Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Day 803: Lo Hei!

Today we had the fun Lo Hei celebrations in the office!

Lo Hei is a cute Singaporean custom where you make a huge salad of sorts in a group, as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations. It is to mark the coming together of a group (be it family or work or friends) during this auspicious time of the year to wish themselves and each other a good year ahead.

The ingredients of the Lo Hei are to be added in a particular order and as you add in each ingredient to the mix, you shout out wish designated to that ingredient! So for example as you add lime in, you call out for "good luck and smooth sailing", as you add in pepper you call out for "attracting wealth and treasures" etc.

Once the ingredients are put in, you mix it all together - the mixing is a group effort with chopsticks, mind you - wishing for even more things, this time none of the predesigned wish list but anything that comes to your mind. In our group it happened to be things like project approvals, more budget, promotions etc.! Interestingly, as you mix the salad and make your wishes, you are to raise the food up as high as possible with your chopsticks. When about 15 people madly poke at a salad with their chopsticks, grab it, lift it up and shout out wishes in maniac excitement, food start to fly about. It's inevitable, really.

Soon we were not just mixing the salad but also avoiding the food darts whizzing past. After mixing, wishing, and getting a few bits of salad on the hair and even in the eye in some cases, we settled down to eat whatever was remaining of it in the bowl. And it was yummy, which of course was awesome!

I always enjoy doing Lo Hei and for some reason didn't get a chance the last couple of years. So had huge fun today!

197 more to go.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Day 802: This Blog & My Lists!

This blog completed 800 days just a couple of days ago and today I had this overwhelming feeling that I would miss writing it. Because when all else went wrong, this "compulsory" task of finding the silver lining in the day, had helped a lot with my sanity. I also think it was a good way of tracking my journey and progress as I worked towards completing my "to-do before 30" list. I am pretty certain that if there was no compulsion to do something exciting, big or small, every single day, I would not have done half the things I ended up doing in the last couple of years.

So after work and yoga, I spent some time going through old posts and that was pretty nice.

Sure, I still have more than 6 months to go before this draws to an end and there is absolutely no need to get so emotional right now, but somehow even six months feel short suddenly.

So I did what I usually do whenever I feel time is short - I made another list of things to do (God save me!).

Given that I have already completed my "before-30" list, and given that other things that I was looking forward to like the Dhaka film festival and short film completion are now drawing to a close, I had a feeling that I might end up slacking for the next six months. In order to avoid such a situation which would be completely unacceptable and which I would surely regret later on, and in order to ensure that I make the most out of the next 6 months, I drew up a nice, packed list!

Alright, one might think that I need some help for this compulsive behaviour, but it is definitely gonna ensure that I am gonna have a terrific 6 months ahead if I can stick to the plan! So am definitely looking forward to that!

Here's to this blog and my endless lists!

198 more to go.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Day 801: Done With Dubbing!

Wrapped up the dubbing for Inaganeyum Oru Katha today, including syncing and balancing it! Compared to Mausams dubbing which was a painful journey of a few months, this was seriously quick and sweet! Ah, the joys of short films! It gave me such a sense of satisfaction and happiness that I decided to simply chill out for the rest of the day. Awesomess!

199 more to go.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Day 800: Back to Dubbing (And 800!)!

Yup, after a long, long, long time! More than a year, if I remember correctly!

This time it was for Inganeyum Oru Katha. We were planning to work with live or sync sound and not dubbing, but somehow the audio turned out to be pretty horrid for one of the scenes which kinda forced me to dub. So two of my actors came over and we spent some time over the dub, over Dhaka and Las Vegas news (both of them were part of Mausams as well), etc.

Dubbing work had driven me nuts during Mausams but for today, I quite enjoyed it!

And also, we just have 200 more days to go! Under normal circumstances this would seem like a very long time, but I kinda feel like it's so close to the finale! Can't wait!

200 more to go.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Day 799: Eventless, Enjoyable Friday!

It was a pretty decent Friday. I didn't do anything fancy yet I managed to do all that I wanted to - which was basically finish off some critical work in the office, go for a run (after a long gap) and relax and read a bit.

And I managed to do all three. After successfully completing all that I had to at work, I went for a run. Given that it was after a long break (maybe about 3 weeks since I last jogged), I was skeptical about how well I would be able to do it, but it wasn't too bad. Post that, I just settled myself down and finished up the Secret of the Nagas in one sitting. I didn't like its prequel at all, thanks to very poor writing, but kept at it only because of an interesting plot. But the second book was much, much better and I had a good time reading it!

So that was pretty much my Friday - not very eventful but still quite enjoyable!

201 more to go.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Day 798: Subtitles & Gift!

Two awesome things happened today.

1) I completed the subtitles for Inganeyum Oru Katha! Yay! It felt super awesome because like I'd written here, getting it done was not easy at all! Even after spending 6 - 7 hours on Tuesday, I was only half way there! But today I managed to complete the rest of it, even though it meant staying up until 3am. So I felt quite good about it!

2) My editor, who had attended the film festival at Dhaka, had stayed on an extra day there because of his flight timings. That day he had met up with some of the volunteers from the festival, and they had, very sweetly, passed on a card and gift for my hubby and I! That was such an unexpected and lovely gesture! The editor who went back home to Mumbai, took pictures of the both the card and the gift and send it over to me today because we don't know when we would meet next. The whole thing brought a huge smile because seriously, they have been way too sweet! God bless them!

202 more to go.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Day 797: After A Long Time...!

It was a day of things happening 'after a long time....'.

Firstly, it was my first day back in the office after a week in Dhaka followed by the Chinese New Year. That was eleven days out of office in total, that too with no work at all throughout, which is quite long by my standards. But good thing was that, rather contradictory to my own expectations, I didn't feel blue at all! While yesterday evening I was feeling like it was the last day of the two-month Indian summer holidays and tomorrow I would have to back to school (something which I never enjoyed), today I had no such turmoil. Instead, I felt rather happy to be back and do my work, clear my emails, catch up on updates, rush for meetings, meet up with my colleagues etc. So that was nice!

After work, it was my turn to get back to swimming, again 'after a long time....'. And by long time here, I mean 1 year and 25 days! Yup, my exercise log shows that the last time I swam was on 31st December, 2010 and interestingly, as per my blog that day, I had done my longest ever swim at 20 laps! Why I quit swimming after that is something I myself can't figure out. Anyway, I decided to get back to swimming today but not without much difficulty. Looks like 1 year 25 days of not swimming does make you struggle a bit. In fact, I even forgot to take my goggles because that's how much I have become out of touch with the routine! But I survived about 10 laps and felt pretty good in spite of my sore muscles and blood red eyes.

Post swimming, I took a work call at night, again....'after a long time'. My night calls had significantly reduced over last few months and I realized that they are fun in their own way. To sit in your pajamas, pick at your dinner, listen to people from Latin America and Europe and try and solve a 100 issues with them over the phone, is indeed fun, especially when it doesn't happen too often!

The night ended with the hubby and I going over to my brother in laws place to take part in his birthday eve celebrations. It's been a while since I took part in anyone's birthday celebrations right at the stroke of midnight, so that was fun too!

Overall, a day of "after a long time..."s, but all awesome!

203 more to go.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Day 796: Subtitling, Malayalam Movie & Catch-Ups!

Today was a the last day of the long Chinese New Year weekend in Singapore. I spent a bulk of it on doing subtitling for Inganeyum Oru Katha. Given that it is a dialogue intensive, that too very fast paced ones, getting subtitling done was not an easy job. It was taking me a couple of hours to finish off each scene and every time I read through what I have written, I was finding more and more corrections to be made! But somehow it was more fun than frustration and I spent a good six to seven hours on it and enjoyed myself thoroughly!

Then I caught up with a few fellow Malayalis and together we went to watch that rare Malayalam movie that gets released in Singapore. The feedback on this film, titled "Arabiyum, Ottakavum Pinne P. Madhavan Nairum", had been pretty negative but I didn't mind it that much. Sure it had a ton of flaws, many of it rather annoying, but my friends and I enjoyed most part of it, maybe because of our low expectations, or from the joy of getting to watch a Malayalam movie on the big screen, or the good company I was in, or maybe even just the samosas we were having. Whatever be it, I definitely had fun!

Then it was time to meet up with the hubby and proceed for dinner with our usual gang in Singapore. We had not met the gang as a whole for more than a month now, because of everyone's travel plans during Christmas and New Year and our own Dhaka plans. So this was more or less like a reunion and needless to say, that was huge fun too!

So it was both a productive and a fun day, something's that's always welcome!

204 more to go.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Day 795: Being Sound Designer!

I had done extensive dubbing and syncing for Mausams, but today I got to play another role of the sound designer.

Like I had written here, I had completed the edit for my Malayalam short film Inganeyum Oru Katha, along with my editor, when we were in Dhaka. Now that the edit is done, it was time for fixing the sound.

I had invested in a boom mic and pole during the shoot of IOK and was hoping that the sound would be mostly fine and no dubbing would be required for this film.

But the way the edit was, it looked like the sound was indeed very much all over the place and unless I go through every single take again, and choose and extract the right audio clips from them, and try and sync them with the current edit, we will have to dub. But I am completely against dubbing because not only is it a lot of work, without excellent sound design for the background ambience, it does sound very unreal.

Which brought me to the first option - which is to go through every single take, extract suitable clips and try and fit all of them to the current edit. This was easier said than done. This means doing some extreme detailing work. For example, there could be a place where there is excellent audio of the dialogue but there is some background disturbance such as a bird cooing or some construction drilling. So I need to look at every single take of that exact dialogue, choose one where the actor might have given the same modulation and pacing, and then try and fit it in the edit. And when I say dialogue, I actually mean a word by word copy past from different videos!

But I sat down for about 12 hours and finally had a workable audio file for three of the most problematic scenes!

It was back breaking work and meant being unaware of the passing of a holiday (it's Chinese New Year eve) but was extremely satisfying! The work's far from being over but I felt like a real sound designer for a while!

205 more to go.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Day 794: Dhaka Memories!

After an uneventful flight, we got to Singapore at about 4:30am today and got home by 5:15 or so, thanks to the very speedy, excellent service at Changi airport!

After getting home, we slept off (of course) and woke up well after noon. And did pretty much nothing for the rest of the day, other than going through the Dhaka videos and pictures. I also got connected with many of the delegates and organizers of the festival via Facebook, which was really great because now we can ensure that we are in touch. That also led to a flurry of messages and photo exchanges, all of which were pretty nice.

Dhaka film festival has come to an end but today, it was nice reliving it again!

206 more to go.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Day 793: Last day in Dhaka!

Today was our last day in Dhaka and it was also as eventful as the rest!

We had met a very interesting couple at the festival. He is Indian, she is Bangladeshi. He is an editor cum musician (sarod player, amongst other things) cum martial artist (not just a student of it, but a martial art instructor) with a degree in Hindi and Music. She is a financial analyst/economist turned make-up artist. You see what I mean by interesting? They met in London and now are in Dhaka for a while. They had been coming for pretty much every day of the festival and we met the guy when he came for Mausams. The wife's uncle and brother in law were both amongst the best and most renowned amongst Bangladeshi directors and both her and her husband had a keen interest and good taste in films.

We got quite a few chances to catch up with them at the festival and they had kindly offered to take us out for lunch today, given that our flight is only at 10pm at night and we had a fair bit of time to kill before that.

So they picked us up at around and 12:30pm and we made our way to an Italian restaurant which was at a fair distance from our hotel.

On the way we saw the prettier and non crowded parts of Dhaka - including the Parliament House, Dhaka Air Force camps, etc.

The food at the Italian restaurant was pretty good.... pretty much everything we've eaten in Dhaka seems to be yummy!

Over lunch, which lasted for about 2-3 hours, we had another marathon chatting session, which I enjoyed thoroughly!

Post lunch, they dropped us back to our hotel. We said our goodbyes and then it was time to take off for Singapore.

We waited for our airport pick up, but as luck would have it, our pick up car from the festival got stuck in some immense traffic somewhere and we had to resort to taking a really shady, rickety taxi at the very last minute to rush to the airport. After a journey of more than an hour, which should ideally only have taken 30 minutes max, we reached the airport.

But we made good time, and in hindsight, the journey in taxi was quite fascinating. The car seemed to have been made from some left over scrap metal and it didnt even have any covering for its door locking system - i.e., we could see the entire mechanism inside! But the ride was still enjoyable and we even tipped the driver extra because he turned out to be a very nice, helpful chap.

At the airport, we were greeted by a festival volunteer, the same one who had picked me up from the airport. After checking us in, he too took off. And with that everything associated with the festival came to an end.

It was with mixed feelings that I boarded the flight. It was great to go back home to good old Singapore - but I was sure to miss everything about Dhaka! The festival, the people, the food, the joy for mindlessly watching one movie after the other for so many days, even the traffic, the crowds and the noise! Everything had a rustic, innocent charm!

Not sure whether I'll ever get a chance to go back but this was very, very special!

I guess it's a big Thank You to everyone who made Mausams possible and also to God for the last one week. It was indescribably beautiful!

A special thanks also to my editor for coming down to the festival and working hard to drive publicity around Mausams and its screenings amongst the media and others, as well as for working on Inganeyum Oru Katha editing in every free hour possible, which made this trip not just fun but also fruitful!

207 more to go.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Day 792: Closing Day!

Final day of the 12th Dhaka International Film Festival 2012 and it was a fabulous day!

Once again, after breakfast, we were transferred to the screening venue - the public library, where we caught up with the volunteers, took several pictures around the venue since it is our last day there etc.

Then I had a flurry of interviews for a TV channel, the festival video archives and even with a photo journalist, all of which was fun!

Lunch was back at Dhaka Club and we had a round of catch up with other delegates, many of whom were leaving in the evening and again, might be the last time we might be meeting each other. So in other words, it was already time for goodbyes, which kinda sucked.

Post lunch, we attended the closing ceremony which was an adventure on its own with the media crowding the stage... leaving nothing to be seen by the audience, cameras flashing all over, the Bangladeshi celebrities making their appearance in full swing, the volunteers running hither tither trying to organize everything, the utter confusion on who is accepting which award on someone's behalf, etc. etc. But it was all immense fun! The ceremony was short and sweet and we had a ball, especially with the very witty Iranian distributor sitting right next to us cracking one joke after the other.

Post the opening ceremony, we watched a Japanese movie by a fellow delegate who has by now, turned into a very good friend! His movie was as lovable as he was and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it.

Then it was time for the closing dinner and party at an interesting outdoor upscale restaurant called Spitfire. The food - which was everything from Bangladeshi to Indian to Italian to Continental - was awesome! Even the starters were so good that I got myself rather overeaten by the time I was done with starters itself!

Over dinner, we had a last round of catchup with all the Bangladeshi folks as well as the delegates and organizers. Tomorrow everyone would be on their way back to their own countries! I seriously felt bad saying my byes because they were all such kind, friendly, fun and interesting people!

Thus the festival came to an end but after giving me a bunch of memories to last a life time! What a truly awesome experience!

208 more to go.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Day 791: Screening Marathon!

Today we were simply running from one screening to another.

After breakfast, we watched a documentary by a German film maker, who was present at the festival. Then we walked down to the Dhaka Club for lunch, hung around there with a few of the other delegates for a bit, checked internet etc. and then walked back to the National Museum for another screening - this time a feature film under the spiritual section, made by this lovely couple from Mumbai. Post that we rushed for another feature film - a Chinese one brought by fellow delegates at the festival.

Three films back to back was quite something and it was the first time we were doing this at the festival. So that was pretty cool.

There was no party this evening, so we were free to do what we wanted. Given that all of us were pretty tired, we just had dinner at the restaurant in our hotel itself. We ordered ourselves a huge spread and had a very satisfying meal!

Tomorrow the festival draws to an end and with it, an unforgettable experience!

209 more to go.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Day 790: Mausams Screening at DIFF 2012!

The much awaited day of the Mausams screening at the Dhaka International Film Festival!

After breakfast, the editor, the hubby and I made our way to the public library. The allotted slot for our screening was 1pm at the public library auditorium and we got to the venue by 11 am.

Upon reaching the venue we realized that our movie poster that was up at the ticketing desk has disappeared. Given that we had spent quite a considerable time just yesterday figuring out one round of disappearance by these posters, this was beginning to get quite annoying. In any case, we walked upto the ticketing desk and asked them what on earth happened to the poster now. They very politely and apologetically informed us that the Mausams poster was stolen last night by unknown thieves.

Yup. The poster was stolen. First a dog takes off with a Mausams DVD and now someone steals a Mausams poster. Must admit that we have the most fascinating things happening to us!

All of us were highly amused, but given that we couldn't do much about it, we simply proceeded to take pictures around the area and kill the time before the screening.

At about 12:45 pm, under exponentially increasing nervousness, we made our way in to the auditorium.

To our huge surprise, we found that there was a pretty good crowd in the auditorium waiting for the Mausams screening! The 1pm slot had been the most poorly attended one over the past few days because of the clash with the lunch hour and prayer time. So we were expecting to see very few people in there but was very amazed by the turnout! I must say a big part of that has been played by my editor who had been spreading the word about the film amongst the visitors to the library, other delegates, volunteers etc. But even he looked surprised at the number of people who were seated just as we entered!

Anyway, the turnout made me feel pretty happy and also pretty nervous because now the film better be good or they would all be so disappointed!

There wasn't much time to think of anything more because before I knew it, the emcee was announcing the film and inviting the three of us on to the stage. We were given bouquets and I spoke a bit about the film and its making. By the way, I must also mention that the hubby, when introduced as the actor cum husband etc., got a roaring applause, mainly by the female audience! Just before we went on stage, several girls had been crowding around him and telling him how handsome he was and asking for "single" pictures with him (i.e. they didnt want to stand in a group around him but take individual pictures with him)! God save us all. Needless to say he enjoyed all the attention!

Then it was time for the Mausams screening. We settled down in one of the front rows. I crossed my fingers and prayed for a good reaction from the audience. This was the first time I would experience Mausams as it being watched by an auditorium full of perfect strangers. During the screenings in Kerala and Singapore, many of the audience were friends or family or at least acquaintances of the cast and crew in the film, and they would obviously tend to be biased. But this time, there will no such bias and the reaction would be honest. So needless to say, my fingers were tightly crossed.

At first, things went for a toss, when we saw that the subtitles were not working. So many of Hindi dialogues were hard for the audience to follow. But soon the crowd started to get the hang of it. Luckily the Hindi dialogues too were mostly towards the beginning only, so afterwards they didn't have any issues following the film.

Watching Mausams with that audience in Dhaka would be one of the best experiences of my life! We realized that despite the subtitle glitches etc., the audience was thoroughly enjoying the film! . In fact, I would say this was the most encouraging response we have had till date... probably even more than in Singapore given that they were all were perfect strangers! The audience was so involved in the film that they were laughing, cheering and clapping throughout! Sitting there and listening to them reacting to the film like that was truly an out of the world experience!

As the final scene wrapped, the crowd gave us a huge applause and I thanked God with all my heart! Mausams screening was immensely successful!

People rushed up to us to congratulate and to my utter astonishment I was asked to give autographs! Thus I gave my first few autographs as a film maker!

We stayed around for a bit talking to the audience and enjoying their very positive feedback! Then we were rushed away for lunch as it was well past 3pm. Lunch was Bangladeshi Chinese food which was very similar to the Indian Chinese and was quite yummy.

Post lunch, still basking in all the glory of a successful screening, we went back to the screening venue. The hubby and I tried to watch a Turkish movie but the very gory and torturous violence in it drove us out after a while. So instead, we just hung about, talking to the people around.

For dinner, we were taken to the Gallery of Fine Arts which was exhibiting the stunning works of the expatriate Bangladeshi artist Maruf Ahmed. I am usually not a fan of abstract art but I must say that I found Maruf's works very captivating. His choice and use of colours were truly brilliant! The dinner was hosted by the very smart and witty Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh who was also chairing the international jury of the festival.

Over dinner we once again caught up with the many friends we had made over the festival. One of the highlights was when a three-time National Award winning Indian director called me over and gave me very positive feedback for Mausams. Coming from a person of his calibre and credentials, it made me feel on top of the moon!

Post the dinner, we made our way back to the hotel - happy with the turnout at the screening, happy with the reaction during the screening, happy with all the feedback post the screening. All three of us were simply elated!

Back at the hotel, we got the hubby to watch the edit we had worked on for the short film. While the editor and I had done about 80 - 85% of it over the last few days, I realized that the editor had finished up another 5-10% of it on his own, which was awesome! We only had to do some remaining finetuning work, so we stayed up until 3am and finished it off! Thus we had the full and final edit of Inganeyum Oru Katha, my first Malayalam (short) film!

A great day of films - not just an awesome screening for Mausams but also a full edit for the next project. Absolutely blissful!

210 more to go.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Day 789: Screenings, Interviews, 10 Years & Hubby!

After breakfast, my editor and I as well as other delegates were brought to the festival venue. Upon reaching the venue we realized that the Mausams posters, which were meant to be up on the noticeboards by now, were still not to be found on them. Upon asking about its whereabouts to the volunteer who took the posters from us, he directed us to another volunteer who in turn directed us to another and this went on for a while. Needless to say we started to get frustrated! To think that we took so much trouble to get the posters printed just the yesterday, only to lose them without ever getting them on the noticeboards! Ugh!

Just as all the leads seemed to have gotten exhausted, I loudly wondered where on earth such big posters could possibly have disappeared to. Just as I was saying it, I looked around the information desk tent we were standing at and my eyes fell on an unruly pile of papers lying around in one corner of a long desk there. Almost immediately the editor pounced on the pile, rummaged through it and almost as if by magic, pulled a huge brown envelope from beneath that mess. We got our posters!

We didn't waste any time after that. We immediately put them up - one on the notice board at the festival ticketing board and one just outside the public library auditorium which was the primary venue for the festival and where Mausams was to be screened.

After successfully completing this task, the editor and I found a quiet spot and did some editing for the short film we were working on. We couldn't progress much because the quiet spot very soon ceased to be quiet with the arrival of a few other delegates. So we packed up the editing and went to catch a movie and thereafter went for lunch.

For lunch, amongst other things, they served the very yummy Kachchi Mutton Biriyani which is a Bengladeshi speciality. Apparently there are only two chefs in the whole of Dhaka who make the authentic Kachchi Biriyani, and our lunch was done by one of them! Needless to say, it was a real treat!

Post lunch, I went in to watch another movie while the editor decided to hang out outside with some delegates, volunteers etc. The movie I caught was this insanely good Iranian film Santori (the director of which was the chief guest at the festival and I had the good fortune to meet). It was Seriously-Awesome-Stuff! I was gulping at the sheer excellence of the performances, music, direction etc. when the editor came in and told me that I was needed for a couple of interviews.

So leaving Santori behind, I made my way out. The first interview was for the festival daily bulletin and the second one was for ATN News which is a TV news channel. After giving both the interviews, posing for a few photos for the bulletin and enjoying the tea that the first interviewer kindly got us, we went for another movie screening - this time a highly critically acclaimed Indian film whose makers we had just met at the festival.

After that well made, thought provoking film, it was time for dinner again - this time hosted by the Swiss Ambassador himself!

So once again, the delegates were packed into various vans and driven to a posh area called Gulshan which is were the rich and famous of Dhaka reside. It was also here that the Swiss embassy was located, where we were to have our dinner party. The embassy and the Ambassador's residence were very tastefully done up and the ambassador and his wife themselves were a really cool, unassuming, super friendly couple! They had also arranged for a folk dance of Bangladesh to be performed at the embassy as entertainment for the delegates and it was pretty much the first and only exposure we got of the country's performing arts culture. The music they played was very upbeat and several of the volunteers and delegates danced away with them!

It was soon time for the arrival of the hubby, who would be reaching just in time for the Mausams screening tomorrow and probably as importantly, just in time for celebrating our 10th year anniversary as a couple tonight! It was 10 years ago today that the dude officially asked me out and I accepted!

After a few phonecalls to sort out the whereabouts of his missing receiver at the airport, the hubby managed to make it to the Swiss embassy in time for dinner. By now, the story that it is our 10th year anniversary and that he, who is also the co-producer and actor in the movie, is about to arrive, had spread around and everyone who was "dying to meet him" crowded around him and gave him a warm welcome!

After dinner, which was an amazing spread of authentic Srilankan food, it was time for the long journey back to the hotel. During the journey, the editor and I filled in the hubby with all that he had missed over the last few days. It was great to have him be part of the festival as well!

A very eventful, fun day and tomorrow, it's Mausams screening at the 12th DIFF 2012!

211 more to go.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Day 788: The Festival!

This was the first day of my attendance at the festival proper (since I was busy with the editing most of yesterday) and it was huge fun!

After breakfast in the morning, my editor, me and a few other delegates were driven to the public library which was the primary screening venue as well as where the festival's information desk, media desk, etc. were located. It was during this drive that I first
got to see the streets in Dhaka in daylight and it was beyond fascinating! The crowds, shops, rickshaws and the equally fascinating passengers on it, all the vehicles with some kinda damage or the other, the unavoidable traffic jams, etc. were all very interesting.

At the public library, after collecting our official delegate passes, the editor and I walked around the premises and realized that our movie was pretty much the only one that had no publicity around the premises. Many of the other film makers had put up their film banners, posters, leaflets etc. but of course we had not planned any such thing for Mausams. We talked to some of the volunteers and they agreed to take us to a printer post lunch if needed.

But then there was the problem that we didn't have a copy of an appropriate poster with us. So then both of us went around in search of an internet place, found one within the library premise not without a bit of difficulty, and then found an old email which had a copy of
the poster.

Then came the issue that neither of us nor the guys at the internet place had a thumb drive for us to download the poster onto and take it to the printer! After some to and fro conversation in broken English and sign language, it was established that they have a card reader and that was a good solution because we had several cards for our cameras.

So after downloading the poster successfully, grabbing a delicious samosa and a cup of awesome coffee, we decided to watch a film first, before going for lunch and to the printer afterwards.

We picked the Shorts and Independant Section and watched about 3 short films - one shocking, one boring and one interesting.

Lunch was served at the Dhaka club, which was a very short distance away and it was pretty good food. Post lunch we sat down and reworked the poster a bit to change the screening details to the one in Dhaka vs. the one in Singapore it originally had.

Then along with a volunteer, we proceeded to the printing shop. The printing shop we visited was one amongst several other printing shops that lined what seemed to be like a primary printing-shops-area. With the help of the volunteer, we explained to the printing guy what we wanted - i.e. 2 glossy A3 posters and 100 A5 leaflets. As we waited for those, the printing guy decided to be super nice to us - chairs appeared from nowhere ensuring our comfort and this was immediately followed by cups of excellent hot tea, ensuring that we were well pampered.

We enjoyed this Bangladeshi hospitality and spent some time there, marvelling at the crowds outside or as in the case of my editor, photographing every nook and corner of the printing shop.

Post collecting the posters and flyers, we had one of the most adventurous road experiences in Dhaka! We had to maneuver through an avalanche of cycle rickshaws, hordes of fellow humans, cars that never seem to follow any traffic lights etc. before we could get to our own car! It was truly adrenalin pumping!

Back at the public library, we passed the publicity materials to one of the organizers who promised to put them up the next morning, and proceeded to enjoy some Bangladeshi snacks and catching up with a few fellow delegates.

Later in the evening, we watched a screening of three documentaries - one rather unrelatable, one shocking and one absolutely delightful. Post the screening we were taken to another dinner party, this time at the national arts centre.

So dinner was in a lovely, extremely well lit exhibition hall where we were surrounded by excellent paintings all around. We got to meet a few more of the who's who of Bangladesh - mainly from film and other artistic fields. I must also mention that the food was excellent with a special mention for the fried chicken which was to die for! Yummm!

Post the party, it was time for some more editing, before hitting the bed.

Today I really felt like I was part of a huge film festival, in spite of the fact that half the time was spent on downloading, redesigning and printing posters!. Felt awesome!

212 more to go.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Day 787: Editing & Party!

My editor and I decided that today we will work on our short film edit
and complete it before we take off anywhere to watch films. So we sat
the whole day on the edit and made quite some great progress.

During lunch we ordered naan, fried rice, chicken curry, prawn curry
and also chilli chicken in chinese style. While the curries and chilli
chicken came in very little quantities, the naan came as sliced pieces
that amounted to a mountain on the plate. It looked intimidating, to
say the least. But the food tasted awesome. It was my first proper
meal in Bangladesh and I must say I wasn't disappointed at all!

Later in the evening we attended a party thrown at the Dhaka Club.

The party was super fascinating and a first of its kind experience for
me. We met some of the biggest shots in Bangladesh including their
central minister for media, the guys who run their TV networks, their
superstars of acting, leading directors including one who has worked
with Polanski, one who is being touted as the next best thing in
Bangladeshi cinema and whose film has has been banned on controversial
political grounds, etc., and several such who's who of Bangladesh.

Needless to say, it all felt surreal. At many points in time when I
was there, I couldn't believe that I was actually hobnobbing with the
biggest shots of a country and that too because of a movie I made. And
of course, it was indeed beautiful.

213 more to go.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Day 786: It's Time For Dhaka!

It was a morning of running a few pending errands before I could fly
off to Dhaka for the International Film Festival!

I was done with everything including the never-ending packing by about
2 in the afternoon after which I waited for the hubby who was on his
way back from India.

He reached home at about 2 after his week long trip and at 4:30 it was
time for me to take off. The hubby, who is going to join me in Dhaka
next Tuesday only, very gracefully agreed to accompany me back to the
airport from where he just got home, so that we can spend a little bit
more time together before my flight!

So together we went to the airport, checked me in, had the customary
Ananda Bhavan meal, the McCafe Himalayan Chai Tea Latte (something I
should seriously consider having more often) and then it was really
time for Dhaka!

After an eventless flight (on which I watched the surprisingly well
made Tamil film Ko), I reached Dhaka at about 8pm.

The volunteer from the film festival was waiting for me and he took me
straight to join an after-screening dinner party organized at the
Uttara Club.

There I met the Mausams editor who had arrived from Mumbai last night
to attend the festival. It was good to see him after so many months (I
think last was in August in Kerala when he came down for the Mausams
screening there) and we caught up with each other over dinner.

Dinner was a small, cozy affair where interestingly, there were more
drinks (alcoholic, of course) than food and I got to meet many of the
other festival delegates, guests and organizers. There were delegates
from Iran, Malaysia, Russia, Italy, US, Japan, China, Brazil,
Australia, India etc. and it was fun to know all of them.

Post dinner, we were taken to our hotel. I must mention that the
traffic in Bangladesh is exceptionally...hmmm... fascinating, to say
the very least. There are more cycle rickshaws than anything else, and
they go whichever way they please in their slow pace, which in turn
disrupt everything else. And everything other than the cycle rickshaw
believes that it is running on some expressway and tries to race and
cut lanes inspite of the fact that there are a thousand other vehicles
crowding around it. Like I said, fascinating.

So after that drive, I got to the hotel, checked in, freshened up and
then started to work on the editing of my short film Inganeyum Oru
Katha together with the editor. Given that he is based out of Mumbai
and me in Singapore, we wanted to ensure that we make use of the time
together in Dhaka to finish off this pending work.

After a few hours of editing and some good progress, it was time to
call it a day!

Night 1 in Dhaka ends!
215 more to go.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Day 785: University Town, Catch-Up & Independent Films!

University town (U-Town) is the new extension to the NUS (my alma mater) campus. It opened just last July and I hadn't been hearing quite fabulous things about it. Today I got to go there, to attend a film premiere by a bunch of students from NUS. In fact I had written about them once before here.

Anyway coming back to the University town, it was seriously amazing! I couldn't believe that there was all that space near the original campus! It seemed to be sprawling in all directions, filled with residential houses, a lot of eating outlets, an auditorium, "Mac rooms", research centers, playground, etc. etc., each buzzing with activity! I really liked the place!

A good friend of mine, who is currently doing her phD there, took me around the U-Town and we had a lovely time catching up over dinner as well. It's been really long since I last met her but everytime we meet, it's never like there's been a gap at all! Had a great time!

Then it was time for the movie itself. Titled Gauri, it was an hour long tale about the first semester of an overseas (Indian) student in NUS. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the film was executed. I think my Facebook comment post the premiere can be repeated here - "Really enjoyed Gauri, especially the perfect first half! Wonderful attempt by The Film Guys! Very convincing performances, fresh dialogues, beautiful cinematography and an excellent background score! Congratulations to the entire team! :)" The whole movie was shot inside one room, with pretty much no resources but it was quite engaging - truly good independent cinema!

After the premiere, I got back home, packed for Dhaka and watched yet another independent movie! This one is 15-min short film made by the fellow Filmie Fanatic I had written about here before. Titled "Amaranth", this was a poignant dialogue-less, simple tale of a cancer stricken girl and her positive attitude towards life. This film too had strong performances, very good cinematography and a simple but classy execution! Oh, and I must also say that I smiled when I saw that the protagonist was named after me! The director had mentioned this to me several months ago but it had completely skipped my mind when I was watching the movie. So when that popped up suddenly towards the end frame, it was a pleasant surprise! Needless to say, it was a very sweet gesture by him!

So yes, it was a lovely evening of U-Town, catching up with a dear friend and watching good independent films!

215 more to go.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Day 784: That Lovely Big Family!

When I first came to Singapore, I somehow got myself involved in the Kerala Association activities here. While I met a lot of fellow Malayalis there, I got closest to one particular aunty. She has been in Singapore ever since she was a child and hence was a Singaporean in the true sense but without letting go of Malayalam or any of the Kerala culture and customs for that matter! In fact, she was quite the veteran at Malayalam playwriting as well as acting!

We got along like a house on fire and once when I found myself stranded with no place to stay for about three months in Singapore, she very kindly even offered a room in her house to me!

It was during this time that I got acquainted with her family. She is the oldest amongst six siblings, and all of the rest were in Singapore. With their spouses and two to four kinds each, they had a huge family settled here. Given that Singapore is a tiny place, the members of this family were very much in touch all the time, and every now and then they used to have a gathering with all of them coming together for some serious catching up.

And I happened to become pretty close with most of her family members as well. I always used to be amazed by the unity in the family and how everyone always seemed to have a lot of fun! Just like this aunty, her children (who are actually very much grown up adults) as well as other siblings, nephews, nieces, etc. were all active in arts or social work or other such activities. So their lives always seemed to have this very lively buzz and I used to enjoy meeting each and every one of them. In fact over the years, I have done several plays and dances and management of events etc., mostly for Kerala Association, with this aunty as well as her family members. I had also done a copywriting internship at her son's advertising agency, given tuition lessons to her nephew, taught dance to a bunch of the kids etc. etc. In fact, I used to feel very much part of this lovely family!

Now the only reason why none of them had featured on this blog till date is only because many of them, including aunty, relocated to Australia about six years ago. Since then I have not been in touch much, except when aunty comes for visits to Singapore and I get to meet her once in a blue moon.

But today, I had the good fortune of meeting aunty again, and that too with a gathering of her huge family! Not all the members were there of course, but there were the ones who are remaining in Singapore as well as the few who had flown in from Australia.

And it was so, so wonderful to see all of them again and feel a part of this gorgeous family! I had a fabulous evening, chatting and catching up with all of them! There are just the same as ever - united, loving and always looking like they are celebrating life to the fullest.

May God bless this Lovely Big Family!

216 more to go.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Day 783: "Beautiful"!

I had been getting increasingly disappointed with Malayalam movies given that they are either just utter crap or the few that are actually good, are shameless copies of some other film.

While I expressed much of this opinion on Facebook, some of my friends asked me to go watch a recent release called "Beautiful".

To be honest, I wasn't too keen in the beginning because the trailers showed that it is about a paraplegic guy and I really have no taste for movies about handicaps because they usually end up as predictable and in your face calls for sympathy. So I had been avoiding it for a few weeks.

But today, I decided to watch it and get done with it once and for all.

And man, was I not surprised!

The movie was anything but a tear jerking, "pity-me" shouting mess, which was what I had been expecting. Instead, it was a very lighthearted, brilliantly written, laid back film with super cool performances, an interesting soundtrack and excellent cinematography! In a nutshell, I loved it!

I was so happy that not only was this such a well made film, but that it came from Malayalam!

"Beautiful" is indeed, beautiful!

217 more to go.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Day 782: Longest Scene!

For a change, instead of watching movies, I spent some time on making my own film. I wrote the longest scene in my currently work-in-progress feature film script, one that I had been struggling with for a while!

Now that it is done and I am happy with how it's turned out, the day's automatically rocking!

218 more to go.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Day 781: Blog Award & 180!

A few cool things happened today. Firstly my darling, super supportive teacher gave this blog of mine the "Versatile Blogger" and "Candle Lighter" awards on her blog, which basically are awards that bloggers pass on to other bloggers whose blogs they like. So that was a very sweet gesture and a nice surprise! I am yet to figure out all the next steps I need to do on the awards, but for now, a HUGE "Thank You!!!" to my teacher for being such a wonderful and encouraging person!

In the evening after work and yoga, I settled down to continue with my movie watching spree and I discovered the absolutely delightful Tamil film "180"! I enjoyed watching it so very much! One of those films that surely has its flaws but that stands strong and tall thanks to its sheer sincerity and class! And to add on, the songs from the film were just mind blowing! They were so unique and were visualized in full justice (one of the best uses of the Red One in Indian cinema)! I couldn't stop listening to the songs and thinking about the visuals from the film, for hours into the night!

A totally lovely day!

219 more to go.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Day 780: Multilingual Marathon!

The hubby took off for India this afternoon and I found myself with a lot of potential "me-time" but with nothing much to do.

So I decided to do what one naturally decides under such circumstances - watch a movie.

So I watched the delightful "Adukalam", a Tamil movie had gotten rave reviews and had even fetched its actor a National Award, for all the right reasons. Tamil cinema anyway does a great job of rustic, raw films and this one was no exception!

After "Adukalam" I realized that there is still quite some time to go before I really need to hit the bed. So I decided to watch one more film - this time, the Malayalam comedy "3 Kings", only to find it atrocious. But I persevered until the very end of it for reasons not yet known to myself.

After enduring that torture, I realized that I still have more time before I must absolutely hit the bed. So then I decided to watch a Telugu movie. I am not at all familiar with the language but a friend had insisted I watch this movie called "Magadheera" and sent me a link with the subtitles. And it completely blew me away! It is a fantasy/period/current-day romantic tale and I was completely taken by the quality of stunts, art direction, music, direction, choreography, performance of the lead, etc. etc. Sure, it had its share of flaws but I was happy to ignore all of them! There was something really, really awesome about it and I enjoyed myself thoroughly watching it!

So there - I watched a Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu movie each, one after the other and got 2 out of 3 of my choices pretty right!

So it was a thoroughly enjoyable, successful multilingual marathon!

220 more to go.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Day 779: The Power of Yapping!

The day started pretty eventfully with a visit to the bike shop where the hubby got himself a bicycle. Now that he has somehwat managed to teach the wife, that is me, cycling, he figured that he too should get a bike and we together can be like this bike-riding couple.

And then just after he bought the bike, he readily ditched me and happily went on a solo bike ride. Oh well.

Anyway after that, we decided to go for a movie with a friend. The plan was that after the movie, which was to end by around 6pm, we shall get back home and the hubby shall get some work done while I finish off some chores like packing for Dhaka, writing pending blogs etc.

So as per the plan, a friend joined us and we went for the movie.

And then began, the Yapping.

Throughout the movie, which was downright atrocious, we were making random but super fun conversation and also commenting on the atrocity of the atrocious movie.

After the movie-watching, the hubby had to go to his office to collect something, so the friend and I went along as well. And throughout, we just yapped and yapped and yapped.

Then the three of us decided to have dinner together.

We successfully downed Appam, Mutton Ishtu, Kerala Paratha, Beef Coconut Fry, Varutharacha Chicken Curry, Egg Podimas and Fresh Lime Soda from Swaadishth. Needless to say, all this food consumption was done over some serious yapping - the conversation continued to be totally random but super fun!

Then the three of us decided to have dessert together.

Again, while we were successfully downing Rasmalai and Malpoa from Mustard, the yapping continued.

Then the three of us decided to have chai together.

So over a steaming cup of Masala Chai from Jaggi's, we continued to yap, yap and yap.

And then, at about 10:40pm, we decided that it was time to wind up the yapping. We had already done it through one movie and also at three different restaurants within one evening. And we also realized that whatever was planned (the hubby's work, my chores etc.) has completely gone for a toss. But no one was complaining!

So yes, it surely was a fascinating evening because I don't think I have talked so much or listened to anyone talking so much for so many hours at a stretch, in ages! And surely it was engaging conversation, otherwise it wouldn't have lasted this long! I didn't realize how fast time passed by and that always is a good sign!

So for today, it is the beauty of long, random, fun, engaging conversations!

In other words, the Power of Yapping!

221 more to go.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Day 778: Milestone

Today the hubby's new startup finalized his first contract with a client! The contract itself is not huge but it is a significant milestone for the company! Sure, it has got very little to do with me directly but I was incredibly happy for him and his team!

So after work, I bought a cake and took off to his office and his whole team had a small celebration via cake cutting & eating, of course. Then the hubby, his partner and I chatted away until very late in to the night about everything under the sun. It was a wonderful evening and a beautiful day!

222 more to go.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Day 777: Their Stories...

Today, I happened to catch up with two different friends of mine after a very long time. Over lunch with one and after work, with another.

Given that it had been a while since I had last caught up both of them, they had some very fascinating stories to tell me. Stories that revolve around how they are managing to turn around their lives after a very tumultuous times.

And these stories are always very fascinating to listen to! The things that they did ranges from putting their foot down and ensuring they bring order to their life by following strict organized processes (extremely detailed to-do lists and tracking), looking for new experiments (e.g. apprenticeship under a baker!), doing something completely crazy (e.g taking off to Korea for one whole week to work in an Italian cafe), ensuring that they spend some "me-time" no matter what, etc. etc.

Their stories were not just fascinating but inspiring too and it felt wonderful to be involved, even if it is by just listening to them! Both my friends looked and sounded incredibly happy and at peace and that was wonderful, especially since I know how much of a tough time they have had before! When they smile, you can help but smile too!

223 more to go.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Day 776: Turning Right!

It's obvious that the holiday season is over from the number of emails that's been hitting the inbox at work today. But I decided not to be blue about it but instead to end the day off on a high by getting back to my new found joy of cycling! While I had gotten my balance and I could cycle quite a bit the first day, I was quite unsure of the turns especially sharp ones. So tonight, with the help of the hubby, I learned how to make the turns. I wouldn't say I am 100% there but it felt really really awesome! Small joys and a beautiful day!

224 more to go.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Day 775: The Pain After!

My whole body is in knots today. I can't move my neck, shoulders, legs - especially the calves, my arms, and pretty much everything else that's remaining. This is on top of the huge multi coloured bruises I have on my knees.

And am feeling super happy about the whole deal! It might sound rather weird but I have a very good reason for it.

Because they are all the signs of an extremely good dancing session - one where I have learnt something very new and something that reminded me of muscles I never realized existed. I already noticed the sprains and bruises yesterday post the dance practice, but today the pain was at an altogether different level!

What's most interesting was this was almost nostalgic because it reminds me of all those wonderful dancing sessions we used to have in college where we explored all kinda different styles and stunts and which used to leave me in this badly bruised, sprained and painful condition.

But the feeling of satisfaction that this brings is just unbelievable! You know that you have pushed yourself hard and tried your best because hey, your body is very evidently is telling you so!

In the evening I hit yoga, to try and relax all those muscles a bit and they did relieve a lot of the discomfort. It was like getting a super good massage and I felt high through the day - from the very obvious feeling of having done something productive, from the pain, from the memories that it brought with it and last but not the least, from the awesome yoga that helped me pull and push and stretch all those sore muscles which was like a totally different kinda workout!

225 more to go.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Day 774: I Shall Dance!

One of things in my to-do list for this year, is to ensure that I continue dancing. Even though I was very active with dance in college, it completely stopped once I graduated, except at weddings that I attend on the hubby's side of the family (them being north Indians have major dancing events in their weddings). There were three such occasions so far and I enjoyed dancing at all three of them.

But now that there is no family wedding in sight for this year, I decided that I need to make a conscious effort to continue dancing if I do not want to lose touch with it. Hence, in my things-to-d0 for 2012, I have added in "Learn 5 new dance pieces". Which basically means I will watch 5 dance videos online, each in a different style, and try to learn and perfect them. That way I get practice a lot of different styles, I can do it in my own time at home, and it would be fun!

So today was the first day of this experiment. I chose a dance video I liked and started learning from it. And after about a couple of hours and several bruises, sprains and profuse sweating, I had learnt the whole piece! Sure there is huge room for perfection which will need a ton of practice of course, but I felt awesome!

This is something that I would really, really enjoy this year!

226 more to go.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Day 773: New Year!

Alright then, it's the new year!!!

And I spent it in the most relaxed way! Evidently, am not one for having a jam packed New Year's day to ensure the rest of the year is equally eventful! But that doesn't mean it wasn't without its share of beautiful moments - be it calling and wishing a lot of my relatives a very "Happy New Year" and having long catch-ups up with them (something which I probably do only once a year with most of them, before getting swept away by life and its excitements for the rest of the year), drawing up a long list of things-to-do in 2012, finishing up the character sketches and story-line for a new project that's in the offing, making a quick visit to the temple to thank God etc.

But mostly, it was just chilling out at home, doing pretty much nothing and enjoying what's remaining of the holiday season! I kinda liked that!

227 more to go.