Friday, July 20, 2007

The countdown...!!!

In exactly nine hours from now, I shall be extremely busy. Busy reading the long-awaited last installment of the Harry Potter books.

I started reading these books when I was in Class X. The first four books had come out, my brother and father had been borrowing them from friends and were obsessed with them, and I was exasperated at the amount of time they spent discussing someone called "You-know-who", a term they used mainly to irritate me, I might add. That year, we gifted my brother all the four books for his birthday, soon after which my half-yearly exams got over and I vowed not to study for the next one week. Having nothing else to do, I started reading the books. And I was hooked.

In the seven years since, my kid brother has "completely outgrown" the books, as he puts it, but I've remained an ardent fan. For the first time ever, I have not read any spoilers (and those who know me will know what an achievement that is for me), I have stayed away from all potentially spoiling places, and like with the last book, tomorrow, starting 9 A.M. IST, I shall be reading the book non-stop till I finish it thank you very much.

As is usual with Harry Potter, the advent of the release has caused every freaking newspaper and news channel to go into a spin. One enterprising channel, Headlines Today, decided to have a different take on the hype: it decided to interview all those people who hate Potter on what they have to say about the books.

You know, something I really don't get is how people can pass judgment on things they've never been exposed to (OK, smoking doesn't count; that's just dumb). I mean, I can't stand SRK. I think the man just can't act. However, I have every right to pass such a statement, because I have sat through plenty of movies starring him, and have formed this opinion
based on those movies. And that is something I am entitled to.

But when you freely admit you've never read the Harry Potter books, don't make an ass of yourself on national television comparing the Harry Potter books to Cinderella "where someone comes and waves a magic wand and everything will be fine". That's just embarrassing yourself. Or, for that matter, say that you would rather see a Govinda movie than the HP movies because when you go for a movie, you want "entertainment". What're the HP movies doing? Lecturing you on global warming?

Yes, the books' success has a lot to do with hype and sheer marketing genius. Yes, there are a lot of kids out there who pretend to read these books or maybe do read these books simply because their friends do - I know one such kid personally. But you can
not deny the fact that there are also a lot of people out there (of all ages I might add) who adore these books and will continue to do so for quite some time to come.

If you've read the books and haven't liked them, fine, that's your right. If you've chosen not to read the books because you think you won't enjoy such a genre, again, that's your right. But don't pass judgment on something you know nothing about while pretending to sound like an expert. Because all you do is sound like an idiot.

PS: Ten points to whoever figures out why the colour of this post is what it is.

Monday, July 16, 2007

I say...

65%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

I would've thought it would be more you know. Ah well!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: A review!

The thing about the Harry Potter movies is that I tend to go in for them with zero expectations. Yes, I look forward to them like crazy and whine till I am actually taken to see them, but when you're a hardcore fan of the books, you know the movie is bound to be something of a disappointment. The lines and scenes are never quite played out just how you had seen them in your head, your favourite parts are invariably cut out, and Michael Gambon is just one huge casting mistake as Albus Dumbledore.

I wasn't particularly impressed with the first two movies; the third, widely declared as the best of the first four, was reasonably good. I went for the fourth one expecting it to be really bad. However, the graveyard scene was done much better than I expected, Ralph Fiennes was just perfect as Voldemort, and my friend and I thoroughly embarassed my brother with our hooting with excitement and clapping loudly. Verdict: I loved the movie.

With Movie 5 releasing on July 13 (yes, I know, July 11 in the RotW, but what can I say? this is India.) and Book 7 releasing on July 21, you can imagine what kind of palpitations I've been having for the last month or so. Then came the news that we're travelling the weekend of the movie release (said travels should really get an entry all to themselves; it's been quite a fascinating trip). Adding insult to injury were loving friends all round to like to gloat when they get to see a movie I'm dying to see long before me. Luckily, Indore's a very cool place with an extremely cool PVR (which I might add, was the only hall in town showing the English version of the movie; everywhere else is showing the dubbed Hindi version).

So anyway, the movie: Extremely cool, edited just right to make the longest book in the series fit into just under 3 hours (a few personal favourite scenes missing notwithstanding), not enough of Michael Gambon shown to make him as annoying as usual, and the Ministry of Magic scene was dealt with pretty darn coolly. Yes, Cho Chang was annoying (but then I never liked her anyway), I don't get why Harry's Patronus wasn't shown to be a stag, they really should have shown more of Lupin and the Weasley twins (aren't they just brilliant? :D), and I was quite surprised they cut the scene with Ginny telling Harry how it feels like to be possessed by Voldemort. But those are minor details.

I thought the acting was quite decent, particularly Dan Radcliffe in the scene where Voldemort possessed him. Emma Watson is beginning to annoy me (Hermione does not pout so much), but the rest of the cast seems just right for their roles. Bellatrix Lestrange was scarily good, although Tonks looked a bit too scary if you ask me. Now Luna Lovegood didn't make much of an impact on me the first time I read Order of the Phoenix; she's one of those characters who really grows on you. But I have to say this: J K Rowling was right, Evanna Lynch is just perfect for the role!

All in all, I loved the movie. When you go in for a movie with zero expectations, the only two ways to go are be proven right or be pleasantly surprised; thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised. Now the 21st needs to get here faster. I can't wait much longer!

Friday, July 06, 2007

At last... entry of decent length.

If you've taken a look at my profile, you'll have noticed in the Favourite Books section, there's a book called The Tenant of Wildfell hall mentioned. This book isn't a particularly magnificent book, but I do like this book.

When I was 16, I went through a phase where I read all those books I could lay my hands on which traditionally proclaimed as "classics". I would also like to point out at this time that this was probably the last time I ever read anything which could not be described as tripe, Harry Potter notwithstanding.

But I digress. So the books I devoured during this period particularly included almost every book by Jane Austen and L M Alcott. I also tried extremely hard to give the Bronte sisters a chance. I read Jane Eyre and found it utterly ridiculous. I also tried really really hard to read Wuthering Heights, especially since I had been hearing since God knows when what a simply brilliant romance this was and how Heathcliff was one of the greatest romantic heroes of all times. Hogwash I say. He was an idiot who didn't get what he wanted the way he wanted so decided to ruin not just his own life but the life of every other fool who had the misfortune who cross his path. And the other characters in the book were no better. I tried really really hard to get through this book, and managed it till the last chapter, when I finally gave up and saw the ending of the movie on Star Movies which happened to be showing it that day. The movie seemed equally ridiculous to me.

I never can remember which Bronte sister wrote which book, barring one. And that is The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Bronte. I admire this book simply because I think that for its time, this book was extremely brave. To talk about a woman who went against her family and married the man she loved, realized that she had made a mistake, tried hard to save her marriage, and then decided to leave her husband when she realized that her immoral husband was even trying to corrupt her young son must have shocked many people when it was first published in 1848.

Since time immemorial women have been putting up with bad marriages because they have no place to go, or their family wouldn't accept their decision, or because they think it's best for their children for the parents to stay together. (Personally, I've always felt that it could sometimes be worse for a child to have his/her parents separated or divorced rather than be exposed to that kind of constant animosity between them.) Even today, you hear of women putting up with their abusive or unfaithful husbands simply because "log kya kahenge?"

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was an honest and brave book, in my extremely humble opinion. The protagonist, Helen Huntingdon was a very real person, one who made a mistake, owned up to it, and tried to put her life back together after things went wrong. Every character in that book was someone you could probably recognize in members of society even today.

Unfortunately, for that time, it was probably a bit too radical. Not surprising then, that Anne Bronte was the least popular author of the Bronte sisters. A little research tells me even Charlotte Bronte criticized Anne's choice of subject for her novel. Well of course she would, since psychotic fools were the kind of men she liked having as the heroes of her novel.

Incidentally, in case any hardcore fans of the other Bronte sisters ever come across this piece and faint with horror at the way I've referred to their novels, I have two things to say. One, I was 16 when I read them. Two, I hated Gone with the Wind too. There's more sacrilege for you. Hah.

PS: Ooh it's 7/7/7 today! :)