Sunday, January 29, 2012

Spanish Masala: Why I Liked It



Spanish Movie is a film I enjoyed watching because it is a romantic comedy. For one who likes both romance and comedy, it is a refreshing blend, a brief sojourn into a dream like world. After all, how long can one thrive on the heavy dose of realistic movies? I appreciate them but at the end of a very tough day, I am not sure those are the movies I look forward to. I want to laugh, smile and feel like the heroine instead. This movie does it.

But to break it down into specific reasons, here's why I recommend this film:

The Director & his Presentation - Lal Jose
I never like to miss a Lal Jose film. It always has something to look forward to. I also like his casting. He usually gets it absolutely perfect. Right from the film's trailors, the film had a positive buzz. Also, the fact that the Dileep-Lal Jose duo were coming together after a long time made it something of a visual treat to anticipate. I've always felt that Lal Jose has a distinct style of repackaging something that's there into something one looks forward  and to unwrapping. This movie too is not new in its theme but the presentation of romance, betrayal and the gap between the haves and have-nots is unique.

Dileep's hilarious sense of timing in Spanish Masala Story

Dileep makes us smile and laugh with his antics in this film. He does mimicry to make Camilla smile. He has a great sense of timing. He makes our hearts melt when he is treated worse than a servant but endures it. 

There's a scene where he plays chess with his employer hesitantly and gets all hyperactive with obvious glee when he is winning, and in the process of laughter, he forgets he is laughing at the boss himself. He does those scenes with natural flourish and that is his signature style, one that resonates with every Malayali.


Kunchacko Boban



How many girls can resist Kunchacko's boyish charm without the typical male 'i am your gift from god' arrogance? Come on, be honest. Well, there's a scene where he does a theatric dialogue-dance presentation with great flourish stating, 'Camilla, nee evidey aanu?' I loved the ways he presented it, even the most hard hearted, tough girl would smile at the way he's done it. There's so much charm that is so hard to resist. His characterization is sketchy, grainy and sometimes doesn't match well with what is initially shown of him but he's tried to do this differently. For a soft hero-like person, it's quite bold to do the kind of negative role he does. However, a repetition of negative roles may not do wonders for further elevating his comeback to Malayalam cinema.



A New Heroine



Malayalam films have either the typical Malayali heroine or the heroine who's from another state and is made to somehow act like a Malayali. In this film, we see the new heroine, Daniella who has her own refreshing personality and beauty. She fits in well with the character she represents. Lal Jose has got the casting right. She adds a sparkle and shine to the film throughout.

Spanish Masala Story
Charlie (starring Dileep), goes to Spain as part of a mimicry stage troupe but he gets lost, finds his way to a restaurant where his 'Spanish Masala' dosa becomes an instant hit. Following this, he is chosen to work as a cook at the Spanish Ambassador’s house. That is  where he meets Camilla, the Ambassador’s daughter Camilla (starring Daniella). He feels sympathetic and considerate towards her on hearing that she had lost her eyesight in an accident, following her lover's death sometime ago. He brings back her lover Rahul (starring Kunchacko Boban) to life by mimicking him and thereby becomes closer to Camilla. 

Spain in a Malayalam Film
While we may have seen some of Spain’s highlights in Bollywood films, we haven't seen it like this in a Malayalam film. I felt that bullfight, La Tomatino Festival and the Flamenco dance are well shot. The beauty of Spain and its culture does come alive even in the background music scores throughout the movie. It offers a refreshing, new experience to romance.  



Spanish Masala Music
I liked the background score and songs in Spanish Masala and the way it was picturised, particularly the song featuring Kunchacko Boban and Daniella. That was beautiful.

Let Downs

The first half of Spanish Masala is full of fun and delight. But the second half is slow and in some places, it seemed to lack direction and ended somhow to reach a very clich├ęd climax. That is a let down of sorts from Lal Jose.  

Should You Watch Spanish Masala?
I liked Spanish Masala. It's shot well. It's got a good star cast. It's got a decent script. You can excuse the loose ends and the cliched ending. It's a decent, entertainer and an average film without the usual buffoonery and cheap, double edged jokes we hear in Malayalam movies these days. Families and kids can watch it without flinching or worrying about the use of swear words. Go ahead, take your family to watch it. I'd say this dish is certainly worth sampling.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Book Review: Giraffes Can’t Dance






This delightful book written by Giles Andreae is beautifully illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees and published for three to six year olds. Adi and I love to read "Giraffes can't Dance" almost every day. As you can guess, this story is about  a giraffe called Gerald who dance. So, when he goes to attend the famous Jungle Dance held every year in Africa, he gets teased by all the other animals. 

A wise cricket tells Gerald, "Sometimes when you are different, you just need a different song."

Moral of the story: It is brave to be different from the others. We all can dance when we find music that we love.

What makes this book delightful to read over and over again is its illustrations. It shows rhinos who rock and roll, chimps doing a naughty cha-cha,  lions tangoing, and baboons dancing  a Scottish reel. For kids and grown ups, this book offers refreshing humor and memorable moments.

Adi laughs with delight from page to page of this book and he loves the message too. The humour appeals to adult and child alike.

For those of you who have kids between 3 to 6 years, this book is a must-have. You can also read it here: http://www.slideshare.net/picasso2/giraffes-cant-dance-6626212

♥♥  I thank you with all my heart for reading my post. I dedicate this post with love and gratitude to all those who enjoy reading books to their children. REQUEST: Please SHARE this article on your favorite social networks. Every share, like or tweet makes me reach out to more people and hopefully, more children. I am grateful and I appreciate you for doing so. ♥♥



Saturday, January 14, 2012

Malayalam Movie Review: City of God



When I sat down to watch the Malayalam movie 'City of God,'  I expected nothing great. But once the movie began, I was totally glued into the unique way the story is presented, interlinking incidents in the lives of Tamil workers who work and live in the state but whom many Keralites may see as a 'nuisance' than as laborers and how they are caught in the ugly war between Kochi's real estate mafia and business groups. No doubt, it shocks me that the depiction of life in Kochi has become so violent, brutal and almost adulterous. But the movie represents the changes that have shaken Kochi as a city that is increasingly becoming a hub for the bad, the deadly and the dangerous.


A small time Tamil labourer, Swarnavel (starring Indrajith) is in love with Marathakam, a Tamil woman who flees her village to escape from her cruel husband..Indrajith is impressive in bringing to life the Tamil labororer he portrays. His performance is authentic and definitely a fantastic feat for a Malayali actor to accomplish on screen. Like many Tamil workers in the state, he works very hard to earn a living and dreams of settling down with the girl he loves - Marathakam (starring Parvathy Menon) though he knows that she has a six-year old son and a terrible marriage stacked that made her run away from her husband who lives in Palani. But tucked away in Kochi, their relationship blooms.

Meanwhile, the city's ruthless, wily business man and builder, Sony Vadayattil is doing everything to bring back the love of his life whom he had to abandon  - Soorya Prabha (starring Rima Kallingal). His love and longing for her borders between the desperate need to win back and possess the girl who had suddenly shot into fame as a celebrity and actress as well as prove his clout. 

Soorya Prabha represents the contemporary professional who is torn by ambition to make it big without having to compromise herself in the process and her own simple, sincere self that has a dangerous vulnerability, in the sense that it makes men become more attracted to her. The fact that her husband forces her to compromise herself brings out another uncomfortable facet of Kerala's so called respectable society - it is all a game of social hypocrisy.

Sony's best friend is Jyothilal (starring Prithviraj) has to constantly get the lady back into Sony's  life though he keeps pointing out to Sony that she had been married to a good-for-nothing guy for four years. The silence and scorn between Jyothilal and Soorya Prabha clash unspoken because their mutual attraction is deadly and intense. Their eyes and body language give them away though in words, they seem to contradict the emotions that are underneath.

In the midst of all this, Jyothilal kills Poonoose, a wealthy businessman because of a conflict that happens in a land deal. The businessman's widow Viji Punnose (starring Shwetha Menon) witnesses the murder of her husband, and is ready to do whatever it takes to revenge her husband's death. Shwetha uses her youth and looks to influence a young man who is so besotted with her that he is willing to kill Jyothilal. Their relationship is fueled by a mutual need that has nothing to do with love.


What makes 'City of god' gripping is that it has so many scenes and moments that are taken straight out of real life in Kochi and many moments are likely to get you truly reflective about contemporary social issues that are gaining acceptance in Kerala's once-conservative society. You have skyscrapers stand out wherein a beautiful celebrity is abused by her own and asked to be with other and on the other hand, a vengeful widow who pours expensive drink to a young man, hoping to win him over for all the wrong reasons. On the other hand, you have the slum like areas  wherein Lekshmi (starring Rohini) drinks liquor openly at the local toddy bar like a man. 

I also liked the way in the movie concluded. There was no usual preaching or message left for the audience. The movie treated the audience as intelligent enough to reach their own conclusions about the relationships that unfold due to circumstances that are both inter related and beyond control. 
Performances by all the actors are impressive. I think Indrajith is the best, followed by Parvathy Menon who plays role of the distraught but sexy Tamilian girl who is ready to lit ve with another man other than her husband and naturally, loves her son as the bane of her life. 

Lijo Jose Pellissery's 'City of God' is not the city that I know as my own. The Kochi he has shown is raw, bleeding and adulterous. It seems like a city that is forsaken by the gods.
But I'd say, it's a movie that is worth watching.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Family Traditions: Keep' em Alive & Kicking, Have Fun!


Traditions are something that I love but not in a conventional sense. I treasure those little rituals that are passed down from generation to generation. It brings  a sense of unity and closeness in the family. These family traditions revive memories that fill your heart with happiness and love.
My sister and I didn't have the luxurious kind of upbringing that many kids had at the time. Looking back, I am so glad we didn't have luxuries because it helped us to stay sensible and grounded. The family traditions we had were very simple but they helped in defining my values as a person. What I remember is that we had tremendous love and closeness which still remains, with God's love and grace. 
Here are some family traditions that I have brought into mine. These come from those special moments that my parents created for my sister and I while we were growing up.
1. Reading a bedtime story every night
Unlike myself, my parents never ever gave me a feeling that they have no time to spend for their children. Now I realize how precious that was. My parents spent most of their time with us and that itself was a solid foundation that we built on over the years. One of my favorite family rituals was to get a favorite book and get Daddy to read it out every night and we would discuss the story and what I learned from it. Sometimes, we would talk about a particular word and how it can be used in different contexts. 
It is only this month that I started introducing Adi to 'Fairy Tales' and he is enjoying it and he had makes me mimic characters and I love this tradition we have together. We laugh a lot, we tease each other and we mimic characters and Adi mimics me!!! It's so much fun. 
My father loved reading books. As a young boy, he used to walk for several kilometres before he could find a local newspaper reading room where he would read English newspapers (usually tattered) and some old magazines. He loved Sundays because he could read and explore another  world. When he first got  a job, he began reading more seriously and he taught me to read some of the finest English classics at a very young age. I became a serious, passionate reader thanks to my dad. 
2. Knowing how to select the right books

What I love is Dad taught me how to choose my own books. By the time I was seven, I had started choosing books to read on my own and he never interfered. We would go to book stores together and come back loaded with paper bags full of books. How i miss those wonderful, golden moments with my Dad.
Right from the time Adi was about three years old, I began doing the same with him. As a kid, Adi loved me to read out stories for him. Thanks to the diverse and very realistic range of books by Tulika Publishers, Adi became familiar first with Indian stories and I was very keen that he should enjoy and be able to relate to it.  We are Indians and I want him to explore the multiplicity that underlies the Indian identity through interesting and relevant books.
And the best part was, I taught him how to choose  the right kind of books to read. So now, when we go to a book shop, I trust his judgment about the books that he chooses to read. Many moms interfere in such selection but I've always taken pride in letting Adi choose and decide what he wants. As long as it enhances his enjoyment and learning, its perfectly fine with me.
3. Praying together
Prayer was always a part of my life. I learned mantras by listening to my parents prayers' every morning and evening. Adi loves to say his goodnight prayer. He prays to God and updates God as well about the day he had. He asks for blessings and says grace and peace to all at the end. Adi also knows to chant mantras from the time he was three years old. He learned by listening to my mother and he would repeat after her. Now, I make him chant the mantras preferably in the mornings before he rushes off to school. 
4. "Talk Time" 
My parents always had "talk time" with us. It was that time when we could talk about anything without fear of being scolded, judged or anything of the sort. It meant that we could share worries or even say a complaint about parents themselves if we felt hurt by something so that we could sort it out h.  With Adi too, I have my 'talk time' and that is an exclusive deal. Whatever he tells me is kept a secret and not discussed again unless he wants me to discuss it. I listen to him and I don't offer solutions or advice unless he asks me for it. It never ceases to surprise me how passionate, perceptive and mature his approach is. Adi almost always knows the right course of action. He is very aware about certain areas that he needs to improve on and he talks about it openly in our "talk time." 
5. Do Chores with team spirit
I always tell Adi: "We are hard working people. So it means you have to hard to grow new strengths. Don't think you have everything. When you think so, you limit yourself and your ability. You have to help me do stuff because we are a team, right?" 
And Adi does pitch in. always helps with chores like going to the shop in our society and buying the little emergency provisions on his own. He takes a little note of items and the money and comes back to deliver this at home. He is very proud when he completes a chore well. I always say, "Well done, Adi. I am proud of you managing it on your own." He helps me fold clothes, little chores in the house and does it cheerfully.
But Adi doesn't like cleaning up after playing with toys:)
Tell me about your special family traditions that you grew up with or created on your own.

Followers

FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed

India is my Country & my Pride