Dignity in CinemaScope

Here is an Italian movie, watched seven years ago, once. I have never watched ‘The Consequences of Love‘ again. Such is this masterpiece, that I would rate above all features, and the haunting beauty of it all that makes me stop and just think of what transpired. I no longer wish to see this for fear that my view of this movie may diminish ever so slightly with every watch and make me forget about the plot. Gushing over this movie, I would like to reiterate that this is no run of the mill European cinematic fantasy where too much emphasis is given to the arty mis-en-scene’s and what not. There are moments of art that gel well into the storyline and do not feel forced or patronizing to the visual.

Paolo Sorrentino went on to greater things post this movie. ‘The Consequences of Love’ is set in Lugano, in the midst of the Swiss banks and retired expats who make this a haven of peace and calm, foreboding silence. The film breathes a richness in scene after scene enhanced only by the stars – Toni Servillo and Olivia Magnani. Magnani is one of the most beautiful actresses I have come across and her relationship with Toni’s character never extends beyond a touch. And there lies the beauty of this whole relationship with a backdrop of the mafia, money laundering banks, hitmen and gossiping retirees who come together to conspire and help the film reach a beautiful climax. Without revealing much, this movie is a moving visual spectacle that truly defines what dignity, character and beauty can mean in a relationship going past the ‘hurdles’ of trust.

Paolo Sorrentino went on to win an Academy Award much later but this movie is a masterpiece that will forever remain one.

Saxxy songs from our college days

There are a couple of songs that used to play at every college fest during the late ’90s and the early 2000s. Fun, peppy and with really good music videos to boot. ‘Paisa‘ by Agosh and ‘Kya Soorat Hai‘ by Bombay Vikings. The videos complemented the songs and featured the happy go lucky mood of this period brought about with the raw innocence of an age just getting into the internet/mobile/smartphone mode.

I wonder what happened to Agosh. They were really good and their tongue firmly in cheek video hit the nail on our aspirational heads. Kya Soorat Hai had Prabhudeva‘s brother shimmying around a late ’90s Bangalore and had some major Kwality ice cream product placement. Feast was it? So here are my two favourites on this Thursday evening.

Football season and practice

Evening rains, travels and injuries have meant a loss in quite a number of hours of practice on the football pitch. With the open league season kicking off in June-July, our team has their work cut out for them as we race against time to garner as many hours of practice together. An elbow injury would definitely mean that I need to give up the gloves and move to take up a defence or mid-field role for the time-being. Fitness is the key, as last season a combination of lack of stamina and coordination led to a poor league season. Even though we made it up by reaching the quarters in our next tournament, there was scope to go further than we did.Football

This year, we need to focus on three key objectives: fitness, strategy and a strong bench.

Power play is important and we realised it a bit too late as we entered last years league. Result – strained hamstrings, twisted ankles and a ragged physique by the time the game got over. Fitness really let us down and though a few of us players managed to withstand the onslaught, our lack of scoring stemmed from the fact that the strikers lost their breath within the first few raids on the goal.

The strategy needs to be on defense. Lack of coordination between goalkeeper (self) and defenders resulted in me fetching the ball more times than expected from the back of the net. We had our moments where the defence held well, but as the game moved on the positions scattered resulting in a brittle and unsure defensive unit. This year the focus needs to be on defence and we need to work on breakaways to score goals.

A strong bench was what we consistently lacked and with minimal player rotation we got stuck with injuries. This year a viable option would be bringing in regulars with enough to sustain the midfield and defence. While we have developed a reasonable pool of players, a strong team management needs to ensure that a disciplined approach needs to be followed when it comes to presence for each game.

With such a formula we may just be able to move up the league a bit and ensure that our company team gets its share of accolades on the pitch, not that it would translate into anything in our end of month kitty’s 😉

Staying true to the roots

Crime pays, and how. The critical and commercial success of shows like Breaking Bad, its latest avatar/prequel – Better Call Saul, The Wire, Orange is the New Black, Oz, The Sopranos…. well you get the drift, the list is endless. True Detective took on the really bad guys in brutal poetry. This series deserved its rating as the best series of 2014 and Matthew McConaughey‘s and Woody Harrelson‘s portrayals of the deeply sensitive and world weary detective gave the series its pathos. The series was disturbing from the start, never a sunlit moment. Even the few moments of happiness were moments of foreboding. This was the brilliant first season.rust-cohle

When it comes to the second season I am a bit of a sceptic here. How do you top something so darkly beautiful as season one. Directed mainly by Justin Lin (famous for the Fast and Furious franchise) I wonder what direction this season takes. The promo visuals are not exactly appealing. It’s got a good cast – there’s Colin Farrell, a truly gifted actor, Rachel McAdams, who is definitely not referring her Notebook for tips. The rest are iffy – Vince Vaughn‘s career is on the wane and I would like to see what he can do here. Promos can be misleading. They have in the past. But Season 2 doesn’t seem to have the powerful visual imagery that One had. The upcoming season seems more like a bright movie trailer. However, I would like to be confident that Justin Lin’s True Detective will surprise the daylights out of me. As McConaughey’s character Rust Cohle says, “Once there was only dark. If you ask me, the light’s winning.” My favourite quote from an intriguing character.

American Odyssey Part 3 – NY and Atlantic City

The final leg of my journey may have ended in Philadelphia but it included three days of early March madness through a windy and cold New York and snowing Atlantic City. We took off from Philly for the 2 hour drive to New York through the mild snow and rain. Heavy traffic through the Lincoln tunnel ensured that we reached a little later than usual as we were in a rush to take the NY Sights and Sounds Tour. We did manage to get on the tour bus close to noon. It was quite a good tour that included visit to the Statue of Liberty, Top of the Rocks, and the usual downtown Manhattan, Broadway, Wall Street et al. In 1984, we didn’t get a chance to get to Liberty Island due to renovation on the statue. This time we got up close though we didn’t get off the ferry due to lack of time. The Statue doesn’t look as big up close and well not too majestic, but well, I saw the Statue of Liberty. As we made our journey downtown on the double-decker buses the snowing began, ever so slightly. We were well behind time and our next stop after passing all the major landmarks like the UN Building was the Top of the Rocks that my cousin had advised me not to miss at all. We got down at 30 Rock and made it past the NBC Studios desk on the ground floor with our Top of the Rock tickets.

The view is breathtaking. You get to see downtown Manhattan and the Liberty Island from far and the view from the Observation Deck in the cold wintry weather was an experience to cherish. I loved Top of the Rock cause it really makes you feel on top of the world with some of the best views of New York. On our way down we did a bit of souvenir shopping and then made it back to Times Square for the ride back with my uncle and aunt to Atlantic City.

Atlantic City was a whole different ball game. I have never gambled save for the local fancy fetes where I went into those hit or miss lotto games (if you call that gambling by any yardstick). We made our way to the Borgata Casino, a place where some scenes of The Sopranos were filmed. Luxurious and enticing are the words I would subscribe to while entering the casino. The suite that was provided to my uncle gave me an idea of how valuable a customer he was. And while my aunt and uncle hit the blackjack tables, (a game I have absolutely no idea about), I hit the penny machines. A generous allowance from my mom and aunt made this possible. I did win big at one of the machines ($141 to be precise, on $20) and then greed got the better of me. In the end it was quits and I watched my aunt play at the blackjack table and still couldn’t figure out what was happening.

The evening was spent at a stand-up comic show that featured three comics, one of whom was on the Jay Leno show. While the first two were hilarious the Jay Leno guy wasn’t too funny and the laughs certainly didn’t enliven the hall. The second stand-up, a lady in her mid-sixties, was hilarious. She was good and really lively. A fun evening that ended two nights at the Borgata. I was told celebrities came around there often from NY, so I did keep my eyes open but didn’t bump into anyone. Maybe it was the snowstorm that had begun raging outside.

American Odyssey Part 2 – Philadelphia

The second leg of my journey (technically the third, but I am not counting the business part of it), began on an early morning in Orlando where I caught the 6 AM flight on a non-stop to Philadelphia. After a peaceful flight I caught my first glimpse of the frozen Philly lake and the docks as the plane landed on an extremely chilly morning. I knew it was cold and braced myself for a really freezing welcome. As soon as I reached the luggage carousel I saw my Aunt Jovita run up to me with a huge bundle in my arms. And there was my jacket. Good ol’ A. Jovita had brought a large and warm jacket for me and I immediately got into it with my sweater beneath. It was great seeing Aunt Jovita (again another of my mom’s sister’s) and Uncle Francis and we began our journey back home to the suburbs.On the way we made a stop at the Rocky steps at the Metropolitan Museum and the Liberty Bell before we had an awesome Japanese lunch at Teikoku. The Rocky steps were particularly memorable as I love that movie and I did try reenacting Sylvester Stallone’s run to the top. With my large jacket I looked like the Michelin Man running up.

Philly is vibrant, crowded in places and cold. Getting back to the suburbs, the picture postcard like setting made it a sight to behold. While my first lunch in Philly was Japanese, the evening included meat puffs, ham and cheese croissants, pork ribs in honey chilli sauce – all prepared by my aunt. And they were amazing. Oh and not to forget, I joined my uncle on a trip to Rosy Kutti’s place – A malayalee lady who prepared chicken stew and appams Mallu style. The trip was made through sleet and snow in the evening, but it was well worth it.

American Odyssey Part 1 – Ormond Beach, Daytona, Orlando

Continuing the chronicling of a short two week trip to the US earlier this year, Ormond Beach turned out to be that quite getaway with the nearby cities of Daytona and Orlando providing a delightful nightlife that was as relaxed as a well fed swamp gator. From John D. Rockfeller’s beautiful winter home in Ormond Beach to the Daytona raceway and Orlando’s PF Chang’s , this was one beautiful, relaxed stopover. I owe my mom’s younger sister and uncle for hosting me here and for taking me around Florida. All my fears about catching a cold or any other weather related illnesses with the fluctuating temperature were laid to rest with the two doctors in the house.