Posted by: kaleidoscopicviews | April 29, 2013

Not the expected end

Hey, I am back to this blog after ages… maybe after eons. Naah, it feels like I wrote that review to Inception just some days ago… Anyways enough of small talk, let’s get down to why I decided to enter this world of “Random Ramblings” after a long hiatus and a year into my new job (PS: I have left Hyderabad and NIE, New Indian Express, to be elaborate)… So that’s my cue to the new post. Let’s start afresh…

Since today was my off-day (yes, it’s Monday here and I do get it every week, unlike in NIE where even that one holiday was not guaranteed), I got up very early in the morning (9 am is early I tell you), in the hope to catch Iron Man 3 in 3D.

Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3

Well. for a Monday morning show, the hall was chock-a-bloc for a weekday — mostly the young and the pretty — the ones who talk and shout a lot. But anyways, I was there too to watch the third instalment of this Tony Stark tale. Because I had expected it to be good like many of those in the audience. A fitting end, maybe, to what has been another money-spinning franchise from Marvel and Disney.

But leaving aside the occasional whoops and oohs-aahs from the gangs of teenage girls and guys in the audience for every action sequence and witty one-liners from Robert Downey Jr (aka Tony Stark aka Iron Man), the film felt a bit bland.

I mean it has all the special effects and great action you expect in a superhero movie (in brilliant 3D), with things popping as if right in front of your eyes… But somehow it felt like a movie just meant to grab eyeballs with little but anything coherent happening. I think the director in trying to cram so much into 130 minutes, maybe lost the focus somewhere down the line. Maybe, you don’t expect much of a plot line from a wham-bam flick, but somehow you would have wanted it to move along in a coherent manner.

Take for example, the relationship between Pepper Potts (the smashing Gwyneth Paltrow) and Stark. There was so much potential in that to be developed and moved forward. I mean they have been living together and all and somehow it feels there is no chemistry between them. It feels all too cold.

Cold Chemistry

Cold Chemistry

Then there is the super-villain called Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), against whom Iron Man seems helpless as his posh apartment is blown to smithereens (looks super in 3D) after he threatens the bad guy to come and fight him.

After all the build-up to a grand climax, we find Mandarin is just an actor playing a role and the real villain is Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), a scientific genius/maniac, who was snubbed by Stark many years back and he takes up a revenge mission to finish him.

Somehow, the roles of Don Cheadle (Major Rhodes) and Kingsley, both super actors, have been wasted and they were not allowed to flourish, except the occasional one-liners.

For the synopsis of the movies here goes IMDB: “Marvel’s “Iron Man 3″ pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?” ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1300854/)

All in all it was a good movie with its mind-blowing special effects and the Iron Man-humour, but somehow I did not get a solid “thunk” from this Iron Man.

Posted by: kaleidoscopicviews | July 25, 2010

A view to Inception…

Well, my first foray into the multiplex was well worth it… I mean not the first time watching a movie but watching it all alone… Never tried the idea before… But, hey presto! It worked like a treat… And what a day it was…

Well… I got my ticket for the show at 3 in the night… yeah… Internet you see has made our lives a bit more breathable…luckily got a ticket for Saturday afternoon show at Big Cinemas…Just in the nick of time from ‘BookMyShow’ (in.bookmyshow.com)… I now know where to visit if I need to watch a movie… its fast and easy… and just before the seats got filled up…

N e ways moving on… The Saturday morning was rainy and blustery at the best… but it was wonderful weather…Its been wonderful weather in Hyderabad…Oh and in case you haven’t noticed….all you generous readers of my blog…Allow me to tell you that I have moved to Hyderabad around two and a half months back…got a job here… and really liking the city and the monsoon here…except the water puddles maybe… However, I decided to brave them for twenty minutes walk to the cinemas…A nice walk it seemed… especially after knowing I’ll get to watch the most talked about film in recent times…Yeah, it was a show of Inception and I had the tickets…Just hoped now that my money would be well-spent…

And I was definitely not disappointed…. After seeing Inception, I realise why we have developed this world of films, because we can allow people like Christopher Nolan to zonk us off with their brilliance… After Memento and The Dark Knight, it is truly path-breaking stuff… The idea is so complex that it can come from the mind of somebody like Nolan alone… The thought about just an ‘idea’, how it grows, “resilient like a virus”….and how complex our minds can be…different levels of dreams and within them separate layers…it took me quite some time to take in what was happening on the screen…

Well, the basics of the plot are- Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Dom Cobb, a master thief, trained to extract information from a person’s dream. He is good at his job but lands his toughest challenge when he’s hired by a powerful businessman, Saito (Ken Watanabe) to plant an idea in a rival’s head, the process called ‘Inception’. The idea when planted, will cause Saito’s business rival Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) to break up his father’s multibillion-dollar empire.

And reel by reel it’s a cliff-hanger…Because you got to absorb it part by part…especially how the world of virtual-reality or ‘dreamspace’ or subconscious works…. what happens if you die in a dream, the difference between real-time and dream-time and dangers of creating elaborate layers of dreams within dreams within dreams…The timing of a ‘kick’- to bring you back to reality, having a ‘totem’- a unique object that only you know about which when seen makes you realise you are in real-time and not dream-space…I know… it all seems to go ‘over-your-head’ stuff… well you are welcome to join the club coz I am also a member… It takes time to absorb all that happens to the characters…and then once you think it is getting a little clearer, you are flummoxed again by the happenings and all the drama and action which unfolds in the parallel layers of dreams

It is mind-boggling really to even come up with such a concept…and to carry it off on celluloid demands some class…and Nolan has it in plenty… All the characters come alive and do excellent justice to their parts… Leonardo DiCaprio as Dom Cobb is amazing…He keeps out doing himself with each performance… And to think he started off with Titanic and Romeo and Juliet… no offence made to those films but this is different class altogether…and he excels brilliantly after his role in Shutter Island… He brings genuine emotions on to the screen…and the feeling of guilt that he carries to the end that he was responsible for his wife Mal’s (Marion Cotillard) suicide is very palpable…. The way he struggles through the work he is doing as he tries to come to terms to his wife appearing in his subconscious and trying to mess up his work is heart-rending… But he has a an able team consisting of his trusted side-kick Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an architect who creates worlds in the dreams Ariadne (Ellen Page), a ‘forger’ who takes the shape of another person in the dream Eaves (Tom Hardy), and the doctor Yusuf (Dileep Rao) who administers sedatives needed for achieving deeper layers of dreams…

There are some stunning special effects which will blow up your senses for sure… like the city of Paris turning on itself like a book or the gravity-defying fights which Arthur gets into with projections of Robert’s mind…. Then there is breathless chases in cars and on foot…which will surely keep you on the edge of your seats…. Nolan does stupendous work in blurring the real and the dream-world… and you may start questioning yourself at the end whether what you see is real or a dream….

The excitement is just incredible as the fast-paced action moves to its climax…and at the end you are left with more questions than answers…as you see Cobb going out to meet his children and his ‘totem’ a spinning top keeping on spinning and falling over…  Whether he has even left the dream-world or not… and its these unanswered questions which make it such a masterpiece…

You struggle through all that is going on and trust me you need to watch it at least twice to comprehend the full meaning of the screenplay…its right out of the top-drawer from a great director… and at two hours and thirty minutes its exhaustively path-breaking work…

I recommend everyone to go and watch it… Its something you should not miss for your life… maybe it may make you question your entire existence…ok, ok maybe that is a bit too far… but to see such an original idea (a dream, within a dream, within a dream) come alive on-screen is well worth the money…

Well, that’s it from me…until next time…. dream on….

Posted by: kaleidoscopicviews | December 19, 2009

India Rises to Top

India ascended the summit in ICC Test Championship rankings for the first time. They beat Sri Lanka convincingly by an innings and 24 runs in the third Test at Mumbai to win the series 2-0. The progress to the top has been one mixed with circumstance and consistency. Not something that would be associated with an Indian side even a couple of years back.

During this time unnecessary controversy has plagued the side, as have injuries and change in management and personnel. There have been three different captains, several different pace and spin bowlers in the side at one time or another, retirement of two of India’s all-time greats and even the ignominious dropping of world class players by selection gaffes.

Harsha Bhogle in his column in cricinfo.com rightly points out, “But I am a little concerned at the state of denial in some parts of the world, with the continued devaluation of India winning in India. This is not accompanied by a similar attitude to Australia winning at home, or for that matter South Africa or England doing so. India’s winning streak has not been due to financial jugglery, which is a convenient myth in itself, but due to good cricket.” India’s record in Tests for the past two years has been enviable to say the least. The last time India lost a Test match was in July 2008 in Sri Lanka. It is also the last time they lost a Test series. India has won every Test series they have played for close to a year and a half. No other team has a better record over this period. Even Australia, which has lived off their past performances to hold on to the number one position, has lost three Test series during this time including one at home. The team’s record is superb from May 2007. Out of ten Test series, India have won 7, lost two (Aus and Sri Lanka) and drawn a home series against South Africa. The side has away series wins in England, West Indies, New Zealand and Pakistan, silencing those who say they are poor travelers. In fact, the last time an Indian side went win-less in a series was against Pakistan in January of 2006.

But critics still continue to point out that rankings are flawed and this Indian team does not have the dominating streak and killer instinct like the West Indian and Australian sides of the past. They also opine that India relies too much on individual batting brilliance and cannot play as a team. They pick on the fielding and fitness and compare it to sides which struggle to reach the top half of the table. They may have some points for some of the time but even they cannot ignore the hard facts.

Credit should go not only to this team that crushed Sri Lanka in the series, but also to those who have been a part of building this side over the last few years. Anil Kumble stepped in when the selectors were not ready to thrust Dhoni with the responsibility of Test captaincy and he led by example. He guided and prepared them through a tough transition. The core of this side – Sachin, Rahul, Sehwag, Laxman, Harbhajan and Zaheer – then gave their new captain all the support he needed and helped him mould this side into one capable of beating any opposition, anywhere in the world. Dhoni’s captaincy has inspired much talk and he might well be one of the luckiest Indian skippers with an optimum combination of seniors and youngsters, all of whom have made important contributions when circumstances demanded it. Whether it is Gautham Gambhir who has become the number one Test batsman, or even the temperamental Sreesanth taking 5 wickets on his return, at crucial times there has always been someone who has performed beyond his potential.

However as with all success, India must celebrate and move on. The difficult part is staying on top than to get there. Harshla Bhogle again rightly points out, “India needs to groom batting replacements, and there are only two on the horizon: the scarcely tested Murali Vijay and the untested Cheteshwar Pujara. Harbhajan Singh desperately needs competition to take him to another level, but more important, India will have to find a way to ensure that players of serious ability, such as Rohit Sharma, Sreesanth, Ishant and RP Singh, don’t lose their way.” It will be exciting nonetheless to see how this talented Indian side does in the future series. For now, it’s well done Team India!

Posted by: kaleidoscopicviews | November 27, 2009

India and Emission Norms

With only a few weeks to go for the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change, PM Manmohan Singh gave the assurance: “We are committed to ambitious and time-bound outcomes that will increase energy efficiency of our economy, the share of clean energy including nuclear power in our energy mix, and our forest cover.” But he added, “We will do more if there is global support in terms of financial resources and technology transfer.” This is the bone of contention in the case of developing countries meeting emission standards. Hunger, poverty and disease are more urgent problems for developing countries like India to tackle than emission norms. Therefore, India’s stand has been to do more on climate change if developed nations lend a helping hand by way of financial support and technology.

India-US agree on Climate Change

The reason that climate change effects arise from the global stock of carbon, the distribution across countries of their contributions to that stock, including the initial stock, is totally irrelevant from the perspective of efficiency. Again since only total emissions of each country and hence of all countries together add to the global stock of carbon, whether the same total emissions of a country is the result of low per capita emission multiplied by a large population or vice versa is again irrelevant from the perspective of efficiency.

Population policy choices do affect the welfare of the current and future populations. Any trade-off between larger population and lower emissions or vice-versa would naturally fall under considerations of inter-generational equity within nations and deep philosophical issues are involved in doing so. National welfare becomes the focus of all national policy choices, including population policies, which are reflected through their effects on national welfare in any international agreement that reflects equity consideration across countries appropriately. Thus, from the perspective of international agreement, only aggregate and not per capita emissions are relevant.

China and India are sitting on vast stocks of coal, which push the amount of their emissions above those of older polluters in the west. Forests offer untold wealth to millions in poverty in Indonesia and Brazil, if only trees can be chopped down, and at the very top of the carbon food chain sit western consumers unwilling to part with easy luxuries like cheap weekend flights and two cars. When they stop buying cars or other durables, our economies grind to a halt. The developed world has become accustomed to ever-increasing levels of material consumption. Cutting carbon emissions is therefore inextricably linked with wider questions of the pressure on all natural resources, land and water.

This is a task that only governments can undertake and it is not as if they have not already had enough time to do it. The meeting that created the Kyoto protocol has convened in 10 other countries and cities since. The immensity of the task ahead is probably more apparent to world leaders than it was a decade ago. But time is running out. To prevent the global average temperature from increasing by more than 2C, there will need to be a global cut in emissions within the next five years or so.

Therefore, to reach these reduced levels a country like India needs to use green technology on substantial scale. This is not possible unless the developed countries share their know-how and technology so that India can work towards a cleaner, greener country. However, the need for proactive action from the national and state governments is needed to tackle the problem of climate change. In cities like Kolkata, where auto rickshaws blatantly violate pollution norms and the government dithers on bringing them to book, the road ahead seems treacherous. There should also be a consensus among nations at Copenhagen that developing countries receive the transfer of ‘green technology’ at reduced prices so that they can manage their emissions more efficiently. The more time the world takes to reach a legally binding target the more it will become difficult to meet the target of 2020. The clarion call is to act fast and act decisively.

However, the argument that the per capita emission levels as the basis for binding emission cuts is of no use is apparently rational but politically loaded. In that sense, the pragmatic approach will still involve a significant cost to developed nations, but will help make some headway in saving the earth from global warming.

However, the disparities in levels of per capita consumption and therefore, emissions, will not go away – unless the entire world commits itself to an unequal international order forever which does not look likely in near future.

Posted by: kaleidoscopicviews | November 24, 2009

Slovakia- Rising from the Shadows of Big Brother…

Move over big brother, here we come. That is what a tiny nation of a little over 5 million people will be saying to the Czechs. In the summer of 2010, Slovakia’s footballers will be in South Africa playing in the World Cup for the first time as an independent nation. Qualifying top of Group 3 in the European zone, ahead of traditional powerhouses like Czech Republic, Poland and Northern Ireland, Vladimir Weiss’s men have done themselves and their nation proud.
There is an immense need in Bratislava to stop being the little brother to the big shot Czech Republic, especially in sport. The two countries used to be one and after their split in 1993, the Czechs have been a powerful force in European soccer. The very fact that the neighboring countries had been drawn together in a qualifying group was an exciting chance for the improving Slovaks. It had happened in qualifying for World Cup 1998 and Euro 2008, but Slovakia was always an also-ran. This time they made sure that things were different. With seven wins out of 10 and the most goals scored (22) in the qualifying journey, the Slovaks proved all their doubters wrong. Not to mention beating the Czechs in their own den, 2-1. A corner had been turned in Slovak football.


They earned their place in football’s grandest stage by beating Poland 1-0, fighting blizzard conditions and fevered expectations of a nation. “I love these players,” said Slovakia’s Coach Vladimír Weiss after the victory, earned after a third minute own-goal by the Poland defender Seweryn Gancarczyk. He said, “In these qualifiers we have played well and had a little bit of luck. Everybody made a contribution and we made the whole of Slovakia happy. This is a fantastic feeling. He added, “Several people maybe didn’t believe in us. But we succeeded. I am proud of these guys and this triumph.” The team’s achievement can best be quantified by looking at the opposition they will now face in South Africa lining up against the likes of Germany, Italy, Spain, England, Holland, Brazil, Argentina, Portugal, France and United States. With not many marquee players in the squad, this team has been a revelation throughout the qualifying campaign. The likes of Marek Hamsik, Martin Skrtel, Stanislav Sestak, Marek Cech and Vladimir Weiss Jr. will rub shoulders with the very best of the world in South Africa.

It has been a qualifying campaign full of surprises and magic. With as many as five debutants in 2010 – Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia, Honduras and North Korea and countries like Algeria and New Zealand qualifying after long gap -, it will be a tournament to watch. The countdown to an exciting summer in South Africa has just begun.

Posted by: kaleidoscopicviews | November 24, 2009

Copenhagen and Climate Change- A Bridge too Far?

Climate change and reduction of emissions is the buzzword these days. With the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference slated to be held during December 6-18, 2009, there is an urgent need to ratify a successor to the Kyoto Protocol which runs out in 2012. At the conference, it is hoped that world leaders would meet for the last time at government level before the climate agreement is renewed.

Barack Obama and other leaders have confirmed what has been likely for some time – that there won’t be a legally binding deal at the end of the conference. The longer the world dallies on putting in place the aggressive emissions reductions needed to avoid dangerous levels of climate change , the more risk we are placing before our next generation. Global warming does far more damage to poor countries than it does to the climate. In a report in 2006, Lord Nicholas Stern calculated that a 2°C rise in global temperature cost about 1% of world GDP. But the World Bank in its new World Development Report says the cost to Africa will be like 4% of GDP and to India around 5%. Even if environmental costs were distributed equally to every person on earth, developing countries would still bear 80% of the burden because they account for 80% of world population.

Emissions From Developing Nations

The Pew Research Center released its latest poll of public attitudes on global warming which shows that popular belief that global warming is occurring had declined from 71 percent in April of 2008 to 56 percent in October — an astonishing drop in just 18 months. The belief that global warming is caused by human activities declined from 47 percent to 36 percent. This proves that three years after it seemed that An Inconvenient Truth had changed everything, it turns out that it hasn’t. The current Pew survey is the latest in a series of studies suggesting that Al Gore probably had a good deal more effect upon elite opinion than public opinion.

However with the need for use of cleaner and greener energy, the problem for more than half of the world’s population remains access to basic sanitation and safe drinking water. The biggest vulnerability is that the weather gravely affects developing countries’ main economic activities such as farming and tourism. In India the gains from the Green Revolution are already shrinking because of local pollution, global warming and waning resistance to pests and disease. A study for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also suggests that the yields of the main Indian crops would decline by a further 4.5-9% over the next 30 years because of climate change. A recent assessment based on a large number of studies of what might happen in the long run if carbon continues to be pumped into the atmosphere found that world farm production could fall by 16% by the 2080s, and possibly by as much as 21% in developing countries. There is not much doubt that climate change is undermining the gains from intensive farming in developing countries at the very time when population growth and greater wealth mean the world will need to double food production over the next three or four decades. By 2050 the world will have to feed 2 billion to 3 billion more people and cope with the changing diets of a richer population.

Poor countries want around $140 billion to keep global warming down to an increase of 2°C dwarfing the $8 billion a year now flowing to them for climate-change mitigation. Also, poor countries see a climate-change deal in fundamentally different terms as they believe that rich countries are responsible for two-thirds of the carbon put into the atmosphere since 1850. Therefore they think emissions per head and not absolute emissions should be the standard. Moreover, targets set at national level have little effect in poor countries where public administration works badly. So rich and poor also disagree about the conditions attached to any money for mitigating or adapting to climate change. The rich see this as a sort of aid designed for specific projects with measurable targets requiring strict conditions. Therefore there remains to be seen what kind of solution comes out of the meeting in Copenhagen. But whatever be the shape of the final agreement, it is time for developing countries to develop as keen an interest in mitigating the impact of climate change as rich ones. Climate-change policy is no longer a simple choice between growth and ecological well-being.

Posted by: kaleidoscopicviews | November 17, 2009

Hello world!

This is a window to my views on various subjects which I feel strongly about. I am not an expert so I try to understand and write after following various perspectives. Hope people like my writings…

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