Movie Review- Shubh Mangal Saavdhan

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Ayushmann Khurana is on a roll this year. He kicked off the year with Meri Pyaari Bindu in May, Bareilly ki Barfi in August, and now Shubh Mangal Saavdhan (SMS) in September. If one actor is rocking this year with great roles in amazing movies, it’s Ayushmann Khurana (Also, I’m a certified Ayushmann Khurana fanboy!).Ayushmann Khurana is on a roll this year. He kicked off the year with Meri Pyaari Bindu in May, Bareilly ki Barfi in August, and now Shubh Mangal Saavdhan (SMS) in September. If one actor is rocking this year with great roles in amazing movies, it’s Ayushmann Khurana (Also, I’m a certified Ayushmann Khurana fanboy!).
Just like Ayushmann Khurana’s Vicky Donor tackling the issue of sperm donation in India, SMS tackles the issue of Erectile Dysfunction and the stigma surrounding it. It doesn’t talk about the disease or how it happens or its cure, but it sheds light on the impact ED has on the person having it and the people around him.
SMS treats the subject of ED with utmost respect and dignity. It doesn’t make comedy at its expense or give it a quick magical fix. Ayushmann Khurana’s Mudit Sharma is struggling with under confidence and coping with his shattered self-esteem; all the while running around trying to find a cure for his ED, going as far as suggesting his future wife, Sugandha (Bhumi Pednekar) they break of their marriage since he would be unable to keep her happy.
There are so many psychological effects that something like ED has which we all fail to realise when we think about it.
The fmailies of Mudit and Sugandha react differently, but authentically to the news of Mudit’s ED.
Sugandha’s parents, Seema Bhargava and Brijendra Kalra are worried her daughter will be unable to have a fulfilling life with a husband who has ED and the blame and pressure which the society will put on her, not her husband who is the one who has a problem. All throughout the film, they are trying to get Mudit’s ED cured or breaking off the marriage for their daughter. Mudit’s parent’s reactions are more diverse. His father cannot obviously digest the fact that his son can’t get it up, and resorts to blaming Sugandha for the problem. He even goes as far as to get Sugandha married to a Banana tree to cure his own son’s ED; precisely what Sugandha’s father wanted to save her from.
Mudit’s mother on the other hand is aghast; she can’t believe it because she knows Mudit could masturbate before meaning Mudit’s ED is psychological. But like all mother’s, she is supportive of her son throughout.
When both the sets of parents keep on intervening and interfering, it is the children who step in between and tell them to stop. Both of them stand up to their parents for their own decisions and do things on their own terms, which they feel are right.
In Mudit, Ayushmann Khurana brings out the vulnerability and essence of the common man, without overdoing it. Hi face, more often than not tells what he is going through and how much he’s struggling.
The undeniable star of the film is Bhumi Pednekar and her character, Sugandha. Sugandha is the heart of the film. She is the reason why Mudit even tries so hard; why Mudit actually tries to cope with his shattered self-confidence and esteem, fighting against everyone who comes his way. She is a bold, strong character and makes you in awe of the human spirit. The lengths she goes to for her marriage to Mudit, despite the pain she feels, her optimism about Mudit’s ED, and the lengths she goes to make Mudit feel okay about his ED and help him overcome it anyway possible. Her story when seen in isolation is a tear jerker; the length she goes to for Mudit are length most people wouldn’t even go for themselves.
There is a scene where she takes Mudit to a picnic to try and overcome his ED.  It starts off funny, but gets too intense too fast and made the entire audience go silent from laughter in seconds out of respect for her emotions.
SMS is also one of the year’s funniest movies. It oozes comedy in funny scenes, and is able to inject a dose of comedy in intense situations. But it never makes any fun at ED and its effect, which is commendable, given how easy it is to make ED into a topic for slapstick comedy and one liner.
All the characters in SMS themselves are half or ¾ crazy, leading to some awesome double meaning jokes and insanely humorous conversations. You might never see Alibaba as the same ever again.
While one of the leads has a tough time getting it up, you are able to get your sense of humor, happiness and social awareness levels up (What a bad joke XD). It is definitely one of the funniest and most eye opening films of this year.

Rating-3.5/4

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Energized Efforts

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This is such a tacky name for an article, but it suits what I’ve to say.  For everyone following my blog, there is some amazing news! I’m working on a new logo for my blog, and it should be up and ready within the next week, after which I’ll start Instagram, Facebook, be more active on Twitter and maybe start writing on Reddit and more on MyTrendingStories (I’ve fallen in love with Reddit over the past few months, especially random reads on NoSleep).

Plus, I’m working (albeit lazily) on my novel (Still untitled, and I can’t properly reveal what it is about, since I haven’t defined it properly) and a new short story, called The Assassination. Writing a novel is not easy, especially when you’re battling sleep deprivation and boredom and the incessant pressure of what is to become of your life. Plus, there is always the struggle that writing is only 10% writing and 90% thinking and ideation and refinement; all the things which become tiresome just too soon; so it’s a perpetual challenge to go past the 90% to write to your heart’s content.

Also, yesterday I checked and turns out that my theme, BonPress is no longer used and has been depreciated, so I’ll be giving the blog a facelift as well (for the time being, since I still utilize the free plan).

Plus, I’ve read a couple of amazing books, and I’ve played Uncharted 4, Horizon Zero Dawn and fallen back in love with Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, so expect more gaming on the blog. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll also start a Youtube Channel, which will focus on gaming and video blogging. The Youtube channel is still speculation, but it’ll be fun to do it though.

That’s it for today. Happy Reading!

Book Recommendation-Trust Me by Angela Clarke

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Sometimes, now a days while going book shopping, doesn’t there sometimes feel a disparity in book titles? Some books have names which are deep, metaphorical, such as “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, “The Fault in out Stars”, “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter”, “and Tuesdays with Morrie”. Then there are books with downright atrocious names, “Twenty and Still a virgin”, “Can Love Happen Twice”, and some other books at the Kuwait Airport with tacky titles like “Conquests” or something like that.
Then there are inbetweeners with good names, which have meaning but don’t go as deep and could be more powerful. They are fine; though they feel cheesy and more effort could have been put in, maybe. Trust Me is that sort of a book. But make no mistake, it is a fantastic book none the less.
Trust Me is the sort of book you need to put your entire attention in when reading. If you breeze past it, it’ll be meh. But if you take your time, take it page by page, see how the characters talk, and how they talk and react, the clarity with which their actions and situations are described, and how every location is portrayed, it feels entirely different from just about every other cop thriller story you have read.
It’s a formulaic story: A young female cop who feels she needs to prove her worth, her friend working with her team as a computer analyst, a case which is handed to them, another which they stumble upon by communication with a woman brave enough to do something. But it’s an amazing story.
I loved the characters the most, especially Kate, the brave woman. The story is divided into chapters which center on different characters: Nasreen, Freddie, Kate and Nigel. Kate and her chapters stood out the most. They didn’t move the plot forward as much as the others. Hers were the most character and emotion heavy. Who she is, her past, how her life has been. But most of all, throughout the book, what I loved about her was her strength of character. Her character is hands down one of the most amazing and powerful characters I have read.
The characters are themselves usually formulaic. But the way they handle situations or how they look at their desk when telling something, or how they react to a name make them stand out.
The story, like all great thrillers makes great use of misdirection. It has the second best use of misdirection I have seen in a modern thriller, second to “No Time For Goodbye” by Linwood Barclay. There are times when you go, “This is it. I knew this would happen”, and the story goes like, “”Nuh-uh. Not like this.” Even in the end there is a clever twist, which I never saw coming. It was fantastic.
The actions are extremely detailed. How the characters speak how they climb the ladder or how they are assaulted by the main villain. There is great attention to detail in all the actions. You can see the actions in front of you and every inch of its execution.
If there is something which gives this book an edge over every other book of this genre are its emotions. The emotions are nuanced to the littlest detail.
It’s these little things which add realism to the story and make it authentic. It makes the characters feel like human, the situations grave and tense and life threatening. It also has one of the most heart thumping ending ever. My heart was in my mouth the entire time.
Trust me, Trust Me is a great book. It is a fine modern thriller. It does a lot of things right and gives a great ride to the readers.

The Eyes

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The Eyes

They had been in love for years. But in the middle, their flame had burned down. They didn’t love each other like they used to. Their talks became bland and boring. They didn’t enjoy going out anymore. Little shows of care, of love were magic; but they too had ceased to have any impact. They were caught in a rut, and they knew it. They were nostalgic, longing for a time gone by, but they were caught in a rut and didn’t know what to do.
Except one day, they started talking, and it was just like before. The magic, the love came back, and the nostalgia cracked off their lives. It was just what they had been searching for. She knew how it came back, but he was happing knowing that it was back; not caring how.
In the middle of their rut, their nostalgic frenzy for how things were, she met someone. She would talk to him, and feel all the things she did before. The excitement, the care, the spontaneity; all the things which disappeared for her and her great love. But with him, they were all there.
He helped her. She tried bringing back what she was with him, but by the time she got back to where she needed, it would all fall off her, as though washed away by the rain of life without him. Slowly, she fell in love with him. Or maybe how she felt with him. But, she felt love in some capacity.
Their time however was, brief. Before long, he died. Hit by an out of control vehicle. She met him one final time when his eyes were about to close. She saw him, looked into his eyes, let out a silent wail and let him go.
After that, she went to the rut with her great love. But somehow, she found how she was with him. The rut started going away, what they needed to find had been successfully, found.
Her great love was happy that incessant repetition of the mundane had got the, back where they were never considering the mechanics of its working. But she knew. She knew their rut always loomed when she didn’t look him straight in the eyes when talking; which he took as a sign of love.
It was those eyes which reminded her, of him. Her great love and him, both had the same eyes. When she looked into those eyes, she was transported into a private dimension where she was with him, not her great love. It was the eyes, she knew, why they were able to find what was needed to be found.

Book Recommendation-Click by Rom and Ori Barfman

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Don’t all of us remember the time when we just Clicked with someone? You were with someone, sitting or standing or walking, and you started talking and it all felt perfect. Like all the stars aligned and the planets too were aligned and it was an event of great cosmic significance. It was all perfect. You could pour out all you wanted to, without being afraid of seeming clingy or emotional or weird, and the other person reciprocates. You both were on some different plane of existence, and you just got each other.
That is a Click. That magical moment, when you and the other person just, get each other. It could be set off with even a small spark, like some words exchanged in an office, or maybe sitting across each other in a table, or just a random conversation about anything, or shared adversity. Anything.
A click seems pretty simple. You talked, and magic happened. And from there on, the magic took over the entire relationship and you knew you would be with the person for at least forever. But we all know that. What we all don’t know, is what goes behind a Click? A Click is such a rare and simple phenomenon, which happens to all of us in our lives, but we never know how or why it happens. We pass it off as serendipity. Click, the book talks about how Clicks take place. What are the factors involved in it, and how small things, which we often think insignificant or uncomfortable lead to people Clicking.
Honestly, this book is fantastic. I’ve read it twice and what it teaches is fantastic. More importantly, easily applicable in everyday life. A major part of what it talks about is how people come together, Click or not. Not every conversation leads to a Click, but that doesn’t mean that conversation can’t take you forward. It tells you various little nuances of the human mind, such as proximity, similarity, the quality of conversation, personality, environment and how these impact human nature and the way we come close to people.
Clicking is not a very well defined research area; hence a lot of what Rom and Ori talk about in the book comes from personal experience rather than being backed up by statistical data or scientific evidence. So, people who like data and proof whether such things work will need to take a leap of faith. I can vouch for the experiences, since I’ve used many of the techniques in my life.
Vulnerability, one of the first concepts, rarely suited me. Because I used to feel fake being vulnerable at will with someone else; and because I don’t bond well over vulnerabilities, usually. Proximity, on the other hand I’ve seen the effects first-hand. Being in the centre of the line and the end have a lot of impact on how many people you can talk to, and hence Click with. Environment, undoubtedly one of the biggest factors for conversation; and we all know its impact and use.
Even for a causal read, Click offers a lot of insight into how we can better ourselves and make better connections. Because all of us, want to feel good, and make the other person feel good as well, till the time it is the person who licks the teacher’s behind (Let’s face it. We all hate these people). Because awkward conversations make us feel weird as well. Because all of us wouldn’t mind being friends with everybody we can be (or be respected by them, if not liked).
There is nothing much more to say about this book, because it really doesn’t talk about much; rather than me writing it in short form, it would be better to read straight from the book itself. It’s a good book, and also substitutes as good advice to better your personality.

Movie Review- Lipstick Under My Burkha

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Lipstick Under My Burkha is an important movie, just like Pink from last year. Just like schools have recommended readings, this is a film which should be a recommended watch for everyone, especially India. It portrays how the peace of most Indian houses is founded upon the burial of desires of Indian women.
Most Indian women have desires which they could not fulfil when they wanted to, or usually before marriage (Because marriage in India has a lot of complications for the women, such as a wife going back to her parent’s house is “Something wrong has happened in the household.”) But then again, desires are never truly finished. They can crop up at any age and stage. Desires aren’t bound.
But above all, women are restrained, physically, emotionally and sexually, and they aren’t allowed to live their life completely. A part of them must always be secretive, scared, afraid, constantly aware and second guessing for wanting to fulfil their desires.
Desires can be simple as well as complex. Hey can be something as simple as living a life wearing jeans and modern clothing rather than a Burkha; or having a sexual relationship at the age of 55. It can be something as forbidden as having a job, or as fundamental as wanting to leave a place behind and go away from it. However, fulfilling these desires is out of bounds, and getting caught has consequences. Not those movie consequences, where everything becomes alright and people make up. There are real world implications; places from where people can never come back from, and decisions which can never be reversed.
What makes Lipstick so important is that it shows four real non-sexualised non-caricatured in the real world without sugar-coating of any sort. It shows how women have desires; how many times these desires are the cause for conflict. How these desires make the remaining qualities of a woman immaterial, and it makes them unbecoming of a woman and shameless (Because women are always supposed to have shame. Men, not so much. They can be, and are usually forgiven on account of it being okay for men to be shameless.) Even the act of buying a condom for safe sex is a shameless act for a woman.
Lipstick follows four different women but closely related women in their lives. Usha Bhuaji (Ratna Pathak Shah), a 55 year old woman who rediscovers her sexuality. Rihana Abidi (Plabita Borthakur), a Muslim college going girl who wants more than the confines of her Burkha and parents. Shireen Aslam (Konkana Sen Sharma), a saleswoman who has troubles at home. Leela (Aahana Kumar), a girl who dreams of getting away from the confines of Bhopal. All of these women live in the Hawai Mahal, of which Bhuaji is the owner and the rest are tenants. (I’m forgetting the correct name. Apologies).
All four women are organic and their stories are relatable. They aren’t the stories of some obscure origin. Most people will be able to relate to them. They are powerful and moving, but most of all, they are true.
There are so many scenes in the film which portray how austere the oppression of women is. In one scene, Rihana dancing with no care in the world is deemed blasphemous enough by her parents to lock her in her room. In her room, Rihanna has a secret life where she idolises Miley Cyrus (Now, where have I ALSO seen a double life, lol).
Lipstick is a film about women, and it shows them as humans, rather than as perfect beings who are always right and without flaws and vices. The women in Lipstick are often on the wrong side of things, do things which are condemnable and vengeful. But we are not here to judge these women. We are here to simply peer into their lives and see the kind of restrictions they fight against on a daily basis. In addition, the prices these women pay for their desires are far greater than those paid by men. So we truly, have no right to judge them. We must simply accept them to be as flawed as men.
Alankrita Shrivastava, writer and director of Lipstick does a magnificent job in capturing the things which signify how women are oppressed. There are things which even I had no idea about. There is also the thing of how women in their quest for desire are also afraid of other women ratting them out.
Lipstick Under My Burkha is one of the most powerful movies of this year. Period. Nothing anyone says or does can take this away from Lipstick. If you haven’t watched this film, do it. If you are planning to, great. If you’re not, change it. If you think this movie is a sex-fest, it’s not. If you think this is a movie about empowering women or feminism, it’s not. If you’ve watched this movie, you’ve already felt its impact. If you’ve watched this movie and think it’s stupid or senseless, change your thinking.


 

Chester, Linkin Park

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Chester Bennington. Linkin Park. It is so unreal thinking that Chester Bennington is not with us anymore. It feels so, so weird that I will never be able to hear Chester’s voice in a new way again. Like a pit has formed in my stomach which I cannot fathom. That no song ever now released will have a new style of Chester’s voice.
Chester’s death came as a shock, an insanely massive one. My friend, Simran Bodh called me up a little after midnight. At first, I thought it was a call because she was pissed off because I didn’t tell her I had finished “Kafka on the Shore”. I picked it up nonchalantly and asked, “Sup”. Her only words were, “Did you hear about Chester?” And I went like, “What Chester?” And she went like, “Chester from Linkin Park.” And I was like, “Of course I know Chester from Linkin Park (Come on, I grew up with Linkin Park)”. And then she went, “He died.” And I was incredulous. I was like, “Are you mad?” And then she told me to check google and I did. And all the incredulity in me about what she said was torn away. I thought it would be some fucker spreading misinformation or something, like how we had talks of Linkin Park breaking up and stuff. I checked google, and I wrote Chester Bennington, and the second search result read “Chester Bennington death”.
I went silent. I was like, “What the Actual Fuck are you talking about.” I couldn’t believe what I had just read. I checked Wikipedia, twenty different articles and I just couldn’t believe it. I was on call for two hours, wherein I just spent the first hour repeating, “Na he’s just gonna wake up and be like ‘It’s all fine. I’m alive’. You see.” Some part of me just couldn’t believe he was gone. I kept on reading more and more articles, as though it might actually reverse what had happened or that all of them shared a source which was wrong.
The second hour I spent on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, looking at all the messages people left for Chester. So many people had put up so many beautiful things. One person told how he had loved them and he even introduced them to his children. One person put up a video, showing the first song they ever played on the piano: In The End. So many people saying that Linkin Park song’s got them out of a tough time. One person said My December pulled him out of many a tough times and he was sorry it couldn’t pull Chester out of it too. My brother has Iridescent as his pick me up song. If only Chester could see the impact he and Linkin Park have had on all of us, the impact their voice had on us. Maybe.
It was only after he died that I got to know Chester had depression. I knew he was molested as a child and had drug and alcohol addiction issues, but I never knew about his depression. I saw an interview that day itself in which he said (I’m paraphrasing), “There are days when I feel nothing. I want to feel happy, but I wake up and I can’t.”
There are a lot of people who are going around saying Chester is a coward for committing suicide, and it wasn’t the way. But suicide is never the first option, or the best. It is always the last option. When you think nothing else can pull you through. And frankly, even though I’ve never been through it, I feel it is not easy. Think about Chester’s thought process. When he was thinking of committing suicide, how much strength he would have needed. He was leaving behind six perfect children, a beautiful wife, and an amazing team with whom he had been working for the past 17 years (20 if we also count their Xero years). And he still did it, because he saw no other way.
Linkin Park has been a friend all these years. They are the first band I ever heard, and alongside Fireflies by Owl City and some songs by Maroon 5 and Death Cab for Cutie, have greatly influenced a lot of my works, especially my earlier ones. Every piece I write, I make it a point to reference Linkin Park, because it is because of them that I am able to write about things much more mature than my age. The Parks in my blog name stand for Linkin Park.
All these years, for some reason, no matter how different Linkin Park became from their initial sound, they always pulled me back. I had this cycle for every album they released after Minutes to Midnight. I used to listen to it, I was like, “This music is so different,” then I wouldn’t listen to all the songs as much as other Linkin Park songs and then one day I would listen and realise that it is still Linkin Park, even though their music has changed. And I would be hooked. I eventually realised it. It was their lyrics. Deep, and powerful. Every new album, I would see that their music was vastly changed from their previous album and they still rocked it. Every single time. Their lyrics allowed me a view into worlds and emotions beyond what I knew at that age. They still allow me to view into different worlds, and shake me apart with the strength of their lyrics. All the time leading up to One More Light, everyone went crazy. “What is Linkin Park doing,” “They’ve sold out,” and what not. I heard Heavy and I thought it was good. It wasn’t their best song, but I still liked it and it struck a nerve with me. Despite their change in music, they hadn’t really changed. They still kept their songs emotional and from the heart. Then came Battle Symphony, and I was blown away!!!! I was like, “WOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHHHHHHHH!” I can’t even put into words how awesome that song is. Like, Damn! Amazing! And then, they followed it up with Invisible and I went like, “DUUUUUUUUUUDDDDDDEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!” Linkin Park has always got it. Both of these songs have somehow crept up to positions 5 and 6 respectively in my “All Time Top Linkin Park Songs”. And every song I hear of Linkin Park’s, I go like, Damn! Even after all these years, their songs are still intact with immense power and meaning. Their songs never lose their charm.
So, when I heard Chester died, I just felt sad. It was upsetting. It was like, losing a friend, and knowing that nothing you could do to help him. If only my writing about my love for him and Linkin Park could keep him alive, or bring him back, I would never stop, never finish this article. And there is no need to worry, because even after I’m tired, or gone or unable to continue, someone else will take my spot. And we would have only stopped when Chester would’ve been ready to go.
There are still so many things I haven’t articulated, simply because I don’t know what they are, and the things I do know, how to write them. Linkin Park for Life! I grew up on the Park. We all did. Some of us grew up and went away from the park, some of us are still there, roaming around. But all of us, we Grew up on the Park.
Rest in Peace Chester, keep rocking wherever you are, until we see you again, and hear your voice in new styles. Godspeed my friend, I will always remember you. You will always be in my memory