Hi! People! It has been a long time since I figured out how to use GitHub Pages and consequently built this site. It does look very similar to Gyani’s site; I liked the way his site looked. That, and the fact that I was too lazy to go looking for another theme. So, thanks a lot, Gyanendra ‘soon-to-be-Londoner’ Mishra! I had delayed posting to the site because I hadn’t figured out how to integrate MathJax and Latex, but now I have! What that basically means is this - I can insert equations like in beautiful typeface. Just for this.

It has been just over two months since I came to Bangalore to pursue my thesis in the Centre for High Energy Physics (CHEP) at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc). A recent PhD Comic sums up a part of it -

My time here has been really good so far. Here is a list (non-exhaustive, a bigger list sometime later) of realizations that I have had since I came here :-

  • If you stare at something for long enough, you understand it. Or at least you think you understand it. In fact, I recently realized that, operationally, differentiating between ‘I understand’ and ‘I think I understand’ is one crucial aspect of learning.
  • Seemingly distinct ideas might be connected. For example, I am now reading up about a theory that connects complexity theory in computer science to black holes. Appreciating the theory has greatly enhanced my respect for quantum gravity theorists.
  • You might have heard that Bangalore traffic is bad. It is not. It is disgustingly pathetic and has the capability of sucking the life out of you. Once, a 2-kilometre cab commute took me almost half an hour! And this is very normal apparently.

So much for Bangalore Diaries now. I promise to write more later. Onto something else.

While in Pilani, the Saturday afternoon movie was a ritual. So much so, that I refused to interact with anyone during those hours. I sorta miss those days, for this among other things. Unfortunately, the ritual hasn’t travelled with me to Bangalore. But a few days back, I happened to watch a Malayalam movie I have been wanting to watch for a very long time - Angamaly Diaries. And boy, it was an experience!

What makes a movie ‘real’? It could be a genuine location, a plausible plot, or even the colour palette used. I think the key to making a movie real is the honesty with which characters are written and projected in the screenplay. As a viewer, I tend to focus a lot on understanding the motives of every character. Angamaly Diaries ticks all boxes on that front. The film is set in Angamaly, a town in Kerala, and it describes the people and culture of Angamaly. The poster of the film says it’s ‘katta local’. And it is! Here’s the trailer

The plot and premise might seem inspired from Gangs of Wasseypur, but it is an exceedingly original film. The colours in the film are bright and warm. Food and meat are major parts of the film as plot devices - true colours are used to evoke mouthwatering taste in some scenes and pukish gore in others.

But the standout for me in the film was the way each character was written and played. It is important to note here that Angamaly Diaries has no known or established actors - the film marks the first break for 86 actors! The clarity with which the writers wrote this film is worthy of applause. I always knew what every character’s next move was going to be, but never yawned in anticipation of these moves. I do have a feeling that this script would have been very tough to direct, and there the director Lijo Jose Pellissery shows outstanding class. He never lets you take your eyes off the screen!

The plot, for the most part, concentrates on a gang war and how in the war, human life can be bartered for money. It follows the conventional three-act structure with effortless brilliance. We get a tour of the titular character Vincent Pepe’s childhood, love life, and goondagiri. We get to know how the local culture and people of Angamaly have influenced him and his circumstances. I would not like to reveal too much about the plot itself, as that would take away from the charm of the film. Like I mentioned earlier, there is no suspense in the plot, but the predictability is a very important part of enjoying the film.

Special mention to the jawdropping 11-minute single shot climax, which is exquisitely executed by the cinematographer Girish Gangadharan. It is truly unlike anything I have seen in Indian cinema, and it reminded me of some scenes in Birdman (my favourite English film of this decade) shot by the great Emmanuel Lubezki. I have a feeling that both Gangadharan and Pellissery are going to remain on my stalking list for a long time. Here is Pellissery talking about shooting the climax (Warning: Spoilers in the video)

Another shout out to the music score. Some of the songs are just marriage band version of popular songs like Disco Dancer, and some other original songs are in Hindi, a rarity in Malayalam cinema. The background score used in action scenes is very original and loopy.

It is a really good time for Malayalam cinema, as compared to Hindi cinema which is frankly going through a lean patch. If you have not watched any ‘good’ south Indian film ever, Angamaly Diaries would be a perfect place to start!