Tina Lombardy to a heart breaking Edith Piaf and to a haunting Mallorie Cobb, Marion Cotillard has come a long way. She does not have much of screen time in this film but everything revolves around her. Picasso and Hemingway fall for her, so does Gil. She is the illusion that everybody wishes to be real, including the audience. No other actress of this generation has a comparable melancholic beauty and old worldly charm. She is the personification of nostalgia!

The Parting Shot:

Compared to most other Woody Allen films, Midnight in Paris is more universal. One may not be aware of the Dadaists or for that matter the Belle Époque, but can still enjoy the film as it looks bewitching, flows smoothly and never meanders. This is a film that is likely to dominate the upcoming awards season and hence must not be missed at any cost. Is there anything else? Yes there is Carla Bruni in a cameo if that is what you are looking for!

Of Epic Loners and Macabre Buccaneers

This article was originally published in the December Issue of Eclectic Magazine. The writing commenced in October, anticipating the release of The Rum Diary, although the film was already released by the time it was published.

Peter Llewelyn Davies: That sceptre’s made of wood.
J.M. Barrie: Yes, well, we do dream on a budget here, don’t we? (Finding Neverland, 2004)


Johnny Depp, for most part of his career, has been the icon for people who dream on budget. With his early success in television as a teen icon, he could have become another megastar in the 90s with his contemporaries such as Cruise and Pitt. But instead he turned out to be the icon of cult eccentricity for more than a decade before finally moving on to become the box office phenomenon through The Pirates of the Caribbean series. Only Robert Downey Jr. to some extent can match Depp in this sudden transformation from a powerhouse performer to a box office magnate. So, as his next film The Rum Diary is about to release, let me glance through his illustrious but constantly morphing career.

When I think of it, my first Depp film was Sleepy Hollow and I did not even know who he was at that point of time. He was not a major star, at least in my part of the world and I do not even remember seeing his photographs in the newspapers. Things changed after he turned Jack Sparrow but I saw Depp’s first entry into cult superstardom Edward Scissorhands (1990) much later. Nevertheless, this was the film that marked the start of his long and enduring collaboration with director Tim Burton. Here he plays the eponymous character who is an artificial man left with scissors instead of palms as his creator died before his completion. Depp’s portrayal of this epitome of imperfection set the tone for rest of his immediate career inundated with oddball characters. Edward is as imperfect and abnormal as Frankenstein but he is not a threat to the society. He is good natured and gifted in his own way. The society does except him but only with a sense of curiosity and amusement. He longs for acceptance and love but discovers the curse of being different in a stereotypical society. Although it is surely an exaggerated fantasy, I couldn’t help but relate to the man constantly ridiculed by the society only because he was unlike them.

Most of Depp’s characters after that ended up as the victims of social stereotypes. By the time they shot Edwood (1994), Depp had become the simpatico actor for Burton, much as De Nero once was for Scorsese, albeit in totally different genres. Edwood showed how much Depp can delve into a character, especially as he portrays a real man who was ridiculed throughout his life for his incompetency. Depp made Edward D Wood Jr. look hilarious and endearing with a melange of innocence and joie de vivre but never allowed it to become a caricature that it could have been. Be it in his enthusiastic encounter with his idol Orson Welles or his interactions with Bela Lugosy, Depp’s Edwood never fails to exude that childlike enthusiasm even in the face of abject failure. I’ll always remember those scenes of Edwood working on “so bad that it’s good” films like Glen and Glenda and Plan 9 from Outer Space with a glee unmatched and passion unsurpassed. I wondered how someone can be so ignorant of his own shortcomings and as I explored more about Edwood, the person, I realized how effective Depp was.

During this period, Depp also worked in two lesser known projects helmed by two maestros of world cinema. In Emir Kusturica’s Arizona Dreams (1993) Depp plays a comparatively normal character of a young man smitten by an older woman as well as tormented by recurring dreams. The film contains staple elements of Kusturica’s films including gleefully bizarre surrealism and cinephilia and Depp was probably the only major Hollywood actor who could have seamlessly blended in this typical European affair set in an American backdrop. It was a role reversal for Depp. He gets to play a normal young man compared to his most previous roles but the trademark surrealism of Kusturica keeps it far from being banal. I have long been a fan of Kusturica but I watched Arizona Dreams only after I’d seen most of his Serbian films. So, my expectations were mixed as I feared his real charm to be ruined by Hollywood glitz. But Depp was there as the director’s actor. Most other mainstream Hollywood stars would have looked more absurd that the concept of the film itself.

Depp’s indie credentials were boosted further when he appeared in The Dead Man (1995) by Jim Jarmush, the patron saint of indie cinema if there ever was one. Here Depp plays a gunslinger called William Blake, gets transported to the wild west, burdened by expectations of his companion who thinks he is a reincarnation of the poet William Blake. He again plays a loner here who pops out of nowhere and travels towards nowhere. He gets himself into trouble with his new employers, gets chased by all and sundry and strikes an unlikely friendship with an Indian called “Nobody” (Played by Gary Farmer) with eclectic tastes. It is a film where one character keeps uttering “Stupid f***ing white man” and reverses every trait of the classic westerns. For a film that is irreverent towards the very genre it belongs to, there was a need to have a non-conformist in the lead and that is why Depp was probably the only choice for this role.

Towards the late 1990’s, Depp kept playing character driven roles, especially in biopics such as Donnie Brasco (1997), where he plays an FBI agent who infiltrates into a New York crime family. Brasco was a mainstream biopic with crowd pulling elements such as the mafia and the cops. Of course the film is also memorable for Al Pacino’s uncharacteristically vulnerable performance but Depp does not allow himself to be overshadowed by his illustrious co-star. Donnie Brasco lives a double life, as a shrewd law enforcer masquerading as a gangster and also as a trouble family man being consumed by intense dedication towards his work. While I enjoyed this film as a hugely entertaining crime caper, I also appreciated the way he managed to look convincing in both cases. While at home, he is troubled and rude to his wife but while with the gang he is sophisticated and manipulative.

While Donnie Brasco was a great success, it was his performance as the reckless father of gonzo journalism, Hunter S Thompson, in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) that once again buttressed his position in the indie pantheon. With his bald patch, constantly drunken or doped stupor and sardonic voice over, Depp’s portrayal of Thompson remains one of his best acts till date, so much so that I found it very difficult to single out the actor from the character in most frames. Teaming up with a wonderful Benicio Del Toro, he tumbles as he walks, panics at the sight of hallucinatory bats or lizards and in general plays the perfect embodiment of the swinging 60s. But this voluntary anonymity was becoming gradually difficult to maintain with his increasing fame and popularity although he continued playing biographical roles in films such as Blow (2001), where he plays a real life smuggler. It was another delightful performance but things were becoming predictable for sure.

Depp finally changed his fortune with his first real box office triumph, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003). It was another character where Depp immersed himself and played the morally ambiguous pirate to the hilt with quirky humour, colourful costumes and overt physicality. I remember when I first watched it I did not like it much. Someone told me that guy is called Johnny Depp and he is a great actor but I was not convinced (I actually watched previously mentioned films later on). Nevertheless, I have now come to appreciate the effort that has gone into creating the character of Jack Sparrow although I find his body language a bit similar to that of Klaus Kinski in Werner Herzog’s Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972). Ironically, this also kick started the mass super stardom, excessive media glare and a resultant waning of the aura around him. The pirate franchise was stretched to three sequels, with consistent commercial success but gradually declining critical reception.

Nevertheless, in between this rising box office juggernaut, Depp also delivered Finding Neverland (2004), another biopic and a deep rooted character study of J M Barrie. It was a role that required remarkable restraint and underplaying, something that was polar opposite to his pirate act but Depp pulled it off effortlessly. In fact it was the first Depp film I’d seriously loved. Depp’s Barry is a man torn with the failure of his recent play and desperately in search of inspiration. He strikes a friendship with an attractive widow (Kate Winslet) and her kids. There is an understated tension and a hint of platonic relationship with her and a very warm bonding with the children just like a father. A classic work of art about another artist, Finding Neverland is another instance of Depp being at odds against the circumstances and society, in a more restrained manner but delivering a greater emotional high.

However, his routine collaborations with Burton were also getting gradually predictable although they never ceased to be amusing. Both Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) as well as Alice in Wonderland (2010), had a feeling of déjà vu as far as Depp’s performances were concerned. Although the Mad Hatter was fleshed out from a one-dimensional character to one of the protagonists with significant thought and backstory, it still kept reminding of other Depp characters. But in between they did come up with Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), another testament of Depp’s versatility where he crooned his heart out while slashing away his customers with sharp razors. While his rough exterior was created with excessive layers of make-up, his singing added to the vulnerability and barrenness of his morose soul. The wronged barber seeking revenge is one of the most violent roles ever and also one of the most quirky even for his own standards.

This brings me back to Depp’s forthcoming film, The Rum Diaries. For the uninitiated, it will be his second film based on Hunter S Thompson’s autobiographical works after Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which is what makes it one of the most anticipated films for Depp fans. As a matter of fact, Depp was also a close personal friend of Thompson until his death. So, Depp seems to be the perfect person to play the role as he has already shown. This is what makes The Rum Diaries a film worth longing for. It is not a mere sequel to the previous film. It is another era and another location. So the question is, will it be able to recapture his indie glory of the 90s or will it fall short of expectations? One can only tell once the film releases. But the genuine Depp fans will only hope for the best.

Spielberg’s Tintin: Thoughts of a Tintin Fan

Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn
As I start writing this piece, I realize that this is going to be the most difficult page and a half of my life. As a matter of fact, I can’t review this film in an unbiased manner considering my more than sacrosanct acquaintance with those 62 page scriptures. So I am just listing out a few points that I feel are worth noting, not necessarily in any order,

The Opening Sequence:

It was a delight! Despite the cutting edge technology being used, the animated title sequence looked vintage and straight out of the comic strip. The classic Tintin font for the credits, silhouettes of the journalist and his canine companion, tribute to most of the staple elements of the series including the moon rocket, everything was pitch perfect and looked like a real and heartfelt tribute the master rather than a mere attempt at building another billion dollar franchise. I know Spielberg loves Hergé and it showed. I was only hoping the film to not fall short of the standard set by the opening sequence as it did in case of X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

The story:

Now, the most important thing a hardcore Tintin fan must note is that the story is remixed and enhanced one and if you are looking to watch each and every frame of the book to come alive, you will be disappointed. As I noted earlier in my anticipatory post, the story was supposed to fuse three adventures, The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure. But as it turned out, bulk of it follows the one in Secret of the Unicorn. Some parts of The Crab with the Golden Claws have been used, mainly to introduce Haddock and establish his character. I believe the only reason to do so is to help the poor kids who have never read Tintin, understand the origin of Haddock and his chemistry with Tintin. Similarly, Red Rackham’s Treasure has only been used to achieve the logical conclusion. Rest of the story mainly follows with the Unicorn storyline with some major tweaks and additional events that mainly provide an opportunity to stage more action and chase sequences.

The action: The “Indiana”ization

As I’ve now mentioned the action part, I have to say that while Spielberg is sincere in his tribute to Tintin, the director of Indiana Jones was looming large over the Belgian maestro. It starts like a classic thriller but the action comes thick and fast with wanton destruction of public property which is an apt display of Hollywood muscle power as well as the difference between their craft and that of a classic European work of art. Nevertheless, the chase sequences provide most of the enjoyment in the film. Especially the long drawn chase scene involving all the major characters through the narrow lanes of an African city and also the Francis Haddock and Red Rackham’s fight are some of the most exhilarating action sequences in recent times.

Characterization and humour:

The major characters are true to their original selves. Excellent casting means that Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg bring the familiar characters alive to a great extent. But elevation of Sakharine to the role of main villain, his backstory and complete elimination of the Bird Brothers is what is going to divide the fans. Nevertheless, Daniel Craig is more than effective as the villain and makes up for the disappointment. Another disappointing aspect is the absence Professor Calculus. The writers have plugged in Bianca Castafiore (I must agree that she’s been used well in her cameo) although she wasn’t there in any of these three adventures in question while Calculus should have been rightfully there, Red Rackham’s Treasure being his debut adventure. Nevertheless, the writers have done a great job in recreating the humour of the original series. While they have added some new situations and dialogues, they never betray the established traits of the characters, nor do they look forced or desperate. The drunkenness of Haddock as well as the bumbling nature of Thomson and Thompson has been used to good effect. Coupled with great performances and animation, the humour keeps people entertained when there is no action.


Haddock's manic energy
Now, I do not have any empirical data but I’m sure Captain Haddock is the most popular character in the entire series. It is he who has a backstory while Tintin remains the supposed journalist who is never seen writing anything or meeting his editor. That is where Andy Serkis does a great job in transferring the manic energy of both Archibald and Francis to the screen. As an old fashioned prick, I would say that I still prefer to read through Haddock’s curses than listen to it. Nonetheless, I think the success of this entire project depended on how effective Haddock was and thankfully the film doesn’t disappoint on this count along with the animated Snowy/Milou.

Final Thoughts:

So, eventually it turns out be an enjoyable experience even if some items from my wishlist were missing. The animation and production values are terrific, but then it is only expected from a film produced by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson. They have tweaked it to some extent mostly to fit the requirements of a high value Hollywood production. But it is a relief to see that the original spirit of the series has not been tempered with. The next film is supposed to deal with The Seven Crystal Balls and The Prisoners of the Son, two of the fines action adventure comic books ever created. The long wait starts now!

Spielberg’s Tintin: Ruminations and Anticipations from an Indian fan

Image Courtesy: Toonbarn

The Adventures of Tintin is about to release. Steven Spielberg is back with something that I always wanted to see, a Tintin film backed by Hollywood biggies, their wallet and their technology. If that is not enough, Spielberg also has Peter Jackson by his side. So, I take this opportunity to indulge in some nostalgic rambling about the most important source of entertainment as well as learning from my eventless and solitary childhood.

The Comics Scene in the 1990’s India:

In the 80’s and 90’s small town India devoid of satellite channels, kids did not really have too many options. Especially for the ones who were twelfth men in their respective gully cricket teams, reading comics was a more respectable pastime. The comic scene was dominated by Anant Pai’s oeuvre and to a lesser extent by Diamond comics. For slightly older ones, there was Raj comics, Manoj comics and some other brands. While the American superheroes were also familiar, not many were aware of European classics like Tintin and Asterix as they were rare as well as expensive. Thankfully, even in those hostile conditions, certain people took the trouble to sensitize themselves about more eclectic works and also introduce them to others. In that sense I was a comics snob and mostly concentrated on Tintin and Asterix.

Why Tintin worked and still works:

Hergé passed away in 1983. The cold war was also over after a few years. Most of the major plot elements in Tintin were no longer relevant by the 90s. But still, Tintin remained and still remains an immensely enjoyable series in many ways. Hergé differentiated it from others by virtue of sheer ambition. He sought to explore every nook and corner of the world, authentically portray diverse cultures and geographies, drew allegories of contemporary international politics, ensured pinpoint precision and achieved the finesse of gripping detective fictions as well as classic satires. Tintin worked for everyone, primarily because it dealt with important issues like international politics, organized crime, corporate greed, space race and slavery while maintaining a consistent balance between humour and adventure. Besides, there was always a sense of profound humanism that could connect to everyone instantly. This humanism can be seen in its most endearing yet vulnerable form in Tintin in Tibet.

The diversity of plot elements in Tintin can somewhat be attributed to the diverse nature of its source materials. Hergé, as it can be assumed from his repertoire, was a well-read man. Initially, Amazonian rainforests, Incas and ancient Egyptians seemed to be his primary interests. Real expeditions into Egypt and Peru influenced his characters and plots. It is also agreed that Gaston Laroux’s Bride of the Sun inspired the basic plotline of Prisoner of the Sun. But at the same time one cannot help but notice the influence of early masters such as Arthur Conan Doyle in building up the adventures. Similarly, the impact of Nazi occupation in the early stories and that of the Cold War in the later adventures was more than noticeable. Later on, the focus shifted to more relevant and contemporary political events but his penchant for research and detailing remained the same.

Tintin in India:

Tintin never had a complete adventure in India and this is one of the saddest realizations for an Indian fan. He visits India in Cigars of The Pharaoh, but that was before Hergé discovered his mojo for research (which incidentally started with its follow up adventure, Blue Lotus after Hergé was inspired by his Chinese friend Chang Chong-jen to know more about the cultures he depicts). That is why depiction of India in that adventure remained a repetition of popular western stereotypes replete with maharajahs and fakirs. In comparison, Blue Lotus had an authentic depiction of China under Japanese rule. Decades later, Tintin landed in Delhi en route to Tibet. This time, visuals were more authentic with depiction of several landmarks in the city and also a reference to Mahatma Gandhi. But unfortunately Tintin never got to spend enough time in India.

Expectations from Spielberg’s Tintin:

Spielberg is apparently fusing the plotlines of three adventures in his film, The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure. The biggest question here is whether he can avoid the pitfalls of adapting from a highly celebrated source. I have had the experience of watching a few animated Tintin films. Most of them were disappointing, especially because they seemed to skip a few exciting frames here and there. Besides, a lot of humour in the dialogues is lost in the films. There is a certain charm in reading Captain Haddock’s abuses that cannot be relished to a similar extent with moving images simply because you never get enough time to grasp those. It takes someone exceptional to make it work and who better than Andy Serkis to do that?

Rise, fall and rise of a nation: The 20th century as depicted by new German cinema

It is not the first time I am expressing my fondness for modern German cinema. Over the last couple of decades they seem to have churned out films after films dealing with the darker periods of their recent history. While a lot of societies prefer to live in constant denial about certain tainted periods of their past, the Germans seem to be brutally honest and more eager than anyone else to tell those stories. I do not know the reasons for the same. Probably the traumatic experience of the World Wars still drives them to forcefully and dispassionately analyse their past.

Nevertheless, it now seems to be an interesting idea to deal with them in a chronological manner and observe the depiction of the turbulent 20th century by the new age German cinema. For the sake of clarity, the term “new” here is loosely used and I am basically referring to the films made in the last decade or so. That is why films like Das Boot, Europa Europa and Tin Drum are being left out although they suite the theme. I have picked four films to depict four distinct phases purely based on my personal preferences.

The White Ribbon (2009):

Shot in stark black and white with no background score, this film begins with a doctor’s horse tripping over a wire in a sleepy German village. After a few days later the wife of a farmer dies in a freak accident in a mill owned by the local baron. Then a child of the baron is abducted and tortured. This sequence of anomalies continues as the film progresses. Are they being done by someone on purpose? Is one act leading to another retaliatory act of violence and madness? All these events are described through the eyes of a narrator whose younger self is a teacher in the village and who also fancies the young maid at the Baron’s and also tries to investigate the events as they come by.

Well, the director Michael Haneke is actually Austrian. Nevertheless this is a German production and hence I can include it in my list. Furthermore, it is the most unique and allegorical of the four films. While it starts like one, it is not actually a thriller. Haneke lures the viewer into a series of mysteries, makes us wonder what is happening and leaves it there. He is not offering any solutions but he is merely constructing a microcosm of a society moving towards disaster. The serene and sleepy village represents a constrained society where genuine emotions are suppressed with strict social and religious codes. It intrigues you and then leaves you baffled. But what is to be noted is that within a couple of decades these children were going to represent the epitome of fanaticism. Probably Haneke is trying to draw an allegory of raging fanaticism in present times or probably not. Only he can tell us!

Der Untergang (2004):

The Downfall

The kids of White Ribbon’s times are now grown up and things are worse than they could have imagined. Hitler’s reign is now limited to his bunker and apart from a few loyalists there is no one he can trust. There is no hope but they try to hang on as long as possible and wait for the inevitable.

Oliver Hirschbiegel’s The Downfall is not a war movie but a humane drama that shows a character like Hitler at his most vulnerable. A stellar performance by Bruno Ganz as the ageing and defeated dictator drives this film to its expected yet moving finale where we see the final consequences of their fervent jingoism. There is extreme decadence and destruction everywhere as a nation collapses but the real triumph of The Downfall is in dissecting the very psyche of fanaticism.

Bader Meinhoff Komplex (2008):

Bader Meinhoff Komplex

A bunch of disillusioned youth turns revolutionaries, finds an ideology to associated with and wreak havoc, sometimes for a reason, sometimes without it. This is the post war generation in the capitalist West Germany and this is the real story of the Red Army Faction (RAF), a leftist terrorist group of the 60’s & 70’s. They indulge is several high profile assassinations, bombings and other violent activities, only to fall one by one.

Uli Edel’s film offers high production values, well executed action set pieces and gratuitous sex and violence, which makes it an engaging watch whether one is interested in post-war history or not. It covers all the doom and gloom of extreme leftist activism which was abundant with pessimism about themselves and the world around them. Violent extremism still exists everywhere in the world, this film still remains pertinent.

Good Bye, Lenin! (2003):

Good by Lenin

A young son in erstwhile East Germany struggles with a mother in comma while the country goes through epochal changes. The patriotic mother wakes up after the Berlin Wall falls. The son is alarmed that the mother may not be able to absorb the shock of the demise of her motherland. But at the same time he is also eager to find his father who deserted to the Western side years ago. As the nation is inundated by capitalist products from the west, he tries hard to keep his mother unaware of them with the help of his friend and a lovely Russian nurse.

Wolfgang Becker’s Good Bye Lenin, as the name suggests, is not only a swan song for the communist regime but an endearing drama encompassing the themes of love, loss and family bonding. Some of the efforts made by the son such as creating a fake East German TV program border absurdity at certain times but that is what makes it even more endearing. A terrific ensemble cast helps in pulling off this rights-of-passage film of a young man as well as a young nation in terms of polity.

* This post is a submission for the Reel-life Bloggers contest conducted by Wogma and Reviewgang.