Monthly Feature 16: Midnight in Paris

The exam schedule came unexpectedly. There was not a month to study and I had no notes. I took risk. I wrote and wrote and wrote on my notebooks. After two weeks, I was fatigued. I decided to watch Midnight in Paris. 
The movie was in my watch list for about a month. And it absolutely refreshed my mind from the first second. The beauty of Paris and the light humour changed my mood, made me more energetic.

The best thing is Gil’s travels from 2010 to 1920s presenting the debate of better present versus better past. I am not writing much about the movie. I just want to share a couple of quotes from the movie (Source: IMDb).

This one is when Gil meets Hemingway for the first time.

Gil : Would you read it?

Ernest Hemingway : Your novel?

Gil : Yeah, it’s about 400 pages long, and I’m just looking for an opinion.

Ernest Hemingway : My opinion is I hate it.

Gil : Well you haven’t even read it yet.

Ernest Hemingway : If it’s bad, I’ll hate it because I hate bad writing, and if it’s good, I’ll be envious and hate all the more. You don’t want the opinion of another writer.

And this is the one which I had previously shared on Facebook as well.

Nostalgia is denial – denial of the painful present… the name for this denial is golden age thinking – the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one one’s living in – it’s a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present.

In the end, Gil realises that people feel the past was golden because we think our present is painful. But if we look at the lives of  people in the past, their own lives were not easy. (For Gil 2010 was painful than 1920s in the beginning, when he is in 1920s, he knows that people thought Renaissance was the golden age.)

Director: Woody Allen

Rating: 9/10

(P.S.:​I have been busy for some months now. First there was a month long field tour. Then the report writing and then exams. I am in the middle of my exams but the immediate cause I have not been able to read or write anything on WordPress is the internet connection.)

Monthly Feature 15: Zootopia

Zootopia–a play on the word utopia. Utopia–that can also be pronounced as Zootopia (in Sanskrit and in Nepali). Zootopia–a movie I watched twice in about twenty hours. One of the movies I cannot forget.

“Anyone can be anything in Zootopia,” Judy Hopps, the first rabbit police officer claims. But Nick Wilde, a fox and con says, “Everyone comes to Zootopia, thinking they could be anything they want. But you can’t. You can only be what you are. Sly fox. Dumb bunny.” Between these two quotes exists the story of Zootopia–the major city of world in which “preys” and “predators” are history. They have learned to live in harmony.

But fear still exists. Animals that were traditionally “preys” fear that the “predators” may go savage again. Someone targets the fear, turns some predators into savages and disrupts the harmony. Maybe Mr. Big (a tiny shrew(?)–I think he is a shrew, I don’t know😜) is correct in saying, “We may be evolved, but deep down we are still animals.”

Zootopia shows fear and prejudices can disrupt the peaceful coexistence. “Predators” are ostracized. Zootopia was, “a unique place. It’s a crazy, beautiful, diverse city, where we celebrate our differences,” Gazelle, the popstar says. She adds, “This is not the Zootopia I know. The Zootopia I know is better than this. We don’t just blindly assign blame. We don’t know why these attacks keep happening. But it is irresponsible to label all predators as savages. We cannot let fear divide us. Please, give me back the Zootopia I love.”

Fear rules the modern world and it is fear that divides us. A world free of fear can only unite us all.

More info on IMDb

Monthly Feature 14: Is there problem in the world?

“The world does not seem to have any real problem.”
I read the comment as I was listening to a song on YouTube.

The song composed by A.R. Rahman was sung by students of Berkelee College of Music who belonged to different nationalities, religions and ethnicities. Yet they sang an Islamic devotional song together that has touched the hearts of thousands of people.

Each of us is different from the other. We should not be scared by the differences between us. Captain Paul says:

We must respect the differences we have. We must also be able to know that despite our differences, we have some similarities.

What really do we have in common? A lot. You just need to observe them carefully. One thing that I would like to discuss here, however is that we all want peace. Music is one form of art that has bound us since the beginning of time.

I love listening to songs of different religions. They have beautiful, meaningful words and soothing music (even if I don’t understand word.) They touch my soul. I feel my connection with the Being Supreme- the caretaker of all souls.

I have sung and listened Bhajans (Hindu devotional songs), I have listened (and cried with joy) listening to Buddhist hymns and Islam Sufis. These songs have taught me a lot of things: human culture, life and above all, humanity.

No song has taught me to disregard the Supreme Being. (Some pray Bhagwan, some Ram, some Krishna, some Buddha, some Allah, and some Khuda.) No song has taught me to kill others for fun. No song has taught me to cheat people. I have always learnt to be good to everyone and everything around me.

So, why are there disputes in the names of religions? All the religions in the world show path to the same Supreme Being called by different names. I intend to share a few other songs on YouTube that have touched my soul.

  1. Zariya – AR Rahman, Ani Choying, Farah Siraj – Coke Studio
  2. Phoolko aakhama by Ani Choying Dolma
  3. Bhagwan Timro – Ani Choying Dolma
  4. Tri Ratna

On this day of Saraswati Pooja–the day of the Hindu Goddess of knowledge, wisdom, art and music– I pray that our knowledge defeat the darkness of ignorance.

Monthly Feature 13: Some Nepali Folk Songs

On this first Monthly Feature (first post as well) of 2017, I’m going to share some of the songs I heard during my stay at Palpa.

The first song I share is a typical Folk song of the Mid- and Far-Western Region called Deuda. There are a lot of songs within the Deuda culture, Raijhuma is the most popular. I’m not going to tell why it is popular among the mass; just a reason why it got famous in our camp.

One of the students in the camp, Tej Bahadur Rokaya (Tej dai-because he is much senior by age) hailed from Karnali.

img_20161226_150847
Tej dai sings on the last day of the camp

Within some days we discovered that he can sing Raijhuma of his own using his quick wits.Soon the whole camp was singing and enjoying the song. Here’s a version of the song on YouTube.

The second song is related to the Rodi culture of the Western Nepal with a modern touch. This songs tells the features of Rodi popular among the indigenous communities like Gurung, Magar, etc. I heard this song for the first time through Anil Regmi. I found two versions of this song on YouTube: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zp8n38kx7Ow and https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EPzM92gZMO4

The other song that I remember is Jhamke Guleli. I had heard this song being sung by boys last year at Malekhu but I had not understood it then. This song is a simple one with deep sorrow expressed in beautiful words. Here’s a link of the song on YouTube: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8f0EL6u99o

The fourth song I am sharing is Kaanchhiko chhata dhalkai deu yeta by Tulsi Parajuli. This is beautiful Folk song of love with its origin in the Eastern region. While listening to the Folk songs from the Western Region on a regular basis, my mind wanted to switch to the Eastern Region. That’s why I downloaded and listened to this song. The YouTube link: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ASIaCFl3NfA

That’s it for this month. May our lives be filled with music this year!

Monthly Feature 12: Let’s take a “Breathless” Revision

When I began writing posts under the category of “Monthly Feature” at the beginning of this year, the only thing I aimed was consistency. The other aim was to review music, movies and art. As I look back, I realize that there have been movie reviews have become more numerous than the others. On the twelfth monthly feature–the last for the year 2016, let’s take a revision.

On January, I featured a Nepali folk music band: Night. Despite being named Night, I discussed how the band is taking Nepali music on to the light. The second post was the review of a wonderful Nepali movie Jhola. On the third monthly feature that came on March, I could not find a specific topic, I guess. So I discussed how our very existence could be an art and how we can indulge ourselves in art as well.

I went to a wood-art exhibition in March. Later, it turned into April’s monthly feature. I was really mesmerized by the way, artists from various parts of the world to create the best they could. May’s featured post offered condolences to Thinle, the hero of Dolpa whose movie Himalaya (aka Caravan) was nominated in the Academy Awards. In June, I analyzed Maleficent (2014) and discussed if it is fair to call her a villain.

In mid-June, I watched Kalo Pothi, a movie based on lives of Karnali. I reviewed its pros and cons in July. For August, I seem to have lost a specific topic again. So, I shared some songs and music I was listening that month. They were only a little part of the music I listened to, however.

The last three monthly features have been movie reviews. In September, Inside Out was reviewed, and Interstellar in October. The last post was on Pashupati Prasad, one of the finest movies that have been made in Nepal.

 Just before I wrap up, I would like to share a song–Breathless by Shankar Mahadevan. Most people are amazed by the way he sings; but to me what he sings strikes a chord deep within me.

 

Monthly Feature 11: Pashupati Prasad

I wanted to watch this movie when it was released last year but I could not watch it then because I think I was busy in my chores. Thankfully, the movie came up on YouTube during Dashain.

After the earthquake of Baishakh 12, 2072, Pashupati Prasad Khakurel comes to Kathmandu from Sindhupalchowk in search of his Meet Baa. (Meet is best friend; Baa is father. Meet Baa is father’s best friend–almost like father.) Only his Meet Baa can help him earn money in order to clear his dead parents’ debt.

The movie revolves around this simple common theme. However, as Pashupati Prasad works around Pashupatinath area, he makes a connection with Hanumanji–a masked man dressed like Hanuman, an old woman who loves him more than her own son, an M.A. graduate who runs a food booth, and Bunu–a deaf-mute girl who he loves. He also makes a rivalry with Bhasme Don, while searching for gold in the Bagmati River. Through these characters, several aspects of society come alive.

The ending of the movie is unexpected but highly emotional. Without much dialogues, these scenes break the audiences’ heart. Though many have argued that the ending should have been different, I think that’s exactly the makers had wanted people to think of.

Cast

Khagendra Lamichhane as Pashupati Prasad

Rabindra Singh Baniya as Hanuman Ji

Bipin Karki as Bhasme Don

Barsha Siwakoti as Bunu

Director: Deependra K. Khanal

IMDb rating: 9.4/10

Monthly Feature 10: A Movie that Took me Back to Astronomy

For the monthly feature this October, I can’t avoid writing about this science fiction movie that involves a worm hole, a black hole, and a crew of scientists trying to save the human species: Interstellar.

I watched the movie twice during the second week this September. The first time I watched it, I did not understand some of the things shown towards the end. The search took me to different answers. It also took me back to astrophysics.

I have always been attracted by astronomy. I enjoyed reading about stars, planets, satellites, asteroids, and comets. I was introduced to complex objects like black hole through a picture book (published by National Geographic Society, I think) my friend had brought to school. About three years ago, I had read Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. It had given me a picture of the universe but I was still not satisfied.

I had heard about Interstellar from my friends in college. I did not know what the movie showed until I watched it for the first time. To keep the suspense (which I don’t usually do in case of movies) I had not even googled its name. After I watched it the first time, I was confused. Because:

I was touched by its drama.

I did not understand anything shown in the end.

I had to know where Cooper went after trying to enter the black hole. I had to know how all things shown in the movie were related.

As soon as I watched the movie, I googled and saw a term “tesseract”. Cooper had gone into the tesseract. How? “They” had sent him. Who’s they?

Who’s they?

Cooper asks the question twice in the movie. If you have watched the movie and listened carefully the conversation between Cooper and TARS in the Tesseract scene you can get the hint. But who built the Tesseract? Only one answer in Quora satisfied me. And to verify it again, I had to watch the movie.

However, I wanted more information on the scientific accuracy of the movie. While sci-fi movies are related to science, they use their artistic freedom to show things which can be misleading. According to the materials I found on the internet, the movie had shown almost accurately the black hole and the worm hole. I thought, ‘There is some science in the movie.’ I found an ebook The Science of Interstellar, written by astrophysicist Kip Thorne. This book helped me know many aspects of the movie and the science used in it. Combined with my undergraduate physics book I could understand relativity and concepts of space-time better than I had before.

Interstellar helped me widen my knowledge on universe. However, it would have been difficult if I had not known some of the concepts previously. I really appreciate the movies which tease my brain and my knowledge. This is one such movie.

Cast

(Source: Wikipedia)

IMDb Rating: 8.6/10

Monthly Feature 9: Inside Out

 

What happens when you don’t know the role of all the emotions in building your personality? The movie Inside Out answers the question.

Summary

By the personification of the core emotions: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger, director Pete Docter takes us into a journey inside Riley Andersen’s head. All the emotions, except Sadness, work together in developing Riley’s personalities. Joy is in constant conflict with Sadness, because of which Riley loses her “core memories”. When the family migrates from Minnesota to San Fransisco, the conflict increases, and both Joy and Sadness are sucked up from the emotion centre, “the Headquarters”. As they wander along the labyrinth of “long-term memory”, they witness the crumbling of Riley’s personality islands. To save Riley, the other three emotions, take control over Riley’s emotions. Except for occasional moments of joy from the long-term memory, they destroy Riley’s ability to feel anything.

In the maze of long-term memory, Joy and Sadness meet Bing Bong, Riley’s imaginary friend. He helps them get into “train of thoughts” so that they can reach the emotion centre but the family island falls breaking the train and it being dumped into the “Memory Dump”, a place where old memories are thrown to fade. As Joy tries getting to the Headquarters through a suction pipe that projects the saved memory, the pipe breaks. Joy and Bing Bong fall into the Memory Dump, where Joy understands that Sadness helped Riley when she was distressed. Bing Bong, on the other hand realizes that he would fade out soon. So, he and Joy take up his rocket and helps Joy get into the Headquarters. Once Joy manages to get Sadness and herself into the Headquarters, Riley’s is for the first time controlled solely by Sadness. Riley, who is about to return back to Minnesota alone, goes back and apologizes to her family. The five emotions, then work together to build up newer aspects of Riley’s personality.

The Funniest and the Emotional Moment

To me, the funniest moment in the movie is the one in which Sadness gives up walking she is tired and Joy drags her catching Sadness’ leg.

The most emotional part is the one inside the memory dump. Bing Bong realizes he is fading. Yet, he helps Joy get away from the dump. He waves good-bye and says to Joy, “Take Riley to the moon for me.” He does what a true friend would do, even if he is  imaginary.

Some Memorable Quotes

Do you ever look at someone and wonder, “What is going on inside their head?” Well, I know. I know Riley’s head.

– Joy

 

Something’ s wrong with me. It’s like I’m having a breakdown.

-Sadness

 

Without you (Joy), Riley can’t be happy. We gotta get you back up there.

-Sadness

 

Ya ha ha! You (Joy) made it ! Ha ha! Go! Go save Riley! Take her to the moon for me.

– Bing Bong

Cast (Voice Artists)

Amy Poehler as Joy

Phyllis Smith as Sadness

Bill Hader as Fear

Lewis Black as Anger

Mindy Kaling as Disgust

Kaitlyn Dias as Riley Andersen

Diane Lane as Jill Andersen, Riley’s Mother

Kyle MacLachlan as Bill Andersen, Riley’s Father

Richard Kind as Bing Bong

IMdB rating: 8.3/10

My Rating: 9/10

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inside_Out_(2015_film)

 

Monthly Feature 8: Songs I’m Listening this Monsoon

August’s Monthly Feature is about some songs I am listening this monsoon. There are hundreds of songs I listen to. The songs here are just representative of their types.



First, Songs on Monsoon

Asarai Mahinama: There are several cover versions of this song, which I heard before the original. This original song sung by Chujan Dukpa beautifully tells the story of a man who is remembering his family from abroad.

Basai Bagayo: Aka Koshi, this is a beautiful song which carries the story of people affected the Koshi flooding about eight years ago. The song is significant even today as Koshi is shifting westwards from its previous bank and has been troubling many people who depend upon it.
Next, Love Songs

Tiriri Murali Banyo Banaima: This song, originally sung by Panna Kaji (The link leads to the version later sung by his son, Pravesh Man Shakya.) is a beautiful reminiscence of love.

Ek Ladki Ko: All time favorite of mine, this Hindi song is penned by Javed Akhtar, composed by R.D. Burman and sung by Kumar Sanu. I particularly love the lyrics of this song.
And finally, sentimental melodies

Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna: Titular song of the Bollywood movie Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna translates into Never Say Goodbye. When I say goodbye to someone, maybe they don’t want me to go away.

Yo Dajuko Mirmire Aankha: This tragic folk song is about a couple about to be separated due to financial problems.

Monthly Feature 7: Kalo Pothi- A Movie about Friendship

Nepali is believed to have been evolved from language of the Karnali region. (Sinja valley of Jumla and more popularly known as the place of origin of Nepali language.) To understand the dialogues of a movie which used Khas language of Mugu (a district in Karnali zone) we had to take help of subtitles. We have deviated a lot from our roots. This month, I feature that movie- Kalo Pothi(aka The Black Hen in international film festivals).

Karnali Zone (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Summary

In 2001 A.D. (2058 B.S.), before the insurgency, the “People’s War” led by Maoists seems to have influenced Karkiwada, a village in Mugu district. Maoists, who have been working as guerillas,  organize a cultural programme to spread the word of “revolution”. Some school kids are influenced. One of them is Bijuli, the sister of a major character Prakash.

Earlier, the Mukhiya(chief) of the village had ordered the villagers to bring up all fowls to him but Bijuli had managed to hide one white coloured hen. This she had given to her little brother Prakash. They live with their father as the Mukhiya’s servants. The boy asks what name he should give to the hen. When she tells him to give whatever name he wanted, he names it Karishma, after the name of Nepali movies. Her movie- Saathi (Saathi means Friend) alongside Rajesh Hamal is about to be shown in the village and the little children seem to have been influenced by that.

The same night, Bijuli flees with her “comrades” to be a Maoist. The hen she had given to her brother Prakash has yielded an egg which he shows first to his friend Kiran, the Mukhiya’s grandson. The hen, however is sold by Prakash’s father to a Tenjing, an old Bhote for 600 rupees. The boys decide to get the hen back the hen by paying Tenjing but they do not have money.

After sometime, when they have half the money Tenjing had paid, they go his home and ask for the hen. Tenjing does not agree. The boys steal it and colour it black. The white hen becomes the black hen. Their act is caught and the hen is taken by Tenjing again.

Meanwhile, Ujeli(the Mukhiya’s granddaughter) is about to be married to Captain Surbir. The Captain, however is abducted by the Maoists. Prakash sees his sister as she and her friends drag the Captain away. Prakash still longs for the hen Tenjing had taken away. Prakash and Kiran go to him again and he tells them that the hen had been sent to his daughter in Serog village.

Serog is far but riding a horse, the boys reach a long way. They reach a forest, where firing breaks out between the Army and the Maoists. Several people are killed. The boys save themselves by smearing blood of the deceased. Later, they wash themselves in a lake and head to Serog. They find the hen but seeing the hen and with her chicks, Prakash, whose mother had died prior to the setting of the movie, says, “I don’t want to separate children from their mother.”

Themes

1. Friendship and Innonence

Prakash is a servant at Kiran’s house and a Dalit(so called untouchable) as well. But they are best friends. Kiran goes through everything to help Prakash get back the hen Tenjing has taken away. Prakash covers up his acts. Their friendship is strong despite the difference in caste and social status. Also, their act of colouring a white hen to black is sweetly innocent.

2. Humanity

Despite being a child of poor servant at Mukiya’s home, Prakash goes to school. Prakash and his family have been provided a place to live. They are also given warm clothes during winter.
But the humanity is waning towards the end. The Mukhiya warns Kiran not to befriend Prakash (he goes away to Serog, however). Policemen threaten to beat them up if Bijuli does not return the village. The Maoists are abducting soldiers who are not on duty, and the firing in the forest kills several people.

3. Transition from Peace to War

The movie shows the changes that occur when a society undergoes the transition between peace and war. The thoughts of people change. They come up to believe that the state of peace was due to their ignorance about the real affairs. They are inclined to change the society by whatever means they have. Some better-off people migrate to a relatively safer place. Those who can not afford, have to undergo whatever happens to them in their homeland.

4. Philosophy of “Letting Go”

After a long journey to Serog, Prakash leaves the hen and says, “Let it be, I don’t want the children separated from their mother.” Every journey of life ends that way. We let go something to embark a new one.

What’s there for the viewers?

1. The movie features a simple storyline. Almost everything in the plot is related with the hen. (Can I say hen is the protagonist?) 

2. Khadga Raj Nepali and Shukra Raj Rokaya have done an exceptional job considering their ages and their experience in movies. (They had never acted in movies before.)

3. The movie gives a lot of knowledge about the Khas language and culture.

Some disappointing factors

1. The story is simple but does not seem to be in a flow. The movie does not always stick to the storyline. The transitions between scenes are sometimes unclear and audience do not understand what and why the characters are doing the things shown in the screen.

2. There are two dream sequences that are highly symbolic. The first dream is set at Pashupatinath area, where Prakash sees Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and Muslims one after the other. While the dream might represent a case of religious tolerance, it is highly unlikely that a poor boy in Mugu can dream of such a thing. Moreover, it does not connect to the plot thereafter. (Ten minutes time in the theatre, 25 lakh rupees need not be spend.)
In the another dream sequence, Prakash relives the funeral of his mother a year ago but the people have changed. For example, Bijuli carries a gun, Ujeli is a bride and Prakash’s father carries a hen. This dream connects to the end of the movie, when Prakash lets go of the hen.

3. Scenes in the movie are shot from quite a distance with still frames. For minutes, when the characters are conversing audience sees a house or a room or a hillock. While that could have been the director’s scheme, close-up shots could have it more remarkable.

4. Finally, (something everyone has been telling) a scene that was completely awkward and unnecessary- a kiss scene between Ujeli and the Captain. The movie might have wanted to represent love between them but because that is not the main focus of the movie, the scene was absolutely unnecessary.

Cast:

Khadga Raj Nepali
as Prakash

Shukra Raj Rokaya
as Kiran

Jit Bahadur Malla
as Prakash’s father

Hansa Khadka as Bijuli

Benisha Hamal
as Ujeli

Director: Min Bahadur Bham

IMDb Rating: 7.6/10

Personal Rating: 7.5/10

Sources:

  1. Movie reviews on several newspapers and magazines.
  2. www.mysansar.com
  3. Internet Movie Database (IMDb)

[P.S.: On June 9, I had watched the movie with my friends. Thanks you for your insights. I could not have formulated my thoughts on the movie without you guys.]