Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Mischief managed!

It took me a while, but I finally did surface from the post-Half Blood Prince hangover! This is not strictly a review. There are numerous reviews available on the net, by now. Countless theories being discussed, J K Rowling's interviews, the works. These are just some thoughts and questions.

The name of the book is kind of a misnomer, considering the previous titles. Take Prisoner of Azkaban, for instance. The story revolves around the convict from Azkaban. Chamber of Secrets climaxes within the Chamber. Goblet of Fire, though the phrase doesn't figure many times in the book, it is still a representation of the Triwizard tournament which forms the crux if the book. Why, even the Philosopher's stone gets its due towards the end of the very first book of the series.

Then why do I think The Half Blood Prince is not that important to the whole plot? If you take the identity of the Half Blood Price, then of course, yes, it is an important character, a character we can recognize as someone very crucial to the whole big picture. But beyond that, the book does not entirely revolve around it. After completing 3/4ths of the book, you don't get a feeling that your life (or for that matter Harry's life) depends on knowing the identity of the HBP.

Instead, what comes across first and foremost is how much Harry has grown by the time he is in his 6th year at Hogwarts. And I don't only mean physically and emotionally. Take, for example, his level headed discussion with the Minister of Magic (no less!), his insistence on always doing right thing, no matter how tempted he is to do otherwise (remember the Quiddich try outs?)

Not that Harry isn't a normal kid. He doesn't mind using somebody else's notes to get higher marks in Potions, much to the chagrin of his best buddy Hermione. (How I wish I had someone to help me out with Chemistry in school!).

Some of things in the book were oddly reminiscent of the previous stories. Prof Slughorn somehow reminded me of Prof Lockheart. A whole lot of new stuff - Disastrous Love potions, Luna Lovegood's Quiddich commentary, Harry's moral conscience (to snog or not to snog I_am_not_going_to_say_who), Ron's emotional outbursts, the hell_hath_no_fury_than_Hermione_scorned bit made for a particularly delightful read.

But the most Rowling-like part of the book was the way it ended. On the face of it, lots of things have happened. An important character is dead, Harry discovers who HBP is, and is one step closer towards his final battle with You_Know_Who. But is everything exactly as it seems? Rowling also leaves Harry with a very cryptic note written by a hitherto unheard of character, which should keep us waiting for the next book. Two years more to go?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

A Paheli on Paheli

On Monday night, I embarked on a discussion with Ferose about watching the latest SRK flick.
His question:Do we really have to see this film?
My reply(delivered with appropriate horror): Of course, we SIMPLY have to see this Amol Palekar directed folksy art film starring commercial big wigs with MM Kreem's music.
In my defense, it also happens to be the only film that both of us haven't watched. After lots of arguments, I convinced him that the 10:15 show at PVRs was the only way to catch the film. Another arguable point was, why not watch it at Innovative Multiplex? The terrible traffic situation around PVRs doesn't endear us to that magnificent complex. But the Innovative guys these days prefer 1960s Bengali literature to 1800s Rajasthani fables. Result: No night show for "Paheli" at Innovative. Working in a global company ensures that I work in multiple time zones on a single day, hence watching a late night show is the only possible option.

So there we were, on Tuesday night, armed with our online ticket booking confirmation. After getting hold of the tickets, made a dash to the Transit food court. This place is a potentially time-staking option, mainly because of the numerous choices one has make. Should one eat Indian, or non-Indian (Thai, Chinese, Mexican). If Indian, then should it be the idli-Dosa fare or the paranthas. If paranthas, then gobi, alu or .... the point is, its a lot of thinking on a weekday, especially after having driven 20 KMs. Fortunately for me, I was single-mindedly focused on completing dinner in 15 minutes flat. So I made a quick decision to have gobi paranthas and hubby decided on the usual masala Dosa (why he prefers the Dosa in Salem's kitchen to the one at the Shiv Sagar counter is beyond me, and is a point that I would like to discuss at some point in the future).

Right at the point where we were entering the Hall, the ticket checker (not sure if it's the right term to define his exact occupation in PVR, but think it'll do for the moment) decided he didn't like our tickets (and probably our faces too!). Turns out, the git at the ticket counter had given us tickets for a previous show. We had to wait for an Outrageous 20 minutes before the matter was cleared up and we were ushered to our seats.
I quickly asked the guy sitting beside me (not my husband) the usual question: When did the movie start?
His reply: Just now.
Satisfied, I relaxed and started unwinding into the story.

Cut to our discussion on the journey back home. Nice film, nice colors, nice music, nice acting, passable humor (except for that one brilliant scene with Rajpal Yadav). Some shocks like Sunil shetty. Some pleasant surprises like Amitabh Bachchan. A pity that Juhi Chawla was relegated to a small role, but she still shone through while emoting with her eyes and that gorgeous smile. SRK was good, but hammed in a couple of places. Rani Mukerji delivered, as always. But I have a question about the story: Why didn't the ghost do his last trick in the first reel of the film? Would have saved everyone a lot of trouble. Had it been just a film, I would have not been too bothered. But the original story is a novel and I am keen to know how it ended and what was sacrificed at the altar of cinematic glory.