October 19, 2012

Pujo Special: Kate Beckett v/s Riya Mukherjee

I am bored out of my mind. Rather, I was bored out of my mind yesterday, when I was waiting for my sister to finish with her beauty regime at the parlor, I couldn't help thinking about Castle and Arjun - especially about their leading ladies - Kate Beckett and Riya Mukherjee. The more I thought about these two women, the more I realized how different they are from each other. And then I came up with a bullet list:
    Stana Katic as Kate Beckett
  • Kate heads her NYPD unit, Riya is a newbie to field work.
  • Kate is a trigger happy woman, driven by the mystery of her mother's death. Riya is afraid of shooting people, as she is against violence n taking lives.
  • Riya is more about the talk, with all her research knowledge. Kate makes ppl do all the research for her. Riya is part of the team.
  • The real parallel would actually be between Arjun and Kate, and not Riya. As Riya is portrayed as the stereotypical female placed between males *cough*Arjun*cough* with inflated egos.
  • She is an asset to the team, yet no one realizes that. Shree and Chhotu make fun of her realizing she has developed a crush on Arjun. Shree and Chhotu remind me of Espisito and Ryan, though both Espisito and Ryan contribute more to the cases on hand...
Sana Khan as Riya Mukherjee
What annoys me about Riya, after summing up these main points of difference, they show her a someone trying to quote from her research work to help solve the cases. An article once said Riya's character was based on Castle, the one with all the research up his sleeve...even with all her bookish and paper knowledge, Riya cannot hold a candle to Kate.

Perhaps it's wrong on my part to compare Riya with Kate, but I would love to see Riya emerge strong and prove everyone, especially her beloved Arjun Sir, wrong. I know the character is in its developing stages (and there are rumors about Sana Khan being replaced *prays to God for it to be untrue*), I just hope midway through the series, we find as driven a woman as Kate. Riya Mukherjee has a long way to go... But we're all rooting for our desi hot cop.

Note: Due to Sana Khan's asthma problem and wardrobe issues, the character of Riya Mukherjee was killed in the series. I've never been more disappointed in a serial or in an actress.... Sana shouldn't have taken on a project if she couldn't commit to the schedule. *sighs* Nevermind. I'll let this post stay as a tribute to Riya.
RIP Riya Mukherjee. Our desi hot cop.

October 18, 2012

TV Serial Review: Har Yug Mein Ayega Ek Arjun

I have almost no time and patience for Hindi serials but I have to admit the promos for Arjun had my expectations riding high. How did I come across this serial you ask? Well it was during a time I used to watch Ek Hazaaron Mein Meri Behna Hain, at a regular basis. I'd dismissed Arjun to be much like CID, but I was interested when my mother (who likes a crime thriller or two), made me sit with her watch the episode.

It was well into the series, the first episode that I saw, but with a lot of questioning and a few guesswork, I managed to understand that Arjun is about the E.T.F (Emergency Task Force) who work in highly complex cases, which is headed by Sameer Rathore (Behzaad Khan), and consists of Riya Mukherjee (Sana Khan) who is a research expert, Shreekhant "Shree" Sen (Siddhart Sen) the techie, Chandrakant "Chhotu" Patil (Ketan Karande) the commando, and is joined by Arjun Suryakant Raute (Shaleen Malhotra) the team's second-in-command.

Arjun's past is shrouded in mystery, and bits and pieces are offered to the viewers to keep their attention engaged. Arjun's wife, Roshni, had been brutally murdered in front of him and rumors say that Arjun had something to do with her murder...though what is the real truth, the future episodes will tell us.

Aired of Saturday and Sunday, at 8:00pm, Arjun, deals with individual murders on every episode, unless a single case is split into two episodes. At the same time we learn more about Arjun and the E.T.F. It is quite clear that there would be a romantic connection between Arjun and Riya, although till now they've shown nothing but contempt for one another. Towards the last episodes which were aired, Riya has grown to respect Arjun, and Arjun still tells her to go back to the research department because of Riya's inability to shoot when they're on field.

We know almost nothing about Shree, Rathore, and Chhotu's background. Riya's refusal and inability to shoot gained spotlight in a number of episodes. Hopefully in the coming episodes, along with Arjun's past, we will get to learn more about the other E.T.F. members.

In a time when most of the serials on the T.V. are a dud, it is a relief to watch Arjun during the weekends. So, happy watching the serial the next time you tune into StarPlus!

October 16, 2012

Movie Review: Easy A

2010 definitely had brought in a lot of good movies...I can't believe I was actually one year late to finally see a movie as good as Easy A. I'd watched it last year, and I have no idea how I came across this movie in the first place. Easy A is the only movie till date, that I've kept on repeat, without skipping a single scene. It was that good in my opinion. In fact, I decided to pay my own tribute to the movie by making my protagonist, Jasmine, have the very same song as the ring tone, which was a huge part of Easy A: 

I've got a pocket, got a pocketful of sunshine
I've got a love and I know that it's all mine -

The amazing song by Natasha Beddingfield. What had intrigued me about this movie was the tagline the promotional posters used, "A Comedy about a good girl, a small favor and a BIG rumor." Emma Stone as Olive Pendarghast plays the teenager who has always stayed away from the usual garbage teenagers are up to. Her best friend, Rhiannon (Aly Michalka), has always dominated her and made her do what Rhi wants. But in order to get out of a weekend camping trip, Olive lies to Rhiannon that she has a date with her eder brother's friend, George. 

That was the lie which started it all. Because Rhiannon comes back, demanding exactly what Olive has been up to over the weekend, and assumes she must have "lost her V-card" to George. Unfortunately, this incident is overheard by Mary Ann Bryant (Amanda Bryant), who is called a "stuck up Jesus freak" by her peers. Mary Ann makes it her personal mission to make Olive tread the righteous path and not behave like a skank.

What I liked about the movie is that it deals with the fairly complex relationships teenagers everywhere seem to build up. Easy A is a simple movie wherein a lie is blown out of proportion and the viewers will hang on till the last, in order to figure out how it all ends.

If you're like me, you'd probably watch the IMDB list and find out the goofs and trivias...but let me just tell you that, do not look into the goofs. You'll end up spoiling your own joy at watching the movie.

The cast for the movie was very well chosen with Dan Byrd (I'd not seen this guy after A Cinderella Story), Penn Badgley, Lisa Kudrow, Patricia Clarkson and Sam Tucci, doing justice to all their roles. Especially, Todd (Badgley), who seemed to be there in all of Olive's turning points, without the usual, swooning from a distance drama teen flicks usually have.

The soundtrack too was amazing. Never have I enjoyed my night time movie watching session more. I definitely became Emma Stone's fan, judging by the performance she put forward here. So if you want something to entertain you, and you're looking for witty statuses to put up on facebook, this just might be the movie for you. (This movie has plenty of good dialogues which can be used as statuses.)

October 15, 2012

Book Review: All American Girl - Ready or Not!

Meg Cabot sometimes just doesn't seem to be able to hold her ground. I've loved most of her work, and I've seriously loved all the books (save Underworld) I reviewed the other day. But reading All American Girl 2# Ready or Not, left me a little bewildered.

Samantha Madison had shot to fame when she'd save the President from an assassin. Somehow, in the first book, she lands herself in the White House and falls in love with the First Son, David. But all that is the past. The Sam we get to see in the 2nd book, has dyed her red hair black and is confused because everyone seems to be pressurizing her for something or another.

The President wants her to come to a live MTV chat, to support his cause. His son wants them to Do It. Her art teacher, Susan Boone, seems to think she's ready to take life painting classes. And Sam doesn't seem to be able to cope with half of what is happening in her life.

While I like the awkward Sam, her sister Lucy and the slew of characters Cabot introduces us to, I failed to find the charm The Mediator and The Princess Diaries brought. Samantha falls short of the brilliance I'd felt in the other characters.

Of course, Cabot created the character of Sam in that way. And perhaps a two-novel story doesn't really have much dimensions to explore. But I'll admit, David lacked the kickass quality Jesse possessed or the one Michael had. I couldn't exactly put on my finger on what was it that truly bothered me about All American Girl: Ready or Not.

A part of me actually cannot believe that I blew most of my pocket money on this lousy book. Blowing a whole month's worth of cash on The Mediator, seems like a much better idea to me. (And something I've also done.)

I wish I could tell you at least one good thing about the book. I found the usage of caps lock very annoying, not to mention the peppering of SAT words throughout. Perhaps, this one was for the teenagers. Twenty somethings shouldn't be bothered with such books.

But can you really blame me? Or judging a book by its author? :D Here's hoping the next books from Meg Cabot's pen are going to be far more entertaining reads than this one!

October 14, 2012

Flash Fiction: Sparks Fly

All the wrong things, for all the right reasons
- Soumma Roy Chowdhury 

I couldn't take my eyes off him. No, I really couldn't. A part of me knew I should not be gaping at him, but the other part urged me to let myself go, for once in my life. While I was struggling with my feelings, he looked around and caught me staring at him. He was confused but only for a minute.

"Come join us," he offered. Us. He has said us, not me. I was more depressed than ever now. The truth was sinking in. He was taken. The object of my desire was taken. 

Tahir laughed again, and beckoned me to go join them. I smiled politely back at him, and shook my head. It was Saturday afternoon. One of the rare afternoons I get off from work. And I'd somehow found myself invited to a party my college best friend, Ira, made me come to. Though why I should be there in the first place was beyond me, seeing the host of the party was Ira's childhood friend, Lily. To mock my misery, the whole circle comes back like this: Lily is Tahir's girlfriend. 

Perhaps I'd accepted the invitation to come to Lily's house because I knew Tahir would be here. Perhaps I'd come because I'd nothing better to do on a Saturday. Or maybe, just maybe, I knew this was exactly how close I could ever get to Tahir. Always from a safe distance. 

I'd never added the guy in my social networking circles, nor had I ever asked for his number. But when mutual friends (namely Ira) uploaded pictures, or tagged us both in statuses, that was the time we'd come into social contact. I barely knew the guy. And I felt sure I was in love with him. Which kind of is weird. Because as a twenty four year old, that's the dumbest thing I've ever done. 

"Why aren't you playing cards with the rest of them?" Ira demanded, when she found me sitting alone on the sofa, feeling like fish out of water.

"Ira, do you mind if I called it a day?" I asked, apprehensively, "I really should get back home and -"

"Sulk?" Ira supplied, helpfully, tilting her head to one side, "I think not. Avoiding crushes never did help anyone. You've got to learn to face them."

I gaped at her. How had she even known that I'd developed a crush on Lily's boyfriend? It was wrong, on so many different levels. I looked miserably down at my feet.

"How did you know?" I asked her, quietly.

"Well, because I can see the sparks fly," she smiled at me, and then winked, "Keep faith. Who knows what tomorrow might bring."

I smiled, sort of shakily, back at her. Then I went to Lily's kitchen, in order to see if there's anything edible in the refrigerator. And that's when I stumbled on it. A glimmer of hope for my tomorrow. From the shadows, I heard a very miserable female voice.

"You think that I like pretending anymore? You think that I am okay with the way things are?" 

I edged nearer to the voice. The female seemed to be having hysterics. Then I heard the words, which knocked the wind out of me.

"Do you really think that I am still in love with Tahir, you jackass?"

Lily. It was Lily's voice. I just overheard Lily telling someone, she wasn't in love with Tahir. Poor Tahir. But this, I realized suddenly, was my tomorrow. My heart was doing some kind of somersault. I wondered whether I should go break the news to Ira, and get her to tell Tahir, accidentally-on-purpose. 

But it would be wrong. So horribly wrong of me, to contribute to someone's heartbreak. Because Tahir really did seem to love Lily. I wondered what I ought to do. Then I remembered something, someone had once told me. That you're allowed to do the wrong thing, when it's for the right reason. I braced myself, and walked into the living room, my eyes searching for Ira.

Book v/s Movie Review 1: Beastly

I've read so many versions of Cinderella, and encountered such a lot of Modern Day retelling - that I was actually quite pleased to come across Alex Flynn's Beastly. As can be understood by the title itself, Beastly borrows its storyline from the children's fairytale, The Beauty and The Beast. Only this time, the settings are modern and our protagonists are high school students.

I'd once gone to a bookstore which proudly bore the legend, "Never judge a book by its movie". And I couldn't agree more. I'd ordered this book from flipkart (though I don't even remember how I'd come across it in the first place...must be thanks to the amount of window shopping I do online), and waited impatiently for the book to arrive.

When the book did arrive, I finished it off within two-days. (Yes, I have been able to finish really fat books, really fast thanks to this wonderful talent of speed reading that I have). And I have to say, I was extremely impressed with Beastly. This was the first time I was reading a novel by Alex Flynn, and I didn't know what to expect.

She uses Kyle/Adrian's (the Beast) perspective to narrate the story. This element of the novel, I found particularly intriguing. Most of the teen novels we read these days are narrated from the girl's point of view. It was refreshing to find a story written from the guy's point.

The basic plot of the story goes like this: Kyle has always been very conceited about his looks, and he makes the mistake of insulting a witch in his class. She in turn curses him that unless he finds true love in his hideous form, he is going to look like a beast forever. Kyle, of course, doesn't believe her. But when the curse comes true, he begins to panic and thus begins his quest to find true love...

Wikipedia lists most of the differences between the novel and the movie. But here's one I'd like to point out, somehow I felt Lindy should have been played by a redhead and crooked teeth. Half the point of Kyle falling in love with Lindy, was because she wasn't beautiful. You just cannot bring a very pretty looking brunette, Vanessa Hudgens, into the picture and make her play Lindy's role. It's too much of the artistic liberty.

While Alex Pettyfer did a good job of playing Kyle, Lindy should've been played by an lesser known or new actress. I don't even want to start how the whole Magda-Kendra thing was completely ignored. Wiki claims that the film was "loosely based" on the book. It seems to me, that the only thing common between the movie and the book, is the curse.

The one good thing about the movie was Niel Patrick Harris playing Kyle's blind tutor, Will.

No wonder the copy of Beastly that I've comes with a stamp saying, "Read it, before you see it." How I wish I'd never seen it. I should've been happy and realized that books that get turned into movies, have always been one thing: disappointments.

So the verdict is this: Go get yourself a copy of the book. And forget a movie was ever made.

October 13, 2012

Movie Review: The Art of Getting By

Remember the cute kid from Finding Neverland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Yes, we're talking about the very one who stole your hearts in August Rush. Freddie Highmore is no longer the little kid he had portrayed in those movies...instead he has grown up to star in a high school drama named, The Art of Getting By (2011). The movie had been named Homework initially. At least, that's the name the trailer in youtube is listed under.

The Art of Getting By is the story of a young boy, George (Highmore) who once heard the quote, "We live alone, we die alone. Everything else is just an illusion" and becomes depressed when he realizes he is going to die one day. It makes him draw into his own shell and get labelled as the kid who never does his homework.

The Principal Bill Martin (Blair Underwood) isn't going to have any of that stupidity though. He tries to make George live up to his potential. But George never can finish his homework and hand it in on time. His acquaintance with Sally (Emma Roberts) makes it all the more difficult for him to stay in the comfort of his own shell. She makes him draw out, more than he knows.

Dustin Mason (Michael Angarano) is an ex-student of the school, who initially comes to deliver a talk on his art. But he is as clueless as George feels and the two connect instantly. It is obvious Dustin harbors a soft corner for Sally - the girl who George doesn't realize how much he's come to value and love.

There's isn't much of the good old drama in the movie, and climax isn't as hard hitting as one would like. It is one of those coming-of-age movies, and Freddie Highmore does justice to the character he plays. The boy's transformation from the don't care into the adult accepting responsibility and thinking about the future, has been beautifully done.

The soundtrack of the movie enhances the scenes, and special mention ought to be made of "Winter Lady" by Leonard Cohen.

All in all, The Art of Getting By, is one of the better movies that are offered in the market for the teenagers and young adults. It gives across a good message too: you'll die one day. But that shouldn't make you die everyday!

Movie Review: Beauty and The Briefcase

This was a 2010 Hilary Duff movie. Given I'm a fan of hers and I watch almost everything she's a part of, it came to me as quite a shock when I realized I'd missed out on Beauty and the Briefcase. Rest assured, this movie isn't a modern day rendering of the Beauty and the Beast fairytale. No, this movie takes you through the journey of a young woman who finds her calling for writing through the business world. How, you ask?

  Well, Lane Daniels (Hilary Duff) has always dreamed of writing for Cosmo. "The greatest magazine of all times," as she and her friend Joanne (Amanda Walsh) put it. But the assignment Cosmo has in story of Lane isn't all that simple. She has to join the business world in order to find love...and what had started out as a simple article, soon becomes the cover story for Cosmo.

Lane has always been looking for her "magic man", the one who would have all the ten qualities on her checklist. A checklist, Joanne keeps reminding her is insane. She develops a very sweet friendship with her boss Tom (Michael McMillian), and her editor Kate White (Jaime Pressley) is convinced she will hit it off with Seth (Matt Dallas).

 But Lane's search for her "magic man" in the business world is put to a rest when she encounters a British guy, Liam (Chris Carmack) who seems to possess all the qualities Lane had ever wanted....

Is Liam really the "magic man" Lane has been looking for, or is there more to this business of falling in love. While some people would reject this movie on the grounds of it being a little to girlie, Chick Flick is something which sets you at peace with yourself at the end of a tiresome day, and people like me would actually like the movie.

 Definitely a movie to watch when you're down in the dumps and need to be cheered up. For the movie gives you hope: your magic man is definitely out there. You might have overlooked him somehow...

Author Review: Meg Cabot

Rather than my usual way of writing a book review, today I'm going to try something different. I'm going to attempt an author's review. And today I'm going to talk to you about one of my favorite writers: Meg Cabot.

She's universally popular as the author of the Princess Diaries series. But what makes me really love her, is the fact she writes for all ages. Young readers, young adults and even the adults. Meg Cabot has something for absolutely everybody. Initially I thought I'd write a review for every single book of hers that I read, but I decided to combine all those reviews into one post. So, here goes:

1. The Princess Diaries Collection: I'd seen the Disney movie, and let me just say that they'd gone too far sugar coating it. Mia Thermopolis on her fourteenth birthday discovers that she is actually the heir to the throne of Genovia. Her father is very much alive but he is unable to have more children, and that is the reason for him suddenly recognizing Mia as his heir. What follows through the next nine books, after the first one, is the journey Mia makes from being a rather silly and naive girl to a wonderful little woman. It traces her progress, from the time when shes starts out at 14 and turns into an adult, 18, in the last book. Besides all the misadventures Mia has; her one true love, Michael Moscovitz, is always there. Throughout, even she pushes him away. It is hard not to fall in love with a boy like that. Wouldn't you agree? Princess Diaries is what made me a die hard Meg Cabot fan. And I've been that way ever since I blew Rs 1768 buying the boxed set, last year.

2. Avalon High: To be quite honest, this is the first book of Meg Cabot's that I had read. I was watching the video of 'If I die young' by The Band Perry, and they use the book the Lady of Shallot in the video. So I kind of did and google search, one thing led to another and before I knew it, I had watched Avalon High, the Disney Channel Original movie, got sorely disappointed and decided to buy the book. Let me just say even though there's much less action in the book, it makes a lovely read. Elaine has moved with her parents for their sabbatical and is forced to recognize that everyone around her just might be the reincarnation of the characters in Arthur's legend. But what is Elaine's role in the whole story? That is what makes one go on reading the book, turning page after page...and describing cute boys in the lead has always been an added bonus. Originally meant to be a stand-alone novel, Avalon High has been taken forward in Manga style sequels...sequels that I've not yet read.

3. Teen Idol: This book I bought for my friend's birthday and I ended up reading it before she got hold of it. Jen Greenley is everyone's best friend. Her natural ability to solve problems makes her become the school's anonymous counselor, Ask Annie's Annie. Her little world is turned upside down when she is appointed as a personal assistant to Luke Striker, a teenage Hollywood star. Unknown to her, Scott, the school's editor has always harbored feelings for her...and Jen doesn't know that she fully returns them. Would the presence of Luke bring those two closer or are there more problems in store for nice little Jen? That was the basic premise of the book. And it had got me thoroughly engrossed in it, till I turned the last page. Then I breathed deeply. If you like teenage fiction and high school stories, this is just for you.

4. Abandon: I can't really remember what prompted me to get this book. Maybe the cover, or maybe the amount of promotion they were doing for it...nevertheless, I went ahead got a copy. All I can say is, Pierce Oliveria, is one unlucky girl to have escaped the realms of death the way she did. Of course, no one ever gets to come out of their alive... So Pierce's life has never been the same. Thanks to the necklace she now carries around, which John had given her, Pierce attracts trouble wherever she goes. I remember liking this book because it was making a chill run down my spine, and the plot seemed interesting. Meg Cabot's modern take on the myth of Persephone, made me really take notice because it had been one of my favorite legends growing up. Wanting to know how the story would unfold, I pre-ordered the next installment.

5. Underworld: The second book in the Abadon series, was to say the least, a bit of a let down. I think my expectations were a little too high for the second book, after a mind boggling first book. Nevertheless, Cabot was successful in taking the story further. Though I can only imagine how fat the last book in the trilogy would be, if she intends to tie up all the loose ends. Underworld is the story of how Pierce gets away from the realm of the dead and comes back to her world, and once again, mayhem follows her...

6. Mediator Series: It is quite funny that the series I loved best about Meg Cabot, is the one I discovered last. I bought all of the 6 books at one go, and had had a marathon reading session for four days straight. Mediator follows the sixteen year old Susannah Simon, who has the unique ability to see, hear and even feel ghosts! Hot headed and fiery tempered, she gives poor Father Dominic, a fellow mediator and the principal of her new school, regular heart attacks due to her eagerness to kick some ghost butt. Her love interest, Jesse de Silva, happens to be a ghost, who has been haunting her bedroom for the last 150 years...despite all odds, she falls in love with him, and irrevocably so. The six books, with stories of their own, take forward the themes of living with a new step family, of unrequited love, and of course, fate. Mediator is by far one of the best works of Meg Cabot, in my opinion. It's sad the series ended. I would've loved to see what else the Suze could get up to, given that she never did learn to control her temper...even in the end!

Other works of Meg Cabot which I intend to read and review later are:
1. All American Girl Series
2. Airhead trilogy
3. How to be Popular
4. Jinx

Book Review: ToGetHer: Forever & Always With Best Friends

This review, I'd meant to write it a lot earlier. I remember going to Oxford bookstore in March and picking out this particular copy...and I'd finished it in one go. Somehow I couldn't stop reading till I'd closed the book for good.

Forgive me, if I get the names mixed up, because it was months ago that I'd read the story. But the essence of what, writer Ishita Bhown has tried to convey remained with me.

Firstly, it was refreshing break to see that there are girls in the engineering world. The one who are termed, 'beauty with brains'. (Though they like labeling themselves as geeks. But geeks have undergone a whole new revolution thanks to the likes of Seth Cohen and Sheldon Cooper.) Back to the book now, though.

Ayesha comes into the world of engineering, where very predictably, she feels lost and confused. As time goes by, she settles down, makes friends and even gets a goon on her tail. Personally, I would've enjoyed a bit more fights and trouble between Ayesha and the goon. And my favorite character is the boy who is dubbed by Ayesha in the beginning as Mr. Stupid. As time goes by, she comes to realize Rohan is one of her best friends.

The class division is very well portrayed. Even though I come from an Arts background, the split in the class is something I could identify with. It kind of begs a simple question: why can't we all just be friends?

What I loved the most is, Ishita Bhown didn't have to resort to making her heroine go out with one of the boys. The romantic angle is very sweetly worked. And the funny emotions attached with it are aptly described.

If you like a laugh, and if you've belonged to the engineering college, you would find ToGetHer quite an entertaining read. The tag line: best friends are forever, is something all of us can identify with and all of us will remember. College being the special time of our lives...probably the last chance to make good friends.

The language flows easily and Ishita is successful in pulling off the twists with every chapter. She is one of the best writers of this generation, that I've encountered. And I've no hesitation in recommending her book to everyone. It's worth every rupee that will go into it. Cheers!