Posted in Scribbled Thought

Axone : A Recipe from North-East India

So, this Thursday I just watched this film. I got a suggestion from Scoopwhoop. And it was not a bad decision. Axone is a food product of Nagaland. I searched about it on the internet and Wikipedia showed that the word Axone is made of two words. Axo means aroma and Ne means deep. So the word Axone means deep smell. This is fermented soybean. I thought, “Okay, I might learn a new recipe.” And guess what!! This movie really made a nice dish. North-east India consists of 7 states.

But there are hundreds of ethnic groups are coexisting among the 7 states. They have different languages, cultures, food habits and of course physical appearance than the rest of India. Whenever I think about that region, I can’t help but think about the beautiful nature, colourful dresses, people with warm smiles and tasty foods. But in the mindset of mainland India, their mongoloid look makes them less Indian and ‘Axone’ tells that story.

Story Outline

The movie starts with a scene of a few young people collecting some ingredient and utensils to cook for their friend. They live in Delhi, capital of India. They are the north-eastern Indian, living in Delhi. Some of them are looking for a job. Some of them are preparing for Govt. exam. Some of them are running a shop. But together, they are like a family. As the story goes on, it is revealed that one of them, Minam is getting married in a small ceremony.

To surprise her, Chanbi and Upasana, her two roommates are making axone as it is a very important dish for the wedding. Though they managed to gather the ingredients, the real problem arose when they started to cook. As they put the Axone, the fermented smell irritated the neighbours and they protested (obviously powered by their stigma against the North-Eastern people). The story revolves around their problem to find a place so that Axone can be cooked.

Scribbled Thought

In this movie, if I think the hot pot resembled India then the ingredient Axone is the northeast. Without it, the dish is not complete. Actors in this movie have been cast properly. But I think the director has not used Adil Hussain properly. In the whole movie, he just kept watching others. I don’t know what does it meant. Was he representing the common attitude of Indians of watching everything without getting involved? The character Shiv is a perfect portrayal of next-generation Indians. He jokes about everything. He constantly asks for a northeastern girlfriend to show himself edgy. He felt shocked when Bangdong cursed him saying ‘Indian’. I think this is a powerful scene. Bangdong is a traumatized person. His backstory is something we are habituated to watch in the news. Often they are branded as ‘Chinese’ due to their appearance. This scene was a slap on this mentality.

I liked the story of Zorem also. This movie beautifully portrayed the emotional evolution of a man to let go of the past and accepting the present. The character Chanbi is the thread holder of the story. She is the mother figure of the group and a fierce woman. But at some point, she also breaks down when the neighbours threaten them to throw them out. But in this movie, we got to see the harmonious side also. Many northeastern people have settled in Delhi. They got married in another community. They are having their own family. Dolly Ahluwalia and Vinay Pathak, both of them are the comic relief and these characters supported the team whenever it was necessary. The end scene was beautiful. The dresses they wore were so colourful and beautiful, I said, “Mom, I need to buy few Mekhlas.” In the end, I would like to say that this movie is a nice short story which will keep lingering into your minds days after watching it.

Posted in Scribbled Thought

Kingdom : A Masterpiece of Thriller Genre

Since my college days, I have been a great fan of the South Korean film industry. My first drama was ‘Boys Over Flower’. It was the first South Korean drama of every girl I knew in my hostel. And obviously, Lee Min Ho and Kim Hyung Jun were our princes of the dream. As the time flows by many other dramas such as ‘Playful Kiss’, ‘Sunkyungkwang Scandal’, ‘City Hunter’,’Moon Embracing the Sun’, ‘Personal Taste’, ‘Coffee Prince’ etc. became our top choice. I was introduced to movies as well. ‘Millionaire’s First Love’ was the first Korean movie I ever watched. And it made me cry like hell. ‘Innocent Steps’, ‘Miracle in cell no. 7’, ‘Song of Flower’, ‘A Moment to Remember’, ‘The Fortress’ were some notable pieces among what I have watched.

As time was ticking towards 2020, the drama contents became more mature. In the new era dramas. more fierce female characters were introduced. Like in ‘Ruler’, the character called Hwa Gun was a notable badass character. She was not the traditional damsel in distress, rather the saviour of the crown prince. When I first saw the trailer of ‘Kingdom’ on youtube, I was excited. Though my favourite genre is a period drama, I never thought that someone could mix a zombie apocalypse into it. Starring Ryu Seung Ryong and Heo Joon Ho, this drama made me impatient to finally subscribe for Netflix.
(P.S: Torrent is more popular here.) When you are mixing a zombie thriller into a historical drama, you must have a strong storyline to do the justice for the audience. Kingdom didn’t disappoint me.

Story Line

The introduction starts with a ritual where a royal dead body is brought back to life and the series started with a snarling of a beast in the king’s bedchamber; followed by a sudden death of medical personnel. The story revolves around the only son of the king, Lee Chang whose mother was a concubine. He was named as the crown prince. But the current situation in the royal court was mysterious. The king had been sick for a prolonged period and he was not attending the royal assembly. In the palace other than the young queen, her father Cho Hak-Ju and their retinue no one was allowed to meet the king. Out of suspicion, with the help of his bodyguard Mu-Young Lee Chang found out that something is odd about the king’s sickness and set out to a journey to find the doctor who had treated the king. Meanwhile, the attending doctor Lee Sang-Hui returned to his clinic in his town with the dead body of his assistant (mentioned earlier). The town was suffering from terrible famine and various diseases. Out of hunger, the starving people cooked the dead body and eat it up without the doctor’s knowledge. As the sun set, they started to turn into zombies. That night only Seo-Bi (Assistant physician) and Young-Shin were able to survive the attack. But the next day the prince found out the bodies and asked the local magistrate, Bom Pal to investigate the matter. Later Seo-Bi and Young-Shin begged them to burn the bodies while it was daytime but they were ignored. As a result at that night, the whole town was under attack of zombies and only a few survived. Devastated with the situation Lee Chang and the survivors set out for Sangju to take refuge under Lord Ahn Hyeon.

In Sangju Lee Chang was informed that someone in his team was leaking the intel to Cho Hak-Ju and was advised to stay alert by Ahn Hyeon. Meanwhile, Ahn-Hyeon seemed to have information about the zombies and they started to build a barrier against the zombie attack in the night. But to their surprise, the zombies started to attack in the daytime. Unable to control the situation the crown prince decides to go to Cho Hak-Ju to find out the truth accompanied by his team. On that night the people found out about the death and zombification of the king. Though the prince was able to set the king free, he had to pay a heavy price. Under the charge of patricide, Cho Hak Ju arrested him. Before setting out for capital Hak-Ju was attacked by a zombie and was severely injured. With the new support of the officers, present there Lee Chang started his journey to the capital. Meanwhile, all the time Seo Bi was busy in researching the zombification and found the plant responsible for it. While treating Cho Hak Ju she found the fundamentals and stopped him from turning into a zombie. But Hak-Ju kept her by his side. He sensed something wrong with the Queen’s pregnancy. Later the prince arrives at the capital but the queen already had taken power with the help of her newborn son. While asking for the legitimacy of the child, Lee Chang and his group found out that the palace was under attack of a surge of zombies. The second season ends with a huge question for the fate of the kingdom and the mysterious appearance of a woman with many chained zombies under her control.

In My Views

The best part of the characters in this drama is they have different shades of grey. You can’t judge them whether they are completely right or completely wrong. Everyone on this was fighting to survive. The crown prince’s transformation from an ignorant person to a true leader would make you fall in love with him. As for Mu-Yeong, he had his reasons for every action. He was a perfect example of a loyal bodyguard and a responsible husband. Beom Pal was a pitiful character. He shows that how much forced career choice by families can destroy a person. Seo Bi and Young Shin reflect the struggle of common people crushed under the pressure of nobility. The series could have had given Ahn Hyeon’s character a bit more screen time. Though Cho Hak Ju was a villain with class but his daughter was the epitome of ruthlessness. The drama has successfully depicted the curse of class system. Improper distribution of food throughout different classes were shown in a scene where some nobleman wasted few piece of abandoned meat and a poor on-duty guard was thinking about eating that piece. While the people were eating a dead human body, the queen burnt her silk gown just because it soaked few drops of blood.

The series also depicted the contrast of living standard of common people and nobility. While few people are living in a luxury while majority of common people are forced to live in misery. They could be sacrificed at anytime for the sake of kingdom.
As for the casting, everyone is appropriate. Ryu Seung Ryong is a veteran actor. I have seen his many films and series. Whatever characters he has picked so far; be it a gay character, be it a Pansori teacher or a powerful villain he has done the justice. He will manipulate your judgement for the characters for sure. But I would like to mention the name of Kim Hye-Jun (The Queen). I have never seen an actor expressing so much wickedness and ruthlessness by just a cold stare. She will give you chill for sure. The story is not always told on a serious note. It had moments of comic relief too. Specially the moments of Lee Chang and Mu-Yeong were quite funny and warm.
The best part of this drama was its sound effect. Unlike western horror films where the shrill sound effects irritate, the makers had used more subtle low-tone music which will make your heart beat faster out of tension. VFX, costume and cinematography are superb. But the hero of the series is its storyline and plot twist. Even after watching it twice, I could not get enough of it.

I highly recommend you to watch this series if you love thriller genre. This series has a perfect introduction to perfect ending of the concept of zombies.
Damn this Netflix. The story could have been wrapped up in two seasons. Was it really necessary to introduce Jun Ji-Hyun’s character without giving us any clue? Now we have to wait for another year amidst this pandemic for another season.

Posted in Scribbled Thought

The Prada was not worn by the Devil

When I first watched the movie, ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, I was 20 years old, a final year student B.Tech Program. I had a job offer and this movie could have taught me, the struggle of Andrea for her survival in a fashion magazine office. I think every woman should watch this movie. This movie got everything, from a good direction to a wonderful wardrobe (even for the junior artists) to strong women and a the wonderful parallel story track of Andrea and Miranda.

The Story

This movie, based on the novel of the same name by Lauren Weisberger, starts with parallel shots of the morning routine of the women working for the ‘Runway’, fashion magazine and Andrea, an aspiring journalist who is preparing herself for the interview. When the women are seen covering themselves under branded and fashionable clothings and makeups(even their undergarment are branded too); Andrea is shown as another girl next door. She is not even aware of the name of the editor-in-chief of the magazine. Her interview with Miranda was quite catastrophic. Miranda Priestly, a graceful, strong-headed and fashionable woman didn’t even bother to ask her more than two question. But she was selected as her assistant.

Andy, Miranda and Emily

The first half of the movie revolves around how Andy is struggling to survive as the Dragon Lady’s assistant and simultaneously taking the essence of fashion as granted. Her colleagues Emily and Nigel were her breathing mask under that pressure.
Then one day she realised as she is working for a fashion magazine, legendary in the fashion world, being indifferent towards fashion won’t help her. And that was her turning point. The second half shows her success, development in personality, her struggle to cope up with her personal life and ultimately her choice to ditch Emily to attend the Paris fashion week as Miranda’s assistant.

The story comes to a full circle when Miranda opened up to Andy about her upcoming divorce, her genuine motherly love for her twin daughters and how media will blame her success for that. Andy also faced the same thing before coming to Paris. Her boyfriend and her friends also blamed her success as she was unable to give them the time they were used to get. Thus both women; the successful and the aspirant stands at the same point. But unlike Miranda, Andy chose her personal life and quit Runway for another big publication.

Andrea, the Aspirant

I think Andrea is us, the young naive little girl. She dreams to be a journalist but she lacked the homework for the interview she was going to appear in. She thinks that the potential talent and brain matters not the look. That’s why Miranda stated that she has no fashion sense but she got the job because of her impressive resume and her confidence.

The careless Andy

Like all of us, she is clumsy, adaptive, curious, determined but takes her job granted. To her, ‘Runway’ is just a magazine. But for Nigel, her senior and friend from the office pointed her out, “Do you think this is a magazine? This is not just a magazine. This is a shining beacon of hope.” He enlightens her that fashion is another form of art and Runway publishes some of the greatest artist of the century. His enlightenment was the wake up call for her. She learns to love fashion. She learns that when you can’t succeed in your job until you learn to love the essence of the job and adapt the environment of the workplace. Eventually with the help of both brain and beauty she was able to be Miranda’s close person; even Miranda opened up to Andy about her insecurities in the personal life.

Her transformation after accepting the essence of her workplace

The Colleagues

If it was not the first assistant Emily and the art director Nigel, Andy would never be able to transform and be Miranda’s favourite. Though they were the supportive character, still they left their mark on the movie.
Emily was a classic ‘devoted to the boss’ employee. She tries her best to keep up with Miranda’s expectations but fails all the time. She doesn’t want any competition coming in her way. Inshort she worships the magazine. But never gets the reward she wants. She only helps Andy whenever she needs Andy’s help. She is basically the every other toxic yet helping colleague you meet everyday.

And there is Nigel, the angelic colleague who will become your best friend slowly. If it was not Nigel, Andy would have been fired long ago. He is a good observer with a sharp nose. Just by smelling Andy’s breath he figured out that she had Onion beagle in the breakfast. He can read people thoroughly. And the best thing about him that he is easy going with everyone. When Andy started to shine, he warned her about the proud attitude she might get as a part of her success. Though Nigel’s sexual orientation was not revealed properly, but he is the epitome of metrosexual men. Personally I would love to have an husband who has such good taste in fashion.

Miranda, the Marvellous

Miranda Priestly is the other name of success. She is perfectionist, punctual, stylish, composed, organized. And she wants her assistants to be exactly like her. Her character is based on Anna Wintour, the editor in chief of Vogue Magazine. Miranda knows exactly what she wants, be it her starbucks or the brand new collection from a new designer.

At the beginning Emily stated that she is a legend. The very news of her coming to the office was enough to put everyone on line. She is so punctual, that even Nigel was surprised why she was 15 minutes early. She works in a fashion magazine. She is a zero tolerance perfectionist. So she expects everyone in the office to keep the essence of fashion alive. She is an iron willed woman. So everyone tries to live upto her expectation. She is dedicated to fashion and art. Only she can distinguish the difference between cerulean blue and turquoise blue. She can even lecture about the origin of cerulean blue. As she takes her job seriously she can clearly remember the exact cover topic of an issue published two years ago.

But Miranda is an ultimate genius woman and a great politician. She knew that she was supposed to be removed by the board to bring much younger Jacqueline. Her true character was prominent only in the fashion week arc. She offered the creative director post of fashion designer Holt to Jacqueline as she honoured the talent of her dear rival. Though she had a tough image but she adored real talents like a true leader. So she easily got the signs of writer, photographer, models, designer and others whom she discovered and nurtured to assist Runway on the petition to stop her from leaving Runway. And she was well aware of Nigels loyalty and talent. That’s why she kept him by her side. She was devastated about her divorce. But she was more worried about her children than her own image. She was not stone hearted after all.

In my eyes, Miranda was never the devil. She was a born leader and she wanted the best to be extracted out of her employes. Her influence changed the clumsy Andy into an organized dignified woman. Miranda faced the same criticism which are always used against the strong willed career oriented woman. Those criticism are only used to make the women feel guilty as they wish to be ambitious. May be the film was released in 2006. But after 13 years still this movie is relevant to inspire women to be like Miranda or Andy or Nigel. Just be ambitious. Be headstrong. Then may be one day their success stories will be featured as the cover story.