Best Reads 2019!!

 

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2019 read I mostly read classics, which were on my reading list until this year. There have just been a couple new books that I read this year. Educated & Ikigai has been the two of them and the rest I am sure you must have heard about them or must have read them. Sharing my best of 2019 below!!

1.Norweigan Wood by Haruki Murakami 
A Story titled from the Beatles song Norwegian wood is a weekend read over coffee and sunset.
And Written by Murakami is a story of college students living in Japan, there is no doubt about you not enjoying the book. 
 
2.Fountainhead by Ayn Rand 
For the last two years this book was on my reading list, But, This year I stopped giving any excuses and read the book. Took me the longest time to ever to read a book four weeks,700 pages.
It’s was one of the best books to get an insight on Architecture & Philosophy in one of the finest storytelling way.
 
3. Bastard Of Istanbul by Elif Shafak 
Elif Shafak’s Forty Rules of love I had read a couple of months ago and enjoyed the book a lot.
But, This one was like a souvenir as this came from Turkey, Istanbul itself and having visited Istanbul nearly a decade ago,
this was a very nostalgic read but through the eye of a local. 
 
4.Ikigai by Francesc Miralles and Hector Garcia
Ikigai was one of the best and only self-help book read this year.
Japanese teaching.A diet. And the reason behind our existence.
This book will want you to visit Japan again or want you to get to Japan at the earliest. 
 
5.Cuba and the night by Pico Iyer 
A Book that made me travel to Cuba virtually and enjoy the travelogue writing style and make me meet characters who have to sacrifice or who want to move ahead in life, Take steps that improve their way of living and live a life.  
 
6.Midsummer Equation by Keigo Higashino
Keigo Higashino the author of the midsummer equation is the author for the Devotion of suspect X that was largely spoken about when the book released.
The midsummer equation is a chilling, thrilling story about how detective Galileo solves the murder mystery in a small town of Hari cove.
It’s the best Murder mystery book that I have read this year. It’s a page-turner until the very end. 

7. Educated by Tara Westover

A memoir about how one fought from its family and how until then the family records weren’t part of the government’s database. No Education in school in childhood, No birth certificate no medical records!! Truly an educational read! This is Tara Westover telling about her life!

A must-read!!!

2019 Best Bollywood Films!

With just less than a week to go for the new year! Here is my list of the Best Movies – You shouldn’t have missed from Bollywood.

1.Gully Boy 

A Journey and a story about a rapper from Dharavi who becomes one of the most well-known rappers from India.

Directed By Zoya Akthar one of the most unconventional directors in the country. With the star cast like Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt and Siddhanth Chaturvedi. There couldn’t have been anyone to replace them. The Perfect entry from India for the Academy Awards too. 
2.Badla 
Inspired and remade in India from the Spanish thriller, invisible Guest. , This move was done very well and a very gripping to watch. Directed by Sujoy Ghosh one of the best Directors who is now known to produce and direct amazing thriller films like (Kahaani, Teen and the short film Ahalya ) 
3.Dreamgirl 
Dream Girl a story about a guy who can mimic a girl’s voice very well, Takes up a job at A call centre and soon has many for his loyal customers fall for him. All hell breaks loose When his father falls in love with the character “Pooja” a hilarious comedy that you will defiantly love. And Ayushman Khurana performance for the flick makes you wonder what next to expect from him? 
4.Uri 
The Surgical Strike on Pakistan was represented in a flick that establishes “Vicky Kaushal” as a star. 
The movies famous slogan “How’s the Josh” became the most popular # & Slogan for the world cup and everything else that represents India! The movie told us if we stand united & want to do something for the county. We can easily achieve it. Also, it was a movie that makes you feel like a proud Indian and what all the Indian army men go through to keep India secure. 
5.Super 30 
A true story based on Anand Kumar from Bihar who aspires to study abroad after he has secured a scholarship from Cambridge on his discovery of a mathematical problem. But, Fails to do so because of financial restrictions. 
He is forced to sell things on the streets until one of the chairmen from a well-known institute offers him the job of teachers. The students enjoy his way of teaching and like attending his classes. One day he sees a boy who likes to study but can’t afford education in the institute so he then decides to teach the underprivileged students. But, This doesn’t go down well with the other institute that’s signed him up and they try their best to stop him from teaching the underprivileged. The movie is about how politics play a role in trying to ruin him. Where he gets threats even today and how he managed to have batches of 30 students every year successfully qualifying in the Examinations of IIT-JEE Entrance examinations.
The lead was played by Hrithik Roshan and the way he acted was great. The film directed by Vikas Bahl who you would recall made the sleeper hit “Queen” with Kangana Ranaut. The film is inspirations in every possible way and scenes like the importance of English, Application of all Their learning applied to tackle the goons. And the caste difference between higher & lower class. All the issues are covered very well. This one is a must-watch. 
6. Article 15  

An article, a law that justifies that state shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of race, religion, caste, sex and place of birth. And so the film was about a police officer who fights for the caste-based discrimination and crimes in the rural part of India. A movie co-written by Gaurav Solanki & directed by Anubhav Sinha who has directed movies like tum bin, Dus, Mulk and now Article 15 proves he is the most trusted when coming to direct movies on social issues. Article 15 also places Ayushmann as the most dependable and veritable actor in Bollywood today. Article 15 showcases “Real” India and how we are ignorant of reality and justice.
7.Chhichore
An autobiographical movie by Nitesh Tiwari the director of “ Dangal” wrote & Directed Chicchore on his days spent at the engineering college. The movie was nicely shot when the phases of life are showcased. The film relives their days of college days when Anni’s son tries committing suicide as he doesn’t qualify in the examinations. Hence considers himself a failure – when he is critical, the father played by Sushant Singh Rajput tells him the story of his college days and how their gang was known as the losers. The movie has Varun Sharma who plays Sexa, Sharddha Kapoor who plays Maya is Sushant’s Singh’s wife Prateek Babbar playing a negative role. Tahir Bhasin, you might recall Mardaani where he plays a negative. plays Derek in chhichore. Mummy played by Tushar Pandey is a typical mummy’s boy hence the nickname “Mummy” Bevda” played by harsh Shukla are interesting characters that make the movie totally relatable in many ways. The movie, in the end, gives out the message to enjoy life and it doesn’t really matter if you pass or fail. What matters is doing your best every time. Nitesh Tiwari is on point yet again. 
8.Sandh ki Ankh 
Sandh ki Ankh – literally translates to hitting the bullseye. 
Ever since I had seen the trailer about a month ago. I was immediately interested in watching it. The Title being catchy and the two leads Taapsee Pannu & Bhumi Pednekar had transformed themselves into two grannies for the films.
The film is set in a big phat village, U.P in India. Based on a true story Chandro Tomar & Prakashi Tomar who at the age of 60 became sharpshooters and inspired a whole new generation. They even inspired their daughters to become shooters.
The film is about how they go to enrol their daughters for shooting as they believe this could help them secure a job, earn money and grow as people. but they end up becoming shooters themselves initially
The film highlights how difficult it’s for the villagers to succeeded especially women who aspire to do something for the children. The excuses they give to go for practice & tournaments. The distance one travels and one goes through to live and achieve a dream. And this is because of the male chauvinist in the family.
There are a lot of laughs too in the films making it totally entertaining to watch with a lot of inspiration. 
There are many scenes in the movies that are emotional and hard-hitting – one particular dialogue I will rephrase here that Bhumi Pednekar when one asks how old are you. We don’t mind saying our age. But, 
“We don’t know exactly how many years a woman has lived for herself” The dialogues hit you really hard “Bullseye”
Some scenes capture how younger boys who underestimate the Dadi’s but in the end fall flat on their face and they then ask for autographs – Which for them is their fingerprints that are imprinted on their T-shirts and the facial expressions and frustrations of men who were considered the best – But are defeated by the Dadi’s. 
Seema Tomar Prakashi Tomar played by Taapsee Pannu’s daughter is only Indian woman to win a silver medal for shotgun in 2010 ISSF World cup & won two gold medals at the Asian shotgun championship in 2014.
The last scene when they all are celebrating the victory the real Dadi’s Chandro Tomar & Prakashi Tomar and their kids Shefali & Seema are introduced.

Best of 2019 Series!!!

With 2019 coming to an end And having watched quite a few shows this year. Sharing the best of 2019 from shows to movies to books.  Sharing the first blog Best  Series of 2019…

  • Inside Bills Brain:1 Season

The Man & his foundation are helping the world be a better place by trying their best in all ways right from sanitation to Polio Vaccination. The money earned is wisely spent.

 

Money Heist : 3 Seasons

  • A Spanish Series on a Group of Robbers who have planned a Heist, with A Mastermind that has the finest details planned out to execute and accomplish this heist. It’s been Three series, the Fourth one is coming next years. Thrill+ Crime. The Creator, The Writer – Keeps you glued with the drama, the flaws of the characters and the action each episode offers, And Keeps you hooked till the end.
  • Trapped: 2 Seasons

This Icelandic series was very interesting as it was set in Iceland, while the first series is shot with the Icelandic snow, the other during summer. This Murder- Mystery has been scripted and directed very well with the very good background music, making the series suspenseful and fun to watch.

  • The Spy: 1 Season

Based on a true story, The show was neatly made. Crisp wanting you to have more and more and nicely paced. This was totally Binge-worthy. The lead I was told is a comedian and the acting was superb.

  • Typewriter: 1 Season

Hadn’t really seen a Horror series, until this one. This has been the most chilling Indian series and so well made. Can’t wait for Season 2.

  • Mind Hunter: 2 Seasons

A series about FBI set in the 1970s Trying to understand what goes inside a criminals mind by meeting some of the most famous killers and understanding what was going in their mind when they committed the crime. This one is really good if you want to dig into a criminals mind and is directed by David Fincher and  Asif Kapadia.

  • Umbrella Academy:1 Season

Based on a book. Supernatural Russian Series that brings together siblings for a mission. And as they are coming together after a long time. Will the Mission be successful? A series – That has some eccentric characters and is a different genre totally, is worth a watch.

  • Unbelievable: 1 Season

You know you have been raped, And similar stories in other parts of the states too are surfacing. But, how sure are you that all the cases are pointing towards the same person involved in all cases. Thrilling and Nail biting American series.

  • Russian Dolls:1 Season

Another Russian Series – The name itself is pretty self Explanatory. It’s about the Protagonist, Who keeps re-visiting her Birthday Celebration. And every time there is another perceptive to the evening. It’s like the Matrokoshiya – How there are nine faces to a Russian doll.

  • Selection Day: 2 Season

An Indian Series on the most popular sport in our country “ Cricket” About a father who wants both his sons to be the Best cricketers and to what limits he goes to fulfil his dreams. But, do they want to be part of his sport? You have to watch Selection Day.

  • Dogs of Berlin: 1 Season

A Thrilling German series- What if the best footballer from your country is found dead, One day before the Big match? A series that has all of the suspects involved, the obvious ones the mangers to linking it to the underworld. These series focus on conflicts within different communities and the time to find the main culprit.

  • Secret City:2 Season

An Australian series that revolves around an investigative journalist who digs out the dark secrets of the country. Totally worth your time.

  • 1983: 1 Season

A fictional Polish series set in Poland and is about an attack that took place in Poland in 1983 and twenty years later what effect it has had on the country. Isn’t a typical War series. Watch it to get a hint on how the people were manipulated during the wars.

  • Boys:1 Season

An American Series on Amazon  Prime play has an exciting storyline. It’s about Superhero becoming a business proposition and how they become corrupt with the “Power” they possess.

  • Inside Edge: 2 Season

A Series inspired by the Indian Premier League is all about the dirty politics that goes behind the game. In the truest sense, this series gives the audience an “Inside Edge” watch it on amazon prime play.

Ad Shoot!

The Morning wasn’t a usual one. Had set the alarm for five forty-five am, but was fast asleep until I picked up my phone and realised  it’s Six am. Shit! I was going to get late! Quickly had a shower, and cornflakes, Banana and black coffee got ready and left around six-thirty am. Checked again what time did I have to be there. Seven !! And so I approached the destination and reached via google maps. But seemed to have been misdirected to the direction. 
Dialled the number, as instructed once I had reached my destination. Got the address and followed the maps in the right direction. 
Met the concerned person,and was handed over some printouts! These were the storyboards for the shoot that was planned for the day! While placing the printouts with help of the spot-boy. I bumped into somebody I knew. She was in the Art department. A few minutes later after all print outs were stuck. Arrived on the sets where the Ad shoot for a toothpaste brand was planned out. The toothpaste brand is rebranding itself with one of the most bankable and popular star and youth icon “Alia Bhatt” As we began shooting the 45 seconder advertisement ,post ,the Muhurat & Aarti. I observed what all goes through when shooting films/Ad and how they are done and the various teams involved and their jobs it was the first time ever after wanting to be on a set, that I enjoyed and learned so much. The importance of a stylist, the lighting, Silence and what each one does on the Sets.
 Can’t wait to see the Advertisement aired .The Ad was directed by One of the most well known director at Dharma Production Shashank Khaitan And he was the most chilled out director. Well I in the directors team ( Assistant Director) on my first ever commercial shoot. The shoot was wrapped up in two days on both  days before the scheduled time.
 I would surely like to be part of filmmaking. Something that I always wanted to do. 

Mami Film Fest 2019

“Movies, I enjoy watching and when you have one of the best film festival coming annual to the city of dreams and getting a selection of movies, the audiences would love to watch, then the only worst thing would be not to attend the annual JioMami Film Festival in Mumbai. I had watched about eleven movies in the week, after shortlisting sixteen movies I would like to watch. But, here I am sharing the  best movies from the film festival I watched.” 

  • Young Ahmed 

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A Belgian Cinema movie in French .The Story is about a young boy named Ahmed  played by Idir Ben Addi who is influenced by The religious book and acts like the fanatic that leads him  being an extremist and plotter to murder his Teacher. 

The Story opens with Idir Ben Addi running upstairs,Breathing heavily making a call feeling a little helpless and  not behaving himself ,  at the dinning table  too his mother notices his eccentric behaviour and is stunned with his reactions and tone. His behaviour’s are so extreme that even A dog licking him- he wants  to wash his hands. 

The movie focuses on his behaviour in the custody while doing the services and when his mothers come to meet him, He tries to understand what has lead him to be such a being. And when he manages to convince his representatives at the custody that he has changed.

 The story moves  forward with Ahmed being driven and suddenly opens the car door and escapes- Running  for minutes they too are shown chasing him until they loose sight of him and he manages to reach the teachers’s house.

 He tries to enter her place initially from the main entrance ,  but later tries to climb up on the roof and  enters by opening the windows – Till he slips down on the floor and is bleeding away looking for help till  he manages to alert the the teacher or someone who is at home and  … The film background score is a always driving the scenes and setting the mood throughout the film. 

The Acting by a Idir Ben Addi was outstanding. Haven’t seen the pervious work of  The Directors Duo Luc Dardenne &   Jean Pierre who had  been nominated for two days and one night in best foreign film category previous in 2015  and   were awarded  Best Director “young  Ahmed “ in 2019. To Judge whether it was their Best work or not . 

The Movies ends with leaving you with your own interpretations about the end. Personally it was a great movie for me. Not very slow. But a lesson to takeaway in the end. 

***/*****

  • Midnight Traveller 

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A Documentary style autobiographical tone film,  is about the Hasaan  Fazili & his family how they have to keep travelling  to “find a home.“

 Hasaan a filmmaker had made a film on a Taliban Commander – And  the Taliban first killed the commander and  threaten Fazili and at his  “Art Cafe” and within weeks they wanted him dead .

A friend of Hassan  who  worked for Taliban informs him, the Taliban have announced a reward  on “Hasaan.”  

He manages to escape the country and then story is all about how he & the family keep travelling  from  Tajisthan and then Afghanistan to turkey finally finding asylum in the Serbia Refugee camp for the longest time until they have to move again,Until today they haven’t found a “Home” they could call it theirs. The Film is entirely shot on  mobile phones and the edit has been kept as  natural as possible. There are a few light moments in the film .  The whole story is about their struggle of how they  have survived  & have been surviving. And they  travel only  at night as they aren’t taking the legal route and can’t afford to be caught. In  The journey they  were also betrayed by the ones they ran for help to.  

Midnight Traveller – In certain ways changes your perception of Travel. 

****/***** 

  • The Little Joe –  Austrian Cinema (English )

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A Sci-Fi film about  a genetically engineered  plant “ little Joe” Which is an anti-depressant and one who makes you happy. 

This is a prototype model the company is working on. 

One Day “Little Joe” is taken home by the lead Emily Beecham who plays the role as Alice.

And the son “Joe”  played by Kit Connor is impressed by this New mysterious looking plant who one has to speak to  “To make him feel alive.” 

One of the colleagues in the company “Bella’s” Dog has gone missing and is found in the lab. And he pounces . On the company employee and the “Little Joe” blooms and giveaway pollen that  changes  the dogs behaviour.  

And Bella put  had to her dog to sleep.

And Bella believes the Plant is responsible for her to put her dog to sleep. 

It isn’t until Joe,s mother believes Joe too has been infected by the plant that she wants to stop this prototype to become a genuine product for all Business. 

Suspenseful music at moments when needed  enchases and engrosses the audience. 

The wide shot to show that focuses  greenhouse , the last shot of “little Joe plant” the colour palate & texture  throughout the film is very artificially shot – Which the director  Jessica Hausner’s  says she enjoyed shooting it that way ,but likes to show it authentically. 

***/*****

  • System Crasher (German)

 

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Problem Children are known as the system crasher. Benni is one such System Crasher who is impatient and has anger issues from childhood. She doesn’t stay with her parents but at a play school. The Boys bully her, she also steals and always looks to escape the reality. The music when the film opens is upbeat ,Certain shots like the screaming from Wardrobe  when she is attacked looks beautiful on screen. At times the audience has sympathy for the character,But at times they empathy. We don’t know the exact reason for her Anger, But we get an hint that  may be the mother is responsible for state and feels guilty at the same  , As she would visit Benni whenever required. 

We see certain transformation and change in Benni. But, The end justifies she is one case that will never change. 

System Crasher is the Academy award submission from Germany  and  Helena Zengel who plays Benni  might earn a nomination for the performance. 

***/*****

  • Pain & Glory – (Spanish)

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A Filmmkaer is looking back at the choices he made in life – About the film in one line. 

Then you realise oh! It;s made by Pedro Almodovar.You start watching the film unfold with  full concentration. It’s  a the transitions & animation that catches your attention when the lead  Salvador played by Pedro Almodovar’s muse Antonio Banderas who   talks about his pains & about his life that’s beautiful done. The flashbacks of his childhood  reflection  when Salvador is tripping on Heroine. 

The relationship between his Actor & him when they meet  after 32 years and the purpose  “ Coming together for a screening and discussion of their film Sabor”  But, the moments and some other aspects the story touches upon is wonderful. Throughout the film I noticed  a lot of “ RED Colour” used in the background and setting that was cinematically done. Pain & Glory is the best so far I have seen at Mami this Year. 

Very Autobiographical in many ways. The opening  scene where Salvvadaor is laying in the pool is a scene that’s recreated by the director from his own life.  

Trivia : The lead and Almodovar hadn’t worked together for 22 years with each other until “The skin  I live in “ a psychological thriller based on a French novel “ Mygale” and later in English as “ Tarantula”   they collaborated about eight years ago when Antonio played the lead.  Besides Antonio, Penelope Cruz is too someone who has collaborated as an actor in many of his films.

****/*****

  • The Truth 

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A  story about a woman who is an actress has written a book on herself & her family. 

She is now acting in a movie memories of her mother. 

Her daughter comes to visit and  tells her mother, 

You were supposed to send me the book’s draft first ,before it goes to print. 

And after the mother handover the book , She reads and realises there isn’t any truth in this.

The mother has also “killed”  her husband in the book. Who is actually still alive. 

And  in the meantime she is busy with her shoot “Memories of her mother.”

There are moments where her granddaughter on the sets of her film is trying to impress the child actor. Which works and the audiences laugh .It’s a comedy with lot of emotions and  understanding of the “Mother- daughter relationship” 

To tell you the truth, truth has been one of the best movies at Jio MAMI FILM FESTIVAL.  

****/*****

  • Lighthouse 

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The film is cinematically beautiful in  B&W . The Background   music suspenseful  every time the lighthouse is focused on  there is a loud  noise building up some sort of Mystery. 

 The Fart sound at  opening scene, Adds to the humour and  opens with  Ephraim  played by Robbert Pattison & Thomas played  William Dafoe . You will clearly remember him as “Green Goblin” from spider man. The film is about Ephraim who is curious about what lies at the top of the lighthouse and  why   isn’t  he  allowed to ever go there and  what would Thomas be hiding from me ?  Ephraim’s  main job is manning the “lighthouse” on an isolated rock. The two protagonist try to find a “purpose“  in the monotonous job and are often seen frustrated with the isolation that surrounds them.

The Performances by both the actors is fabulous and the cinematography showing the transition and  visuals of the Mermaid  between the present and  the imagination is spot on with the siren and seagulls  sound effect setting the mood of  The film. The film  is shot in 4:3 aspect ratio instead of 16:9 aspect ratio. That give  it’s  effect of being a film from another era. No wonder it was a challenge to get a seat for the movie. 

The film is mysterious horror flick   directed by Robbert Eggers, based on a story written by his brother Max Eggers & co written by Robert Eggers. 

****/***** 

  • Deerskin (French)

 

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The opening scenes – I Swear never to wear a jacket as long as I live. 

Jackets being kept in the boot .

Cut to The protagonist buys a smart Deerskin jacket by spending all that he had for it. 

There is something about the jacket,That makes him falls in love with the Jacket  Obsessed with the “New addition.” isn’t really the word. 

There are scenes where he can’t stop looking at himself in  the mirror with the jacket, soon he starts  speaking to  his jacket, At the bar in the hotel he believes the bartender and the guest seated are talking about his jacket. He slowly starts filming himself with the jacket with a Video recorder he gets “Complimentary” with his “New Buy” The Deerskin jacket The Bartender who shares her interest in editing and her eagerness to edit his film as he shares he is a filmmaker. 

The Film is a comedy with moments of laugh . Where his dream is to be the only one with the jacket . He documents all that’s in the recorder.. And the obsession is so out of control as  he buy’s  shoes,Gloves and and Gets a deerskin pant as a gift from the bartender. 

Until the bartender confess she has known all along he was lying to her and convinces him she would seriously like making movies with him . 

The film is concept and the way it’s done is totally out of the box. My 2nd Favourite or best movie I have seen at the Mami Fest this year.  

****/*****

  • The Golden Glove (German)

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An utterly disgusting hard to watch film. Based on a true story about A serial killer “ Fritz Honka” Who in the 70s in German had raped and strangled women to death. 

The Golden Glove was the bar – which he frequented and connived women to come over to the awful apartment and have drinks & later force sex. It isn’t until one day he follows a lady on the streets that directs him towards his apartment, where fire brigade have arrived and are trying to douse the fire- where he watches and realises the fire is happening from his house – The firemen discover chopped bodies that were locked in a storage  space and that’s the end of the horrified story for Fritz Honka. The film is directed by Fatih Akin a German filmmaker who adapted this film from a book . The setting, mood and the feel of the film  is very dark and dull right throughout . 

The scene that Sets 1974 and Honka lights the cigarette is beautiful captured. 

The Acting by Jonas Dasseler  who is just 23 years old has acted superbly, getting into the character and  walk- That  you  actually won’t think he is just 23.

***/*****