June 26th, 2016


Movie Critique 2016 – 04/08/2016: Ugaadi

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a movie review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 2.5 / 5
Recommendation: For those lazy days and nothing to do, watch this on youtube and while away your time.

Happy Ugadi!!! Ugaadi ( = New Year), is the New Year festival according to Hindu Calendar for Telugu and Kannada communities from South Indian communities. This year the festival fell on eighth of April this year, the day for which this post also is assigned. I had been thinking what to post for this day and after a lot of pondering and google searching, I decided to finally watch the 1997 Telugu film Ugaadi. I had never watched this movie for only one reason - the lead actor S. V. Krishnareddy. He is the Himesh Reshamiyya of South India - meaning as long as he doesn’t act, and only composes music or writes plots for movies they are watchable. **Evil Grin** And now I watched this movie mostly forwarding the expected scenes. **Wicked Grin**

A jack of all trades and apprentice lawyer, Raju (portrayed by S. V. Kirshnareddy), works all kind of odd jobs around the town along with this apprenticeship at one of the reputed law firms. His family thinks he is earning a lot as a lawyer and constantly demand him with money problems and expect him to solve - his widowed mother, his sister and brother who are still in college / school studying, his older sister thought married to a local constable still reaches out to him for anything for their home. He resorts to doing all kinds of odd jobs along with this friend, Bosu (portrayed by Sudhakar) to earn the extra money.

A case that his boss was handling between Narendra and Surendra - two bigshots in town - gets him tangled with Surendra (portrayed by Sharat Saxena) - the evil don of the town.  Raju being a straight arrow declines to play the games that Surendra want him to play to win the case. This begins the tough fight for Raju in dealing with Surendra and his increasing family problems. Added to that the loans he takes keep piling up and pressure to fulfill them. Hie love interest, Laila (portrayed by Laila) is the grand-daughter of one of the leading businessman. Here comes the only twist (although predictable) - she is also the daughter of Surendra, the same guy whom Raju fought against and got him convicted of the crime that costed Surendra quite a bit of money. The rest of the movie revolves around Raju and Surendra face-off and how they outwit each other - one to marry Laila and one to get her not married to Raju. For somebody who was projected as an evil do, the ending is very sudden and very simple.

The plot is moderate with no suspense or sudden thrills. And easy to expect what the next scene would be. Stunts are average and at times exaggerated like in most Telugu -movies. The lead actor, S. V. Krishnareddy, borders on over acting - which is why I never really liked watching his movies. Incidentally he is the Director, Music Composer, Screenplay, Writer of the Story and also Singer. That is a tad bit more for one person to shoulder the movie. Don’t get me wrong, he is handsome and good looking and perhaps better than most actors. But I still like his music better. Like I said, he is the Himesh Reshamiyya of South India. :) It is so odd to see Sharat Saxena in a softer side (including a song) when all I can see him only as a villian. That was really weird.

It makes me wonder how far we have come with salaries and expenses. The movie shows Raju earning a salary of Rs. 750 per month as an apprentice lawyer. I don’t think that is the basic salary now even for household help now.

The movie stars some well-known comedians that are no longer in this world - Nirmalamma (a character artiste with her timing comedy), Kallu Chidambaram and Amanchi Venkata Subrahmanyam "AVS". Their comedy along with other comedians is above par because of which the movie was bearable. Sad to see these gems have been snuffed off.

Music is good enough that some of the songs are still memorable. The signature tune that plays from the beginning of the movie till the end, all thru and two songs is very catching and haunting I must say. Some of the tunes below.

Choosa Oka Maaru

Innallu Ee Mabbullo

Preyasi Navve Aasissu Su


Book Critique 2016 – 04/09/2016: Spirit Bound (Sisters of the Heart/Sea Haven #2)

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For review on Drake Sisters Novels: Go here.
For review of all books from Sisters of the Heart/Sea Haven series: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: Yes, if you want to continue with the Sea Haven novels, believe in siblings made even though not related by blood, believe in second chances and true love.

Sisters of the Heart / Sea Haven is the spin-off series from the Drake Sisters Novels written by Christine Feehan. Six women form a family after they meet in a special grief counselling group that deals with victims of violent crimes. Each of them had suffered extreme loss. While working through their grief, they form a unit loving and trusting each other. They combine their resources, buy large portion of the land in Sea Haven and form their own farming community. Each one of them own five acres and have a home of their own, the rest of the farm being shared among them. Though they don’t relate to each other by blood, they have form a bond through heart. Here are the stories of six strong women calling themselves as Sisters of the Heart, dealing with their past, overcoming unbelievable challenges and finding true love.

The series also follows the line of Prakenskiis - the seven sons of the seventh son - similar line to the Drakes but all men. They are born in Russia into a family with magic and psychic powers. As children their parents were murdered by corrupt Russian Government officials, separated from each other and placed in facilities that trained them brutally in every way to become enhanced soldiers and killing machines. Now each of the brothers are hunted by their government as their services are no longer required. It is said that where one Prakenskii settles the others get drawn there and settle. Ilya Prakenskii - seventh son and carrier of the family legacy - settles in Sea Haven after resigning from Interpol, marrying the sixth Drake sister, Joley Drake. Now the remaining brothers follow, leaving their past, striving on a second chance at the kind of life they want and falling for each of the six Sisters of the Heart.

Spirit Bound is the second installment in the Sisters of the Heart / Sea Haven Series published in December of 2011. The plot is surrounding Judith Henderson, the second sister of this small family of sisters formed by heart - has the ability to control the element of Spirit and famed for her kaleidoscopes and restoring old art work - and Stefan Prakenskii, the third Prakenskii brother - ability to read auras, telepathic and also trained to be a killer like his other brothers among other abilities.

Stefan Prakenskii after helping his brother, Gavriil escape Russia, picks up where he had left off in finding who had sold out their country which led him to Jean-Claude La Roux. The last link in the line of people responsible for hurting and destroying Gavriil's career is Jean-Claude. Now Stefan is sharing a cell with him in the prison in Paris waiting for an opportunity to finish him off.

Jean-Claude is the head of a vast criminal empire with unbelievable wealth and hoards of connections. He is obsessed with his former lover (at least in his mind) - Judith Henderson and has posted all his walls with photos of her in various places, situations and angles. He had put a surveillance around her. Stefan feels a connection to her the moment he sees her picture. And to his delight or frustration, his handler is sending him to Safe Haven to establish a relationship with Judith ahead of time before Jean-Claude escapes from the prison and reaches her.

Stefan is stunned that Sea Haven has again come into his family where his youngest brother Ilya Prakenskii is settled, married to the famous singer Joley Drake and his other younger brother Lev Prakenskii disappeared there presumed dead. He wanted to go and find the truth about Lev, and also figure out the strong feeling he had towards Judith. He accepts the mission, however reluctantly and with high suspicion, to save Judith from Jean-Claude's clutches - unbeknownst to the fact that she is the one who will infact save him from losing himself.

Judith Henderson is settled well with her sisters in Sea Haven and with her art work and kaleidoscopes. She has her dark secrets that she keeps from her sisters and locked inside. She also has powers that she is afraid of being not in control and might harm everyone around her including her sisters. Yet, she works to survive and make a life for herself. Now two men are fixated on her, one she knows and fears and the other she is coming to like and afraid he might steal her from herself.

What is the dark secret of Judith that ties all the major players together? What will happen if she unleashes all her rage and power? How is Stefan tied to her? Will Stefan find Levi and save him from the cleaner? Which means will the cleaner also be after Stefan? How much will Jean-Claude achieve in capturing Judith back? Will all his money and power aid him or destroy him? Why is the government now after all the best agents that it had created only to destroy them?

Christine Feehan as always spun the plot melding the secret world of art and smuggling, powers of magic and conspiracy of murders with love, romance and sexual elements. She has cleverly put two characters Thomas Vincent (Stefan's undercover) and Stefan Prakenskii at each other's wit and played them well. See who comes out on the top. Now the series is beginning to get more and more interesting. Am glad I continued to read the series. Go ahead and pick it up and you will not regret it.

Spoiler Alerts:
a) Gavriil Prakenskii, the second Prakenskii brother is mentioned again in this book who is forced to go into hiding after being gravely injured with a permanent injury while saving a Russian scientist, Theodotus Solovyoy (a contemporary of Damon Wilder, husband to Sarah Drake - oldest Drake Sister).
b) I am still waiting for Elle Drake and Jackson Deveau to come back from their extended honeymoon to see what they will do about Lev Prakenskii settling in Sea Haven - since he was connected with the Stavros Grastsos and although saved Elle Drake, Jackson might not see that way.
c) Stefan talks about their oldest brother in this book, although no name is given. And Blythe remembers being in a similar ceremony as that she is being now while Stefan and Judith are marrying. A definite connection between these two snippets - will have to wait and see how they turn out in future books.