Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bollywood inside the classroom

I'm a movie buff. As a teacher, I firmly believe that audio-visual techniques can have a strong impact on the learning graph, and have tried to use it a lot. Personally also, I watch a lot of movies as they are the culmination of cumulative creative efforts of a big team of talented individuals, and hence makes for a good training tool for myself. I like intense movies. Irrespective of the genre, the movie must offer intensity. By the way, the generes I love are - comedy, mafia, war, strong intellect based, and humanity-theme movies.

My acid-test for classifying a movie as "wow" is
  • does it evoke strong emotions in me, while watching, and later?
  • does it rivet me to the seat while watching?
  • does it reflect strong intellect of those who made it?
  • does it give some strong message, that can have lasting value?
  • does it force me to re-watch parts of it again and again? And discuss those with friends?
If the answer is Yes for these, then I fall in love with the movie, never to forget it! I promote the ones I loved a lot. I talk about them, I like sharing things I liked in those movies with others. In this blogpost, let me share the names and key message from some of the movies I have truly loved. Kudos to the creators!

Assuming you have never taken this seriously, this blogpost will share some aspects of how a good learning habit can be developed by wathcing these masterpieces. Taste, after all, defines a man (and woman).

A.I. (Artificial Intelligence)
When I first watched this movie, it made me cry (towards the end when the robot David longs for his human mother). My wife suspiciously looked at me, but I did not stop crying. Tears kept coming.. and I realised the masterly quality of work Spielberg had put into making AI. The story is about a human future where robots are given humanlike emotions (although still classified as mechanical or 'mecha'), and are integated into human families. A lovely kid robot called 'David' does true justice to the genius of his creator (a scientist at a large firm) and proves a good learner of emotions. The world gets inundated (global warming and stuff), and 1000 years later, some creatures are digging up things all over. They find David, recharge his batteries, and all he asks for is a return to his human mother, which the creatures can do, but only for 24 hours, due to the specific limitation in the fabric of space-time. Wow! What a story, what a story! Strongly recommended. But be prepared mentally - it's heavy stuff and not many will like it (especially those accustomed to non-nuanced quick ends). Have seen this more than 10 times so far. Recommended for those who wish to learn more about science, its romance, & its application.

A fantastic case-study on how to make a large number of great elements gel well together, this is the one Indian movie that has it all - emotions, drama, colour, fantasy, love, action, panache and style. I particularly like the timelessness of a lot of scenes in this movie. The flood of ripoffs and spoofs still being made on various parts of this classic point at its eternal appeal. I like the raw emotional display the most. The rawness (purity) in Jay-Veeru's friendship, in Basanti's candour, in Gabbar's villainy, in Mausiji's innocence.. quite amazing. No part of this movie seems fabricated. It's like it must have happened this way. And we must remember that many actors in this movie were not 'great' till the time it was made - they became great later due to this movie. Surprising to see so many elements serendipitously fell in place so beautifully. It's almost as if God wanted it to happen this way. Have seen this movie at least 50 times so far (since childhood). Recommended for those who wish to play in the big league one day!

The Untouchables
The power of character screams through the screen as you travel through the mean streets of Chicago, as Kevin Kostener's team takes on Al Capone's dreaded syndicate. It is nice to see the strength of a cool, calm Treasury officer as he rids Chicago of the alcohol menace (during prohibition years in the US). The beauty of the movie lies in depicting the relationship of trust between till-yesterday-strangers, who come together to form a band of brother to fight crime, and are killed one by one, till the hero gets the better of the situation. The wise Malone (Sean Connery) acts like a true mentor for the daring but inexperienced Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner), whose strength of character is supreme. Best scene : the shot and dying Malone asks Eliot "What are you prepared to do now?" Very moving. And very powerful. Must watch! Recommended for those who realise that strength of character is perhaps the most powerful asset we can possess.

The Shawshank Redemption
Maybe one of Hollywood's greatest. This movie weaves around the theme of eternal hope, and how it can liberate humanity. Andy Dufresne is sent to the notorious and lifeless Shawshank prison for the murder of his wife and secret lover. He is lonely at first, but realizes there is something deep inside him that people can't kill and that is hope. Andy becomes friends with fellow-prisoner Red (Morgan Freeman). As I watched the movie, I started living the story of Andy. Morgan Freeman anyway is Hollywood's eternal moral voice (generally). The discovery that Andy kept removing small bits of the wall by digging with a small tool, year after year, till a big escape tunnel is ready - is stunning. The pacific blue end of the movie is quite overwhelming. An excellent work by the team. Must watch! Recommended for a permanent dose of optimism, specially for those who need it quite frequently.


Surprisingly little-known, this movie is such a nice portrayal of character and action, it forces you to sit back and pray it never ends! Arshad Warsi is at his best. The film is centred on the creation of a Special Task Force (STF) to tackle growing organised crime in UP. The sheer purity of approach and character of the policemen involved makes very interesting learning. The dangers of a regular working day add to the thrill. The choice they make - have to make - and the ultimate sacrifice they make in order to uphold the law of the land has been beautifully depicted. There is no melodrama, no over-acting, no screams, no unnecessary violence. Just what the plot demands. Even the villains are not the screaming-types. And the end is exceptionally moving. The telecom professor who is nowhere involved in actual police operations puts the full stop to the movie by pumping bullets into the dreaded gangster. Simple ideas really, but very nicely filmed. I liked it a lot! Recommended for those who love to be on the right side of law :-)

Matrix (the trilogy)
The Wachowski brother truly cracked it big time with their conceptualisation of a world that's a dream. Yes. In the word of Morpheus (to Neo) - "Imagine, if you were to ever have a dream that was so real that you could not wake up from it, how would you tell the difference between the dream world and the real world?" The movie is so good, it makes you come back again and again. The machines have taken over the world (in near future) and few of the humans left have gone underground and are trying to free those who are enslaved as batteries in a gigantic energy machine created for and by the machines. Wachowskis borrowed heavily from Mahayana Buddhism - the whole thing about what's real and what's not, and so on. The ultra-modern special effects coupled with beautiful performances by everyone makes it quite a show. This is a series of 3 movies - that end with a final message. It has everything - mentor-mentee relationship, lots and lots of ultra-chic action scenes (industry-changing, and much-copied worldwide), fundamental questions, human relationships .. Recommended for those who can go beyond the obvious and search for deeper meanings. "You have to let it all go, Neo. Fear, doubt, disbelief. Free your mind."

Recommended for those desiring to be really strong on being able to speak on intellectually rich issues.

Bruce Almighty
How difficult it must be to be God! To get a witty and interesting answer, watch this movie. In his absolutely inimitable style, Jim Carrey :-) is gifted the supreme power by God himself - to be the God for a few days and help the world. In just a few days, it all falls apart for poor Jim, as he realises that the millions of emails pouring into his Yawhee mail account, all requesting for some favour or other, can just not be handled. So he does the "Ctrl A, Yes to All" and all hell breaks loose. The movie beautifully carries the message that even if we were to turn into a God, life would not be easy at all. Maybe it will be more difficult. Quite a strong message. And the studio scene is one of the most hilarious I have ever seen. Recommended for those who can appreciate a powerful message wrapped in lovely sensahuma.

I will write more on this later, for sure. There are hundreds of movies that I would love to share my learnings with. We did a fantastic case-study on Jodha Akbar with a group of students last year. If you too would want something like this, let me know. Also, will love to hear which 3 movies have you liked the best!

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vidit said...

Dear Sir,
Nice to hear that you are actually fond of watching movies and have learnings from it.
We certainly used to have movie shows on Saturdays, but don't know why it has been stopped. Its my sincere request, if the movie shows can be rescheduled. It somehow help us to improve our English listening power.
Vidit Shah

Bhupendra said...

This is the most awaited blog(another most awaited is on "book") for me. I was expecting it for so long.

1)Shawshank Redemption (I made people watch this movie by hook or crook. My All time fav.I belive it is the sholay of hollywood)
2)Matrix( "After all it not the spoon that bends , but oneself")
3)Man from earth (This movie can make you an atheist .. breaks your belief system..simple but VVV Powerful movie.
4)Prestige(Nolan's Masterpiece. A truly didatic movie.Depicts what true devotion is...and what it takes.)
5)Dark Knight (Nolan's is god.No words to describe its greatness.A dark movie... You love the villian more than hero )
6)Changeling (strange but true event depicted. Still after watching the movie, you will find it hard too belive such a thing can happen)
7)Cinderella Man(A true story..)
8)AI (offcourse AI, It made me cry to.. though i didnt spilled them...) & Blade runner (Yes short of adjectives .. but again a masterpiece)
9)V for Vendetta (Truly a masterpiece)
10)LOTR (No words to describes its greatness, for fantasy lovers)

There are many of them still which i would want to add to this list..

Because of Different style of movie making, culture cues of target audience ,i avoid to compare hollywood & bollywood.

1) Sholay (Nev er heard of anyone saying any thing bad abt it.)
2) Andaz apna apna (you know why :)))))
3) lage raho munna bhai (way better than 3 idiots...)
4) company
5) Sehar
6) chupke chupke(old)

Unknown said...

Respected Sir,
Another wonderful blog. It touched upon a simple subject but was worth reading a good book. I am also a movie aficionado and my taste of genres falls almost congruously to yours with just one addition, namely, the intense love stories. I firmly believe that movies are just a medium to reflect what we are and they, at times, do present the society unveiled.
I can simply trace out the amount of labour and efforts that are put into the making of such good movies by mere comparing the labour I put with my group for making a nice presentation. It renders my mouth split wide open in awe.
But as is the case with holidays we get at PROTON, such good movies come quite infrequently.

The three movies I like the most are :

1. Dilwale dulhaniya le jayenge -
this epic movie is a cult love story and evokes the very natural, pristine and elementary feelings of love. Perhaps the best bollywood movie of 1990s.
2. Mughal-e- Azam-
a virtuoso creation of K. Asif. The quality of cinematography, music, performance of the cast, script and almost every aspect of film making was executed immaculately. Kudos.
3. Nayak-
this movie just stunned me. The revolutionary approach of the protagonist as a one-day Prime Minister was fascinating. Albeit for a short time, the movie made everybody believe that India can get rid of the clutches of the so called existing SYSTEM which includes every vice viz. dirty politics, tax evasion, eve teasing, red tapism, mafia etc. which are so frequently encountered by a common Indian.

There are 100s of other movies which I like but I just came out with those above mentioned at a quick call of memory.

And after writing all this I feel happy and nostalgic. How wonderful this exercise was. I have learnt, by the way you analyze and derive learnings out of a movie, that every good movie has some big learning to offer since it involve enormous human efforts. I would be more careful and alert while watching movies now onwards.

Thank you Sir.

Yours sincerely
Fall 09.

Avinash Choudhary said...

Respected Sir,
I have recently seen a movie titled RANN.It's a movie based on the present state of TV news channels in INDIA.It has a lots of learnings for MBA(enterpreneurship)students.If you find it worth discussing in any of your sessions please do it.My three favourite movies are
1- 300
3- Sholay
Yours Sincerely
Pr Avinash Choudhary

Abhiram Bhise said...

Brilliantly penned..
Studies are not the only form of Education.. :)

Some of my favorites have been
* Pay it Forward
* Batman- The Dark Knight.
* Any Given Sunday
* Schindler's list

Gud to see " Sehar " on the list..the movie never made it to the box office charts but.. top 5 on bright sparks is a relief !! :)

Test said...

Abhiram - Sehar is so delicately crafted it is a total treat! The extremely decent SSP leaves a solid impression. He is so polite, and yet completely firm. A lesson for many of us.

Avinash - Good suggestion. We will do it.

Munish - thanks for your comment. There is no doubt that once you fall in love with "quality" movies, your taste gets refined rapidly over time, and as a person, you improve. I hope you enjoyed your Sunday holiday yesterday.

Bhupendra - excellent lists, hollywood and bollywood separate. Good to read the names. And regarding the blogpost on Books, it will come soon. In fact I am planning to write some books myself, soon, on the following themese -
* Shivaji - leader-manager par excellence
* Books and Movies
* Challenges of modern youth


Vidit - we are restarting the movie shows (and other activities soon). Keep watching!

View Point: Nivsarkar, Himanshu said...

I am also a big movie and TV buff there are couple of movies which had an impact on me are,

1) Lawrence of Arabia: There is is this one monologue statement in the movie" there's nothing called destiny I make my destiny" The evolution of the character with his fallacies is facinating.

2) Remember the Titans: When we talk about teams this is one movie which has ingradients on team managment I like, though its controversial and some people say it does not work in real life, however I believe sports analogies are best to relate to business needs.

3)The ultimate movie which had an profound impact on me is The Godfather trilogy, though a movie about mafia life in US, it does holds some real good lessons for us a family person and offcourse business lessons.

I also like the character of Gregory House in the TV series house, if you see all the seasons you this serial the character evolves to a become a very real human being, a real human we see around us and the character does remind me of people I have met in my life.

Movies if written well and made well does inspire people, specially people in the impressionable age.

Best Regards,

Himanshu Nivsarkar

Jitendra Nainani said...

Dear sir,
I was very happy after reading your Blog dedicated to Movies and your Interest in Movies. I too watch Hollywood Movies and serials as a tool to improve my communication skill. I would like to suggest that these movies and serials like "FREINDS" should be a part of our routine academic schedule.

My Favorite Motivational movies:-
All the movies are a must watch for all budding managers.

1. life is beautiful(Learning- Extremely motivational movie. Do Everything with compassion and not with compulsion.)
2. Shawshank Redemption(Learning-Success never goes away from you unless you move away from it.)
3. Scheinder's list(learning-Sometimes one man with courage is a majority.)
4. Cast Away (Tom Hanks at his best. Height of Optimism.)
5. Forest Gump (Another masterpiece of Tom Hanks).
6. Terminal (Learning-Dedication is all you need to achieve your goal.)

I request you to that we can have a session on the above motivational movies.
Ur Sincerely
Jitendra Kumar Nainani
Fall 09

Test said...

Jitendra - you seem to be a BIG fan of the legendary Tom Hanks. Good choice indeed!

Himanshur - Lawrence of Arabia was awesome. The desert scenes and the music ... ooh! The Godfather trilogy has spawned so many me-toos and yet it has remained right on top!

Swati Grover said...

hello sir,
i m a regular reader of ur blogs and whenever i wanted to leave a comment something or the other stopped me--sometimes me procrastinating or sometimes because of my mind consumed in an ignited thought process,(see-after-effects of reading your blogs!!)grasping,recaling and justifying for what i have read.
But today i just could not stop myself,reasons-
1.myself a big movie buff
2.have seen almost all the movies listed by you and others
3.Lastly,got too excited after reading a blog on one of my interested areas :-),could not stop my fingers
So,here are some of my favourite movies(not including the ones which are already mentioned by others)
1.Pursuit of happiness
3.Good will hunting
4.Requim for a dream
5.Catch me if you can
6.Dead poets society

2.Mr and Mrs Iyer
3.Dil chahta hai
5.Taare zameen par
7.Rang de basanti

that was my list...i have missed many,but anywas each and every movie written above had some kind of effect on me and thats the very first citerion for me rating a movie-good and the second being how successfully that movie can create the same effect everytime i watch it.
Thats all from me
Thank you sir for writing these blogs(you are doing a great job)
You are a great source of inspiration for me and many others
God bless you
yours sincerely

Test said...

Swati - that surely came straight from the heart! Good to read your choice of movies.

Personally speaking, I really need to catch up on Hollywood. One of these days, I will vanish for a month, and come back totally updated and energised with inputs on each one of the Top 100 movies ever made in both H/Bollywood :-))

Siddy said...

A great post again sir!!!
Truly thought provoking... :)
i wanted u to know about three of my favorite movies sir and what u think about them... :-)
1. Forrest Gump
2. Rang de Basanti
3. Dil Chahta Hai

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