Movie Review: Veer Zaara

Saw the recent Hindi film, Veer Zaara starring Shahrukh, Rani, Preity.

If Bill Clinton were a bollywood movie maker, this is the kind of movie he would deliver. Unlike most Hindi movies based on Indo-Pak themes, this one does not show Pakistanis as jerks and terrorists and Indians as great patriotic fighters. Instead this one is “luvy-duvy” all over. Pakistanis and Indians will both come away from this movie “pretty” pleased.

Pak girl (Preethi Zinta as Zaara) travels to India and oooo…everyone is soooo goody-goody, cho-chweet. Amitabh (who appears in a superb cameo) along with ever-slim Hema Malini and Midas-man Shahrukh sing and dance in the fields of Punjab. All the lovely greenery, the papi-shuppy among the people, its love and camaraderie all over, wah-wah — in short, its an out and out nostalgia trip that is bound to make every surd reach for his turban to wipe off his overflowing tears.

In India, Zaara falls for Veer, a Squadron Leader in the Indian Air Force. His parents despite being from the village are very progressive (duh?), and completely disregard the fact that she is a Muslim and encourage their son to propose to her (remotely realistic? who cares). Just when he is about pour his heart out, he realizes that she is already engaged. The fiance lands up at the train station! Her imminent wedding is the coming together of two political power houses (with supposedly plenty of clout, despite the fact that Pak has spent most of its independent years under some ruthless dictator or the other and that politicians can’t do diddly) that will pitch fork her fiancee into the political limelight. In any case, Veer bravely pronounces his love for Zaara, who in turn is completely devastated an overwhelmed with love for the man.

Zaara returns to Pak, all hell breaks loose, calls upon Veer, who in turn heads to Pak. He wins the hearts of everyone he meets, but looses the girl, and ends up in prison, thanks to Zaara’s fiance (played by Manoj Bajpai). Before you think he is a hardcore gun totting villain with nasty laugh, hang on, he actually portrays a new brand of villainy, one with a rationale(!). His theory is that he will have to suffer all his life knowing that another man loved his wife. So if Mr. Veer wants Zaara to be happy, he needs to forget her for good and go to prison never to see her again. Veer accepts, lands in prison, while his folks in India think he died in a bus accident. After 25+ years a young lawyer (played by Rani) working on her first case decides to fight his case. The entire story is in flash back mode with prisoner Veer (with the magic number 786) sharing his life story with the lawyer. The lawyer working on her first case, strictly believes in single sourcing! She has only Mr. Veer as her source of info. She never bothers to do any research of her own. The rest of the story revolves around how she unites the couple.

Despite all the above, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Yash Chopra is simply a master at the art of movie making. He has the knack of taking his time to tell you his story in great detail without every making you bored. His attention to detail and precision are evident in every single scene — acting is excellent right through and across the board; the choice of Amitabh-Hema pair could not have been more perfect; the songs are great and never forced; the make-up, especially the old age Veer-Zaara, is very impressive; last but not the least, not giving Manoj Bajpai a duet was a sign of divine intervention to ensure success of the movie; Most importantly, the Director ensures that King Khan does not overact (like he has a tendency to do very often). All the shaking, nose twitching and stammering are kept to a very minimum. In fact, he does a terrific job as the old prisoner.

This movie was bound to rake in the big moolah. After several years I ventured to see a movie in the theatre. The place was so packed and I was rewarded with a seat in the second row watching my bollywood stars like they were in heaven. In true desi style the Naaz cinema turns of its air conditioner intermittently for additional special effects. Nevertheless, an entertaining movie, definitely worth checking out.

From here and there

Some interesting links I have come across lately.

  • Interesting report about growth of blogs in China.
  • Amazing how a blog launched after the election has gained so much momentum and continues to do so. Classic example of cashing in on a defeat. Great idea nevertheless!
  • Nice short quiz to know more about yourself.

And finally, some funny junk mail (someone creative has some time on their hands!)

  1. NIIT : Not Interested in IT
  2. WIPRO : Weak Input, Poor & Rubbish Output
  3. HCL : Hidden Costs & Losses
  4. TCS : Totally Confusing Solutions
  5. INFOSYS : INFerior Offline SYStems
  6. SAPIENT : Silly And Puzzled Idiots Exploring Network Technology
  7. HUGHES : Highly Useless Graduates Hired for Eating and Sleeping
  8. BAAN : Beggers Assosciation and Nerds
  9. IBM : Implicitly Boring Machines
  10. PARAM : Puzzled And Ridiculous Array of Microprocessors
  11. C-DOT : Coffee During Office Timings
  12. AT&T : All Troubles & Terrible
  13. CMC : Coffee, Meals and Comfort

Powell on Iran

The United States has intelligence that Iran is working to adapt missiles to deliver a nuclear weapon, further evidence that the Islamic republic is determined to acquire a nuclear bomb, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said Wednesday. (as quoted in the Washington Post).

Hello!! didn’t he say the same thing last time (about Iraq) at the UN. What kind of credibility do we have to accuse any other country based on our intelligence reports!!

Some useful junk email

Note: A friend of mine maintains his own email list of personally known spam victims. If you are part of this list, you end up receiving all kinds of jokes, pictures and other forms of email (sometime referred to as junk mail). Here is an email that I received recently on this list. I have no idea about who authored this piece. Nevertheless, I learnt a few things from it. Moral of course is, before you delete a junk email, just give it a quick read, you might find some hidden treasures. Next time someone asks you about Diwali, or you kid needs to crank out a school report on the same topic, you might find this handy 🙂

DEEPAVALI is the festival of lights and is celebrated with great enthusiasm by all Indians all over the world. The uniqueness of this festival is its harmony of five varied philosophies, with each day to a special thought or ideal. If we celebrate each of its five days of festivities with true understanding, it will uplift and enrich our lives. It is a festival of joy, splendor, brightness and happiness.

Deepavali which leads us into Truth and Light is celebrated on a nation-wide scale on Amavasya – the 15th day of the dark fortnight of the Hindu month of Kartika (October / November) every year. It symbolises that age-old culture of our country, which teaches us to vanquish ignorance that subdues humanity and to drive away darkness that engulfs the light of knowledge. Deepavali projects the rich and glorious past of our country and teaches us to uphold the true values of life.

The word “Diwali” is the corruption of the Sanskrit word “Deepavali” – Deepa meaning light and Vali, meaning a row. It means a row of lights and indeed illumination forms its main attraction. Every home – lowly or mightly – the hut of the poor or the mansion of the rich – is alit with the orange glow of twinkling deeyas-small earthen lamps – to welcome Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth and prosperity.


Deepavali is a five day Hindu festival ..


The first day of Deepavali is called Dhanvantari Triodasi . It is in fact the 13th lunar day of Krishna Paksh (the dark forthnight) of the month of Kartika. On this day, Lord Dhanwantari came out of the ocean with Ayurvedic medicine (medicine which promotes healthy long life)

for mankind.

This day marks the beginning of Deepavali celebrations. On this day at sunset, Hindus should bathe and offer a lighted deeya with Prasad to Yama Raj (the Lord of Death) and pray for protection from untimely death. This offering should be made near a Tulsi tree (the Holy Basil) or any other sacred tree that one might have in their yard. If there is no sacred tree, a clean place in the front yard will suffice.


The second day of Deepavali is called Naraka Chaturdasi. It is the fourteenth lunar day (thithi) of the dark forthnight of the month of Kartika and the eve of Deepavali. On this day Lord Krishna destroyed the demon Narakasur and made the world free from fear. On this day, we should massage our bodies with oil to relieve it of tiredness, bathe and rest so that we can celebrate Deepavali with vigour and devotion.

On this night, Yama Deeya should not be lit. The Shastras (Laws of Dharma) declares that Yama Deeya should be offered on Triodasi night with Prasad. The misconception that Yama Deeya should be offered on the night before Deepavali came about some years ago when the fourteenth lunar day (Chaturdasi) was of a very short duration and caused Triodasi to extend into the night before Deepavali. Some people mistook it to mean that because Yama Deeya was lit on that night, that it should always be lit on the night before Deepavali. This is absolutely not true. It is advisable that one consults with a learned Pandit or Hindu Astrologer for proper guidance on this matter.


The third day is the actual deepavali. On this day Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped. Hindus cleanse themselves and join with their families and their Pandit (priest) and they worship the divine Goddess Lakshmi to achieve the blessings of wealth and prosperity, the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. During this time, homes are thoroughly cleaned and windows are opened to welcome Lakshmi, goddess of wealth. Candles and lamps are lit as a greeting to Lakshmi.


On this day, Govardhan Pooja is performed. Many thousands of years ago, Lord Krishna caused the people of Vraja to perform Govardhan Pooja. From then on, every year Hindus worship Govardhan to honour that first Pooja done by the people of Vraja.

It is written in the Ramayana that when the bridge was being built by the Vanar army, Hanuman was bringing a mountain as material to help with the construction of the bridge. The call was given that enough materials was already obtained. Hanuman placed the mountain down before he could have reached the construction site. Due to lack of time, he could not have returned the mountain to its original place.

The deity presiding over this mountain spoke to Hanuman asking of his reason for leaving the mountain there. Hanuman replied that the mountain should remain there until the age of Dwapara Yuga when Lord Rama incarnates as Lord Krishna in the form of man. Lord Krishna will shower his grace on the mountain and will instruct that the mountain be worshiped not only in that age but but in ages to come. This deity whom Hanuman spoke to was none other than Govardhan (an incarnation of Lord Krishna),who manifested Himself in the form of the mountain. To fulfill this decree, Govardhan Pooja was performed and is continued to be performed today.


The fifth day of the Deepavali is called Bhratri Dooj. This is the day after Govardhan Pooja is performed and normally two days after Deepavali day. It is a day dedicated to sisters. We have heard about Raksha Bandhan (brothers’ day). Well this is sisters’ day. Many moons ago,in the Vedic era, Yama (Yamraj, the Lord of death) visited His sister Yamuna on this day. He gave his sister a Vara dhan (a boon) that whosoever visits her on this day shall be liberated from all sins. They will achieve Moksha or final emancipation. From then on, brothers visit their sisters on this day to enquire of their welfare. This day marks the end of the five days of Deepavali celebrations.

According to Ramayana, Deepavali commemorates the return of Ram, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the eldest son of King Dasharath of Ayodhya, from his 14-year exile with Sita and Lakshman after killing the Ravan, a demon king. The people of Ayodhya illuminated the kingdom with earthen deeyas (oil lamps) and fireworks to celebration of the return of their king.

During the reign of Emperor Prithu, there was a worldwide famine. He ordered that all available cultivatable lands be ploughed.When the rains came, the land became very fertile and grains were planted. The harvest provided food not only to feed all of India, but for all civilisation. This harvest was close to Deepavali time and was a good reason to celebrate Deepavali with great joy and merriment by a wider community.

When Lord Krishna destroyed Narakasur on the day before Deepavali, the news of it travelled very rapidly throughout the land. It gave people who were already in a joyful mood, another reason for celebrating Deepavali with greater pride and elaboration.


Celebrations of Deepavali begin from Dusshera, which comes twenty days before Deepavali. At a metaphysical level, Deepavali is a festival signifying the victory of good over evil, the latter is

destroyed and reduced to ashes by fireworks is the belief of the people. Different people celebrate Deepavali in different ways. Each region of India celebrates Deepavali in it’s own unique way.

People visit the places of their relatives and friends to wish them on the occasion and exchange gifts and for those who can not pay a personal visit there is a mind-boggling range of cards and gifts to choose from. Feasts are arranged and gaily-dressed men, women and children go to temples and fairs, visit friends and relatives. Markets are gaily decorated and lit up everybody adorned with new and bright clothes, especially ladies decorated with the best of ornaments, captures the social mood at its happiest. And all this illumination and fireworks, joy and festivity, is to signify the victory of divine forces over those of wickedness. Even countries like Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia celebrate this festival but in their own ways.

In Punjab, the day following Deepavali is known as tikka when sisters make a paste with saffron and rice and place an auspicious mark on their brother’s foreheads as a symbolic gesture to ward off all harm.

In North India on the day of the Deepavali the children emerge, scrubbed clean to get into their festive attire, and light up little oil lamps, candles and agarbathis the wherewithal for setting alight crackers and sparklers.

For the Bengalis, it is the time to worship Goddess Kali , yet another form of Durga, the divine embodiment of supreme energy. KALI is the Goddess who takes away darkness. She cuts down all impurities, consumes all iniquities, purifies Her devotees with the sincerity of Her Love.

For the grown-ups, there is also a custom of indulging in gambling during Deepavali. It is all in fun, though, in a spirit of light-hearted revelry, and merrymaking. The children can be seen bursting fire crackers and lighting candles or earthen lamps. This is a time of generously exchanging sweets with neighbors and friends. Puffed rice and sugar candy are the favorite fares.

Deepavali is a time for shopping, whether for gifts or for adding durable items to one’s own household. The market soars—everything from saffron to silver and spices to silks. Yet, symbolic purchases are to be made as part of tradition during Deepavali.

In South India that victory of the divine over the mundane is celebrated in a very peculiar way. People wake up before sunrise prepare blood by mixing Kumkum in oil and after breaking a bitter fruit that represents the head of the demon King that was smashed by Krishna, apply that mixture on their foreheads. Then they have an oil bath using sandalwood paste.

In Maharashtra also, traditional early baths with oil and “Uptan” (paste) of gram flour and fragrant powders are a `must’. All through the ritual of baths, deafening sounds of crackers and fireworks are there in order that the children enjoy bathing. Afterwards steamed vermiceli with milk and sugar or puffed rice with curd is served.

Whatever may be the legends behind the celebrations of Deepavali, all people in India exchange sweets, wear new clothes and buy jewellery at this festive time.

Diwali on the whole has always been the festival with more social than religious connotations. It is a personal, people-oriented festival when enmities are forgotten, families and friends meet,

enjoy and establish a word of closeness.

Movie Review: Pandavar Bhoomi

I checked out Director Cheran’s movie Pandavar Bhoomi (Tamil). This movie is by no means recent, but I am so hopelessly out of touch with Tamil films and its more recent stars that selecting a Tamil film at the video store has become a major challenge. The net result is that I manage to see one Tamil film, maybe once every 3-4 months at best.

I was really impressed with another more recent film directed by Cheran, titled Autograph, that I diligently searched for a move directed by him and landed this one. I was a little disappointed, mostly due to the high standards set by Autograph. Nevertheless, I thought Pandavar Bhoomi was a watchable film.

A bunch of new actors (I think!) do a fine job of their roles. The hero looks a lot like Vjiaykumar (who also plays a small role in the film), probably his son? The theme of the movie is certainly different from conventional films. Based on Autograph and this movie, the director seems to have a passion for building stories based on past events. He clearly enjoys probing the past in avid detail. The story revolves around a five sibling family which migrates from a village amidst a tragedy and later returns to their roots. To re-live their past they decide to re-construct their ancestral home. The engineer who builds their home develops a close relationship with the family, particularly a girl in the family. Unfortunately for him, the historic family tragedy comes in the way of a love story, otherwise headed for marital bliss.

The Director has thrown in one fight sequence at the end and a couple of songs, otherwise the movie is pretty “clean” and devoid of unnecessary add-ons. He has also thrown in some left leaning utterances about Swadeshi-Videshi for social message purposes. Overall, the movie is watchable but no where close to Autograph.

Warne will get away, easy!

The recent on the field clash between cricket umpire Aleem Dar (Pak) and Shane Warne seems to have gone unnoticed as always happens when Aussies clash with umpires. On the other hand Saurav Ganguly almost had to face a two match suspension for a low over rate! The test is not over as yet and I hope Match Referee: MJ Procter (SA) comes up something more than a silly slap on the wrist.

Movie Review: Mujhse Shaadi Karoge

Another product of the David Dhawan factory minus Govinda. Instead we have Akshay Kumar, Salman Khan and Priyanka Chopra. Akshay Kumar and Salman are good friends, separated since childhood, Priyanka is Salman’s love, while Akshay provides the comedy, along with Amrish Puri and Khader Khan. Standard stuff with different permutations, a handful of plug and play songs, a couple of stunts sequences and there you have it another David Dhawan product. The grand finale of the movie involves a bunch of cricket stars — Kapil Dev, Irfan Pathan, Kaif, Harbhajan, Srinath and others. If you are in a mood to leave your senses behind, have a few laughs and enjoy some standard desi masala this could be your fix for a Friday evening.

Movie Review: Phir Milenge

Saw Phir Milenge, the Hindi movie starring Salman Khan, Shilpa Shetty, Abhishek Bachhan. The story is based on the successful Hollywood film, Philadelphia. To give you a quick synopsis: Salman (Rohit) and Shilpa (Tamanna) are lovers. Abhishek (Tarun) plays a lawyer. Salman goes to US, picks up AIDS unknowingly and infects Tamanna while in India (pre-marital sex). Then, he return s to US, finds out that he is infected with AIDS, returns to India. Meanwhile Tamanna gets to know that she is HIV+, gets fired because her boss can’t stand having someone infected with HIV in his office She wants to sue, can’t finda lawyer, until a happy-go lucky Tarun comes along to fight the legal battle of his life. This in short is the story. Some key highlights and thoughts:
  • The movie is well made and definite worth watching. Revathi (former south indian actress) is the director and has done a really nice job. Can you imagine, there were scenes when I felt Salman-bhai was actually acting! Hats of to Revathi.
  • Abhishek Bacchan, the Ajit Agarkar of Indian films. Appears in almost every film but can never turn a hit. But someone appears to have taken it upon themselves to make a success out of this guy. While his papa might be the one, I always wonder who Ajit Agarkar has as his prime sponsor. When the onus of carrying an entire film is not on him, Abhishek usuually does a decent job (though there are many movie watchers who can never be convinced of this!), as I think he did here. (If you belong to the “I can’t stand this guy” group, I have a request, please forget that he is Amtabh’s son when you assess his performance. Its completely unfair to the guy).
  • Shilpa Shetty for once gets a chance to act and does a fine job. One could argue that her glamorous looks right through the film are a shade inconsistent with the theme of the film.
  • Music is decent, but I’ll need to hear it a few times before I latch on to any of the songs in a big way.
  • Salman Khan was bearable. I am glad he didn’t show his body for a change. I was expecting a raunchy dream sequence given Salman-Shilpa duos typical portrayals, but I was pleasantly surprised not to see one.

In summary, a very well made film. No unneccesary masala, histrionics etc. simple, to the point, and well presented. I hope Revathi directs more films. The movie had a strong south indian feel to it (it felt like watching a malayalam movie). Some of the actors, the one who acted as Tamanna’s sister and her boss, both spoke slowly and carefully like they were not native hindi speakers. Plenty of lines in English were thrown in, perhaps to suit ome of the actors who prefer english over hindi, if possible!