A Potpourri of Vestiges: Haider (2014): Indian filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj’s final chapter in Shakespeare trilogy

Haider is the latest offering from the renowned Indian filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj. Co-written by Basharat Peer and Bhardwaj himself, Haider is the third and final chapter in Bhardwaj’s Shakespeare trilogy. Having already made successful adaptations of Macbeth (Maqbool, 2003) and Othello (Omkara, 2006), Bhardwaj was left with the choice of adapting either King Lear or Hamlet to complete his trilogy. He opted for the latter because of the presence of a strong sexual undercurrent in the source material—a motif that harks back to the first two films of the trilogy. While Haider stars Shahid Kapoor in the eponymous role, Tabu portrays the role of his mother (modeled upon Hamlet’s mother Gertrude) and Kay Kay Menon essays the role of his uncle (modeled upon Claudius who, in the play, murders his own brother and Hamlet’s father, King Hamlet, and subsequently usurps the throne, marrying Gertrude). The role of Haider’s lover is played by Shraddha Kapoor (based on Ophelia’s character in Hamlet). Irrfan Khan, who had essayed the titular role in Maqbool, makes a cameo appearance. Haider’s support cast includes renowned character actors like Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Ashish Vidyarthi, Narendra Jha, Lalit Parimoo, and Aamir Bashir.

The uncanny choice of Kashmir of the 1990s—a treacherous avenue of unparalleled beauty and unfathomable danger where people just disappear, never to return again—as the movie’s backdrop proves to be a stroke of pure genius as it helps Bhardwaj in orchestrating an enchanting mise-en-scène that elevates an otherwise sprawling orgy of histrionics (what else can one possibly say of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet?) to the realms of realism. While the exquisite end product that’s on offer here succeeds in capturing the essence of the Bard’s haunting saga of love, revenge and madness, it doesn’t, not even for a second, seem to be missing Bharadwaj’s signature earthy style, which further adds to the movie’s verisimilitude. While Haider is mostly true to Hamlet in essence, there is one striking contrast. While the latter depicts vengeance as the only means left for redemption, the former, despite glorifying the human desire for revenge, ultimately preaches forgiveness as the path to eternal salvation. It is also one of the underlining differences between the Western and the Eastern philosophies.

By the mid-1990s, Kashmir had taken the form of a like a spewing volcano, a ticking time bomb ready to go kablooey at any given moment. The terrorist insurgency in the Kashmir valley had started to pose a serious threat to India’s sovereignty and the army had to be given a carte blanche so as to guard the country against any possible threat from both within and as well as outside the country. The people of Kashmir started seeing the growing military activity in the region as a violation of their basic rights. The separatist leaders saw this as a golden opportunity to galvanize the masses against the state and started adding fuel to fire as the valley got encompassed in a miasma of mistrust. Although, the situation has improved significantly over the last decade, a lot of work still needs to be done before the conflict can be fully resolved. Nonetheless, Haider, which is completely filmed in Kashmir, ends up doing some serious marketing for the 21st century Kashmir, which is slowly returning to its pristine, blissful state. Bhardwaj’s film also leaves a strong message not only for people of Kashmir but for all humanity that nothing can be gained through revenge and in the absence of trust.

Adapting a work of Shakespeare is no kid’s play. Even the most experienced campaigners can falter if their ambition gets the better of them. The key to adapting any major work of literature is to be wary of one’s limitations. Haider is far from being called a perfect adaptation of Hamlet. But, Bhardwaj, to his credit, gets the job done. There are moments of sheer brilliance but there is also a lot of drivel which could have easily been chopped off. Haider has all the makings of an epic but it faces some serious pacing issues towards the second half. Also, the narrative appears to be sketchy at some places. But, that’s the price that one must be willing to pay for one’s ambition. Perhaps, succumbing to one’s creative urges is more important to an artist than to seek perfection. 

One of the main themes of Hamlet is chaos. This chaos is most evident in the play’s central character who, in many ways, is a personification of confusion and duality. His highly complex, fascinating albeit bizarre nature makes him a singular character in all literature, endowed with contradictory traits that fade the lines that separate virtue and vice, heroism and villainy, and sanity and madness. In Haider, we get to see shades of their previous collaboration, Kaminey (2009), as Vishal Bharadwaj and Shahid Kapoor grapple with the endless contradictions that define Hamlet’s multidimensional character. Although, Kapoor appears to be struggling at some places, he manages to stretch beyond his normal thresholds, and it’s heartening to see that his efforts don’t go unrewarded.

Oedipus complex is another major theme that runs through Hamlet. Coined by Sigmund Freud, the founding father of psychoanalysis, the term Oedipus complex denotes the subconscious emotions and ideas that focus upon a child’s desire to have sexual relations with the parent of the opposite sex. In Haider, as one expects from a filmmaker whose target audience is primarily conservative, the syndrome is both latent and nuanced in comparison to the play wherein the Prince’s attraction towards his mother can be interpreted at both physical and psychological levels. While a lesser filmmaker could have easily botched it up, Bhardwaj still manages to pull it off neither appearing too direct nor too cryptic. And, its efficacy is testified by the fact that after having watched the movie, one just can’t help but wonder what was it that haunted Haider more:  His father’s death or his mother’s closeness to his uncle?

Haider not only serves as a decent adaptation of Hamlet, but it also proves to be a powerful socio-political commentary on Kashmir of the 1990s. Without the Kashmir angle, Haider would have appeared more empty and existential, with the Shakespearean characters merely playing their parts in a bid to reach the end of the trail. But, with Kashmir as its backdrop, it almost comes across as a propaganda films that aims to serve as a bitter reminder of our not too distant past. This critic is reminded of Salman Rushdie’s 2005 novel, Shalimar the Clown, which presents the heart-breaking tale of a naïve Kashmiri tightrope artist who ends up as a cold-blooded assassin after coming in contact with terrorist groups in Afghanistan. Like Rushdie’s novel, Haider is a warning of how easily the youngsters can be brainwashed and led astray by anti-national elements if the state machinery fails to look after them.

While the acting is brilliant all around, it is Tabu who steals the show with a multilayered portrayal that would have guaranteed her an Oscar had Haider been a Hollywood production. Here she shows a range that very few actresses have demonstrated in Hindi cinema. In fact, her performance is so complete and thorough that one just can’t have enough of her. Shahid Kapoor’s performance in Haider is not perfect but is easily the best of his career, and it comes as no big surprise as Bhardwaj has a reputation to get the best out of his actors. Kay Kay Menon plays his detestable part with the desperation of a mangy scoundrel. Menon’s impressive performance reminds this critic of Rod Steiger’s remarkable turn in David Lean’s Doctor Zhivago (1965). Shraddha Kapoor serves well as an eye candy, but, beyond that, not much can be said of her acting. Irrfan Khan is brilliant as ever in the limited screen time that he gets. While the entire support cast does a reasonable job, Narendra Jha, who impresses in the role of Haider’s father, deserves a special mention.

Overall, Haider is a dark, distorted and diabolical work of cinematic art that falls well short of attaining perfection. At regular intervals, Bhardwaj tries to lighten up the mood perhaps to satisfy the cravings of the casual viewers. First, he pays homage to the Bollywood heartthrob Salman Khan in such an ostentatious manner that would have looked cheesy even in a typical Bollywood flick. As if it were not enough, he purposefully makes his characters to repeatedly mispronounce a Hebrew word “chutzpah” (pronounced huuts-pah) for creative reasons. Then he takes a swipe at the inability of Kashmiris to pronounce certain English words correctly. Needless to say, the movie is technically brilliant: cinematography (it beautifully captures Kashmir’s poetic beauty), editing, and music are all at par with the international standards.  The movie has several memorable sequences but the ones that stand out are: Shahid Kapoor’s monologue, the sequence in which Haider brutally kills his captors (a scene which is highly reminiscent of Krzysztof Kieślowski’s A Short Film About Killing), and the final graveyard sequence which may prove to be a real trendsetter as far as Hindi cinema is concerned. Haider is not meant for casual viewers for it will test their patience to the limit. As far as the intelligent viewers are concerned, the movie offers enough food for thought to keep them engaged. Highly recommended!

Here’s the link to the original article:

A Potpourri of Vestiges: Haider (2014): Indian filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj’s final chapter in Shakespeare trilogy.

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Western Film Festival (25th – 27th September 2014) – Celebrating the World Tourism Day at American Center Auditorium

American Center, in collaboration with Cinedarbar, is organizing ‘World Tourism Day’ and ‘Western Film Festival’ from 25th -27th September 2014 at the American Center Auditorium, 24, Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi – 110001. As the name suggests, the three day film festival will celebrate Western genre as a theme and will screen as many as six classic Westerns viz. ‘High Noon’, ‘The Searchers’, ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’, ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’, ‘The Wild Bunch’ and ‘Unforgiven’.

For schedule and other details, please refer to the original article (the link for the same is given below):

A Potpourri of Vestiges: Western Film Festival (25th – 27th September 2014) – Celebrating the World Tourism Day at American Center Auditorium.

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A Potpourri of Vestiges: Boyhood (2014): Richard Linklater’s treatise on life and the relationships that give it its meaning

Boyhood is a 2014 American indie film written and directed by Richard Linklater. The movie stars Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, and Lorelei Linklater in pivotal roles. The film premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and also competed at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival, where Linklater won the coveted Silver Bear for Best Director. Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is a singular exercise in filmmaking that underpins the supremacy of cinema as the definitive art form of the 21st century. Boyhood not only proves to be a filmmaking triumph but also serves as a powerful treatise on life itself. On the face of it, Linklater’s movie is all about America and, as expected, it does indeed offer sumptuous vignettes of Americana, but, at its core, it’s a movie about the universality of the delicate relationship that a parent shares with his/her progeny. Linklater proves that while ambition does come with a huge price tag, it can still be well rewarded as long as one has the patience and the perseverance to back it up. The idea, though, was pretty simple, but it was the ingenuity in execution that posed all kinds of challenges.

 

Actually, Linklater had envisioned to make a movie about childhood. At the time, he himself was a father to an 8-year-old girl and the very idea of parenthood fascinated him the most. But, it wasn’t going to be just another coming-of-age movie. In fact, Linklater didn’t even want to make movie to begin with, all he was interested in was to paint a portrait of childhood. He thought that a novel would best serve the purpose but then his inner creativity challenged him to rather use cinema as his preferred conduit. Voila! In 2002, Linklater finally identified, after several rounds of auditioning, a 6-year-old boy named Ellar Coltrane to play the role of Mason in his highly ambitious dream project, the production for which was to go on intermittently for the next eleven years.

 

However, he wasn’t just looking for someone to play a part in his movie. It wasn’t going to be a film about a boy’s life but the boy himself was going to be the film. That was Linklater’s grand vision. But, Linklater wasn’t going to make a real-life equivalent of The Truman Show (1998). So, basically, the deal was to shoot every year for 3-5 days with the boy as well as the other members of the cast, and somehow keep the constraints and uncertainties in check, hoping for the cosmos to conspire with them in fulfilling their endeavor. Another major challenge was to get some production house to financially back up the seemingly endless project. But, as they say, where there’s a will, there’s a way! Boyhood is not only a triumph of Linklater’s creative genius but also a living proof that dreams do get realized as long as one has the will and the determination to chase them hard enough.

 

In Boyhood, Ethan Hawke (absolutely mesmerizing as the super-cool dad) and Patricia Arquette (in a memorable performance that packs a punch) play the parents to Mason and Samantha (played by Linklater’s own daughter Lorelei). We get to witness the hardships that Patricia Arquette’s character faces while raising the kids as a single mother in the state of Texas. Hawke’s character is a vagabond of sorts who fails to come to terms with his parental responsibilities. But, we see him becoming more mature as the time passes by. Nonetheless, he does pay the children a visit from time to time (making good use of the weekend visitation rights when he is around), often taking them on adventurous trips and exciting outings. In the meantime, Arquette’s character goes through two more failed marriages as Hawke’s character eventually settles down with a girl named Annie and is blessed with another baby (perhaps, only to experience the hardships of parenthood all over again and probably to improve on his earlier mistakes). One only wonders how different the life would have been for the two kids had their parents somehow managed to stick together? 

 

In Boyhood, the conversations that the father has with his son and daughter are mostly light-hearted but sometimes they have enough sense of gravity to make the viewer think and even contemplate about his or her own life and the different relationships that give it its meaning. They also raise awareness about various issues that are plaguing the modern societies like teenage pregnancy, alcoholism, and the ever increasing divorce rates. To an average viewer, Boyhood may come across as a typical coming-of-age film wherein the young lead character witnesses the loss of innocence while coming to terms with the reality of life,  but a keen-eyed viewer can easily figure out that, at its core, it’s as much about parenthood and human relationships as it is about childhood, if not more. In its essence, the movie is as simple and straightforward as it gets, but so is life if one only chooses to traverse it inch by inch.

 

Overall, Boyhood is thumping triumph of creative vision and an undisputed landmark in modern cinema. Linklater, in his characteristic style, brings us so close to these characters that they no longer seem like mere characters, for we see in them an extension of our own selves. Linklater is one of the few contemporary filmmakers who have mastered the art of storytelling, and whether it’s about presenting the chapters from a great man’s life (as he accomplished ever so playfully in Me and Orson Welles), or depicting a special day in the lives of a bunch of high school kids (as he beautifully depicted in Dazed and Confused), he, without fail, is up to the mark. Vintage Linklater, Boyhood’s greatest accomplishment is that it presents life the way it is, neither exaggerating it nor trivializing it. Boyhood leaves us with that bittersweet feeling of nostalgia and love, which, while making us regret the mistakes that we ourselves made in our childhood, also inspires us to help contribute towards creating a better world for the posterity. A must watch!

The review was originally published here:

A Potpourri of Vestiges: Boyhood (2014): Richard Linklater’s treatise on life and the relationships that give it its meaning.

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Goa: The memorable trip #zestupyourlife – GUEST POST

It seldom happens that one gets an opportunity to go on a fully-paid trip to happening paradise like Goa. One such opportunity came my way very recently, courtesy of BlogAdda, wherein I was invited to be a part of first-of-its-kind experience presented by TATA Motors, on the occasion of the launch of the brand new ZEST, on the 26th and 27th of July as part of which I was was supposed to have the privilege of spending a weekend in Goa royally.

Alas, a travesty of fate prevented me from joining the bandwagon which was to comprise some of the best bloggers in India, meritoriously handpicked by BlogAdda, who were to fly to Goa from the different parts of the country! But, BlogAdda did provide me with an opportunity to redeem myself by allowing me to nominate another blogger in place of me. Since I was anyway not going to be a part of the extravaganza that was to take place in Goa, I thought of nominating someone through whom I could at least relish the Goa experience vicariously. The first name that came to my mind was that of one Shwetabh Mathur. Shwetabh has earned the reputation of not only being one of the most enthusiastic and passionate bloggers on the circuit but also for being someone with a knack for writing brilliant travelogues. Another thing that I like about him is that he usually writes his heart out, and, although, he is most verbose, I really like his candid and heartwarming writing style which almost invariably relies on the artful use of Hinglish.

So. without much ado, let me present to you the TATA Motors ZEST experience which Shwetabh recently published on his personal blog, Memories (shwetabhmathur.blogspot.com/).

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The character named Murtaza is real, a friend of mine who runs a movie blog named http://www.apotpourriofvestiges.com/

Murtaza: भाई क्या कर रहा है ?

Me: कुछ नहीं  

Murtaza: दो दिन के लिए free है ? एक event है

Me: mail भेज पहले 

Like all stories of mine this too started with a backstory. So when the mail did finally arrive I was shocked..an all expenses paid to Goa by TATA motors. Blogadda was taking us there to test drive the Zest . Murtaza was on complete bed rest and asked me to go on this trip. He told me, “ No one else can cover it better than you do. The way you write the experience , it would seem like I have made the trip.” When I made sure that he was ok with forfeiting his seat, I said a yes. Some 15 mins. after my yes to him, I got a formal invite mail from Harish from Blogadda. I filled up the required form online with all necessary details of fb name, twitter handle, blog url etc. Not used to surprises like these I thought it was a joke but trusting murtaza enough I said to him that I wont believe all this until I get tickets on the mail.. and they too came. By evening Ankita called and confirmed all details and now it was only wait ( and an agonizing one). The next morning was a surprise, surprise… Manjulika calls me up and asks whether I am going or not? How did she knew? I hadn’t told anyone( apart from jatin who knew by the blogadda tweet where they had announced the names of the first 4 people going there and my name was one of them).

Very nervous , Manjulika said yes to the trip after she came to know that I was going too. Atleast she knew someone now. By the night our tickets were on the mail which meant that I had to go now..it was confirmed that it was no joke. But there was a catastrophe. 2 infact- First there were 9 people going from delhi and apart from me all were ladies(Me was the minority) . Apart from Manjulika, Ritu Lalit and Anupama Mazumdar were the 2 people I knew well. Secondly, my return ticket from goa had a salutation mistake ( Mr. की जगह  Ms. ) . I immediately dispatched a mail to blogadda team pointing out the mistake. They sent me a assurance mail but I was nervous as hell. The airport security doesn’t allow entry even at the minutest of things, what if I had no entry…ahhhhhh. With mails flying thick and fast between me and blogadda for the minutest of queries and clarifications, documents sending they must have thought किससे पाला पड़ गया यार . By the evening I was in a state of panic attack regarding the trip. My voice was shaking and I was nervous as hell. I have been to numerous trips but don’t know why this happened.

In the morning I was the first to reach the airport, Manjulika was 5 mins. away and ritu ji was this-

Me: Hello Ritu ji, कहाँ हो आप ?

Ritu ji: अरे पता नहीं मुझे यह कौनसा taxi ड्राइवर मिला है जिसे airport का रास्ता ही नहीं पता .

Chattering and blabbering me and manjulika didn’t see where we were going and we were at the checkin counter for people with special needs. When the lady at the counter (beautiful one) pointed this out, we were laughing and had to go to the normal one. In the meantime Ritu ji joined us and we proceeded to security check where I made a basic mistake. Forgot to put the cellphones for xray in the laptop bag and when the security officer checking me pointed this out, had to rush back to do that and go and stand in another line ( which was short). So basically my whole luggage ( laptop and phone) were on 2 different x ray machines and I had to literally collect them from places. कोई उठा के न ले जाए , कहीं पार न हो जाए . All tragedies happening with me. Later on we met seema and rekha( food blogger). Khaana… sounded yummy.. It was lovely talking to them both. Exertion was taking a toll on Manjulika as she was suffering from fever. We went in search of some seating space near the boarding gates but found none. Ritu ji and the rest had gone for a quick coffee and we 2 decided to board the flight. The boarding started and in 15 minutes we were in the aircraft. Anupama didn’t come. Met Christine there. She was also destined for goa. In between all this my eyes were desperately searching for that one thing I find always.. It was there when I got a glimpse of it. 3 Indian Air Force IL 76 transports on the tarmac.

They are like my good luck charm and I always wish to see them in one form or the other when I travel. When the plane was taxing to the runway noticed a thing which I probably saw the first time(or noticed it), the ground crew saluting the pilot before take off. Done to communicate all systems good to go and ready for flight, I had noticed it only with the air forces but for the first time saw the civilian side. So off went the flight and I tried sleeping but to no avail. Got up only after the announcement of preparing for landing. The view from the top was marvelous. Quickly snapped it up.

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This time guess who welcomes me to Goa? The Indian Navy. I had seen a ski jump at a secondary runway and knew only one fighter type operates this way. Scanning the eyes for it, saw them finally. 2 Sea harriers standing on the side with tanks loaded. No weapons though. So it was a welcome to goa by the Interceptors. Although wanted to click the pic of it but as always decided against it. Nothing of the sort which can put the security of the country at risk. My disasters with luggage continued, the luggage was the last to come on the belt and I was muttering in mute mode.

Out of the airport there was no welcoming party. We saw no one with a placard from blogadda. Noticed a guy holding a Zuri resort placard but he was not there to pick us. I called up Harish to enquire about the person picking us up, meanwhile Manjulika made a quick enquiry from  another person holding the TATA Motors board. In 5 minutes we knew that Ankur was there to pick us. He was inside waiting for other group to arrive. Meanwhile we waited for the bus and met the group from Mumbai. So the first interaction was with Hemant. सब airport पे ही शुरू हो गए  about blogging and all. अरे पहुँच तो जाने दो पहले .. The trip to Zuri resorts was all alive with greenery and dark clouds, just the kind of weather I love. At the resort welcomed with the tika and I felt happy. Manjulika was like , “ अब तो तसल्ली मिल गयी न , टीके से स्वागत हो गया सबका ..” At the delhi and goa airport I was rusing the fact that there had been no welcome or send off. It didn’t matter. Surprises and welcome moments started from here.

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Harish was there to personally welcome us, so was Ankita. The 2 people who must had been fed up by my small mails every now and then. All I saw there were smiles and the happiness to see the people. It was the top 50 as they had called it. Signing up for my room I headed that way after a welcome drink. Time was short, lunch was only till 4 and we were already at 3.15 pm. The way to the room was a typical bhool bhulaiya. So many turns and room numbers that anybody could get lost. Luckily mine was the easier way. The room was wow. There was literally a mad rush to charge the phones ( Manjulika`s phone had a dead battery and she was relying on mine to convey messages to the family. Not a problem with me, that’s what friends are for). After some 20 mins headed to lunch. 25 mins. to go. At the reception desk when I asked Sneha the way to the food hall, she first looked at the watch and said, “ Oh there`s still 15 mins. Please head that way”. J . Hungry since hours me and Manjulika sat down and had lunch. An awesome variety of food.

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Till now we had not interacted much with anybody so were busy giving company to each other which would change during the next 30 mins. I noticed a Zest bag with her and she told me that it was there at the reception  which we had to take and sign a declaration form too. All about not posting any obscene or objectionable stuff during our live blogging session.

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Picture 6Decided to take that while others were having their craving for the sweet tooth, found Anand on the top of the stairs waiting for me with my personalized badge requesting me to put it so that its easier for everyone to remember. At the reception the kit contained a blue zest t shirt to be worn the next day, stickers, a strap card, a layout of the way to the rooms in case you get lost (which many had done already), a personalized welcome message from Nirav. When I went back to the hall everyone was done and I had decided to put this in the room and come back. There was tea at 5 pm. अभी खाना खाया और अभी चाय .. खिला पिला के मारेंगे क्या ?

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Just out of the hall and we were requested for video bytes. I don’t give it generally but it felt so nice that I surely said yes. No harm in sharing with others. Already the photography team had treated us as complete celebs. So many pics clicked of us that we lost count. Sharing with them and on opening my room met my room partner – Aseem. Destined for the Unicorn hall where tea would be served, we tagged behind Anand and still got lost in the way. Managed back and found Harish there to welcome us. The hall seemed big enough. Met Pranay and Shashank there. Then it was a formal welcome by Ankita who highlighted the agenda and stuff. After about 20-25 minutes we headed for tea. The so called Masterclass was to begin by 7 and we had plenty of time. The star attraction at the tea- the 4 cakes of Youtube, Linkedin , twitter and facebook. Multiple pics were clicked and not one dare cut it. गाली कौन खायेगा ? There was a general announcement that the cake is going to be cut so please take the pics if anybody hasn`t. Just to be safe.

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After tea we 4 (me, aseem, shashank and pranay) decided to relax our backs. The stools punished the body. While we relaxed, a lot of people went to the beach (behind the resort). Met Senthil who introduced with a very special set of card.

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By 7 we had Miss Malini welcoming us and the team from TATA. The team told us the journey of the TATA ZEST and what all we can expect from the test drive the next day.

In came the biggest surprise. In walks Narain Kartikeyan and everybody is stunned, awed, surprised. Harish and his team pulled this out perfectly. Seeing him on the screen was another thing and there he was just inches away. Although the team from TATA was busy explaining the features and details of the Zest but my concentration was on Narain. I just could not believe my luck. After a talk of some 30-35 mins regarding whats new, the features it was time to pose for a pic with Narain. He is the most shy celeb I have seen, even more than a newly married bride. When it was time for the group photo his expression had to be seen. With solo pic we had to request him to look at the camera. Pranay did the work for me clicking the pics. Quickly got hold of a marker and the autograph is now mine.

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After he went and the masterclass got over, we all met and chatted like old friends. Not possible to meet the rest 49 but I made sure that I could meet as many as I could. We were a group already of 4. Testing the audio system, voice recognition, game and stuff like that we did not realize the time until there was a call for us to come and join dinner. On dinner 2 things happened with me- Harish as usual was the helpful sort who asked me to take the call as to not drive the car the next day ( I am a paranoid driver plus I had suffered a recent injury, doc told me to take it easy). It was all upto me. While I was getting to know Sushmita , another awesome girl from delhi who is just fab I was thinking that its so strange that people connect with thoughts. It was like finding a gem out of nowhere. We talked and enjoyed that too. I really wanted to know Harish`s version of calling me to goa on Murtaza`s recommendation. He told me that I surely was not the ultimate choice which I knew considering I am an Indiblogger first(write all events). Despite opposition he took the call to take me to goa (after having a look at my blog) and going after his instinct. Going by the bond he and Murtaza share, he decided to see the person whom Murtaza had recommended in the first place…. And he was delighted to see me there. I was there on multiple missions- experience the zest, experience goa, go back and write about it so that all my friends can read about it. When somebody had put so much faith in me I would repack that trust back. We called it a night around 11 keeping in mind that we had to go on the test drive and also me and aseem had planned to go to the beach early morning coz we had missed it. In between Sneha had told me that my ticket had been rectified, not to worry.

In the room there was a bag containing a white shirt on Aseem`s bed but he had no clue what it was doing there? There was 3 complimentary bottles of water in each room and he was asking me that will we have to pay for it? I had to show him the welcoming letter telling him that it was free. The room was already freezing at 16 and despite me increasing its temperature, it did not seem to work. We took out our laptops and got down to tafree on fb and twitter. The room was becoming antartica so I switched off the AC and the temp. went from 16 to 19 in 20 mins. Meanwhile we had placed a wake up call for 4.30 am to go to the beach. We knew that we wont be able to go before 6-6.30 in any case. The morning tea was at 7. Rain had started and I opened the door to the garden hoping that the hot air from outside would have some effect on our room.

गरम हवा तो नहीं आई ,मच्छर ज़रूर आ गए . The room looked like an electronics shop. 2 laptops charging at 2 different points, my portable charger plugged into the usb port, 2 different mobiles charging at 2 other points. Had police raided out room then, surely we both would have been behind bars on suspicion of betting. I uploaded the pics on facebook while aseem was busy “analyzing” twitter. We had set our sleeping time as 2 am and then this happened-

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Had to finally call it a night although Aseem was thinking of waking through the night “ आखिर 2 घंटे बाद फिर उठना तो है ही ”. After 4.30 we had a wake up call, I received it, saw outside that it was pitch black and decided to sleep. The all night जागने वाला was sleeping.. At around 5.30 I was awake automatically and when I was pondering over to get ready there was another call from the reception as the wake up call. I was thinking, “ एक बार तो उठा दिया , अब कितनी बार उठाएगा ?”. It was a call to inform that tea would be served at 7 and before that we had to check out. This wake up call was sent to all rooms and there was a bit of panic when I informed Manjulika that we had to check out by 7 and not just get ready for tea. Harish managed that quite well again. All systematic. So we both were the first ones to check out completely by 6.45 and headed to the beach. It was serene and quite. Nivedith, Senthil and the others were enjoying the stroll.

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After sometime it started to drizzle and we rushed back for the chai. At the breakfast, Anand came and asked me if I had received the white t shirt goodie bag and I said no. Then he came and handed me that and Pranay said to Aseem, “ देख लो बे Celeb bloggers को हाथ में दी जाती है.. बाकियों के तो बिस्तर पर रखी मिलती हैं  J”.  We went into the hall where we were given safety instructions to handle the automatics. With no clutch, the people can mistakenly press the brake and the car comes to a sudden halt. With a ground rule of NO LEFT LEG we were given groups of 3 each and 2 car variants which we had to drive around a pre determined route. There were markers along the route and we had a route map in the form of a booklet. I got P 6 (petrol version first) alongwith Ila and Arun. My day was about to change. With injury worries, I set off as a Navigator. People going out of the room to test drive looked to me like fighter pilots exiting the debriefing room for missions. There were drivers provided on those cars where nobody couldn’t/did not wanted to drive. Our car had a volunteer from TATA.

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We got into the car with Arun driving, Ila on the passenger seat and I was at the back. Flagged off like a rally we just into the drive straightaway with the car into sports mode from the very start. We were looking at the markers and making our way across. We had two pit stops where the drivers needed to swap places to get the feel. We were okay. Arun was giving the input and the feel and I was listening. On the way we noticed the rest of the teams taking pics and capturing the beauty of Goa. We found a nice church and when we parked there, got to know that there was a funeral and had to move quickly as the rest of the teams were all stopping there. There were only few Zests with us and they were all with us and all blue colour. Our dresses, the cars..everything. The T shirt was an awesome fit. We stopped on the way in between and got busy with pics. We finished the drive to Zuri and Arun gave his input and the shortcoming to the TATA person. Now we moved to the diesel version ( the automatic). We were told what to watch out for. Hardly had we gone 100 m, Arun exclaimed “ Man this is power. Its easy you both should give it a try. See I am doing nothing, its only brake and accelerator”. After much coaxing Ila got ready to drive for 200 m. On another wide stretch of road I took over. It was so comfortable. Initially behind the wheel I had planned for 200 m only but ended up with one pit stop and some 5-6 kms. Arun was the best instructor ever. So patient, calm and helpful. Keeping the parking brake in hand, he did not let us feel the jitters. On the way we tried selfies which got damaged due to too much sun on the lens but we did manage to scoop up a few nevertheless.

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We were probably the last ones to check in. Filling the feedback forms the first thing Anand asked me ,” So how was the drive?” and the smile and happiness on my face must have told him how was it.For the detailed review of the car head here to my blogpost:

http://www.shwetabhmathur.in/2014/07/the-tata-zest-experience-test-drive.html

Rushed inside to write the blog as the clock was ticking away and we had to depart for the airport by 2 pm. Lunch had to be finished by that time. Got down to typing as fast as I could but the words were taking time to come out on paper. Quickly finished the car review, posted it and headed out to the group pic. It was raining and everyone was waiting. A few of us rushed out and had a photo nonetheless in the rain. After that it was lunch and while I said goodbye to people I felt like saying goodbye to a family. There were people from all places and felt so close. Bundled into the bus saying goodbye to the blogadda team we went to the airport where another tragedy awaited us. Our Spicejet flight was delayed by 2.30 hours. By the time we would have landed there, we were supposed to take off. Carrying a complimentary “खाने का  डब्बा ” given to us by the flight we had the security check done so that we could sit somewhere and plug the phones to charging.

Now these were the awesomest 2.30 hours.. every flight was delayed. The Mumbai flight was delayed by some 15-20 minutes. We said goodbye to them, Harish and his team too came after sometime. Sneha saw me and said,”तसल्ली मिल गयी Mr. and Ms. की अब ” ? Anand pointed to me and Manjulika and said “Hey these 2 are still wearing the zest shirts..they should get a photo clicked.”.  We said goodbye to them also. पहले विदा होने वाले थे , अब सबको विदा करके ही जायेंगे . In these 2 hours I got to know Manjulika and Sushmita much better. It was like old pals meeting after a long time. It was memorable. The hangover was still there. Landing at around 9.30 it was a long trip although I had tried to write this experience in the flight itself but got so emotional that had to stop it.

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I went to Goa empty handed and returned with a lot of memories for the lifetime. It did not matter whether I am an avid Indiblogger or not or whatsoever. I got a chance, I took it. There are a lot of people who made this possible for me. Murtaza for pushing me to go “for my sake”, Harish for trusting his instincts, Manjulika, Sushmita for putting up with my craziness at the airport..and the rest of the people for starting this beautiful bond of friendship with a lifetime validity. It doesn’t matter which networking site I am attached with( some people think me to be biased towards one) I would always remain one person who likes to write and the management and hospitality of Harish and the others have made sure that it would be one memorable trip.

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 Note: This post was originally published here

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X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) – Bryan Singer’s star-studded Summer Blockbuster that marks his emphatic comeback to the “X-Men” franchise

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X-Men: Days of Future Past, directed by American filmmaker Bryan Singer, is the seventh and the latest film in the X-Men movie franchise. Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, the X-Men are an eponymous group of mutant superheroes which got inducted into the Marvel Universe back in the early ‘60s with the launch of the comic book series, “The X-Men” aka “Uncanny X-Men”. Under the able tutelage and protection of Professor Charles Xavier—a powerful psychic and a fellow mutant—the X-Men learn to hone their special powers with the purpose of serving mankind and to prove mutants can be heroes as oppose to freaks of nature who are a major threat to humanity as their detractors like to call them. Xavier calls them “X-Men” because their special abilities are a result of the “X-gene”—a gene that’s absent in normal humans. X-Men: Days of Future Past stellar ensemble cast includes the likes of Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Ellen Page, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. X-Men: Days of Future Past features cameos from Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, and James Marsden.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is set in the not too distant future, circa early 2020s, when the mutant race is facing extinction at the hands of mutant-exterminating robots called Sentinels. Professor Charles Xavier, who has returned from the dead, has joined hands with his arch-nemesis, Magneto, in bid to save the last of their race from obliteration. Xavier and Magneto decide to send Wolverine 50 years into the past, wherein he must reunite with the Xavier and Magneto of old and together they must prevent an event from occurring and thus alter the course of history, with the help of Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page)—a young mutant gifted with the ability to project a person’s consciousness back in time. But, Wolverine has his job cut out, for not only does it turn out to be a race against time but also a clash of egos as he tries his level best to bring the spiteful and disillusioned Xavier (remember, this takes a few years after the events of X-Men: First Class wherein Xavier was left crippled by his one-time friend Erik aka Magneto) and the ever so fiendish Magneto on the same page by trying to convince them about the macabre future that awaited the mutant race.

Out of the six “X-Men” films that have come out prior to X-Men: Days of Future Past, the two films that impressed this critic the least are The Wolverine (2013) and X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), and in that order. This clearly is not an aberration. The best way to understand this is to realize that the X-Men franchise, unlike some of the other superhero franchises, has never been about one or two characters. As popular as he may be in the X-Men universe, Wolverine is just one of the many superstars in the X-Men horizon who without the bunch of others just doesn’t have the same appeal. There are a Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique aka Raven, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Directed by Bryan Singer Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique aka Raven lot many superhero franchises out there but what makes X-Men stand out is its wide array of characters, for visual splendor is a given with all these Hollywood productions. The late American film critic, Roger Ebert, in his review of Star Trek II: “Star Trek stories have always been best when they centered around their characters.” Well, the same can be said of X-Men stories. The film franchise viewers are obviously excited to see the special effects but what they are really interested in is their beloved characters. This critic, for one, is thrilled by the very rivalry that drives the relationship that Professor Charles Xavier shares with Magneto. They may oppose each other on the basis of principles but there is deep mutual respect that lies underneath. They detest each other’s ways but deep down they know that each of them is doing the best they could for the survival of their race.

Overall, X-Men: Days of Future Past serves as a heavy dose of entertainment that may not necessarily be devoid of substance. As a matter of fact, it’s the perfect summer blockbuster that the audiences all around the globe crave for. Bryan Singer and team need to be commended for striking the right balance between the move’s technical and emotional elements which ultimately enabled them to put up a fabulous show (the movie’s sequences that are set in the ’70s are absolutely spellbinding). While the acting is superb all around, the cinematography and editing are topnotch. The role of the youthful Magneto, debonair, arrogant and unforgiving, in X-Men: First Class (2011) seemed to have provided Fassbender with the right conduit to showcase his acting capabilities to the whole world and since then he has never looked back. In X-Men: Days of Future Past, he delivers yet another memorable performance. James McAvoy is another actor who has continued to impress this critic in recent times. His acting career got revived with X-Men: First Class and he has followed up the good work in films like Trance (2013), Filth (2013), and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (2013). And, X-Men: Days of Future Past is no exception. Hugh Jackman is solid as ever—albeit a bit subdued—in the role that has made him an international phenomenon. Jennifer Lawrence is slowly emerging as the definitive female action icon of our times. It’s good to see her character get more screen time this time around. The support cast is well led by the veterans like Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. In the end, X-Men: Days of Future Past is a film that will thrill and excite the viewers of all ages and groups.

Note: This review was originally published here

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Shoppal.in: The one stop shop for coupon deals and discounts

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Shoppal.in was a unique and interesting coupon website experience for me. Shoppal, a venture that started out somewhere in 2013, has today emerged as a one stop location for all the discount deals and coupons that you need. It deals with both top notch as well as upcoming brand stores. So, you can shop online knowing there is shoppal to watch your back.

Shoppal caters to a wide range of shoppers’ including kids, mothers, fashionistas, businessmen etc. You will be swarmed with over 300+ coupon stores here. The number is just increasing by the day making this website ever so popular especially with coupons and deals. Consisting of all the possible features, this site is considered to be one of the most user friendly, and absolutely happening site for shoppers’.

Purchasing a coupon has become relatively easy with Shoppal. You just need to avail the appropriate coupon code, and there the deal is right in front of you. How this works? Well, the user needs to click on the code mentioned on the website. The user will then be transported to the retailer’s website where the actually sales process is conducted. Here is where the discount is availed and the product is purchased. On reaching the website, the user will need to choose the product, enter the code on checkout and avail the discount. It is important to remember that the discount rates vary with the items chosen. While it would be a flat 50% off on some product, it is necessarily going to be a 100/- off on another product. Remember to choose the discount coupon based on the product you are planning to buy online.

Here is a classic example to illustrate what I am trying to say here. Let’s say I entered shoppal.in website to search for coupons for the Yepme store. Now when I enter the Yepme store in Shoppal, I will find myself surrounded by a variety of coupons. The coupons present here are all different. One coupon offers discounts on camera accessories while the other offers discount on mobiles. The amount of discount offered would also be different. Now, I will need to activate the deal to be directed to Yepme website from where I can avail the discount. The deals are all valid on the landing page i.e. only when you click on the deal will it be considered valid. It’s a pretty simple click and acquire sort of presentation.

In case your shopping bag is craving for a new item get ready to shop with discounts from the coupons available at Shoppal.in

Understanding the features at Shoppal.in

Shoppal.in is known for a wide variety of features. Here is an insight into the features that represent Shoppal highly in front of its consumers’

  • “Featured Stores” section in Shoppal is known to display all the top notch reputed brand stores that Shoppal hosts
  • “Subscribe for Shoppal Club” is a pop up that allows you to get the weekly coupons and contest details in your inbox
  • “Latest Coupons” features all the trending coupons that have made its place either a day or week back
  • “Top Coupons” features the coupons that are popular among the online shoppers
  • “Your favorite coupon is here” allows you to check on the favorite coupons
  •  Shoppal Blog to keep you updated with latest happenings in the shopping arena

The additional features on this website

  • The site is linked to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ allowing social sharing
  • Shoppal forum to help you find the right deal 24*7
  • Latest and top coupon section on the main page
  • Search box that allows you to search for the coupon or brand store
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Dedh Ishqiya (2014): Indian filmmaker Abhishek Chaubey’s second chapter in “Babban-Khalujan” saga

Dedh Ishqiya serves as a much-needed breath of fresh air that comes at a time when commercial Hindi cinema seems be going through a phase of stagnation with respect to creativity. The films are cashing in on the box office but do not seem to be offering enough as far as the content is concerned.

As a multifaceted work of cinema, Dedh Ishqiya proves to be a great respite. Made in the vein of Hindi gangster films like Gangs of Wasseypur (2012) and Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster (2011), Dedh Ishqiya effortlessly transcends genres. The movie’s impeccable comic timing serves as a great means to punctuate tension as and when it builds up. The strong undercurrent of dark humor adds a whole new dimension to the movie.

Dedh Ishqiya is entertainment galore for a casual viewer, and, at the same time, it offers enough food for thought for an intelligent viewer. Highly recommended!

Full review can be read at:

http://www.apotpourriofvestiges.com/2014/01/dedh-ishqiya-2014-indian-filmmaker.html

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