no strings attached: 5 years ago – the way in

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

There was no street car in the distance; a daily occurrence of absence. Harry was getting impatient as he fiddled with his token. It was his last token from the batch. The winter weather was making him all the more anxious.

A sense of relief could be felt in the air when the street car did approach. All the frowns of the waiting commuters had been normalized to nothingness. Harry lost his grip on the token as he walked towards the street car. The token found its way down the gutter. The perfect start to a perfect day, Harry thought, and momentarily considered going back home. He started to fiddle with his change while climbing the steps of the street car and stood there as he counted for a while. The commuters’ nothingness quickly converted to frowns again as they pushed and slipped past Harry to get the empty seats. Eventually, the change was counted and deposited into the box. There were no seats left for Harry.

“Hi, it’s my first day here,” said Harry to the receptionist.

“Okay, what’s your first name?” said the receptionist, he had already started to peruse the new employee list.

“That’s odd, you have the list sorted by first name instead of last? My name is Bond. Harry Bond,” Harry took a deep breath after looking at the receptionist’s blank stare, “No, that’s not my real name. Uh, the name is Harry.”

“Okay… Harry… Harry… Harry… there you are! You’re to report to Sam and you’ll get your intro session when you two meet. Take the elevators to the third floor, it’ll be the third door to your right. It’s a shared office, so just ask for Sam.”

“Thanks,” Harry smiled, his toes had warmed up.

Harry walked into the shared office and up to one of the desks.

“Hi. I’m looking for Sam,” said Harry.

“Oh, you’re the new guy. Harry, right?” said John, “Sam’s not here right now. Probably taking a smoke break. You know what? You should just go there. You can get your office tour on the way back up. Go back down to the first floor, and look for the fire exit door with the ‘t’ a bit torn off. Don’t worry, it won’t set off an alarm. You should find Sam right there.”

He looked right and then left as soon as he opened the door with the ‘t’ a bit torn off. Out of the corner of his eye he spotted smoke.

“You… are… Sam…” said Harry, pausing slightly after each word.

“Is that a question or a statement?” said Sam.

“No, it’s just… I thought that… you would be…”

“A guy? You were expecting a guy?”

“No, I thought you would be… shorter.”

“Hah, a clever one. You must be Harry,” Sam extended her right hand for a handshake, “That was a statement, not a question. I’m Samantha.”

“Right, of course, Samantha,” Harry was slightly embarrassed.

“Would you like one?” Samantha held up her packet of smokes.

“No, I don’t smoke.”

“Yeah, I know. It’s an awful thing. I’m trying to quit myself,” said Samantha, as she threw the cigarette butt into the bin, “Come on, let me show you around.”

slumdog millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

So one day I was cruising IMDB and saw “Slumdog Millionaire” under Mahesh Manjrekar’s name. Then I noticed that Irfan Khan and Anil Kapoor were in the movie too. People, this is not some castaway cast. These people are fairly accomplished actors/directors. So seeing them together in a non-Bollywood movie was very intriguing.

Then a whiles later I saw the trailer. The part that caught me most in the trailer was when Anil Kapoor was dancing on the Millionaire set. So I wanted to see the movie.

I can kinda see why people like it so much, but not really. I may talk about specific incidents in the movie, so don’t read on if you don’t like spoilers.

Let me start off with the good. I loved the start of the movie (minus the shit scene, I didn’t ‘love’ the shit scene, but it got the reaction it was looking for), the camera angles and editing on the chase scene were fantastic! And I generally liked how Boyle filmed Mumbai. I really liked the child actors in the first part of the movie, and I realize now that this was aided by the fact that they spoke in Hindi. Their responses to some of the things were great. Conductor as he throws out the kids: “Baap ki train samjha kya?”, kid responds: “To phir tere baap ki train hai kya rey?”. Or something like that.

The ‘beggar master’ bit reminded me of A Fine Balance.

The filming style of the childhood days was reminiscent of City of God. But let us not fool ourselves, these are two very different films.

The storytelling wasn’t very clear. Initially I thought that Jamal’s older brother was just a friend or some such, this is so odd considering he keep saying “I’m the bigger brother” for the rest of the movie.

I would have preferred it if the entire movie were in Hindi. The British style accents did bother me, maybe they picked them up from the tourists at the Taj Mahal. Hah. Or maybe they shouldn’t have used Hindi at all, and gone totally in English. When you use both, you ought to maintain a realistic sense when one or the other would be used. So while it makes good sense to use English in the call-centre and the game show, it doesn’t make sense to use it in the police station while you’re dumping the head of the kid into a bucket of water. If I was doing that, I’d use Hindi.

I find it odd that Mashesh Manjrekar never ages. He’s seen in a car in the chasing scene. Then Salim goes to find him after killing the ‘beggar-master’ and then he’s seen again when all the kids are grown up. He never ages.

Also, if I killed the leader of a competing gang, when I join your gang, I want to be one of the top dawgs.

I find the whole Jamal and Salim relationship to be out of whack. He kicked him out of the hotel room and then recognized his voice years later when he call him from a call-centre? Ummm… no.

And then instead of calling up your brother (who’s kidnapped the girl you love) you give his phone number to the Millionaire people. Because, you know, that whole kidnapping thing won’t matter when you’re on live television.

Can you really tell a producer of your show that you fed the contestant a question and get away that easy, “it’s my show after all”. Actually no, it’s not your show, you’re an employee.

I wouldn’t have answered the last question, I’d take the money. But that’s okay.

So why would you wait at the train station sitting all sad like after you’ve won loads of money and you made up with Latika over live television? He could have bought a cell phone, and then called her, because he knows she has his brother’s phone. And it’s the only number our Slumdog Millionaire knows (except that he remembers everything else like lochs and the like, but doesn’t know any other phone numbers given that he works in a call-centre).

Why did Salim make a bed of money in the bathroom and die in it? He could have run away with Latika, got on a plane to another city/country and be done with the thing. Not like the goons can’t find Jamal and Latika later on.

I was disappointed by how short the dancing moment with Anil Kapoor was, but I enjoyed the dance at the end.

But in general, the characters, I didn’t feel were developed enough for me to care about them, specially Latika. Was also disappointed at the characters of Anil Kapoor, Irfan Khan and Manjrekar.



Ghajini (2008)

I was actually interested to see how an Indianized version of Memento would turn out.

The start of Ghajini was totally disappointing. Everything from the camera angles, to the exaggerated fighting to the overacting. I stopped watching at about the 17 minute mark after the film turned into a 3 minute expose of Aamir Khan’s body. I can’t stand movies that treat the audience as stupid, this movie seemed to be one of them.

Another thing that annoys me is when people don’t credit “inspiration”. You just have to come out and say, “inspired by Christopher Nolan’s Memento”. Please, please, please treat the audience as if they have intelligence. Thank you.

If someone did see the movie, and if it somehow magically turns out to be good, please let me know.

no strings attached: the way home

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

“I’ll need the keys to the car back as well, do you want me to call you a cab?”

“No John, that’s fine. I’ll find my way home,” replies Harry as he puts the box down and starts to rub his hands on his forehead. “Ummm… can you hold on to this shit for me?”

“You sure?”

“Yeah, uh, in fact, keep it.”

“Whoa, dude, some of this shit is expensive.”

“Yeah, I know. Ebay it,” says Harry, as he starts to walk away.

“Well, I’ll split it with ya!”

Harry didn’t want to head home immediately. He started to walk on the snow along side of the sidewalk, this is where the grass would have been. You walk on directly on the snow and you slip less, he thinks to himself.

This is not the one of the larger malls. As Harry approaches the entrance a homeless person opens the door for him, holding out a coffee cup. Harry takes a deep breath, reaches into his pocket and empties out the coins into the cup. The homeless man smiles, the shape of his teeth resemble that of a crumbling mountain range. Harry nods, avoids eye contact and walks into the mall.

The tree is fake, the Santa is fake and that beard is fake, thinks Harry. He walks into the major retail store and spots what he’s looking for. Sitting on a shelf, a Nintendo Wii. He approaches it, grabs it and heads towards the counter.

“Hey mister!” says a child in his early teens, “That’s mine!”

“Hey kid, I found it on the shelf. First come, first serve.”

“I put it there and was standing right next to it, I was waiting for my dad,” the teen slowly starts to tear up.

“Hey buddy, give that back,” says the father of the teen.

“Don’t call me buddy, I don’t know you,” says Harry.

“Listen pal, we had the Wii and we were buying it. It’s ours.”

“Hah, listen ‘buddy’, it was on the shelf and I took it. Tough luck.”

The teen starts to cry and more shoppers gather around to see the commotion.

“Will somebody shut the kid up!” says Harry.

The father of the teen, visibly angry, walks towards Harry and gives him a shove.

“Guys, please don’t fight, it’s Christmas time!” says the cashier as he calls both, the manager and security, on the phone.

Harry shoves the father back. The father swings a punch at Harry. Harry dodges the punch and in the same motion pushes the father down to the ground.

“Hah, take the damn thing,” says Harry, his palm on his forehead. “Merry fucking Christmas, kid,” he puts the Wii in front of the father’s face and walks away.

It has been forever since Harry has taken the street car. No longer having exact change, he inserts a five dollar bill into the box. He finds a place to sit and the phone rings.

“Hey Harry, I’m afraid I don’t have good news,” it’s Harry’s financial adviser. “Both your portfolios are down, I really think you should sell.”

“Hey Sameer. I got fired today.”

“Geez man, that’s awful. What are you going to do?”

“I don’t know. Sameer, listen. I… uh… I need you to do me a favour. I need you to find me a Wii.”