Movie Review: The Lion King

 

Cute, adorable, innocent, astonishing multiplied innumerable times is what would best describe Baby Simba as he makes his appearance on the screen in ‘The Lion King’. As if that overload of cuteness is not enough, Simba makes you want to have him in your arms as he tosses around in his mom Sarabi’s arms. Dad Mufasa is as majestic as his son is cute. The ideal copybook lion! Mufasa is handsome to the core with a magnificent mane and a classic roar that would bring life to a halt.

Mufasa is a great dad and Simba quite a brat! The equation between the father and son is great. The twosome makes such an adorable duo. Alas! Villains and cheats abound in the animal kingdom too. Simba’s Uncle Scar and his sidekicks, the pack of hyenas, are a testimony to this. There are old faithfuls who would go miles to help out their friends in times of catastrophe. Zazu, the hornbill, is one friend the likes of whom everyone would like to have. Nala and Sarabi turn out to be soul mates extraordinaire to Simba and Mufasa. Their love and affection are boundless!

The jungle is a hostile place, especially for little lion cubs. Predators are lurking everywhere, behind the bushes and rocks, on top of trees, and sometimes in your own midst. Adventurous youngsters like Simba and Nala can prove to be quite a handful to their parents.

The adventure through the African wilderness is a marvellous experience and quite intimidating. The laugh of the hyenas could knock the daylights out of you. Thanks to the great animation and special effects, watching ‘The Lion King’ is one armchair journey you shouldn’t miss. Waste no time! Head to the nearest movie hall, put on those 3D/4D glasses and make the best of the next two hours.

 

 

 

 

 

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Lost amidst all the yellow!

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It is that time of the year when my favourite flowering tree, The Tree of Gold aka the Tabebuia argentea is in full bloom. The stunning spectacle of the Tree of Gold in full bloom keeps unfolding in my mind all through the year. I just love that divine feeling that engulfs me when I am near the yellow blooms. It is like festival time!

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My experience of sighting a fully-bloomed Tree of Gold is not complete without seeing the cluster of yellow canopies on the island surrounding the bandstand at Cubbon Park.

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A tricky thing is finding out when the tree is in full bloom. There have been times when I end up visiting the park when the tree is either not in full bloom or else a tad late when the flowers have started falling off. A couple of years back, five visits to the park turned out to be wrongly timed. That year, I never got to see the tree in full bloom although each of the six visits was beautiful in its own way. This year, I was second time lucky. Just a week back (on a Sunday), the tree had flowers but had not bloomed fully. I guessed that it will take another week or a fortnight for it to bloom fully. I guessed right; the following Sunday, three to four trees were in full bloom.

I reached Cubbon Park around half-past 5 on Sunday evening. This was around the same time I came to the park when the Tabebuia Impetiginosas were in bloom in November. The bandstand around which you can find the Trees of Gold is quite far away from the Corporation side entrance of Cubbon Park from where I entered the park. So it was a little early for me to tell if the trees were in full bloom. I had to walk for at least 10 min to reach the bandstand.

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As expected, the park was a beehive of activity as it was a Sunday. There were tourists, joggers, cyclists, children, photographers, and couples among others at every expanse of the park. I weaved through the sea of humanity all the time looking around here and there for photo opportunities if any. A lone crow perched on one of the park’s many ornamental lampposts caught my eye first followed by a jackfruit tree laden with fruit.

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So engrossed was I in looking for photo opportunities that I completely missed the first of the Trees of Gold. It was there in all its golden glory covered with flowers. I couldn’t believe my luck. There were a couple of shutterbugs around among who was my fellow shutterbug friend Priya who I completely missed seeing. It was only when I ran into her again that I realised she was in the park too 🙂 . We literally dashed into each other with our cameras.

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A puffed rice seller had chosen to do business under the tree. A very strategic location I must say! Just a stone’s throw away I could see the other trees looking resplendent in their yellow canopies. I couldn’t help admiring them.

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Just then, another puffed rice seller made his way toward the yellow blooms. He knew fully well that if he had to brisk business it had to be here.

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Selfie enthusiasts and photographers were at their enthusiastic best and so were their muses. The box covered with a blue rexine sheet which turned out to be an eyesore the last year was still around 😦 .  There were a few visitors who were relaxing under the canopies with mats spread out on the grass.

As I looked around I spotted this good-looking fella. Wonder what was in his mind?

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By now the puffed-rice seller had settled down comfortably and was waiting for buyers. And the good-looking fella had settled down comfortably under a tree.

By then a balloon-and-toy seller had also made his way to the place. He was selling bubble makers and trying to attract youngsters by blowing bubbles. His efforts bore fruit because in no time, a tiny tot made his way to him and started gesturing to his parents to buy a bubble maker for him. Seconds later, a group of kids had gathered around him.

 

A young Muslim lad was the most enthusiastic of the lot. He was jumping to catch the bubbles something most of us have done as kids. And even as he was jumping he called out to his uncle. The uncle rushed to his bubbly nephew along with the other children in the family and to my surprise bought only one bubble maker for four kids! Not surprisingly, the young lad was not happy and started wailing. He wanted one for himself. The visibly embarrassed uncle had to oblige the cry baby. Shortly, another kid from the same group came running towards the bemused seller. He wanted to exchange the bubble maker with one of another colour!

Very soon, there was another kid jumping high to catch the bubbles. He too called out to his parents to buy a bubble maker for him. The parents allowed their little one to play with bubbles as long as he wanted to before buying him one.

The good-looking fella had by now moved from under the tree to the centre of the lawn.

I hovered around till the security guards started whistling asking visitors to move out. And what I would say was a fantastic day came to an end. The yellow flowers, soap bubbles, kids and their energy levels and of course the good-looking fella made my day!

 

 

 

 

Movie Review – Uri: The Surgical Strike

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Poster courtesy: santabanta.com

Uri: The Surgical Strike is an action-packed thriller based on the 2016 attack on an Indian military camp in Uri, Kashmir by Pakistani militants and the subsequent surgical strikes by Indian armed forces on suspected military camps in PoK. The debut film of Aditya Dhar who has also scripted the film stands out for the stellar acting by its cast and also the special effects. Unheard of actor Vicky Kaushal shines as Major Vihaan Singh Shergill. So well has he portrayed the role that he could easily pass of as a real-life army major. Major Vihaan Singh Shergill, the lead character in the film, does not let some serious personal problems come in the way of carrying out his responsibilities. An Alzheimer-stricken widowed mother and later the death of his brother-in-law and fellow army man Major Karan Kashyap in the Uri attack does not come in the way of his “josh” or zest. A take away from this film is the phrase “How’s the josh?” which is often being used these days to boost a dipping morale or fire up individuals. The two actresses in the film Yami Gautam and Kirti Kulhari look good in their roles. One cannot imagine a glam girl like Yami in the role of a RAW agent. Kirti Kulhari looks smart as an IAF officer who in the film has lost her husband in an attack and wants to seize any opportunity to serve her country. She realises her dream when she gets to serve as a helicopter pilot in the surgical strike. There are hints of romance in the film here and there. But whatever romance the director tries to infuse in a scene at the culmination of the film between the RAW agent and Major Shergill looks too pedestrian. The scene might as well have not been there.

The movie not only showcases the might of our armed forces and their never-say-die attitude but most importantly displays their ability to rise up from the ashes. I would give it four stars out of five. It is definitely a must-watch!

Lal Bagh Flower Show – January 2019

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This year’s Republic Day edition of the famous Lal Bagh Flower Show turned out to be a fitting floral tribute to the Father of the Nation on the occasion of his 150th Birth Anniversary celebrations.

Various replicas of Mahatma Gandhi including floral ones were there everywhere. There were a few of Gandhiji’s wife Kasturba as well.

 

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While a grand floral replica of the Sabarmati Ashram was the cynosure of attention, I must admit I was more smitten by Gandhi’s monkeys especially the ones outside the Glass House that looked like they were coated with strawberry ice-cream. These huge replicas of the simians were sponsored by an ice-cream company. However, the pink replicas were installed in a fenced space much to the disappointment of selfie-enthusiasts.

Another disappointment was the arrangement of flowers. I missed taking many good pictures like in the earlier versions of the show as the flowers weren’t close enough for me to take pictures, armed as I always am with an 18-55mm lens. Luckily, there were a lot of pictures at the many nurseries for me to go click click click.

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There’s so much to eat at Avarekai Mela – IV

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After missing last year’s edition of this popular food soiree, I managed to make it to the fair this year and that too on a week day! I managed to get a day off. Yay!

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The traffic was dense on that Friday afternoon. I chose to travel during the lunch hours which would be most apt I should say to visit a food fest like this one. I must have reached Sajjan Rao Circle, the venue of the fair around 2.30pm. I had wanted to reach the place around 1 to 1.30pm but somehow couldn’t make it.

 

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There wasn’t much of a crowd. The unmistakeable aromas of dosas getting roasted on a tawa greeted me as I approached the food stalls. Undoubtedly, the dosas like always were the most desired items on the menu. The cherubic ever-smiling cook was there this time too, busy laying out Holliges. He seems to have become a media favourite over the years and had a lot of TV camera crew watching him with admiration.

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There were a lot of sellers adding to the lively atmosphere surrounding Vasavi Condiments, the organisers of the fest, including some who were selling raw avarekai. Buyers could choose to buy the avarekai either with the pod or shelled. Sacks of avarekai were also being downloaded at the venue.

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I was surprised at seeing this ice-apple seller. Ice apples normally hit the markets during the summer months. Perhaps, the early produce was an impact of climate change?

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This lady selling varieties of puffed rice was there at the 2017 edition of the fair too.

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Unlike earlier editions of the Avarekai Mela where I only had my camera with me, this time I had a smartphone too. Needless to say, I used both to take pictures. I went on a clicking spree for almost an hour.

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After I was done with the pictures, I decided to have a go for the food. In spite of the presence of so many delicacies at the stalls, I decided to go for my favourite, the Kali dosa with Avarekai sambar as the accompaniment. When waiting for my plate of dosas, I again took my camera out of the bag and clicked some more pictures. When the dosas arrived piping hot, I clicked a picture of them too. There were two on the platter. Hungry as I was, I finished off the dosas in no time. The taste was divine!

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Instead of going for another kind of dosa, I thought I would check out the Avarekai Pulao next. The Pulao which was served in a leaf bowl was a tad spicy and made me want to have something sweet.

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A highlight of this year’s Avarekai mela was the introduction of Avarekai softy ice-cream. I did not think twice before ordering a softy. When the softy arrived all green in a nice-looking cone, I devoured it. It was lip-smacking and almost made me want to go for one more. The craving to have more food vanished with the softy. Perhaps, I should have chosen to eat something else instead of the pulao. I walked around the stalls one last time and decided to go home. My feet had started aching too.

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This time of the year is for cakes!

It is the time of the year when the annual Nilgiris Cake Show is on and like always I found it difficult to give this event a miss. For the last seven years I have somehow managed to squeeze in a visit to the show. This year, I almost missed seeing the sugary beauties. My first visit to the St Joseph Indian High School Auditorium, the venue of the cake exhibition, on 25 December ended in disappointment as I had to do a U-turn at the venue because of the large Christmas crowd. There were visitors at every nook and corner of the ground and near the ticket counters. It would have been extremely foolish on my part if I decided to get lost in the sea of humanity. I thought a wiser move would be to go to a handicraft fair which I so badly wanted to visit.

The cake extravaganza was on till the 1st of January. The period between Christmas and New Year offered me no free time at all and I was wondering if I could go to the show at all. Another thought that played in my mind was whether I should go at all as I had already gone all the way to St Joseph’s once. Finally, I decided to go at the 11th hour on the last day of the exhibition. I reached the venue at around 5.30pm. Luckily, the crowd was not as big as the one that I saw on Christmas day.

Unlike the last two editions of the cake fair, I did not notice any bouncers and there were very few security men. Maybe, it was the timing. As the exhibition was drawing to an end perhaps the organisers decided to do away with the bouncers. It was a blessing in disguise as bouncers would have made my photography experience a little difficult.

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Photographing the prime attraction of the show, a replica of the Red Fort, proved to be tricky as there were a lot of selfie enthusiasts hovering around and trying out myriad poses and then there were people taking group photographs or photographs of their partners. I had to strain my legs and stand on my toes to get a picture.

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Adjacent to the Red Fort was another equally eye-catching cake, this one a multi-staired wedding cake with intricate work. All these cakes are the creations of students of the Institute of Baking and Cake Art.

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The next cake in the row was a cute one depicting a group of penguins.

I then moved on to check out the smaller cakes.

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This one of a genie (Aladdin’s genie) looked enchanting and straight out from a story of the Arabian Nights.

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Next was a colourful wedding cake.

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IMG_7430A cake avatar of a pagoda looked pretty followed by an equally pretty one of a fairy.

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A white wedding cake accentuated by sugary fish made for a lovely picture.

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This sewing machine looked so real!

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A cake version of a natural disaster looked interesting.

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The Buddha in his cake form looked so serene.

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In contrast to the Buddha, a Scorpio cake looked quite scary. I wonder if anyone would have the guts to sink their teeth into this one.

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To erase any thoughts of fear created by the Scorpio cake were a happy clown and a towering snowman looking so endearing with his red muffler.

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The Moana Wave cake showing an islander looked cute.

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A giant ribbon cake looked so yummy and so did the Easter Bunny.

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The dining table with sugary delights looked so inviting.

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A cake showing the newlywed Bollywood couple Deepika and Ranvir looked hilarious. Deepika in her cake form looked quite matronly.

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A cake of Christ the Redeemer looked so perfect.

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I forgot to check out what this cake was all about.

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A wedding cake with large floral motifs looked stunning.

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This group of cute insects looked adorable and so did another with Santas.

After drooling over the cakes, I walked into the adjoining space which was host to a consumer fair. After a quick walk through the fair I headed to the food stalls and settled down with some spicy chaat and a crispy Delhi papad with a sprinkling of chilli powder. With that I ended my visit to the cake show on a spicy note.