Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dream Out Loud: Human Race

The below is my review of this brilliant album "Human Race" released by Dream Out Loud.
You must check this album out - the lead singer of this band, Suraj Jagan - is someone I met while I worked at Milestone Entertainment, where his indiPop career didn't take off due to various reasons (mainly shortage of funds to promote his music, instead of spending the money on albums that were not meant to be) even though I personally loved his music. Even after I quit Milestone four and a half years later, we guys have been in touch continuously and while his indipop career didn't take off - here's his latest work - he and a couple of other talented guys came together and have formed a band called - Dream Out Loud - I saw them perform a long time back - early 2006 - and since then I've been pestering Suraj that he needs to get the music out to the world - to release a CD of it and I'm personally very happy that the band has finally got their album out!

When I first saw the video on of Human Beings on Facebook, I liked it (even though it was a bit too dark for the Indian market)... but I loved the music even more (though till date I never did love the screaming and the noise in songs), but this was different! When I saw the next video , It's Raining Now, on Facebook, I knew I had to buy the album!!! Did you ever want ideal music to curl up on your couch under a blanket and drift away? Listen to the sound of the falling rain, there was no other way, I could wait another day... to get a hold of the album. After initial unsuccessful attempts at buying the album from the more popular music shops I decided to call Suraj and ask him where I could buy the album from - and that's how I got in touch with Music Yogi (http://www.musicyogi.com/), here in Bangalore.

Human Race has a good mix of rock music ranging from slow, soft rock to funk, and a little bit of good old hard rock thrown in for good measure. Since I personally know Suraj, I expected well - written lyrics for the entire album. The entire album showcases Suraj's considerable vocal range with some great songwriting from the band.

The album starts off brilliantly with “Last Days On Earth” reminding us of that all of us as individuals just go on and on with our boring lives, blinded by our greed. The second track, “So Far So Good” is another well written track. One of my personal favourites in the album is the third track - “Prayer in Your Heart”, here it is not just the lyrics but also the music and the way Suraj stresses on the chorus - "With a prayer in your heart; You make a start; And when you open your eyes; You realise where you are; Is this the way it was meant to be; The way we’re going I don’t see; Us getting far".

I thought the album couldn't be better than this, but I was wrong - Drean Out Loud saved the best for the last with their video tracks, "Human Beings", "It's Raining Now", "Desire", "Habit" and "Jigsaw".

Ever since I heard"Human Beings” and "It's Raining Now" - their tunes have remained in my head ever since and I just can't shake it off. "It's Raining Now" especially makes me want to go out and once again start guitar lessons (something that I went for only during my first year in college and then gave up mid-way). I do know that I am definitely going to go out and buy another guitar and start with my lessons shortly. "Habit", “Jigsaw” and "Desire" follow in with similar energy and rhythm.

Overall, the entire album, may not be the vest slow / alternative rock album that a lot of us rock lovers are used to, at Rs. 200/- it is definitely worth it picking up. DO NOT RECORD THE CD FROM SOMEONE ELSE; DON'T DOWNLOAD THE MUSIC FROM THE NET, GO OUT AND BUY YOUR OWN COPY. Help stop piracy!!!

Agreed that Suraj has always been a hard rock musician and he could make a career out of his brilliant live shows, I am glad, that Suraj has decided to use his vocal experience for this album displaying his brilliant range. Chandresh on guitars does little to disappoint all through the album.

Suraj and gang, I'm waiting for your second album - hope that comes out soon.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Mission Istanbul - what a movie

The only thing that I will say about Mission Istanbul is that it is not a movie for the weak hearted - this movie really does grip you and you wouldn't want to miss even a minute of the movie. I've copied the text of the following story from wikipedia.com:
Vikas Sagar (Zayed Khan) would go anywhere for a scoop, risk his life and limb to get an exclusive story that nobody else can. It's for this precise reason Vikas is a familiar face watched by six million viewer's weeknights on Aaj Tak news channel. Ambitious, popular and professional, Vikas is considered one of the most promising journalists in the business.
It's also the reason Owais Hussain (
Suniel Shetty), a senior producer at the controversial Istanbul based AL JOHARA, widely criticized as the mouthpiece of terrorists or as their network of choice, makes him an offer to head the channel's proposed Indian bureau for an outrageous salary and other perks. It's an offer he almost can't refuse because of the channel's controversial profile which ensures that it's seen by everyone globally, including the White House. It certainly would take Vikas's career to another level not only does he become the highest paid journalist in India but also puts him on an international platform. But there is one condition that the head hunters from AL JOHARA insist he must join ASAP and then fly to Istanbul for a three month orientation programme.
Their offer couldn't have come at a better time for Vikas, who's undergoing a painful divorce with wife Anjali (
Shreya Saran), an equally feisty journalist whose desire to have a baby leads to their separation because her husband wants her to wait a little longer and seems to be in no mood to start a family. While Al Johara dangles the temptation of kickstarting their India operations, Vikas accepts the offer largely to mend his broken heart.
But little does Vikas know that his life is about to change when he takes the flight to Istanbul on a three month orientation program at the channel's headquarters. While Al Johara is one of the most viewed channels in the world, it's reputation has been largely built as the mouthpiece of a dreaded terrorist. Abu Nazir, who is on the most wanted lists of both the Interpol and FBI, is vociferous in his threat to wage war against several countries, including India. A threat he usually delivers via a videotape to Al Johara.
On the flight Vikas finds himself seated next to a stunningly beautiful copassenger who hates flying. Lisa Lobo (
Shweta Bhardwaj) is headed for Istanbul to attend a medical convention or so she claims. In her obvious discomfort, she turns to an amused Vikas for moral support and distraction from the reality of being airborne. It's a budding friendship that's grounded the moment the flight lands and Lisa disappears at the airport.
Once in Istanbul, Vikas's initial impression of AL JOHARA is in sharp contrast to its notorious reputation. Especially when he meets the charismatic Ghazni (
Niketan Dheer), who has business interests all over the world but whose obsession these days is AL JOHARA as an instrument to shape world events. There is only one word of caution to Vikas and that's never ever to venture onto the 13th floor known as the Catacomb.
As part of his orientation, Vikas gets handson experience in the AL JOHARA newsroom where he watches ghastly and exclusive news reports of terrorism. He learns more about Abu Nazir, who is described as "a oneman organization whose existence revolves around a single person." Vikas is told that it is extremely difficult to find out any details about his private life and his habits because such information would help the secret services who are looking for him. "Abu Nazir is cautious to the point of paranoia."
Reeling under the impact of the reality bytes at work, Vikas's only relief is his flirtatious encounters with Lisa and the lively company of soldier-turned journalist Owais Hussain who is looking forward to quitting his job and settling down with his Irish girlfriend.
But on an assignment to cover kidnapped journalists in one of Abu Nazir's terrorist camps in Afghanistan, Vikas is shocked when Abu Nazir's brother, Khalil (
Shabbir Ahluwalia), brutally executes Owais Hussain just before a UN peacekeeping force mounts a rescue operation.
Reeling at this close encounter with terrorism and watching a brutal killing, Vikas returns to Istanbul in a daze and is approached by a former Turkish commando, Rizwan Khan (
Vivek Oberoi), who hints that no senior employee has ever quit AL JOHARA and rattles off a list of AL JOHARA employees who had been killed in terrorist attacks within days of there being of rumours of their plans to quit or their resumes circulating in the job market! Vikas is quickly reminded of Owais Husain expressing the same to him. The stranger poses a few more questions about AL JOHARA like why Abu Nazir speaks only to AL JOHARA and leaves quietly.
Vikas discreetly runs a check on the names rattled off by Rizwan and discovers he was indeed telling the truth. Five AL JOHARA staffers before Owais Husain had either died in a car bomb explosion, abducted and killed or simply found dead. It sends a chill through Vikas's spine. He slowly notices that not everything is as simple as they look in the offices of AL JOHARA, especially when he seems to bump into strangers whose faces he soon recognizes as suicide bombers in a couple of terrorist attacks. The deeper Vikas digs into AL JOHARA's history and operations, the more questions crop up in his mind. And then he makes the cardinal mistake of straying onto the 13th floor.
Soon Vikas realizes that all is not what it seems and that he can't trust anyone not even Lisa! As he is tortured for straying onto the 13th floor, double crossed by Lisa and watches wife Anjali narrowly surviving a suicide bomb attack in Srinagar, Vikas has no choice but to ally with Rizwan after he makes a shocking revelation that Abu Nazir is dead but being kept alive by AL JOHARA through videotapes by using digital images of the terrorist and doctoring old footage.
Thereafter Vikas Sagar finds himself creating news rather than reporting it as he steals the secrets locked away on Al Johara's 13th floor, incurs Ghazni's wrath and becomes a man on the run wanted by Turkish cops, terrorists, the CIA and Lisa Lobo!
From wielding a mike before a television camera, he is forced to wield a gun and join Rizwan in a bloody mission against international terrorism.
For all of you who loved Kabul Express, then this is a movie worth watching

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ugly aur Pagli - My review

The Title: I must say this is one really bizarre title for a movie, but at the same time it is a very catchy one. Also, the title clearly tells you what to expect; it's clear that this is no serious movie, but is an out and out comedy... all the trailers for the movie kept talking about the "99 slaps" - this is what confirmed that the movie is an absolutely whacked out ride.

The Movie: While I didn't get a chance to really watch Pyar Ke Side Effects; can't really comment on the change in Mallika's acting from then to now...

If you are the kind who looks for a story line to movies, then this is definitely not for you. Ugly aur Pagli has it's interesting moments and incidents - and it is these moments that bind the 2hour film together. Mallika Sherawat and Ranvir Shorey are a riot all through.

UGLY AUR PAGLI tells the story of Kabir [Ranvir Shorey], a carefree guy who has been studying engineering for the last five years (as he has failed his exams four times in the year) and whose life goes for a sixer when he meets the quirky and kinky Kuhu [Mallika Sherawat], or is it Coohoo.

Kabir always wanted a girlfriend, but never in his wildest dreams did he ever think he would encounter a girl who could make him dance around circles, ride cycles without seats, wear high heeled ladies sandals… this especially after he met this gorgeous women in a night club, but screwed his chances when he had to let nature take over in the lift (when he accidently bumped into her again).

10 minutes into the film and you realize that UGLY AUR PAGLI is not the usual prem kahani. Yet, you take to the over-dominating, brash woman and the timid, docile and submissive guy. In fact, you break into a smile as you are introduced to these characters. But the smile surfaces only intermittently.

But I am definitely not going to talk about the rest of the movie - YOU need to go see this for yourself... Who would want to go behind bars for love??? - I'm sure Ranvir would...

I must say Sachin has managed to do a good job with a script that really didn't have any story...

Friday, August 1, 2008

Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard's views

This is dated as he is no longer the prime minister but I think his views are relevant even today; particularly in India for obvious reasons

The views of a Patriotic former Australian Prime Minister - India Needs A Leader Like This!

Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia , as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head off potential terror attacks.

Separately, Howard angered some Australian Muslims on Wednesday by saying he supported spy agencies monitoring the nation's mosques. Quote: 'IMMIGRANTS, NOT AUSTRALIANS, MUST ADAPT. Take It Or Leave It. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali , we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians.'

'This culture has been developed over two centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom'

'We speak mainly ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society . Learn the language!'

'Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing, political push, but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.'

'We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why. All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us.'

'This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom, 'THE RIGHT TO LEAVE'.'

'If you aren't happy here then LEAVE. We didn't force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted.'

Maybe if we circulate this amongst ourselves, Indian citizens will find the backbone to start speaking and voicing the same truths.