Sully Movie Review


One of the risk of making a movie where the central character is a regular guy turned hero, there is much scope for a flat caricature in pursuit of grandiose over his/her humaneness.  But one of the advantages of having Tom Hanks as your movie protagonist is, he has the capacity to turn a caricature into a human, with a history and a heart. I had this sense of balance in deciding to watch the movie, Sully.

Let me admit I have the greatest respect and awe for the entire aviation field. The fact that a machine weighing hundreds of tons can float in the air is in itself like magic to me. What? In the era of quantum Internet? But if you really consider the Internet, once the computer was invented the internet was the logical next step. It was invented in the late 1940s and military was using it in its rudimentary form during the war. It is really a big repository of files that we access through wires. But the fact that we can fly a machine so high up in the air, which is more than a mere slingshot throw mechanism is a wonder.  At least for me a person whose motor skills have to be defined as something -challenged it is a wonder that something can be flown so high up.


The movie talks about what happens to a man who assumes the responsibility, an unwritten pact that says, we will take you home alive and what happens when circumstances get in the way of executing this promise. Although the media and the people hailed the pilot, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who landed his plane in the Hudson river, as the hero, his personal experience was different.

Besides, the emotionally taxing investigation of the case, the movie portrays his own trauma of all the likely scenarios that could have occurred is beautifully portrayed and neatly paced. Tom Hanks’ performance of Sully brings all the dignity and endurance of the pilot, Sully himself. Watch it see how Hanks can turn a static scene into a bunch of nerves and the entire space is throbbing with this energy. I had watched Sully purely for the love of Tom Hanks but I am tempted to explore more of director, Clint Eastwood’s work.

RIP Aamir Malik from Khamosh Pani

aamir malik khamosh paani

No matter how much we think we have been surprised, the world never fails to surprise us more. So I learnt about this sad news that the talented actor Aamir Malik from the movie, Khamosh Pani, has passed away. The actor had been homeless for a long time and had been facing issues of drug addiction. This happened way back in January this year but was revealed only now. He passed away in his hometown Quetta in Pakistan.

Aamir Malik had received much acclaim for his role as Saleem, in Khamosh Pani, a movie which had  received several awards at the Locarno Film Festival including Best Film. The movie was directed by Sabiha Sumar who has directed many award winning documentaries on various issues.

He was clearly a talent that had gotten attention from some big names of the film fraternity. He was supposed to play the role of Bhagat Singh in the blockbuster Bollywood movie Rang De Basanti. But apparently Malik never showed up. The affable actor was of the opinion that Indian actors should become a part of Pakistani films. Incidentally, Kirron Kher and Shilpa Shukla were two Indian actors in a Pakistani film.

khamosh pani sabiha sumer review

This out of the box after a long time.


The movie Khamosh Pani was banned in Pakistan at least for some time as it was a story centered on the Partition of India and the regime of Zia Ul Haq.  Malik had played the role of a troubled teenager who is caught temporarily in a crisis of faith and lets his passion of youth override emotions. He abandons the gentle habit of playing the flute and joins a political group. Despite years of independence from colonisation, India and Pakistan have been unable to stop falling into the shackles of their own past and are constantly taken advantage of by politicians, making a farce out of democracy. Had this self reflecting, painful narrative created some sort of a trouble for the actor?

This is surprising for so many reasons. How is it possible for a popular actor to go missing in this age of continuous media attention? And what I know of Pakistani culture, which is so alike the Indian culture, is the stronghold of family on an individual, no matter how famous. Although the movie was shot way back in 2003, still it had given Malik international fame and popularity. And when even the most common amongst us have a tough time staying away from the number of electronic sources which keep us connected, how did Aamir escape everyone’s attention?

There is not much in the news about him except this report in the Pakistani newspaper Tribune. According to the report from this source his issues were going on for too long. His co-star from Khamosh Pani, Shilpa Shukla, who was Malik’s friend, said he had begun to avoid human company right after the success of the movie and seems like he was suffering from depression. He even refused help from those who wanted to admit him into a rehabilitation facility. It was said during last few months of his life, Malik would entertain common people on the streets of Karachi with verses from Shakespeare, Ghalib and many other poets while he himself surrendered to a life of anonymity.

Onibaba Movie Review


Two days ago, on April 22nd was Japanese director Kaneto Shindo’s birthday. The first movie I had seen of the director was The Children of Hiroshima, which is entirely different from Onibaba and is more direct and realistic about the sufferings at Nagasaki and Hiroshima perhaps because it was made in 1952 very close to the tragedy. Instead Onibaba although about modern events sits on the framework of the past.

 I had seen the movie, Onibaba, referenced here and there and was curious about it. Since horror is really not my genre I had been hesitant in the past (because I am a scarredy-cat that’s why, not because they are beyond my taste). So finally today I had the chance to watch the movie.  

Japan has an old and enduring culture of horror stories. When I first came across it I was not very keen to check it out. You see, my knowledge of horror stories comes from the recent set of horror movies that focus more on supernatural entities and gore.

zee fear files

And these laughable white lenses that the Zee team bought in bulk or received from the Ramsays.

While I enjoy a good story here and there, for the most part I stand at “from the time I discovered what monstrosities humans could commit, I stopped being scared of the monster under my bed.” But it is by sheer accident that I discovered the movie, Ugetsu, which has certainly piqued my interest in this genre. Onibaba is a film followed by that. Like Ugetsu, Onibaba is also a jidaigeki, meaning a period drama. While it is a period drama, this story is an analogy for the modern war, and especially the world wars which destroyed the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Onibaba, the movie is set in fourteenth century Kyoto, where wars between factions of samurais has led to a civil unrest. The story is centered on two peasant women who are pushed to manage on their own, as their son has left for a war. One of them is the older woman, and the other is her daughter-in-law. The film portrays their struggle for satisfying their most natural instincts. While hunger remains a constant struggle and no one hesitates to kill.

While hunger is not hardly met, sex becomes another struggle which for the younger woman is a matter of instinct, it is a matter of survival for the older woman. While there are few who could actively pursue the daughter during the wartime, the return of their dead son’s friend starts a challenge for the woman. She is forced to watch her daughter in law being drawn to the new man and fears that this would leave her alone.


onibaba japanese movie review


the character of Onibaba is drawn from old Japanese folklore, which means a “demon woman” or an evil hag. The story itself had emerged out of the Kyoto region. An Onibaba is a woman who feasts on the flesh of a young pregnant woman and is depicted as carrying a knife or spindle. There are many alternative stories. The Onibaba of the movie is inspired from a Buddhist fable. What I loved about Onibaba is how myth is easily woven into such a realistic story.

The wilderness

onibaba japanese movie review

The wilderness is a very potent symbol used throughout the movie. A wilderness is a sign that the soil is fertile, not barren, however it also depicts that no one can be bothered to look after it. It is also a projection of the people living in it. It is possible the older woman is not that old at all but looks older due to the extreme poverty. Her own loneliness she can share only with a tree that is standing barren in the wilderness.

The Mask

The mask of the devil is yet another symbol that in a single scene conveys the real villain of the story, that is those samurais. The samurai is supposed to be a gallant and royal person, but underneath the mask is a rotten person. This “losing face” by losing the mask we realise has happened to quite a few people in the story’s setting.

Although the element of magic and myth is present in the movie, it does not take away from its stark reality. The woman becoming an Onibaba is due to necessity more than anything evil inside her.

Like me, if you have hated the horror genre, you should definitely check out Onibaba, definitely a classic fare.

Mesmerised by Cruachan – The Fianna’s Rendition

 Hello all! Hope you have had a good start to the new year. A tad late, ain’t I? Sorry for the disappearance!

irish folk music

So the reason I could not sit without posting today is this song or this tune that seems to have drowned me. I am no music expert but music is so central to my life, and my choice of music largely depends on my mood.  I have found it hard to express anything about it and it remains a sensory experience that is very personal.  

So last time anything had me this spellbound is when I had a heard Rufus Wainwright’s Hallelujah! Or Beethoven’s Moonlight’s Sonata, again I don’t understand is but it was as if my flesh was infused with it!

So the original song is by Cruachan – The Fianna. Now they are Celtic Metal band, so it is not exactly my sound. But in this rendition here for Emirates Airlines Ireland promotion it just switches to an entirely new level. No seriously! But I think the Celtic comes across more beautifully and prominently in this one than the original.

So, is this beautiful or what? I think this appeals deep within to what they say is the collective conscious that flows through us all!

I can now see the Celtic connections in the melody connected with Paris. See like in this one… Needless to say, I am definitely going to explore more of the Irish folk music.

Has any song, sonata or any kind of music had this effect on you? What was it?

Fav Cartoon: High Note by Chuck Jones

It is rare to get an opportunity to get to talk about one’s favourite cartoon without sounding unusually nostalgic. So I couldn’t let go this opportunity to blog about it for the blogathon at moviemovieblogblog. Thanks for the opportunity!

Our love for emoticons, regardless of our age, is a sign that we find animated images very adorable. Okay I can’t say that about others but at least I know I do and include the gif trend as well. Of course this love has its roots in the Sunday morning cartoon of our childhood. Not that children don’t understand the laws of physics but what they don’t know is that they can’t be broken, so a world where animals speak, where one did not realise that they had walked off a cliff until they looked down, seems entirely possible! For one reason or the other I find these works of  imagination (and tenacity) always endearing.

1960 - High Note chuck jones

If I were to name my favourite cartoons the list would be long, and it includes a couple of mice, a couple of ducks and a dog — well two! But I know which ones were the most impressive. The one that tops the list is the animated short by Chuck Jones called High Note.

chuck jones animator high note

Jones is mostly known for the duels between two anthropomorphic beings that fight incompetently and without conclusion — say in Tom and Jerry or the Road Runner Show. Then there are those that won Jones’ his three Oscars. But a better representation of Chuck’s genius is High Note. It is cartoons like High Note that turned the entertainment of cartoons into an art form. Jones followed his act after another genius, Walt Disney. He was as industrious as Disney too. Did he feel the pressure to contribute to the legacy? If so it only triggered his genius. 

blue danube high note chuck jones

The film features the famous waltz The Blue Danube by the Austrian composer Johann Strauss. It is hard to say why Jones’ chose this particular waltz. There are three more compositions referenced in the cartoon,

How Dry I Am and Little Brown Jug are featured in visual as an album cover.

high note chuck jones missing

As the composer starts playing the song, he finds a sole note has gone missing. He finds the note drunk in the Little Brown Jug. What ensues is a struggle to capture the drunk high note and bring it back in the waltz. The form that the notations take seem like a creative burst of how perhaps artists visualise musical notes.   


High Note seems like a freewheeling exercise to understand the concept of a creative block.  The idea itself could have started in some stick figure doodling but how it progressed and the way it was utilised is the true beauty of this short film. 

Is it possible that what us mere mortals experience as earworm is experienced by artists too but instead of a song what their mind plays on loops is a note? The one I have heard is Robert Schumann hallucinating on an A in his final years.  Although I have no capacity for understanding how to even understand his trauma I can imagine this is how it could be visually represented. (Years after watching this short film in an episode of Seinfeld, George (Jason Alexander) gets a song from Les Miserables stuck in his head. And Jerry tells him that the composer Robert Schumann gets a note stuck in his head,) the reference reminded me of High Note.

The game of animation has changed since the arrival of CGIs. But it rarely reaches the height that the animation form in its early days achieved. Animation definitely is easier to create now and not there is lack of imagination as such either but I feel that these classics are definitely the golden days of the art form.

A Reflection on the movie Osama by Siddiq Barmak

Even before I start I can tell you I will ramble on and digress but that is the only way I can write about this movie…

Afghanistan has been in the news for a long time now, but not in the most flattering light. But every now and then a book or a movie pops out that shows a different side of this country.

afghan girl

The Afghan Girl, Sharbat Gula, it means essence of the gardens.

Most of us were introduced to Afghanistan by the writer, Khalid Hosseini. Who knew this strategically placed country had such a rich history? Probably my ignorance in not knowing this. Odd because India’s connection with Afghanistan goes back to antiquity. It even gets featured in India’s epic, Mahabharata.  So it is odd that this country feels so foreign to us.

However, we do share other ways of kinship, the Afghanis love Bollywood (oh and by the way at least two superstars of Bollywood, Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan, can trace their lineage back to the Pathans,) and we seem to enjoy whenever we spot a word that is common between Urdu and Pashto. (Urdu is a language that was formed in the Mughal capital of Delhi as a hybrid of Turkish, Persian and Hindi, and the languages of Afghanistan, Pashto and Dari, are a dialect of Persian.)

The Banjara tribes, mainly street vendors in big cities, are said to be Afghani in origin.

The Banjara tribes, mostly seen working as street vendors in big cities, are said to be Afghani in origin.

Coming back to Hosseini’s book, it got me hooked and I wanted to know more about the culture. And as the world’s attention and curiosity remained focussed on the region we realised there was more to discover.

And in 2003 came a movie called Osama and although the name Osama, was quite known it was not a very beloved name. So when a filmmaker decides to call his movie, Osama, it is hardly accidental. But as much as the name is internationally known, the emotions that the film explores are thoroughly for the sake of an internal dialogue.

osama main poster

Osama is a movie about the trials and tribulations of a girl who has to live as a boy to support her family during the reign of Taliban in Afghanistan.

This movie made by Afghani director, Siddik Barmak in 2003 was an act resilience in itself. While he was growing up Barmak lead a comfortable life. However, his interest in filmmaking soon got him in trouble in the conservative background of his country. He also joined the group to rebel against Soviet occupation öf their land. But as luck would have it he was offered a scholarship in filmmaking by the University of Moscow and he made the pragmatic choice to accept it. When he returned the enemies had changed they were now homebred. He returned in 2002 after the fall of Taliban. But still the situation remained unchanged and artistic freedom was far more than welcome. It was in such an atmosphere that Barmak decided to make his movie. While Barmak was persistent in getting the funds from international sources yet, to tell the story he wanted the actors to be from his country.

Siddiq Barmak's Osama wins Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes

Siddiq Barmak’s Osama wins Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes

We all know at least one person who has been through so much in life and they continue to go about their lives as if nothing had happened. We might feel like shaking them up and telling them how brave they have been and how much respect they deserve. Perhaps this is the feeling Barmak had when he made the movie. In an interview he said that the only way his people could see their struggles reflected is through an audio-visual medium because his people cannot read or write. And what a wonderful catharsis cinema can be! It is very clear that the movie is an attempt at introspection, an imploration, a dialogue within the community…

The girl who was chosen to play Osama was a girl, Marina Golbahari, Barmak found her begging outside a theatre (the theatre where he watched his first movie and worked as a projectionist). He was certain her own experience of being out there in those circumstances where women couldn’t get out of their houses alone with or without a veil and regardless of their age, would help her with the role. And it does!

Osama's pigtails planted in a pot

Osama’s pigtails planted in a pot

A girl barely out of her childhood and without any understanding of womenhood observes in silence the continued tug of war of gender around her. Ultimately circumstances force her to live as a boy. One would think that being dressed as a boy would liberate this girl at least in such a society. But she never for a moment assumes the role. She keeps her cut off pigtails planted in a pot it becomes a symbol of her womenhood growing despite all acts of camouflage.

What happens perhaps in utter adversity is that people become impervious as can be seen happening with her mother who has to let her daughter search ways to earn her livelihood. She also remains absent when her daughter is forced to take shelter in a religious school called a madrassa and the person whom she entrusted her daughter leaves the country. Osama’s fate runs through various ups and downs. There is a semblance of a friendship with a boy, Espandi, but even that doesn’t entirely grow into anything. We expect an act of rebel from her side but this unfolding should be watched to be fully appreciated.

osama poster

We talk about the East-West divide, yet the East is so fragmented and varied that there cannot be a single narrative that encompasses all. Of course the feelings of being trapped, shamed or abused are universal but the voices in which they will be told will be different. The voice of Osama is a pessimistic one. Despite all elements of life put together like friendship or mutual human compassion, there is a despair and this is reflected in its ending. Did Barmak try to put elements of positivity? Yes, but they are dispersed and shortlived in this gritty, realistic tale.