Sunday, December 14, 2008

Survival of Art

If you have read my previous blogs, you would know that my favourite book (and movie) till now is The Lord of The Rings. I read the book recently and loved it (more than the movie itself). The 3-volume novel was launched in 1954 and is still one of the most read books today. What could be the reason behind this ?

The answer lies in the fact that the book is truly a great piece of story-telling. It's a fantasy novel, and there are many more, but the reason this book excels is because people have something to learn from this book. Be it 1960, 1970, or even 2010, whenever you read this book, you can relate to any character, their actions and the surroundings they are in which led them to their action. And the best part is, if you read this book after a gap of 10 years, you will infer the book in a different manner, according to the situation you are in. Kids and adults of this generation read the book and love it as they can relate to the book.

I finished watching the great epic Mahabharat (1988) made by Late. Mr. B.R. Chopra and his son Mr. Ravi Chopra. I will write a detailed review on it later, but in brief, it was amazing. Its the best Indian TV series to date, and I think the same can be said even later. People have told me that back then in 1988, when the series used to air at morning 9 AM on Sundays, roads were deserted, people post-poned their gatherings and literally everyone were glued to their TV for 1 hour. And now I quite believe them.

I found the same thing in the series. I have not read the epic-book 'Mahabharat', but I am sure it will also be amazing in the art of story-telling. With its variety of characters and their actions, you are compelled to take a leaf out of the book and compare yourself to it, in some manner, at any point of time.

Some work of art lives through ages. It survives because people of any age at any time are able to deduct something from it for themselves. They can feel that the art speaks for them. Maybe thats why there are many old songs which are heard by this generation too. Even though the piece of art belonged to an era, it survives the passage of time as the newer generation is ready to accept it in their lives.

If you know of any other work like these, please let me know. I would love to try it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Powerless (Say What You Want)

I like Nelly Furtado's song - Powerless (Say what you want) - the remix version by Josh . Been listening to it since long time.
The lyrics goes something like this :

Cuz this life is too short to live it just for you
But when you feel so powerless what are you gonna do
But say what you want
Say what you want.

People do that a lot! I have observed many people do the same thing, when they feel powerless. They cannot bear what is happening around them and if the person feels he/she cannot control the situation he is in, he ends up taking a drastic action. This action doesn't even help improving his/her situation. For example, some go in depression, some go on a killing spree, some commit suicide, some end up hurting others, etc. No one gets affected, life goes on, except for the person who was feeling powerless.

For me, this is wrong. Take actions which elevate your position from being powerless to powerful. A man with power or in a powerful state can do far better things than him being in a powerless state. Divert all your actions to change your situation. I know its difficult. The reason you are feeling powerless is that you don't know how to change your situation. But there is always a way out. Start analyzing your situation, how you got yourself into it, and how to get out of it. Think wisely, analyze hard.

This might be dogmatic, but I believe it will atleast prevent someone from taking a drastic, unnecessary action. Any comments ?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Its That Time Of The Year Again

Its the month of festivals. Started with Navratri, then Dushera and finally Diwali (I am sure I have missed something). If there is any season when you should forget all your worries, its now. Literally. How else do you plan to enjoy this festive season. It feels great looking at other people enjoying the season with their close ones. And here I am worrying about my ceaselessly growing belly. That too now! There is other time for this - like January (after Christmas of course ;) ). For now, just eat all the goodies and bask in the fervor. That should be the motto. Yup, and it is. Starting now...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Simon And Garfunkel

Listening to Simon And Garfunkel after a long time. Their songs like 'Scaraborough Fair', 'El Condor Pasa', 'Cecilia' are some of my favorites. For me, their music takes you to a different time.

There are many songs, pictures which take you to a different place and time when you hear or see them. Some ring a familiarity at the back of your head reminding you of something . And its a different pleasure altogether to experience it.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Thank You For Calling, Have A Nice Day

I just called Airtel Customer Care to register my Home Landline for National Do Not Call (NDNC). When I say 'just called', I meant I called them at midnight (too busy to do these things during the day!). I called from my house in Pune, India and am sure the call was received by some Indian working at some call center in India. He asked for my landline number and where I am calling from. Anyways, it took hardly 1 minute to do that, and there were no issues in getting that done, but at the end of the call, the fellow at the other end wishes me 'Thank you for calling Airtel, Have a Nice Day'. You see where I am getting at ? For God's sake, its midnight, you know I am from Pune, why can't you just wish me good night, instead of wishing me a good day. I guess a IVRS might do a better job at it (you just need to program it to wish a customer according to the time he/she is calling).


I know all these BPO operations are a huge source of revenue and employment generation for India. It has changed the whole demography of many small towns and Tier-II cities. We have better spending power now. It has given a rise to all malls mushrooming all over India, which in turn generates more jobs. Good for us! But then we don't use our common sense any more. Even though the guy from Airtel who recieved my call was trained to say 'Thank you for calling...', I think he should have wished me good night. But thats not the way it is.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Blog has its own URL !!!

Yes. If you are reading this on my blog (and not through a RSS feed), then you will notice that the URL in your address bar is http://blog.rishiagarwal.in.

I never believed in all this domain business, but lately I realized you need to have your identity in the online world, some sort of presence in the virtual world. After you meet people at social gatherings or after networking with people, some might want to go back and know more about you. They might want to contact you. Some might need your help after a few weeks and they might just remember your name. In today's world, they will go online and search you (on LinkedIn or Facebook) or else just google you. And the best way to be found online (other than blogs) is to have your own website + a good URL.

So now I have my own domain - rishiagarwal.in, which cost me a lot, as the .com one was not available (even after requesting), and .in (India) ones are double the cost of .com domains. A .com domain is the most preferable, as thats what started it all. But apparently, these country code Top Level Domains (ccTLD) like .in, .us, .uk are more expensive than the generic .com one. Searching on Godaddy, I found that the most expensive international domain is .jp ( Japan ). I guess I paid quite less compared to some 'Rishi Agarwal' from Japan who will have to shell out $99.99/yr for rishiagarwal.jp :)

Note : Only http://blog.rishiagarwal.in works and points to my old blog http://darkcloud84.blogspot.com. I have not put up any website yet, hence http://rishiagarwal.in will take you to 'Work In Progress' page.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Cleaning Up

Everyone takes out time to clean up some stuff around them. Re-organize things. Like your desk, cupboard, etc. At times, it happens often, or once in a blue moon. But, it gives you a sense of satisfaction that you are able to organize your life and put things around you the way you want it to be.

When I was less than 10, I used to clean up ( rather re-organize ) my comics collection once a while.
Then after 10, I started cleaning my study table. This used to happen often, with my table littered with books all around and stacks piling up within a week.
Then I got to cleaning my cupboard, giving out old clothes to the needy.
During college, cleaning of my books and project stuff used to happen after every semester. To be frank, that was one of the best pleasures, to put those course materials away hoping to never see them again ;-)

And today, I cleaned my Home Desktop... Phew !

Saturday, September 06, 2008

I wonder which story our we in ?

Contains Spoiler from Lord Of the Rings

There is this awesome excerpt from Lord of The Rings. It involves a chat between Sam and Frodo in the chapter 'The Stairs of Cirith Ungol' from The Two Towers, contemplating what they have got themselves into.

Now recently, there has been this trend of publishing your status message through Twitter, Facebook , Google Talk and other IMs. I wanted to put up this excerpt from the book on any one of these applications' . I could basically type it out from the book, but as I said, it was too long. So, I searched, and found this one more useful website Wikiquote from Wikimedia Foundations ( the guys who came with Wikipedia ) .

So, finally, I got my favourite quote from that site ( Give it a try, its really good ) . But couldnt publish it anywhere because of its size and I really didn't want to cut it down. So here I am , publishing it where I can type anything, without any limits, without any boundaries.

Anyways, enough of history, here is the quote :

'I don't like anything here at all.' said Frodo, 'step or stone, breath or bone. Earth, air and water all seem accursed. But so our path is laid'

We shouldn't be here at all, if we'd known more about it before we started. But I suppose it's often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that's not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually — their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't. And if they had, we shouldn't know, because they'd have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on — and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same — like old Mr Bilbo. But those aren't always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we've fallen into?

Now since this is my blog, I would like to add the same quote from the Lord of The Rings : The Two Towers movie ( though it occurs in a different setting ) . The same quote is a bit modified, but nevertheless, it sounds awesome and becomes the perfect climax scene for the movie because of the ingenious direction by Peter Jackson

Here it goes :

Frodo: I can't do this, Sam.
Sam
: I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo; the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end... because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was, when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going... because they were holding on to something.

My thoughts about Lord of The Rings : here and here

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

How good a movie is for me ?

I saw The Dark Knight few days back. I was not shielded from all the hype around the movie. I hate it. Of course I was desperate to watch it, from the moment I saw Batman Begins. And at the end of the movie, when Gordon informs Batman about a new criminal named Joker, I knew the next movie will be a class in its own. But I avoid being involved in the hype till I dont watch the movie myself. So anyways, I saw The Dark Knight, came out of the theater, content.

These are the factors according to me for considering how good a movie is :
  1. I come out of the theater , and have no words to describe it. Speechless. I dont know what to reply when people ask me " how was the movie ? " . I dont know what to say after coming out of the theater. Everything in the movie is so perfect, that you would just want to savour the moment. Something like eating a very well made Dessert/Dish, which everyone just savours and avoids talking for the time they enjoy it and after that.
  2. I would want to watch it again in theater. Considering the busy lives we have, its difficult to catch a movie one more time.
  3. I start recommending it to people.
  4. I want to own a DVD of that movie ( specifically a collectors edition ) .
  5. I get totally immersed into everything about the movie ( IMDB , Soundtracks, Wallpapers ) . It means I have become a fan of the movie and contribute to the hype building around the movie :)
The last time all these points came true were for Lord Of The Rings : The Return of The King and Titanic. And now The Dark Knight.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sarkar Raj : No Power At All

Let me begin by saying that I loved the first movie Sarkar. I have seen it 4 times till now, which is good enough number according to my standards to term it as " I love this movie " ( Haven't I mentioned that yet ?? ) . The other movie from Ram Gopal Verma which I adore is Satya. Brilliant. These 2 movies give RGV a different status altogether in Bollywood.

And thats why I went to see Sarkar Raj with lot of anticipation ( mind you , not expectation ) . I ignored all the mixed reviews from critics and friends. I wanted to go to the theater with a fresh and clean mind.

But within 5 minutes after the start, I started getting the feeling that this movie will be a disappointment after all. The feeling turned into reality within 25 minutes. The less said about the movie, the better. The movie was no where near the charisma of its prequel. Everything in the prequel was close to perfection. But here, in the sequel, you feel that everything was being done in a hurry. By everything I mean the dialogues, screenplay,music, even the acting ! The scenes just came one after the other, without allowing the illogical plot to sink in. The dialogues had no effect whatsoever, which were blurted out by actors just for the sake of saying it. The first movie had a brilliant casting of supporting actors ( the likes of Silvermani , Swami , Vishnu ), which was missing from the second.

The only saving grace in Sarkar Raj was the climax of 15 minutes, which reminded of classic RGV-style movie-making. All in all, a hastily done over-hyped movie. I have observed that this happens a lot to directors who set a level for themselves with their previous work. I sincerely wish he regains that level soon.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Handling Difficult People

I read this article a few months back in The Sunday Times ( Times of India ) newspaper under Mind Over Matter section. Brilliant article. Actually awesome. It explains why, at times, people become difficult to handle, and how to handle them.

Give it a try. If you are facing someone who has become difficult lately, then it will definitely help you.

Handling Difficult People

If only everyone could understand this, there won't be any argument at all in this world. More thoughts on this later...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Lord Of the Rings - The Book

I finished Lord Of The Rings book last week. I wanted to read it since the first movie of the series - The Fellowship of the Ring was released ( that was 6 years back ) . I finally got the time and chance to read it. And I loved it.

This is one of the finest books I have ever read. The other ones were The Fountainhead, The Alchemist and The Kite Runner.

I wanted to write an elaborate review of this book. Many were left in draft, and then deleted. Words deceived me to elaborate the grandeur of this book. I then realized my review will not do any justice to the book. But I will just say this much, that it took me to a world which no other book has ever done before. I saw the depth of relationships that I had not seen before. Please read it if you get the chance to do so. It is a work of literature, and anyone who loves reading should read this book.

I salute J.R.R Tolkien.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Taare Zameen Par - Bollywood at its best

It is for movies like Taare Zameen Par, that I still have trust in Bollywood. I went to watch this movie, with lots of expectations, and Aamir delivers again, and this time, brilliantly as a director.

First, let me clear this :
  • The movie is not about dyslexia.
  • The movie is not for kids, but for parents ( the lyrics by Prasoon Joshi are evidence of this. I don't think any kid below 15 will be able to understand most of the songs )
  • The movie is a must-watch for all, or would-be parents ( you might have heard this hundred times, but believe me, its true )
Now, the movie is about a boy ( the main Hero ) who is not good at academics, but has a hidden talent in himself. But, as our Indian educational system doesn't value anything less than 95% in academics, the teachers, principals, children, parents all think that the boy is good for nothing. Then eventually, Aamir Khan ( our second Hero ) comes along and identifies the hidden talent in the boy and also what is the main reason behind his poor performance in academics. In the process, Aamir Khan gives some award-winning speeches ( for which he wont accept a single award , let me remind you ) , making the audience realize what the whole society has become into and how it is effecting the kids in the process.

So, the movie is fantastic, direction is great, the songs are wonderfully done, dialogues are too good, etc etc etc. I don't want to ramble on and on about the technicalities of film-making. The movie just speaks for itself. All in all, a properly executed movie worthy of a Filmfare ( the equivalent of an "Oscar" in India !!! ) .

I have heard that majority of the female audience has cried during the movie. And many males too have wiped a tear or two.( yes, there wont be any such thing as 'the weaker sex' in our society in near future. Yay !!! ) . Although people might refuse to accept it, but the fact remains that every kid has been a victim of his/her parents wishes.And parents (sitting in the audience ) do realize that they have done it so, sometime in their kids life.This is why everyone in the audience , every single person, does relate to the movie.

The movie is made purely for India, and not for the "international" market ( take that , Karan Johar , Farah Khan, Yash Chopra, etc. It is also entirely shot in India, just like Lagaan and Mangal Pandey were ) It addresses a issue which is prevalent everywhere in India. I doubt many of our global audience will be able to relate to it, as their educational system is different than our's.
Aamir Khan has not succumbed to the pressure of entertaining our Indian audience throughout the movie, and for that reason, the movie might seem a bit boring in the middle. But that is to make you feel how the kid is feeling, every scene in the movie speaks of the feelings of the boy.

I know, I know, I have not mentioned anything about our main Hero - the boy - till now. Well, Darsheel Safary is fantastic. He makes you laugh, he makes you cry. He reminds you of children's innocence. He makes you sympathize with him in every shot. The guy has done a marvelous job at all these, overshadowing even Aamir Khan. I hate that Filmfare has an award for 'Best Child Actor',because I know that the judges will put him in that category and therefore, will deny him of any nomination in the Best Actor category, which he very well deserves.( Come on, the kid has carried the whole film on his shoulders, what else do you want ?? )

Our second Hero doesn't give a damn about the Awards, but I hope Darsheel gets an award worthy for his work.Till then, I will try Welcome too, who knows, it might be up to my expectations.

Update : Well, I didn't watch Welcome. And, Darsheel got a nomination for Best Actor in Filmfare. He did not win it, but at least a nomination amongst other great actors of Bollywood is worthy of a mention. I am now waiting for the DVD of TZP. Hope it is launched soon.