Three Will Smith classic

5 stars

If you need to find more purpose to your existing life, I recommend a binge watch of all the three Will’s classic – The Pursuit of Happiness, Seven Pounds and Collateral Beauty.

While these are not the easiest of movies to watch, but who said, movies have to be easy. There are some movies where your leave your mind behind and some like these where you put in not only your mind but apply your heart and soul too.

Let’s begin with the lease popular of the trio – Seven Pounds. The film opens to a distraught Will Smith calling 911 to report a suicide. His. The drama then unfolds, in past & present.

This is a tale of lost love and redemption by sacrificing the self. Smith’s past shows his mis-judgement while driving leading to death of seven lives, including his dear wife. Here the word seven pounds assumes significance. He is determined to save seven lives, even if it means sacrificing his own.

The jellyfish, his pet, is an amazing metaphor of death surviving with life all around. The poisonous jelly fish lives in a water tube in his hotel room, until the fateful day when Will Smith lets it sting him in the bathtub.

Seven Pounds will leave you in agony and in a dilemma whether to celebrate the seven lives gained or to mourn the death of your chosen protagonist. It surely will move you.

The send film is Collateral Beauty. I had to see it twice. Second time with my wife. It’s not everyday you write letters to love, death and time.

This star studded movie has another of Will Smith in a surreal role. He is unable to accept the death of his son to neuro-blastoma leukemia, a rare form of blood cancer. Loses all interest in life until his letters to the abstract receive a response in person! From love, death and time. He refuses to believe them. However in the process of teaching him, these fake actors learn more about their own lives. So does his friends, who paid the actors to get Will sign the corporate papers. They find meaning in death, search lost love and value the passing time.

You wonder if the movie is about you. You discover that ‘death’ is inevitable but you have just enough ‘time’ to make your near ones feel ‘loved’.

Can a movie hurt you? Sure this one can. The most poetic of the three listed here, The Pursuit of Happiness is a different kind of the edge of a seat thriller. It messes up with your emotions.

Chris Gardner is struggling to make ends meet and his pursuit is all about his son. Growing up fatherless, Chris (Will Smith) was determined that his son knows him. Yet when his franchised and over invested bone scanner machines don’t work, his wife gives up on his, loses his rented home and ends up interning without pay.

There are several moments that convey the message all too subtly. The constant running and chasing in the movie is almost a metaphor of running to catch up with life. Running in pursuit of something. Something that defines us. Our livelihoods or our dreams or just the dollars to pay out the bills. But may be running in pursuit of happyness (yes, it’s an incorrect spelling smart pants!).

We go through a roller-coaster of challenges that Chris and his sweet & smart son Christopher are put up with, including living in a ‘cave’ at the railway platform. This imaginary cave is actually a toilet where Chris if forced to spend the night at after begin thrown from his rented home. You almost break into tears here.

Chris however is willing to live up to the challenge life offers. He takes up the no pay job and works diligently up the ladder to finally secure his career at a stock broker firm.

When I shared this story with my kids, I felt I could relate to the stories in all these three movies. They taught me more about life than a dozen self-help books. They taught me to live a life of sacrifice (Seven Pounds), of accepting our fallacies (Collateral Beauty) and be constantly in Pursuit of Happiness.


Sully – The drama in air

Popcorn Rating – 5 stars

I first heard about Captain Sully while reading the exceptional book Four Seconds by Peter Bregman. The chapter spoke about his passion for flying every since he could walk. Almost. He looked at the skies all day, drooled at the hangers and while his friends went gaga over Ferraris, his love was Air-crafts.

Then the movie ‘Sully’. This movie is not about the heroics in air but grit on land. While this has been dramatic and wonderfully explained, the real movie in the courtrooms.

The trauma of being labelled as a failure and a show stunt instead of being hailed a hero, that Capt Sullenberger is, the movie is about managing your fears.

As a fan of Tom Hanks over the years from Forrest Gump to Saving Private Ryan and Castaway, his odyssey with airports (Terminal) and airlines continue. Sully shows when not to lose control over your fears. Despite all the simulations pointing to a possible safe landing, Capt. Sully, made the jury and participating members realize that a simulation does not account for human emotions.

The simulating pilots, despite the best intentions, took the 155 human lives out of equation. When finally made to accept that the perfect landing was after a practice of 17 simulations, it dawned upon the members what a tragedy was averted. It is difficult not to shed tears of joy when we see such exceptional tale of survival and hope.

 Sully is similar in many ways to the Denzel Washington’s 2012 flight drama ‘Flight’, where the real battle are on in the air but post landing. In air, as in life, the real fights are not in your areas of expertise, the real battlefields are when you make real decisions based on a common benefit in areas where you are uncertain and uncomfortable.

Miracle on Hudson is about the human grit to survive, take decisions and be bold to accept the consequences of those decision. A movie, that every CEO must watch. Twice.

And yes this movie is based on the book Highest Duty by Capt. Chesley ‘Sully; Sullenberger’ and Zaslow

Red Cliff (2008)

Popcorn Ratings: 4 stars

One of the rare oriental movie that I watched. And was it long. Two parts each about a couple of hours.

But then it’s John Woo and he has raised the bar way too high. On a quick trivia that the war scenes are twice the size of those in Lord of the Rings. Now that I got you interested, read further 🙂

What is Red Cliff?
Red Cliff is a battle between two armies. Chinese armies to be more precise.

So what is special about Red Cliff? The story is vanilla about good guys versus the bad ones. But what stands out are three interesting observations.
– the Chinese art of battles
– loyalty, leadership and amazing role assignment
– Chinese ethics and culture


The movie is about the Han Dynasty in ancient China and is adapted from the 14th-century Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

The antagonist Prime Minster Cao Cao intends to seal the Empire and the final frontier is the Red Cliff.

What follows is almost like the movie version of that ancient Chinese military philosophy The Art of War.

Also the often quoted wisdom that all warfare is based on deception. Teams spy with pigeon and over football (now that one claim, the Chinese can make citing the movie).

The sea battle and the clever ploy is surreal. Points to one amazing team led by an excellent leader and ably supported by his able and wide minister. If there is one movie on Chinese history you choose to watch, then pick this one by the acclaimed John Woo.


Unbroken – keep the spirits high

Popcorn Ratings: 4 stars
Genre: World History / World War

Unbroken is on the ImDB’s list of must watch movies and its worth it. But you need grit and patience to see it through. Set against the background of World War Two, focusing on the United States – Japan part of the war.

So there is a childhood story of the young thief Louis Zamperini (portrayed by Jack O’Connell), whose latent talents are reconverted in long distance running by his elder brother.

After years of toil and practice, what a moment is there for the young athlete to compete at the Berlin Olympics and defeating his own more accomplished countryman.
With all eyes on the Tokyo Olympics, he sets himself up with training and determination. Fate had other plans, as the war erupts and our hero is enrolled in the US Airforce. 

From there on, it is one man’s struggle against odds of nature to human vengeance. The best part of the movie is how the three men stranded on a lifeboat manages life
at sea. The tag line says it all: Survival. Resilience. Redemption



At the mercy of violent storm and hungry sharks, they eat raw bird and vomit it almost instantaneously. They catch fish almost bare handed and wait for rains to have
water to drink. There is also the Japanese airplane shooting that deflates their lifeboat but not their spirits.

Unbroken is a story of human survival against all odds. Director Angelina Jolie’s message based on a true story is clear – do not give up. Be it sports or life itself,
there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The tunnel, however, here is very dark indeed. Almost to the point of being savagery and gory. The cruel Japanese office Japanese corporal, Mutsuhiro Watanab,
nicknamed ‘bird’ tried all sorts of vengeance. From being brutally assaulted with stick to punched on the face from every member of Zamperini’s own colleagues.

At times, the violence mars the message. Still, the movie has a deep impact on the perspective that our best plans get washed on the onslaught of turn of events.

I loved the statement that Zamperini says. “I always wanted to be in Tokyo (for the Olympics), but didn’t know it would be like this (as a prisoner of war).”

Movie Trivia:
Zamperini survived in a raft for 47 days after his bomber crash landed in the ocean during World War II
The movie is based on the 2010 non-fiction book by Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
At age 81, Louie Zamperini ran a leg of the Olympic Torch relay for the Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan

Selma – Martin Luther King Jr


Popcorn Ratings: 5 stars
Genre: Politics / Black History / USA

I have always been fascinated with the black struggle for equality. To me it is one of the greatest landmark in calling ourselves human. As great as man’s landing on moon.

So I was keen on all things black. Be it #BlackLivesMatter or #OscarsSoWhite. Then when Selma came along it was a must watch.

The performance of the lead character David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr. is phenomenal. The struggle, decisions, protest march and the subsequent consequences.

And to think of it that the producers had to do it, without those magical words. The producers could not manage to get the copyright of the famous ‘I have a dream’ quote from the King’s family.

Selma stands out as a movie about a movement. It is all about one incident (actually three) – The march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. And what a powerful statement that march is. IT is about human dignity. About civil rights. About counting every person as important. And who show is better than MLK Jr.

Along with Spielberg’s Lincoln and McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, this movie sure has stirred the #BlackLivesMatter debate. It also reminds us that despite the huge technology advances we still have monkey chants and racial discrimination from football stadiums to New York streets.

Quick Info:

MLK’s speech ‘I have a dream’ is the most quoted line from a speech
Martin Luther King was awarded the Nobel peace prize
MLK visited India in 1959 and was inspired by the Gandhi-nian philosophy.


Sarbjit – A touching story

Sarbjit – A touching story

  • Popcorn Ratings: 3 stars
  • Genre: Indian Current History / Politics


Watched Sarbjit. Too painful. Almost unable to sit through someone’s real suffering. The trauma. The torture. The terrible consequence of a mistaken identify or rather a deliberate mistake.

Yet, who can give those youthful year. A single man is not punished. It is the entire family. The daughters who grew up without knowing their father. It is worse than father being dead. The wife who would have missed those moments of love, of affection, of bonding. The sister whose persistence came at a cost.

And to think, all this is not fiction. And this is not a single isolated story. Oh justice, thy take too long. I wept like an infant mid way. Had to stop and just could not muster the courage to continue.

Sarabjit, a farmer is jailed and is sentenced to death by hanging. The traumatized family, knocks all door. A single meeting after eight years is all they get. The girls, now grown up sees their father in a dilapidated state. Words are few. The man himself is a portrayal of one who has accepted the faith. Too disturbing, too real, too fearful.

While the usual message of peace, love and brotherhood does exist, it is still the pain that stands out. How I wish, it was not true!

If Captain America was Krrish?

How does it feel to have two worlds meet? Walking into a world of fantasy has been always fascinating for me. And believe me, we can teach a lot of history thought some fiction too. After all, as kids, our heroes were more  of Superman than Lincoln. 

While, this is exactly what “Paint History” project aims to create. Love for real men and women, but let’s take a break and enjoy the comparison between Superheroes from two of the biggest movie industries across continents.


1. Captain America – Krrish (Hrithik Roshan)
that’s the original Indian SuperHero. Krrish can fly and have made sequels. Now that mean he is accepted.
While, Krrish may not have the team or the shield of Captain America, but this one hero is here to stay.


2. Iron Man (Tony Stark) – G.One (the protagonist SRK from Ra.One)
With all iron and steel, that G.One had to navigate at the airport checking, he must be the Indian version of Iron Man. While, Tony has amazing brains, our G.One is all about the heart.
That blue eyes are far better than the red ones!


3. War Machine – Robot/Enthiran (The legend Rajnikanth)

War Machine might not have such a screen presence. Colonel James Rhodes is the hero that Iron Man falls back on. All that equals nought when we hear the roars for our legend Robot. And he has got a human avatar too.

4. Black Widow – Priyanka Chopra
5. Scarlet Witch – Vidya Balan

We led the leading ladies just be. With Jai Gangajal and Kahani, our super cops are no less than Super Women. Guess, who would be our version of the powerful Wonder Woman?


6. The Vision – Mr India (Anil Kapoor)

The first invincible man we knew. Mr India just had to careful of the red lights. The literal ones, please. The Vision lives in a Utopia where he cares for the mankind, not so mcuh for privacy. Walks from the walls to Scarlet’s room, Vision knows what is takes to win battles.


7. Winter Soldier – Shahenshah (Amitabh Bachchan)
It’s the hand, of course!

8. Black Panther – Ra.One (Arjun Rampal)
All evil looks alike. While, our hero from the African Wakanda turns a Super-Hero who can hold his own in the presence of some big Marvel names, don’t underestimate R.One too. After all, it’s his name that the movie was made from. We hope, R.One too finds a place to be called the king!


9. Spider-Man (actually a child Spidey) – Zokkomon (Darsheel Safary)

You might not remember our little Zokkomon, but he sure is our child prodigy. Just like the young Spider-boy. And now, this young Spider boy’s got his own movie. And sure to help him is the Iron Man. Watch out..


10. Falcon – Flying Jatt (Tiger Shroff)
Both can fly. They are quick. When pushed, they become lethal.
Now that Falcon, has got an added flying bird jet, he can rival the desi Flying Jatt. This Jatt is all blue and can run faster than the bullets.


11. Hawkeye – Drona (Abhishek Bachchan)
Not that I really care about what Drona did, but then arrows are integral to our teams. Can there be a better sports in our schools that Shooting. Remember Arjun’s eye of the fish!


12. Ant-Man – Makkhi 
Now these insects got some lethal bites and are finally fighting people of same size!

Now, don’t ask me how do they compare. You aren’t taking it seriously! OR are you? BTW if you have read till here, I am worried, you just might!


Oh also the lost ones….

13. Thor – Shaktiman (Mukesh Khanna)


14. Hulk – Dara Singh


Munich – Bloodbath at 1972 Olympics

On Munich 1972

  • Popcorn Rating: 4 stars 
  • Genre: History

A tough movie to watch. Not just for the violence, acts of terrorism, deceit and lots of blood but a look at a world we have only heard of. Of spying, bombs in your bed, honey traps and secret informants. Of two sides, who are willing to go to any length and space for a place they want to call home.

Munich is based on the book ‘Vengeance’, where Israel retaliates for the 1972 Munich Olympics attack. Eleven Palestinians are identified, who are to be eliminated by a team of ex secret service men but having no connection with any current government.

It is scary when the protagonist experiences the same fear that the perpetrators have. And that includes sleeping in the corset and ripping bed, television and telephone searching for imaginary bombs. After all, it’s about the family. His wife and the infant daughter, for all he cares about in the world. Reminds me of the popular song, ‘They love their children too,’ at the height of Cold War.

I always loved Spielberg’s work and this looks like his version of a young Jew whose blood would have boiled at the barbaric act against athletes. Perhaps redemption came about in Schindler’s List.