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Babel, Guru & more movies! January 27, 2007

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Movies.
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I stumbled on Robert Hruzek’s blog Middle Zone Musings by accident. He has got an interesting contest – tell an interesting story in just six words! I loved the idea so much that I still created my pick of stories even though the contest closed on 21 Jan. Here are my stories…

• I resigned. Before they fired me.
• Finally I’m in love. With myself.
• I proposed. She promptly disposed me.
• Wine is more precious than water.
• Help! My guardian angel just quit.
• I refuse to conform to conformity.
• Sure, you rock! In your dreams.
• Once married. Forever bitten and shy.

Which one do you like the most?

Another weekend went by. Today Oman is playing Bahrain in the semi-finals of the Gulf Cup Football 2007. Looks like the men in white are poised to win. I’m kinda wondering what has happened in my life since my last post… I’ve been watching loads of movies, as always. I picked up Khosla Ka Ghosla, America Pie presents The Naked Mile, Thiruvillayadal Aarambam and Dharmapuri (both Tamil flicks) from my video shop ‘New Age Music’ in Ruwi High Street. Before, I get into the movies; let me tell you a quick word about – the guy at the video shop – Devaiah. He is such a sweet soul; though I take a lot of time to return movies, he doesn’t crib and still keeps aside new movies which I might be interested in watching.

If there is one movie that is not gonna hit theatres in Oman… that is America Pie presents The Naked Mile – a raunchy college comedy featuring a lot of people in their birthday suits – it’s about a high school student who is a virgin and is desperate to have sex – and to complicate matters, he is under immense peer pressure to lose his virginity as he happens to be a member of the Stifler family – a clan known for their high school / college sexual escapades and macho ways with the women folk. Let me not waste your time with Thiruvillayadal Aarambam and Dharmapuri. Was never fond of the two ‘doyens’ of Tamil cinema – ‘Captain’ Vijaykant and Dhanush. I’ve just started watching ‘Khosla Ka Ghosla’ and it does seem to be a pretty interesting flick. More on that later! I watched Pokkiri again… for the fourth time. This time not in the big Star Main Cinema, but in the much smaller Star Mini Cinema. Enjoyed it… and now people have begun asking me if I’m planning to take my PhD in Pokkiri. Dr. Arun Pokkiri Rajagopal… sounds interesting, right?
I celebrated the weekend by washing clothes, working on a corporate website for a major technology client and… watching movies, what else?

Went for Mani Ratnam’s much hyped ‘Guru’. I can hear people yelling / screaming in celebration… looks like Oman won! Wow… way to go…
Back to Guru. The movie is a sort of biopic, loosely based on the life of Dhirubhai Ambani, one of the greatest industrialists India has ever seen and his rags to riches story. I constantly kept thinking of him as the movie progress. Guru is not an outstanding movie. I guess it is all the hype that preceded its release that works against it, including the much bandied engagement of its leading pair – Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai. Abhishek delivers a good performance as Gurukant Desai, his journey from the village of Idhar in Gujarat to a salesman in Turkey to a small time cloth trader in Mumbai to India’s greatest industrialist… again I can’t deem it an outstanding performance. The movie fails to grip you entirely, all though it kind of carries you away at certain points. But again it is a fitting tribute to the spirit of entrepreneurship and the power to dream. Dhirubhai Ambani’s life is a classic management case study. Do watch it once, not for its acting performances… but to take a leaf out of the life of one of India’s greatest visionaries and his ‘unique’ way of doing things… will most definitely inspire a lot of us to pursue our heart with conviction.

I also watched the much acclaimed ‘Babel’ yesterday. I absolutely loved the movie. I feel that you need know to a little about Babel from the Bible to appreciate this movie.

Excerpt from: http://www.festival-cannes.fr/films/fiche_film.php?langue=6002&id_film=4352770
According to the Bible, Babel was a renowned tower built by mankind united together to attain Paradise. This enterprise provoked the wrath of God, who, to separate them, had each of the men involved speak a different language, thus putting an end to the project and spreading over the Earth a disorientated people incapable of communicating.

In the movie Babel, director Alejandro González IÑÁRRITU spins three tales happening in three parts of the world at the same time. In the beginning, the three stories are seemingly disconnected from each other, before powerful, shocking connections emerge. Richard and Susan (Brad Pitt & Cate Blanchett), an estranged couple from California, are vacationing in Morocco. Two Moroccan kids watching over their herd of goats play with a rifle and accidentally shoot Susan, an incident which soon gets aggravated to the status of a terrorist act. As Richard struggles to save his wife in a forlorn Moroccan village in the desert with only a tour guide to help, his kids back home in California are taken by their Mexican nanny across the border to Mexico, so that she can attend her son’s wedding. The simple act of taking the kids along turns into a nightmare when her drunken nephew bangs his car at the US border followed by a car chase which results in the kids and the nanny being lost in the desert. They are finally discovered by the border patrol, after some anxious moments for the viewers. The third story Babel takes place in Japan, where Chieku, a deaf-mute girl struggles to come to terms with her mother’s recent death, her disability and consequent lack of social acceptance. As the movie culminates, the Moroccan goatherd has lost one of his sons to a shootout by the police who are hunting for the ‘terrorists’ who have shot at the American tourists. The kids’ nanny, who has been staying in the US illegally, is deported back to Mexico. Susan’s life is finally saved after creating an international crisis.

Babel essays a fine treatment of human tragedy. Seemingly innocuous, simple incidents seem to have a terrible impact on human plight. The message is quite simple – whatever be our cultural or geo-political differences, man is connected / united with another, in a good or bad way. Our actions have a definite impact on the lives of other people, even if they are on the other side of a continent. An example would be Chieku’s father giving away his hunting rifle as a gift to his guide in Morocco, who then sells the rifle to a goatherd who gives the rifle to his naughty kids who then shoots at a bus to see if a bullet travels three kilometres resulting in an American tourist being shot and the resulting international furore. And the connections still continue… Most of the dialogues are in Arabic, Japanese and Spanish… but the sub-titles do an excellent job in retaining the flavour. Babel also reminds us how stereotypical the world has become… about how we hear but don’t listen, about how we have lost the ability to understand and comprehend the ‘other side’. There are some brilliant moments in Babel… poignant moments in human life… and to experience that, you have to see Babel.

Excerpts from: http://www.festival-cannes.fr/films/fiche_film.php?langue=6002&id_film=4352770

“With Babel,” explains Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritu, “I wanted to explore the contradiction between the impression that the world has become quite small due to all the communication tools which we have, and the feeling that human beings are still incapable of expressing themselves and communicating amongst themselves on a fundamental level.”

Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritu on the film’s message: “I don’t know if it’s an x-ray of the world because that’s too ambitious, but I tried to show what is going on with us at the moment. We see the “other” as always abstract, so that to be different means to be dangerous and not able to understand the other. This is happening not only country between country, but against fathers, against sons, against husband… We are not able to listen anymore. I want to talk about that, the borders within our souls: our preconceptions of our fathers, the archetypes we have from religions, races, cultures. I tried to make a film that talks about prejudice without being prejudice.”

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