Year 2013 so far: movies I enjoyed – Kai Po Che, Special 26

I usually watch movies comfortably at home, using DVDs. But I venture out to halls sometimes, and this year I’ve seen two movies in cine multiplexes. Luckily I enjoyed both: Kai Po Che! and Special 26. I even bought the DVD of Special 26 so that I could see it again and again 🙂

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Special 26(Wikipedia page here).
Actors: Anupam Kher, Akshay Kumar, Manoj Bajpayee, Jimmy Shergill.

Special 26 is a movie about a heist, inspired by a real-life heist on March 19, 1987 at Opera House, Mumbai. The movie is packed with stars. It has received very good reviews.

I found the movie scripted very well, and the acting superb, and, but for a marriage/ song section that I found slow, the pacing was also great. Which is why, when I realized the movie was available as a DVD, I bought it and saw it again. I enjoyed it even more the second time around–there’s fun in seeing a heist movie again, anticipating and chuckling at the twists and turns of the plot.

Check out Special 26 at Flipkart.com


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Kai Po Che (Wikipedia page here): This is a movie of friendship set in a turbulent era of Guajarat, and has received very good reviews in India but mediocre ones outside India. It is supposed to be based on a Chetan Bhagat book I have not read (The Three Mistakes of my Life), and apparently the movie is much clearer than the book.
Having read Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone and seen Aamir Khan’s 3 Idiots, I am more than ready to believe that Bhagat’s books are better as movies than as books :).

I found the movie clear and touching and the acting very good, and remained engrossed right till the end, and walked out of the movie hall in a slight daze.

Check out Kai Po Che at Flipkart.com

And the book I have not read yet (and may never read, having seen the movie): Chetan Bhagat’s The 3 Mistakes of My Life (at Flipkart.com)

Revisiting favorite books: On the Beach, Nevil Shute

On the Beach (Nevil Shute): A classic. A gentle and uplifting story set in a world where everyone is doomed to die as the aftermath of nuclear war. Leaves readers with a sense of quiet dignity and hope in spite of the depressing scenario. Read the full post here: Revisiting favorite books: On the Beach, Nevil Shute

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Title: On the Beach
Author:
Genre: Science fiction

Reviewer:
Rating:       (Reviewed on August 28, 2013 )
Brief comments: A classic. A gentle and uplifting story set in a world where everyone is doomed to die as the aftermath of nuclear war. Leaves readers with a sense of quiet dignity and hope in spite of the depressing scenario.


Get the book : EBook available at . Paperback available in India as at


I first “met” Nevil Shute in my college library. I think I ended up reading all his books there; most of them left me with a warm and fuzzy feeling. I finished college, and I assumed I’d never get to see the books again. I was no longer a member of an easy-to-access library that had old books, and to read an old favourite I had to hunt it down and buy it. I got a pleasant surprise some years ago when I saw a shelf full of freshly printed Nevil Shutes in a bookshop, along with many other books I’d given up on. I got myself some sparkling new copies of old favorites, including On the Beach.

On the Beach , a story placed in Australia, describes a world where several nuclear bombs were dropped in the Northern hemisphere in wars that went horribly wrong, and the radioactivity is drifting slowly to the Southern Hemisphere, to Australia (which was uninvolved in the war). Everyone will die. With that premise and setting, Nevil Shute has crafted a book that is gentle and dignified in an unusual way. One would think that a book where everyone is doomed to die has to be a down-and-out depressing book, but that’s not how I experienced it. The book left me sad in some ways, but also gave me hope that perhaps a society can handle inevitable death with dignity.

The book is considered a classic. When I first read the book, I had gobbled the story hungrily. When I bought it years later and re-read it, I savored it in a more relaxed way. Our world is full of conflict. The possibility of out-of-control wars and annihilation is not so low as to be ignored. I wondered, as I re-read this book, how humanity will cope in a situation similar to what Shute has shown. I suspected we would have conflict, anger, enmity, and that was a dismaying thought. How would people cope with a doom (not of their making) that they cannot evade? I thought of the world Shute had shown, and wondered if maybe we would be able to show the same gentleness as he depicted. Make the most of what remains. It was an interesting thought. Good books make one think, and that’s what this book did for me.

On the Beach is not for readers who like fast-paced works. It was written several decades ago, and many readers, accustomed (addicted?) to thrillers, are likely to find it slow or boring or defeatist. The use of English old-fashioned. The way characters interact is based on an older time, and probably very different from how relationships work now, so the younger readers may find the characters and their interactions implausible. Also, most novels on the aftermath of an all-out nuclear war (or any other major world-destroying event) depict struggling survivors, warring groups, bitterness, people driven underground, people driven into hiding by out-of-control robots, people who are desperate and angry and would do anything to survive (or die trying). But in On the Beach the characters know they cannot survive, accept this inevitability, and deal with it at a personal level. There are no major upheavals or the sort of things we find in most modern thrillers and novels. Of course, it is possible that some younger readers may enjoy the change of style and pace, though, just for variety.

Me, I re-read it again recently and found that I still like the book. It still gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling. It still makes me ponder. I guess I’m partly old-fashioned; though I love modern thrillers, too–I enjoy a spread with variety when it comes to reading. It gets somewhat monotonous to see the same sort of overactive characters novel after novel, all cued to action and rage and doing things even when action cannot help, those fight scenes, escape scenes, guns, torture, extreme injuries. I find it refreshing to read a book without villains and evil characters one is supposed to hate. I like to see a book that approaches the inevitable aftermath in a different way, where where people accept (at least at some level) the end is coming and value the time left.

Anyway, so I discovered some days back that the book is also available as an ebook from Amazon (and no, you do *not* need a Kindle to read a Kindle ebook; you can read it on your laptop or Android device, too). Below are some links in case this was an old favourite of yours and you want to read it again, or if you have never read it and are wondering whether to try it out.

From gobbling paper books to byting ebooks

I’ve always loved books. Always read a lot through libraries, and bought a lot of books. As my father was often transferred, this sometimes ended up in a race where I would buy books and my mother would persuade me to give them away, and many of my favorite purchases (huge piles of comics, lots of other stuff including Agatha Christies, Perry Mason and Chase) would vanish between the times I would go to hostel and return for vacations at a new location where my father had next got transferred. Later, when I moved away from parental packing and disposal techniques, my collection became unwieldy enough for me to offer books free to friends and neighbors. But the overall trend has always been upwards.

Last year, I moved house. As I dusted and packed shelf after shelf of books, and later dusted and unpacked them, I had to admit to myself that I was rather over-dosed with books, split equally between fiction and non-fiction.

There are science fiction books, fantasy books, children/ YA books, historical romance, mystery, literary books, bestsellers, classics, anthologies, you name it. There are Hindi books and English books, and even a few in other languages I am trying to learn. There’s poetry. There are books on science, math, religion, philosophy, neurology, ageing, dementia, business and strategy,health, exercise, self-improvement, writing craft. References, too, dictionaries, thesaurus, reverse dictionary, grammar books. And more, but you get the point. It is said that there is no such thing as too many books, and I’ve always thought so too, but I had to admit (duster in hand) that though I was unwilling to part with my collection, I possessed many books I would not have bought had I known the quality and content of the book in advance. I also had to admit that I was unlikely to read or refer to most of my books in future–partly because I lacked the time and energy and partly because I thirsted for fresh books. I even discovered scores of books which I had not read (a plus point of relocation 🙂

(Here, BTW, is a collage of some of the book shelves I populated)

my book collection

I’ve also found myself often at a loss for which books to carry along when I travel–I want to carry a whole bunch, but that’s not feasible, and looks a bit…greedy.

So around 8 months ago I decided to try out a few changes in my reading and acquisition approach (1) use libraries to read books and buy only books I felt I wanted to read again or that I felt I needed as reference (2) when buying a book, buy the ebook version (3) if a book was not available as an ebook, think and think again before buying the paper version.

I’ve stuck to that for most of the last 8-9 months. I’ve bought only around a dozen paper books, and the rest of my purchases have been e-books. I’ve done a lot of my reading by using libraries instead, or online stories/ articles. I’ve found that using libraries allows me to be more adventerous–I am less hesitant to try out a new author or read an introductory book on a new non-fiction topic. For many months now, I have used a Kindle, and also used my “Kindle for PC” app for a significant of my reading.

kindle readerI must admit that, though my actions probably bode well for trees, for my wallet, and also my back (which protested all that dusting and lifting), I miss paper books–the smell, the feel, the weight, the physical satisfaction of turning pages–and as I don’t want to buy more paper books, I find myself standing in front of my bookshelves and easing out an old favorite to savor. It’s fun in a way, like meeting old friends and finding I still love them.