What is Music?

A guitar solo unleashed. A raag that has the power to summon rain itself. A collection of electronic impulses that travel from a jack to an earpiece, providing deliverance from worldly meanderings. A chorus that unites thousands of attendees into a coalesced whole, singing along with the demigod on stage, guiding their souls into ecstasy. A thudding percussion divulging the beats of the universe. The power to revoke memories that didn’t exist. A connection to another world. A portal to the language of love. To pangs of longing, regrets, and desires .Reconciliations, remembrances, and romances. Eulogies to the past. Dreams of the future. Conversations long forgotten. Moments that fleeted by. Hopes rekindled. Fires sparked back to life. Darkness surrendering to belief.

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Book Review: God Hates Us All, by Hank Moody

cover

Before reading this book, I had expected it to be just another marketing gimmick. Surprisingly, God Hates Us All turned out to be quite the engaging read.

Firstly, for those unfamiliar with the legendary Hank Moody, let me provide a brief introduction. He’s the Bukowski-esque, promiscuous, cynical, and yet somehow likeable protagonist of the hit Showtime series Californication, portrayed by The X-Files alum David Duchovny.

The “bestselling” book, written by Hank before the events of season 1, follows an unnamed narrator, à la Fight Club, as he navigates his way through life in 1980’s New York. What makes the novel tick is its blatant prose, along with interesting and occasionally unhinged supporting characters, which include a mysterious supermodel and a rockstar-in-the-making.

Dark in tone and yet optimistic at heart, very much like its hero, God Hates Us All  is a short and engrossing novel, and also works well as a standalone work of fiction for those yet to binge-watch Californication.

For fans of the show, it offers an insight into Hank’s life before season 1, as viewers will know that Hank’s works are often semi-autobiographical in nature. The real author of this book, Jonathan Grotenstein, delves into the mind of Hank Moody and delivers a book that acts as a fantastic literary spin-off from the series.

You can also share in Hank’s frustration when you think of the film adaptation of this novel as a rom-com called A Crazy Little Thing Called Love.

californication

What are the best spy novels ever written?

I had originally written this post on Quora, as the answer top the question “What are the best spy novels ever written?”

You can check out the original post here.

Here are two novels, written by former spies, that couldn’t be more different from each other, but rank among the greatest in the spy genre.

From Russia,with Love-Ian Fleming

In the fifth novel to feature the legendary Secret Service agent,Bond is marked for assassination by Soviet Counterintelligence agency SMERSH, and young clerk Tatiana Romanova, along with a Russian decoding device, is the bait to lure Bond into a trap, orchestrated by the ruthless Colonel Rosa Klebb.

From Russia, with Love is everything we love about Agent 007- edge-of-your-seat drama, femme fatales and powerful villains.

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold– John le Carré

Regarded as a masterpiece in the spy genre, this novel is as far as it gets from Bond-esque tropes.Set during the height of the Cold War, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is about the core principle of spycraft- the flow of information. The tension is slowly and meticulously built up through an intricate plot, full of twists and turns. This is a must-read for all lovers of the spy genre.

What are the Top 10 TV shows ever made?

One TV show each from 10 major genres-action, comedy,crime, drama,fantasy,mystery,romance,science-fiction,thriller, war.

Action-24

Nine high-octane seasons full of explosive action sequences, thrills and never-ending badassery from Counter-Terrorist Unit agent Jack Bauer(“Dammit, Chloe!”). Kiefer Sutherland’s portrayal of the iconic CTU agent makes a man-crush completely legit.

Comedy-Modern Family

A hilarious, wonderfully written show full of memorable characters. A comic take on a dysfunctional yet loving family.

“I’m the cool dad, that’s my thang. I’m hip, I surf the web, I text. LOL: laugh out loud, OMG: oh my god, WTF: why the face.”

-Phil Dunphy

Crime-Better Call Saul

A spin-off/prequel to the legendary Breaking Bad, this show traces the origins of Saul Goodman and Mike Ehrmantraut, two very engaging characters from Breaking Bad. Better Call Saul is currently in its second season, and is in no way lesser than its predecessor. A gripping and brilliantly written and enacted crime drama.

Drama- Homeland

A bold and dark psychological drama with espionage and the War on Terrorism as its central themes, Homeland is one of the most engaging and thought-provoking dramas ever created.

Fantasy-Game of Thrones

This one needs no introduction. An intense, gripping, violent, dark,explicit and thoroughly entertaining political drama, the popularity of which has exploded across the globe.

“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”

-Cersei Lannister

Mystery-True Detective

On first sight, True Detective seems like a detective drama. However, it combines the detective genre with the philosophical and the metaphysical, to create a beautifully haunting series that will stay in your mind long after you watch it. The first season was a revelation, featuring riveting performances from Oscar-winner Mathew McConaughey and Oscar-nominee Woody Harrelson.

Romance- How I Met Your Mother

An epic love saga that follows Ted Mosby’s search for the future mother of his children, along with his friends- Marshall and Lily, the perfect couple; the legen-waitforit-dary Barney Stinson, and the lovable Robin Sparkles.

Science Fiction- Star Trek

A magical journey full of epic space adventures.Live long and prosper!

Thriller: Breaking Bad

One of the greatest shows ever made. Walter White’s transformation from a decent family man into the ruthless drug kingpin Heisenberg is the core focus of this multiple-award winning and widely admired show.

” I am not in danger, Skyler. I am the danger. A guy opens his door and gets shot and you think that of me? No. I am the one who knocks!”

-Walter White(Heisenberg)

War-Band of Brothers

A realistic, graphic and visually astonishing 10-episode miniseries that takes you right into the heat of battle with its spectacular and brilliantly shot battle sequences, based on World War 2.

I had originally written this post on Quora as the answer to the question “What are the top 10 TV shows ever made?”
You can read the original post here.

Ghosts-Part Two.

To read Ghosts-Part One, click here!

THE HIT SQUAD

Mumbai

February 14, 2016

4:30 pm

“That son of a bitch got away,” thought Ranjit. His earlier conversation with Rohit was still playing in his mind. Two of his former colleagues were dead.  He, along with the only other surviving member of The Hit Squad, was now the target of a dormant monster from their past that had risen up to devour them whole.

He remembered that day as if it had been yesterday. The bullets. The bodies. The blood.

 Five Years Ago

They called themselves ‘The Hit Squad’. A generic title which left no doubts about what they were meant to do. Officially, they didn’t exist. They specialised in black operations, which meant doing the dirty work for the government.

Rohit Singh. Ranjit Gill. Vikram Mehta. Sagar Dhawan.

Despite their non-existence on paper, tales of their conquests were spread far and wide, treated with respect from the intelligence community, and fear by those on the wrong side of the law.

A notorious drug kingpin.  A mass-murdering terrorist. The head of an organised crime syndicate. All were taken out with sheer perfection and ruthlessness by The Hit Squad.

No member of The Hit Squad had any qualms about the work they did. They were willing to delve into dirt that no-one else, in Ranjit’s words, “had the balls to touch.”

__________________________________________________________________________

Vikram was staring through his binoculars at the empty road. According to the intelligence they had received, a car would be coming down this road within the coming minutes. In it, would be the head of the biggest crime syndicate in the country. A man who had eluded capture for decades. Intelligence had finally turned up a solid piece that provided a golden opportunity to cripple the syndicate, and the government didn’t want to take any chances, hence had sent their very best to finish the job.

According to the report, the Don, as he was called, would be accompanied by three of his bodyguards. The plan was to ambush them on the deserted road. On Vikram’s signal, Rohit would drive a truck into the path of the moving car from a sidestreet.  Ranjit and Sagar, on the back of the truck, would open fire on the car, with Vikram providing support from behind. The stakes were higher than ever. If this attempt were to fail, the Don would vanish into the smoke, never to be seen again.

Vikram noticed movement. He zoomed in, but what he saw sent shivers down his spine. He picked up the radio.

“Bravo, this is Alpha, come in.”

“This is Bravo,” replied Rohit from the other end.

“Three cars. Black. SUVs. Will reach Point Delta in 5.”

“Fuck! Three! We were told there would be one! I bet the other cars are filled with bodyguards. Four of us against twelve.”

“Your call, Bravo.”

Ranjit chimed in on the radio,” This is Tango One. I say let’s get ‘em. The more, the merrier.”

Sagar said,” Hells yeah. Three of them for every one of us. Ranjit will probably kill them all in a jiffy, stud that he is. Leave some for us, bro.”

“Sure, mate, if you’re fast enough” replied Ranjit.

“We’ll see.”

“Shut the fuck up, you two,” said Vikram.

Ranjit said,” I ain’t joking, man. This is a golden chance. The bastard might not surface for another ten years if we let this go. Three of them for one of us? I say, bring it on!”

“Hells yeah!” exclaimed Sagar.

“ETA Two minutes!” said Vikram.

Rohit hesitated. Then spoke,” All right. Let’s give them some love.”

“T-Minus Twenty Seconds,” shouted Vikram into the radio.

Rohit revved up the truck engine. It was a monstrosity, twenty feet long.

“Here we go!”

He drove the truck onto the road. The foremost car rammed into the side of the truck.

Ranjit and Sagar opened fire on the foremost vehicle with their sub-machine guns. Blood splattered on the shattered windscreen. Vikram was coming approaching from the opposite end of the road, opening fire on the rear vehicle, while Rohit got out of the truck and joined the firing.

Just then, the door of the middle car opened. A glance passed between Ranjit and Sagar, echoing the innumerable missions they had taken together. They nodded to each other.

Sagar opened fire on the windscreen of the middle car, while Ranjit aimed at the open door. The windscreen turned red, but Ranjit’s bullets were only able to hit the door, and not who was hiding beyond.

Then the crack of a pistol was heard amid the barrage of gunfire. Vikram collapsed to the ground, clutching his leg.

The firing stopped at once. A new voice was heard, this one coming from the behind the door.

“All right. Nice and easy. I’ve got my pistol pointed at your idiot friend’s forehead, so drop your guns if you want to see him alive.”

“Damn you! Kill me, asshole. Look me in the eye if you have the guts, and pull the goddamn trigger,” replied Vikram.

“So we have a patriot here. Good. I’m counting to five. You all know what you have to do.”

Sagar, Rohit and Ranjit exchanged glances. They were thinking the same thing. No, Vikram didn’t deserve to die at the hands of this maniac.

“Okay, we’re dropping the guns now!” shouted Ranjiit, throwing his gun to the ground. Rohit and Sagar followed suit.

“Damn it! What the-” began Vikram, but he was cut off by the Don.

“So here’s what we’re gonna do. I’m going to get into this car, my gun pointed at your fallen friend. I’ll drive away. But you better hide yourselves in the deepest hole you can find, because when I come back, I won’t let you die so quickly.”

The Present Day

Ranjit remembered how he had felt that day, the moment he had dropped his gun. Powerless. Angry. The scene had been bloody. The windshields of the cars were peppered broken and red. Bodies laden with bullets lay still on the seats, drenched in blood.

The Don had climbed into the car and driven away.

It had been the first operation the Squad had failed at. The Don had disappeared from The Grid, as it was called. The tale of the operation had spread far and wide, on both sides of the law.

The Hit Squad had disbanded after that. It had been a mutual decision. They had decided never to contact each other again.

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

What are 10 movies that everyone needs to watch at least once in life?

Had written this post on Quora as the answer to the question,”What are 10 movies that everyone needs to watch at least once in life?

You can read the Quora post here .

I’ll be listing one film each from 10 major genres-action, comedy,crime, drama,horror,romance,science-fiction,thriller, war,western.

Action

Die Hard

One of the most badass heroes of all time, New York Police officer John McLane, is up against 12 terrorists who have taken a Los Angeles skyscraper hostage. Epic action sequences, memorable dialogues and sheer thrill makes this one of the greatest action movies ever.

Comedy

The Big Lebowski

A slightly offbeat movie from Oscar-winning auteurs, the Coen Brothers, this hilarious, quirky and entertaining film inspired a whole new religion(Dudeism) and an annual convention.

The Dude abides.

Crime

GoodFellas

One of the best films ever made by Martin Scorsese, this gripping gangster film delves into the inner workings of the mafia, and draws out memorable performances from the cast.

Drama

Dead Poets Society

The legendary Robin Williams delivered one of his most memorable performances as the inspiring English teacher John Keating. A movie that will inspire you and tug at your heartstrings. Keating’s mantra of ‘Carpe Diem!'(Seize the Day) still reverberates through time.

Horror

The Silence of the Lambs

One of only three movies to win the Big Five Academy Awards(Best Picture, Director,Actor, Actress and Screenplay), The Silence of the Lambs follows a young FBI trainee who is assigned to catch a brutal serial killer with the help of the cannibalistic psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter. One of the greatest films of all time, it combines police procedural work with a psychological examination of the lead characters.

Romance

Midnight in Paris

Beautifully shot and brilliantly written, this film brings out the beauty and charm of Paris, and explores the themes of post-modernism and romance through the eyes of Gil Pender, a burnt-out screenwriter on a visit to Paris with his grumpy fiancee.

Science-Fiction

Interstellar

Christopher Nolan’s magnum opus takes us on a beautifully haunting journey through outer space. Stunning visuals, Hans Zimmer’s awe-inspiring background score and the core theme of love make Interstellar one of the greatest movies in the sci-fi genre.

Thriller

The Machinist

A dark multi-layered psychological thriller which explores the themes of paranoia and delusion. This film grows on your mind. Christian Bale took method acting to a whole new level by shedding 60 pounds for his role as an insomniac.

War

Saving Private Ryan

Legendary director Steven Spielberg won the Oscar for Best Director for his realistic, graphic and masterful World War II drama which takes you directly into the heat of battle. The opening sequence depicting the D-Day landings on Omaha Beach, Normandy, is a masterclass in direction and cinematography.

Western

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Clint Eastwood’s iconic portrayal of ‘The Man With No Name’ features in this epic western, the last in Sergio Leone’s Dollars trilogy. Revenge and buried treasure lead the three main characters into a high-octane adventure featuring epic gunfights ,beautiful terrain and memorable dialogues.