Soundtracks For Life

My tryst with western(mostly english) movie world was facilitated by my brother. Till then all I used to watch were those odd Indian(mostly malayalam) movies which became big hits.

So when I got to watch films like ‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘Lord Of The Rings’, I was taken aback by the stunning visuals and the eargasmic background scores. They were nothing like what I heard in all those Indian movies that I had watched, and have watched ever since.  I was instantly drawn to that and eventually got sucked into the west.

Now I watch more English(and other western languages) movies a year than in my mother tongue(malayalam). The music and the visuals of western movies still amaze me just like it did when I began watching it almost 10 years ago(not a really long time, still). I have cultured a habit of collecting those soundtracks that are so beautiful and haunting that I play them several times during a day in my mind for inspiration or peace. There is nothing like magical music that can move you into a world of your own instantly. So here are some of the most amazing  soundtracks that I’ve heard.

A Window To The Past – Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban (2004)

As of now, my personal favourite. The genius of John Williams knows no bounds . All the magical emotions and wonder of JK Rowling’s creation packed into something which will haunt me forever.

Drawing – Cashback (2006)

One of the most beautiful (highly underrated) movies that I’ve seen. The background score by Guy Farley took it to another level. A piece music which is sad theme yet something which reminds you how beautiful the life is.

Rohirrim Charge – Lord Of the Rings(LOTR):The Return Of The King(2003)

No matter how many times I watch this scene, it sent chills down my spine. The sheer epicness of this scene alone is far greater than that of many so called ‘epic’ movies. Howard Shore’s musical craft for the LOTR series  (more than 10 hours) will remain, forever, as one of the great compositions of our time.

Das Leben Der Anderen(2006-German) main theme

Easily the best non-english movie I’ve seen. A poignant drama about human connections and freedom. The soundtrack by Gabriel Yared and Stéphane Moucha portrays the beauty and sorrow of the tale perfectly.

J’y suis jamais allé – Amélie(2001-French)

Amélie is all about ‘happiness’. If you can’t find happiness after watching this movie, then you won’t find it anywhere else. It’s so full of life and joy. The musical ecstasy by Yann Tiersen tells you all about the wonderful Amélie Poulain.

Lost But Won – Rush(2013)

Rush is all about inspiration. The incredibly talented Hans Zimmer gives exactly that all through the movie. His background score is as inspiring as the story itself.

Claudia’s Theme – Unforgiven(1992)

Unforgiven deals with life and more importantly, taking of life(murder). Even though the theme is gruesome, it has a inherent beauty. ‘Claudia’s Theme’ by Lennie Neihaus is up there with some of the most beautiful things I’ve heard in my life.

Haider: Movie Review

haider Haider, the movie adaptation of the Shakespearean tragedy ‘Hamlet’, is a cold, brutal yet poetic drama of revenge set aptly in the frigidly beautiful Kashmir valley. It is a tale of disturbing internal conflicts and complicated relationships with a compelling plot of vengeance.

It is the tale of Haider (Shahid Kapoor) who is returning from college to his homeland owing to his father`s disappearance after the Army arrests him for sheltering militants. Haider, on his return, learns of the affair going on between his mother (Tabu) and his quirky, treacherous Uncle (Kay Kay Menon) and soon after, learns about his father`s murder facilitated by his Uncle. He, thus, sets out to kill his uncle.The narration is extremely compelling for a movie of such serious nature. The tragic story is a vivid poetry that magnificently describes different shades of love, vengeance and sheer madness of human beings using visuals, words and silence. Even the background score and songs change moods along with the tale.

This powerful and deep story has equally impressive characters and required powerful performances. That is exactly what you get from the cast. Shahid Kapoor delivers one of the best acting performances in recent times  and, I believe, has a firm grip on the National Award.He lives his character onscreen as a disturbingly tragic young man who swings between tender, lovable boy and a complete revenge-driven maniac. Tabu, as the arcane lady who is caught between the love for his son and adoration for her partner, has put in a fabulous performance which will remain with you long after you leave the cinema hall. Finally, Kay Kay Menon as an amusing but detestably villainous uncle of Haider is absolutely brilliant and would’ve been a show stealer if not for Shahid Kapoor. Shraddha Kapoor as Haider’s lady-love, even though gets shadowed by the three mentioned above has done a good job. Irffan Khan does an interesting cameo which seemed like a walk-in-a-park for him. Rest of the cast including the witty Salman brothers played their parts really well.

Vishal Bharadwaj will win all the accolades. He has scripted(along with Basharat Peer) and directed a wonderful tribute to the legendary artist. This is arguably one of the best, if not the best onscreen adaptation of a Shakespearean tragedy. Pankaj Varma of the Ship of Theseus fame cranks the camera for Haider and does a great job. The movie, despite its dark melancholic nature is not at all dull and so Aarif Sheik with the cuts deserves some praise. Vishal Bharadwaj’s background score and songs are terrific especially the title track “Aao Na”, which sets a haunting mood to the climax, is a brilliant one. ‘Haider’ is a movie which uses the songs incredibly well. Each song depicts each emotional state of mind of Haider. Watch out for Vishal’s own rendition ‘Jhelum’, a melancholic beauty.

If you are looking for an over-the top action flick with slap-stick wits, this is not your movie. This is a movie showcases the plight of folks who live in one of the most militarized zones in the world, a tale of ruthless vendetta. I would be terribly disappointed if Shahid Kapoor and Tabu do not win a lot of awards.

Interstellar: Movie Review


What happens when Christopher Nolan meets an extremely-difficult-to-understand-yet-fascinating concept?

The usual thing to happen is a great cinematic experience which will assure goosebumps, and Interstellar does give you several of those instances, but towards the end Nolan’s incredible imagination runs a wee bit wild.

Interstellar is a science fiction thriller and an emotional roller coaster which will keep you on the edge of your seats all the way through. But being a physics graduate, there are certain things that I can`t ignore. It’s just that, there are several moments where Nolan has tried bending Physics so much that it creates a few scientific flaws. Dealing with such delicate and complex subjects like inter-galactic journeys and worm hole can be unimaginable for several filmmakers, even scientists. Nolan has managed to fabulously pull this off with the help of theoretical physicist Kip Thorne.

Interstellar is the story of four astronauts going in search of a habitable planet, since Earth is on the brink of an ecological collapse with severe food scarcity resulting from regular crop failures. NASA is working in secret, since public should not find out the huge funding, to use the Gravitational anomaly near Saturn; a miraculously formed wormhole about 49 years ago, to reach another galaxy and find habitable planets. The team along with two robots in the space craft Endurance piloted by an ex-NASA pilot and engineer, sets out on a brave and magnificent expedition.

The problem with Interstellar is that Nolan`s imagination creeps into science, like a planet existing extremely close to a black hole or a wormhole coming into existence out of nowhere; both of which are questionable. Well, I guess this is what the fiction part of “science-fiction” constitutes. There are a few other qualms, regarding traversing a black-hole and sending messages from future to past. The narration is a bit slow compared to other Nolan movies and a little short of those marvelous one-liners and memorable dialogues which is a trademark of his epic movies. These won’t matter once you are into the Nolan trance.
Nolan brings out the best in actors and as usual, we have magnificent performances. Matthew McConaughey as Cooper gives a memorable act and moves your mind. Anne Hathaway is good as Dr. Amelia Brand. Jessica Chastain, as Cooper’s grown up daughter Murphy, delivers a brilliant performance. Michael Caine, a constant for Nolan Movies, is great as usual. All the others including Matt Damon, David Gyasi, Casey Affleck and Mackenzie Foy have delivered wonderfully.
Coming to the technical side, ‘compromise’ is not a word in Nolan`s repertoire even if he is dealing with things which humans find difficult to imagine. The movie has such impressive graphics that it has led to a research paper on computer graphics by Kip Thorne. Some of the greatest effects, real and & computer generated, in the history of filmmaking keeps you in awe right till the end. Brilliant brothers, Christopher and Jonathan Nolan has combined to script a blistering space epic, despite the fact that there are some big question marks over the logical possibility of certain events in the tale. Cinematography by Hoyte van Hoyetema and music by Hans Zimmer are out of this world. They engross you with the intense emotions of love, awe and despair.
Quoting from Nolan’s movie “Prestige”, “The secret impresses no one. The trick you use it for is everything.”

Interstellar is a fascinating cosmic feast which is as close to an actual interstellar travel that anyone has reached. Christopher Nolan emphatically manages to keep the viewers in awe of science. At same time, never lets them them worry about the theory. It’s like a magic trick. Audience loves magic even though they don`t know what is behind it. Interstellar is a piece of magic, you may not understand the secrets behind it, yet you will drown in awe.

Man’s reach exceeds his imagination!!!

In the movie Prestige(novel by Christopher Priest), magician Robert Angier, after traversing over a 100 yards in a second, proclaims to the awe struck audience:

“Man’s reach exceeds his imagination”

Movies transport you to different worlds and times while your are into it. You get to see totally cool things, the speck of someones outrageous imagination. It is a world of dreams and nightmares. But what you see is just a beautiful facade. Once the movie ends, you will be brought back down to reality. Continue reading

The window

It is happening outside and I am resting on my armchair, scribbling in my green notebook. There is a soft cold light in the living room from the four sets of open windows. As a photographer, I love window lighting. It is one of the most attractive kinds of lighting, especially for portraits and still life. So during daytime, when I am home, I switch off all the other lights and keep the windows open and curtains drawn apart

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Munnnariyippu(caution) : film review

Numbness; that was what I felt after watching Munnariyippu. It was not my body but my brain that got numb. I could see or feel myself smiling and shaking, in awe, at the end of that movie. It was such a unique feeling which I have felt only on rare occasions. I would call it “pure awesomeness”. I felt that way for almost an hour or so. I couldn`t remember anything from my bus journey from city to home. I even struggled to pay for the bus ticket; I couldn`t pull together my senses and find the purse in my back pocket. I was hooked to the climax.

I think I am overreacting here, may be because I was so into that movie. But, I don`t care. I got to watch a Malayalam movie so special that I feel like placing it place it beside those cult classics like usual suspects or fight club or seven. If I describe exactly what I felt, I would be spoiling the climax for those folks who have not yet seen the movie.

 I felt that there were a few unanswered questions at the end or may be, the filmmaker hopes the audience to assume or use their imagination, I don`t know. But the thing is, after watching it you won`t really care about the unanswered questions, at least for a while. All credit to Venu for a brilliant movie    (or, story and climax) and cinematography (nothing fancy, kept it very simple). I am not a screenplay expert, but I think R. Unni has done a good job. On the whole, the movie is very real and entertaining in my opinion. Likewise, performances of the actors & actresses were also highly convincing. Bijibal has done a great job with the background score.

Mammotty is back with a bang. His subtle expressions were tremendous and so engaging, at times. Last but not the least, Aparna Gopinath was simply amazing. Given her inexperience at this level, I would say she narrowly trumped Mammotty in performance. I look forward to see wonderful performances from her in future.

Roger Federer

Every time Federer loses a match, I am usually heart broken. But this time around, I did not feel so sad. I felt some sort of bliss, watching that great man smile, even though he lost a tough match. Going into this tournament people rejected him saying he was just too old for this sort of affair and many predicted that he won`t even reach the Semis. Roger Federer, the 32 year OLD MAN, blitzed every one of his young opponents and reached the final with considerable ease. There he lost. But he gave a match that Djokovic(he is a beast!!!) and all the people across the world who watched it, won`t forget for a really long time.

I am lucky to have witnessed one of the greatest matches of all time and happy to see the artist who once ruled the tennis world(except French open finals), presently dethroned by youth, continue playing the game and giving the young brigades a run for their money, just because he loves the game. Its one of the toughest and bravest things a person can do.i.e. falling down from the mountain of success and still enjoying himself and the game. He had been an inspiring figure for me since I first started to watch tennis and hopefully will continue to be like that for a long time.

At the end of that grueling game which he lost, he said with a charming, calm, blissful smile, ” I`ll be back next year “. Critics and naysayers, now you guys know why he is the greatest tennis player and one of the greatest sporting icons of all time, and why he should be left alone to do what he loves doing.