ANNIVERSARIES

Majrooh Sultanpuri 1-Oct l Don McLean 2-Oct l Stevie Ray Vaughan 3-Oct l Tommy Lee (Motley Crue) 3-Oct l Pamela Mukherjee 4-Oct l Shailendra Singh 4-Oct l R.K.Sreeramkumar 4-Oct. l Prameela Gurumurthy 5-Oct l Rattan Jain 5-Oct l Bob Geldof 5-Oct l T.N.Krishnan 6-Oct. l Palai C.K.Ramachandran 7-Oct l Usha Khanna 7-Oct l John Cougar Mellencamp 7-Oct l Toni Braxton 7-Oct l Leo Rod 9-Oct l John Entwistle (The Who) 9-Oct l Nedunuri Krishnamurthy 10-Oct l David Lee Roth (Van Halen) 10-Oct l Daryl Hall (Hall and Oates) 11-Oct l Milan Singh 12-Oct l Nida Fazli 12-Oct l Marie Osmond 13-Oct l Sammy Hagar 13-Oct l Cliff Richard 14-Oct l M.S.Shashank 14-Oct l Chris De Burgh 15-Oct l Dr. N.Ramani 15-Oct l Mudikondan C.Venkatarama Iyer 15-Oct l Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers) 16-Oct l Bob Weir (Grateful Dead) 16-Oct l Eminem 17-Oct l Ziggy Marley 17-Oct l Palladam Sanjeeva Rao 18-Oct l Kumar Sanu 20-Oct l Manfred Mann 21-Oct l Prayag Raj 22-Oct l Shaggy 22-Oct l Sapna Mukherji 23-Oct l Tirupanithura Radhakrishnan 24-Oct l Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones) 24-Oct l Madurai Mani Iyer 25-Oct l Navneet Nishan 25-Oct l Sharda 25-Oct l Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers) 25-Oct l Shabbir Kumar 26-Oct l Anuradha Paudwal 27-Oct l Simon Le Bon 27-Oct l Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac) 29-Oct l Abhijeet 30-Oct l Abu Malik 30-Oct l Grace Slick (Jefferson Airplane) 30-Oct l David Coverdale (Deep Purple/Whitesnake) 22-Sep l Emani Sankara Sastri 23-Sep l Bruce Springsteen 23-Sep l Imran Merchant 25-Sep l Papanasam Sivan 26-Sep l Olivia Newton-John 26-Sep l Pinky (Preety-Pinky) 27-Sep l Durai Swaminathan 28-Sep l Lata Mangeshkar 28-Sep l Mahesh 27-May l Jerry Lee Lewis 29-Sep

Dunkirk-The Movie

The soldier on the beach tells the captain: 'The tide is turning'. 
Captain: 'How can you tell?'
Soldier: ' Cos the dead bodies are floating back'
This dialogue sums up the chilling mood of the movie - 'Dunkirk'- A WW2 movie in May 1940 when about 400,000 British and French soldiers were stranded at the Dunkirk sea and were evacuated despite firing from the German planes. This movie becomes more relevant in recent times when mankind seems to have forgotten the world wars in the last century and several countries have started war-mongering games.
The actors really don't matter here. The characters do. There is a young British soldier who teams up with 2 more and tries to smartly maneuver and jump the queue for rescue. There is a fighter pilot flying the spitfires who along with his battalion is on a mission to bring down the enemy planes. A sailor, who along with his son and another friend, joins the civilian armada to rescue the stranded soldiers. And the naval admiral who is supervising the operations based on orders sent by Winston Churchill.
Christopher Nolan's (Dark Knight, Inception, Interstellar, Memento) first non-fantasy movie is his best so far. Along with Hans Zimmer who supports him well with music, he weaves a tale of sorrow, heroism, hope, glory, friendship, fatherhood, survival- all within a span of 2 hours. Camerawork from Hoyte takes you up close to the soldiers and the civilians to give you a personal account on how everything unfolded on that fateful day. 
For once, there is no romance behind the scenes; in fact there is not a single woman character!!! It is the hard core and blunt story telling that makes a mark and leaves you questioning life and war. You don't even need a VR to get immersed in the story.
Watch it in Imax and get transported back in time to one of the most controversial wars in history that affected the whole world. #dunkirk #WW2 #indieyogi

Lapachhapi (Hide-n-seek)

Another hidden gem is slowly picking up traction while all the big movies are being talked about. 
Trust the Marathi film industry to come out with a horror movie set in a rural background- 'Lapachhapi' (Hide-n-seek). Moreover, this movie brings to light a social issue still prevalent in rural India- female foeticide. The director Vishal Furia smartly interweaves the social issues through the character of a pregnant woman (Pooja Sawant as Neha). Neha and her husband Tushar (Vikram Gaikwad) have to leave their town, when she is 8 months pregnant, and move to an isolated sugarcane farmer's house in the midst of a farm. Their caretaker Tulsibai (Usha Naik) and her husband are very kind to them, but they are disturbed by strange incidents happening to them that pose a threat to their unborn child. The mystery unravels itself in a progressive manner bringing to the fore incidents of the past.
Usha Naik's acting is spotless. Pooja is good but is too active for a 8 months pregnant lady. The music is haunting and so is the repeated game of 'Lapachhapi' played intermittently. Cinematography is excellent and full marks for creating such a big effect on a small budget!
While most horror movies in India thrive on giving you cheap thrills with special effects, this one relies on the story and the treatment to keep you on the tenterhooks! Definitely a must watch. #indieyogi #lapachhapi

I luv Mom

While the buzz was about 'Mom', I thought it was a highly overrated movie. The plot was a predictable revenge saga, Sridevi was good in phases in her botoxed avtar while Nawaz is getting predictable with his cranky understated acting- however good it might be. Sajal Ali was the find of the movie with her brilliant portrayal of a rape victim.
 

The Zookeeper's Wife

"You look in to their eyes and you know exactly what is in their hearts"- exactly sums up the core of the movie, though these words are said by Antonina Zabinski (Jessica Chastain) about the animals. She is the Zookeeper Jan's (Johan Heldenberg) wife and is extremely fond of and an expert with animals. The opening sequence of animals running around her and when she brings back an ailing elephant calf to life leaves you weak in your knees especially if you are an animal lover.

However it is 1939 and this scene is shortlived as the Nazis soon invade Poland leaving the zoo at the mercy of the newly appointed zoologist Lutz (Daniel Bruhl). Contrary to Hitler's reputation of being a vegetarian and an animal lover, most of the regular animals are killed while a few of them are taken away by the zoologist to a safe location.

Thus begins the real life story where the Zabinski's save more than 300 Polish Jews by hiding them in their basement meant for breeding pigs. The lead actors, especially Jessica, are excellent in their restrained yet powerful portrayal of the characters. She balances the fine line between her devotion to the hiding Jewish while subtly thwarting the romantic overtures made by Lutz.

The narrative is striking, more as a real life story than as a movie. Some of the ghetto scenes are predictable and so is the ending. If you have been to the Auschwitz ghetto that is still preserved in Poland, it will make you wonder about the cruelty of human race.

But a good watch this weekend for its cute animals and Jessica... Noor not even being a very distant alternative!

American Playboy

For the Gen X (Born '61-'81) Hugh Hefner was 'God' and a Playboy magazine was like 'holy scriptures' as there was no internet in the teenage/ adolescent days. Whether it was secretly reading it behind close doors or ogling at the centerspreads after classroom, this iconic brand has 'touched' the lives of most men across the world. Hefner is enviously remembered as the guy who 'had it all'. But media perceptions can be misleading as is revealed in his biopic on Amazon Prime- 'American Playboy'.
The first 4-5 episodes detail the launch and progress of he Playboy magazine. When Hefner is working for Esquire, a magazine that he appreciates the most, he is refused a $5 raise that leads to his quitting his job. The seed of Playboy is born there and becomes a revolution under the astute business acumen and team building knack of Hefner. There is an interesting parallel story depicting the progress of American History. Also the background music is carefully chosen to represent the era and each situation. Archival footage and interviews with people associated with Playboy is juxtaposed with the docu-drama, making this narrative interesting. However, the acting is not up to the mark and the dialogues sound too scripted. Character building is sacrificed in a hurry to rush in to the story.
We get a peek at the other side of Hefner- born to conservative protestants and raised without physical affection. His transformation to an actual 'playboy' who lives the brand is amazing yet believable. The launch and the progress of the magazine itself could be a case study in Marketing and a better textbook than the best of Philip Kotler's books. 'Hef' has a clear description of his Target Audience and knows their habits and aspirations well (market research). He waits for Marilyn Monroe's nude pic to launch it (PR) and the mag is well packaged with intellectual articles along with the nudes (product design). He hires the perfect team (people) and gets a logo that is a good fit (bunny). He staunchly supports the end of racism (CSR) and even gets Black Americans to work for him. When he needs to boost revenues he goes for ad sales and invents the 'centerfold' (innovation). Gets the Playboy Mansion (experiential marketing) and then the Playboy Clubs (Direct Marketing and Merchandising) with Bunnies to serve the 'gentlemen'. Particularly interesting is the way he defied odds and shaped American culture to a large extent.
In all this, he works too hard at the cost of his personal life and does the mistake of mixing business with pleasure many a time which catches up with him later.The second half of the series deals with the various hurdles that he faced that includes the cops coming to arrest him and the untimely death of one of his colleagues. It is also interesting to see the various brands launched during his time and the change in American society and their mind-sets.
The Netflix- Amazon war has just begun in India. While Netflix launched last year and got some kickass content like Narcos, OITNB, Spartacus and recently 'The Crown, Amazon Prime has fired its first salvo with AP. One wonders why Hefner never got as much credit for being a corporate honcho as much as his other counterparts like Branson, Jobs, Welch, Morita etc. got. Now that Hef biopic is done, one hopes to see ' How I lost my Virginity' on screen. Is Netflix listening?

Life

Earlier this year Stephen Hawking had cautioned against exploring alien life in the universe. 'Life' is a story of an international space station jointly funded by - USA, Russia and China. 
It is interesting to note the choice of the countries. One wonders if they foresaw the increasing closeness to Russia. China of course is always good from distribution perspective. I would think India would be added too when they have a sequel, which seems pretty likely with the unlikely ending that this movie has.
This movie is Aliens+Gravity and can be summed up in a statement that one of the characters Hugh (Ariyon Bakare) says: Civilization begins with Destruction. When the 6 member crew including David (Jake Gyllenhaal), Rory (Ryan Reynolds) and Miranda (Rebecca Fergusson) find a hibernating life on Mars, they bring it to life only to see it creating havoc and going on a killing spree.
While the story is as jaded as any Bollywood love story, the 'horror- like' direction and the camera movement combined with some good acting and VFX keeps you on the edge in this space thriller. Written by 'Deadpool' writers - Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick- there is barely any humor and thankfully no background stories or romance of any characters. There is a little bit of melodrama and some cliched scenes, but quickly forgotten as you chase the alien 'Calvin' through the space.
Nothing extraordinary.. just a breezy watch on a weekend evening.

Mona Darling

'Mona Darling' is a great example of how a good plot can go awry if you don't have a proper script in place and actors are non actors.The whole movie is shot in darkness and adds to the nonsensical plot.

Interviews

Venues

Hard Rock Cafe1

Located in a former mill, the Mumbai outpost of the US chain of resto-bars has a mixed reputation among the city's musicians. In the first couple of years after opening, in 2006, indie rock acts were often asked to include a stipulated number of cover songs in their set lists. These days, Hard Rock Café, which hosts gigs every Tuesday and Thursday night, sticks mostly to cover bands, with a couple of dates a month spared for indie groups. Skip these gigs, and come here only for the ticketed events, when one of the seating areas is cleared to make room for a larger stage, for performances by Indian indie icons (folk-fusion veterans Indian Ocean, electro-rock superstars Pentagram), international chart toppers (Wyclef Jean, Jay Sean) or club-packing DJs (Bob Sinclair, Paul van Dyk). Be warned, though: the waiters break into a synchronised jig every time the Village People's "YMCA" comes on.


Bombay Dyeing Mill Compound, Pandurang Budhkar Marg, Worli, + 91 22 2438 2888, Hardrockindiablog.com. Open daily noon-1.30am. Performance times and entrance fees vary