July 19, 2013

Movie Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

Source: Google Images

Director: Rupert Sanders
Writers: Evan Daugherty (screenplay), John Lee Hancock(screenplay), Hossein Amini (screenplay), Evan Daugherty (screen story)
Stars: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron

Honestly, this was ONE movie I was really looking forward to. The theatrical trailer had my hopes riding high, and the name kind of gave away the obvious twist in the tale. The huntsman would be the hero. I have always been a huge fan of The Brothers Grimm's fairy tales and hunted high and low for the original versions. The one which didn't have Walt Disney's famous "happy ever afters". 

Source: Google Images
What I loved about this movie was the visual effects...it felt as though I had been transported into another world altogether. The beginning is really intriguing, up till the time Snow White's father meets Ravenna...

The fight scenes have been amazingly portrayed. I loved the actress who played the younger version of Snow White, and the scene where the adult Snow White runs off from her prison just pulls the reader in...

Unfortunately, Kirsten's poor dialogue delivery ruins the rest of it. She's still stuck playing Bella Swan, the awkward girl who had trouble stringing two words together. I thought the way the created "Snow White" in this movie, it required a very strong, feisty, and fiery young woman in the lead. Kirsten's habit of speaking through her gritted teeth, spoils her motivational speech when she urges people to rise up against Ravenna! I was actually rolling my eyes and yawning at that scene.

I am really surprised that the young girl who played the lead in Catch that Kid, and had people appreciating her acting skills and wanting to see more of her, wouldn't continue that beautifully... 

Source: Google Images
Even though Charlize Theron played her character wonderfully. She captured the Queen's fear of growing old all too well, but there seemed to be something missing in her too. You would like her, but not become in awe of her.

The twist to the story is also, that the Queen wished "If only I had a child as white as snow, lips as red as blood, hair as black as a raven's wings, and all with the strength of that rose." ....the reason why the Evil Queen finds it near impossible to kill her.

Source: Google Images

I wish someone else had been cast in her role. Because the predictable plot (come on, everyone knows this story), made the movie more character driven than plot driven. I liked Chris Hemworth as the don't-care huntsman, but the chemistry between the two forbidden lovers seemed lacking.

Source: Google Images
William played by Sam Claflin seemed to be a necessary character, only to use what now seems like a cliche (especially to someone who has seen Enchanted). 

Source: Google Images

Watch this movie if you like watching 'epic' battle scenes, and have grown used to Kristen never breaking out of the Bella Swan mode. *sighs*

My Rating: 3.5/5

July 13, 2013

Blogadda Post: Taught By Examples ~ Pippo's Story

I Saw, I Learnt

The other day while walking down the street, we met an old man walking with his grandchild. What we saw after that was an astonishing sight.
We saw that the old man picks up the waste paper thrown by  a couple walking ahead of them and throws it in the dustbin. The grandson claps at the deed of his grandfather and continues walking. What did we learn from this? We learnt that the grandfather was setting an example for his grandson by telling him not to throw waste around and keep your surroundings clean.
As an individual or as a parent, you are the best person to teach children the value of doing right.
BlogAdda and Tata Capital presents to you:

I Saw, I Learnt.
Blog about the right things that you have learnt from people, places and situations around you.

"Little deeds of kindness, 
Little words of love, 
Help to make earth happy 
Like the Heaven above."

- Julia Abigail Fletcher Carney

I had no idea that there was little cat meowing away to glory right outside my door on the 1st of July 2012. It was my friend, who told me that, "you know there's this little kitten meowing right outside your door."

We both went to look, and this adorable kitten (picture on left) was there, looking very lost and confused.

I felt so bad for the kitten, that I took him in. I tried to make the kitten eat...but the poor thing was so scared, he just sought refuge under my bed and meowed away...annoying everyone in the process.

My mother isn't very fond of cats, and she didn't say thing when I decided to try and locate this kitten's mother. I finally put him back where I thought he'd come from, the next neighborhood. Little did I know that he would come back at eleven o'clock in the night. What really surprised me was, the way my mother reacted when she heard those heartbroken meows coming to her in the middle of the night.

"Mia, your little kitten is meowing," she said, and before I could say anything else she said, "You should go get him. He sounds frightened."

I couldn't believe my ears, so I flew down the stairs, picked up the white fur ball in the dark and rushed back home. Of course Pippo (that is what he was name afterwards), took a few days to get used to living inside an apartment rather than the streets. But he was the most well-behaved cat I'd ever seen.

My parents asked me to see if I could find Pippo a home for at least the next three days. I did look for homes, but in the three days, Pippo and I had grown extremely attached to each other. I couldn't bear the thought of parting from him. My friends helped me pick out a basket, a litter box and a few toys for him. The original plan was to give Pippo to his new owners along with his belongings...thankfully, I never found an owner and Pippo still lives with us.

Pippo's favorite place to cuddle down at was always either my lap or my mother's lap. Even though my mother is more fond of dogs, her little gesture towards the now family cat, has left an impact on me. She is even mildly allergic to cat fur, but that never stops her from petting Pippo, giving him his food, and she wakes up every morning at 4am to give him, his breakfast. It's quite funny to watch Pippo tail my mother around the house like a faithful little puppy. We crack jokes all the time about how Pippo is really a dog trapped in a cat's body.

The other cat hater in the family, is my sister, Roopsha. The first picture I'd put up of Pippo in Facebook, in a very lame attempt to find him a new house, had her comment:

"Ewwwwwwwww!!! And it's on my bed!!!!"
That was followed by a, "Hey! Did you clean its paws?"

 But who knew this cat-hating sister of mine would change her mind once she met the adorable Pippo in person. Without him trying in the least, she became very fond of him. So much so, that she makes it a point to bring him cat treats. She even bought him a scratch post, his own bowl, and even a collar. All that without anyone asking her to get those things for him.

Her actions spoke louder to me than a thousand words ever could. I knew she cared deeply about Pippo, and though she'd still claim to really dislike cats, she'd still get a twinkle in her eyes, every time someone would mention Pippo. And she'd almost driven me crazy asking for Pippo's pictures via whatsapp and facebook.

What my mother and my sister, the dog lovers of my family, taught me through their actions was that, compassion and love towards every living creature should be there.

It really doesn't matter whether you prefer dogs or cats or even pigs, because at the end of the day, they're all animals. And if you really love animals, then you should do as much as you possibly can for them. Of course, Pippo ends up being treated like royalty if the pictures below are of any indication!

Pippo gets to play with his scratch post,

Eat four hearty meals a day... (My room is personal dining space, by the way!)

He gets to sleep on my bed, and cuddle down pseudo pillows, 

shows off his kitty collar too:

And he trusts people now. In fact, he didn't think twice before jumping into my sister's arms.... She was a little apprehensive about picking him up first, but you can clearly see, the dog lover and the little kitten, are finally good friends.  (Picture right.)

I am very grateful to my sister and my mother for letting me keep Pippo when I couldn't find him a home. Pippo and I share a very brother-sistery relationship... We fight with each other, play with each other. He goes out of his way to try and protect me, and I am forever chasing after him, every time he wants to play a very kitten like version of lock and key!

By my sister, Roopsha, and my mother, Indrani's example, I saw and I learned that it's not only the dogs who should be given help just because of the old saying that a man's best friend is his dog.

Despite all the myths about cats, I decided to adopt Pippo. The support I got from the two ladies of my life, without one of them saying it out loud, really touched me...

In future, if I across someone just like me, wanting to adopt an animal (so long as it's legal), I will be supporting the adoption.

Pippo doesn't have just a place to sleep in now. He actually has his own home - thanks to the wonderful ladies in my life.

"Adopt a street animal, make their lives a little happier!" 

I am sharing what 'I Saw and I Learnt' at BlogAdda.com in association with DoRight.in.

July 11, 2013

Information: An alluring contest with the launch of its first three titles by Author’s Empire Publications:

An alluring contest with the launch of its first three titles by Author’s Empire Publications:

One of the fastest growing publishing companies in the industry, the Author’s Empire Publications, has made a grand entry in the market with the launch of their first three titles. These are available for pre-order at Infibeam.com and HomeShop18.com.  

Chakra: Chronicles of the Witch Way by the National Bestselling author, RituLalit, Kashi by the American author, TerinTashi Miller & In Pursuit of the Woman, by debutant author Rajbir Gill, these books are widely appealing to the readers of different tastes. 

There is an exciting offer along with the launch of books which gives a chance to win Blackberry curve, T-shirts and other cool prizes.

       The readers get a chance to win exciting prizes and goodies by following these terms and conditions:

·        Valid on online pre-order or purchase of any of the books (In pursuit of the woman, Kashi and Chakra) from 1st July 2013 to 15th august 2013.
·        Send the order id or copy of bill, along with the title of the book you ordered/ purchase and your email-id, at fb.com/AuthorsEmpireIndia to enter the contest.

·        The winners will be chosen by lucky draw and announced on 25th august 2013 on the official website of Author's Empire Publications and the official Facebook page.

For other details one can visit the official page of Author’s Empire Publications:

The contest is an added advantage as books in themselves are worth the purchase:

Chakra: Chronicles of the Witch Way is the third novel by the best seller author, Ritu Lalit. It’s a modern version of the old, grandmother‘s bed-time stories of magic, Japas, Japanis and a mesmerizing series of thriller actions that keeps the reader so engrossed. . It is the ‘most pre-ordered book of Author’s Empire Publications’ in the words of Kunal Marathe, CEO, Author’s Empire Publications.

The second in this league is a romance novel, In pursuit of the woman by Rajbir Gill. Although Commander Rajbir Singh Gill has served the Indian Navy being a decorated helicopter pilot, he has always been a writer at heart. This novel is a love tale of a Naval officer who meets his love and how far he goes to get her. The book targets the readers who wish to read a mature love story with some twist and turns. At a reasonable price of Rs. 123, it is worth its price.

The third book Kashi by American author Terin Tashi Miller is a tale of clashes of cultures; it is a love story of an Indian woman and her American expatriate friend. This novel was earlier published in the United States of America with the name, ‘From Where The Rivers Come’ and won in the category of Multicultural Fiction in the Best Books 2010 contest, sponsored by USA Book News. It has got many other rewards and prestigious recognitions in other honorable book festivals.

Although the writing industry does not witness much promotions and marketing but Author’s Empire Publications seems to be changing the trend and they are doing it just the way it should be!

July 8, 2013

Event: Four Seasons Wine Trail

The Conclave 
 Four Seasons  invited me to a structured Wine Trail this last Saturday (06.07.2013), organized by Ginger Claps. I came to know about this event through my friend and fellow blogger, Swarnali, of Dreams n Drama blog. The event was held at the Rose Room in The Conclave from 3 pm to 6 pm.

Our wine guide, Mr. P.K.K Mitter aka Peter talked us through not only how one ought to taste wine, but we learned how wine is manufactured in the first place. The two short AVs shown was an eyeopener for people like me, who are ignorant about wine cultivation.

The first question he asked was, "What is wine?" The answer to which I got in a structure form that day, "It's an alcoholic beverage made from fermented grapes." The AVs showed us how the grapes are harvested, picked and then turned to wine, bottled, labeled and boxed, stored to be dispatched into the markets. What was impressive was all this was happening in the state of Maharashtra - India's very own vineyard.
The First Slide on the Slide Show

We learned about the different types of wines:
  • Wine can be either Still, Sparkling or Fortified, depending on its content.
  • It can be White, Rose’ or Red depending on its color.
  • On the basis of its sweetness, wine can be dry, medium or sweet. 

Wine can also be Old World or New World, and the label of the wine would tell one about it. The Old World wines would have the terroir (region of origin mentioned) while the New World wines have the types of grapes mentioned.

The different parts of the grape give the very different tastes to the wine: The stalks give the astringent taste, the grape skin provides the tannin color, the pulp supplies the sugar, the fruit acids and water, and the seeds give the bitter oil.

The temperature at which wine should be served, depends on the different types of wines
In this structured wine trail, we tasted five kinds of wine:

We also learned there is a particular way to drink wine. Especially when one is trying to develop a taste for it.

1.Wine should always be served in the wine glasses, filled to the curve....and the glasses should always be held by the stem.

2. There are four S's to wine drinking: See, Swirl, Smell and Sip (illustration below).

THE FOUR S's of Wine Drinking 
My Model: Swarnali Das :)

3. It is also possible to find out if the wine is old or young, by tilting the glass and holding it next to a white mat. If the color is uniform, then the wine is old. If not, it's young.
The Five Types of Wine were:

The five images above are taken from: http://www.fourseasonsvineyards.com/our-wines/four-seasons.html Click on them to enlarge the images and learn more!

And along with wines, was of course food:

Indian Wine has finally come into the world market. In fact the wines which are made here under the Four Seasons brand name, are being exported as "Ritu" i.e. season in Hindi.

Red wine and White wine in India are both favored extremely. The best thing about wine is, that it accompanies food. We also learned that it is possible to make white wine from red grapes!!! Isn't that awesome? But the opposite, isn't possible...

The event concluded with the awarding of Wine Appreciation Certificates, which I personally think is going to look great on my CV!

Perter Awarding Me the Certificate 
A Closer Look At The Certificate 

At the end of that wonderful session, where I met a few other bloggers too, all I can say is THANK YOU,

and I sincerely hope to be a part of the future structured wine trails...

For more information about Four Seasons, please visit:

July 7, 2013

Review: My Rainbow ~ Seven Riveting Short Stories

Name: My Rainbow - Seven Riveting Short Stories
Authors: Khush Agarwal, Isha Setia, Dhritika Dhawan, Harashavardhini Pareek, Aditya Agarwal, Isha Rautela, Shivangi Singh.
No. of pages: 169
Price: Rs 180 (I received a review copy from The Tales Pensieve)
ISBN: 978-81-927146-0-8
Publisher: www.quillclubwriters.com

Front Cover

Back Cover
When I first asked to review My Rainbow, I had no idea that the seven short stories were actually penned by school students. The back cover write-up hinted that this would be a very promising read. Along with the book, I was sent clippings from a newspaper where I learned more about these seven delightful young authors. To be honest the stories in books are riddled with spelling mistakes, tense mistakes and there even have been instances of malapropism. But as I write my review, I will overlook these errors...because we have to keep in mind these were children writing the stories. That they are able to think of plots and go on writing without getting bored, is very commendable. The editors should have helped out the kids. I know from experience how painful it is to proofread your own stories. Once you've finished a work, it feels like you conquered something and it's a lot of effort to go back fix the little details. The kids should be spared of such criticism, instead the focus ought to be on the stories they thought up.

01. The Legend of Zalim Khan by Khush Agarwal: I was actually impressed by the way Khush thought out the story. Nothing really happens, but it's a wonderful read on its own. I liked the way he build the back story and merged it with the present. It was interesting, yes. And I can see we're going to get better stories from him, when he grows up.

02. Water Under the Bridge by Dhritika Dhawan: A thirteen year old whose able to write about the estranged relationship with a father and daughter, is mighty impressive. An old cliched plot: where the father leaves in search of riches and never comes looking for his family....the girl goes to meet him in the end. It was a little predictable, a story simply told. Nothing too fancy. A sweet read.

03. Carnival in Lousytown by Harshavardhini Pareek: The little authoress herself claims to be a fan of R.L. Stine and I can see that admiration reflected in her writing. The entire descriptions of the town and its folks seemed like something out of those Goosebumps novels I loved to read as a kid...it's another story where everyone is waiting for something to happen, and while they wait, they make the best use of their time. It was another very cute story.

04. Fate by Isha Setia: Isha digs into our past...nacchnewalis and the fate they had suffered. She takes us through the story of the grandchild of a such a woman, and how the child battles with her fate and would she emerge victorious in the end? It reads a little stiff, but it's a pleasant read nevertheless.

05. The Interview by Shivangi Singh: I have to applaud Shivangi's imagination. Writing about a college lecture scene, and forming a story through glimpses of memory really requires talent. A young college girl remembers her professor as a conman when she was little, and she proceeds to interview him one afternoon, when they are playacting. I loved the vivid tale Shivangi came up with.

06. The Decision by Isha Rautela: This short story I liked for being different run-of-the-mill kinds that I had read, but unfortunately the twist Isha puts in the end guarantees just that. Yash as a protagonist had tremendous potential, I really fail to understand why Isha chose the cliched ending. She seems like a super intelligent kid, and I hoping her next stories will not have such a disappointing end.

07. Adventure of the Mysterious Flagstone by Aditya Agarwal: I think Mr. Agarwal is a fan of Enid Blyton. The story read like one of the Famous Five adventures, I found it really sweet read. He was gunning for something more serious, I am sure. But given his age, I understand why he got influenced by the adventure stories. There were some grammar errors, but the plot was really good.

I want to congratulate each of these seven children. They have shown promise in the work. I wish their works had been better edited though. In future, I look forward to reading more of their stories. Good luck!

The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve.

July 6, 2013

WOW:Sometimes Silence Speaks

You say it best, when you say nothing at all.

Write Over the Weekend theme for this week

‘When you say nothing at all…’ Write a post with this line in it.

Source: Google Images 

She rested her head on his shoulders, 
and he put his arm around her.
They looked like something cut out
of a fairy tale.

Ever since they'd met it had just been that,
quiet walks, holding hands, 
and just sitting in silence. 
And the silence speaks...

He can look into her dark eyes forever,
Feel like he is swimming into the deep, 
He knows he's drowning but he's 
really very happy. He wants to be there.

"I like it like this," she smiles at him, 
"When we're together, I like the silence...
...when you say nothing at all."
And he kisses her forehead.

He gets up to leave, and she catches him,
By his sleeve, her eyes are brimming with tears.
"Do you really have to go?"
She feels him hug her from behind, and whisper,
"I'll be with you as long as you want me to."

She wraps her arms around herself,
Lets the tears roll down her cheeks.
Ever since he'd gone forever, she had sought comfort,
In their memories.

"You're not gone, no one take you away from me,"
She keeps repeating over and over to herself,
The spirits hear her prayers but they can do nothing,
Except watch her waste her life away.

She's forever waiting, for Death to strike her,
Because she wants to go where there is silence...
Because in that silence she would find him.
Her only lover, her best friend.

She looks ahead of her, blankly, smiling,
Her eyes glisten with new form tears.
"I love you,"
And she can hear him answer, "I never left you."

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

July 2, 2013

IndiVine Post: The Perfect Road Trip

Describe your idea of a perfect road trip. You can choose your car, your companion, your route and your destination. The most memorable road trip wins!

L to R: Me, Soumma, Soumik, Jijo, Shibaji, Pulastya, 2008 
Since the time we were in the last year of our school, my friend, Baisampayan Sarkar aka Jijo, has been going on about how when we all turn twenty,  and he has the license to drive,  our little group of friends would go on a road trip.  Well, it's almost six years from that day, we're now twenty-two and twenty-three year olds, but sadly the road trip still hasn't come true.

But given a chance, there are no other people, than these four crazy people,  I would pick to go on a road trip with. (Preferably with Pulastya Parekh driving).

Honestly, prior to September 2011, I had no idea about cars.  But after working as a content writer for a company which predominantly made me write about cars, cars and more cars  I can say, I now a little bit about them now.  And that's the reason for choosing this particular car: A Blue Ford Mustang. 

Ford Mustang:

The car does have very snug seats and it's perfect for a road trip.   I can actually imagine Soumma and Soumik get into a fight about who gets to sit next to the person driving the car....and I will be at the back, taking a window seat, of course.  Jijo is probably taking the first turn to drive, and Pulastya has probably taken the other window seat. Poor Soumik! He must have gotten stuck with a middle seat again. 

Well since I'm the one planning this road trip getaway, I don't think the opinions of my friends will matter here.  So, I'd pick a place where we can start for early in the morning and perhaps reach before the afternoon or the evening...  It has to be somewhere nearby but nothing too far away.

Me, Jijo, Soumik, Soumma, Pic Courtesy: Pulastya, 2011
So cliched as this sounds, I think I am going to settle for Shantiniketan.   Yes, it has a lot of Bengali heritage to it, and it is one of those places we Bengalis tend to run off to, at the drop of a hat.  But I still remember going to Shantiniketan by road,  and I don't recall a happier time in my life.  The songs played, the fun, the laughter and the jabbering of people who've been friends forever...I think for a change, I would be looking at the people seated next to me, and actually engage in conversation this time. As opposed to my favorite hobby of ignoring everyone and looking out of the window...  watching the scenes flash by, and creating stories (which I never have penned down) in my head. 

Shantiniketan, Pic Courtesy: Google Images
Well, we had a mini trip in the morning a few days back...of course it wasn't to Shantiniketan.  It was quite near to Salt Lake though  and oh well, it was quite fun.  And I cannot help but think that if a mini trip like that could put us in such a great mood,  what it would be like to be on  real road trip with these people I've known almost all my life?  Only one word comes to mind: PERFECT. 

L to R: Me, Soumik, Soumma and Jijo. Pic Courtesy: Pulastya, 2013

This post is a part of facebook.com/AmbiPurIndia