Two Guns

So it was a movie weekend. Saturday I watched The Lunchbox and have already drooled over the film in my earlier post.

Sunday I watched a very different genre. Two guns starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg.

Typically with these two in a movie, one would expect the movie to be intense and serious but Two Guns kicked ass!

From the opening sequence in the diner across the bank to the end outside the ranch gate… it was a riot – of ROFL kinda one liners, of action and an absolute crackling chemistry in the interaction between the two. The wise cracks are so natural… almost like something you would share with a pal.

I think the story or what the plot was took a back seat to the two actors. Mark Wahlberg is always seen in characters that are serious and talk very little but in this movie.. he is one smart mouth and the wink.. totally out there!

Denzel Washington, the last movie of his that I saw was Flight and out here.. his deadpan expression while he says his one liners – specially when he has gun pointed at his crotch says something to the effect that the money surely wont be found there.. hilarious!

Even Bill Paxton is in his elements as the rogue CIA agent.

All in all.. was one fun experience.. laugh riot.

Four stars!


The Lunch Box

So this review will get lost in 100 of other reviews that this movie will be getting. Accolades and praises for this awesome 109 minutes of cinematic brilliance.

And of course now controversy too since the movie is not official entry for the Oscars.

Irrespective of all that, those who have not watched the movie… please do. Sheer food for the soul.

I am not going to give the story away except for reference to the ending (or no ending).

What is amazing is the premise. The Mumbai dabbawalas are known for their efficiency and error free delivery mechanism. Wikipedia states one wrong delivery in 6-8 million deliveries. And the premise built on that one wrong delivery which leads to a feast for emotions.

Now I am not the kind to go overboard for romantic movies. Give me action any day but this movie is stunning. Romance apart, which will leave an ache. Its the characters that make for the brilliance. Irrfan Khan… by the time he is done with Bollywood, he would have set benchmarks in acting that very few would be able to achieve. Here is a man who doesn’t have to say a word and yet says everything. Nawazuddin is in the same mode and the interaction between the two… it’s like you are watching two colleagues talk in front of you and not on a large screen.

Nimmat Kaur has done a fabulous job.. handling the myriad of emotions that go through a person when faced with something like what she does in the movie.

The climax when it happens. Actually it doesn’t. The titles just start rolling and the lights come on. I noticed that most people in the theater were still glued to their seats. Waiting for more. Waiting for a closure. Because convention says that each story must have an ending. Happy or otherwise… it needs a closure and this movie has no closure.

And that makes us human beings uncomfortable. All our lives we seek closure on everything. Everything that has a beginning, must at the end be neatly tied up and resolved. Very few of us go through life not seeking a closure. And the point is.. why seek a closure? Why does it satisfy us? Wont the life be lot more interesting if one did not have a closure? It would be a continuous streaming of experiences – multiple experiences that are happening at the same time and we are not boxing them into different compartments as done and dusted. Think about it.. lead a life without seeking closure or a finality or where it must end. Why should there be an end… You should not at the beginning of an experience define how you want the end to be… that is killing the experience even before it starts…

Am digressing though.. the point of this post was to talk about a brilliant movie and exhorting everyone to watch it..


Cinema is a hit

I don’t know how many of you have noticed… but most movies that get released are doing reasonably well. Some, of course are huge like Chennai Express (and those who haven’t watched, must see the movie… its worth one look). I don’t think producers are really complaining. All monies are probably getting recovered.

While the conclusion probably would be that the movies are getting promoted better and that the studios have become marketing savvy. I think the reason for success lies somewhere else.

Cut to the 70’s and 80’s… cinema was an escape. Unlike the world today, there was nothing to do other than going out for the movies. Also the bigger factor… as a country we were stuck in a time warp and our lives were mundane and inactive. We had dreams but given the economic inequalities we were unable to fulfill the dreams. The whole socialism angle of Congress meant that we had to make do with what we had.. Cinema became an escape from the depressing world around us… the Impala Cars… shots of stars getting off the aircraft and walking to the terminal… and Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan) brought the angst alive with his portrayals… Movies ran for weeks and weeks.. silver jubilee, golden jubilee… people watched one movie more than once. I remember watching Sholay 5 times!

Cut back to the present – the world has changed. There is lot more to do and avenues of watching a movie are more than one – theater, TV, download, youtube… And it is not just the movie… there is actually lot more one can do with his or her life. We should be happy (or are happy as the last happiness index had suggested). But last one year… things haven’t been good.. have they? The optimism.. happiness… it is all on the surface. There is fear, apprehension and despondency bubbling under the surface. And economical events of past month or so have increased it further.

And that perhaps is the reason why movies are back in fashion over the last one year or maybe a little longer. We are looking for that two hour escape.

Dabang rocks because hell! we don’t mind a cop being on the take as long as he protects the common man (job he is supposed to do). so does Ek Tha Tiger… we all want to be heroes saving our country from all the shit and of course the romance… Even The Avengers was a big grosser here because this country surely needs heroes.

Think about it… in a month when the country has been going through hell… Chennai Express has done over 200 crores (will probably discount the 300 figure). Not very hilarious.. but we laughed in that dark theater for those two hours and forgot about the rising fuel prices, rising prices, corrupt government losing case files, about balancing our budget while the government pushed through its plan which supposedly will help it win election..

So here we are… in our heads we are back in the 70’s & 80’s while the economy is as bankrupt as it was in 1991…


Ek Tha Tiger


Ek Tha Tiger
Ek Tha Tiger (Photo credit: Anil Wadghule)


Many would laugh that I actually saw the movie and on top of that writing a review!


The movie is quite awesome! Remove the romantic interludes and the movie is up there as far as action genre goes. Fabulously choreographed action pieces. The opening sequence sets the tone for Ek Tha Tiger. The pace, the background score.. amazing for an Indian movie.


Then the sequence in Cuba where Salman Khan & Katrina Kaif are walking peacefully and burst into action when her purse gets snatched. The chase sequence… wonderfully done.


Leave aside the fact that it is unbelievable for RAW to be shown the way it is (James Bond also doesn’t happen in real life), the production values in Indian Cinema are surely improving. Whether it is this movie or Don 2 or… excellent production.


So leave aside your snobbish values which make you stay away from Salman Khan movies and check it out. Like I said earlier, awesome movie.




Margin Call – A must watch movie

Over the weekend I watched this movie and I highly recommend it to everyone. In India, it will probably never get released because it is not a huge Hollywood spectacle. So download… get your friend to send across a DVD or whatever… but watch it…

It is about greed… greed that made the world economy collapse. Kind of gives the impression what must have happened the day before financial institutions told the world that they have gone bankrupt. And how the financial institutions were probably the only one who made money while they let the man on the street lose everything he had…

Occupy Wall Street activists should put up huge screens and show this movie to all the suits who walk past them everyday to their office to make money and kill aspirations of the masses….

Link to the trailer Rocks!

So I think I am in a minority which believes that the movie was awesome. There are some who said *faints*… there are some who said “I don’t know you anymore”… but I don’t think I am going to bother about these comments.

Shahrukh Khan has taken the production values of Bollywood to a completely different level. He has given us a visual treat in hindi cinema that matches up to the big budget Hollywood productions at 1/3rd the investment.

I completely fail to understand people who went looking for a ‘story’ in the movie. They are the people who pan and yet gush over the other superhero movies dished out by Hollywood. Every single Spiderman movie sucked and Superman movies too… Those who say that there was too much of emotional shit in didn’t bat an eyelid at the maudlin content of Spiderman or even Batman. Of course Batman is completely different after Christopher Nolan took over and Heath Ledger turned being evil into an art form.

Even Avatar which had people talking about it.. had no story.. or if there was one, I missed it because I got bored and left half way. Movies like are not about story… they are about making the two hours in the dark auditorium a spectacle unfolding on the large screen. And does that.

I have read reviews about people saying how SRK has not been able to beat Salman Khan‘s Bodyguard and other Salman movies…. I think they are talking up a whole lot of crap. Salman Khan movies are made for the lowest common denominator (and I got nothing against that) but is a different genre (and no I will not compare it with Robot either.. which was liked only by the Rajnikanth fanatics)…

I thoroughly enjoyed… so did my son.. and my daughter…. Sure he has borrowed from various Hollywood movies… so what… if there is technology available and it can be used… why not.. why not use it to create your own visual treat… why intellectualize the crap out of reviews.

People like Rajiv Masand need to chill and not sound profound. Most reviewers I think anyways get paid to write good reviews and often have their own ax to grind against certain actors…

Take my word (someone who is not exactly enthralled by Bollywood productions)… go watch the movie. Don’t go looking for intense meaning… don’t go looking for acting… go.. just to watch a great superhero movie.. And if you really want to look for meaning…. check out the relationship between the kid and SRK… it is a treat…

And the No. 1 – Inception – Plant an idea

So this post is number 1 not because it is the most read post on my blog. It is not number 1 because if you were to type “Inception Plant an idea” on Google search and it is the right on top. It is because I believe that I am the only one from the marketing and communication fraternity who has made the connection between the movie and The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard. And I am sure all of us would have read the book and during our process of creating communication, we do look for those ideas which go in deep into the consumer’s mind and captivate them.. without numbing them with a very high reach and frequency.

This post being no 1 is also a tribute to Mr Nolan’s movie. The fact that my post was read so many times shows how the movie has grabbed the attention of many.


So I will not talk much about the movie. Those who have seen Inception would know that the movie cannot be captured in words… it needs to be felt and needs to be internalized. Those who have not see it yet…  you know what to do.

With every movie that Christopher Nolan makes, he will be raising the bar and in times to come would be known as probably the best director Hollywood ever had. Mr Nolan take a bow. I hope you sweep away all the possible Oscars. Absolutely loved The Dark Knight and have to lay my hands on Prestige and Memento.

But this blog is not about Inception the movie or Christopher Nolan.

This blog is about planting an idea in our brains as consumers.

In 1957, Mr Vance Packard wrote a seminal book “The Hidden Persuaders”. To quote Wikipedia –  Packard explores the use of consumer motivational research and other psychological techniques, including depth psychology and subliminal tactics, by advertisers to manipulate expectations and induce desire for products. It also explores the manipulative techniques of promoting politicians to the electorate. The book questions the morality of using these techniques.

Sounds familiar? It probably is the foundation of Inception. Of course Inception is about dreams but Mr Packard talked about planting ideas deep in the sub conscious of people who are wide awake.

Look around and you would realize that every piece of advertising is attempting to do that. Of course nowadays the subtlety is out of the window. Backed by huge media spends, the brands want to drum an idea into our heads. Case in point is the new Saif Ali Khan commercial for Airtel Digital TV. The day it was launched and couple of days after that… I must have seen that commercial at least 50 times in couple of days. It got to a point where I felt like throwing up everytime the commercial came on air. Media Planners wake up!

Anyways, the point is that what we buy today… what we consume and what we recommend, very little is actually what we believe ourselves. Everything is what the brand has taught us to say. Quick.. tell me why do you use Colgate… or Pepsodent or Close Up?? Or to move away from mundane… why Gucci, Prada, Tommy Hilfiger? Why an iPhone, iPad, Nokia… Why facebook? Why wordpress?

There are many people who would sit up and say “but Samir it is about the experienential aspect of the brand!” Right! Did you ever stop to think that the experience that you seeked and the experience that the brand fulfilled… were driven by the brand!

Politicians do it all the time. Media does it all the time. Read this morning that there are 89,000 vacancies to be filled up in Indian Railways. Media prompted by politicians is highlighting this fact as if it is Mamta Banerjee’s fault that the vacancies are not filled up. 89,000 vacancies!!! Surely there were other Ministers before her who could have ensured that they were filled up. Now I am no fan of Mamta Banerjee but give me a break!

Wonder how many of you would have seen this movie “New Delhi Times” starring Shashi Kapoor as the editor of the newspaper and how he gets manipulated by Manohar Singh as the politician. Same premise… the world would believe when they read it in newspaper (why also all the B2B businesses believe that PR is the way to go for building a brand).

In Swordfish – John Travolta tells Hugh Jackman that we believe what our eyes see and then towards the climax of the movie, he manipulates what Hugh Jackman sees. That’s another must watch movie by the way.

Brands over a period of time have learnt the art of manipulating us by constantly working on our herd mentality. I have always wondered about what is the difference in the detergent for top loading washing machine vs front loading!! But everytime I faithfully buy top loading detergent because I have a top loading washing machine. Now when I am writing this blog.. I am ready to burst out with laughter for getting conned like this.

Then of course there are subliminal ways to entice. Wonder how many of you would have noticed that when you walk into a movie hall… its only when there is a fair crowd waiting, the pop corn machine is started and the fragrance of pop corn permeates through the lobby and attacks our senses. And the urge to buy pop corn grows.

53 years down the line (after The Hidden Persuaders) Mr Nolan has again planted an idea in our brain and I am just wondering how many marketeers are thinking of ways to make the brand stronger by using such techniques. Fret not.. you would have read the book in college and thrown it away. If you still got it in your collection, dust the cover and start reading it again. Or go buy it.

As for me… It is Inception time again… have to watch it few times more….