Posted in writing & blogging

Freedom of Speech and Expression in the Field of Comedy

There are claims making the rounds that India is a free, secular country. Somehow, I find these claims to be made in jest by our clownish leaders despite being an Indian myself (not a proud enough one though).

I find it hard to believe that politicians and even certain media persons can blurt out offensive, nonsensical, even harmful thoughts out loudly on live television without any clear research or giving it a second (maybe a third) thought and get away with it scot-free, but comedians are forced to apologise for a harmless political joke or a satirical tweet just because the truth hurts and anyone who even makes a joke at the expense of the current clownish Indian government deserves to have their voices stifled, to be trolled mercilessly for it, to have their freedom of speech and freedom of expression snatched away by the very government officials whose job ironically entails them to protect both these freedoms and  then be executed on the spot for it like they’ve just committed an act of terror!

So, I ask my readers, if you had to choose, whom would you dare question for their behaviour- Comedians who are only serving their purpose of entertaining people and often giving the public food for thought to chew and process…or a government who is failing in its duty to protect its people’s rights and freedoms and only serving those who are in the majority and thus sweeping the minorities under the rug?

Dolly Singh
https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/interview-with-youtuber-dolly-singh-about-video-creativity-and-shooting-during-the-lockdown/article31694457.ece/amp/

Indian comedienne and YouTuber Dolly Singh recently spoke out against the rape threats that countless female comedians were being subjected to from trolls who found particular jokes ‘anti-Hindu’. How far has this issue of stifling freedom of speech and expression in the field of comedy reached, you ask? Well, there’s your answer.

Agrima Joshua
https://www.indiatimes.com/amp/lifestyle/who-is-agrima-joshua-517867.html

The reason behind this barrage of trolling and rape threats was in fact because these very trolls with obvious political affiliations had dug up a 16 month old video of comedian Agrima Joshua cracking jokes which mocked Quora users for spreading misinformation about the proposal to build a Shivaji statue off the Mumbai coast and although it was just an innocent jab at certain idiotic Quora users rather than at Chhatrapati Shivaji himself, the trolls did indeed interpret (or rather misinterpret) it as blatant disrespect towards Chhatrapati Shivaji himself. And while the comedian didn’t take the harassment lying down at first, even tweeting to the political party Shiv Sena and asking them directly to call their goons off, she had to lay low and offer an apology for the same later through no fault of hers, which is very telling of how people whose job it is to crack jokes can’t even do that safely in this country any more.

And it isn’t just the female comedians who fell prey to trolls…If rape threats weren’t enough, some trolls like Madhur Singh took it up (or down, whichever way you want to look at it) a notch and even weaponised religion (as you do, nowadays), tweeting to comedian Kenny Sebastian that ‘he was nothing but a rice bag convert’. A ‘rice bag convert’ is a slur that is used to accuse a person of following Christianity not because of their strong religious convictions but rather due to a material benefit that they receive in return to follow the religion (it originated from missionaries luring people in by means of a gift like rice bags and thus converting them easily to a particular religion). Singh resorted to abusing Sebastian in such a derogatory manner in response to Sebastian’s harmless joke on the loss faced by content creators on Tiktok after the Modi Government’s decision to ban the Chinese app in India (that’s right, America, we did it first!).

https://mobile.twitter.com/ind_Cyborg/status/1283649842992918528

Soon after, the Modi bhakts (blind followers) stepped in and began repeatedly vilifying Sebastian on the basis of his religion…as you do in a secular country. Sebastian, of course, took all this abuse with a cool mind, although he also didn’t hesitate to unapologetically call out the trolls for their obvious bigotry.

In the past, comedians have even been doxxed for their political content (sometimes for decade-old videos of their stand-up comedy, the themes of which have often been misconstrued) and their personal details such as phone numbers have been made public, thus endangering their lives by opening them up to direct physical harm and even personal harm to their families.
An example of this is comedian Aadar Malik, who is known for his stand-up wherein he pokes fun at the Modi government pushing its anti-Muslim narrative,  being forced to apologise after trolls attacked him for his 8-year-old set on an enthusiastic Ganesh Chaturthi festival celebration  which was said to have ‘hurt religious sentiments’. “I am getting threats to my family. Please don’t do that. It becomes a very scary atmosphere.” He pleaded in the apology video on his Twitter account.

Munawar Faruqui
https://www.google.com/amp/s/m.freepressjournal.in/article/viral/comedian-munawar-faruqui-arrested-in-indore-fellow-comics-express-concern-rw-twitter-celebrates/365d54a7-fc45-4bdc-b475-919abf6c60c5

Another comedian, Munawar Faruqui rang in his 2021 by falling victim to a merciless beating and subsequent arrest after a video of him ‘hurting religious sentiments’ through an obviously satirical stand-up routine went viral. However, reports from his audience members who clearly enjoyed the harmless standup have since gone viral and of course, the accusations are now meaningless. They also sadly drive home my point that comedy and comedians are no longer safe in this ‘secular country’.

So much for freedom of speech and expression…

“The politicians are put there to give you the idea you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you.”
-George Carlin

I imagine even the late satirist George Carlin had his fair share of naysayers for spouting truth bombs like a boss back in the day through his hard-hitting comedy routines which also doubled as biting political commentary and just like Kenny Sebastian, he too didn’t back out of calling them out for it and hopefully comedians continue to call out all that’s horrendously unappealing about the government or society as a whole, haters be damned!
And hopefully, those who condemn comedians for doing so or deem them as ‘unpatriotic’ or ‘anti-national’ can grow up, grow to be more open-minded and see the truth behind their jokes and question the butt of these jokes (cough…the government) instead of aiming barbed slurs at the people who deliver such truth bombs through their well-meaning jokes.

In conclusion, if harmless jokes from comedians like Kenny Sebastian, Agrima Joshua and Aadar Malik are seen as derogatory comments in India, then I do hesitate for famed satirist Ricky Gervais, for if he ever flew down here to India to do one of his truth bomb-loaded sets or even tweeted jokingly about the current socio-political crisis in India, he would have these very hounds baying for his blood and demanding for him to be thrown behind the bars of only the choicest of Indian jails!

Posted in reviews, writing & blogging

Lockdown review #35: Stay (2005)

‘Stay’ is a psychological thriller which will leave you perturbed with its many visual oddities.

Sam (Ewan McGregor) is a psychiatrist. One day, he is visited by a deeply disturbed young man named Henry (Ryan Gosling). Henry drops hints that he is deeply depressed and obsessed with killing himself and from then on, a worried Sam sets out to prevent his suicidal patient from doing so. It also delves into the lives of Henry’s family and friends and their many enveloping subplots, but mainly through Sam’s strange encounters with them. Since revealing any more about the plot might lead to me spoiling this overlooked gem, I will leave it at that.

‘Stay’ is one of those unique movies which prefers to tell its story to the audience and keep them hooked to it via the choices in editing, cinematography, even the clothing of the character (s) and certain set details, rather than opting for a linear storytelling approach.  This movie is certainly one of those mysteries which will test your patience and induce a migraine… But in a good way. It certainly comes off as a Christopher Nolan film at times (even gave off ‘Inception’ vibes at times due to how the theme of death, family, etc was dealt with) and as I mentioned earlier, the visuals, attention to detail , et al are enough to tell a story and allow viewers to connect the dots as the story progresses. So watch and listen closely….Who knows what will happen if you miss out on a single moment?

Some of the jump cuts and scene transitions in ‘Stay’ will leave you feeling disoriented which is exactly the purpose here. There are scenes such as when Henry and Sam are strolling through a gallery and the way this scene is filmed makes the viewers  wonder whether they’re seeing double or even triple and as Ewan McGregor’s character rightfully puts it at one point makes them question ‘what is real?’. Not only that but it makes one question who is real and who is living out a fantasy, whose reality or whose fantasy is being lived out and/or collapsing in on itself, etc.

The story had me drifting in and out of it, at times getting a tad predictable, but once that climax hits, I felt myself tearing up. It felt like I knew what was going to come as the movie neared its end, but I was holding on to the hope that I’d be wrong as well.

Among the performances, I would single out Ewan McGregor as the best one since he gets more screen-time than his co-stars (the movie boasts of a talented cast from Ryan Gosling to Naomi Watts) and I was glued to the screen as he set out on his heroic, but mentally exhausting quest to save Henry’s life.

To sum it all up, if you like thrillers that capture your attention and make you feel as if you’re trapped in someone’s miniature ‘mind prison’ for what feels like an eternity, do feel free to check out ‘Stay’ in all its visually absurdist glory.

Posted in writing & blogging

Lockdown review #34: A Death in the Gunj (2016)

‘A Death in the Gunj’ is a family movie… In the same way that the movie ‘The Lodge’ was also a ‘family movie’. & if you’ve watched ‘The Lodge’, then you know how this movie is going to pan out… So brace yourselves for some disturbing, but also ‘food for thought-inducing’ moments.

I couldn’t help but draw comparisons between both ‘The Lodge’ & ‘A Death in the Gunj’ and the themes that they both deal with, in particular with how both movies deal with the topic of mental health and the impact of neglecting one’s mental health as well as the harms of pushing someone to their breaking point either intentionally or unintentionally. While in ‘The Lodge’, it was the traumatized & unstable Grace who bore the brunt of ignorant (& often annoying) step children who pushed her to the point of no return by cruelly pranking her or by bringing up her experiences in a cult (sorry, spoilers), in ‘A Death in the Gunj’ , it is the bookish & introverted young Shutu who bears the brunt of his ignorant (& annoying) adult family members who are polar opposites to him & who fail to understand that he needs his space while on their family holiday, leading to heated confrontations and causing the young man a whole lot of discomfort from both the physical and mental abuse meted out upon him which he suffers in silence.

As someone who has always been prone to social awkwardness & is an introvert who hates being rushed or bullied into doing or saying stuff and can’t really build relationships or even friendships quickly or easily in real life, I related to Shutu’s character. Watching him be subjected to forced human interactions made me cringe & watching him be put down simply because he didn’t fit in or because of his ‘failure’ to move on from his father’s sudden death till the peer pressure ultimately broke & completely changed him into a person whom he isn’t comfortable being really hit home for me & even brought tears to my eyes.

Vikrant Massey does an outstanding job at playing Shutu & the versatile actor is ably supported by his young co-star Arya Sharma (she plays little Tani, the only character who seems to understand him better than the people around him who are his own age or older). Ranvir Shorey plays the douchey, overly macho Vikram to perfection. Gulshan Devaiah turns in a fine performance as usual as Nandan who prescribes as well as practices tough love & seems to think everyone including the ‘sissy, scaredy-cat’  Shutu could benefit from the school of hard knocks. Kalki Koechlin, Jim Sarbh & Tillotama Shome too turn in believable performances as Mimi, Brian & Bonnie respectively . ‘A Death in the Gunj’ also benefits from some good writing & direction from Konkona Sen Sharma (making her directorial debut here).

All in all, this movie portrays topics such as mental health and toxic masculinity in a manner that is eye-opening as well as heart-wrenching & disturbing to the viewers & it is worth a watch.

Posted in Halloween special, reviews, writing & blogging

Halloween review: Slaughterhouse Rulez (2018)

P.S. This review was recently featured on the movie review site ‘The Movie Buff’ for their ’31 days of Halloween’ event & you can give it some love at this link as well: https://www.themoviebuff.net/2020/10/review-slaughterhouse-rulez-beware-the-horrors-of-the-big-bad-boarding-school%e2%80%a8/

I won’t say this is the best comedy-horrors (one of my fav genres) I’ve watched, but it isn’t half-bad either.

The plot follows Donald Wallace (Finn Cole) who is shipped off by his mum to one of those generic palatial British boarding schools, ya know the ones which come with dark secrets lurking within their four walls…or in this case, deep inside the surrounding woods & in the reeking secret school tunnels. Long story short Donald has to team up with his classmates as well as with school authorities (the ones who’ll believe him anyway) to fight off grotesque ancient beasts who come alive due to illegal fracking work on the grounds of the school.

I liked a lot of the humour and although the movie struggles to juggle multiple genres like comedy, slasher horror, romance, satire et al and almost crumbles on itself at times, it’s still an enjoyable Halloween watch and if you’re a fan of blood and gore, there’s plenty of that. And if you’re a cinephile in general, there’s plenty of tongue in cheek  references to classics like ‘300’  ‘Shaun of the Dead’ (the movie feels like an ode to the same at times), etc to crack you up. I also appreciated that the movie addresses themes like homophobia and often feels like a piss take on the classist, elitist atmosphere of British boarding schools.

I also found Margot Robbie’s chemistry with Simon Pegg cute, but their Skype romance in this movie doesn’t add much to the plot and goes nowhere. In fact, most of the romantic subplots, apart from Willoughby’s (Asa Butterfield) brief and tragic romance, come off as forced.

The young cast does what is required of them, which is to kick arse and take names, with Asa Butterfield and Isabella Laughland being the standouts for me. Michael Sheen chews the scenery and gets some humorous lines and I couldn’t find anyone better than him to do justice to the eccentric headmaster Bat, who may or may not just be the ‘headmaster version’ of Twilight’s Aro. Nick Frost is a hoot as always, although I’m still gritting my teeth over him not sharing screen space with Simon Pegg in this like I’d expected.

All in all, despite its flaws, ‘Slaughterhouse Rulez’ is still a treat for blood and gore aficionados and is well worth a one-time watch.

Posted in reviews, writing & blogging

Lockdown review #33: The Brothers Grimsby (2016)

As I watched this movie, my mind began to conjure up all the questions that Sacha Baron Cohen’s alter ego Brüno would ask of his interviewees/susceptible victims on ‘Da Ali G Show’, such as: ‘What is The Brothers Grimsby?’, ‘Why is The Brothers Grimsby?’, ‘When is the Brothers Grimsby?’, ‘Who is The Brothers Grimsby?’ & so on & so forth… That is until I chose to tell my mind to chillax & enjoy this disgusting, but hilarious, exceptionally weird joyride of a movie.

Mark Strong plays Sebastian, a James Bond-esque spy (& an wickedly good straight man to Sacha Baron Cohen’s mad brand of humour which reaches new levels of gross & absurdity in this one) who’s on the run after being falsely termed as ‘rogue’ by his own organisation, MI6. He ends up reunited with his long lost brother Nobby Butcher who unlike him isn’t a spy (nor is he a butcher. That’s just his surname) & who lives on stolen welfare with his fit as fuck girlfriend Dawny (Rebel Wilson), 11 kids & some grandkids in Chernobyl’s twin town of Grimsby.

Together, the brothers must team up to battle goons sent after them (including the Ukrainian version of Ben Affleck), traverse from country to country & then up an elephant’s coochie (there’s a sentence I never thought I’d say) & ultimately stop the villain from releasing a widespread virus (I swear, Sacha Baron Cohen keeps predicting stuff through his movies & it’s not even funny at this point ). Aiding them on their quest is Jodie Figgs (Isla Fisher) who also works at MI6.

As much as I liked the comic timing, the gross out humour & characters in this (mainly just Nobby & his crazy fam though), I really did wish they’d given Gabourey Sidibe’s character more to do. I did however like the inclusion of Annabelle Wallis as the promiscuous seductress Lina Smit & her hilarious double-entendre laden conversation with undercover Nobby is worth a mention. The addition of celeb cameos (or rather, knock-off versions of them) just for silliness sake are also well worth a mention.

So, if ya like rambunctious action sequences, scenes featuring a bunch of topless people wildly screaming & streaking across a football pitch while  the invigorating chorus from ‘All I Want’ by ‘Kodaline’ roars in the background just to stop a virus from spreading (again, Sacha Baron Cohen’s just predicting stuff through his movies & it’s not even funny at this point) as well as jokes that will either have you howling with laughter or heaving up your dinner, then ‘The Brothers Grimsby’ is just the flick for you.

Posted in reviews, writing & blogging

Lockdown review #32: The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)

A group of individuals (no, I’m not contradicting myself with that sentence, shut up) known as ‘The Chicago 7’ face off against a biased (possibly demented) judge with a penchant for massacring names in a court of law for crimes such as inciting violence through their peace-seeking demonstrations.

I’m gonna get straight to the point here… I’m a whore for Aaron Sorkin’s writing (he made the newsroom sound sexy, man!) & he effectively takes us right into the vile world of inside jobs, contradicting statements, jury tampering, bias/prejudice (racial or otherwise) in the judicial system, politicians and lawmakers alike pushing their own agendas & playing a game of dirty politics, et al. Sorkin doesn’t mince words when it comes to uncovering all these persisting issues and how history just keeps repeating itself & gets right to the point instead of mucking about. You immediately know from the start whom to root & not root for, which character has shades of grey & which one is just straight-up an arsehole, et al. What has always made me a fan of Sorkin’s writing is also his knack for infusing clever satirical lines to drive his hard-hitting points home (& if you know me, ya know I’m a whore for satire) & I’ll give him brownie points for that.

The assortment of characters are obviously as real as they get (since it’s based on true events,duh) & the cast of well-known faces such as Sacha Baron Cohen (as the quick witted & endearing Abbie Hoffman who’ll willingly lay his life on the line for revolution), Jeremy Strong (as Abbie’s sidekick Jerry Rubin), Eddie Redmayne (as the eagle-eyed Tom Hayden. He gets brownie points for nailing the accent), Noah Robbins (as the young Lee Weiner, who fears that his personal life will eventually cross over into his activism), Mark Rylance (in a convincing turn as the strong-willed Kunsler), Joseph Gordon Levitt (as Richard Schultz), Frank Langella (as ‘that one judge whom you do not want to run into at parties nor wish upon your enemies’), etc. all do justice (pun intended) to their respective roles.
 
The snarky war of words between the two Hoffmans is a riot (for want of a better word) to watch, as are the confrontation scenes between Kunsler & the judge who grows more confused & annoying (for want of a better word) as the proceedings proceed.
 
Other scenes such as the violent riots between the police and the protestors feel as if one is watching real events unfold instead of a movie and the juxtaposition of real footage from the riots only elevates this scene further & is enough to give you goosebumps, especially when all hell breaks loose between the frat boy party & the peace-seeking protestors & they begin to target & sexually harass women caught in the cross-fire. Even scenes such as the one where Bobby Seale (whose mistreatment at the hands of ignorant Judge Judy…ahem, Julius Hoffman is just downright revolting, btw) explains how executions work are quick & short but nothing short of memorable, thanks to a strong performance from Yahya Abdul-Mateen II & even stronger writing.

I’m afraid I’m gonna end up spoiling this movie if I go any further, so I’ll stop right here. I’ll leave you with this though: Considering how much injustice & corruption prevails (& has been prevailing since centuries) in the judicial system, in politics, basically everywhere ya look if you think about it, there’s no better movie that sums all that up at the moment than ‘The Trial of Chicago 7’. Well worth your time, especially if you’re as sick as I am of the world going to hell in a handbasket.

Posted in rants

Colourism and the glowing reviews it gets in India

A sarcastic post on fairness ads compiled by actor Abhay Deol who openly spoke against this issue

While many of my friends in high school were obsessed with the ‘fair is lovely’ beauty standards set by Indian fairness cream ads and many adults around me were obsessed with being the fairest of them all, I was that kid who rolled her eyes at these ads whenever that message of a particular ointment/cream/soap promising ‘fair glowing flawless skin’ flashed on my telly screen countless times. I didn’t care much for fairness products & the results that they promised because I was happy being my dusky, dorky self, no matter how much self confidence one achieved from bleaching their skin (I’m just quoting the hero/heroine from the fairness cream ads). I’m glad that many of the people around me who were previously prone to falling prey to these same toxic messages that their natural dusky dark desi skin wasn’t enough in the job market and that one required to possess a ‘wheatish complexion’ to find a bride/groom (a staple in Indian matrimonial ads) have since grown out of it. Sadly, fairness cream brands are yet to grow out of it.

A quote from fashion designer, Masaba Gupta

Of course, back then, we were all far too young and gullible to know more about this evil, ever-spreading disease of ‘colourism’ and sadly while the cosmetic industry is still making money off it (‘Fair & Lovely’, a well-known fairness cream brand in India along with the men’s fairness cream ‘Fair & Handsome’ and their promotion of that same old problematic message still thrive, albeit under new packaging and under a new name ‘Glow & Lovely’ now), this obsession with fair skin over dark skin has also managed to seep into & persists in yet another popular industry in India- the film industry of India or as it’s better known, Bollywood.

Recently, the song ‘Beyonce Sharma Jayengi’ (literal translation: Beyonce will be ashamed) came under fire due to its problematic lyrics- ‘Oh tujhe dekh ke goriya… Beyonce sharma jayegi’ (Literal translation: Oh, fair one! Beyonce would be ashamed by your fair skin) -which promoted this toxic idea of colourism. In the past, songs like ‘Chittiyan Kalaiyan Ve’ (literal translation: Fair wrists) from ‘Roy’ were criticised as well for promoting the underlying message of ‘fair over dark’.

In fact, now that I look back on some of the songs I grew up listening to, most of the lyrics were replete with the term ‘gori/goriye’ (fair woman) and were almost always dedicated to a lighter skinned heroine’s beauty – ranging from the chartbuster ‘Gori Gori’ from ‘Main Hoon Na’ to ‘Manma Emotion Jaage’ from Dilwaale (with the hero addressing his lady love as ‘Goriye’ countless times) & even the namesake title track of the movie ‘Gori Tere Pyaar Mein’ (‘in love with you, fair maiden’). There’s hardly any representation for the dusky maiden or even the dusky man and that alone is enough for me to conclude that it isn’t Beyonce who should be ashamed, but rather Bollywood itself that should be ashamed for propagating this bias time and again.

But why can’t we just ‘look past’ this petty issue, you ask? Whom does it harm any way? Well, sadly, colourism isn’t a new-age practice and both casteism and colourism date back to centuries and go hand-in-hand and are still used to dictate a person’s ‘worth’ in society. Neha Dixit, a journalist & history buff says that in order to learn more about colourism, one only has to delve into casteism and read about how workers who toiled in the heat had darker skin due to exposure to sun and thus were termed as the lower caste and treated harshly while the much privileged upper caste were praised for having fair skin and thus glorified. And much like racism, casteism or any other evil ‘-ism’ one can think of, colourism too has managed to leave a giant blemish on society and people are still discriminated against for being dark-skinned and not adhering to such unhealthy beauty standards perpetuated by fairness brands and now even by song lyrics which literally write off dark skinned lovers in favour of the fairer sex (emphasis on the ‘fairer’).

Samantha Ram, a South Asian teen based in Brooklyn with dreams of becoming an actress in Bollywood gave up on her dream after the Bollywood movies she grew up on continued to feed into colourism. She often only ended up finding representation in the dark skinned background dancers rather than the lead heroine herself, causing her to believe that the dark colour of her skin would never enable her to shine in the limelight. She was also constantly compared to her lighter skinned siblings and called ‘ugly’, leading to a drop in her self-esteem (instead of the glorified build-up in self esteem that fairness creams usually promise). Even her relatives restricted her from going out in the sun or wearing short sleeves out of fear that she would only ‘grow darker’.

This issue of colourism also gained some exposure in the a West when comedian Hasan Minhaj brought it up on his show ‘Patriot Act’. “If someone in your family is dark skinned, we clown them. Our Bollywood stars (Shahrukh Khan, Yami Gautam, to name a few) do skin-whitening commercials so we don’t look Black.” Minhaj said. Young women like Chandana Hiran who blames ‘Fair & Lovely’ for her insecurities about her skin even began a petition against the brand.

However, despite all the backlash, song writers in Bollywood continue to write songs that praise every inch of an Indian woman’s body from her ‘kaali kaali ankhen’ (her piercing black eyes) to ‘yeh hirni jaisi chaal’ (her doe-like gait) , but when it comes to her skin, they will always end up refraining from highlighting her duskiness & choosing fairness over duskiness and the lyrics will always favour her ‘gore gore gaal’ (fair cheeks) & ‘Chaand sa Roshan chehra’ (face that is glowing and white like the moon).

Hopefully, Bollywood will quit embracing colourism some day & let the dusky beauties have their day in the sun as well. But till then, ‘Beyonce’ will sadly have to take a backseat in the era of ‘goriye’ (the fair woman) who basks in all the glory as Bollywood as well as fairness cream brands continue to shamefully propagate fair beauty standards, often targeting the dusky men and women who should instead be taught to be comfortable and proud in their own skin, and this practice, let’s face it, is just unfair.

Posted in reviews

Lockdown review #31: Ted Lasso (2020)

Ted Lasso, a positively positive soccer coach from the States finds himself tasked with coaching a team on the other side of the pond as well as rejuvenating the enthusiasm and sportsmanship of some of the overly pessimistic players.

While I’m usually not one to watch a lot of sports & am not the sporty type, I did like that this show didn’t throw confusing sports terms in my face and the scenes involving anything sports-related were easy to understand. I also loved the characters and how they were written in such a manner that each of them developed as the show progressed and had grey shades to them even if they came off as the most lovable on the surface at first, especially Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham) who is both a victim of a loveless marriage &  plotting husband but also quite the saboteur herself who poses a danger to not only the team and Ted Lasso but to herself as well. The show also explores the mental health of its protagonist Ted and showcases how even the most positive person can have his worst days and is prone to breakdowns and panic attacks. It also explores themes like the importance of teamwork and even touches upon toxic masculinity by having characters like Jamie (Phil Dunster) open up about his journey as a man who’s been taught to never be soft by his father. Jamie’s monologue is just another highlight and it provides much food for thought.  Another highlight of the show is how it stresses on the need for humility and positivity in a competitive world which I found quite motivating.

The show also explores the stark contrast between the dry wit & snarky humour of the Brits and the charming, endearing & humorous nature of its American misfit protagonist and thus manages to strike a fine comedic balance between both comedic styles.

As for the performances, the cast is as strong as the writing. The charismatic Juno Temple never fails to charm me in whatever she’s in and her character Keeley serves as a pillar of strength to many of the characters in this show like Roy Kent (played by Brett Goldstein) who is a tough angry player on the field but is also a giant softie with a kind side off the field, to Rebecca (it’s always a pleasure to see women being supportive of each other & bonding onscreen instead of going at each other’s throats all the time for a change) & even to our American misfit protagonist. Ted Lasso is the kind of character who could give you ‘diabeetus’ and Jason Sudeikis plays this humble character wonderfully, showcasing his acting chops and comic timing without making Ted come off as a one-sided simpleton. Sudeikis is even better in the scenes which require him to portray Ted’s personal internal conflicts as well as his mental breakdown. The supporting cast such as Brendan Hunt as Lasso’s bestie Coach Beard, Nick Mohammed as the endearing kit man Nathan, et al are equally great and also do justice to their well-written characters.

Last but not least, the show also scores a goal with its lovely soundtrack. So, go ahead & binge ‘Ted Lasso’- a show that’s best enjoyed with a cup o’ tea and biscuits…& maybe a box of tissues for the occasional tearjerker moment.

Posted in music review, reviews

Music album review: Magnum Opera by The Meta4 Revue

Front cover

So, for the past few weeks, I’ve been keeping busy by managing press for this up and coming indie band based in New York (originally from Canada) called ‘The Meta4 Revue’ (be sure to follow them on Instagram: @themeta4revue).

They’ve worked on an album called ‘Magnum Opera’ which is up on Spotify and other major platforms and it is just such a delight to listen to.

The music video for the track ‘Chocolat’ is out on YouTube now

The genre of the album is soundtrack blues, which is a word coined by the band and the tracks are inspired by the works of Ian Fleming and the music from James Bond movies. The tracks from the tantalising ‘Chocolat’ to the mesmerising ‘Maltese’ are actually befitting of a 007 soundtrack themselves. My favourite, of course, is ‘Crawling up your spine’. It’s such a trippy tune with a gradually building up headbanger of a chorus.

This album is best enjoyed chilling out with a quarantini in hand, shaken not stirred.🍸

This was my mini review on this album and you can find my interview with the band for HOLR magazine to hear more about the album, their influences, their upcoming projects et al here: https://holrmagazine.com/in-conversation-with-the-meta4-revue-and-their-sensational-new-labour-of-love-magnum-opera-when-soul-meets-007/

For more articles, to check out their music videos, et al check out the band website: https://themeta4revue.crd.co/

And, of course, for any & all press enquiries (if you wanna review the album yourselves for your own personal blog or know any music bloggers), hit me up in the comments section on here or email me: themeta4revue.press@gmail.com

Lots of love, stay safe & don’t forget to jam to ‘Magnum Opera’ here: https://open.spotify.com/album/2wXtUWnaPDrpu5pYcaS7ep?si=L21a3t_zRWGHSBca54JiwAhttps://open.spotify.com/album/2wXtUWnaPDrpu5pYcaS7ep?si=L21a3t_zRWGHSBca54JiwA

Posted in writing & blogging

Lockdown review #30: This is Paris (2020)

As a telly addict who grew up in the early 2000s, I grew up ‘keeping up with the Hiltons’ rather than with the Kardashians, so of course, I’m familiar with the glamorous and often controversial albeit charitable heiress known as Paris Hilton & I probably wouldn’t crown her the  ‘queen of best behaviour’ any time soon, but I do find her fascinating because I never can tell if she’s getting in or coming out of that caricature of a character she plays (the ditzy blonde babe with no self awareness, nor brains) & when her documentary ‘This is Paris’ came along, I was even more so fascinated.

This documentary gave me a deeper insight into the real Paris who I found to be far more intelligent and likeable than the character she plays. It captured my attention even more than YouTuber Paris and those comical (apparently satirical) YouTube videos she currently creates for her channel as she adds yet another feather to her possibly pink, bedazzled cap and to her brand.  However, it turned out to be the furthest thing from comical or glamorous & is even more disturbing than I thought it would be & THAT is something I certainly didn’t expect!

It begins with Ms. Hilton pulling a face-mask off, obviously symbolising her pulling down the facade she puts up for the camera as she prepares to present a more raw side to herself that her conservative  Catholic family has tried very hard to surpress in the past and still tries to surpress throughout the course of the documentary. Then there is the constant, literal switching between voices as she attempts to navigate through who she really is and tries to literally find her own voice. Two decades of doing a Valley Girl accent will do that to you and according to a psychologist whose reaction video to the documentary I watched later, her putting on of the accent is probably just her trying to overcome or cover up childhood trauma by not wanting to actually mature and being too afraid to confront her stone cold family. And knowing that this could be a possibility shocks me even more now.

While I applaud Paris for being apologetic for some of the toxic choices she made in the past while trying to maintain her facade and which now influence many other social media influencers, I would have preferred it if her family had apologised as well for subjecting her to all the abusive boot camps they sent her to to change her ‘party girl ways’ and to thus maintain their reputation. I don’t know how many times I felt like yelling ‘that’s your daughter!!’ when her mother took no responsibility at all for all the mental trauma she’d caused a young Paris or never acknowledges the psychological and physical torture that Paris and many other girls who were raised on an unhealthy dosage of countless etiquette lessons faced at Provo Canyon, Utah.

And through it all, it is clear that the Paris whom the media and her own family vilified in public for her ‘wild choices’ or even for the porn video which was forced on to her by a toxic boyfriend (she rightfully calls it ‘electronic rape’) is in fact the victim. The animated sequences of her abusive past drive home the past. It is cringey when her own mother and sister continue to vilify her and the documentary is rife with more such moments of betrayal. Watching her literally beg to her selfish lover Aleks Novakovik to not leave her side is genuinely sad to watch. However, there are moments when I was proud of her for being self-aware enough to cut ties from him by cutting off his music festival band (before a major music festival where she’s about to DJ) & sending him on his way.

Other excruciating scenes include her driving around in her car while contemplating whether she’ll ever be able to fully break free from the caricature she’s created and then  undergoing a silent mental breakdown and bouts of insomnia. To me, these scenes felt like parallels to scenes from another celebrity documentary I’d watched a while back called ‘Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop’. Ironically, the protagonists of both these documentaries (Paris Hilton and Conan O’Brien respectively) are known for the personas they’ve put on for entertainment purposes for almost 2 decades now and who were both victims of toxic people whom they surrounded themselves with, be it toxic network excutives (for Conan) or toxic relatives and lovers/friends (for Paris).

Sitting through both of those documentaries has taught me an important lesson. That I need to be more empathetic to celebrities such as Paris and Conan who go through so much, yet continue to be nice and loving towards their fanbase despite their fatigue, trauma and their personal and professional battles.  It’s taught me that powering through a difficult situation (whether you’re born into it or which is thrust upon you forcefully) is very brave, strong & empowering in itself and to me- That’s hot!