Dolly Ki Doli and other stories..

Sonam Kapoor is largely viewed as a fashionista, jetsetting to Cannes and London at the drop of a hat. When not posing for Elle or Vouge, she is seen posing on Instagram with her now (made famous by her, but already wealthy) hubby. What is my point, the point I’m trying to make is that Sonam, underneath all that glam and makeup is carefulling cultivating a pro feminisim image for herself. And this is evident in her choice of roles of late. She started off in the usual boy meet girls rom coms – somewhere along the road, her films started to steer towards pro-female roles., more so since 2015. Her acting abilites and character development in the roles she potrays are somewhat of a ping pong match, some hit and some miss.. tuk tuk. I sincerly believe she does have what it takes, but needs a really good voice coach and perhaps a few days in Modijee’s Kedarnath-Barinath type isolation caves to improve focus and effort.

Here are my quick synopses of her work in the past 10 years:

Sawariya (2007) – Debut film, usual hogwash, she made a dent though and was noticed in a big way. Made a lot of waves for being AKs daughter to begin with, losing 30kgs in 1 yr, and looking really nice. As for mastering acting and voice modulation – there was enough time to get there.

Delhi 6 (2009) – Cannot recall anything memorable about her acting, but the song was a good melody. It was a well chosen role maybe, because it did have some meat on the bones. Not your typical hogwash. She potrays an ambitious girl, wanting an out of the only life shes ever known. The movie however is centered on junior bachaan’s coming of age – sort of. Although all one can now remember is the quiet brilliance of Madame Waheeda Rehman. Seriously they don’t make them like that no more.

I hate luv stories (2010) – let’s not even go there. Typical OTT rom com hogwash.

Aisha (2010) – boy if ever there was a film that embodied somebody so well.. Sonam probably did not need to make too much of an effort, she was Purrrfect for the role. Unfortunately, any costar of a film with Abhay Deol better be scared – there really is no contest as to who’s making the real impact, huuun.

Mausam (2011) – It may have been a memorable film, there was a story, but something went amiss – probably the acting.

Players (2012) – Typical Abbas Mastan film, heavy on masala heavy on budget heavy on multi star casting.. Total face palm on acting and delivery. This film borders dangerously to the poorest rating on acting that our lady long legs gets.

Bhaag Milkha Bhag (2013) – Not a bad performance, she tried to add some meat to an otherwise forgetable role of “ex lover” or the girl the hero doesnt get.. but inspires who he becomes ultimately.

Ranjhanna (2013) – What a total yawn of a story. Absolute yaaawn,, zero orignality. Sonam probably experimenting with South Ka Sitaara – to see if her sitarra would rise. Alas. Although full marks to her for sheer guts, Abhay Deol and Dhanush.. I mean who is going to remember whats her name in that movie then.

Khoobsurat (2014) – Here’s where it gets very interesting. A movie with so much sound of music wala potenial… but what bakwas acting madam. Makes you wonder what you were eating / drinking /smoking. Gosh. I haven’t seen this much lack of chemistry, or sincerity since the Kardashians. I really want my ticket money back on this one.

Bewakuifiya (2014) – As if to make up the lack of Chemistry in her other 2014 release, now here is the pair that looks convincing. Sonam, never have you gelled so well with anyone else before, nah not even your blue eyed debut (sur) namesake. I kind of suspect that the credit goes to Khurrana, whose ease of manner and ability to slip into character made it so convincing to really be “more than just friends”.  Alas, misdirection and lack of clear direction resulted in this rocket to be a dud after all.

Dolly Ki Doli (2015) – It is Sonam’s film all right. Played with ease and panche. She did really fit the bill quiet well. With just some more really hard effort it would have been a stunning performace. For me there were a couple of low points in dialouge delivery and the undercurrent of “I’m not a policeman, I’m a princess” get a little serious girl, you can do it. Having said that there is a moment of sheer empowrement in the climax, where she gives a real just desserts to Pulkit Sharma’s character and DUMPS him as well. Nice one sister.

Neeraja (2016) – In all the Sonam movies over the years, this one is where you feel she really put her back into it. This is what the lady is capable of with a decent director, script and role. I wish she gets more of whatever this equation was, totally award worthy. don’t you think. She nabbed the critics award for best actress in Filmfare and a “special mention” at the national awards, whatever that means. I personally think she did deserve more and perhaps her reputation of being a pretty barbie got the better of her. Again, this kind of acting is what she is really capable of .

Veere Di Wedding (2018) – In your face girl power film, so much self propoganded publicity to that end. As roles and acting goes not bad, nice role infact, tis hazari court lawyer and all. But you were still Sonam doing what Sonam does best, go on vacy with pals, dress well, live like a rich priveleged person, in short be yourself. Am not getting into the pros and cons of the film story here – but career progression wise it was a depature from her early days of boy meets girls bs.

Sanju (2018) – Not speaking of the movie.. clearly RK-the thirds movie through and through. Sonam has a supporting cast, which she potrays with spunk and is indeed commendable. Even if it was a character writtent that way – I beleive that Sonam (or her agent) did a stellar job picking out that “Ruby” and adding shine to it. Like I said, lady got potenital.

Pad man (2018) – Now this was a feminist film every which way. Akki’s OTT madrasi meets teeth performance nothwithstanding. Sonam was subtle and powerful. Another stellar role pick – very pro woman empowerment theme, and she is finally able to hold her own in a cast hugely strong on delivery (Akshay Kumar, Radhika Apte among other stalwars like Sudhir Pandey)

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha (2019) – Sonam really doesn’t shy away from working with quality actors like Rajkumar Rao whose acting is both sary and mesmerising at the same time. A departure from her recent experimental roles – this one goes slap dash back into the boy meets girl area. Unfortunately, for the viewer who hopes that all that experimentation can perhaps bring a more mature flair and convince you of the character she’s playing, FAT CHANCE. Sonam, is somewhere else – not fully involved, holds herself back just that much away from fully convincing us that she’s arrived.

The Zoya Factor (2019) – Awaited and hoping. Let’s see, shall we ?

 

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Hollywood Alien Movie – Analysis

I just love hollywood alien movies. So much suspense – even though the good guy wins in the end.  Over the years there have been several – and every now and then there is a small disruption caused by someone who comes up with a new movie in this genre even though there is usually a “predictable” pattern –

#1. The alien is usually evil – with the exception of maybe E.T. Most of these aliens are the worst kind. They want to destroy the earth, kill all humans (or eat them) and do something very bad. Which leads us to #2.

#2. The good guy – usually the hero/protogonist in the movie must therefore be saviour to all and kill the alien.

#3. Family is usually involved. Nothing to bring out the best protective instinct like bringing the family to the forefront of the alien – human eternal conflict. Usually, it is a dad thing, Sometimes moms too get their share of green/black/ugly spidery aliens, but these moments are few and far in between. In, the “War of the Worlds” a beat up dad steps to the plate protecting his 2 kids, In Night Shymalan’s “Signs” Widowed dad protects his 2 kids, you do get the gist, its a its a dad-dominated domain. In the more recent “A Quiet Place” A lot about the mom, but dad gave the ultimate sacrifice and laid the groundwork for ulitmately killing those creatures – I do like the end scene where Emily Blunt becomes the alpha female and loads her gun, that’s a first !

#4. The alien will have a weakness. It is your duty as a prudent audience to spot it.. the director does leaves many hints scattered all over the screenplay for you. It will all make sense in the end.

#5. Human kind will make it. We are wildly optimistic on that one. We will survive.

$5.is probably why we flock to watch these movies again and again, it’s such a family entertainer. Love, Loss, Murder.. the saving the world bit.. the sacrifice.. the triumph in the end, The bonding of erractic teens or preteens. The vast complexities of human nature and its indominatable will to live.

 

Vaadi Herbals – Soap & Shampoo

 

Vaadi Herbal – Est, 2006, Indian Ayurvedic hair and body care product manufacturer 

True to its USP, Vaadi Herbal’s products do have “natural and Ayurvedic” roots with global flavour combinations. I say flavour, as the ingredients used can almost all double as edibles, saffron, mint, rosemary, sandalwood. The brand has been around for over 10 years, but perhaps it is gaining more visibility of late – at least outside of NCR.

Although they are actually hair and skin care products, Vaadi Herbals itself in four distinct categories by use for- face, body, hair and feet. These products come in interesting mix of 2 or more ingredients, Saffron-Sandalwood, Tea Tree – Lemon, Lotus-Honeysuckle.. The R&D team has indeed done a good job researching “what goes with what” to come up with such enticing parings. I was drawn like a bee to honey to its Rosemary and Lavender range, and was intrigued by the chocolate and mint soap.

Available online on Vaadi Herbal website  (5% discount), on retailer sites, like Nykaa, Amazon, Flipkart, Bigbasket and seen in several gourmet and multi-brand Ayurvedic shops. Vaadi claims that all its products are plant based, natural and paraben or SLS free (the packaging lists only core ingredients but does not give a breakdown of the full jimmy).

Here is my review on the two products I tried – 

Lavender and Rosemary Shampoo : Overall rating – 6/10

A lavender and rosemary profile actually has the potential to linger around for ages, and I thought a wash with it would leave my hair smelling like the Andalusian countryside… alas, it didn’t. There was a vague hint of lavender at best, but nothing very memorable. However, it does wash clean, and is gentle enough for daily use. Since its a clear concoction, the possibility of conditioned and silky hair is minimal (even if it does contain coconut oil as well). I used it both with and without a conditioner – a day after the wash, my hair was ok, clean and not dry. Will I buy it again – maybe not, but I will try out 1-2 of their other Shampoos.

  • Use and wash – Satisfactory clean wash, no residue, lathers easy and rinses well
  • Fragrance – Mild but does not linger – can do better with higher grade essential oils
  • Cost – Reasonably priced ( INR 64 /110 ml)

Tempting Chocolate and Mint Soap: Overall rating – 8/10 

Tempting-Chocolate-Mint-Soap-300x300

WOW! Vaadi’s “Tempting Chocolate and Mint” soap smells great even as its sitting innocently in its packaging. Tempt me it did – I just loved it ! The look and feel of this product is on par with Lush’s chocolate and mint combination soap – both in terms of fragrance and heavenly smoothness. It’s a rare treat to find a soap this good in its price range. Vaadi has done the justice to a chocolate-minty experience, that transforms an ordinary bath to a mini spa. The only problem with this soap is that it tends to “breathe and bleed”, the natural cocoa butter seeps out in a warm room, so its best to bring it out of the bathroom and use a well-drained soap case to contain it. You bet, I will be buying a lot more (and frequently) of this particular soap. And I also look forward to trying out other Vaadi soaps soon.

  • Use and wash – Excellent, lathers well, skin comes out smooth and silky
  • Fragrance – Outstanding, lingers on without overpowering
  • Cost – Tab bit pricey, but total VFM (INR 50 for a 75 gm bar)

 

Preparing to be a parent

I’ve been meaning to write, for 9+7 months now, yes its been 7 months since my life changed, for the better. Definately better ! (that’s what they tell me, though I have no doubts, when times are a-testing, one look at my cherub, sweetie pie, I agree)

Anyhoo, to business. In the next few pages, I intend to record for myself, and as a note for any parent to be what the state of affairs is in these first trying months of being a first time, greenthumb parent.

  • November – December 2016:

Shaken from our DINK status, the husband and I leaped feet first into parenthood with what we thought was a standard recipie for happiness, in our smugness we beleived that we were aptly prepared (ha!) and armed with new crib, new clothes, new bottles and such ventured into the hospital, me tottering tipping the scales at a never before number. But I’ve gotten ahead of myself, let us start at the VERY begining.

  • December 2015, New Years Eve

I had just finished cooking, guests were about to pile in soon, as we prepared for our annual new years bash, a trip to Spain fresh on the memory inspired the theme of my spanish night, replete with tapas, vino, fino and even more vino.

We decided that resolution no. 1 is to make 2016 a baby year. And no, it is not just a vino laced decision, it is carefully thought out (several years of coaxing, first gentle, then more obvious  from immediate relations, inlaws etc).

  • Spring & Summer 2016

Fast forward 3 months, and lo and behold, we are pregnant ! For real, but of course we did not find out till April / early May, and from there not much changed, except a doctor’s appointment every now and then, and a few vitamins and general take it easy instructions.

Work and life continued at more or less the same pace till well into July for me (except a strong bout of morning sickness in the first trimester). A trip to Panchghani at the end of June would be the last single vacation I would take (in a long time I think), and apart from having a cocktail when dining out I wasn’t missing out on much.

  • Autumn (Monsoon) 2016

Come August, this began to change with visible body changes and a general “heaviness” that had begun to set in. People around me began to walk on eggshells, as by now almost everyone in my circle of work and friends knew and started treating me like a slowly ticking time bomb. I too began to make preparations and started “nesting” around for baby essentials, signing up on online parenting forums, reading heavy traditional books on the subject and whatnot. The most remarkable thing was the stream of information / instructions offered from all and sundry on how it is, tidbits, tips and a UNBELEIVABLE unprecedented level of solidarity and support. Right from the beginning all this baby has got is LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.

  • Winter 2016

As I began winding down at work, my body began preparing for birth. I was round, all around, simple tasks took a long time and though I had hardly any complications or troubles, I slowed down considerably with sleep taking up priority no. 1 in my life. (Rightly so, since after that winter of 2016 I have not slept more than 3-4 hours at a stretch) Towards the end of November, I had entered a state of slow calm happiness, maybe felt by sloths, who are happy to lie sunning themselves on a log for hours on end.  Hospital visits had become second nature to us, and we had fallen into a happy routine of weekly check ups, followed by a long happy breakfast (our hospital visits were scheduled for 7.30 am, as a happy reminder of what was to come, preparing us for parenthood, we’d stumble out of bed at 6 and get ready to leave for the hospital, then office, or in my case mostly a working day from home). And long patient waits at the hospital are really to prepare parents in the long patient way of being a parent more than anything else I think. Sly. Smooth, real sly -smooth, ye doctors !

 

 

My Sabbath

Sometimes on a Saturday – I would like someone to make a me a cup of tea in the morning. Just sometimes. 

Most days start early with me bright and happy and bounding out of bed and happy to make tea, breakfast and lunch, take a walk, a quick shower and rush to work. There’s a stand up breakfast by the kitchen counter and a hurried chat with the maid who waltzes in as I dash out grabbing my lunchbox – with last min. instructions for the day’s organization. That’s most days. I’m happy to buzz about Mon-Fri. 

But Saturdays the mornings are different… lazy retrieving the paper and reading it on my little balcony to start with and finish in bed..that’s when I want the tea ! There’s a strong deep connection with a cuppa and the printed paper.. yes, the printed paper. Hard copy. In my hands, smelling of ink-print. Smelling fresh newspaperish.. crackling and sometimes awkward to turn around and manouvre to the right angle while reading a column thats not quite printed on perfect half axels. Saturday is also Qigong day for me (merits a whole new post) and it is the MOST perfect day of my week, for tom – it is Sunday. And on that note, goodnight ! 

How did you find Fanny ?

6/10 says my movie partner. .

We just caught the much anticipated, much reviewed “Finding Fanny” and found it a bit overrated, a bit overacted, a bit too cliched, a tad bit sleazy ..but not too bad ! Not half- bad at any cost. This is primarily a “film about people”. It isn’t particularly funny. Not for lack of trying. It’s actually serious stuff, told lightly. S!#T happens. People go away, people die, there are cowards, mean people, rascals, selfish blokes, self centred ones and then some. There are also honest people. Simple folks and ok folks, there’s all kinds really.

Mr Shah has his usual lost vauge crazy look, but a sweet natured disposition that he reserves specially for Mr Adjania’s films. Ms Kapadia has her lopsided smile and screeches at times, but does justice in not trying too hard. Mr Kapoor is a hunk (umm the younger one) and is improving one movie at a time. Mr Kapur (Sr. ) is quite good and true to his role. Ms Padukone, looks better and better and acts better and better and better..I’m glad she did this one. It’s one of those fresh nice roles with soul. & Sorry Ranveer, I must’ve been blinking during your cameo..The problem here is there is sooo much work that this talented bunch of actors have done, that one is loathe to compare.

What I loved was the road. It IS after all a road film (Never mind the critics disagreeing). And it’s brought back, at least for me, so many memories from one of my goa road trips. The red brick floors of goan houses, the crazy grass, those undulating roads that go nowhere special. The slow pace of life that doesn’t give a hoot if youre in a hurry – or not. What I also loved is the theme of love and taking chances and trying. And that no matter what you do, life goes on.

Something tells me I must read the book ..now that – I’ll look forward to. Then I’ll tell you if I liked it, or not. Not that you asked.

 

Here’s an idea: Let’s put aircraft black boxes in the cloud

Gigaom

As searchers from more than two dozen countries continue to look for the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, some transportation experts are calling for a revamp of the traditional black box flight recorder, recommending that at least some key flight data be transmitted from aircraft to the cloud.

Clearly there are expenses and technology hurdles to be overcome. Streaming all that data from plane to some sort of database would be expensive, but periodically sending key snippets might not be cost prohibitive, experts told Reuters last week.

Mark Rosenker, former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and a retired U.S. Air Force General, said the latest aviation mishap, along with the loss five years ago of Air France flight 447 in the Atlantic, should spur reform of an antiquated investigation process.

The availability of even limited data from the black box and cockpit voice recordings could speed…

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