Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Cover of "One Fine Day"Cover of One Fine Day

Just the other day, I was telling my friend how I would love to watch a good rom-com (short for romantic comedy) and how they are so hard to come by these days. The concept practically does not exist in Bollywood and Hollywood keeps churning out these really indistinguishable movies in the name of the genre that inevitably star the same uninteresting and deadpan faces like Katherine Heigl and Amy Adams.

So, while I wait for a really interesting rom-com to release in my city, here’s a list of my all time favourites:      

  1. One Fine Day: This one’s got George Clooney. Need I say more? But seriously, this movie is funny and sweet. The story of two single parents – Michelle Pfeiffer and Clooney – who are unexpectedly thrown together with their kids on – you got it – one fine day. They are opposites, like in most romances – she is ultra-organized and efficient and he is a reporter who just might lose his job and reputation soon. They end up taking care of each other’s kids along with their own for different parts of the same day. She manages to lose his daughter and he lets her son push a marble up his nose. But all’s well that ends well, right? So, it does. Oh, I must mention the last sequence, where Michelle changes what seem like a dozen outfits so that she can look good for Clooney who has shown up at her door with his daughter and the intention to romance her. She finally gets the desired effect and walks out to her living room only to find the tired father fast asleep on the couch. She sits on the couch, rests her head on his shoulder and goes to sleep herself. Ain’t that sweet? Perfect with so many beautiful possibilities left unsaid.
  2. While You Were Sleeping: Sandra Bullock is the lonely, single girl in the big city, who works the ticket counter at the subway station and spends her free time with her cat. And oh, she day-dreams about the tall, dark and handsome stranger in business suits, until the day she saves him from being crushed by a train. Start of a beautiful love story, right? Not quite. What follows is a quirky tale of the fairytales we think we want and the fairytales we actually meet. Lucy finds love alright but not quite where she expected it to. One of my most watched movies. Plus, it has Bill Pullman looking quite cute.
  3.  Never Been Kissed: This Drew Barrymore starrer is fun, frothy and fresh. It’s the story of a journalist who at the ripe age of 25 has never been kissed. A number of reasons for that – the most glaring been that her erstwhile frumpy, geeky high-school self was rebuffed and ridiculed on the prom night by the hottest guy in school. Enough to leave anyone scarred, some would say. But in romcoms, poetic justice is never hard to come by. She goes undercover as a student in a hep high-school, and this time around is a star. She dates the hottest guy in school, is considered an insider in the cool circles, becomes the prom queen and manages to fall in love with the handsome English teacher, who ultimately gives her, her first kiss in on a baseball pitch, cheered on by thousands of spectators. When I watch this movie, I do not think how improbable all of this is. I only fall for the really high cuteness factor of the movie, Barrymore and the English teacher. By the way, did I mention that there is a most romantic Ferris wheel ride sequence? Sigh.
  4.  Pretty Woman: He is a heartless tycoon. She is a hooker. And when the twain meet, there are fireworks. Julia Roberts’ first movie has her playing the role of a prostitute, who wants to better herself and never kisses a client on the mouth. Only she did not factor in the charm of suave and dashing Gere, who picks her up for a night and then offers her a deal to stay with him for a week. So that she can play his hostess (among other things, no saint the man is) in the city, where he has come to execute a hostile takeover. What follow are a magical seven days, where she transforms from an uncouth, loud and decidedly vulgarly dressed call girl to a “pretty woman”. She brings out the humane part in him, teaches him that sometimes emotions make perfect business sense. Of course, there is a happy ever after, once they both realize that they have more than a business deal between them. Plus, the movie has some good music, including the title track and Roxette’s It must have been love.
  5.   Aladdin: Yes, I know that it is an animation movie. But it’s funny and it’s romantic. A Whole New World is one of the most incredible love songs ever. Who would not want to be serenaded with this song while on a magic carpet ride? Aladdin is the street rat and Jasmine, the beautiful princess. He lies to her in order to win her love. She is hurt by his deception. How can they ever find happiness together? But that is the beauty of fairy tales. You find love in most unimaginable places and with the most unexpected person.  My favourite Disney movie.
  6. Notting Hill: All the cinegoers in the world have a favourite star - the one they dream about meeting and enjoying a happy ever after with. So does a small travel book store owner in London, played by the charmingly goofy, bumbling and reticent Hugh Grant. One day the most famous movie star in the world steps inside his book store to escape unwanted attention. What follows is an unlikely and lovely love story between a famous movie actress and a common man. The movie is made unforgettable by not just the lead characters but the extended cast of friends and family, their camaraderie, witty banter and obvious love for each other. This gang includes a disabled best friend of our hero, her husband, the hero's quirky sister and her even weirder lover, who also happens to be Grant's roommate. The climax sequence is delightful, involving a mad car ride and a press conference unlike any other. Add Ronan Keating crooning When You Say Nothing at All. The result: a movie that successfully withstands endless repeats on movie channels without losing its appeal. 
Aren’t these lovely? I feel so good whenever I watch them. They are a perfect escape. At least for people like myself. 

Apart from these, there are others  that I will keep for another time. Until then, ciao.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Ask not for whom the bells toll
          They toll for thee.
But they a wedding song sing
          Or so it seems to me.

Or, mayhap in childbirth rejoice
          The proud family.
Perhaps, they first golden leaf welcome,
In bosom of the Autumn lady.

Or, could they be the litany of snow?
          Falling into silence, musically.
Hark! Are their notes sober and sombre?
          Mourning the surrender deathly.

Or do they call Youth to war
          To kill strangers unnamed blindly.
But I hear my favourite alone
          An innocent love lullaby,
A new morn, a new life, a hope new herald
          Chiming laughter and a butterfly.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cup of Joy

“1983 was yours”, I told my Dad, as frenzied celebrations erupted all around – on the television screens, in the streets and in the tears that flowed down the cheeks of the Men in Blue. “This is our World Cup.”

And I was not exaggerating. Most of my generation in India were told tales of the historic day in 1983 when Kapil Dev lifted the cricket World Cup. The intensity of these fond remembrances increased once every four years when India participated in yet another World Cup, raised a billion hopes and then faltered.

But no more. The Men in Blue have ensured that the World Cup which came to India to be given to the Champions stayed home. India won and how!!! Though someone had to be a Man of the Match in every battle, it was truly a heroic team effort. It would perhaps have been equally fitting if the Indian team shared these individual awards – there would have been no greater example of how 11 men became one.

It was a brilliant night preceded by one of the more harrowing of evenings for me personally. India started off beautifully and then gave runs generously towards the end of the Lankan innings. And then came the start of the Indian innings. When Sehwag got out, I was still okay and then Sachin got dismissed too. I closeted myself in my room with a book, with music turned on full volume and refused to pay attention to the match, until I was completely sure that we were champs. I do that. I just cannot bear the sight of us losing or playing badly. Call it a lack of sportsmanship. I don’t care. The tension is way too much for me.

I came out just in time to see the last over commence, thanks to the shouts of joy that emanated from the neighbouring buildings and my own brother. And then Dhoni hit that brilliant six to bring home the cup. It was sweet poetic justice. On our way, we beat Australia, knocking them out of the tournament and avenging the humiliating 2003 Final loss. We defeated the arch-rivals Pakistan in style and finally conquered Sri Lanka and laid to rest the ghost of 1996 semi-final in Eden Gardens.

The celebrations began then. And I could just watch in wonder as one by one all these grown men of Indian team lost composure. I will never forget the sight of Sachin Tendulkar being carried around the grounds on the shoulders of his team mates. He was the reason why I began watching cricket and he is one of the reasons why I still watch it. I have never watched a World Cup, in which he has not played. And this was probably his last. It brought a twinge to my joy but what the hell, I thought. His crown is now complete. The dream of the man came true yesterday and the legend had another conquest. Fittingly, one of the youngest members of the team, 22 year old Virat Kohli, paid perhaps the greatest compliment to Sachin when he said, ”This man (Sachin) has carried the burden of this country for 21 years. We can at least carry him.”

World Champs!!!
(Picture Source: NDTV. com)
It was a team which won, however. And not one person. The captain who could not contribute with the bat earlier in the tournament came alive in the final. A warrior who had valiantly fought almost by himself for the better part of two decades, finally had an army to back him. A man whose very selection had led to countless heated debates silenced all the naysayers. The young turks who have so often been berated for the lack of responsibility proved that they are more than capable of carrying the mantle when the legends retire. If that is not the stuff dreams and fairytales are made of, I do not know what is.

Former Indian Test Captain Anil Kumble with World Cup
(Picture source: NDTV.com) 
I read in the newspaper that when Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni arrived at the post match press conference, Yuvi jumped on the table and shouted out Badhaiyaan, Badhaiyaan (Congratulation, Congratulations). The inscrutable and imperturbable captain of the Indian team could not help but giggle in delight during the question and answer session. Then, there was this photograph of Anil Kumble being handed over the trophy by Sachin Tendulkar when he went to congratulate his former teammates. That shows how this team has not forgotten those who are no longer part of the team but had a great role to play in bringing the team where it is today.

These are heart-warming pictures of joy that I will always remember. So yes, Dad, this is our World Cup.