Movie: Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983, Hindi, India)

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, a 1983 film produced by NFDC and directed by Kundan Shah, is a dark satire on the the unshakable corrupt ways of Indian politicians, bureaucrats, and the media. It is set in Mumbai and has a pretty simple and outwardly hilarious (sometimes infantile) narrative. Released in 1983, it was not very successful at the box office at that time. Eventually, this movie won many awards, and has achieved a cult status. It generally figures in most Top-100 movies lists of Indian/ Hindi movies.
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro - DVD Cover Image

Directed by Kundan Shah
Released in 1983
Genre Dark Satire, Comic Political Thriller
Cast
  • Naseeruddin Shah as photographer Vinod Chopra
  • Ravi Baswani as photographer Sudhir Mishra
  • Om Puri as builder Ahuja
  • Pankaj Kapoor as builder Tarneja
  • Satish Shah as city commissioner D’Mello
  • Bhakti Barve as newspaper editor Shobha Sen
Music by Vanraj Bhatia
Produced by National Film Development Corporation
Language Hindi
Length 2 hours 12 minutes
Available At Amazon.in, Amazon.com and Flipkart.

The Story

Vinod Chopra (Naseeruddin Shah) and Sudhir Mishra (Ravi Baswani) are young men starting off as professional photographers, who open a studio in a relatively upscale Bombay locality.

Struggling to get business, they fortunately get an assignment from the editor of an investigative journal Khabardar, Shobha Sen (Bhakti Barve). The assignment is to get evidence to expose a corrupt nexus between the city commissioner D’Mello (Satish Shah) and builder Tarneja (Pankaj Kapoor).

The fun starts when Vinod and Sudhir accidentally photograph a murder in action. The rest of the movie is an out-of-control, hilarious story, that sometimes feels like a skit, improvised by brilliant people in some kind of ‘zone’.
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Book: The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon

Speed of Dark Cover Image

Title The Speed of Dark
Author(s) Elizabeth Moon
Initially Published In 2002
Publisher Orbit Books
Formats Available Paperback, Kindle, Hardcover
Available At Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.

The Speed of Dark is a near-future story about a young autistic man, Lou. Lou is computer analyst, who is also a good fencer. The novel is a combination of science fiction and a thriller, often narrated from the autistic man’s point of view.

“Every once in a while, you come across a book that is both an important literary achievement and a completely and utterly absorbing reading experience—a book with provocative ideas and an equally compelling story. Such a book is The Speed of Dark.”

Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

The main character in The Speed of Dark has been inspired by the author’s own autistic son.

The World

The Speed of Dark is a futuristic story, where the world has found treatments to manage the condition of autism. This treatment is administered in very early childhood.

In this scenario, autistic children born before the treatment was available try to live ‘normally’ with their condition, and also work hard to be useful members of the society.

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Movie: District 9 (2009, English)

District 9 DVD Cover

Directed by Neill Blomkamp
Released in 2009
Genre Science FIction
Cast Sharlto Copley as Wikus van de Merwe
Music by Clinton Shorter
Produced by Peter Jackson, Carolynne Cunningham
Language English
Length 1 hour 52 mins
Available at Amazon.inAmazon.com, and Flipkart.

District 9 is a 2009 gritty, grimy, science fiction thriller placed in South Africa. Directed by Neill Blomkamp, the movie uses relatively unknown actors – Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, and David James and adapts a pseudo-documentary style (at least at the start). District 9 was inspired by events during the apartheid era in District Six, Cape Town. The film won many awards and nominations. With a relatively low budget of 30 million US$, it was a box office hit with a collection of over 210 million US$.

“Technically brilliant and emotionally wrenching, District 9 has action, imagination, and all the elements of a thoroughly entertaining science-fiction classic.”

– Rotten Tomatoes

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Don’t Just Sit: Stand, Walk, Move!

Many of us who work in offices sit for more than 8-10 hours a day. We sit for our breakfast, we sit during our commute, we sit for long stretches at our desks, we sit with our coffee/ tea during the breaks, we sit for our lunch, we sit in meetings, we sit on our way back home, we sit during dinner and watch TV while sitting. And many times we sit continuously for more than 2 hours without getting up.
Standing At Work

Being able to sit is also a status symbol that displays higher education and higher income / wealth. People who are more educated typically have jobs that require them to be on desks; richer people do not walk to bus stops and train stations, nor do they walk to shopping centers or coffee shops.

Over the last few years there has been a concerted movement in some countries (like Australia) to encourage people to sit for lesser time during the day, reduce continuous sitting, and increase time standing and moving. However, this movement has not yet picked up any steam in India.

Summary of the Findings

Prolonged sitting has been linked with multiple health concerns like obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood-sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels. It also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Sitting more than 6 hours a day may be as bad as smoking a pack of cigarettes every day.

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Book: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Enders Game Cover Image

Title Ender’s Game
Author(s) Orson Scott Card
Initially Published In 1985
Publisher Tor
Formats Available Paperback, Kindle
Available At Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.com.

Ender’s Game brought immense fame and recognition to its author, Orson Scott Card. It is a science fiction book, set in the future with a ‘military’ theme.

“Superb! This is Card at the height of his very considerable powers–a major SF novel by any reasonable standard.”

— Booklist

The novel won the Nebula Award for best novel in 1985, and the Hugo Award for best novel in 1986.  Ender’s Game was also nominated for a Locus Award in 1986.

The World

Ender’s Game is situated far ahead in the future, where human beings have left the confines of the earth and started expansion to other planetary systems. During this expansion, humans encounter another species on a similar expansion drive. This results in two wars between the two species. At the end of these wars, both species retreat to locations near their mother/ home planets. There is no communication between the humans and the alien species, who are officially called ‘formics’ and unofficially called ‘buggers’ (because they look like insects) by the humans.

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Movie: Delhi Belly (2011, Hindi-English-Hinglish, India)

Delhi Belly, produced by Aamir Khan, is a rib-tickling, dark comedy with a thriller narrative. It is set in Delhi and uses of a lot of profane language (it was given an ‘A’ certificate). Released in 2011, it received great response from critics as well as movie goers. The movie was later remade in Tamil with the title Settai.
Delhi Belly (2011 movie) - DVD Cover Image

Directed by Abhinay Deo
Released in 2011
Genre Dark Comedy, Thriller, Action
Cast
  • Imran Khan as Tashi (Young man-1)
  • Kunaal Roy Kapur as Nitin (Young man-2)
  • Vir Das as Arup (Young man-3)
  • Shenaz Treasurywala as Sonia (Tashi’s first girlfriend)
  • Poorna Jagannathan as Menaka (Tashi’s later girlfriend)
  • Vijay Raaz as Somayajulu (Gangster)
Music by Ram Sampath
Produced by Aamir Khan, Kiran Rao, Ronnie Screwvala, Jim Furgele
Language Hindi, English, Hinglish
Length 1 hour 40 minutes
Available At Amazon.in (Hindi version), Amazon.com (English version).

The Story

Three young men working in the media/ communication industry in Delhi share a dark, dirty, and dingy apartment in a crumbling building in a crowded area. Tashi (Imran Khan) is a journalist, Nitin (Kunaal Roy Kapur) is a photographer, and Arup (Vir Das) is a cartoonist.

The fun starts when Tashi’s birdbrained and pretty-looking girlfriend, air-hostess Sonia (Shenaz Treasurywalla) unknowingly carries smuggled diamonds hidden in a multi-layered doll. Sonia passes on the doll to Tashi for delivery, who delegates the delivery to Nitin. Nitin gets diarrhea (Delhi-belly) and he passes the doll to Arup along with his stool sample. Arup exchanges the two packets and the stool sample is delivered to the smuggler-gangsters, who are led by Somayajulu (Vijay Raaz).  

The rest of the movie is a hilarious, non-stop, roller-coaster ride. At first, the young men try to recover the diamonds and hand them over to the smugglers. Then they try to encash the diamonds for themselves; and finally they decide to take the matter into their own hands, have a showdown with the gangsters, and finish the whole thing once and for all.
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Book: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

The Name of the Rose Cover Image

Title The Name of the Rose
(originally published in Italian under the name ‘Il Nome Della Rosa‘)
Author(s) Umberto Eco
Translator William Weaver
Initially Published In 1980 (Italian) 1983 (English)
Publisher Multiple –  Bompiani; Martin Secker& Warburg; Harcourt; Vintage Digital; Everyman’s Library; Mariner Books
Formats Available Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Available At Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.com.

I was planning to re-read and post the review of this book after a few months. However, when I heard of the death of Umberto Eco (the author) on 19th February 2016, I decided to pick it up ahead of my original schedule.

The Name of the Rose (Italian: Il Nome Della Rosa, 1980), is the first novel by the Italian author Umberto Eco. It is an intellectual murder mystery set in an Italian monastery, in the year 1327. It combines semiotics, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory. It was translated into English in 1983 by William Weaver.

“The most intelligent and at the same time the most amusing book in years”

— Der Spiegel

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Cartoon: Slaves to Measurement

Cartoon: Slaves to Measurement

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Movie: The Shawshank Redemption (1994, English, US)

Shawshank Redemption DVD Cover

Directed by Frank Darabont
Released in 1994
Genre Prison Drama
Cast Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne
Morgan Freeman as Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding
Bob Gunton as Warden Samuel Norton
Music by Thomas Newman
Produced by Niki Marvin
Language English
Based On Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption – A 100 page novella  by Stephen King
Length 2 hours 22 mins
Available at Amazon.inAmazon.com, and Flipkart.

The Plot, the Setting

The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 American prison drama film starring Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, and Bob Gunton. It is about a financial wizard a serving a life sentence for a double murder. The protagonist Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), lives his days and years in prison, through good, bad, and nasty times, while he maintains the hope that one day he will be free.
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Book: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

One Hundred Years of Solitude Cover Image

Title One Hundred Years of Solitude
(original Spanish title: Cien años de soledad)
Author(s) Gabriel García Márquez
Translator Gregory Rabassa
Initially Published In 1967 (Spanish) 1970 (English)
Publisher Multiple –  Harper & Row (US); Jonathan Cape (UK)
Formats Available Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle
Available At Amazon.comAmazon.in, and Flipkart.com.

One Hundred Years of Solitude, originally published in 1967 in Spanish and later translated to English in 1970, is considered to be one of the best novels of the century.  According to some reports, the number of copies of the Spanish version is next only to the Bible.

“The narrative is a magician’s trick in which memory and prophecy, illusion and reality are mixed and often made to look the same.”

— Robert Kiely, The New York Times

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