Author: Vijay

Documentary Films

Some people may think that documentaries are boring. I think maybe they are just watching the wrong ones. Anything can be boring if you have no interest in that subject!

There are so many documentaries out there, on so many topics, there has to be something that you will find useful or even simply enjoy.

For example, there are many documentaries about history. If you are learning about a historical event at school and it seems dry and boring, or you really just can’t understand, maybe see if there is a documentary about it. Sometimes a film like that can put it into the proper context and you will really understand or even enjoy history for the first time ever!

They can also be helpful if you have an interest. Do you have a hobby or a favorite sport? There is probably a documentary about it. What about an animal you like, even if it lives in some remote corner of the earth or far below the sea? Of course you will be able to learn more about them in a documentary. Do you like a celebrity? There might be a documentary on them as well, regardless of whether they are a musician, film star, or even an athlete. Especially if the person is passed, there might be something you can see about them and their life.

Documentaries have always interested me. When I was young I liked to watch documentaries about other places and weird animals that I thought I would never get to see in person. Now that I am older and can travel, I might watch documentaries about other places to see where I can go. I also like to watch documentaries about other peoples so that I can learn about cultures and faiths other than my own. What can I say, I am a curious person! Documentaries are better than fiction if you want to learn about others and what they do!

The problem with documentaries is that sometimes they are not as easy to find as other types of film. So how do you find them? Sometimes you might be lucky and catch one on tv or even have the money for special channels. Otherwise the internet can be a good choice.

If you have an interest, check internet forums, maybe someone can direct you to a good place for a documentary. If you have a streaming service, usually there are whole sections that are dedicated to documentaries and they are even broken down into topic to be even more helpful.

Another great place to check out documentaries would be the library. Sometimes they have media available so you can check it out and watch it.

If nobody else seems to know, do what I do and just look around on the internet! I just type in, say, polar bear documentary, and see what comes up. You never know what you will find, and if you don’t like it there is no rule saying you have to suffer through until the end.

So what do you think? Have I convinced you yet? Will the next film you watch be a documentary?

Don’t Get Your Mum a Vacuum Cleaner for Her Birthday

Every year when mom’s birthday rolls around, I wrack my brain for new gift ideas. You can imagine that over the years, my sister and I have given her every possible option suitable for loving mothers. We have done the personal cosmetic stuff including perfume, bath oil, hand lotion, and scented candles. Then there were the cashmere sweaters knitted scarves, silk blouses, novelty socks, and satin slippers. From time to time, we bought concert tickets and coupons for dinner out on the town. This year we vowed to be really different and together, we expect to scour the Internet to find the ideal gift. No expense will be spared.

Being a practical person, my sister thinks a vacuum cleaner from this web site would be ideal. I wonder if it would be an insult, implying that she is just a stay-at-home wife. “Not at all,” my sister scoffs at my reticence. The new cordless models are light weight, she explained, and they have a fabulous design. You can lug them around, even up and down the stairs, without even breathing deeply. When you are done with your chores, you can pop it in an empty closet for quick storage. The attachments just hang neatly on the wall. Plus, there is no bag to empty and toss in the trash, leaking dust into the air.

I decided to go with the flow and help my sister select a top-rated model that is highly praised for reliability and longevity. You get what you pay for, and we are willing to fork over the big bucks. We did everything possible to make this the right birthday present, one that she will keep for a very long time. We had it delivered and placed a giant pink bow on the front, before stowing it in the trunk of my car for transport to mom’s house. She knew immediately what was in store as I carried it up the front steps to the door, and smiled politely. “Of course, I will use it,” she offered. “But do you think that I am just a housewife?” She seemed miffed. I had warned my sister and was appropriately annoyed. I had to assure my mom that the gift was practical, but time and labor saving so she could have more time for her hobbies and friends. I don’t think I would recommend such a device for a mother’s day or birthday gift.

“When you put it that way,” she suddenly had a beam of recognition, “I get it. Yes, it is just what I needed.” She hugged us both while bestowing multiple thank yous to each one of us. Well, maybe it is the right present after all.

Letting Off Steam

As a movie and TV junkie, I have seen more than my share of basketball stories like Coach Carter, Hoosiers, Glory Road, The winning Season, and He Got Game. As an amateur player, you can understand why I gravitate to this genre—at least at the moment. When a friend and I decided to shoot a few hoops, we binged on these old favorites to get in the mood for a replay of our youth on the court. I have a new portable basketball hoop like these, just in time for spring vacation. It is such a great way to let off steam. After a few rounds and some intense exhaustion, we like to sit around and vent about our jobs and families. Basketball is very social unless you are a pro and one-dimensional about winning. Sure, we would like to improve our jump shot, but watching the movies is almost as much fun as the game itself.

When I was young, it was my sport of choice. I loved to jump to new heights as I grew taller. My parents were enthusiastic and supportive. It was the best way to avoid the boredom of normal gym class in high school, which was mandatory for everyone. You had several options such as softball, volleyball, tennis, or swimming. I also waited to be selected to the best basketball team as I could practice in the park after school or with an in-ground hoop in the driveway of a neighbor. Now that I move from time to time, the best I can do for the moment is a portable model. Spalding makes a good all-around system with a polycarbonate backboard that is sturdy for rebounds. You can adjust the height to ten feet. It is by no means flimsy in spite of being mobile. For over $200, you can expect quality construction and long life.

I am now so into basketball that it is going to cut into my movie viewing time on weekends. Some of my friends think this is a good idea. They are all for being better-rounded and less one-dimensional. I get it. I value time with friends and whether we are in my rec room in front of the huge flat screen or dribbling on the court, it doesn’t matter. They are both great pastimes and one is clearly good for my health. And I am not referring to being a couch potato! Meanwhile, my Spalding hoop is guaranteed to stand up to normal wear and tear and survive the elements in any season of the year. The description of the product praised the angled pole design allows for more play under the basket, so you can run plays just like the pros. What more could you want at home.

Day with Dad

I know there are a lot of people like me out there with the same pastime. Mine goes back decades. It seems like my equipment is that old. When you are a TV and movie buff, you seek an entertainment system of your dreams so you can enjoy your passion in the perfect atmosphere. Whether you watch alone or love to entertain friends, good equipment is essential. It can cost a bundle, but fortunately there are plenty of options at low prices. The engineering is so much better than even discount gear is pretty affordable. First and foremost, this means great sound and a huge screen with no glare. I want one that rotates so people sitting nearby can see with ease. There are a million ways to design such a system depending upon your space. I rely on my dad to help out with such big decisions as he has great woodworking expertise and plenty of equipment. He considers himself to be a card carrying member of Woodwork Nation. He offered to build some shelves and cabinets to house the flat screen and my vast CD and old tape collection. I am going to love having everything at hand.

Spending a day on construction with my father is a rare treat and well worth the time invested. We bonded long ago but, frankly, you need to renew your relationship as you get older. I can’t wait to see his happy face at my back door with tool box in hand. He loves these kinds of special projects and has no doubt already outfitted his own home with every imaginable wood contraption. I used to watch when I was a kid and sometimes he would let me try my hand at something easy. Over time, I got the hang of it and could make something like a storage box or shelf by myself. He was so proud, but somehow I didn’t continue the effort, and now I turn to him for assistance.

There is nothing better than a do-it-yourself project; the rewards are many. You get to look at the fruit of your labor and how much money you saved. Both goals are important to me, but mostly it has to do with dad. He loves to feel useful and show his skills. I will then get a custom job without having to make adjustments. I will ask him to stain the wood the right color for the room and make sure the shelves are wide enough apart to house all my odds and ends. I expect good results having seen his handiwork many times before. He wants to make this entertainment system storage area attractive and functional and not just a simple throw it together effort.

If you don’t want to buy it or you prefer not to do it yourself, never hesitate to ask for help. I will be doing myself and my father a big favor.

Emotional Options

Do you watch features that you know will make you feel a certain way? It may sound like an odd question, because I am sure you have – most people have put on a comedy because they were in the mood to laugh, or maybe on a dark and quiet night you scared yourself silly watching a thriller. I think I am asking a more specific question though: do you watch things that you know will make you feel bad or sad? I am asking because of my family. Specifically, my sister.

My sister watches movies that she knows will make her cry. A tearjerker, she says. I do not understand this. I would much rather watch something that will put me in a good mood, but she claims they make her feel better – how, she couldn’t really explain to me. Romantic films seem to be her favorite, it doesn’t matter if the couple manages to stay together in the end or if one of the people dies even. That I really do not understand. She claims that it is because it reminds her to believe that love is a real thing and it is beautiful, and I tell her that her believing that kind of nonsense is why she is almost always single. The conversation stopped there because I had to run out of the room before she caught up to me so now I am curious.

I would much rather watch something interesting or informative. Or even something with a great action hero. I would watch almost anything before I would watch a movie that I knew was going to make me cry. If I was already sad, I would put on a movie that would make me laugh or would remind me that whatever is bothering me is very small compared to all the great things that there are in the world.

I only remember my father watching one thing that made him cry, and it was a sporting event. His team had not won in a long time and then they did, and a few tears went down his face. When I stared at him in surprise, he wiped them away and said, “Couldn’t be helped.” Then he went on like nothing had ever happened. I didn’t really understand it back then but I do now even though I can’t say that I care for sporting matches like he does. I cannot imagine a match, even a championship one like the one my dad was watching, would make me feel anything except maybe boredom.

My mother doesn’t really watch television other than the news and competition shows, so she might yell at the tv sometimes but other than that there is no emotion. She is no help for comparison purposes then.

So I would like to know if maybe I am abnormal or if my sister is the strange one, and I thought I would ask the internet. Let me know in the comments. I am sure she would feel better if it turned out that other people did the same thing as her, and then she could remind me all the time.

Independent vs Studio Films

You might think that I have a preference: the independent or studio produced film. I don’t, not really. I think we have all seen good movies that were produced by a major studio and on an indie budget. We’ve also seen bad films, and they are bad regardless of who paid to make them or how they were distributed to us. They were bad for other reasons.

Independent films are often made because of a passion – a topic or a character that a filmmaker or writer feels is worthy and they want others to know. Studio films are generally made due to their appeal: a studio makes something they think people will want to see in order to make a profit. Sure, sometimes independent films won’t get funding from studios because the idea isn’t good or original enough, and some studio films can be made as a sort of promise to a powerful person in order to get them to do something else (in other words, get a director to agree to do the latest action movie if he or she can also move forward with the drama about their favorite book they’ve been shopping around for awhile) or because they can take the loss – a major studio can’t make only blockbusters, but they can use blockbuster money to pay for something smaller and well-crafted even if it doesn’t see the same kind of ticket sales.

It’s something to think about.

Seeing a major studio film is relatively easy. They are shown in theaters everywhere, then they move to television and digital and disc sales. They are promoted with trailers, posters, and commercials. Some films are so well marketed that they are hard to miss! You may go to see it just to find out what all the fuss is about.

Independent films do not always have that same marketing push. As a result, maybe you feel like you haven’t seen enough independent films. Unless they are distributed by a major studio or have some serious funding, you might not. So what are some easy ways to see them?

Film festivals and the internet are your two biggest options. For festivals, you have your pick. You really need to look around and see what is out there near you. To give you an idea: there is the yearly International Film Festival of India, the Delhi International Film Festival, Jaipur International Film Festival, Banjaara Film Festival, and the Gujarat International Film Festival, to name a few. There’s also a festival in Mumbai.

Streaming services like Netflix are often adding independent films, and you can even look by category. Some filmmakers even put their own movies up on websites or through sites like youtube.

You might even live near an “avant-garde” theater that will show mostly independent films or have rentals available. There are also trade magazines that will give you information on what is being made.

Really you might have to look a little harder or do some additional work to see an independent film, but they are often worth the trouble!

Films Need to Support Cultural Diversity

It seems like such a small thing, but I think everyone wants to see someone like them on tv and in films. It really does matter. It makes you feel less alone, especially when you are the minority. When your culture, religion, orientation, nationality, or even your language are shared with the world, it can really be something. And it isn’t just worthwhile for you, it can benefit everyone.

Think about the big picture. Other people will see it and learn a little about your beliefs or things that you’ve experienced. It can open up people to a new understanding of others in the world. Maybe before it was something or a group that they were unaware of. Or even maybe afraid of. And because it is “entertainment,” others are more open to what they see or the message within it. Maybe you don’t understand your neighbor’s weird culture or their strange food. But then you watch a tv show that has a family with the same beliefs as your neighbor, and then everything makes sense. It might seem less weird. Or you find some common ground – it turns out they aren’t so different from you. Maybe that will give you the courage to approach them and wish them a happy holiday even if you yourself don’t celebrate it. You get it now.

And while it is great to learn about others, sometimes you just want to see your own people speaking your own language or doing the things you are familiar with. When you practice a minority faith, you want to see people celebrating your holidays and acting out your customs even if it is just one time in all the movies you ever see. You want to see your crazy auntie or your devout grandma in the characters on the screen. I think that’s why people create entertainment in the first place: they create the world they know. It can be funny to see or it can be comforting. It can just make you happy. It’s a good feeling and one everyone deserves to experience.

It can be especially important with kids. Especially with special or powerful people. Think about it. Kids want to see a superhero that looks like them. They want to believe they are capable of that kind of greatness. It’s just fun to think you can do that stuff. Who wouldn’t want to be a superhero? Seriously! Think about it right now, what superpower would you have? Is there a superhero that looks like you in mainstream comics or on tv? It is a good feeling, right?

Indian cinema has tried to deal with cultural diversity in the past. Maybe none have been more obvious in recent history than Bajirao Mastani – a romance between a Hindu and a Muslim. Wow, right?!? Muslims, Pakistani, Hindus all existing and interacting together as regular people is something we all need to see more of. Check out Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Firaaq, Mani Ratnam’s Bombay, Garm Hava, and Dharmputra to see more of what I am speaking of here.

Film as a Learning Experience

I like watching movies. I like being able to lose myself in the scenery, the actors and their costumes, the lines and the music. That’s not to say that my regular life is very boring or terrible and that I need an escape (read my blog for any length of time and you will see that is not the case, although a temporary break is never a bad thing for anybody). However, I do not like to simply sit back and watch a performance. I like to watch and learn.

I choose what to watch not just what I like but also what I can maybe learn from. Seeing a film that has a diverse cast or a culturally relevant plotline can teach me things in a way I would miss out on otherwise. And it may be hard for you to believe but there is a lot that I don’t know! Movies are a way to satisfy my curiosity without going up to strangers and asking them about what they are doing when they are celebrating a foreign holiday or wearing an odd article of clothing that I have never seen before. What can I say, some people dress oddly and I always want to know why! I have learned from experience that it is not always best to stop someone on the street and ask!

It is much simpler to pay attention during interesting films. It especially helps before travelling to another country to help you familiarize yourself with the kinds of things you might experience. I had a cousin who watched a lot of American programming to prepare for going there on a student visa. And although once he got there he said that things weren’t quite what he expected, there was a lot less culture shock than he was brought to believe. Although he was brought to believe those things by his mother and she didn’t want him to go in the first place, so take that however you would like. (And if you don’t know what I mean maybe you should watch a movie about Indian mothers! They are some of the best but they certainly have ideas on what their sons should be doing!)

Instead, watching people interact with each other to observe their language and their mannerisms, is really worthwhile. It can explain the belief systems of other cultures. Of course, you have to be willing to watch something that might be uncomfortable for you or different than what you are used to, but sometimes you have to be brave and look for entertainment where it is, you know?

That is why I really think it is worth it to have films that represent everyone, all cultures and religions. It can teach people in totally opposite places in the world all about you and the things that matter to you, the way you dress or speak. By only showing the majority, you make others feel bad and less important and you don’t get to bring what makes them special out into the world for all to see!