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Munroe Island (Mundrothuruth) - Review

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The premise of Munroe Island looked quite interesting. A father drops off his adult (eighteen-year-old) “sociopath” son at his ancestral home, where the grandfather still lives. What happens next?  This movie is categorised as thriller on Netflix. I think more than the synopsis, the title intrigued me. Malayalam movies, like Bengali ones, are way ahead when it comes to experimenting offbeat themes. I figured Munroe Island would be one such treat and I was not disappointed.
We are introduced to the grand patriarch (played by Indrans to astounding perfection) lovingly addressed as Appoopan by the grandson (Jason Chacko). We also get to meet the house-help Kathu (Abhija Sivakala). We follow them around the jaw-dropping (for city dwellers like me) ancestral home. It’s shot on location and it’s not a gaudy set. Neither is the place a new-age teak and marble monstrosity. It’s a sprawling house that’s weathered many elements. There is the unpretentious gate leading to a sheltered porch. If y…

Can You Smell The Rot?

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I've been disgusted with the screen grabs of a shitty soap opera currently being aired in India. - Pehredar Piya ki roughly translates as 'Guardian of my lover'. The protagonists in question are played by adult woman and 9-10 year old boy. In what can only be termed as mindfuck of recent times, the woman marries the boy. There is a now a petition doing the rounds to ban this perverse nonsense.

But I wanted to get to the root of this ugliness. Who is thinking of this shit? Who is writing this? Why did the boy's parents think this is an appropriate role for the child? On the whole, why do these production houses, actors, writers feel they have no responsibility?
The production house is run by a husband-wife duo - Sumeet and Shashi Mittal. The mission of Shashi Sumeet Productions Pvt Ltd is “to create quality content that enthrals and entertains audiences.” They have produced a number of popular soaps.
In an interview with the Scroll, Summet Mittal says -
"The boy is i…

The 21st Century Hero

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Yesterday a friend forwarded a home-made music video on Whatsapp . It has two women on the guitar.  Watch it. If you are a Kannadiga, you will go on karaoke mode for sure.  I was enraptured. It is a piece of music that you will listen to over and over again.

Please note: I don't know who owns the video since it came as a forward. 
More than the music, those two ladies made me indescribably happy. Clad in crisp salwaar kameez, they are truly the ladies-next-door you’d discuss mundane stuff over coffee and Mangalooru store kharaseve.  They are so wonderfully unassuming and understated despite their explosive talent. What’s lovely about the video is the lack of fuss; the sheer everyday-ness of it... what a breath of fresh air in the age of sickening social media drama! “Watch this advert and you will cry!” “Watch what happens when this puppy meets the kitten!” “Watch what the old man does...faith in humanity restored!” And on and on...endless tracks of barf-inducing  nonsense.
I have l…

A Cabbage And An Epiphany

There was a writing competition last week; the central theme was food. Ha. Food and an Indian - the theme was a landmine of choices. How much of our lives revolves around food! As someone who cooks at least two meals a day (three on days when I’ve run out of cereals), it can get exasperating. I hoped to write something deep, rich with emotional textures and symbolism. At least in an Indian household, food becomes a veritable battleground – the manifestation of motherly (and other forms of) love and of femininity. Indeed, the preparation of a meal can make or break relationships in many joint families—the cracks appear in the kitchen and the lava pours forth on the entire family. As I mulled over these complex themes, an incident occurred.
I needed to assemble a couple of flatpack furniture, so I had booked a slot with a fitter.  It was a cold but sunny Sunday morning when he arrived. Tall, lanky, hair slicked back, tattoos snaking up all over his arms. As is customary in any Indian …

KJo in Wonderland

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ADHM was a good break from the daily drudgery. Great music, great aesthetics. In KJo’s world, there is no ugliness – no angry police officers, no beefed up middle-aged men, no hordes of demented villains. There is no growing up either. And that’s what is refreshing. Of course there is the usual caveat – don’t go looking for a cerebral experience.
In this movie, as a part of the ugliness hatao theme, everyone is kind of super rich and live on their own in designer apartments and townhouses in London. This removes the need for pesky parents and other annoying relatives who might distort this beautiful fantasy life. Also, the characters don’t have to worry about EMIs or plan their retirement or fret about the high tax bands in UK. They can focus on the affairs of the heart entirely - getting their hearts broken/mended/broken again in infinite cycles. Indeed none of the characters hold a day job; no complications of stressful bosses, wicked colleagues, and office politics mar this beautif…

But, he's a...

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I met my first bully in kindergarten. Mrs H had a son, a boy of 7 or 10. He studied in a different school. Once a week, he would be dropped off at our school during the “rest period” so Mrs H could take him home. Most days he would monkey around on the playground. But on some days, when Mrs H had a staff meeting, he would come into our class, pulling plaits or boxing our ears.  He did receive a gentle rebuke from his mother but that only seemed to fuel his antics. As weeks went on, he became a terror. He had picked up his victims, and I was his favourite; I was puny, stick-like - a good target. From pulling my hair, to whacking my head as he ran about laughing, it was dreadful. School became a fearful place because there was no knowing on which day he would come.  One day he hit my knuckles with the wooden end of the blackboard duster. My fear of this boy was absolute from then on.
Amma had a word with Mrs H. I was reassured I won’t be troubled anymore. As usual that week, Mrs H’s boy…

A Cinderella Evening

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I came across an unusual writing competition earlier this year, in a magazine that I subscribe to – the UK-based Writing Magazine. WM was teaming up with JustWrite team (John Murray Press) for a short story competition. I am not very skilled at short stories;  IMO it requires tremendous skill and  I find it very daunting, actually. But this competition was different; first of all, the reward was unique: six shortlisted winners would get to meet folks from publishing and the winner would get a detailed critique of his/her work. What better prize could a writer get? Secondly, the word count was very generous at 8000 words. I decided to go for this and as usual I did not get around to developing a story till the very last minute.
The last day of the submission dawned and I sat down for a 12-hour writing marathon. It was a bank holiday Monday. The deadline was midnight. I completed the story at about 10 in the night. I had just two hours for editing and it was simply not enough. I shot pa…