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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Lavender Malayalam Movie Review: Not a movie one can 'rave' about but Rahman makes it worth a watch!

I walked into a near-empty movie hall when I stepped in to watch the Malayalam movie 'Lavender' written by Anoop Menon and directed by Altas T. Ali.

 So, why did I bother to go? One reason: Rahman's early films such as Koodevidey, Kanamarayathu, Poomukhapadiyil Nineym Kathu, Chilambu, Thammil Thammil, Kariyilakaatupoley remain my all-time favorites. Those were and are golden hits in Malayalam cinema and Rahman's acting was not just charismatic but effortless and natural


                                                        [Image credit: Google Images]
Lavender Malayalam Movie Review: The Story

Lavender is presented as a visual of a director's proposed movie script while pitching the story to the leading lady. He goes into the details of the movie so that she accepts the role. While narrating the role, the movie itself is visualized and shown to us. 

The proposed movie's story line is depicted like this:

Ayaan (starring Rahman) is a Bangkok based gangster who lives in hiding because he is listed in Interpol’s most wanted criminals. There is an Interpol team that is after him, led by Raghavan Moorthy (starring Anoop Menon) and Siddharth (starring Nishan). 

At this time, Ayaan falls in love with a portrait artist called Isha (starring Elham Mirza) and he sends her lavender flowers every day to show his love. She doesn't know who it is but feels overwhelmed by the gesture. Later, she mistakes the anonymous 'Lavender sender' for Siddharth and falls in love with him. 

What makes the gangster Ayaan lovable is the way he goes out to show the humane side of himself - despite the work that he does and the choices that he makes as a contract killer - he loves this girl truly and madly. You can see it in his eyes, his silence and in his actions. 

                                                          [Image credit: Google Images]
The brooding lover isn't something I would have associated with the lively, vibrant persona of actor Rahman (remember his popular golden flicks, Love Story, Thammil Thammil, Chilambu, among others).

Elham Mirza, the Iranian beauty, is gorgeous. She is convincing as the character Isha and I wouldn't have guessed that she is Iranian because her lip sync movements were perfect and she didn't seem like a foreigner in any way while portraying Isha.

Lavender Malayalam Movie Review: What Worked and Didn't Work

The gangster part feels forced and clich├ęd. Rahman doesn't look deadly, nor do any of the others associated with the Black Tulip gang. Also, Rahman doesn’t have much action as a "killer."  Anoop Menon is not one bit convincing as an Interpol officer. Nishan is a good, upcoming and talented actor who got a very poorly fleshed out character. He has expressions that are perfect for a romantic hero. He can impress and would if he got the right roles.

The characterization of the protagonists were not well-structured, the dialogues were cheesy and meaningless and there is a lack of depth in the way the story finally fleshes out. Many things in the movie don't work in tandem with the rest of the movie - for example, the humor bits by Kalpana and Aju Varghese stand out like a sore thumb

The songs were beautifully shot, I have to say this - excellent cinematography that captures the best of Bangkok - you can experience the mood and culture of the place through the songs and the shots.

On the whole, Lavender is not a movie one can 'rave' about as a love story or as a gangster movie. Still, actor Rahman and the gorgeous Elham Mirza make it worth a watch!

[Other popular movie reviews you may want to check out: PremamBangalore Days, Vikramadityan, Anju Sundarikal, Oru Indian Pranaya Katha]

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Premam Malayalam Movie Review: A Superb Entertaining Love Story in which Nivin Pauly conquers hearts and Sai Pallavi is a delight to watch

Alphonse Puthren's Malayalam movie "Premam" starring Nivin Pauly has been a most talked about film as Malayalis across the world have shown great love for "Premam."  

"Premam" is a movie that will take you back to the bittersweet memories of your first love, second love and maybe, third and final love!

                                            [Image credit: Google Images]

Premam Malayalam Movie Review: Butterflies are mentally mental, so is love

I had a big smile on my face when I read the words "Butterflies are mentally mental, so is love" on the screen. This was shown just before the credits started to show.

It marks the perfect beginning to a "nutcase" love story! I was all set to enjoy this delicious tale of teenage crush, love & mature love - the phases that each of us have gone through in this journey of life at some time or the other.

Premam Malayalam Movie Review: Story

Premam's story revolves around the butterfly-like, romantic journey of  George David (Nivin Pauly) from his teens till that fine day when he ties the knot!

You will enjoy seeing the creative and colorful title cards that were showcased thorough the film. The butterflies, just as lovers, savour the nectarine sweetness of "Premam" and then flits away due to changing environments

The memories it leaves behind are fragrant and beautiful, somewhat bittersweet too. Time doesn't stand still and the butterfly has to move on to the next experience.

Premam Malayalam Movie Review:  Three new heroines

Three new heroines make the film "Premam" a refreshing cinematic experience. There is Mary (starring Anupama Parameshwaran), the heart throb of all the teenage boys in the village. By the way, I love her hair for a very selfish reason! Simply this: I had hair just like that during my teens. The only difference is that it looked like it needed some treatment! PLUS, no queue of young fellas followed me anywhere....sigh!

In this teenage love episode, the local casanovas of different ages wait for her by the tea shop. They walk with her on the narrow bridge, hoping desperately for a glance or a smile from her. Her expressions, her beautiful curly hair and the mischievous smile are lovely to watch. 

Then there is Malar (starring Sai Pallavi) who is his teacher but finds herself unable to resist falling in love with her student. There is a terrific sizzling chemistry between the two actors. Remember the scene where Nivin shows a gesture in class, indicating that she looks lovely in a dress....the glances they exchange without words are simply divine! 


                                               [Image credit: Google Images]
Sai Pallavi as 'Malar' is a delight to watch. Her reactions to his SMSes and expressions are priceless! Her dancing was full of grace and a visual feast. Oh how I loved the 'Malare' song in this film!!!

When Malar exits from his life, Nivin Pauly as George overwhelms us with a hard-hitting, realistic performance of a boy-turned-man who loses his heart and soul to the woman he loves. Personally, I felt that Malar's exit felt forced and artificial in the script - it doesn't feel authentic.

Losing his love changes him forever in a way that heartbreaks do in human life.  

Then Celin comes into his life to "order a cake" on which he puts a question mark! In their first scene of meeting, I liked the dash of humour where his assistant keeps calling out "Velam, velam" reminding us of that funny, unforgettable scene in Manichitrathaazhu.

Slowly, over time, Celine's infectious smile and child like laughter becomes the unexpected change in George's life, especially when she reveals her identity.  

A scene where she asks him to help her choose an outfit in a store is also symbolic of the fact that it is an act of trust and somewhat a kind of liking when a girl invites you to select an outfit with her, even if it is for some one else.

There is another scene where he bakes a delicious looking red velvet cake that he offers her, watches her taste it and then  what happens next. I liked the touch of realism with which the scene has been played out.

It is then you feel that Nivin Pauly is a remarkable actor who can move you beyond words by just playing the character he represents. 


So, dear Nivin Pauly, take a bow! You, Nivin Pauly, deserve all the "Premam" that is coming your way from Malayalis.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

How to be the best at anything

We are all crazy busy these days. 

But guess what? It's not good for creativity or for the brain. [READ: How to Work, Love and Play like the Danes]

This is what scientists say:

1. Your brain can stay focused on anything, even an unpleasant task, if it knows it will last only 30 minutes. [TIP: Learn to stretch it to 90 mins?]

2. A positive mood heightens the chances for creative insight, as does taking out time to relax. [Do read: Five Easy Ways to Boost Your Confidence Every Day]

3. Scientists have found that people who take time to daydream score higher on tests of creativity. [These posts will be useful too: How to find peace within and How these Game Changers CHOSE to overcome their pain]


                                              [Image: Picjumbo]

Great Performers Work More Intensely, Take More Breaks

Florida State University psychologist Anders Ericcson's research studied young violinists at the prestigious Academy of Music in Berlin to study what it takes to be the best. These are his path-breaking findings:

1. It takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice at anything to become an expert.

2. The best violinists not only played more but they practiced more deliberately.

3.  They practiced when they were freshest and typically in no more than 90 minute increments for no more than 4 hours a day.

4.  The top violinists rested more.

So, what does it take to be the best?  It is not just about practice. 

It's about deliberate practice at 90 minute increments through the day and taking enough rest.

For me, personally, balancing my priorities within a limited time frame every day is a continual work in progress. I am learning to gradually improve every day.

What helps you to excel at what you do? Is it practice or something more?

[Research Inputs have been quoted from Brigid Schulte's book Work, Love and Play When No one has the Time.]

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Conversations with Colleagues: What's the best spiritual lesson you have learned from dealing with your anguish?

In my previous blog post, I shared a conversation that I had with a colleague who asked me a thought-provoking question: "Have you ever experienced anguish? How have you dealt with it?" And in case you missed reading it earlier, this was my response to it. Do read it here.


The second question she asked me was, "What's the best spiritual lesson you have learned from dealing with your anguish?" [Do read my post on Karma]

That got me in a bit of a fix. 

In my mind, I could picture all the terrific ups and terrible downs that I have been through - and I asked myself very intensely what I had learned from the toughest test that was put to me.
  
The answer doesn't feel very pretty to share....I can tell you that much.




This was my answer: The best lesson I have learned is this -  I am full of ego - attachment to the body consciousness. This needs a powerful spiritual hammer to destroy it completely. I always thought myself to be  a good, spiritual person. The more I meditate, the more I am able to step back inside myself and be a witness to my thoughts, words and actions. What I see is that my ego needs to be worked on and I have so much to improve upon within myself on a daily basis."

These are my "spiritual" conversations that I am sharing with you. It may not help you because you are likely to be far more spiritually evolved. But it would be great to know your thoughts and experiences too. 

So, I'd love to know your thoughts on this question: "What's the best spiritual lesson you have learned from dealing with your anguish?"

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Conversations with Colleagues: This Moment is Love

This morning, a colleague asked me an interesting question, "You always come across as a very composed person. In all this time, I have never seen you become angry or disturbed about anything. I have to ask you a personal question. Have you ever experienced anguish? How have you dealt with it?"





This is what I told her, "Our life is a series of experiences that can teach us a lot about ourselves and how we behave in an environment of constant uncertainties, often these are negative and not always in our control. I do my best to take every experience as a lesson to improve myself as a person and strengthen my faith in my God and Guru - Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. 

To answer your question, yes - I have my experienced deep anguish, not jus once or twice, but throughout the different phases of my life. What I have observed is that the more I evolve spiritually, the tougher and more painful the tests become. That stops me from completely losing my sense over the problems that come my way. 

When you realize that you are  not the Doer, you give your best effort to do what you know is logical and right. But you also give up very willingly the right to control the outcome - to believe you have control over the outcome is to belittle your own sense of loving awareness of God." [Do read: Being Strong is the new Beautiful]

Then my colleague asked me another personal question but I will share it in another post.

All I want to say is this: When we see every experience from a state of love, we bring loving awareness to it. We see a bigger, better and happier perspective. We become divine and true to what we were always meant to be.

When things get so tough that you can't bear the anguish tumbling out of you, remind yourself gently, "This too shall pass. This moment and experience is Love."

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Being strong is the new beautiful

When you go through heart-wrenching pain and you feel tempted to give up on life, remember this: God is your Light and being strong is the new beautiful.





Discover your Light. It's part of this Life.


Friday, June 12, 2015

What happens within you when you meditate

Long before sitting in meditation became something fashionable as it is today, meditation was a way of life for spiritual souls who longed to still the restless mind.

The Rishis sat in meditation for hundreds and thousands of years so that they could listen to the Word of God from within them. From the Word of God they heard, we received priceless gems of spiritual treasures in the form of Vedas, Upanishads, mantras.

It is said that even Lord Buddha had experimented with over ten thousand techniques in meditation! Okay, I must say that I don't have any "proof" but that's the buzz in the spiritual realm.

While many of us struggle with it, it helps to understand what happens inside us when we meditate. 

Whenever I meditate, my experience varies from day to day. There is just one exception though. I always see a lotus with baby pink petals blossom in my heart region and as I meditate, the petals turn a pale, beautiful gold. Following this, I see very clearly a smiling vision of my God and Guru - Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

What surprises me is that this repeats itself every day. I have not understood the "spiritual" significance of this experience but I feel the "sweetness" of it around my heart. And I wanted to share it here for those who  mediate. [Do read: Meditation: Signs of Progress & How to identify a Real Vision from a False One]
 
And here's a quote from a highly revered Siddha Yogi - Baba Muktananda - about what happens within you when you meditate. [Also do read: How Raja Yoga unites mind power with cosmic power]



How do you meditate? What challenges do you face in keeping the mind still and how do you tackle it as you continue meditating? Do share your thoughts & meditation experiences here...it will definitely inspire many others on the spiritual path.

Monday, June 8, 2015

How to Find the Peace Within You When Your Plans Go for a Toss


You think you have all that it takes to reach the most important milestones that you have set for yourself. You have planned everything, done the work that is needed to get you (in the logical scheme of things) to reach exactly where you want to be in life and yet, surprise!

Your plans go for a toss! 

You feel that every relationship you worked hard at has also flown out of the window before you could even say, "Hey, what's happening?" 

It happens all the time.



So, does it help to cry, scream, shout names and tear your hair out over it?

Not really.

But there's one thing that helps - stay calm, don't panic.

Nothing that has happened was ever in your control. There is always a greater force that tosses our carefully laid out plans into some wild, remote place.

Not your fault. Not your failure.

Tell yourself constantly, "I am at peace."

Say it a hundred times if you have to. Maybe more. 

The more you say this to your heart, the faster it works like magic!

Peace is what you get when peace is all that you can think of.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

After a gap of 25 years Nitish Bharadwaj makes a brilliant come back in a play ‘Chakravyuh’

Who can forget Lord Krishna as portrayed by Nitish Bharadwaj in the famous Mahabharata series that used to be shown on national television? 

And most people still say that he is an ideal choice as Krishna.

Nitish Bharadwaj also starred in a Malayalam movie called ‘Njaan Gandharvan’ which created ripples in the film industry right from the time its much acclaimed director Padmarajan announced it. I believe that the director could pull it off mostly because of one person’s amazing presence and acting – Nitish Bharadwaj.


And so, it happens that after a gap of 25 years Nitish Bharadwaj acted in a play titled ‘Chakravyuh’ written and directed by Atul Satya Kaushik. Of course, i was excited and thrilled to get an opportunity to watch him! Counted every minute to the play! 

And when I got there, it turned out that I was in the third row! Could see 'Lord Krishna' real close!!! Okay, stop, stop, I am getting goosebumps on my skin!

About the Play ‘Chakravyuh’

‘Chakravyuh’ is an attempt to present the glorious tragic fall of Abhhimanyu, the brave son of Arjuna and Subhadra and nephew of Lord Krishna. The hidden meanings of this episode in the Mahabharata is presented with thought-provoking dialogues between Lord Krishna and the others. 


 I thoroughly enjoyed the play. 

What amazed me is the effortless ease with which Nitish Bharadwaj becomes Lord Krishna even after so many years. There is magic in his eyes and in his smile. His expressions, from playful mischief to serenity to seriousness, lend depth to the character of Lord Krishna that he is playing. The play also marked the entry of his son, Lalit Bharadwaj (dressed in a pink and blue outfit as shown below, standing at his side). Many scenes played by Lalit Bharadwaj received the applause of the audience because of his acting and dialogue delivery.


Another striking character that deserves a special mentionis Duryodhan (featuring Rahul Bhuchar). In terms of screen presence, acting and dialogue delivery, he stands out too.

Music and Lights in the Play ‘Chakravyuh’

The play ‘Chakravyuh’ has impeccable lighting effects by Atul Satya Kaushik and beautiful music composed by Ravi Rao and Latika Jain.

Dialogues in the Play ‘Chakravyuh’
There are many thought provoking dialogues in this play.

In grief, Arjuna asks many questions to Lord Krishna, saying, “You are God, Guru, Father and Mother to my son. Yet you didn’t save him from death. How could you let my son die?”

Lord Krishna’s response is a heart-wrenching one. You have to watch this play to experience it.

Director of the Play ‘Chakravyuh’

Atul Satya Kaushik is an alumnus of Sri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC, Delhi) and is a qualified CA and holds a degree in law. Still to reach 30s, Atul Satya Kaushik has already written 10 full length theatre plays and produced and directed 12 theatre productions with over 150 shows in different parts of India. He is credited with pioneering modern commercial theatre in Delhi and running many ticketed plays  full houses in his theatre productions. He formed ‘The Films and Theatre Society’ in September 2009 and it is fast becoming one of the most performing theatre groups in Delhi.

After the Play ‘Chakravyuh

I was so super excited after watching the play ‘Chakravyuh’ that I couldn't help tweeting about it. The responses I got were "Most authentic enactment of Krishna" and "He doesn't even have to try, it comes naturally!" 

See, people LOVE watching Nitish Bharadwaj as Lord Krishna!
                                     

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