Sunday, 20 May 2007
Guru; a visionary who leaves behind his simple beginings, to create the biggest polyester business in the country. Armed with his grit and determination, and guided by his dreams, this ambitious man leaves his village with two shirts, his wife, and his brother-in-law. He is incorrigible, easy-to-like, pushy even, and confident. He is a definite winner, and when his honesty refuses to pay off, he takes the crooked path. He makes money, and becomes one of the most successful businessmen in the country. However, since he is also responsible for much of the corruption in the country, a newspaper decides to strip him off his status and hard earned success.
The plot has the makings of an inspiring rags to riches story. Who wouldn't relate to a man who wanted to make it big? It is easier, when that man is the charming Abhishek Bachchan. He is endearing and so likeable that even his decision to marry Aishwarya for her dowry brings a smile. You recognize his dreams, applaud his every successful moment, and stay loyal till the end.
This period film is then interspersed with some interesting songs, and several dramatic moments that i'm sure generated a few claps in theatres. However, despite these ingredients, the film was a huge disappointment.
For me, the plot wasn't realistic enough. Guru's success isn't gradual, it is instantaneous, and though we see him as a humble, honest individual in the beginning, his hand in corruption comes as a surprise. The audience doesn't see him as wayward businessman till much later, and once this guise is taken off, he is shown to be only source of trouble in society. Where were all the gangsters, corrupt politicians, and drug peddlers you wonder. Why was "The Independant" focusing merely focussing on bringing down Guru? Why were its owner and reporter wearing cloaks of righteousness, when they were concocting stories about the man themselves? Were Guru's presents, and the fact that he patronized their newspaper for his side of the story, reason enough to antogonize them?
The acting was fairly okay. Abhishek Bachchan displays traces of his father Amitabh, in his demeanor. Though overly dramatic in some scenes, he gives a decent performance. Aishwarya Rai as his wife is understated. As with the women in the Maniratnam movies, she has spunk, and is strong-willed. A silent force behind her husband, her performance was perhaps the most subtle and believable. Mithun (remember Disco Dancer) as the owner of The Independant, is refreshing. He isn't loud or dramatic. You believe in him, and respect his strong moral ethics. However, you wonder why he supports the path chosen to fight Guru. Madhavan as the reporter chosen to destroy Guru, seems like a forced presence. His undivided attention on Guru, and his unethical means makes Guru more of a hero than he already is. He is paired opposite Vidya Balan, whose presence seems unnecessary. She doesn't help with the plot, and isn't one of the important characters. Even without her, you get a peek into Guru's soul. However, if not for her, you'd miss the only kiss in the movie.
These performances are aided by Rajiv Menon's camera work, and A.R.Rahman's music. I'm not a huge Rahman fan anymore and except for Na Na Re and Tere Bina, I found the other songs weird. The biggest disappointment however was Maniratnam himself. Though in comparison to most other Hindi films, Guru fares well, in comparison to his own films Guru proves to be a disaster. Perhaps he should stick to Tamil cinema?
Wednesday, 16 May 2007
Sunday, 13 May 2007
Friendly Pastor: Robert
Friendly Pastor: Robert?
Curious bystander: Robert?
Friendly Pastor and Curious bystander (hesitantly): Ro-hit
Another person walking by: Robert is it?
Friendly Pastor (turning to me): And you?
Me: R-O-O-P-A, Roopa
Friendly Pastor: Roopa. Alright! See you both next Sunday, good bye.
Ro (to me): Call me Bob
Wednesday, 9 May 2007
Two old toilets
We encountered numerous street performers here.We got ourselves some lunch, checked the map, and walked in the direction of the York DIG. We crossed the amusing Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate, which is the shortest street in York. Known in 1505 as Whitnourwhatnourgate, it was later changed to its present name. According to local legend, this is where men whipped their nagging wives (hence Whip-ma-whop-ma). This place turned out to be Ro's favorite spot!We also found the home of Margaret Clitherow, who fought for the abolition of slavery and for women's rights. She was martyred in York, and later canonised in 1970. Then, we were off to the Dig, where we found "real" archeologists who proudly displayed the results of their five years in the site. We saw tiles, pipes, tanks, and bones; all from the distant past.
Right across is a church where interesting christenings take place. The church has two doors, one that is normal sized so people can enter, and the other, a small door to let out evil spirits.Notice the small door towards the right.
York dungeon was mere entertainment. We were led into a makeshift dungeon filled with moving skeletons, a door that screams when you attempt opening it, and several actors dressed as ghosts. The children ahead of us seemed to be enjoying themselves. They were cheeky with the actors who worked hard at scaring us, and laughed aloud when the actor glared at them angrily. I was perhaps the most easily startled. I held on to Ro's hand, and jumped screaming when a skeleton screeched into my ears. Phew! Here, we got a peek into what the plague did, the dead, the torture chamber, a court that sentenced people for the smallest crimes, and the hanging of Dick Turpin. The entire exercise was entertaining, but it had eaten into our time. There was little else we could do.
However, we still had time for Clifford's Tower. The remains of the York castle, this is where William the Conquerer first built a wooden castle in 1086, overlooking the river Ouse. It was burned down by the natives and this second castle was built. The castle has witnessed some of the most horrific moments in history, such as the massacre of the jews in 1190. We climbed up the winding stone steps and went on top to view the city from it.
By the time we were out, there wasn't much we could do. All the other museums had closed for the day, and we had time to ourselves. We were tired, so we got some fruit juice at an interesting little joint called Le Place Verte. Adjacent to the river, this tiny place once had the machinery needed to open up the bridge next to it, whenever a vessel had to pass.
By the time we were done, it was only 6, and we weren't too keen on going back to our bed&breakfast just as yet. So we decided to walk along the city wall. We began at one end, and before we knew it, we were close to where we were staying. We couldn't believe just how small the city was. However, before we began this walk, we marked out places on our map and planned the Day 2. We wanted to see as much as we could, and waste little time.
Tuesday, 8 May 2007
While the choir kept busy, we used our York passes for entry into the undercroft, treasury, and crypt. With the aid of an audio guide, and exhibits from the different ages, we learned the story of the Minster through the ages. We found the remains of the Roman fortress, Viking Norman and medival carvings together with treasures and jewels of archbishops. The crypt is still used for special services, and it is also the final resting place of St William of York. By the time this amazing tour ended, it was time for lunch. We still had a LOT more to explore, and our day had just begun.