It—the Review

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Movies based on Stephen King’s horror novels usually suck. As you can see I have used the modifier “horror” to sidestep Green Mile and Shawshank Redemption. ¬†Based on one very publicly chronicled bad experience King had with a certain director, it seems that he always strives to maintain a tight control of cinematic adaptations, ensuring that any film made on his writings remains true to the source. Unfortunately King’s prose is verbose, his stories start after five hundred pages (okay I am exaggerating a bit), and sometimes he totally goes off the rails, which is why more or less literal translations to screen have consistently lead to poor cinema, as a number of less than stellar adaptations of King’s works have demonstrated over the years.

Which brings me to that one bad experience that King had.

Kubrick’s “The Shining.”

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RaGa and Leaked Transcript of AI Speech

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[Work of fiction. Any resemblance to real speech is merely coincidental. Context]

Good morning bhaiyon and behenon and my mother.

I am RaGa and I am here to talk about AI.

As you all know, Congress gave the world AI. Also IA. Air India. Indian Airlines. Great achievements as those of have ever had the fortune of flying these two carriers would know.

But today I am here to talk about artificial intelligence, the ability to mimic human like intelligence without possessing a brain and as someone who has been doing this for the last 45 years or so, I guess I am uniquely qualified to talk about AI.

AI is in my shirt, it is in my pants.

The Gandhi family understands the concept of decision trees. We always take the path that is weighted by the highest incentives for us, and our edges are weighted by Bofors, Augusta Westland as experts will no doubt note. More details are available in our paper on Minimal Reduced Edge Graph Algorithm or MREGA

This follows from the work the Gandhi-Nehrus did in developing object oriented languages where we practically defined the concepts of inheritance and inner classes which we initially called Lutyens. Also do take a look at our agent based system which we call Quattrocchi.

I personally use supervised learning, supervised by my mother and Digvijay Singhji and I operate from a neural network, and yes the bandwidth on that network is available, please contact Mr Raja for further conversation. We impose invariants like “A Gandhi shall always lead the Congress” during operations and we have developed proprietary data mining routines that produce vast quantities of copper and iron and coal and natural gas.

It is worth noting that we at Congress virtually invented adaptive systems, the Congress party being secular or communal or self righteous or corrupt, adapting fast and adjusting behavior depending on sensor stimulus.

Unfortunately some people like Elon Modi are creating fear uncertainty doubt regarding AI. AI is benign, and follows Asimov’s principle of never harming its masters. If you have any doubt, look at us, we never ever harm our masters, even when they harm us and you may ask Union Carbide. When faced with obstacles, we just change our goals and shift our goalposts.

Ultimately you have to realize that human intelligence is fallible. Just look at our 2014 election results.

But when you put your trust in artificial intelligence, you embrace perfection.

So come and hug me.

The Legacy of the Lovecharger Baba

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The first time I encountered the phenomenon of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Insaan was when a suggested video on my Youtube video feed pointed me to the song “You are my Love Charger“. It was an experience like something never before, and this coming from someone who watched pretty much every trashy Hindi film in the late 90s. A middle-aged, flabby man, with curly hair covering his forearms like the Amazon rainforests in the 1800s, wearing a psychedelic tight-fitting costume with the picture of a lion on his back, moving like Mick Jagger (or thinking he is), in front of thousands, perhaps tens of thousands perhaps even more, screaming in ecstasy like fourteen-year-old girls at a Bieber concert, as multi-colored balloons rise in the air. Soon the Lovercharger Baba, as Arnab Goswami called him on TV, became huge on social media, aided by an army of “Insaan” accounts, that only tweeted praise about the Baba, and RT-ed his tweets, to the extent that you could not help wondering what the budget was for the “organic” social media campaign.

Then came the movies. I watched the first, MSG: Messenger of God, a work of celluloid narcissism of the kind that would make Kim Jong Un scream “Bas kar beti” and reviewed it here. He would go on to make more, but there was only so much of tacky bargain basement graphics, and Baba fighting Pakistan and Godzilla together while driving purple bikes wearing a floral body-suit, that even I could take. It was obvious the movies were targeted to the followers of his Dera, and they lapped it up like the second and third and fourth coming of God, and it was all kind of subversively fun to shake your head and laugh at the antics of this gentleman who said he invented T20 cricket and taught Virat Kohli to bat and done wondrous things that would make Leonardo Da Vinci and Newton’s parents complain of having underachieving sons.

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When Harry Met Sejal—The Review

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A few posts ago, I had done the jurrat of putting Imtiaz Ali in the same group of directors as Karan Johar only to be sternly rebuked by an auteur commentator, with a passion for cinema, who opined that the moment I clubbed Imtiaz Ali with Karan Johar, I had displayed my lack of knowledge of cinema.

I agree. I now stand corrected.

Imtiaz Ali is in a class of his own.

“When Harry Met Sejal”, his latest film, is a masterpiece.

On one hand, it has all the Imtiazian motifs that the refined audience love, which in the hands of a less awesome director would be called cliches.

The philanderer who carnally pursues women to fill the emptiness in his heart. The freewheeling bubbly female whose sole reason for existence is to fill the aforementioned hole. Two and a half hours of sarson da saag and chak de phatte and European locales and music till finally the rudderless man finds himself into the safe confines of monogamy.

But, and here it is where it reaches another level, this film is a beautiful, heartfelt tribute to late-career Dev Anand films.

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An Old Picture

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One of my friends passed away yesterday. In deference to his family’s absolute right to control how they wish to share their grief, I do not name him here. So the pronoun it will be.

I haven’t been in touch with him for years. He was not on social media. Every time I went to Calcutta, I met a few of my college friends, but for some reason, he was never in the group. I also never made an effort to reach out to him, and yesterday when I heard the news, I deeply regretted not having made the effort.

So I dug up an old picture. This was the late 90s, no smart-phones, pictures were rare, and even the ones that were taken, were almost never scanned. This one though was. Taken around the last few days of our graduating class, near the red chairs of the Computer Science building, pretty much everyone in our batch is there.

As I look upon the smiling faces, full of life, collectively with kilos less in fat, and grams more in hair, I cannot help but wonder the thought furthest away from their minds.

Death.

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Dunkirk—the Review

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The Bangla colloquial for a movie is “boi” or book. It is not hard to figure out why, the appreciation of a film, for most, is predicated upon the story. Unless you are the film-school type, you are not really watching for shot composition, camera angle, scene transitions, lighting, and even though you often say “The film should have been better edited” to look wise on social media, without really understanding what film-editing is, what you actually mean is that the story didn’t catch you.

Christopher Nolan’s reputation as a superstar director is built upon his consistent mastery over the narrative. Whether it be putting the elements out-of-sequence (Memento), or nesting elements (Inception), or playing with time (Interstellar), or working on audience assumptions (Prestige), Nolan understands the power of the twist, the pace, the lines, and the character. You remember the beginning (or is it the end) of Memento, you wonder what happens to the totem in Inception, you shake your head at the resolution of the Prestige, and you definitely want to be the Joker.

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