Sunday, November 2, 2014

Guest Post Series - Recos from a bored Engineering student

Note : This post is a part of the Guest Post Series.

There is/used-to-be (and hopefully, will-be) an informal movie fest at Chennai, where a group of people meet together once every month and watch movies of a selected genre all through a Saturday night. A terrace would be lent for a night by some kind soul (the fest is temporarily suspended due to scarcity of kind and able souls), and we would adorn it with rented beds on the floor, lie down, set up rented projectors and speakers, and try staying awake all night with movies selected by the "curator" of the day for company. Accidentally, I happened to meet a friend at the venue the very first time I attended the meet (it was his first time too), and we decided that we would frequent the Chennai Roof Top Film Festival (Chennai RTFF) as often as possible.

The challenge at such an event is not to fall asleep. My friend and I were confident that it would not be a big issue at our second meet, since the theme was "Sports movies". We found our curator to be a young college going boy : Pavithran, and our expectations for an action-packed night became higher. Pavithran started the night with a nice 1961 movie called The Hustler. However, my eyelids had trouble staying apart after watching the more-than-two-hour-long, dialogue-based (excellent dialogues though), black-and-white movie where the sport in question is snooker. After a terrible (personal opinion) sleep-inducing paranormal drama called the Field of Dreams based on the unfamiliar Baseball, I lost my cool (especially after this guy shrugged at the end of the movie with a "You are all speechless, right?"). My friend struggled to contain my heckling when I learnt that the third movie was based on a real story about a Golf tournament. Thankfully The Greatest Game Ever Played turned out to be gripping and immensely enjoyable.

I randomly met Pavithran once again at a movie screenwriting workshop. He didn't recognize me, so I had to introduce myself. Over the two-day workshop, we found that we were largely in agreement about, among other things,  the usefulness of the sessions by the knowledgeable movie academic and director K.Hariharan (a keen and a brilliant mind), and the uselessness of the sessions by Kamal Hassan (other than the brag potential, which I have now exhausted). I would have a lot of online conversations with Pavithran later on, debating on various insignificant issues. All this completely reversed my first opinion of him. Pavithran is well-read, and a crazy movie buff. He has interesting perspectives -- for example he believes there is no evil that cannot be redeemed, and thus capital punishment should be abolished. And most importantly, he has the increasingly rare quality of trying to understand the other person's opinion (read as : my opinion), and a readiness to reconsider his opening premise. Check out his reviews of Sudish Kamath's Good Night Good Morning and Prakash Raj's Dhoni. Don't be fooled by his humbleness : he is friends with many a celebrity. I stand corrected : he himself became a celebrity by starring in this briefly viral, and totally wild, YouTube video where his hair is literally set on fire.

Recos from a bored Engineering student

I used to think I was an excellent writer. I was among the several bitten by the “If Chetan Bhagat could write, so could I” bug. Until I saw how good the others were. I used to blog. I had grown lazy and stopped doing that too. It had been a very long time since I had put pen to paper to write anything. So when Adarsh (anna) asked me to do a guest post, I told him I’ll give it much thought and try to write something worthwhile. Its been 15+ days since he asked and I cant seem to find anything that would inspire me to write. Heck, I was wondering if I had forgotten how to write and went back to my blog to see the stuff I had written. It was embarrassing . I then decided I would do what I did best. Recommend movies & books that I loved and would like others to watch/read too. So here I bring you two of my favourite books and movies.

Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil

This book has a 2300 word 7 page long prologue. The specialty about it is that the entire prologue is a single sentence. No. You didn’t read it wrong. 2300 words make up one sentence. If there’s a better advertisement for a book I’ve not seen it yet. I consider it among the best works by an Indian author. The Book recreates the Bombay of the 1970s and is as mad as its prologue.

The Great Beauty by Paolo Sorrentino

This Italian film, on the surface level is a film about nothing. Of course you might want to say that by deciding to be a film about nothing, it is something but, you get the idea. If you were to dig deeper into the film, it is a lot of things. It has a deep philosophy running about it. It is one of those films that is difficult to comprehend in just one viewing. I’ve seen it thrice and it continues to throw up new things that I didn’t notice in the earlier viewing. It is also a film that demands every bit of your attention and patience. A lot of your patience if I might say, like “The Tree of Life”.

Omar by Hany Abu-Assad

A film from Palestine , this suspense drama thriller packs in friendship , romance, trust or the lack of it, betrayal, rebellion, patriotism in a tight 90 minutes that has your pulse racing with an excellent pay-off in the climax. That the film is set in occupied Palestine contributes to the tension that forms an integral part of the film. Spilling out more would mean spoiling the movie for you, which I don’t intend to do.

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

No. I haven’t seen the movie version of the book yet. I hope you haven’t yet. Even if you have and disliked it for a sappy romance film, give the book a read. It’s a brilliantly done. This is what I think happened. John Green came up with an unusual , interesting idea for a book. He then decided its not viable commercially because he felt most would not grasp the “idea” and thereby make the book a critical success and a commercial failure. He then works on the idea and improves it. The improvements to the idea, are so well thought out, the book is now both a critical and commercial success. What did he do? Read the book and you would know.

Cheap Thrills by E.L.Katz

This English black comedy is about one mad night where two friends come together after a long time and indulge in several of activities (cheap thrills) that go from being funny to bizarre before reaching incredulous levels. Though on the surface level it would seem to be a film that offers cheap entertainment, it is much more than that. It offers some serious bleak commentary on the society at large. 

Blue is the warmest Colour by Abdellatif Kechiche

A French lesbian romance film that depicts teenage first love and the heart-break that follows it is excellently captured on screen. Though 180 minutes long, considering every second of the runtime contributes to the run time, you would never feel its length. Winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival last year (awarded by a jury that was headed by Steven Spielberg) It is considered amongst the best romance films to have come out last year. One of my personal favourites. 

If you’ve already watched/read the above movies/books and feel differently, do mention in the comments. If you do watch/read the movies/books after reading about them on this blog and love or hate it afterwards, do mention in the comments. Am always up for a discussion. 

Until next time then...


  1. Thank you for the lovely introduction . I do hope you like my reco's better than you did the movies that I had screened during the sports night. And you've now successfully tied me to your blog forever. Amen :)

  2. Haha :) I was sleepy then da! Will definitely try these out and let you know. And tied up to the blog? That was the intention ;)


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