Saturday 19 July 2008

The Motorcycle Diaries - Review





Many will call me an adventurer - and that I am, only one of a different sort: one of those who risks his skin to prove his platitudes.

-Ernesto Guevara


This afternoon, I watched one of the greatest films I have ever seen. Having come home after barely 2 weeks in college, I was back to my old ways, ie, waking up at noon. After finishing breakfast, I switched on the TV and was surfing channels,in the hope of finding something interesting to munch the minutes away. Then, I saw the scheduler saw Zee Studio was gonna screen the film- The Motorcycle Diaries. For the benefit of those in the dark, this is a first hand account by a man called Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, in plain English - Che Guevara( the bandana guy on the T-Shirts,for the few of you out there who don't know about this great man's legacy).

Call it coincidence, but only yesterday, I was reading a biography of Che on my friend's computer. I was hooked on to his adventures and exploits, but had to cut my tryst with the revolutionary short, for I had a class to attend(Anna University Attendance Rule SUCKS!!!!!). So naturally, when I learnt that this movie was on air, I was interested. And I sure as hell wasn't disappointed one bit.

The movie begins, with a short profile of young Ernesto, a medical student at the University of Buenos Aires, his asthmatic attacks, his passion for Rugby which earned him the moniker "Fuser" and his affectionate family. Ernesto and his friend Alberto Granado, a bio-chemistry student, plan on embarking on a tour of the American continent (throughout the movie, the word- America is used to refer to South America, and not the US :| a strong statement in itself). Ernesto bids a fond farewell to his family and the 23 year old sets off with his friend who is older by 6 years, on a rickety old Norton 500 motorcycle, referred to by Granado as Don Quixote's Rosinante.

The 2 amigos on La Poderosa

Their journey takes them through the length and breadth of the continent, across country roads and towns where the economic divide is a gaping canyon. The screenplay is so fluid that you will find yourself flowing with the adventurers past the wonderful landscape of America. Gael Garcia Bernal (remember Amores Perros?) plays Ernesto with so much ease and poise that he becomes the character himself. And Rodrigo de la Serna portrays Alberto Granado with a touch of Tuco-style humor(Tuco of The Good The Bad and The Ugly) and a sort of elder brother attitude towards his younger comrade. Their chemistry also adds to the beauty of this film. Trivia- Rodrigo is a second cousin to the real Che Guevara :) . As they progress through the continent, first on La Poderosa ("The Mighty One"- Granado's bike) and later, on foot, hitchhiking, on boats and by air, their friendship is all the more evident.

The movie also showcases the transition of Guevara, from a fairly-rich adventurous youth to the revolutionary that he would become. Particularly, the scene in the Inca ruins, where he attributes the fall of the Incas to Spain, to the fact that the Spaniards "had guns". There is a romance angle as well, as Ernesto spends about a week with his lady love Chichina, and when they part, he isn't too convincing with his "I'll come back for you" line. Nevertheless, Chichina gives him 15$ to buy her a swimsuit if he ever reaches the shores of North America. Throughout the movie, Ernesto holds on to this, despite Granado's frequent requests for the money,to improve their pathetic in many stages of the journey.

At one point, the duo meet a communist couple looking for work in a mine, which marks another great change in young Ernesto's character. His heart goes out to them so much that he gives them Chichina's 15 $. The movie also depicts Guevara's frequent asthmatic bouts which would haunt him for the rest of his life. Granado's loyalty to his comrade is also very much evident throught the film. The movie is dotted with several humorous incidents which make you smile one minute, and the scene shifts the next moment, making your heart ache at the sight of the sad state of suffering poor.
Granado and Guevara hiking on foot

The major turning point of the film comes when the 2 men from Argentina make their way to a leper colony in Peru, where Granado and Ernesto break conventions with their friendly attitude towards the patients, who are separated from the healthy by the Amazon. This metaphor, of the river itself dividing the people is poignant reminder of the underlying theme of the movie. The duo manage to liven up the colony with their infectious enthusiasm and spirit. They even join the patients for a football match.

The doctors, nurses and the nuns organise a big party on the night of Ernesto's birthday, which surprises and moves the young man. But his heart lies with the suffering of the poor on the other side of the lake. In a moving speech, Ernesto proposes a toast to a Unified America. Granado noticing the sparks of change in his dear friend is portrayed wonderfully in this scene. Ernesto then goes out of the party house,to the river bank. He stands there, planning to make a symbolic last journey across the river,to be with "the people" despite Granado's futile cries that it was too dark and he has asthma. Ernesto's crossing of the river,swimming against a strong current, battling not only the water but also his asthma, symbolises the triumph of human spirit, and as he is pulled out of the water on the other side by the people of the leper colony, there are celebrations on both sides.

Ernesto and Granado set off to Venezuela, after bidding a fond farewell to the people of Peru. Then at Venezuela, the 2 friends part ways, with Granado planning on settling down in life, while his friend is about to embark on a different kind of journey. The movie ends with the real-life Granado looking at a plane taking off, and photographs of the 2 friend's actual journey through the continent.

Please donot be put off by the fact that the movie is in SPANISH. It is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. Gael Garcia and Roberto de la Serna deliver memorable performances as they take us along with them in their unforgettable adventure. This is one of those movies which will leave a lasting impression on you, with it's well crafted screenplay, great camerawork, wonderful acting, and above all, the plain simplicity, which makes you identify with the characters and scenes in the film.

I am going with a 4 out of 5 for Walter Salles adaptation of the first person accounts of Ernesto and Granado about their adventure of a lifetime.


The Actual Route taken by Ernesto and Alberto


I know you are here to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a Man.

-Che Guevara to his would be executioner,seconds before his death

Tuesday 8 July 2008

The Insomniac's Algorithm to tackle Inflated Egos

Disclaimer: None of this content is meant to hurt the sentiment of anyone. It is just my take on how one effectively tackles the egos of his fellows,when a problem seems to be brewing. Even though at places some of the text may sound err inconsiderate on my part, i apologise. I don't intend it to be insensitive,but may be for want of a better expression I may have used something which is not that good a euphemism.

At some point of time,each and every one of us must have been a victim of the bloated egoistic rampages of our fellow Homo sapiens. Most of the time, it is a non-issue which somehow gets blown to larger than life proportions and ends up costing us something(not to mention our very own hurt-pride). Having been on the receiving end of many ego-maniacs (and sometimes, people whom I have known for a while too), i consider myself to have suitable experience on this topic,which I have decided to make the subject of my next post.

First we ll try to look at the different angles from which the problem may arise.
1. It may be a misunderstanding with a friend
2. You may have pissed off someone on the road(allegedly pissed off,that is..)
3. An action of yours may have caused the ballooning up of the ego of someone in a position higher than you(like people in govt officers, the boss dude, teachers, generally people elder than you)
4. People who are frustrated with their current position, feeling they were meant for other bigger things..

Ok. Now lets start off with No.1 on our list. Friends. Now this is a big issue, especially if that person has been close to you for a long while or has been/is a room mate in hostel. But this is the one with the easiest solution. Apologize. The fault may not be yours, but don't let your own ego get in the way of your friendship. Personally speaking, I would rather be the 1st to apologise than spend days without talking to a friend. There may be some fault on your side too, and a lot of it on his/her part, but make it a point to
BE THE FIRST TO APOLOGISE

Moving on to the next case- you are the victim of the ego of a complete stranger, a very common example of which, is in India's chaotic traffic :D. Cursing a driver who has jumped a signal and made you jump outta yer skin, or the poor pedestrian who braves the traffic in trying to cross the door,the kid with the brand new bike who seems to have a paralysis of wrist which ends up locking the accelerator at full throttle and his unawareness about a concept called brake (err i ve been guilty of this when I was a noob) and everyones favorites- the bus drivers who sometimes get a notion that they are riding an F1 car in a highway, and how can I forget the usual suspect- the lorry driver who drivers over anything-from potholes to poor dogs to the unlucky biker. On several occasions, this will make your temperature boil over. It's normal for any human being (I repeatedly request my father to fit our automobile with a wacky races- like contraption which can swat away vehicles which unnerve you :D). But the best way to handle it is,forget about it and drive on. You have better things to do. You know,I am proud of Erode being my hometown. Here, people just give you a sad smile as to say- This time you re lucky next time you may be dead,or worse, put someone else in hospital. But that look says it all. One of the reasons why I miss Erode(but more on that in another post). I would request my fellow residents of Chennai to take a leaf out of their books. Please don't stoop down to the level of exchanging discourtesies with auto drivers (discourtesies lol that s one of the best euphemisms I have come up with :) though I say so meself).


No.3 on the list is where we stand to lose the most. From several experiences in the past, as well as a very recent one where it might have cost quite a bit for me and my friend(I wont get into the details :D), I have learnt that the only way out of the mess (friends who know about the incident will notice the sad pun :| ) is- SATISFY THEIR EGO. If you feel that you need to get some work done out of that person, and some action of yours has jeopardized that notion, say for example, you are accused of some misconduct, try politely refuting the charge in your humblest of tones. I ll try to chart out an algorithm for this...
1. Keep your face dead serious (a look inducing a certain amount of pity wont hurt)
2. Admit the mistake you have been charged with, irrespective of whether you are guilty or not. For all I know, that person himself couldn't care less. It's a question of hurt pride,not logic
3. Don't think twice about saying sorry. And don't stop with just a couple either (you ll mostly have covered lot of ground if you perform steps 1,2 and 3 well)
4. Repeat step 3 (do it until terminated externally) and steps 1 and 2 for every 3rd repetition of step 3. If this doesn't get you out of the mess, go to step 5
5. Say that someone(preferably, someone whom that person has confidence in and respects. Be careful not to call someone who is not held in that high a regard by your antagonizer) can vouch for your conduct. This will mostly soothe him down. But this may backfire if that person transforms into a re-enforcement,sort of like "Namakku oru adima sikkitaan" :D .
6. After he excuses you, be sure to thank him for his mercy like an accused commoner to a king.
7. The most important, put a heavy lid on your own pride and ego,coz if you let that outta the bag, yours is a lost cause to say the least, mate. :|

If this algorithm doesnt get you out of the mess, don't hold me responsible. In many cases, you will find that you losing this battle of egos has in the end, turned out for the good, for that person will involuntarily begin to respect and like you(I know this from experience) .And if you find some other solutions to tackle this problems, i request you to post it in the comments section or mail me at pdeepak88@yahoo.co.in.

Moving on to No.4, this is the case where the person whose ego you are facing, deserves more sympathy than you would like to think. More often than not, this kind of problem arises out of frustration. It may be anyone,right from your watchman,to someone who has more knowledge than is obvious by his current position in the economic and professional ladder, an under-achieving friend, grandparents who feel they are not important any more, and so on. When faced with such a situation, take a minute to put yourself in their position and you will see the frustration which blinds them. I am not saying one should pity them. But the least we can do is,show them some respect. We can involve them in some small tasks which they feel is befitting. We can talk to them and make them feel more wanted. A kind word or two, asking their suggestion on something, this may end up making their day.

Having been on the wrong side of the ego fence on many occasions, I have seen time and again that accepting your mistake without picking up a fight, you may even end up making a good friend, or it may even be a start of a good relationship with your superiors. We may have lost our pride, but when we look back, we ll end up feeling that we did the right thing. What good will it do to you had you won the argument? Nothing, if not getting you into some trouble. As our old friend Dale Carnegie put it beautifully -

You can't win an argument, because if you lose, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it. Why? You will feel fine. But what about him? You have made him feel inferior, you hurt his pride, insult his intelligence, his judgment, and his self-respect, and he'll resent your triumph. That will make him strike back, but it will never make him want to change his mind.

Wednesday 2 July 2008

Image of the week July1-July6

Here is the first of the Image of the Week series. Each week will feature a new image, which has impressed me enough to post it. What with the Euro coming to an end and all...I just couldn't keep my self from adding an image related to the tournament. Well after much thought, I decided to go with this one...

This image edged out the one featuring Casillas holding aloft the Trophy. I mean.. it's not everyday that you get to see a 69 year old man tossed up in the air like a sack'o potatoes. :D

Tuesday 1 July 2008

What I loved about the IPL



The BCCI cashed in on India's success in the T20 world cup, by launching the IPL which was a mish mash of Kapil Dev and Zee Groups ICL and various football leagues in europe. So what did I love about the IPL?
Sorry, not the cricket. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer the longer 50over and Test versions.
And definitely not the commentary (planning on doing a post about that :P)
If not these,what else?

The Ads of course :D. Wait,this can't possibly be!!! Ads?? Err,isnt that our cue to surf channels, or go get some snacks to energize us as we watch the players sweat? Well not this time,mate.

Over the past few years, India has produced some of the most creative ads one sees on television. The IPL was a perfect platform for the ad-agencies to showcase their ingenuity (and in some cases, mediocrity) as never before. (Like, where else can you get the opportunity of seeing your ad every 5 minutes for umm close to 3 hours?).

When the IPL kicked off, I wasn't too enthusiastic mainly due to the poor treatment of Kapil and the ICL. Nevertheless I found myself sittin infront of the Television, watching the Bowlers living out their darkest nightmares (shorter format shorter boundaries... Yippee!!! if you are a batsman,that is...). My interest would often wane (but would sparked up on occasions like Bhaaji and Shortfuse-Shreeshanth's Friendly fire,if one may call it so :D). But then, I started noticing these ads. Some were very creative, others, beautiful and a few quite hilarious ones as well. So here is a roundup of the Ads of the IPL :

Well I ll start off with the Pepsi ad- The comical spoof of Akshay Kumar in that quite silly ThumsUP ad.The ad features a guy lyin in bed,after apparently getting a Vadivel-like knock (only, he falls off buildings instead of having the balls knocked out of him lol) :P and 2 cool dudes making off with his babe. This trend of pulling each others leg has been going one right from the "Don't be a Bhandhar Taste the Thunder" days :D.

Then there was this one - Max New York Life, where the wife comes running up the stairs, with shopping bags and all, and oh so naturally goes to the kitchen and starts preparing something, presumably coffee, all the while, shouting out the husband's pet name in a voice which would get her no where near playback singing studios. She runs out, finds the husband in the easy chair, head flopped to one side, cup over-turned, and her worst fears seem to have come to life. The mobile phone rings and the drops of water falling add to the effect. As she approaches him, you hear a voice which says - Without Max New York Life, misfortune can strike you at any moment (a loose translation :P). Since when do companies start threatening customers? :P lol i liked the wife's anguished cries of "Sanju Sanju", and the poor guy goes- You scared me!!! Lol who wouldnt be scared if someone's yelling your name with that kind of a tone and comes sneaking up on you when you're having some rest? Fun apart, a really powerful ad indeed. Puts the message across rather effectively. Good work by Euro RSCG

And then there was this really lame ad about Hyundai Accent, where you see this guy who seems to epitomise the Expressionless metro sexual of the corporate age, drive around in the car, whose features include err power steering steering, an ok chassis and the usual luxuries. An ad,totally devoid of an iota of creativity or humor. LG came out with ads for a new TV series labeled LG scarlet, with a model trying to seduce a TV (err i heard models are dumb, but man this is the limit). However, I came to know that it was actually a fake drive :D. More on this here

There were also some really funny ones- BigFlix.com the online rental service from ADAG, which spoofs some of Bollywood's recent films (loved the dude in helmet doing the Gar Me disco =)). There was this ad for Bingo chips, where the old man in the mad scientist get-up was trying his best to sound and to look funny, but foolish,was what it looked. I guess they were tryin something along the lines of that insane Ad Orbit white (Yellow Yellow dirty fellow;White White Orbit White- beat that). While the dentist kid and the cow in the Orbit white were super cool and brought a few smiles,Bingo falls way short.Crunchy,it may be, but the ad definitely was not.

The Sprite Kohlega Toh Bolega ad was good, with Sprite breaking up the romance. But and ad which impressed me very much, was the Crab tree switches ad, where 2 guys are discussing some business proposition, while 3 dudes,with accordion and all, and a lead singer who seemed to have forgotten his lines, doing some funny "Karramba Karramba" noises are (thankfully) muted by one of the guys discussing the deal, almost like turning a switch off, making us wish everything in life was like Crabtree switches. And the Crabtree taps ad,along similar lines,where the groom effortlessly turns on and off, the tears of his wife. Great work. Then there is that classic Havell's ad with the kid with the Dragon Ball Z hair style :)) cant help laughing. Funny music as well. The new one about havell's wires not catching fire is also very good, with a lady using it like a Kidikki

One ad I really really enjoyed was the Non-Iron shirts from Park avenue,with a series of "Misadventures of the obsolete iron". One of the best ads in recent times,courtesy Dentsu Mumbai. So much meaning conveyed in so few seconds on air :).

Ok now. Moving on to my top 3 ads...
At number 3 we have the Citibank ad with those snippets capturing many everyday events in a style reminiscent of academy award winning movies, with the music to match and the very powerful Citi Never Sleeps slogan. Apparently the wise dudes at Citi had settled on "Let's Get It Done," but the campaign fizzled after 2 months and a $30 mn campaign. Then came the Citi Never Sleeps slogan, which is a very powerful statement about the company. The words- "Your dreams are wide awake" and "That's why we work around the clock" "That's why Citi never sleeps" convey a strong message about the Company.

A nice Ad indeed

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At Number 2 comes the hilarious Moto Yuva Ad, and I don't have to tell you who steals the show :D. The Dad ofcourse. We see the son,modern kid, groovin to the beats of his Moto Yuva. He gets a call from his girl and struts out some youth lingo(he seemed to be anxious to get his lines right). As he goes off,leavin the mobile behind, the curious Dad, picks it up, and starts grooving,no no doing something which looked like a cross between the Coco Bongo dance by the Mask and the Twitch of Fred Flinstone :D . I loved the part where he flips the cell open and mimics his son with that - Hey Babes, see you in 15,Ciao. (especially that 'Ciao' part) rofl. And that is capped of by that mad dance with the table tennis bat. Was hilarious, to say the least. And that part where he maintains his image when he comes under the questioning glare of his wife and that "What the!" look from his son.No words. Double thumbs up to O&M for the wonderful job on this ad.

Check out the supercool "Dad Dance"

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And number 1 in my list is that beautiful Vodafone Chota credit Ad. The scared look on the girl's face as the ink runs out, the tension created as the Teacher starts collecting the answer sheets, that cute little hiccup :) ,the act of help by the extremely cool kid,(with his teeth giving Chip and Dale a run for their money) and his fantastic facial gesture, which unfortunately, I am unable to describe here.Above all, the lovely little girl, with angelic innocence written all over her face, infuses so much life into this ad, with the narrator,taking the same soft tone of the ad,in describing the new chota credit scheme. Oh! How could I forget? The melodic guitar strumming in the background, was exactly in place with the ads theme. One of the most complete ads in recent times,and one of my all time favorites. I love watching this ad, never missing it when it's on air.

Dedicated to Dinesh :D

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The Insomniac speaks - 1

Sometimes, as I lie in bed, I wonder if I ll ever sleep. I stare at the ceiling as if I could wither it just by doing so. I toss and I turn,but soon get tired of the exercise. Then I find myself thinking, do I really need sleep? After pondering on it for a while, I decide- no. And I go back to my old past time of staring at the ceiling