movie review: Amu

There aren’t too many words to describe Shonali Bose's first attempt at being a producer, but powerful, insightful and moving are all quite accurate. 'Amu' is an English-Hindi-Bengali polyglot film, with the protagonist 'Kaju' (Konkana Sen in an earthy, dusky avatar ) coming back to India to search for her roots. Adopted by her single mother Keya, Kaju has lived in LA since she was three, protected and sheltered from a past long forgotten. As history catches up with her, Kaju stumbles unsuspectingly on dark secrets, skeletons lovingly hidden by her adoptive family; Kaju has to face the truth of the past, the truth of the 1984 riots in which over 5000 Sikhs died.

The movie paces itself well, but the more action and thrills-inclined may find the understated drama and slow buildup a little tedious. The romantically inclined may not appreciate the minimal detailing of the affection between Kabir and Kaju. In a bold move, the film leaves these done-to-death issues sketchy, yet poignant, while concentrating on Kaju's search into her own history among the carnage of 1984. The police apathy, the political intrigue, the subsequent cover-up, all these are detailed in hard-hitting scenes and dialogue, shaking our apathetic minds into an outraged cry of "How could this be allowed to happen?" The censor board was incensed enough to force five dialogue cuts, supposedly politically incendiary comments.

Konkana Sen's performance is absolutely spellbinding, with her rendition of the bubbly young American desi coming back to find her roots appearing not only completely believable, but also highly endearing. She shimmers through the film effortlessly taking you through the emotions of a young girl coming to terms with a horrible past. Ankur Khanna as Kabir plays the angsty young man with a tender heart quite well. In fact, I cant remember a single wooden performance in this splendidly directed film, and the cinematography is crisp and fresh. The language is refreshing, flowing from English to Hindi to subtitled Bengali. I have always loved Bengali, never found a language so completely endearing, and this was a linguistic feast for me.

Amu is not advertised much, and isn’t playing at many theatres. It depends on word of mouth to survive. I don’t know how long this strangely honest movie will last among the bare-all, say-nothing offerings dominating mainstream cinema; it would be wise to catch it asap. This is one movie worth seeing on the big screen, and its definitely one you don’t want to miss.

What The CEO Wants You To Know - Ram Charan

Reading this book is like learning the ( business ) alphabets all over again and finding out how they work together to create a literary masterpiece or, as in this case, a succesful business. This book like no other leads you through the fundamentals of any business- cash generation, profitable and sustainable growth and customer satisfaction. For a mind weighed down by HBR articles and in-depth books on branding, marketing, innovation and stuff, Ram Charan's writing brings in a welcome change in this book by focussing on the oft-forgotten fundamentals.

The very first thing that strikes you is the simplicity of Ram Charan's writing, you can safely give this book to a high-school kid; in fact all of us "mature" business professionals do need this "back-to-basics" course to put things back into perspective. Drawing rich examples from companies like GE and Ford, Ram Charan goes on to explain in absolute basic terms all the different aspects of managing (and working for ) a business from a holistic viewpoint.

In fact the back cover of the book proclaims "How different is it to run a big company than to sell fruit from a cart or run a small shop in a village? In essence, not very, according to Ram Charan. From his childhood in India, where he worked in his family's shoe shop, to his education at Harvard Business School and his daily work advising many of the world's best CEOs, Ram understands business as few can." - and the book sure delivers what it promises.

A must read for anyone who works for a living whether you are managing a business or working for one.

-the bookBUG

about schmidt \ fahrenheit 9/11

The movies on offer at the theatres were so uninviting that I decided to spend the weekend watching movies at home; and I watched two wonderful movies.

fahrenheit 9/11: director- michael moore

I never felt the urge to see this one before, feeling it was just another documentary - don't we get enough of them on the news channels!

Nonetheless, having nothing else to do this weekend, I decided to give it a try - and boy was I in for a treat!

Moore's film rivets your attention from the very first frames. Displaying footage of Bush's controversial year 2000 win of the US presidential elections, the movie sets the mood for what is to come - september 11,2001. The opening credits are cleverly juxtaposed with the protagonists (Bush, Condoleeza Rice and others) putting on make-up for different television appearances, as the stage is set for the movie.

Then the screen goes blank - and in the darkness we hear the familiar voices of newscasters shouting out news of the september 11 terrorist strikes on the WTC. And in the absence of visuals, your mind recreates whatever you were doing when the news came...and it's more effective than any images! Then the film lays bare all the secret dealings/relations between Bush and the Bin-laden family and stuff. Every single frame drips with sarcasm and the voice-over remarks are real witty and caustic. The tale winds its way onto the war on Iraq and the futility of it all. It is a great commentary not only on Bush's questionable policies but also on society itself which sends to war people from the lower echelons who lead a deprived life and then lay down their lives for us.

A wonderful film, Moore must be given all the credits for bringing to life what would otherwise have been a plain documentary; a must-watch for everyone.


About schmidt: Jack Nicholson

This simple tale of a quiet person called Schmidt; who loses his wife just days after his retirement and finds his daughter engaged to a person he doesn't approve.

Accidentally he comes across a sponsor-a-child advertisement and decides to sign up for 22 dollars a month. He receives an answering letter with the photograph of a child named Ndugu, the one he is sponsoring, and is requested to write a letter of introduction to the child. Schmidt writes, and it is thorugh his writings that we come to know of the man and how he copes with his depression over the next few days. He takes of on a visit to his place of birth, tries to convince his daughter against marrying the guy she loves, meets lots of interesting people but finally comes back home as sad and dissatisfied as ever.

Schmidt feels that he has spent a futile life, that after he dies, and all those who know him die, it would be like he never existed - he never made any difference to the world. And then he gets a mail from Ndugu; the little guy has sent him a picture he has drawn - of a child and a man holding hands happily in the sun, and Schmidt's eyes moisten with happiness - he finally finds peace.

Jack Nicholson is brilliant as the quiet, sad and troubled old man, judiciously understated; a great movie to watch over a lazy afternoon.


movie:Page 3 - director: Madhur Bhandarkar

In a month of unfulfilled "vaada"s, pointless "elaan"s and a kitsch "kisna", when I sat down to watch Page 3, I was ready to take on anything; I was in for a surprise.

The movie starts of with a series of parties thrown by mumbai socialites and we get the usual dope on their hypocritical lifestyle devoid of all meaning and plenty of socialite "bash"ing with a good enough dash of tongue-in-cheek humour. In fact for the first forty-five minutes, you find the movie mimic Page-3 itself - blatantly pointless and yet bearable - and then, slowly but surely, it gets a life of its own.

In the next hour and half, madhavi, the journalist and we move from the casting couch to a suicide and a funeral gathering, to a bomb blast, to drug-peddling,police encounters and child abuse, in a emotional roller-coaster ride as the director tears down every facade and rips open mumbai's underbelly. She will be betrayed by the editor she respects, the friend she trusts and the guy she falls in love with; she will learn that nothing is what it seems and finally she will learn to take all of it in her stride, savour the satire in all this with a smile and wait...for that one chance to bring out the truth- in the right fashion.

Sandhya Mridul is brilliant as Pearl, Boman Irani as the editor and Konkona Sen the protagonist slip into their characters with characteristic ease; combined with the soulful rendering of "kitne ajeeb rishtey" by asha bhonsle and finally a commnedable execution of a good concept, this is surely a movie you cannot miss. Kudos to Madhur Bhandarkar!

- moviebuff

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