Listen for the stream

February 2010

Listen for the stream
that tells you one thing.

Die on this bank.
Begin in me
the way of rivers with the sea.

Jalaluddin Rumi
Translation by Coleman Barks.

A few good Valentine movies.

February 2010

Valentine’s Day is the usual time of the year when cupid strikes. Emotions (and passions eh!!) are on a high. People start planning weeks before. And from what I’ve noticed growing up, the plans often follow a pattern according to one’s age. The common ones that I’ve figured in the order of aging are:

For the 9th graders who’ve just started out - An ice cream at the mall.
For the ones in college - A movie and dinner.
For newly weds - A movie and dinner (candlelight).
For couples with small kids - Add an evening at the park and cut out the candlelight.
For couples with teen aged children - Nothing. This is interesting coz I can relate. My parents grew up in West Bengal on communist propaganda where frugality was virtue. To them Soviets were heroes and this was American strategy to enable their greeting card companies gain a foothold in other markets (Archies wasn’t around then) and spread capitalism around and obviously their thoughts din make any sense to me at all. I remember nothing special happening between them on this day. It was jus like any other day all because of their belief system.
For parents with grown up kids: Watching their kids make it out and then wish that only if such things existed in their time too and if they cud turn the clock back.
For old people - Sex on steroids!!! (Ok, this was to make u laugh ! Trust me i’m not paid to promote Viagra !!! Now lets get back to work).

I find the third category most appealing (nothing to do with me personally since I don belong to that category in the first place). But here I’m gonna leave out the dinner part or the candles (both very romantic indeed but some other time on them) and talk about the movies.

So here are my recommended valentine movies. The basis on which I’ve chosen them is not cinematic excellence (that explains why there isn’t ‘Gone with the wind’ or ‘Casablanca’). In fact the movies that I’ll mention are pretty average academically. But the only reason I’ve put them here is that they have that ‘feel-good’ factor. They leave behind a soft mushy residue which u think about at night when u sleep (and admit it fantasize putting urself in the boy or the girls place !!). To make a long short, they just make ur day! Also I wont be writing bout movies that are famous and in all probability u must have seen already countless number of times in Star Movies and HBO. That explains why u won’t find movies like Pretty Woman (voted as the best Valentine movie of all time), You’ve Got Mail, Noting Hill, Nine Months etc. There are also movies which are famous but which i din like at all like 'When Harry Met Sally' and 'Sleepless in Seattle'. But rather I’ll write about movies that may not have been very famous but are upto the task as far as that ‘feel good factor’. They are soft, mushy and do make a dent. Also I have avoided movies which have a sad ending for it obviously doesn’t make any sense seeing them on Valentine’s Day. That’s why I din mention Titanic (get the point now). Also, let me give the disclaimer that these are the best Valentine movies only among the ones that I have seen and can remember at this point and not necessarily of all time. There might be other great movies that I might have not come across so please don treat this list as exhaustive by any means. Lastly the order I’ve mentioned them is random.

Tum Bin (2001): This movie tops my Valentine list. And yes i am aware some of u may not agree and i respect that too... But remember nowhere am i saying that this is the best love movie on earth. Its just that on Valentine's day, it'll be a very good watch. Some of u must have seen this on TV. I have a soft corner for this movie. The movie, although not a blockbuster, maybe because it starred all newcomers, nevertheless did decent business. But believe me u can’t judge a movie by the money it makes (Swades flopped right!). The songs (and almost all of them) were very melodious. In spite of very high emotional drama, this has a happy ending. Shot in Canada, the visual effect is absolutely stunning. Every actor has done justice to their role. According to me, a perfect Valentine movie. While i cun find any formal trailer, i am giving a few decent links below of whatever i cud come across (the second link actually more for the beautiful song by the Pakistani singer Ataullah Khan Esakhelvi, incidentally one of my favorites). Watch it if u haven’t already. Most of u will like it. And that’s a guarantee.

Stuart little 1 (1999) and 2 (2004): This is an exception I admit because it’s famous. It really doesn't matter what age you’re in, u’ll like this movie. The reason I mention part 1 is because its shows love within the family (this compels even a cat to take on his mates to protect Stuart). If at all u decide to watch both, see it in sequence to enjoy it the most. The reason I mention this as a Valentine movie is because in the second part Stuart actually gets smitten by the bird (Margelo I guess) and determined to save her from the clutches of the ‘Falcon’ even risking his life. This was the movie that had the very famous song ‘I’m Alive’ by Celine Dion later included in her album ‘A New Day Has Come’. Just watch the video of this song where u have Stuart flying his tiny airplane to fight the Falcon and save Margelo with the entire New York City watching and cheering for him. That was really romantic – and brave. Although Margelo leaves Stuart at the end, the reason I mention it here was because when Stuart's dad asks what was the silver lining he replies ‘She’ll be back in spring’. And that to me was a happy ending.

Wimbledon (2004): John McEnroe and Chris Evert play commentators in this movie in a special appearance. The DVD cover mentions it to be a romantic comedy. But don get swayed by that for according to me I couldn't really understand what was so comical about this movie. To me it’s a beautiful romantic drama that really touches your heart. Peter Colt (Paul Bettany) is at the end of his tennis career current ranked a hundred something on the ATP circuit who’s never won a tournament in his life. He decides to play Wimbledon one last time. When the tournament begins he meets the women’s top player Lizzie something (Kirsten Dunst) who is in top form and is like the Maria Sharapova of tennis. Inspite of his failing form Lizzie sees a feeble glint of potential inside him. Paul makes a last ditch effort to win Wimbledon and along with it, the heart of a rising superstar. Watch this. Trust me you wont be disappointed.

Little Manhattan (2005): Its all about first love. This beautifully narrated movie tells the story about Gabe, a 12 year old who has fallen in love with Rosemary Telesco. They both live in ‘Little Manhattan’ area in New York City and hence the name. Shot on location this movie will create nostalgia and make u recall the various emotions we undergo when we like someone for the very first time.

Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1993): Agreed. u’ve heard of this. According to me one of Shah Rukh Khan’s best movies. I really liked his innocent acting here. I wud recommend this movie to anyone who is alone this year or has had a heartbreak recently, for this movie very sweetly portrays moving on and that there is life even if u don always win in love. And who knows, u may even end up with someone as good, if not better! Suchitra Krishnamurthy looks very fresh, sweet and innocent. Lastly the songs are good too.

Choti Si Baat (1975): I sometimes wonder why does every great movie need to be an epic and what happened to the art of simple storytelling. Amol Palekar was an actor whose movies were so simple and yet so elegant. In this movie, he plays a simple guy who is madly in love with Vidya Sinha but due to his innocence is a moron when it comes to love. To add to it there is Asrani who also fancies Vidya and hence adds to his woes, spoiling his plans every time. Amol needs help. And he gets help from Ashok Kumar who is an ex serviceman and a Mr. know it all from whom the entire world seeks suggestions including Amitabh Bachan who plays himself in a one minute special appearance. In the end the old man’s training pays off and Amol wins the heart of Vidya. This is a very light hearted movie so don’t expect heavy emotional drama. But trust me, it’ll make u’r day.

Jerry Maguire (1996): Yes this movie is famous too but the reason I mention this is because of great lines in this movies. The line ‘You Complete Me’ said by Tom Cruise to Renee Zelwegger was voted to be the most romantic line in movies once. Also Renee’s reply ‘You had me at hello’ was equally impressive. And of course Cuba Gooding’s ‘Show me the money’ and ‘I love black people’ added some light moments. One of the scenes I remember is when Tom Cruise is about to leave his job and asks who wants to join him, Renee joins him without any second thoughts and sticks with him. Lastly the kid is the cherry on the cake.

Last Chance Harvey (2008): This will probably appeal to middle-aged people. Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thomson play two middle aged people (probably in their fifties) who happen to meet in London. Both are losers in their personal lives. They manage to connect and despite a few hiccups bring happiness into each others lives. Shot in London, the locales add to the movie. There is no concrete storyline as such but it does leave u happy at the end of the movie. A decent watch.

Music and Lyrics (2007): Hugh Grant seems to crop up again (after ‘Nine Months’ and ‘Notting Hill’ mentioned above). But if there is anyone who really makes this movie worthwhile, its Drew Barrymore (she actually looks so pretty in this movie, u just kinda miss everything else !). Hugh is a once-famous rock star who had a rock band in the mid 80’s that dismantled in the early nineties. Now he makes a living by composing the odd jingle and singing at fairs. Until he meets Drew who is employed to water his plants ( I wrote pants the first time around – cant stop laughing). While Hugh is good at composing music, he just cant write lyrics anymore which is holding him from making a comeback. However he discovers precisely this talent in Drew when she accidentally fills in an incomplete line while he’s composing. Hugh requests her to help him to which she agrees. However when Hugh pressurizes her to mould her lyrics to suit a Britney Spears like star who he plans to team up with in a forthcoming concert, Drew walks out feeling very hurt. Hugh does something pretty amazing to win her back – and in the process realizes that he is not that bad after all. Again while this may not be a cult movie, on Valentines Day, u wont probably dislike it either. Maybe my liking for Drew Barrymore was too strong to resist missing this out. Incidentally, this was released on Valentine's Day !


Ta Ra Rum Pum (2007): After 'Top Gun' (1986), Tom Cruise was already a superstar and around 1990, he acted in a movie called 'Days of Thunder' (just for some trivia, this is said to be where he and Nicole Kidman fell for each other). TRRP has been inspired (or maybe simply copied) from this movie (see the trailers). But with a twist! While DoT is more about racing in addition to the emotional drama, TRRP has shades of very powerfully shown family bonding and love and for that reason i don mind mentioning it here as Valentine watch. TRRP is the story of a racing driver RajVeer (RV) who falls into a bad patch in life and his path toward getting back. While this movie may seem to be a sports movie on the periphery, it might as well be about bouncing back when life hits u below the belt (and believe me, people do bounce back in life - remember Sourav Ganguly’s man of the series return in South Africa after a year in the wilderness – that was bouncing back like nothing else). The racing car was just a medium to carry this theme. It cud have been anything else all the same. Being a Yash Raj banner, this movie had all the glam and glitz (shot in New York City). The songs were very nice too. But what really makes this movie so amazing is the support that RV gets all along from his wife (Rani Mukherjee – this is the only movie in her entire career in which I liked her) his two kids who were like two cherry blossoms in the movie, and even his friends and neighbors who chip in with whatever they can. It makes u realize that when the chips are down, our loved ones really cushion our fall. To me, that was the high point of the movie rather than the racing part. Lastly, if this is a perfectly watchable movie with ur entire family and if u r married, ur kids included or for that matter anyone who stuck with u when it was raining.

Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2007): Both movies were critically acclaimed but to me the first one was a disappointment. But the reason I recommend it is because the second one somewhat makes up for it. The second is a sequel which is shot in real time nine years after the first. In the first part, two strangers meet on a train in Europe. In the course of a conversation, the guy develops a liking for the girl and requests her to get down in Vienna where he is supposed to disembark where they can explore the city together. The girl agrees and hence begins their story of one day after which both go their own ways. The only reason I recommend the first part is coz it’ll help u appreciate the second part somewhat better. In the second part, they meet again after nine years in Paris and the story explores another day. In the course of the conversation they both realize that they both still have a longing for each other. This is very beautifully reflected in a song that the girl sings to the guy over tea (I found it one of the high points in the movie and very sweet indeed). This time, as the day approaches its end and its time to move on, the guy makes a different decision and some interpretation (in all probability a happy one) is left to the viewer. Ethan Hawke does full justice to his role but Julie Delpy, the actress levitates the movie to a different league altogether with her brilliant performance. A somewhat serious movie which will leave some residue in ur heart.