After dealing with toys, bugs, monsters, fish, cars, rats, robots, dogs and superheroes, Pixar now makes a movie on human emotions. And boy, it was fun to figure yourself Inside Out.
Directed by Pete Docter (who had earlier directed two of my favourite Pixar films Monsters, Inc. and Up), Inside Out showcases the story of five emotions inside the head of an eleven year old girl, Riley. Joy, who happens to lead the pack, wants to ensure that Riley always stays happy and joyful; but she doesn’t realize that Riley can’t stay joyful if it were only up to her. Yes, Joy is important, but what’s the fun of Joy if you’ve never experienced Sadness; or for that matter, Fear, Disgust or Anger. While it might seem too intellectual, Pete does a brilliant job of portraying this message. Young kids in the theatre were appreciating almost every scene, and their Joy made sure it was apparent. There are tons of moments in the movie; be it mother’s interactions with father’s emotions, or the reactions of a young boy’s emotions when he bumps into a girl, it’s all depicted beautifully. Screenplay is simple yet effective.
Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, and Mindy Kaling bring Riley’s Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust to life. I especially loved Black as Anger.
Music by Michael Giacchino is enjoyable, and editing by Kevin Nolting is neat. While the 3D effects aren’t spectacular, no qualms on the CGI work.
Is it worth your time and money?: Irrespective of whether you like animation or not, it’s time to put aside your Disgust, Fear and Anger, and go watch Inside Out. I’m sure even Sadness will experience Joy! 😀
Worth mention: The beautiful narrations; and the islands.
Mani Ratnam is one of the best directors of our time. But for the last 11 years, none of his movies, starting from Yuva, have made an impression. With Kadali, I thought he lost his touch. Thankfully not!
Ok Bangaram is a simple love story – no drama, just pure romance. The script is nothing special; boy meets girl, they fall in love, neither wants to get married, live in together, and voila! One can predict the ending just by watching the trailer of the movie, but it’s Mani Ratnam’s pure genius that keeps you engrossed for the two odd hours. The chemistry between the lead pair is magical. The way he showcased the elderly couple’s storyline is subtle yet brilliant. The screenplay never overwhelms you; it’s just a love story narrated in a beautiful way.
Dulquer Salmaan is excellent in the lead role. He has a guy next door charm, and puts up a great performance. The best part is that he never tried too hard, it seemed like he was just being himself. Nani’s voice suited him perfectly. Nitya Menen is absolutely gorgeous. I can’t imagine anyone else who could have put up a better act than her. Her expressions, smile, overall performance – splendid! Prakash Raj is perfect as the house owner, and Leela Samson is great as his wife. The rest of the cast is decent.
Mani Ratnam definitely brings out the best in A. R. Rahman. Music is soulful and excellent, and all songs are brilliantly picturized. The background score and mixing are equally good. Editing by Sreekar Prasad is neat, while cinematography by P. C. Sreeram is superb. On production front, the movie is flawless (Dil Raju and team).
Is it worth your time and money?: Absolutely. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and have a gut feel that you will too, but only if you don’t compare it to anything else. Mani Ratnam is back to showcase a beautiful yet simple love story. Just go enjoy!
Worth mention: The chemistry between Dulquer and Nitya.
No, it’s not Dunkin Donuts. It’s Dunkin Donuts and more 😀
That’s the first line uttered by the marketing manager as we, a few foodies, entered the DD’s first store in Hyderabad for a tasting session. The joint is on the ground floor of Inorbit Mall, facing the lake, and had very lively ambiance. We soon settled down for a chat with the PR team, who gave us a run through of DD culture, their presence in India, and more importantly the reasoning behind why it’s more than just donuts in our beloved country. I found their concept to be brilliant; target the ‘Happily Screwed’ crowd!
Once we were enlightened, it was time to taste the food; food one wouldn’t normally except at DD, food which isn’t regular. First stop, Wicked Wrap; complex, crazy, awsomely wicked.
And boy, this was wicked. Crunchy nachos, jalapeno patty, spicy chipotle and raw mango sauces on a multi grain tortilla, this was definitely one of the best wraps I’ve tasted. It was truly wicked, with the spice lingering in my mouth for a long time. It hurt so good.
To help gulp the wicked wrap, we were served some Iced Tea.
Spiked Iced Tea had a cinnamon touch to it, and tasted very different; different good. The Iced Green Tea had a strong green tea flavor, yet was perfect. These really were saviours on my wicked ride.
If you’re not up to taste the wickedness, there’s a Not So Wicked Wrap for the faint hearted.
Next came the Tough Guy Burger, a burger that makes heart breaks 0.223% less heart breaking.
With the burger bun replaced with a tough bagel loaded with sesame seeds, this was definitely a definitely a tough burger. A delicious patty loaded with elephant yam, cheese and spicy mustard sauce; this was another winner.
It was now time to taste Crunchy Joe. With toasted bun stuffed with Indianized black-eye bean curry, this was amazingly delicious. There was crunch in every bite; I absolutely loved it.
I wanted to taste the Naughty Lucy burger before I indulged on the Donuts, and while I wait for it, I asked for a Chocolate Dunkaccino.
Served with whipped cream, the chocolate shake was almost perfect. I just wish it were thicker.
Any finally came my Lucy! With a patty stuffed with molten cheese, eating this couldn’t get more messy than this. But who cares, when you’re in for some pure bliss. Lucy was super-duper cheesy 😀
Time now for the donuts.
I had a bite of almost everything on plate, and they were all yum. Loved the Chocolate ones the best. My usual favourite at DD, Boston Creme was missing today, but the rest made it up for it. Amazing finish to the brilliant meal.
Overall, the most satisfying meal I’ve had in a long long time. Perfect ambiance, great service and awesome food. And to make it more special, DD team gave me a goodie bag with six donuts, a DD mug and coupons for 365 days of donuts! The pricing might be a little on the higher side to dine in often (60 bucks for donuts, 60-200 bucks for the burgers + taxes), but I feel that they are still worth it. Go get your mojo back!!
I’ve visited DD twice after writing the review, and the standard have dropped substantially. The service is mediocre, and hygiene has gone for a toss. They will need to pull up their socks in case they wish to sustain in the market!
Given that you have a bunch of Oscar nominated films releasing together, it’s tedious to keep track of the one which stands out. While all other nominees are either biographies or dramas, Birdman excels as a dark comedy with some spectacular performances.
It’s very difficult to write about director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman. A Hollywood actor once famous for playing fictional ‘Birdman’ character is trying to establish himself on Broadway; but he is still haunted and tormented by the voice of Birdman, and the story showcases how this conflict affects his Broadway career. While González Iñárritu brings out the best from the entire cast, the screenplay is spectacular and makes the movie a treat to watch. The way the entire film flows seamlessly while giving an impression that it’s all a single shot is brilliantly done. This is how good it gets on script, screenplay and direction front.
Michael Keaton is superb as the struggling actor. He gets into the skin of the character, and his performance is the best I’ve seen this year (thus far). Edward Norton comes up with an equally spectacular act and actually outshines Keaton in some episodes. Emma Stone is perfect in her brief appearance, and so are Naomi Watts, Andrea Riseborough and Zach Galifianakis. The film is an absolute treat in terms of performances.
Music by Antonio Sánchez is haunting and very effective. Cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki and editing by Douglas Crise and Stephen Mirrione are excellent. Again, the way the film flows as a single shot thanks to perfect screenplay, editing and cinematography is worth mention.
Is it worth your time and money?: While all the Oscar nominees are excellent films, Birdman happens to be the clear winner for me. It’s a perfect example of the script, director, actors and technical teams all coming together to churn out a work of art. Don’t miss it!!
Worth mention: The performances and the illusion that entire film is a single shot.
Place: Eat India Company
Location: Road No. 36, Jubilee Hills
Meal: Lunch (with a friend)
On a Sunday afternoon, decided to meet a friend at Urban Asia. Only when we walked in did we realize that they have a brunch on Sundays and don’t serve a-la-carte. Most of the stuff on the brunch spread was meat and so we didn’t see a point of spending 800 bucks on it. Next stop, Eat India Company on the floor below. This place has very Indianised ambiance, and we made ourselves comfortable at a table for two in a corner.
They had two different menus for starters and main course which I thought was pretty neat. We ordered Bharwan Dhingri for starters, and Patiala Shahi Paneer with some bread for the main course.
It took about ten minutes for the starters to be served, and I thought the presentation and quantity were pretty good. The description on the menu read beetroot and cottage cheese stuffed mushrooms, but I didn’t find any beetroot. However, they were very well done mushrooms with perfect stuffing and coating. Yum!
The main course was served pretty soon, and again I was very impressed with the quantity of curry served. On taste front, the panner was super fresh and melt in my mouth, and the gravy happened to be the best I’ve had in recent times. Creamy and silky, it was finger licking good (I actually ended up cleaning the bowl with my fingers). Super yum!
For breads we ordered Atte ki Roti and Atte ki Laccha Paratha. While the roti was a little dry for my liking, the paratha was excellent. It had perfect layers and was very well-baked.
To finish off the yummy meal, we ordered a couple of Kulfi – Kesar Badam and Pista, both of which turned out to be delicious.
Overall, a super satisfying meal. It’s been a long time since I had such perfect meal. To add to the good food, the service was perfect and so was the ambiance. While the prices are a little on the higher side, I think they are still reasonable for the quantity served. I hope they maintain the same quality (and quantity) unlike their sister restaurant Via Milano. I’d put this on my best restaurants list for sure. Go hog!
Christopher Nolan you beauty! Where do you get your ideas from, seriously? While everyone else is stuck making movies on Earth, Moon or about Aliens, this guy actually has the audacity to picture interstellar travel. Man, take a bow!
If Inception was beyond your reach, wait till you watch this one. In the distant future, where Earth is almost dead, our protagonist leads a mission to find a habitable planet beyond the Solar System while leaving his young kids behind. Whether he is able to save his family and the human race from extinction is the million dollar question. Scripted and directed by Nolan, the movie is pretty complicated for there’s science and fiction amalgamated together. It starts of terribly slow and it’s not until the first landing that it gets interesting. Nevertheless, Nolan succeeds in setting up a larger than life epic with some intense drama. Direction is absolutely spot on and screenplay is perfect, if only he had a stronger script. The run time could have been trimmed, but again, you’re talking about 100 years in less than 3 hours. From Memento to Interstellar, Christopher Nolan has come a long way, challenging himself with every film and setting the bar higher. What next?
If you thought this movie is all about Nolan, you’re mistaken. Matthew McConaughey is exceptional in the lead role and carries the entire movie on his shoulders. His performance in the scene where he watches his kids messages is outstanding. Anne Hathaway is decent. Jessica Chastain is pretty good, and so is Matt Damon in his brief appearance.
Music by Hans Zimmer is excellent. His score in the scene where the spaceship docks with Endurance is remarkable. Editing by Lee Smith is neat. However, few of the initial scenes could have been trimmed. Cinematography by Hoyte van Hoytema is again, beyond praise. The IMAX visuals were magnificent (and I wouldn’t mind watching movie again just for the visuals). Technically, the movie is a treat!
Is it worth your time and money??: Interstellar is not your regular weekend stress-buster movie. It’s one which makes you rattle your brain to make sense (and it still might not). While not a perfect movie on script front, its sheer magnificence makes it a must watch for any movie lover. Add to that some great acting and music, and you have a winner.
Do stay away if you don’t like intense movies which require a lot of thinking and understanding!
Worth mention:Sheer grandeur of the movie. The IMAX scenes were out-of-the-world good!
Here’s another restaurant with raving reviews I’ve been wanting to visit for a while. I’ve been told that this place is always busy, especially over the weekends, so I called in on Friday to reserve a table for lunch either for Saturday or Sunday. I was turned down for they were already full. I again called in on Saturday morning and was told the same, but they suggested to try walking in. Taking my chances, I reached AB’s a little after they opened for the day, and was seated in a jiffy at a table for two in between the buffet and the wish grill without any hassle. Surprisingly, the place was full by then itself. The interiors of the restaurant were good, and I was pretty impressed with the overall ambiance of the place.
The initial few minutes were lull, and it took a while for someone to attend to me. After about ten minutes, the griller was placed on my table, and everything was in place for a long meal.
First came Crispy Corn. Though they tasted good, I would have preferred them to be hot and more crispy.
Then came the grills: Stuffed Mushroom in Tamarillo Sauce, Mama’s Caribbean Cottage Cheese and Cuban Grilled Vegetables. The grilled veggies mostly had peppers with corn on the cob, which tasted decent. The paneer was really soft and tasted yum along with the condiments, especially the mango and chilli sauces.
But the best of the lot happened to be Stuffed Mushrooms. They were perfectly grilled and had the right amount of seasoning to make them delicious. I’ve said this often, but these were some of the best I’ve had in recent while. Yum!!
While I hogged on 3-4 skewers of paneer and mushrooms, I was offered a choice of complimentary drink as part of their first anniversary. I chose Blue Curacao Mocktail which turned out to be pretty good.
Then came Falafel with Humus in Pita Pocket. This was a disappointment as the Falafel turned out to be hard, and the pita too wasn’t great. I informed the floor chef about the same, and he got me a hotter one, which turned out to be better, but still not the best.
Next, the final starter of the day’s menu was served: American Cheesy Potato. These turned out to be more or less the same as what I had at Aao Khao a couple of weeks ago; aloo tikkis with spicy cheesy sauce. While the sauce was good, the tikkis weren’t really up to the mark for they were pretty hard and undercooked.
Apart from the five listed starters, there also happened to be Grilled Pineapple which turned out to be toothsome!
Post my feedback about the Falafel and Potatoes, the floor chef offered to serve me some off the menu starters. First came in Honey Chilly Potato Fries which turned out to be pretty good. However, I would have preferred them to be more crispy and spicy.
Finally, he served me some Crispy Cheese Rolls which turned out to be really good. The paper-thin crust almost melt in my mouth with every bite; yummy!
I hadn’t even started on the main course, but was almost stuffed. After a small break, I headed out to the wish-grill.
At first, I had no clue on what exactly I was supposed to do, but soon understood that I had to choose from the choice of vegetables, rice or noodles, and pick a sauce for them to be tossed/grilled with. I choose some veggies with noodles and Szechuan Basil sauce (which in itself was delectable). I was given a paper coupon, and a few moments later, the dish was served on my table.
This looked really good, and tasted equally yum. The chef had added some more veggies apart from my choice, but I didn’t really care for it turned out to be a delicious dish! If I weren’t stuffed, I would have liked to try another combination with a different sauce.
After two hours of munching, it was time to head to the buffet. Ironically, I just had a taste everything for my tummy wouldn’t take any more food for the day.
Though the salad counter looked good, I decided to skip it.
The Taco Twist Soup looked and sounded good, so decided to give it a shot. It actually tasted very different from regular soups, in a good way.
They had Lahori Paneer, Vegetable Jalfrezi, Corn ka Bharta, Kala Dum Aloo, Rasgulle ki Sabzi and Dal Makhni as part of their Indian offerings. The Paneer tasted very good while the rest were decent. Worth mention is the Rasgulle ki Sabzi which had yummy Rasgullas in a creamy sauce; not what you expect, but it actually turned out to be a pretty good experiment. The Dal also turned out to be delicious. They also had Biryani which was, like in any buffet, mediocre. They had Thai Green Curry which was too thin and lacked flavour. The Butter Naan served along was soft and good.
I couldn’t eat any more, I was done. But wait, I still had to taste the desserts. Why god, why!? 😛
They again had a huge offering and I decided to have a taste of everything; all of them turned out to be succulent.
And I ended my laborious meal with a Black Forest ice-cream which was made with loads of nuts; yummilicious!
After three hours, I was done eating. No wonder it’s so difficult to find a table at this place for everyone would just settle down for hours. I ate to my heart’s content after a long time, and how much did it cost? 560 bucks? That’s it, seriously? This is probably the best value for money meal I’ve come across in a long time in Hyderabad. Add to that some personalized service, and you’re in for some pampering. Yes, not all items were great but who cares when most of their huge offering are excellent. It’s a meal worth every penny. Give it a shot if you haven’t yet, and make sure you walk in with a good appetite.
Vishal Bhardwaj has always made movies which stand apart from the rest. He’s already adapted two of William Shakespeare’s classics in the past (Maqbool – “Macbecth”, Omkara – “Othello”), and Haider (an adaptation of “Hamlet”) is another example of why he’s one of the finest Indian directors today.
Kashmir is considered paradise on earth, and Haider is a movie which showcases the plight of the people living in this paradise. Vishal does this by seamlessly integrating the tragedy of Hamlet into the riots of Kashmir (1995) which causes a number of civilian disappearances. Though a little slow towards the beginning, Haider kicks in beautifully thanks to some exceptional screenplay and direction. The way the entire storyline is showcased in one song is pure brilliance.
Shahid does an exceptional job in the lead role, and his performance at Lal Chowk is absolutely brilliant. Kay Kay Menon gets a meaty role, and for the fine actor that he is, performs with great ease. Sharddha Kapoor looks perfect as a Kashmiri beauty, and Irrfan shines in his brief appearance. But the real star of Haider is the mother torn between her man and son, Tabu She downplays for the most part, but does it so beautifully that you can’t help but fall in love with her character. Brilliant!
Music by Vishal Bhardwaj is another asset to this beautiful tragedy. The background score is probably the best I’ve come across for a Bollywood film – exceptional. Editing by Aarif Sheikh is perfect and cinematography by Pankaj Kumar is beautiful.
Is it worth your time and money??:As a film, Haider is exceptionally well made. But unfortunately, it isn’t a movie for everyone. So watch it only if you enjoy tragedies, or are eager to watch some amazing performances entwined into a perfect script.
Worth mention:Tabu; Shahid’s performance at Lal Chowk; background score.
So often, a movie with raving reviews disappoints you, probably because you walk in expecting too much. Thankfully, Filmistaan doesn’t.
Directed by Nitin Kakkar, this is a simple story of how we humans have created differences among ourselves because of a stupid line drawn by a Britisher, dividing us into India and Pakistan. It shows that we still share the same passion for things: cinema and cricket (they missed food), and a border cannot really divide us. Nitin was able to execute this message brilliantly, and was able to bring out the emotions from his actors to the best. He never complicates things, and I really liked the way he ended the movie. Apart from screenplay and direction, dialogues by Sharib Hashmi are a major asset; they are as filmy as possible, yet convey a lot.
Sharib Hashmi is brilliant not just with the dialogues, but also with his acting as the lead. He portrays such innocence and oozes out such charm that you can’t stop yourself from falling in love with his character. Inaamulhaq compliments Sharib in every sense and comes up with one of his best performances. Their acting in the climax is excellent. The rest of the cast, from the kidnappers to the village folk, everyone put up fine performances.
Music and background score by Arijit Datta is perfect, and editing by Sachindra Vats is crisp. Cinematography by Subhrasnsu Das is another major plus point. The arid sands of Rajasthan have been beautifully picturized. It’s sad that a such a brilliant film came into limelight two years after release, only after it won a National award.
Is it worth your time and money??:Absolutely! It conveys the message I believe in, that a border does not separate us Indians and Pakistanis, so gets a bonus yes. Go enjoy some brilliant performances by the cast, and enjoy the beauty of cinema.
Whether you’re in Hindustan or Pakistan, go watch Filmistaan!
Worth mention:The Maine Pyaar Kiya episode, film auditions, and the beautiful climax.
Given that the super hero movies are done for the season, I thought we might get a break with all the action. But Edge of Tomorrow turns out to be the biggest action movie of the year thus far.
Set in the near future where aliens have invaded earth, Major William Cage is put on the front on the front line against his will. He inadvertently kills an Alpha alien, which results him reliving a day from his past, repeating everything. Adapted from a Japanese novel All You Need Is Kill, the plot needed perfect execution, and director Doug Liman makes doesn’t disappoint. The first hour of the movie is brilliantly showcased, especially Cage reliving his past over and over again. Everytime he woke up, there was a buzz in the theater. The screenplay for this kind of film needs to absolutely perfect for it is wafer thin, and one wrong move jeopardizes the entire movie. However, Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth did a wonderful job, and made sure everything is perfectly connected without unnecessarily repeating scenes. The first few relives were amazingly picturized.
Tom Cruise is awesome as William Cage. He puts up great performance as an amateur soldier initially, and builds on confidence with every life. The mild humour her creates during the most critical scenes needs a special mention. Emily Cage is good as Rita Vrataski, but I thought she could have been more expressive. The movie almost entirely relies on Tom and Emily’s characters, and they don’t disappoint.
On technical front, music by Christophe Beck is alright. With a run-time of less than 2 hours, I thought the movie was perfectly edited by James Herbert and Laura Jennings. Cinematography by Dion Beebe is good while visual effects by Nick Davis are excellent. However, the 3D effects could have been better.
Is it worth your time and money??:Absolutely. It’s by far the best movie I’ve watched this year and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The perfect screenplay and acting by Tom Cruise are major plus points. The reason the film works (at least for me) is because the director was able to keep it simple though the script is quite complicated. It’s a movie not to be missed for any movie-holic.
Worth mention: Every time Tom Cruise wakes up. As already mentioned, these episodes have been brilliantly shot.