Movies Movies Movies

I had the opportunity to watch several movies from late 2008 to mid-2009 when I took a break from the routine 9-5 work life.  This was the best decision of my life!

I'm posting a brief review on each of the English, Hindi, Marathi and other foreign language movies that I liked at least to some degree.

Perhaps you will find this list useful if you need a movie suggestion for a Friday night.

Feel free to comment about your favourite movies or if you have any good recommendations for me.

English Movies

21 (2008)
- This movie will make you believe you too can cheat/out-smart the casinos of Las Vegas! Based on a true story, it's amazing how a few mathematical geniuses figure out a way to beat the odds with the help of small hand-made computers.

Beyond Rangoon (1995)
- A film on an American lady who gets caught in Burma's political turmoil in the late 1980s. This movie plain and simply inspired me to visit Burma as it quite nicely captures the natural beauty of this country and it's simple people.

Black Hawk Down (2001)
- I watched this one for the action and Africa setting. I found it hard to sympathize with the Americans who get involved in something that's not their business and kill thousands of Somalis in the process.

Body of Lies (2008)
- This movie is on terrorism and the Middle East. After Blood Diamond, I've started to like Leonardo DiCaprio who plays an American spy in Jordon. Other than one scene that is quite Hollywood-ish, the rest of the movie is very realistic and interesting.

Bucket List, The (2007)
- This is a movie with a message: life's too short; don't wait until retirement to do what you really want to do.

Chronicles of Narnia, The - The lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
- This is a children's fantasy movie, but an entertaining watch even for adults.

Collateral (2004)
- This is an engaging movie on a contract killer (Tom Cruise). Quite interesting!

Death Sentence (2007)
- The film is a good example of how one event can change your entire life. This is not the best movie for a family audience given how much gang violence is shown. No typical Hollywood ending here.

Die Hard (1988)
- If you like action movies, then you'll like this one. Classic Bruce Willis stuff.

Die Hard 2 (1990)
- See above.

Gods Must Be Crazy, The (1980)
- A very funny movie about the events that occur after a bottle of coke is dropped from a small plane flying over the Kalahari Desert.  The bottle is found by some primitive tribal people who believe it was an act of God.

Heat (1995)
- The movie is fairly long; however, it's a good watch if you have the patience. It’s a classic crime drama starring Al Pacino (cop) and Robert Di Niro (bad guy) who are playing a cat and mouse game - who gets who in the end?

Hotel Rwanda (2004)
- This movie didn't live up to my expectation. It's based on the genocide that happened in Rwanda; however, not much is shown of that. I watched it for the Africa-setting, which I liked.

Illusionist, The (2006)
- A nice magical thriller movie.

Into the Wild (2007)
- This is an excellent adventure movie, based on a true story, on the life of a bright and young student who gives up all of his material belongings and hitchhikes to Alaska.  Don't expect an Indiana Jones type of adventure movie.  This is a thought-provoking art film.

Italian Job, The (2003)
- It's not as good as I expected, however, you can't go wrong with a heist movie!

Killing Fields, The (1984)
- A film on Cambodia's Khmer Rouge that killed roughly 20% of the population in the 1970s. America’s role in the genocide is quite interesting.  This is not a documentary and it is quite interesting to watch.

Last King of Scotland, The (2006)
- This movie is based on the life of the corrupt and childishly evil Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin. The movie follows a young Scottish doctor who becomes the personal physician of the dictator. This is one of the best movies on Africa.

Lord of War (2005)
- This movie gives a good insight into the life of an international arms dealer supplying weapons to foreign governments and African war lords. My favourite dialogue goes something like this - "the President of the United States is the biggest gun-runner in the world." So true. I especially loved the anti-Hollywood ending. Watch this to see Nicholas Cage at his best.

Orphan (2009)
- This is a fairly violent horror movie with a twisted ending, and some may find the plot quite disturbing.

Papillon (1973)
- This is a classic prison escape movie. I can’t believe I hadn’t watched this movie until now!

Prestige, The (2006)
- Like The Illusionist, this is another nice magical thriller movie.

Rescue Dawn (2006)
- This movie is based on an American prisoner-of-war whose plane gets shot down in Laos during the Vietnam War. The jungle setting is quite nice. Thanks to America, Laos is the most bombed country in the world (to this date) even though war was never officially declared on the country.

Se7en (1995)
- I thought the movie concept was interesting. The movie is about a serial killer whose killings are motivated by the Seven Deadly Sins. It’s quite interesting and good acting by Brad Pitt.

Shoot to Kill (1988)
- A good Sidney Poitier movie on survival in the wild.

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
- A well-made British movie on the life of a Mumbai slum dweller. This is not an Indian movie. I don't understand why Indians celebrated the Best Movie Oscar award for this movie that highlights the worst in India, as their win? There were many better Hindi movies on the same subject that should've won Oscars in the past. However, those weren't directed by an Englishman. Now, how about a movie on skinheads in England, Mr. Boyle? I think the Oscars are over-rated anyway and never watch the show.

Sorcerer (1977)
- I discovered a hidden gem when I saw this movie. The second half of the movie is an edge-of-your-seat thriller set in the jungles of Latin America. There are really no good guys in this movie. The title is quite misleading and does not give away anything about the movie.

Taken (2008)
- A story of how a retired CIA father goes to any length to save his kidnapped daughter.  It's somewhat unrealistic, but fun to watch nonetheless.

Three Kings (1999)
- Good action movie set in the Middle East. It's about some US soldiers trying to steal gold that was stolen from Kuwait.

Hindi Movies

3 Deewarein (2003)
- A good prison movie with a twist.

99 (2009)
- A funny and well-made movie on the Cricket match-fixing scandal that hit India in the late 1990s.  I watched it twice and enjoyed it both times.

1971 (2007)
- This is an excellent and realistic movie on the Indian Prisoner's of War (PoW) rotting in Pakistani jails since the 1971 war. The movie is a good example of what happens when the publicity department fails to do its job; most people haven't even heard of this gem of a movie.

A Wednesday (2008)
- The only thing I will say about this excellent movie is that I wish something like this would happen one day...

Aamir (2008)
- This is a story of how an innocent Muslim man is used by Islamic terrorists to do their dirty work. It’s quite interesting and it’s a unique movie coming out of India.

Baazi (1995)
- I watched this in a theatre in Rangoon.  The movie starring Aamir Khan and Mamta Kulkarni is not particularly good - if there was ever a "typical" Bollywood movie, it is this, it is this.  However, I've included it in this list for the fond memories of my Burmese Days it brings out.

Barah Aana (2009)
- A very simple story line and excellent acting. It's about a trio of poor guys who stumble into crime and realize that it's not such a bad business.

Burning Train, The (1980)
- I loved it the first time I saw this and loved it the second time too. The movie title is quite self explanatory.

Chandni Bar (2001)
- This movie quite realistically follows the life of an innocent village girl who becomes a "bar girl" in Mumbai due to some sad turn of events.  This is an excellent and thought-provoking movie by Madhur Bhandarkar.

Dasvidaniya (2008)
- This is the Hindi version of the Hollywood movie, The Bucket List. It's a movie with a very simple message (i.e. do what is really important to you, lest it is too late).

Fashion (2008)
- I was dying to watch this movie after my Kanchendzonga trek and ended up watching the 9:00 AM show in a Pune multiplex by myself - and enjoyed every minute of it.  The soundtrack is especially good.  "Tere ishq mein mar jawaan..."

Gangajal (2003)
- This is about the life of a good cop (Ajay Devgan) who gets transferred to the badlands of Bihar.

Ghajani (2008)
- I watched this movie three times; twice in the theater and once in a bus from Nagpur to Aurangabad.  It's a dark movie based on the Hollywood flick Memento.  Since I've seen both, I wouldn't say it's a copy of the Hollywood movie - the Hindi version is much more coherent and easier to follow for the average viewer.  The soundtrack is also excellent; "Hai guzarish" and "Kaise mujhe tum mil gayee" are two of the more popular songs from the film.

Gheharai (1980)
- This is not your typical Bollywood horror movie. It's actually quite scary with absolutely no gore. I liked it a lot!

Katha (1983)
- In the mood for a light-hearted comedy? Then this movie is for you. I think this is a hundred times better than today's mindless and vulgar "comedies" that don't even make you laugh.

Life ... in a Metro (2007)
- An excellent movie on the complicated modern lives of several people living in a large metropolitan city. It seems everyone in this movie is having an extra-marital affair. This is an all-in-all entertaining and thought-provoking film from start to finish. Great soundtrack, especially In Dino.

Luck by Chance (2009)
- A movie on how a struggling actor becomes a star. Good watch.  "Sapno se bhare naina, na neend hai na chaina..."

Maharathi (2008)
- A suspense thriller with some flaws, but an entertaining watch nonetheless. Decent acting by Neha Dhupia.

Manorama Six Feet Under (2007)
- This suspense thriller will keep you guessing; good acting by Abhay Deol.

Mukhviir (2008)
- An interesting movie on the life of a police informer. It's incredible what lengths they have to go just to "blend in".

Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978)
- Good Amitabh Bachchan movie and great soundtrack, especially "o saathi re... tere bina bhi kya jina..."

Page 3 (2003)
- Another realistic movie by Madhur Bhandarkar on the lives of the rich and famous in Bollywood. It can be quite disturbing to watch, but then again, the truth does hurt.

Pushpak (1988)
- There are absolutely no dialogues in this movie; however, the movie is quite funny and the story keeps the viewer engaged.  Good acting by Kamal Hassan, and the actress, Amala, is very beautiful.

Red Rose (1980)
- The storyline, which can be disturbing to some, is quite different than any other Hindi movie to date. This movie was way ahead of its time.  Warning to viewer: your image of Rajesh Khanna may be ruined forever after watching this film.

Risk (2007)
- A good movie on the underworld activity in Mumbai.  It's not as good as Vaastav, but still watchable.

Shaurya (2008)
- A story on a few "bad apples" in the Indian Army posted in dangerous Kashmir who shoot first and ask questions later. It's too easy to be critical when your life is not on the line. The ending is too politically correct and makes no sense.

Stoneman Murders, The (2009)
- A relatively unknown suspense thriller about a serial killer in Mumbai - apparently based on actual events. For a change, the movie is well-made from start-to-finish and doesn't fall apart at any point.

Summer 2007 (2008)
- The first half is pure Bollywood masala, and the second half is about loan sharks in small villages that prey on desperate and poor farmers. Good message in the end.

Welcome to Sajjanpur (2008)
- It's nice to see some unique ideas coming out of Bollywood; this is one of them. It's a good watch and it's something different than the usual.

Yeh Mera India (2009)
- One of the best and original movies to come out of India. Good message and excellent editing.  I've watched it twice without getting bored.  "Meri aankhon mein ansoo, tujhse hamdan kya kahoon kya hai?  Thair jaye toh angara hai, bahe jaye to dariya hai."

Marathi Movies

Adla Badli (2008)
- This is a comedy starring Ashok Saraf and Sachin movie. The duos teach a lesson to a couple of rich guys who often make bets with each other on other people’s expense.

Anaahat (2003)
- An interesting concept and good performance by Sonali Bendre.  It's a very short movie.

Chhadi Lage Chham Chham (2005)
- This movie shows how a good person at the top can bring about positive change in the entire system. The movie is about how a new principal turns a bad school into a good one.

De Dhakka (2008)
- This movie has just the right amount of comedy and drama. Good watch with some classic Makrand Anaspure lines. "ugdhya samor nagda gala ani raat bhar heuvani maila!"

Divasen Divas (2006)
- Good movie on the life of a young couple who go against their family and get married right after college.  The movie is on the financial struggles that follow.

Goshta Choti Dongraevadhi (2009)
- An excellent and highly-recommended movie depicting the life of draught-affected and debt-ridden farmers of Maharashtra, and how government corruption affects the people at the very bottom of the pyramid (farmers in this case). The movie also offers viewers a chance to see Makrand Anaspure in a non-comic role for a change.

Goshta Dhamal Namyachi (1984)
- A classic Ashok Saraf movie. Need I say more?

Maskari (1991)
- This is a comedy movie starring Laxmikant Berde, who often gets himself into trouble with his lies.

Mi Shivaji Raje Bhosale Boltoy (2009)
- The movie starts off good showing the poor plight of “helpless” Marathi manoos in Mumbai. Towards the end, the movie is more preaching than entertaining.

Sail (2006)
- I can't believe I watched this movie. One has to be in a certain state of mind to bear this one. The movie has nothing but 2 characters interacting with each other in their poorly-lit porch at night.  It's about politics and is quite good.

Sanai Choughade (2008)
- An interesting movie on the process of modern arranged marriages and the complications arising out of being truly honest and forthcoming in the process.

Topi Var Topi (1995)
- Classic Ashok Saraf and Laxmikant Berde comedy movie. Ashok Saraf takes up a life of crime and Laxmikant Berde goes one up on him and teaches him a lesson.

- This excellent movie is very entertaining and it has a good message. It's about superstition; the rural setting (Gadchiroli district) is pleasing to the eye.

Foreign-language Movies

Apocalypto (2006, Maya language)
- Set in the Mayan civilization, this is an edge-of-your-seat thriller. The entire movie is in the Maya language. In spite of that, I loved this movie. The foot chase scene after the first half of the movie is one of the best I've ever seen.

Motorcycle Diaries, The (2004, Spanish language)
- Follow Che Guevara as he undertakes an epic journey through South America with his buddy on a motorcycle in the early 1950s. The movie is thought-provoking and full of adventure. Che undertakes a journey that changes him ... and then he changes the world.

Also see: For Your Weekend Reading

Picture of the Week #13

Gateway to Heaven?  Jagged peaks in between Mt. Kulang (L) and Mt. Madangad (R) near Igatpuri in Maharashtra, India.

I almost lost my life on this 3-day trek after I pulled a stupid stunt after getting lost... Rule #1 in trekking - think before climbing up!  Ask yourself, can I climb back down the same route?  If the answer is no, then do not keep climbing.

Picture of the Week #12

The huge rocky terrain of Mt. Kulang, falling steeply to the Konkan presents a grand sight.  Oh, what an experience that was!  [Picture taken near Igatpuri in Maharashtra, India]

Picture of the Week #11

A typical petrol (gas) station in Burma.  Oil, petroleum and diesel are stored in alcohol bottles.

Picture of the Week #10

A typical village in Laos.