All posts by puruthepink

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Lessons MARVEL needs to learn

So I have seen all the films that Marvel produced under their ‘Avengers’ banner and- they were average. Last weekend I saw Avengers: Age of Ultron and it didn’t impress me much. Well the usual funny one-liners are there, so is an incredibly attractive cast but there is nothing new. Sure the weapons are more advanced, the explosions are bigger, the suits are better but there is nothing deep in it.

 

People have this conception that a superhero movie doesn’t need to be emotional- that exotic locations, endless action and an average plot are enough for making a superhero movie. And those people would be right. But think about a superhero movie that did have emotions- The Dark Knight series by Christopher Nolan.

Now compare it with every other superhero film you have seen. You get my point? So here are 10 lessons that I think Marvel should learn to make their film-making better:

  • Don’t kill a character that people don’t give a shit about:

Spoilers: So at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron one of the new Avengers is conveniently killed to fuel the other avengers. Just like how Agent Phil Coulson died to fuel the Avengers in the first film.

  • If you do kill a character, don’t fucking bring him back to life:

When you kill a character in The Vampire Diaries or Supernatural and they come back to life, it makes sense. These are shows that have plot-lines that are constantly teetering on the edge of life and death. Even in Sherlock,he actually FAKED his death so bringing him back made sense. Off course bringing back Moriarty has raised some questions in my head but we will have to wait for Season 4 to resolve them.

  • Don’t repeat things!

This goes with simple things like a 360 degree shot of Times Square that I see in every single superhero movies to the whole heroine gets kidnapped by the villian and so hero kills villians in order to save her. Here’s the thing- you are an enormously wealthy organization which has the resources and talent to actually take some risks! Then fucking take them! Don’ follow the same old rusted formula of making a blockbuster, make a genuinely good film for once.

  • Don’t put in female characters just to make dicks hard

Look at this:

Does she look mildly formidable? Does she look like she can take on the villian? Does she look like she can save the world?

Now THAT’S  a woman I don’t want to mess with!

 

 

  • Stop relying on just humour and action:

I know there are people out there who will pay $100 to watch a toothpaste if it is manufactured by Marvel. There are also people like me who enjoy being entertained by action and comedy but expect a bit more. Off course there should be emotions but can you at least give us something more than sarcastic, half-heartedly recited one-liners? Can you give us some clever actions and not just bang-bang-bang? For action inspiration watch any Jakie Chan movie made specifically in Hing  Kong. For comedy watch Inside Amy Schumer and not Seth McFarlane shows!

  • Stop proclaiming that your films are feminist.

Hey Marvel here’s the thing- you create shitty female characters, give them almost no depth, put them in skimpy clothing, give them the fight scenes that look like graceful dance moves and then you expect women to find it empowering. Well we will decide what we find empowering, individually. You do not have to tell us what we should/should not do collectively. That is the exact definition of a patriarchy.

You take conventionally attractive actresses, cast them as  conventionally attractive characters and then have the audacity to call yourselves ‘feminists’. Let them take on the big villian, even if they die doing it. Let them lead the group for once. Let them be the impulsive, reckless ones. Why does Black Widow have to be the emotional core of the group when Hawkeye gets the mind-blowing stunts. Why is Black Widow called a slut for having feelings for one Avenger, but Tony Stark is never held accountable for sleeping with everyone? Is it necessary for Agent Hill to bark orders in high heels?

Hey if you’re going to make a mainstream superhero flick with American Pie mentally and if the audience are willing to accept- making it the second highest grossing movie ever then it’s okay with me. But at least don’t  shamelessly call yourself ‘feminists’.

  • Give us female villians!

No I’m not talking about the conventional ones- the once that are attractive, intelligent, will-kill-you-in-your-sleep-after-sex villian. Give us a female villian with depth- someone who cries but also kills mercilessly, someone who is caring towards her children put slices people vertically, someone who is hungry for power but not for selfish reasons. Give her a tragic backstory, give her a developing arc, give her a reasonable motive, give us a villian with a philosophy and you will see the audience rooting for her instead of the good guys. For inspirations see Amy Dunne from Gone Girl

and Azula from Avataar: The Legend of Aang (that’s a fucking cartoon on Nickelodeon and it has better characters, plot-lines and action sequences than any of your superhero movies, shame on you Marvel)

Also look at how adorable Kristen Stewart looks as Loki! Awww!

Kristen is my girl! Ain’t nobody hatin’ on hurr!
  • Give us a Black Widow movie:

And please don’t treat her like a piece of shit!

  • You did a great job with Bruce Banner’s character arc, now do that with everybody.

Look Marvel here’s the thing- I ACTUALLY LIKE THE AVENGERS. I do! I think all of them are hilarious, and smart and full of potential. They’re endearing characters individually but when you put them together- only Iron Man seems to be in the lead. He’s not even the character with the most interesting story, that would be Captain America!

He’s also not the character with the best skills, that would be Hawkeye! He also doesn’t have the best body, that would be Thor! Then why is he EVERYWHERE? Bruce Banner went through incredible character development- please do that to everyone’s character.

  • Stop adding more people to your cast

Do you know why I gave up watching Game of Thrones after the third season? Because I couldn’t keep up with all the new faces on the show. The old characters that I had grown attached to receded to the background and these new character I knew nothing about took their empty space. Instead of bringing in more people why not explore more dimensions with the same old people? Huh?

Now that I’ve ranted about what I didn’t like, tell me put into gifs all my favourite moments:

THIS was awesome! Give us more Black Widow badassery!
And THIS!

So all in all, take some risks Marvel!

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Yugant (Marathi word: a particle showing ascent)

I always had deep respect for regional cinema in India. Coming from a marathi (a language commonly spoken in the state of Maharashtra) family watching regional films made in our langauge is a tradition. I always felt that regional cinema in India was better than Bollywood cinema- the industry that brought India on the map of the world. I have seen a lot of marathi films and comparing them with Bollywood films I’ve noticed:

  • Bollywood films have a herculean budget compared to marathi films
  • Bollywood films are made keeping audiences residing in metropolitan cities in mind
  • Marathi films are made knowing that they will mostly be watched by audiences in rural India
  • Bollywood films are about protagonists belonging to a higher economic class- people with access to foreign education, destination weddings and sports cars
  • Bollywood films are realistic- protagonists reside in villages, work in fields and struggle to provide two full meals to their families every day
  • Bollywood is ‘aspirational’ cinema enticing people with expensive houses, exotic locations and scantily clas women
  • Marathi films provide the actual picture however bleak and unappetizing

‘Jogwa’ directed by Rajeev Patil

For the past couple of decades the marathi film industry has produced marvellous movies on a shoe-string budget. They have received many honours at prestigious national and international film festivals. They all have reflected evils in the marathi socitey and propogated a positive social message. But also all of them have comparatively failed to garner the money they deserved at the box office.

‘Natrang’ directed by Ravi Jadhav

‘Jogwa’ ( a love story between a Devdasi and a man forced to dress like a Hijra) directed by Rajeev Patil, ‘Natarang’ (the biography of a poor farmer forced to become a transsexual performer due to his financial condition) directed by Ravi Jadhav and ‘Kaksparsha’ (the story of a teenage widow) directed by Mahesh Manjrekar all received unprecedented success at film festivals but underperformed at the box office.

‘Balgandharva’ directed by Ravi Jadhav

May assumptions were made- the lack of money, the absence of stardom, the serious subject matter and the extreme realism was turning the marathi audiences towards Hindi cinema. The industry had plenty of talent but most of the films suffered from lack of entertaining elements or understated marketing. Several films were released without the audience noticing their existence.  Then the tides turned when films like ‘Balgandharva’ (the story of a legend of the marathi stage) directed by Ravi Jadhav was released. It had a massive budget, an envious collection of designer clothes and a hero that the audiences were familiar with.

‘Balak Palak’ directed by Ravi Jadhav

But Jadhav was a risk-taker and he next released ‘Balak Palak’( a film about early teenagers being exposed to pornography). As usual it received critical success but earned only Rs. 3.2 crores in two weeks. It established Jadhav’s position in the industry as a film-maker that the audiences knew was going to deliver. He learned his lesson and next released ‘Time Pass’ (a teenage love story between Dagdu and Praju) with more mainstream elements- a plot revolving around a love story, an external conflict provided by Praju’s father, item numbers and fantastic music. The film quickly became a rage- college students who preferred to watch Hindi films with their friends went to see Time Pass, the songs were played at every processiong during Ganesh Utsav, the dialogues were recited by 5 five-year olds. The marathi audiences returned to marathi cinema and Time Pass earned Rs. 6.60 crores in the first weekend.

‘Time Pass’ directed by Ravi Jadhav

Then came ‘Lai Bhari’( a story of twin brothers separated at birth due to a promise made to Lord Vitthal by their mother)  directed by Nishikant Kamat- it was basically a Bollywood movie made in marathi. It has an enormous budget, a popular hero, brilliant music by Ajay-Atul, explosive action sequences and an emotional attachment to marathi culture. It did not receive critical acclaim but earned a staggering Rs. 10.15 crores at the box office in its first weekend. It broke the records previously set by ‘Duniyadaari’ (an average movie about a group of friends) directed by Sanjay Jadhav and Time Pass. It survived a fight with Bollywood films- a vulnerable David not giving up against a suffocating Goliath. It showed the world that Marathi cinema had the potential to earn an unfathomable amout of money if people were willing to invest in it.

‘Lai Bhari’ directed by Nishikant Kamat

Then came Time Pass 2 (Dagdu and Praju reunited after 15 years) the first ever sequel in Marathi films directed by Ravi Jadhav. The film released on 1st May in Maharashtra and did everything perfectly- the characters people were already rooting for, music that immediately became popular and extensive marketing done by the producers. Inspite of having a cast that not many were familiar with Jadhav kept the audience’s attention because they were invested in the unfolding story. Finally Time Pass 2 defied all logic and broke all box office records set by marathi films by earning a shocking Rs. 3.70 crores in ONE DAY!

‘Time Pass 2’ directed by Ravi Jadhav

I saw the film yesterday and it is extremely entertaining although fails to excite those who look at films critically. But you win some, you lose some. Although the quality of these ‘popular’ marathi fims is not as good as the critically acclaimed marathi films it is definitely not as poor as Bollywood films either. They provided marathi audiences with something they were pining for- entertainment. Respected Bollywood director Imtiaz Ali once said, “There is nothing wrong in making films that people want to watch”.  It has made marathi-speaking people proud of their regional industry and non-marathi speaking people aware of its existence. But most of all it has proved that the marathi film industry is a force to be reckoned with.

Gokarna

Everything about the temple was in a state of decay- had Vaibhavi slipped on the corroded stairs leading to the lake she would have certainly broken her jaw. The cement floors had sharp cracks that could easily cut someone’s heel, ugly creepers protruded through the gaps between the black stone walls, even the divine idols were covered in torn rags and dry flowers. Strangely, Vaibhavi had hoped this would be a welcome break from her family but this location had only reminded her of her disintegrating marriage.

The priest deliberately made a guttural sound to bring Vaibhavi back to her senses. She blinked her eyes twice and heard him recite his shlokas without any change in her expression. Then she recited the same, pouring milk on the miniature idol of Lord Shiva. After about an hour the puja was completed and Vaibhavi threw all the milk and the flowers into the lake (this time climbing the stairs more cautiously). The priest got up, sorted his white dhoti and walked towards the temple.

“This will cure my son?”, Vaibhavi asked with a hint of suspicion.

The priest turned around, put some ash in her wet palm and smiled.

“Whatever is best for him, will happen”, he said. He seemed to be half Vaibhavi’s age but he had a deep and soothing voice, courtesy of reciting the vedas every morning at the crack of dawn.

“You know”, she said rubbing her fingers in the ash of her palm, “We have taken him to the best doctors in the world, we spent a lot of money on his treatment”.

The priest looked into the cooper plate in his hand, nodding at her words. Vaibhavi looked at him in ridicule, this was a young man with a bald head, did she expect him to have all the answers?

“Did it work?”, he asked looking at her mocking face.

Vaibhavi shook her head slightly and salty tears flug down from her eyes. She wipped them immediately, she wasn’t one to show vulnerability.

“I have tried everything- science, medicine, ayurveda”, she whispered, “I also took him to a witch”.

“What is written”, he said, his words barely audible over the loud bells, “will happen”.

“I want him to be free”, she said.

“No”, the priest’s voice said echoing around the halls of the temple, “You want to be free. Of him”.

My first attempt at a short story, feedback is much appreciated. Thanks!

Literature Awards 2014 Nominees

With only a day to go for the next year, it is time I look back on all the black and white adventures within fat books I went on and contemplate their affect on my subconscious. I can claim that this is definitely the year I read the best books (quantitatively and qualitatively), I submerged myself into a variety of genres I hadn’t tried before- some I couldn’t resurface from (Indian mythology) and others I am vary of trying again (non-fiction and short stories). My bookshelf is overflowing, my mindset has broadened and my faith in literature has restored. I had a rough year personally (I’m not going into details) and these book, all of them, at some point provided me with the solace I craved.

Half the books I read this year (other half in a library)
Half the books I read this year (other half in a library)

So I decided to give them the recognition and gratitude they deserve and organised the first ‘Pink Is The Wildest Colour Literature Awards 2014’. I will be shortlisting various books I’ve read this year (irrespective of which year they were published) and select winners (which will be announced at midnight on 31st December). Before we go into full ‘competition mode’ I wish to clarify like an aged Grandmother that I love all of these books. But these awards are necessary because all books are awesome, but some books are more awesome than others (sorry Orwell) hence the nominees are:

1) Best Narrator:

The nominees in this category are not only fantastic characters themselves, but it is their narration that propels the story forward. Both part dramas, part mysteries- the narrators themselves are just as interesting as the plot itself.

'Room' by Emma Donoghue and 'The curious incident of the dog in the night time' by Mark Haddon
‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue and ‘The curious incident of the dog in the night time’ by Mark Haddon
  • Jack from ‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue

Donoghue’s decision, of using an innocent 5 year old boy to narrate the story of a brutal kidnapping, repeated rape and ultimate arrest was a risk- but it was this decision that made her international bestseller ‘Room’ a worldwide phenomenon. It is through Jack’s 5 year old innocent eyes that we see a story of his Ma who is kept imprisoned inside a small room. But it is Jacks loving and sympathetic view of his Mother, who is trying to raise a son in the most cruel circumstances, and the unique relationship that the two share-that makes ‘Room’ memorable.

  • Christopher John Francis Boone from ‘The Curious Incident of the dog in the night-time’ by Mark Haddon

Christopher a 15 year old autistic mastermind, who is a mathematics whiz but a terrible conversationalist narrates the story of how a dog’s murder led him to truth of his mother’s disappearance. This novel puts us not only in the claustrophobic mindset of a mentally challenged protagonist but also offers a sympathetic view on how challenging it is to raise a child with special needs.

2) Favourite book on Indian Mythology:

Unlike all other Indians my age, I did not sleep every night listening to my Grandmother telling me stories of Lord Vishnu’s Dashavataars, neither did my parents feel the need to educate me on my culture. So I set out to do so myself, reading as much as I could on ancient Indian history and how it’s social vibrations can still be felt thousands of year later. I found myself drowning deeper and deeper into this ocean of folktales, every version different than the other and it is this modern literature based on ancient legends that has made me proud of my ethnicity.

'Asura: Tale of the Vanquishe' by Anand Neelakantan, 'Palace of Illusions' by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and 'Ajaya: Roll of the Dice' by Anand Neelakantan.
‘Asura: Tale of the Vanquishe’ by Anand Neelakantan, ‘Palace of Illusions’ by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and ‘Ajaya: Roll of the Dice’ by Anand Neelakantan.
  • ‘The Oath of the Vayuputras’ by Amish Tripathi

I think it has been my several personal meetings with Tripathi at numerous literature festivals that has made me respect his take on Indian mythology even more. His version of Lord Shiva’s life, which portrays him as an ordinary man who did extraordinary feats (now over thousands of years of diluted facts they are called ‘miracles and he a ‘God’) is by far the most believable portrayal of an Indian God. The plot explains all the ‘miracles’ he did in his life with a convincing logic and gives other characters in the story-line a clever arc, but it is the charismatic personality of the Neelakantha that keeps you glued to the ‘Shiva Trilogy’.

  • ‘Asura: Tale of the Vanquished’ by Anand Neelakantan

When I first heard that Neelakantan  was going to narrate Ramayana from the perspective of its infamous villian Ravana, I thought it was the oldest trick in the book. But this book exceeded my expectations, it portrays it’s plot and characters without an air of divinity around them. Just like Tripathi, Neelakantan also portrays Gods as ordinary men who did legendary feats. Looking at India’s beloved Lord Ram from the perspective of his nemesis will make you ask some severe questions about India’s culture and age-old beliefs. But it is the story of two warriors told from the perspective of a civilian Bhadra that gives this version of Ramayana a new twist.

  • ‘Palace of Illusions’ by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Finally a fiery narrator worthy of telling the tale of brothers out for each other’s blood, Divakaruni’s book tells the story of Princess Draupadi- the universally hated central character who instigated the Kurukshetra war that destroyed millions. We Indians know Draupadi as a short-tempered, vengeful egoist who drove her husbands to killing their own family. But in ‘Palace of Ilusions’ we see her as she truly is, a pawn in the hands of destiny, meant to behave the way in which her saviour Lord Krishna commands. For the first time we see how the mighty Pandavas treated their own wife like mute property, how the internal politics between her and her mother-in-law made her merely an object though she had a powerful position, how her faith in Krishna led her to choose a man he wanted her to marry rather than a man she loved and how in spite of getting her revenge, she only died with regret in her heart and Krishna’s name on her lips. For the first time, we pity Draupadi. It is her feisty temperament and misplaced sense of justice that drives the plot forward, but it is her silent longing for the tragic hero Karna that will make you weep.

  • ‘Ajaya: Roll of the Dice’ by Anand Neelakantan

History is written by victors and hence for thousands of years Indians have praised the Pandavas for their righteousness while regarded the Kauravas as power-hungry corrupts. But Neelakantan’s book narrates the legendary epic from the silenced voices of those who lost- Suyodhana (who fought for the throne which he thought rightfully belonged to him), Karna (who fought for Suyodhana who treated him like an equal when the entire world insulted him for his low caste), Eklavya (a poor low-caste victim of manipulative politics) and Jara (a civilian beggar who bears the brunt of the war no matter who wins). The book presents its main characters as humans who did both good and bad deeds and ultimately did not deserve their cruel fate. But who can win against Lord Krishna?

Favourite Dystopian Novel

'1984' by George Orwell, 'The Handmaid's Tale' by Margaret Atwood and 'Animal Farm' by George Orwell.
‘1984’ by George Orwell, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood and ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell.
  • ‘1984’ by George Orwell.

A literary classic? A dangerous warning? An inevitable prophecy? What is this book? I was tired of reading unbelievable accounts of teenagers single-handedly overthrowing totalitarian regimes (looking at you Hunger Games!) so I began reading this highly recommended foretelling. The depiction of a dictatorial government masked with communism is dreadfully accurate, the emphasis on the political ideals of Oceania being a star attraction of the book. My favourite aspect of this novel is that the protagonist rebels against the oppressive government but does not succeed. A bunch of unorganized militants do not stand a chance against billions of worth of Government set-up (Take a hint Suzanne Collins and those who wrote Divergent and The Maze Runner).

  • ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood.

The most terrifying part of this novel that tells about our protagonist living under a misogynistic regime that only uses women for reproduction, is that the Government is actually convinced that it is a ‘feminist’ regime. By keeping women veiled, constantly surrounded, they think they are protecting these women when actually they are imprisoning and oppressing them. This will open your eyes to how incriminating misplaced feminist ideals can be and how toxic it is to live in a circumstance which forces women to make a particular choice against their wishes.

  • ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell.

Read over a 2 hour long train journey, this political satire about how animals drive out their owner and take over the farm, hoping to abolish inequality but only get sucked into the corrupted tentacles of power is hilarious and horrifying at the same time.

Best Historical Fiction

'Confessions of Katherine Howard' by Suzanna Dunn, 'The Red Queen' by Phillipa Gregory, 'The Penelopiad' by Margaret Atwood and 'The SealedLetter' by Emma Donoghue.
‘Confessions of Katherine Howard’ by Suzanna Dunn, ‘The Red Queen’ by Phillipa Gregory, ‘The Penelopiad’ by Margaret Atwood and ‘The SealedLetter’ by Emma Donoghue.
  • ‘Confessions of Katherine Howard’ by Suzanna Dunn

Based on the life of Queen Katherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII, Dunn follows her protagonist from her scandalous early teenage at Lady Norfolk’s household to her beheading for adultery. It is a spicy tale of royal court drama, misunderstood love, uncontrollable passion and above all, politics.

  • ‘The Red Queen’ by Phillipa Gregory

Gregory tells the story of Margaret Beaufort, a Plantaganet who established the House of Tudors by putting Henry VII on the throne of England. Beaufort is a mesmerizing character, highly religious but committing heinous crimes which she is convinced are for righteous reasons. It is her clever stratagizing, manipulative mind and dirty politics that makes her one of the most feared women in history.

  • ‘The Penelopiad’ by Margaret Atwood

Atwood tells the story of Penelope, wife of Odysseus who waited for him to return from the Battle of Troy for 20 years. It tells us how faithful she remained while Odysseus was courting nymphs at distant islands, how lovingly she raised her son while Odysseus was busy making more and how in spite of her unwavering loyalty she ended up in Tartarus.

  • ‘The Sealed Letter’ by Emma Donoghue

Based on a true case of divorce that horrified London, Donoghue traces the paths of two friends- one who works relentlessly for the rights of women, other who misuses these rights to have affairs outside her marriage. This is the true story of Emily ‘Fido’ Faithfull a women’s rights activist and publisher, who supported her best friend during her sensational divorce, a friend who often forced her to confess horrible things that never happened so the result could be in her favour. Why was Fido trusting her so blindly, was this simply friendship, or something more?

Favourite Marital Mystery

My incessant hatred of the concept of marriage has made this genre the most exciting one for me.

'The Sealed Letter' by Emma Donoghue, 'Gone Girl' by Gillian Flynn and 'Before I Go To Sleep' by S J Watson.
‘The Sealed Letter’ by Emma Donoghue, ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn and ‘Before I Go To Sleep’ by S J Watson.
  • ‘The Sealed Letter’ by Emma Donoghue.
  • ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn

The most talked about book of the year, ‘Gone Girl’ tells the story of Amy Dunne who gets kidnapped from her house on her fifth anniversary. The police, law enforcers and the public immediately target her husband Nick Dunne but halfway through the book the tale takes an ugly twist. This book explore’s the psychological effects of matrimony- the meaning of loyalty, pride, betrayal and above all justice.

  • ‘Before I Go To Sleep’ by S J Watson.

Our middle aged protagonist is married to a man she loves, but due to an accident she is suffering from short term memory loss. She can form new memories during the day, but when she sleeps at night her brain erases those neurons. She lives her life the way her husband tells her but a stranger tells her that he is hiding something, she then finds her diary that warns her not to trust her husband. More and more secrets are revealed as the story follows her in her quest to find out her identity.

Favourite Book Of The Year:

In this category I have specifically put the books that have not been nominated in the above categories.

The Best Ones
The Best Ones
  • ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ by Arthur Golden.

A mesmerizing book that transports you to the richly cultured Gion, Kyoto- Golden tells us the story of a Japanese dancer right from the poverty and family tragedy that forced her into the world of courtesans to finding love in the most difficult circumstances. The most powerful aspect of the book is that the characters, the settings, the culture begins taking shape around you, pulling you into world of endless mysteries and unforgettable magic.

  • ‘No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency’ by Alexander McCall Smith.

Smith tells the story of Mma Ramotswe, the first resident of Botswana to own a detective agency and follows her as she deals with the troubles of loneliness while solving crimes. Smith’s narration transforms Africa’s barren land into an exotic place filled with unexplored thrills.

  • ‘Guernica’ by Dave Boling

I had never heard of this book before I randomly picked it at a local book sale but it is a fascinating read. It tells the story of three generations of a family, as the paths of several characters intertwine, the fates play their parts in bringing them closer and separating them- in the backdrop of war.

  • ‘Salem Falls’ by Jodi Picoult

The only book to have the honour of having a review posted at Pink is the Wildest Colour, read the full review here.

  • ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ by D H Lawrence.

At a time when all my friends were shamelessly addicted to that shit of a book Fifty Shades of Grey, I picked out this classic erotic drama. The story of a woman,who bored by her marriage seeks affection in another man was infamous when it was published in 1940s and is equally titillating today .

  • ‘The Lovely Bones’ by Alice Seabold.

No book has ever made me cry and feel apologetic to my parents more than this one, the story of a 13 year old’s rape and murder will make you paranoid about the young children around you.

So now that the nominations are out, who are you rooting for? Which books did you read this year? Why don’t you do so similar awards at your blog and tell us your favourites? What do you think of our nominees? Tell us in the comments below!

Decoding the real ‘Cool Girl’

When I was preparing for my semester exams last month I came across a point that said ‘Media studies helps us question, criticize and analyze subjects instead of taking them at face value’. This is definitely what we have been taught (but most students don’t really care enough to apply it in real life) to do about all the things that interest the world. We have studied soviet-era journalism, nazi propoganda and even present-day publicity- the most important thing that I learned was that 90% of what you see is fabricated. Just like in The Hunger Games when the team behind each tribute design how every one of them will be showcased, based on the kind of emotions they want to evoke in the audience, that is exactly what PR agencies do in reality as well. According to me, the biggest PR miracle of our generation is convincing the ordinary audience that Jennifer Lawrence is ‘just like us’.

I believe you!

I have been suspicious of this beautiful, funny, smart, talented and ‘down-to-earth’ girl from the very beginning. I never jumped onto the ‘Jennifer Lawrence is my bff’ bandwagon, I happen to be a rather cautious person naturally. First we will discuss her as a person, then talk about the way the public has perceived her (spoiler: it’s shady). Lawrence earned her first Oscar nomination for ‘Winter’s Bone’, she was equally talented at that time. But the first time when people noticed her ‘quirky’ personality was when she starred as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. Lawrence’s nonchalance, borderline unprofessionalism and utter disrespect for personal hygiene was quickly accepted by people.

You’re not funny, you’re dumb.

Every other actress in Hollywood works out every day of the week, maintains a healthy lifestyle and follows a strict diet. That is the only way you can have an ‘attractive’ body. Jennifer definitely has an attractive body but she always pretends like all she eats is cheese-burgers. She has claimed previously that she would punch anyone who enjoys exercising. But if she eats junk food all day and never hits the gym, how does she have a body perfect enough to put on the cover of Vogue? You see, she doesn’t! She goes to the gym and eats healthy just like every other actress but pretends to not be so uptight to seem like every other girl. That’s the trick!

You’re allowed to say that only because you’re hot.

She recently stated in an interview for US Weekly, “I would just rather have somebody that has the same taste in reality TV, I do love my Real Housewives. New York Housewives — and Beverly Hills, New Jersey, and Atlanta Housewives. I mean, I love them all, but Miami — oh, my God! Miami is really special.” With a heavy schedule there is no way she gets time to watch all the above shows, but she claims to anyway- because every other woman in America does. About her personal life she added, “[I want someone who] isn’t afraid to fart in front of me [rather] than to have big, passionate love.I’d rather have just a peaceful time. [Those relationships] are deeper because you can be your true self with somebody, and somebody can be their true self with you.” So you are only being yourself if you stuff a hot-dog in your mouth while reciting ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Apparently if a lady enjoys eating gluten-free food and does that in front of her husband, she is not being herself?

*white girl voice* OMG she’s just like us!

Does ‘being yourself’ mean being the worst, most annoying, degrading version of yourself? If you want to be a better person for someone, if you want to improve yourself, does that not count as ‘being yourself’? Does wearing sweatpants and discussing butt plugs contribute as honesty? Does talking about intestinal problems on national television make you cool? The truthful and dejecting answer is yes- you see it isn’t very complicated. Lawrence’s PR guys have made her a dream girl- they have built the exact opposite of the ‘innocent, decent, girly girl’ trope that the media used to prefer.

So down to earth

Lawrence pretends to be like any ordinary girl but she isn’t- her personality is simply a performance. Now you may argue that she doesn’t seem fake but she has an Academy Award at home for ‘Best Actress’ so duh! Men want her, women want to be her- but she’s not really her. She is playing this person who everyone wants and no one can see it. She is ‘flawless’ because she is like most of today’s lazy women, so if you are not like the majority then you are ‘flawed’. This ‘evading the mainstream’ practice has become so mainstream, not doing it makes you ‘uncool’.

And work out in the gym for 5 hours, but you won’t mention that!

This ‘cool girl’ has become the old ‘girly girl’- it is equally suffocating, demanding, challenging and demeaning to women who have different tastes. Since Lawrence heads this army of fake cool girls, anyone who likes doing yoga will be attacked. But at the same time, if you accept your body even if it is not up to the mark, you are criticized for being arrogant. Or if you choose to crib about your body being undesirable, the same people criticize you for being insecure. Also if you ditch exercise altogether, they will call  you fat. This ‘cool girl’ trope is demanding all the women to fit in a mould built with utmost strictness. This ‘cool girl’ persona is forcing women to behave in a certain way so they can convince the world that they are a ‘cool girl’. The problem is not Jennifer Lawrence, the problem is our gullibility.

That’s something all of us can relate to isn’t it?

We women (even those who call ourselves “feminists”) have extremely misogynistic standards- we love it when a 5’7 inches blonde blue-eyed beauty says that she loves McDonalds. Why wouldn’t she say it? She’s fucking gorgeous! But if someone oversized like Melissa McCarthney says something similar, we would only criticize them for being unattractive. You see, you are only a cool girl if you eat junk AND maintain a size zero. Whenever women hail Lawrence as a hero, it baffles me because

a) she is abso-fucking-lutely gorgeous, so even she ate the entire Trojan army alive she will still look gorgeous

b) women who want to be ‘cool’ like her are NOT, so they will have to spend equal amount of time in Subway to eat carbs (so they can brag about ‘not giving a shit’) and in the gym to actually lose the calories (because secretly they do give a shit)

Soooo relatable!

You see here is the problem- another unrealistic standard that women have to reach to be accepted. That itself is misogyny- the belief that a woman has to be a certain way to qualify as a woman is gross. If we like Emma Watson, we want to be classy. If we like Kate Moss, we want to be skinny. If we like Christina Hendricks, we want to be curvy. Why can’t we ever be just us? Just because Gwyneth Paltrow eats kale, doesn’t mean we all have to start writing books about the importance of kale. Just because Kim Kardashian wears a particular brand, doesn’t mean we have to sport the same logo. Just because men find ‘cool girls’ attractive, doesn’t mean we have to be one!

Everyone loves her because she is weird AND hot. If she was just weird, no one would care!

We don’t have to live our lives trying to live up to the standards that other people built for us. We are all mature, capable, intelligent human beings who can decide their own good. We are all able of taking responsibility, making decisions and pulling strings of our lives. So why should we let a celebrity tell us, who we can or cannot be? Why do we give a piece of paper (fashion magazines) the power to make us feel insecure about our bodies? Have we really become so obssesed with being someone else that we have completely forgotten the unique, beautiful, complicated and flawed creature we truly are?

P.S: This is not hate propoganda, this is ‘open-your-bloody-eyes-and-see-the-nasty-truth’ propoganda.

Why feminists should watch Gone Girl

Art is not supposed to reassure our beliefs, it is supposed to make us reconsider them. So David Fincher’s latest thriller ‘Gone Girl’ has got feminists all over the world spiteful and aggressive. I haven’t read the book by Gillian Flynn on which it is based yet but I’ve been staying in constant touch with the backlash on the internet. I already know certain things thanks to the extensive discussions and my proximity with Tumblr- Amy and whatshisname are married, Amy gets kidnapped, police frame whatshisname, in the end he discovers that Amy is alive and killing it! But plot of the movie is not the point! The point is how it has affected modern society- clearly based on the above description Amy is a psycho and so all the “feminists” (I put that in double quotes because I identify as one myself but I disagree with them at this point) assumed that Amy is a representation of all the 3 billion women on the planet. This is absurd and ridiculous and fantastic at the same time. Because for the first time we actually have a woman who is worthy of being called a ‘villian’ and we also have women who are so appalled by it.

Here’s Amy looking like a completely ordinary student

These “feminists” are under the impression that no woman in the world can ever do anything wrong- that the possibility of having a fictional character who is so frustrated that she fakes her kidnapping is zero. They assume that every woman is happily married, happily sacrificed her career, happily making pancakes for her children, happily prioritizing her family’s needs over her own, happily compromising her dreams for her loved ones sake. I agree that a lot (almost all) women do it- some are genuinely happy but some aren’t and Any Dunne is one of them. Why do feminists think that any female character should only be portrayed in a positive manner? Why should she be either an innocent school-girl like Lolita? Why should she be a desirable outcast like Hester Prynne? Why should she be an independent professional like Bridget Jones? Why should she be an immoral whore like Anna Karenina?

*looks suspiciously at Jennifer Lawrence*

The answer is- because men find it attractive. “Feminists” have fought constant battles against being objectified, being stereotyped, being pushed into a category. Yet we divide ourselves into ‘Nerdy girl’, ‘Sporty girl’, ‘Girly girl’ or ‘Cool girl’ depending on which one we think men would find most attractive. I think this is where the flaw lies- the belief that we can only be one of those girls. Why can’t a girl have pink nail-paint on her hands while hitting a home run? Why should we assume that a girl who wears mascara cannot solve an algebra equation? Why should we have to choose between being ‘hot’ or ‘smart’ when we can be both!

Gillian Flynn’s writing is so straight-forward-no-cupcakes-no-unicorns, it’s definitely for the faint of heart!

Coming back to ‘Gone Girl’ Gillian Flynn has given us a remarkable character in Amy Dunne mainly because she is dark- dark, and twisted, and fucking unforgettable. We have had villians before but they were all driven by one thing- money, power or sex. We have never had complicated female villians such as Hannibal Lecter. There are so many male anti-heroes who are rapists, serial killers, criminals, con-artists, assasins in literature and our society accepts them immediately. The problem is not with society, the problem lies in us. Men know that one fictional character who eats babies doesn’t represent every man on Earth, so why can’t women be equally reasonable?

Isn’t that something all women have felt?

The argument is not if Amy is ‘good’ or ‘bad’- she has framed her own husband for murder, she is definitely bad. But this is where our own morals come in and the lines between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ get blurry. My theory is that those who have heavily criticized Amy, can relate to her the most. They can see their bottled anger, their dissatisfaction with marriage, their shattered dreams, their hidden insecurities reflecting on a woman who is externally perfect. They can see their own evils manifesting into a blonde, blue-eyed, beauty who anyone would kill to be with. Amy’s internal struggle is who they are and Amy’s exterior is who they are struggling to be. They hate her because they hate themselves. For the first time a female author has given us a female character that reflects the dark side of our sex and I think we should be supportive.

Author Gillian Flynn

Modern women have defined feminism to suit their convenience- today being a feminist means listening to ‘Beyonce’ and watching ‘Girls’.But the core of feminism remains that women are equal to men and that is why we should all be proud of Fincher and Flynn. We all have our own explanations of feminism and we are all entitled to it- but here we have something new, something fresh, something that can change the way women are seen. Flynn has given us a story that has got so many people taking, friends are sitting down over a beer and discussing gender roles, essayists are compiling words to squeeze in their thoughts over the portrayal of Amy. People after so long, have come to realize that women, too, can be complicated. That is the biggest achievement for David Fincher, not awards or earnings, but the satisfaction of making a generation aware that outside their feminine utopia where every woman is designed like a sims character- there is something powerful and dangerous.

See how it looks like he is literary manufacturing her the way he wants?

I think feminists should not be offended, defensive and hateful because a) basic human decency b) we have been complaining about not having better female characters in movies and now that we have one, we are saying she’s not up to mark c) my biggest reason why feminists should watch ‘Gone Girl’ is because Amy is not attractive. Okay she is gorgeous but men don’t fantasize about her the way they fantasize about Black Widow and I think that is a remarkably feminist component. So we can have sassy female villians as long as she wear high heels? We can have kick-ass superheroes as long as they wear skin-tight suits? We can have “strong female character” as long as they are played by curvy Scarlett Johannson? Nah, give us a woman who fucking makes men piss in their pants. Give us a woman is really is a nightmare and doesn’t just use is as a song lyric (#BurnTaylorSwift). Give us a woman who is can do anything to get what she wants (even fake her own death). Don’t give us a villian who fits in the men’s frame work if how a sexy villian should be, give us a villian who is genuinely dangerous.

Finally seeing it on Saturday!

We always complain about not having ‘strong’ female characters- immediately criticizing Bella Swan for being a mary sue. Now we have a ‘strong’ character in Amy, so watch if she is borderline psychotic? She is three-dimensional, well-rounded, described in painstalking details and chillingly realistic. Keep cribbing all you like but out of all the female characters in literature- Amy is easily the strongest.

10 Fave Tumblr Posts on Les Miserables

My obssession for Les Mis has risen from the deep ocean like a Kraken. I had seen the movie in 2013 and I honestly thought it deserved the Academy Awards for Best Motion Picture than boring Argo. This was the first time I saw a serious musical and I thought Tom Hooper had really presented film-lovers with something to cherish for years. I had seen Argo around the same time and two days later I forgot about it. Les Mis is the kind of movie that stays with you, for days, for months, even your entire lifetime. Every time I hear ‘Do you hear the people sing?’ it send chills down my spine. Now, almost 2 years later, I’m still crying over the fate of Le Amis d’ABC.

The worst is that I cannot even talk about how passionate I am because no one in my family or friend-circle have even heard about Les Mis. I don’t live under a rock, I just live with a bunch of idiots. But when no one understands, Tumblr understands. On this website I found people who are still dedicatedly following Les Mis and often discussing it with each other. Out of all the heartwarming posts I’ve seen on Tumblr these are my faves:

This post makes me sob every time I read it and I read it at least once a day. I cry for the 22 year old young boys who sacrificed their lives for equality in 1832. But I also cry for all the children of today who are forced by circumstances to pick up a weapon. The Barricade Boys didn’t mean for the revolution to become so bloody, but once it started they didn’t want to stop either. Yet, at the end of the day they were just little boys fighting for what they thought was right, and it was. They didn’t know how to fight, they didn’t know how to hold a gun. But one thing they knew was that they were ready to die for what they believed in. And yet, they were just children.

Yes this scene really kills me, I mean the Barricade Boys are capable of killing, but they are also human beings. Seeing the blood of their childhood friends splattered on the floor, hearing the loud gunshot aiming straight for their heads, smelling the fear among the bravest of the boys must have crippled them. Anyone would be scared, anyone would be horrified. But they didn’t abandon the fight, they knew they were going to die. But they also knew that freedom was worth it.

I think by this point you can guess that my favourite part of Les Mis was the revolution and it was also I think the most ‘miserable’. The worst part was that the Barricade Boys were fighting for the freedom of the people and when the Barricade Boys were dying it was the same people who abandoned them. They died, everyone dies. But they died alone, believing that they failed.

Now I want to talk about the movie itself, what a magical piece of art it was. (Still can’t believe Argo won, fucking hell!) The music is mind-blowing, the cast is singing live (brownie-points for that), the sets are spectacular, the scenes are realistic, the poverty in Paris was hauntingly captured and Tom Hooper’s film will always be one of my favourite. There are several scenes in the movie that stole my breath away- Fantine’s ‘I dreamed a dreamed’, Valjean’s ‘Suddenly’, especially ‘Do you hear the people sing?’. But I cried the most during the finale and these weren’t sad tears, these were happy tears. To see all the people who died unfairly standing on the barricade proudly and singing of a better tomorrow was just too much to control.

It is needless to say that the one character who left a permanent mark on me was Enjolras. I have been a huge fan of Broadway star Aaron Tveit (he was stunning in ‘Rent’, ‘Wicked’ and my personal favourite musical ever ‘Next to Normal’) and I was looking forward to seeing his Enjolras. After seeing the 10th and 25th anniversary concerts of Les Mis on Youtube and countless other Enjolras’s on the web, I was a bit apprehensive it he would be able to pull it off or not. Again it is needless to say, but my baby killed it!

My favourite thing about Tumblr is that it pays so much attention to detail. I remember being up in the morning at 5 am to watch the Oscars because that is the time it is aired in my country. I remember my whole family was asleep because they couldn’t care less. I remember being completely mesmerised by the cast’s performance, especially Aaron’s. But the flags at the end really gave me goosebumps.

Another character who really scared me for life was this little bastard. Gavroche is barely 9 or 10 years old but he is singing about how fair death truly is. It comes for everyone, the rich as well as the poor. Poverty forces people to grow up so fast doesn’t it?

995ca-tyrion-books

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a parting present these are some of my favourite passages from the Brick. Enjoy (I mean, sob with me):

The wording is so thrilling, you can actually picturize the entire scenario right before you eyes.

This part. I mean, it’s not I need a heart or anything Hugo. In what is easily the most romantic scene in the book—don’t talk to me about Marius and Cosette, okay—Grantaire appears as Enjolras is cornered by soldiers and about to die. Although he probably could have escaped death—the soldiers had passed him by—he approaches Enjolras and asks if Enjolras will permit him to stand at his side for the first and last time to die with him. Enjolras finally accepts him, and they go down together. Now that I’ve made you cry uncontrollably here’s some funny ones.

Aww why hasn’t anyone recorded this?

Frozen and Les Mis, my two favourite things.

This one is my absolute favourite. I know this post is long but the book itself is 1500 pages, what exactly were you expecting. Sometimes I think I’m really silly for obssessing over fictional scenarios and characters but then I realize, Hugo witnessed the barricades of 1832. The names changed, but what he wrote in that book is what he saw. An Enjolras watched broken hearted as his friends fell, a Combeferre stood and gave a great speech, a Marius saved the barricade, an Eponine died in the arms of someone she loved, and a Grantaire fell standing next to his hero. They might seem characters to me, but that night in 1832 they lived.

The Bookshelf Of A Young Girl

“There’s a movie of that too!”, a stranger on the train said watching me read ‘Memoirs Of A Geisha’ today.

“I know”, I said trying to hide my irritation at being interrupted.

I was 10 years old when one of my closest aunt’s gave me a pocket edition of ‘David Copperfield’ with pictures on every second-page. It was tattered, yellow with the front cover torn and the back cover illegible. I read the book simply to follow the link of the pictures and before I even knew my mom asked ‘Are you going to read that book 10 times or what?’ This was the first book I ever read and from then onwards there was no looking back. After that I read Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone and needless to say it changed my life. This way every important moment in my life was marked by a book.

I feel you Tyrion!

I had my feminist ‘awakening’ at 14 while reading Maya Angelou’s ‘Still I Rise’ late at night in bed. Today I just started another blog on WordPress that is ‘feminist as fuck’.I realized that I belonged in New York City (a place I had never been to mind you!) after reading ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald and I have every intention of going there for my higher education. Most of the books I read were written by British authors and I often dream of watching a Shakespeare performance at the Globe Theatre or drinking in the same pub as J.M.Barie.

*EYE ROLL*

Over the years my bookshelf has grown but it is not as big as I want it to be. I guess that is the problem with me, I always want more. I buy books I have always wanted to read every month but due to college and life (and people, ugh!) I never get to finish them at the same speed. I have never actually read any non-fiction and I don’t intend to but there are certain books like ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ by Friedrich Nietzsche and ‘The Communist Manifesto’ by Karl Marx which I wouldn’t mind paging through. But my shelf is proudly bursting with fiction- Phillipa Gregory, Dan Brown, Paulo Coelho, Amish Tripathi, Jodi Picoult and Emma Donaghue have majority of the books there.

Those cheekbones but

I mostly refrain from picking up books by Indian writers because well, I’m Indian. The stories and events they write about are the conditions I’m facing everyday and I personally read books to escape reality not relive it. There is also a fair amount of John Green and Suzanne Collins there (the young adult best-sellers) but I balance it out with classics like ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ by D.H. Lawrence and ‘The Scarlet Letter’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne. There are also a couple of children’s books like ‘The Curious Incident of the dog in the night-time’ by Mark Haddon and ‘Journey to the river-sea’. The only kind of genre I haven’t yet delved into are comic books (superhero and others). As my unhealthy habit continues  now that my exams are over I will rush to the next book sales so if you have any recommendations for me (classics and contemporary, children’s books, young-adult and adult of all genres except, honestly anything except ’50 Shades Of Grey’) please leave them in the comments section and I’ll let you know when I buy them!

The Last Of Tolkein

“There is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.”

This week in rather important to me- the final posters for ‘The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies’ is out, Scotland will most probably gain independence and also I’m getting a drastic haircut on Thursday. I was only 6 years old when the alternate universe of J.R.R Tolkein’s limitless and detailed imagination along with Peter Jackson’s faithfulness to the original material and brilliant execution left me breathless. I didn’t understand much back then, neither the deep philosophical  underlines in the text nor the lessons in morality. The only thing I saw a little boy destroying forces far beyond his control and for a little, naive girl that was enough. After the Lord Of The Rings Trilogy I never expected Jackson to pick up another book by Tolkein (and in most cases I always complain about sequels because they do not involve taking any risk) but I was glad because I wanted more of Middle-Earth. Their values, customs, mythologies, beliefs and most of all dragons. Now I’m facing the fact that this could be the last ‘Tolkein thing’ ever produced and I’m in a slight state of sadness. Nevertheless the posters fucking mind-blowing so feast your eyes and bow to the might of imagination and dreams!