Monday, May 16, 2011

RomComOrgy – Part II

In continuation of the last RomComOrgy post, here’s the next set of my favourite romcoms:

  1. Everafter: A Cinderella Story: I love fairy tales – the magic, the romance and the happy ever-afters. While Cinderella is not my absolute favourite, this retelling of a children’s bed-time story, starring Drew Barrymore is spunky, funny and of course, romantic. Barrymore is Danielle, our poor, mistreated step-daughter of a wicked step-mother – Anjelica Houston. But, our heroine refuses to mope in despair. She can fend off lascivious villains and save the prince (Dougray Scott) from bandits with equal √©lan. There is the expected ball, with the midnight deadline. And there’s a fairy god-mother too in the form of an inimitable Leonardo Da Vinci. Delightful.
  2.  My Best Friend’s Wedding: What do you do if your best friend is getting married? And you just realized that you are in love with him? You can either choose to be a martyr or set out to wreck his wedding plans. Julia Roberts chooses the latter. Roberts plays Julianne, who has a fling with her best friend – Dermot Mulroney as Michael. They break up soon after and continue to be best friends, their lives uncomplicated by any deeper feelings. Until the time Michael decides to get married to the lovely, classy Kimberley Wallace (Cameron Diaz). What ensues is a hilarious series of attempts by Roberts to drive a wedge between the to-be-married lovers. The first-time watchers of the movie are kept wondering till the end who wins this war of love. For me the highlight of the film is the wonderful cast rendition of I Say a Little Prayer for You at the rehearsal dinner.
  3. When Harry Met Sally: I am extremely finicky about my perception of whether an actor fits a character. And in my mind Billy Crystal and a romantic hero do not quite align themselves. Yet, When Harry Met Sally features on my list because I feel there must be something very special about characters who keep meeting and parting for a long, long time before realizing that they are soul-mates. That is what happens to Harry and Sally. They meet first as college students and instantly dislike each other. They keep bumping into each other over the years – on a flight, in a bookstore before finally striking a tentative friendship, which deepens with time. They even decide to help each other find the right partners and set the other up with respective best friends. But the law of romcoms prevails and the inevitable happens – Harry and Sally fall in love. Meg Ryan as Sally is adorable and very cute. I also love the Hindi adaptation of the movie – Rani Mukherjee and Saif Ali Khan starrer Hum Tum.
  4. Bend It Like Beckham: Gurinder Chaddha’s second directorial venture revolves around Indian diaspora in London. Jasminder Bhamra a.k.a. Jess – born to Sikh parents in the London – loves football and dreams of being a footballer as famous as Beckham. But her mother, Mrs. Bhamra (almost an Indian rendition of the infamous Mrs. Bennet of English Literature) is adamant that decent Indian girls do not run around in knickers, playing football with boys. They should learn how to cook alu-gobhi and be a proper wife. Jess with the help of her friend Jules (Keira Knightley in one of her earliest big-screen roles) joins a girls’ football team coached by a dishy coach. Needless to say, she succeeds in taking meaningful steps towards realizing her dream and winning the heart of the handsome coach too.
  5.  Runaway Bride: This movie proves that the chemistry between Gere and Roberts seen in Pretty Woman was no fluke. Roberts plays Maggie, who falls frequently in love, gets engaged, buys the perfect white dress and even starts to walk down the aisle before bolting from the wedding. Gere plays a reporter who wants to do a story on this runaway bride, in a last ditch attempt to save his job, just as she is about to get married, yet again. They meet – he offends her and she manages to intrigue him. Eventually they fall in love but she jilts him at the altar too. Yet, all’s well that ends well and the lovers finally get hitched under the open skies in a beautiful meadow.
  6. What Happens in Vegas: This Ashton Kutcher-Cameron Diaz starrer is all set to be remade into Hindi, with Imran Khan and Kareena Kapoor as the lead pair. I am not too sure how good the remake would be but the original was fun. Diaz is a workaholic, hot-shot career woman who goes to Vegas to unwind with a friend. The friends run into Kutcher and his friend, when all four of the end up in the same suite, due to a clerical mistake. One thing leads to another and our hero and heroine get married in drunken stupor and end up in bed together – all of it on the very first night. To top it all, they also manage to hit the jackpot as they quarrel with each other in the casino about whose fault the entire fiasco is. The rest of the movie is about their attempts to outdo each other, as each tries to claim the prize money all alone, even as they are ordered by a court judge to make their marriage work and stay together for at least six months. Diaz and Kutcher try all sorts of shenanigans to discredit the other before falling totally and irrevocably in love. Watch it for the antics of Kutcher and the fun equation between the lead cast.

I am still missing some that I watch at every given chance but if I were to list them all, the post would never end :-)
I would love to hear from you about your favourites – do let me know. Ciao.
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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Back Again

So, I am back. From the beautiful mountains, lush valleys, green plains, some moments of blissful solitude and loads of screaming family fun. And I am missing it all already.

And why not? It all started with a big family function at Agra. And my entire family was there! Now that takes some doing if you have a family as large as mine. Assorted cousins, uncles, aunts in all shapes and sizes – from Delhi to Mumbai to Chennai. There were day long addas, leg-pulling and an entire night of dancing.

The big family reunion ended with a party for my parents on their anniversary. They have spent more than three decades together. Gosh. My sister and I had wanted a party at the hotel but we realized that booking a restaurant at such short notice for such a large group would have been a task. So, my aunts pitched in and cooked an awesome dinner. Everyone gathered at my oldest uncle’s home and had a blast. The highlight of the evening: a complete family picture, that the kids engineered. Well, almost.

We set off next morning for Jim Corbett National Park. We hired a car and went by road. It was hot as long as we were in the plains but as we started climbing up and the twilight approached, my spirits soared. The lovely greenery flanking both sides of the road, the gathering dusk and day-dreams. I could not have asked for more. The resort – Wood Castle – an uncle of mine had booked for us was lovely and next morning when we embarked on the safari, it was raining softly. It was quiet and serene. We did not spot any tigers but there were other compensations. The single bright blue kingfisher sitting still as a statue on a tree branch, the river crossing in an open jeep (a first for me) and the playful deer herds, including quite a few Bambi lookalikes.

Next on the agenda were the glorious mountains. The destinations were as much of an allure as the winding roads, looping around majestic heights. The clouds hovering just above our heads and occasionally lowering themselves enough so that we could touch them. The deep, still and rippling Naini lake like a silken sheet of turquoise, the crimson glory of a mountain sunset.

One of my favourite moments was when we walked around Mukhteshwar. It is 7500 feet high and there is just a wooden trail which you can take to walk around. Halfway through the walk, you come to a cliff, topped by huge stones who seem to have been there since time immemorial. There is a sheer drop beyond and you can see the valley spread out in front of you and the white mists hiding the peaks of the Himalayas from curious gawkers. When we stood there, an eagle flew above us, so close that I almost ducked my head to avoid being swooped off. Amazing.

Majnu of the Hills
Our final stop before returning to the hustle and bustle of the city was Ranikhet. We arrived after eight in the evening and the town was already enshrouded in darkness. Being an army cantonment, it shuts down early. It was raining and very cold when we entered the town. We found the right hotel on the outskirts of the town – West End View. Though it was night and wet, the charming cottages and the distinctly British Raj decor (a parlour, a dressing room and fire place to the boot along with the staple bedroom, wallpapered with pretty floral patterns) made sure that we could not go anywhere else. And when the morning dawned, the beauty of the surrounding landscape, the rolling forests, the cool breeze and the warm sun made us doubly glad of our decision to stay here.

We spent the day walking around the town, savouring the sights, discovering nature and some quirky facts. In the Chaubatti garden, the guide told us that the Weeping Willow in the local parlance is called Majnu (the subcontinent equivalent of the doomed lover). Reason: the drooping leaves and branches resemble the tatters and rags that Majnu wore when he roamed the streets looking for his beloved Laila and when it rains, the water running down the tree looks like his tears. Imaginative, ain’t it?

The evening was spent at the Army Golf Course. Acres of rolling, flat green. A couple of families enjoying open air and sunshine. But what I liked most was the wooden bench at the edge of the hill overlooking the wooded valley and the sun setting in the west. It was a sublime moment. I could have sat there forever, waiting for the night to arrive and the morning to kiss me awake. You know how most of us have moments and time we want to return to at least once. This was mine. An enchantment cast for life.

We returned to Delhi next day and from thereon back home. But I left a little of me behind on those roads, the fragrant wind, the fairy mists and the grandfatherly mountains. Maybe they whispered about me once I had left. I wonder what they thought.

And I carried a lot of them home with me. Most precious among all the gifts I brought back was the peace that I needed. I made some wishes too when I roamed those hills. I hope when I lose myself in the chaos of my daily life, they remember me and say an “Amen” for my wishes.
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