Review : Earthstorm

EarthstormThe Plot

 A massive asteroid / meteor crashes into the “dark side” of the moon causing havoc in weather and tides on Earth. The planet is them bombarded with city sized asteroid debris causing much death and destruction. Scientists then discover that the debris raining down on earth is not that of the asteroid but is in-fact pieces of the moon itself who now threatens to tear itself apart and crash into earth resulting in Armageddon.

Opinion

🙂 I knew i was exposing myself to a lot of frustration, garbage the minute i hit the download button on my torrent client , but i have a weakness for films based around such plot-lines – Armageddon ,Deep Impact, Sunshine etc and not watching it was never an option.

I was actually feeling quite confident that it would not be too bad or cheesy at all considering the fact that Stephen Baldwin was in it. Not that Stephen is a Tom Hanks but he does have alot of films and acting experience under him.

Needless to say he did not help. In-fact he looked more uncomfortable, rigid than anyone else in the film. Flat dialogues with a very noticeable effort to deliver on dialogue’s. The other actors were not far behind in their convincing abilities. Anna Silk was obviously present there to try and provide the “hot girl in distress’ angle to the whole thing while Amy Price could have been done away altogether.

The effects are not good at all and it comes to light as soon as the movie comes on. One of the first scenes is of the asteroid striking the moon and instead of feeling that its happening in space , it feels like a clip picked straight out from a video game…and this carries on for the entire movie. Some of them feel more outdated than what one would expect to see on the old Star Trek series.

The pace is fast , things keep happening all the time minus on or two moments of self – reflection by the actors which unfortunately are just YUCK!  Not something you would plan a whole evening around!

 

 

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Review : The Host

The HostThe Plot

One day, a mutant suddenly appears from the depths of the Han River and spreads panic and death. A local businessman’s grand-daughter is taken by the mutant. In the middle of the grief the family discovers that she is still alive and go to rescue her facing independent perils , and challenges along the way.

Opinion

Watch the movie if you dont have anything else to do , thats how i ended up seeing it. The plot line was actually not that bad as was the general pace and suspense the movie kept alive and in the end turned to be quite a reasonable way of spending 2 odd hours.

 The basic problem in enoying this movie is the english dubbing. While the dubbing in itself is good, a lot of emotion , and dialogue effect is lost in translation. Scenes which were meant to be sad , self reflecting with a strong under effect of tragedy ended up looking like comic scenes straight out of a friday night martial arts film on Star Movies…and this is what took away from most of the fun.

The special effects were good , the monster did not look scary to me (but i have watched one too many sci-fi flicks) and seemed to be rather clumsy at times with a strong resemblance to a frog on wobbly legs. But close ups and slower scenes were good and so was the detail.

Sound was ok , nothing to write home about but the tracks did their job reasonably.

I would not advise anyone spending too much money on seeing this film. While it is schedule to hit theatres in India i doubt that the life for the movie on screen will be more than 10 odd days. Better to hop on to a bit torrent client and download it.

Over all rating would be 5 / 10….mostly because there is no way for me to evaluate the acting since the dubbing reduces the “feel” factor.

Driving to Shimla – Economics and Otherwise

Shimla I am continuously asked about tips/information on driving to Shimla by friends and acquaintances all the time and being the destination that it is thought there might be many of you out there who might find this information useful as well so penning it down. You can always get in touch with me for more specific details! Let’s talk of all the other things except finances first. TIME: If you are driving to Shimla for the first time then give yourself about 10 hours. roughly broken up into 8 hours driving and about 2 hours of stops. When u leave Delhi can play a big role in how much time you take. I just went up recently in a Zen. Left at 4:30 in the morning and reached Shimla at 10:30…a straight 6 hours (a record even by my standards) with a half an hour stop for breakfast and another half an hour for tea. But getting out of Delhi can be a very time consuming process in itself. I went up again and left in fact at 330 but got caught in a jam and reached Shimla at 1130…so it affected my entire time by an hour.

ROAD: The over all road condition is pretty good. I break it into 3 Segments. Primarily Delhi to Ambala , Ambala to Kalka and Kalka to Shimla. After u have left behind the normal bumps and potholes of Delhi roads u can sit back and cruise. It’s an excellent road, sometimes 2 laned sometimes 4 all the way to Ambala. Ambala to Kalka is congested. It’s a single road with no divider (be careful while overtaking here) and lasts a good 45-50 Kms to Kalka. Once you have hit Kalka then again, sit and enjoy the drive. The road has just been done up and contrary to a lot of fears driving in the hills is not bad at all. The road is sufficiently wide, level, just look out at corners for oncoming vehicles and ull be fine.

TRAFFIC: this of curse depends on when u leave. Ideally leave early and you will avoid messes at Sonipat and Panipat , 2 of the most crowded places and Ambala to Kalka depends on a little luck as well. From Kalka to Shimla traffic is not too much. Kalka will be crowded, then Solan and that’s about it.

STOPS: more than enough choices on the way. What i personally do is to stop at a Dhaba called ’’jhilmil’’ at Karnal, most amazing lassi and paneer ka parathan….then no stops still about Dharampur, which is roughly an hour from Kalka. But if u can’t wait that long then like i said there are enough choices.

TOLL: While driving to Shimla u have 3 toll stops One at Karnal (50) One near Ambala (11) and one at Kalka (30), on the way back the same tolls apply except the one for entering Himachal (30)

FINANCES: I will have to make certain assumptions here i.e that one would travel ,otherwise, in a train (shatabdi AC chair car) , Taxi, or A deluxe Bus.

As far as one person driving up goes it’s not economical. But the minute 2 are involved it’s cheaper to drive up.

1000-1200 Rs for fuel, 200 for stops, 90 for tolls = 1300.

1300= total cost one way (the more the number of persons coming the lower the cost per head)

Train : 550 for one AC Chair car ticket to chandi, then either a Taxi which is 1500-1800 or a bus which will be about 250. So total cost one way =2000/ 800

Taxi from Delhi: obviously close to about 3000.

Plane roughly 6000 one way

Bus: a normal deluxe bus (Volvo) which the Himachal govt runs costs 550 per ticket which would have gone up now because of the hike in petrol.

Hence it is economically quite a viable option as well.
The best part of course is getting there at your own pace.

A hidden haven – Murud Janjira

Murudh at Sunset

I had the opportunity to go to Murud in Feb. Had just got married and my wife suggested the place based on a friend’s recommendation. I had never heard of it and was really apprehensive since images / photographs were not that easily available. Anyhow we were to go to Murud from Goa.

We took an early morning train which left at around 6 from near Colva beach. The train here i have been told invariably ends up running late and by the time we got there it was close to 4. About 2 hours late but the journey was definitely worth it. One travels through some of the most amazing valleys and foothills throughout this ride. The train is nice and clean, comfortable and overall very polite, decent passengers. You can just go open the bogey door and sit down and watch the scenery going by and i promise you time will fly.The train does not have direct connectivity with Murud.

 You get off about 45 kms away at Roha and then need to arrange for local transport to get there….and this is when it hit me- this place is surprisingly cut off allowing for a true get-away.We got off the station and we stunned to realize that no taxi’s were available since there are not too mnay to begin with. Choices–an auto. Now i ride in autos a lot in delhi ut this was sheer fun..imagine traveling 45 kms in an auto..first on the plains, the on the hills, through a reserve forest and then dropping down to Murud. What an experience. An auto from here to the heart of Murud town will be about 150-200..and u don’t have too many choices so expect to pay that. The journey takes anything between 1-1.5 hrs..ur in an auto after all.

We were staying at a resort called ’’The Golden Swan Beach Resort’’. For around 2000 a day we got a small independent cottage with an attached bath, ac, TV, running hot and cold water. The room service is excellent thought the menu can be a bit restrictive. We went during the ’’bird flu scare’’ so most items associated with that were off. The entire resort is located on the beach. Walk out of the cottage and about 100 meters away is the beach. During high tide the entire beach gets covered and the water stands right up to the foundation wall of the resort. High tide is twice in a day, during noon and then late evening.DAy-1 :— Got to the resort at around 5:30, not too much time to spend on the beach so took a short walk and got back to the resort.

The resort does not have a liquor license so if you think you’ll want to swig a few back then carry your own. There is a shop in the town. Thats where we went and picked ours. About a 25 minute walk along the coastline. The village is quaint to say the least. It has modern technology but the culture reeks of pure tradition and the architecture is to die for.DAY2- woke up early and spent most of the day on the beach. Then hired an auto to take us to the docks where you can hire a boat to take you to the Fort. The fort is impressive to say the least and is quite unlike something i had ever seen before. It’s huge and right in the middle of the bay surrounded by water at all sides. The 2nd heaviest cannon in India is here. Definitely worth a look.

The boat rides about 150, a guide (which i would recommend) is another 100 and the whole trip at a leisurely pace would set you back by about 2 hours or so. Came back, sat on our porch and spent the rest of the day there.DAY 3- A good breakfast and spent the day exploring the town further and of course at the beach.,DAy4- we left the resort at around noon and got to Alibagh where we boarded a ferry to take us to Mumbai and then flew out from there for Delhi.It’s definitely a must see but my only advice is take enough time. Don’t make it a rushed trip. We spent 3.5 days there but would have loved to have another few.Email me if you wanna see some snaps.

IMP Note- Dont expect your mobiles to work there.  

Colva hits the Spot

Colva BeachWent to Goa earlier this year in Feb. It was the first time i was going and for years i had been hearing about the place from everyone , and for a guy who used to live the S , D and R& R life , it had to be done!! That changed this year. We got into G from Pune since that was our first stop on the vacation. Took an overnight sleeper bus and were near Colva by about 6 in the morning. Hired a Taxi (they are expensive, please don’t hesitate to bargain) and after a 40 odd minuted drive were at our hotel.

We stayed in a place called the Amigo Plaza, for 900 Rs a night we were given a ground floor double ac room, with a private porch and all amenities possible. The resort is literally 2 minutes away from the beach…can hear the sea at night!! I of-course could not wait to get into my shorts, sandals, trunks and head out but ended up having a rushed breakfast and then go out. The hotel is located in a small fishing village kind of a location amidst lush green palms and is truly a walkers delight.

We made our way to the beach and i was almost blinded we we scaled a small dune and saw the beach for the first time. The sand is white and soft and the sea a light blue. Mother nature at its best with her palate of colours.

We quickly found a shack where we settled ourselves in for the day. Got sleeper chairs and cold beers and cocktails. The rest of the day was spent in taking occasional dips in the sea and then back on the chair for another beer. The food was lovely. we had freshly caught lobster and prawns. My wife is a sea food maniac so she had been drooling pretty much when we left Delhi. The food is excellent though some items are expensive. The lobster was for about 900 but the prawns a measly 120. In Delhi the same items would have cost about 1500 and 500 respectively. Don’t expect to get too many choices for beer there. Alcohol is pretty cheap as well and some of their wines must be tasted.

In the evening we went back to change and then were back at the beach for more drinking and eating and to watch a beautiful, slow, vibrant sunset. we had dinner at a shack called SandPat (i would recommend this to everyone) owned by this couple from England.

The next day bought the realization that my wife had got sun-burnt so the morning was spent in procuring a lotion. post this we decided to explore and spent the next couple-of hours walking around in all directions to get the feel of the place in. We considered hiring a bike but both of us were so happy with where we were that we did not feel the need to venture out. The evening saw us back at Sandpats for more seafood and the sunset. Shacks on Colva are open pretty late minus a few, esp the ones owned by foreigners, they shut at about 11-12.

The next couple of days were spent pretty much like this.,we had settled down to a slow pace. Reading, swimming, eating..thats all one did the entire day. A lot of shopping was done, shells, traditional wear, handicrafts etc all in all a ball.

Colva offers a lot of recreational activities such as jet ski.s boat rides etc but we have done enuf of those in our lives so were more than happy just lazing around…but expect to be approached by a lot of guys offering you these services and from what i remember they were not exactly cheap.

Colva is much less crowded that Calungete, that’s why we opted for it. Don’t expect to find the same kind of things happening here such as wild parties etc etc. This is truly a lazy-bones beach.

Everyone thinks they can play (music)…

I was on the lucky guys who started interacting with the Delhi music circuit even before there was one. Had a blast playing during college and attending shows by Indian Ocean, Parikrama and to some degree Rotten Tomatoes, which were to the only real solid bands around at that time. 

Then i went away, got tucked into a corner in Noida for 2 years doing my MBA and when i did come this side of the river again it was not all that it was cracked up to be. During my two years one heard a lot of (supposedly good) things about the music scene in Delhi – original music, world class guitar players , experimentation , fusion and so on— Yes! Delhi was poised to produce the next Floyd! The next Zepplin , Steve Wai , Morrison …..

When in actuality 90% of the bands in Delhi suck..and suck big time! The only thing common between them and any of the bands listed above is….nothing! They are all under some delusion that they are good, have some of the cheesiest names you will find in the business and play as well as i spell! Bars and Pubs are lining up to hire bands for as many nights as they can leaving sane people with good ears absolutely no place to go and hear some good music.Sure they have fenders, and tube amps hooked to state of the art sound processors but if that’s all it takes, hey , i made it when i was 12!Very few can barely manage a Denver cover but think they are capable of producing original music. 

 Lyrics and scores probably dreamt or copied from the internet are pushed to the audience as being the next big thing , as being different and the minute they say different they will go ahead and Tag it as fusion as well. Plagiarism is aplenty and anyone who has listened to music extensively enough will see that.Bloated egos because they have 1 fan who is always there…probably because he does not know where he is to begin with. Theatricals galore , mass handshakes  , arrogance , ignorance , lack of skill is actually what makes the Delhi circuit…… and fueling them on is a certain audience who think these guys are the best , for no reason whatsoever.

I bumped into this woman at TC a few weeks back who had come from Chandigarh to listen to a band which she had never heard , but only heard of… on asking her i was told she had “heard they were good through a friend”….. they friend probably being one of the members of the band itself. She had no clue what they played, how long they had played for , remember any of the songs, recall the covers or the artists…..nothing… as far as music went she was as knowledgeable as a dodo… but yet she was there..and so were another 200 similar people… all under the pretence that they were cool by being here , that they knew music , appreciated it , understood it…while in actuality were Dodo’s themselves. All they do is get between me and the beer!

Then there are those who think they know the business. A friend of mine post graduating from one of the top colleges in the country decided to become a manager….for bands. Qualification… that she liked music..so off she went with the full confidence that the newest entry  in 2008 in India’s  richest people list will be the bands she manages. What happend was ofcourse totally different….. her love for morrison did not help her understand sound , networking , administration , business logic …and basically screwed it up with most of those bands. They are not , believe you me , swearing by her…they are swearing at her!

Not every band is idiotic nor is every person who attends one of these things. Fortunately there are some really talented people around and im glad i know them, and invariably bump into them often enough to keep my sanity on this.So the next time you are in Delhi or planning to go out and attend a “show” , think thrice! You might just be better off with your walkman!Thanks to the following bands for still keeping some hope alive for all of us:-Soap, HFT , Indian Ocean , Menwhopause !