Monday, November 14, 2011

Rockstar: It's rocking...almost, till the heroine gets sick

I watched Rockstar on the day of its release and have been quite kicked about the movie.
One, because, damn, Ranbir Kapoor has grown up! He's put in some serious effort into his role and looks convincing, making the film an endearing watch.
Two, because A.R. Rahman's music is as much of the Rockstar as Ranbir is, needless to say. And yippeee Mohit Chauhan sounds suitably angsty for the Ranbir who looks suitably angsty.
Three, because, I'm happy with the kind of films that the Hindi film industry is coming up with. Honestly.
Ok so there's mindless mayhem like Dabanng that actually mints money....but there's all kinds of film co-existing, thank god.
If you guys have been switching channels this weekend, there were a whole lot of discussions on news channels on "Has Indian cinema come of age?" keeping in mind "The Dirty Picture", and and the Think Fest at Goa, with discussions on "The Changing Face of Bollywood". The discussions have been engrossing, open, throwing up frank opinions and opening up new threads of thought. It was great to hear Khushboo, Mahesh Bhat, Dibakar Banerjee, and Aamir Khan speak.

Hubby and me, both being avid moviegoers were feeling thrilled after watching the film that we're moviegoers at a time when Hindi cinema is going through such a gutsy phase. We just saw a few weeks ago the very unsettling "That Girl in Yellow Boots"... I couldn't sleep for much of the night. It's revolting, the end. But my point is, a cinema should leave you feeling something. If it's just popcorn-eating entertainment, it's fine, but only once in a way. I can't take too much of that kind of cinema. But I need it too!

Ok I'm veering off the Rockstar track. But if there's one thing I want to, in true Bollywood style declare, "I object My Lord!" in a court -- it's a protest against director Imtiaz Ali for making the heroine have a terminal bone marrow illness. I thought it was a Shah Rukh Khan thing to have his heroines dying of all sorts of diseases... I mean that track of the film has seriously maimed the rest of the story.

I mean, what's it with Hindi films in this aspect? You must have a dying heroine? Always? Bah!! Terminal illness. It has to be the only reason to accept a woman who loves someone outside her marriage?
The strong point however is the character of Ranbir; in fact all the effort seems to have gone into shaping him.
The fact that Nargis Fakhri can't act and look beyond her bee-stung lips makes Ranbir look even better (a deliberate pairing, I presume).
But the angst in Ranbir....aaah that's something I loved. The anger, the restlessness, the's something a lot of us feel, even if we are not rockstars. His grungy air, his temper ufff it all fell neatly in place.
I don't want to sit here and tell the story. You must see it. And forgive Imtiaz Ali, lord, for his sin of dumping yet another terminal illness on yet another Hindi cinema heroine.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mission Accomplished: Sonny's LKG admission done!

A quick post to say Hurraaaayyyy!
Sonny Boy is in! He's got admission in this one school I tried in.

Yeah, I know i gambled. But...what the hell!
I know I've ranted at length about this "education" worry  on my blog before when i posted Why Do We Parents Worry So Much About Our Children's Education?,  and then Admission Admission: I Didn't Do It... so this is where it conclusively concludes....for now!

The school is:
1. About half a kilometre from our place, as well as my parents' - sort of mid way between the two homes.
2. It's an SSLC syllabus-based school.
3. It's one of those old-fashioned schools -- no word "international" tucked in between ;-) So the fees doesn't give me a heart attack either; in fact it's super-reasonable and there are no deposits/donations.
4. It's in the heart of north Bangalore and it actually has a playground!
5. There's no worry of transport to school -- we can walk him or drop him off easily. Also means no transport costs.
6. The timings suits my lazy self and my work schedule -- it's 12 to 4.30 for LKG and they'll be graduating to a more "normal" morning schedule in UKG. Hope that works for the poor dear who loves to nap in the afternoon -- keeping my fingers crossed.

We had the "formal meeting" today with the Principal -- very sweet it was. They only asked Sonny one question -- "what is your name?" which he promptly and predictably didn't answer. They gave him a cchocolate and let him be after that reticent silence. They asked hubby and me a few questions about work, if we travel a lot on work, who takes care of the kid then, which playschool is he going to now etc. That was it. They also figured that some of my cousins had been to their school, many years ago. Some familiarity established. One of the interviewers, I guess the vice-principal, lives near my mom's place. More familiarity established. They handed us a slip with the his name and the word "admitted". SIMPLE. Done. In fact it was so fast, I still can't accept it.

So my worrying self is back to worrying....did i do right?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Learning to speak in English...

We are a nation obsessed with English. We are a nation obsessed with getting our kids to speak English, correct grammar and all, right from the beginning (yeah I swear on that by my Wren and Martin).
An English-medium education is what we all crave for our kids -- everyone wants it for their kids -- from the household help, the vegetable seller, the dhobi, your neighbour, YOURSELF (myself included), your neighbour, your cousins in small towns and villages. I'm not looking down upon anyone here, just saying that it's a universal aspiration.
There is pride and joy on our iron-man's face when he reminds me (each time i ask him how his daughters are doing) "Nan makkalu English-medium nalli odtaavre" (My kids study in English medium).

And I haven't been left behind either. I've joined the rat race too, in complete rat-like earnestness to get Sonny to understand some English before he takes those giant steps to "big boy's school" next academic year.

Honestly I hadn't realised how soon it begins till one day we were in an argument, Sonny and I, about some random thing. We were as usual talking in Kannada, our mother tongue. Then, in frustration, i cant remember on what issue, I screamed in English: "Where do you want me to be?" After a moment of silence he said "Here, at home." I was shocked.
a) I hadn't expected a reply to my rhetorical question
b) I hadn't expected him to really understand my question
c) I hadn't expected a reply in English.
d) I hadn't expected a completely coherent phrase/sentence.

It was then that it struck me that he'd told me a few days ago, some time post the Dasara vacation that his playhome teachers had been telling them all to converse in school only in English. So now it's "I want water" (of course, "please" is still a difficult word in his world). A sharp "Yah" (with a stress on the "h" sound) or a vehement head-nodding "No" to my questions. Sometimes a simple "Nice, I like" when he likes a dress I'm wearing. He's able to understand most of the questions I ask him in English. Sometimes replies in English, sometimes in Kannada, sometimes a mix of both languages...

I have a really failing memory, but what prompted me to write this post was a conversation I had last night with him, both of us sitting on the sofa, he was tracing lines on a work sheet his teacher had given. I wish I had immediately jotted it down then, but we spoke some four sentences, back and forth, Q and A, in complete coherence. I was quite amused...and well, happy.

I know of many Indian parents who straight away start talking to their kids in English only, since the child is born, so he/she picks up English well and early. I also know equally well of so many parents (like me and hubby) who insist on talking to the child only in our mother tongue at home, knowing that they will pick up English in school later anyway. And that they must know the language spoken by the family quite well.

We recently had some of hubby's guests from overseas home for dinner. After chatting them up with a few "Yah"s and "No"s he came beaming to me and said "Amma naanu avara jothey English-nalli maataadta iddeeni, with a twinkle in his eyes. (Mummy, I'm talking to them in English.) It's not like we've ever asked him to talk to anyone in English, but when we lapse into it in conversations at home, he joins us. I mean, I've had a really aggressive aunt of mine, a teacher, who has always insisted on speaking to him in English whenever she visited -- earlier he would look at her agog, wide eyed, but never understanding a word. I used to love watching them together.

I must also mention that Sonny's English has hit a high with his watching very seriously this channel called Cbeebies -- the BBC's children's channel. Saying he's addicted is an understatement. I like the channel too because there are no advertisements, the programmes are really short, and are really targeted at the pre-school age  group (at least most of those he likes watching).  Moreover, all these programmes have some form of learning woven into them -- concepts of colour, shapes, names of animals etc. There's also a show called "I can cook" which my Sonny watches like he's seriously gonna make the dish next at home! Many of the sentences are enunciated slowly, and I have often caught repeating these short sentences like "He has gone to bed", or "The sun has set" as he watches the show.