Kdrama: Encounter

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An ordinary man and the daughter of a rich and powerful politician grow fond of each other. They must decide between having all the worldly pleasures and authority or giving it all up to be together.

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I watched this drama as it aired in 2018. The main reasons for starting to watch this drama were of course Park Bo gum and Song Hye kyo, both looking very different from their usual looks. I wasn’t sure I really liked PBG’s Cuba look and was glad he got a haircut when he returned to Korea. The first promo was truly memorable and what got me interested in the story line. PBG in colour, with the waves of the sea coming into the life of SHK in black and white who stood still while the world passed her by. So many things conveyed by a simple 30 second promo and by the body language of these two excellent actors.

Both Cha Soo hyun and Kim Jin hyuk showed great strength of character. While Jin hyuk took the initiative most of the times in their relationship we do not see him pushing Soo hyun too much or being a brat or nuisance and then giving the excuse of age. He was a mature person right from the start. He understood the woman he had fallen for came from a very different world than his, he understood her hesitancy and in the end he simply won her over by not being a pushover. I was legit freaking out in the scene when KJH steps forward to rescue CSH in the hotel lobby when the director is questioning her in front of the hotel staff about her secret date. I fully expected something cringe and childish from him as usually happens in dramas in such scenes BUT was I surprised or what! CSH too stuck to her man through thick and thin after she had made up her mind. She believed she deserved to be happy unlike so many heroines in dramas and worked actively to reach that happiness with her boyfriend. Even her reason for breaking up with him was somewhat understandable and that is no mean feat for a writer because we are so used to dramas just dropping in a break up to spice things up towards the end.

A special mention is also needed for the stunning cinematography and all those wonderful book quotes throughout the drama. I have uploaded a few of them on this blog as well.

I enjoyed this drama from start to finish and liked the ending where both of them gain in love but do not lose out on the other things in their life. CSH still manages to keep her status, her hard earned money and hotel and KJH manages to keep his dignity, privacy and continues to climb slowly and steadily up the corporate ladder by his hard work. This will prove to be a great watch for people who like mature romances where both the individuals work on their relationship and face any obstacles together.

KMovie: The Princess and the Matchmaker

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Princess Songhwa (Shim Eun-Kyung) refuses her fate of marrying someone who matches her marital harmony. There are 4 men on her future husband list with different fate signs. Refusing her fate, she decides to leave the palace and find her husband by herself. Seo Do-Yoon (Lee Seung-Gi) is a person who interprets marital harmony signs. He is very skilled at his craft and, consequently, selected as the one to read the marital harmony signs between Princess Songhwa and the 4 men on her husband list. (Asianwiki)

A Fangirl Movie Review: The Princess and the Matchmaker | Dramas with a  Side of Kimchi

I remember coming across a clip of this movie on YouTube a year ago. And as happens one clip led to another and I ended up watching a whole lot of them 🤣 but somehow I never got around to watching the entire movie. I finally managed to that this week. And imagine my shock that those clips were the whole movie!! If kind youtubers are going to upload entire movies I wish they would let us know! Not knowing I have watched the whole movie kind of tells us what is wrong with the movie in the first place.

The entire movie seems like a summary of some movie than being the actual whole thing. Everything is covered briefly and in a hurry so you never really get to feel anything for the characters and their choices. Its all very rushed. I also never understood when our leads fell in love…a love so deep that he took considerable risks to save her from marrying a wrong man and she left her title for him. I would say both these actions sprung from a sense of duty on his part and gratitude on her part, but love? Though those two reasons can be a good foundation of a marriage, but only if you have discussed it with one another. But this movie isnt about deep conversations.

I watched it for Lee Seung-Gi and even then was left with an unsatisfied feeling when it ended. Nothing special this one.

Movie: Fantastic Beasts & Where to find them

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The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school. – IMDb

LEARN ONLINE: SUMMER ACTIVITIES 2 - TO THE MOVIES! FANTASTIC BEASTS & ME  BEFORE YOU

I really love it when an author creates a completely new world for us to dive into. Not just the main characters but even the secondary characters and villains and places get a beautiful story linking them all up together in a common thread. And in this world creation there is certainly no one better than JK Rowling.

But the movie sadly lacked this depth. It introduces Newt Scamander who arrives in New York with his suitcase full of magical creatures and after that we have them escaping and running wild all over the city with Newt running after them trying to gather them up. He encounters a muggle or No-Maj as they are called in USA who sees him do magic and is also attacked by a magical creature. Then we also have ex-Auror Porpentina Goldsteen and her mind reader sister Queenie who will be helping these two men fight against Mr. Graves, a man from the ministry who wishes to use the powers of Credence, a teenager, for his own selfish ends. Grindelwald also makes a surprise entry in the end. A romance is also hinted between the two sisters with Newt & Jacob. The problem is that these are just too many story lines and we keep jumping from one to another without going in depth in any and not providing a satisfactory resolution for the characters. The fantastic beasts are reduced to secondary characters even though the movie is named after them and we are as usual concentrating on a bad wizard v/s good wizard thing. Eventually Jacob was the one who stole the show for me for being just a muggle in this wizard world.

The special effects were fabulous though I always do wonder why all these creatures must be shown so ugly. When the Gods created this world they made sure to have a good mix of the beautiful and the ugly but sadly when creation is left to humans we develop things like Murtlaps, Swooping Evil, Erumpent and Graphorns?

This movie might be quite entertaining for children or even those who are diehard Potterheads. For the rest of us its something you can watch when you get it free on TV for it just doesn’t have a concrete story.

Movie: Hachi: A Dog’s Tale

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A college professor bonds with an abandoned dog he takes into his home. – IMDb

Hachi’s tale, the original Hachi’s tale was first told to me by my father when I was still a kid. When I saw this on Amazon Prime I was instantly reminded of him. And then there was the ever charismatic Richard Gere onscreen after so many years. Pretty Woman was the first English movie that I watched and I have been in love with him since then! 🥰 With all this history then was it any surprise that I immediately clicked on the WATCH button😁

Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009) - Photo Gallery - IMDb

As I already knew how the story went I thought I was prepared to watch the movie without any tissues. Of course I didn’t bawl like I would have done had I not known the story but there were times when I did tear up.

The most touching aspect for me then wasn’t the ending or Hachi’s endless wait for Parker. It was how Hachi grew old while waiting. First we have the young dog with a spring in his step running to the station to wait for Parker but as the years progressed the dog too grew old and the sprightly dog climbed the stairs one at a time. The walk was difficult now but still absolutely necessary. And then finally Parker came, as if he too had waited all those years on the other side. He must have wanted Hachi to grow old before he met him again. He must have also wanted him to lead a happy and healthy life. Well, dog or man, none of us gets everything we wish for. Finally Hachi closes his eyes and meets his hooman and we can see the dog visibly relax. His wait is now over. Their wait for one another is now over!😭

A great movie showing the power of love, loyalty and just simple faith.

Book: Rukmini: Krishna’s Wife

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The story of Rukmini is often overshadowed by the glorious exploits of her charismatic husband, Krishna Vaasudeva. For the very first time, this novel gives Rukmini her due. It portrays the life of the feisty bride who made bold choices not only while eloping with her beloved but all through her life to become a resplendent goddess, a fitting partner to the most beloved god of the land – Goodreads

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When I was a school girl, picking up Amar Chitra Katha comics at the bookstand before boarding the train to my native place for the summer holidays was a sacred ritual for me. I must have picked up the book on “Krishna and Rukmini” on one such trip some day. A gallant Hero invited by a brave Princess to whisk her away to his Kingdom. That was my first love story and it still remains my most favourite of all the love stories I have read so far.

Buy Krishna and Rukmini (Amar Chitra Katha) Book Online at Low Prices in  India | Krishna and Rukmini (Amar Chitra Katha) Reviews & Ratings -  Amazon.in

Hence imagine my delight when after many years I got a chance to read about this brave Princess and meet Krishna through her eyes.

I have read Saiswaroopa Iyer’s “Abhaya” and her version of Krishna is my favourite. She is able to capture every single facet of his in her books and its always a delight to read him there. This book is no different. I could barely control my silly grin while reading about him at the beginning. But our hero…or rather heroine is Rukmini and the author does full justice to her. Nowhere is she overshadowed by her husband because people who know him know it is just so easy to lose yourself in him. But Saiswaroopa manages to escape that trap and keeps all our attention focused on Rukmini.

The Princess Rukmini of Vidarbha is a brave and outspoken girl who managed to stand up for her rights even when it meant standing against those who were her closest people. We see her taking informed decisions and Krishna too is one such decision, not a silly infatuation born out of hearing tales of his heroism. In Dwaraka she constantly has her husband’s back and becomes his true sahajeevancharini. All her interactions with Krishna were a delight to read, so much so that at one point where we see Krishna avoiding her the pain we feel on her behalf is very real! Satyabhama too is very nicely written in the book. As is Satyaki. A secondary character whom I loved was Agnidyotana. The part where he says it needs a special punya to see Krishna before he closes his eyes forever & suddenly Krishna appears made me tear up.

And while I understand our heroine is Rukmini I would have liked had the book not completely overlooked the wedding of Krishna with his other seven wives. The actual weddings only find a passing mention. On the topic of weddings, wouldn’t Rukmini describe her actual wedding to Krishna in great details? What woman doesn’t speak about her marriage? I felt Satrajit accusing Krishna of stealing the Symantak jewel, Krishna marrying Jambavati and then Satyabhama deserved more space. Krishna bringing home not one but two wives would have elicited an interesting reaction from Rukmini and it would have been nice to read it here. Also, the Tulabharam episode. With the Tulsi plant featuring in the book I had been looking forward to reading that part but sadly it wasn’t covered. The birth of Pradyumna and his kidnapping too was something that needed to be there. A mother’s grief on losing her first born is something necessary for a book on her. The ending was a little confusing for me for I remember reading that Rukmini went Sati with Krishna which didn’t seem to have happened in the book and what actually happened was a little confusing. Lastly the use of brother-in-law, elder sister etc felt very out of space, Daau, Bhabhi, Didi would have been so much better!

I enjoyed the book immensely and have been lost in the love of this divine couple ever since I picked up the book two days ago. It is a rare combination of author sticking to the original epic, writing the characters decently not superimposing the rules and behaviours of the 21st century on them.

A great read for anyone wanting to spend a day or two in the company of Rukmini, Krishna’s wife, his love and very soul.

Quotable Quotes:

“I studied about a Ramchandra who waged a war for his wife, who ensured a rule where women could wander even in the middle of the night with no fear […] Rama’s sacrifices were made from a position of strength. Not as a spineless man who fears a more powerful King. Stop subverting history to suit your weaknesses.”

“Living the ideal was far tougher than stating them.”

“You have something about you that threatens the heartless, Krishna.”

Vande Mataram!

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उत्तरं यत्समुद्रस्य हिमाद्रेश्चैव दक्षिणम्।

वर्षं तद्भारतं नाम भारती यत्र सन्ततिः।।

Bharat, as defined in the Vishnu Puran, the region situated north of the oceans and to the south of the Himalayas is called Bharat and its people are called Bharati.

Today is the perfect day to remember we are Bharat, the ageless land, the oldest living civilization on this planet, the Land of the Gods. India turns 75 but Bharat is older, much much older. Wishing every Indian who celebrates a very Happy Independence Day! Celebrate this day while remembering your ancestors who endured every form of torture and hardship imaginable to mankind and survived & grew. May the Gods and the ancestors bless this land with growth and abundance is my prayer on this auspicious day.

वन्दे मातरम्!

Danish Movie: Another Round

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Four high school teachers consume alcohol on a daily basis to see how it affects their social and professional lives. -IMDb

I have been a huge fan of Mads Mikkelsen after watching him in Hannibal. After completing the series I have watched many of his works including a lot of his Danish movies where he tends to outdo himself with each work. Hence I went in with a lot of expectations for his last two movies Polar and Another Round, especially since they were both so hard to find in my country. However both left me disappointed.

Another Round has Mads play a middle aged school teacher who along with his friends is going through a midlife crisis where he no longer finds any joy in his personal and professional life. His friends too are going through similar issues and once decide to conduct an experiment to check whether a certain level of alcohol can boost their spirits as hypothesized by Skårderud.

After finishing the movie I was reading through some trivia on IMDb where it says that “Denmark has some of the highest rates of teenage drinking in the world; a World Health Organization report released earlier in 2020 found that Danish 15-year-olds consumed alcohol at nearly double the European average. Recent efforts to raise the minimum age for purchasing alcohol to 18 from 16 have met with resistance, in part because older adults recall their own youthful intoxications so fondly.” Having never touched alcohol in my whole life imagine my shock on reading this 🤣

I think the movie should have begun with such an introduction to Danish culture which would help the international audience understand why a vice is being so very glorified in the first half of the movie. However as the story progresses we get to see the harm which alcohol use can cause, so the makers have kind of tried to balance the good and the bad of drinking. The buzz which helped Martin (Mads Mikkelsen) transform into a dashing teacher, loving husband & just a go getter in general soon begins turning into an addiction where the men are no longer in control of their motor skills till the alcohol which gave them a quick high and an ever quicker high in their dull social lives suddenly takes it all away at a much quicker pace. Martin loses his wife, his family, his friend, with the possibility of being caught in school for being drunk during school hours hanging on his head. Thus he has come almost full circle. Alcohol which made him fly high was eventually going to drown him too. Fortunately all is not lost as his wife appears willing to give him a second chance. Middle aged Martin is then back to where he started from, after a quick exciting journey made possible by his little experiment with alcohol.

The last scene was the most fantastic scene of the whole movie for me. Mads is just superlative conveying the complex emotions Martin is going through after losing a friend and getting his wife back. And the dance which ends with him flying high up in the air with the sea below perfectly encapsulates the whole story of the movie. And of course its just a treat to watch Mads dance! 😍

I did not enjoy the movie much but that could also be because I do not understand the craze for alcohol, drinking and the general madness associated with it. This movie has won the Oscar & BAFTA awards for the Best International Feature Film with the director Thomas Vinterberg even being nominated as Best Director at the Oscars, so if you go by awards then that seems like a good enough reason to watch it.

Even if you do not watch the movie do watch this video below. It just makes you feel alive! 🥰🤩

Book: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

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In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant — and that her lover is married — she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son’s powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations. (Goodreads)

I heard about this book for the first time when news came in that Lee Min ho has been cast in the role of Hansu in a drama named Pachinko. The drama was based on a book by the same name by Min Jin Lee. That is when I decided to read this book to read about Hansu. The book is very easy to read and though it focuses more on poverty, war, the labour and toil of the hardworking commoner it has a tone of hope rather than dejection or anger. While watching kdramas and catching up on drama news you often sense undercurrents about things not being all nice and happy between Japan & Korea. And since I had no knowledge about their history I always used to wonder about it. This historical fiction (assuming its true and not exaggerated) provides a good glimpse into the lives of Koreans who moved to Japan in the 1900s. Coincidentally I was also reading “Made in Japan” by Akio Morita and it too has quite a few pages focused on the events of WW II and its impact on Japan BUT that is all from a super rich kid’s POV. And the difference is stark!

I first read it till the part where Sunja marries Isak and then stopped because I thought that will be the end of Hansu in the novel and he was my main interest and reason for reading. Yes I am very focused that way 😉 But then I got to know that he reappears again later and I continued reading 🤣

This book has a lot of characters, and by lot I mean A LOT! The author even introduces 1-2 characters at the very end of the novel. While she has managed to make most of their lives very interesting some of them are too boring and even feel unnecessary. I never understood the reason for having all those chapters on Etsuko, Hana & Ayame. There are many wonderful characters in this book who have you rooting for them, my favourites being Kyunghee, Mozasu & Sunja. None of the characters are shown as heroes taking radical decisions or fighting the system or trying to ensure justice. They are mostly like you and me trying to live, love and pass every day as it comes. There are no miracles here but just hard work and perseverance. They are all commoners and that is what makes them so relatable. And hence a little inspirational too because its easier to be inspired by someone you can relate to than by some super-hero. Sunja, a girl who made a mistake since she was blinded by love; Yangjin, a mother who didn’t abandon her daughter but did what best she could; Kyunghee, a caring, faithful and loving wife who stayed by her husband till the end; Mozasu, bad at school but good at work; Hansu, a cheat but a useful father; Yoseb, a responsible family man; Isak, a decent God believing human; Noa, the idealistic idiot.

This book is a good read if you have the patience to sit through the lives of four generations of ordinary people who survived extraordinary times and circumstances by sheer grit and hard work.

Book Learnings:

“… there could only be a few winners and a lot of losers. And yet we played on, because we had hope that we might be the lucky ones. How could you get angry at the ones who wanted to be in the game?… Pachinko was a foolish game, but life was not.”

living every day in the presence of those who refuse to acknowledge your humanity takes great courage.

“Hansu had said that the leftists were “a bunch of whiners” and the rightists were “plain stupid””

“You people work together to make sure nothing ever changes”…to a police officer about the state of affairs of the justice department

KMovie: Seobok

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Ex intelligence agent Ki Heon is tasked with safely transporting Seo Bok, the first ever human clone, who holds the secret of eternal life. Several forces try to take control of Seo Bok to serve their own agendas. (IMDb)

Seobok (2021) South Korean movie poster

Starring my favourites Gong Yoo and Park Bo-gum I was really looking forward to this movie. Scheduled to release in December 2020 this one kept getting forever delayed thanks to CoVid and when it did release I did not hear a single word about it anywhere! So I went about searching for it, found it with great difficulty on just one website “kissasian” and when I searched for the reviews they were all uniform calling the movie bad! 😮🙁 I decided to give it a try anyways at least for GY & PBG.

I think the main reason a majority of the people were disappointed in the movie was because they tagged it as sci-fi. Just because you have a clone as the main character that doesn’t make it sci-fi. It was more of a philosophical movie. Seobok is a clone developed in a lab and they plan to use his blood which has some special properties to make humans (rich ones of course) immortal. A very “honest” scientist even tells us straight up that it is just like withdrawing insulin from pigs. Of course while we tend to overlook using animals for betterment of human life shamelessly we are yet to become so shameless that we overlook humans/ human looking specimens as they are calling Seobok. So we naturally feel bad, especially seeing how painful Seobok’s life really is. Living a cloistered life he was created by his mom who was a scientist in memory of her son who had died. He calls the home his lab, he has no friends or relatives naturally and his biggest plus of being nearly indestructible slowly turns into a curse. There is a group of people who wish to use him and then there is another group who wish to kill him. In all this Seobok has some very pertinent questions: if humans will die eventually why must they use him? Humans have a purpose in life, they have a dream, but what is his dream, his purpose? Just to be used for human benefit?

The movie was slow in parts but in some others it felt rushed. The impact of losing his mom on Seobok was quite muted. The ending too seemed a bit abrupt and sudden. The last scene of Ki Heon revisiting the mound of stones on the beach where a flying bird comes was a touching shot.

While nothing great the movie is at least a one time watch, especially if you are fans of the two actors.

Can we be a little more sensitive please?

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I got my first dose of the covid vaccine from a private hospital, a cancer hospital. Hospitals scare me, especially cancer hospitals. I tried my best to get a slot in some other hospital but either they were very far or always booked. So I went ahead and booked my slot in this hospital.

3 March – Be careful with your words – Dayle's Blog

As soon as I registered my name and took a token I got an SMS “welcoming me to the world of XXX Cancer Care” *shudder* That “welcome” itself made me uncomfortable. I knew I was overreacting but it just happened! But something far worse was yet to come. As I was leaving the hospital the nurse handed me a card with a smile which read …avail 10% discount on your first biopsy 😥

I know it is their business, I know this doesn’t mean they are wishing me bad and also for someone this 10% might prove to be a great help. But come on!! Which healthy person would like to get such a discount offer? It’s just creepy and disturbing. I am sure a more sensitive person could have worded this advertisement & discount offer in a much better manner.