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MAMI 2016

I have been scouting recommendations on the internet and watching good movies screened at MAMI last year.

Here are the ones I have seen yet. Will keep updating them in this post so it's easier to access.

An Insignificant Man 
Language : Hindi 
Available for viewing on Youtube.

This documentary was screened at MAMI last year and was quite popular. I couldn't catch it in the theatres when it released this year but now it is available on Youtube.
Arvind Kejriwal's arrival in politics is very significant in the country. The way he brought Delhites to the streets and banded them together against corruption is nothing short of a revolution. He brought people hope and made them realise there is an alternative to two options- BJP and Congress that were available until then.
Whether you like him or hate him, you can't ignore any of this. Do catch it.

The Similars (Los Parecidos) 

Language : Spanish
Available for viewing on Netflix.

It is set in the 1960s when there is a hurricane in Mexico and a few people (3 women, 3 men and a child) from different walks of life are stranded at a bus station. They are all desperate to leave but strange things start happening. They have epileptic fits one by one and start looking like one of the men (Ulises). They turn on each other unsure who is doing it.
I liked how wacky, imaginative, gross and funny this flick is. Worth a watch.

Under the Shadow

Language : Persian
English dubbed version is available for viewing on Netflix

This is a Persian movie set in Iran during the 80s when it was at war with Iraq. Iraj is a doctor who is sent off to the war zone leaving his wife, Shideh and daughter Dorsa alone. A missile lands on the roof of their building and brings along a Djinn who is starts haunting Dorsa.
But the movie is so much more. It is about Shideh's insecurities as a mother, the grief of losing her mother, the new rules set by the government she has to now live by. The only place she can be herself is her home and even that is haunted by a ghost.
I watched most of it during my commute to work and couldn't watch the horror scenes very clearly. Thankfully.
Worth a watch.


Language : Hindi
Available for viewing on Netflix

This mockumentary (a documentary like movie which is based on fiction instead of reality) got positive reviews last year.
It is about an auto rickshaw driver in Mumbai whose every move is getting filmed by a crew of three. It starts interestingly enough and then enters into dark territory. The acting is so real that I couldn't believe it has been played by actors instead of real people.
Some of the incidents are tough to watch and obscenities are used liberally because that is how normal people talk.
I watched it in bits and parts and so the dark undertones were easier to bear.


Language : Spanish
Available for viewing online. Google a little.

This movie was on the every recommendation list last year.
It is very loosely based on the Pablo Neruda's life when he was on the run from the Chilean government for speaking against the President. The director has taken many liberties with the facts. A Nobel prize winning poet and a communist, Neruda, is pursued by a detective and the movie is from his perspective.
The poems are amazing.


Language : Portugese
Available for viewing on Netflix.

This is a story about a 65 year old widow and a writer who lives alone. Her three kids live in the same city. A construction company has bought all the flats in her building and are forcing her to sell but she is adamant about keeping her home. She has to deal with their harassment but refuses to back down.
I have never seen a movie where a senior citizen's character has been treated this well. Watch it just for that.


Language : Arabic
Available for viewing on Netflix.

This is an Israeli film about Layla and her mother Jalila. Layla has been brought up in a sightly modern environment where her father lets her drive and she has a cellphone. Her mother finds out about her affair with a boy in school but Layla rebels.
The story is nothing new and the end left me feeling meh but it's worth a watch.


Language : French
Available for viewing on Amazon Prime

This movie is about the CEO of a video games company who gets raped in her home by a masked man. What does she do next? Nothing. She goes about with her life like it was an accident.
But that isn't the only thing this movie is about. It is about her relationships with the people around her. The screwups. And her affair with the rapist. It was a little hard to digest but who am I to judge.
I loved the female lead and the way the rape has been treated. Unfortunately, people think rape is the end of someone's life or something.

Barakah meets Barakah

Language : Arabic
Available for viewing on Netflix

This movie is the first rom com from Saudi Arabia and gives a realistic picture about how hard dating and falling in love in that country is.
A municipal enforcement officer falls in love with an instagram star (who can't show her face on social media).
Sweet. Funny.

The Salesman

Language : Persian
Available for viewing on Amazon Prime

This was one of the most popular movies at MAMI last year. I stood in the queue but didn't get in. It released in the theatres in India few months back.
The movie is about a couple who move into a new house. The wife is assaulted when the husband isn't around and this creates tension. She wants to forget and move on while his manhood is hurt and looking for revenge.
It's a good movie but overhyped. Worth a watch though.

I, Daniel Blake

Language : English
Available for viewing on Netflix

This is a touching movie about the state of welfare schemes for the unemployed in UK. Daniel Blake has suffered a heart attack and his doctor advises rest. But according to the government he is fit to go back to work. During his conflict with the bureaucracy, he befriends a single mother.
Please do watch this one.

A Death in the Gunj

Language : Hindi
Available for viewing on Amazon Prime

This was the opening film at MAMI last year and is Konkona Sen's directorial debut. Starring Ranvir Shorey, Vikrant Massey, Kalki Koechlin, Jim Sarbh, Tillotama Shome, Om Puri, Tanuja and Gulshan Deviah, it is set in the 70s in the town of McCluskiegunj.
The movie is about the brutal world of adults where sensitive individuals are not heard. That is the gist of it. I loved the movie and how it made me feel. The tranquil pace is intoxicating. Relationships are so complicated and there is so much that goes unexpressed.

This is a must watch. Absolutely loved it and I can't wait for Konkona's next.


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Quick recap of the 44 books read in 2017

Capital by Rana Dasgupta

A wonderful book about Delhi and very unlike the usual ones. It doesn't tell you how awesome the city but tries to figure out why it is so messed up. Many things in the book are applicable to this country as a whole but there are some things very inherent in Delhi. It is a dark book and hard to read at the end of a long work day.
Whether you like the city or hate it, read this book. And the people who are neutral towards the city don't exist so everyone falls in either of these categories.

When I hit you: Or, a portrait of the writer as a young wife by Meena Kandasamy 

I couldn't find the kindle version and read it on the juggernaut app. The book is about the author's short lived marriage filled with domestic violence and rape.
The author is a woman like you and me. She married a guy she chose and was the victim of his abuse for months. She managed to walk out only once she was on the verge of getting killed.
This book should be read by everyone…


Muramba is a Marathi movie available on Netflix. It stars Sachin Khedekar, Mithila Palkar, Amey Wagh and Chinmayi Sumit.

Alok and Indu have been dating for years and are on the verge of getting engaged when they break up. Alok's parents are concerned. The movie is about Alok narrating to his parents the differences between him and Indu and why they broke up over a period of one day.

It is funny and sweet and brushes against some serious issues but does not delve deeper into them.
Loved it. I would highly recommend this flick.


The Vegetarian by Han King The cover of the book mentioned that this is an erotica and so I picked it up. The beginning was very intriguing with a woman, Yeong-hye who stops eating meat one day. In Korea, this is considered weird. Her husband, who didn't love her anyway, walked out of the marriage. Her brother-in-law becomes obsessed with her and they have sex. The sister catches them in the act and the woman tries to commit suicide. She is put in an institution.  I am still trying to figure out what the book was all about. It wasn't erotica for sure. Was it about mental illness? But it doesn't talk about that either.  The end felt like the writer was bored or lost his thought mid way. 
An Era of Darkness by Shashi Tharoor It took me a few weeks, a break of 2 months, and another few weeks to finish reading the book. Shashi Tharoor had given a speech about how the British rule is responsible for many of India's problems and they should pay a token penalty as a symbol. Th…