Faridoon Shahryar's Blog

Sunday, July 24, 2016

San Francisco Diary Day 2:Golden frienship, family away from home, Rajini mania courtesy Kabaali

San Francisco Diary Day 2: Golden friendship, A family away from home, the Rajini mania courtesy Kabali
By Faridoon Shahryar

Acclimatising to a new time zone and the demands of jet lag are made easy if you find good people and loads of laughter to go with it. The day started with a long phone discussion with my childhood friend Mohd Tariq Yaqub who stays very close to my hotel in #Fremont #California. While talking I walked around the hotel and we talked in detail about the misuse and misrepresentation of religion. Tariq is highly well read and quotes serious authors and more importantly he has culled out analogies based on his own understanding of the burning issues of terrorism.

Tariq took me to the #Facebook headquarters. It is a stylishly built colorful building. The way Taj Mahal is a tourist attraction, the #Like sign outside the Facebook office is a tourist attraction in #SanFrancisco. We had lunch at the Indo-Pak #Shalimar restaurant and feasted on scrumptious Nahari, Chicken Seekh Kabab, Tandoori roti and Tandoori chicken. Once again we had long discussions on varied topics. Tariq is one of the biggest examples of how a man can brilliantly change his destiny by sheer self belief and phenomenal hard work. It was great catching up.

In the evening Prabha Koka ji and his extremely well mannered smart son Satwik took me to for a night show of #Rajinikanth starrer #Kabali. Their hospitality and warmth is extremely touching. It seems Prabha ji, her husband Vaino and Sarwik are an extended family to me here in San Francisco. Kabali is a well made entertainer inspired by #Godfather. Rajinikanth is brilliant in the title role. It was fascinating to see him do what he did. But the emphasis on 'Tamilians' more than 'Indians' wasn't something that didn't go unnoticed. #RadhikaApte is brilliant. She exudes her magical brilliance consistently.

It was a day wonderfully spent. Looking forward to tomorrow when we start the day with an interview with #WorldFilmFestival Festival director Lida Mohaghegh. I think it will be a perfect way to start the proceedings. So see you tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

San Francisco Diary Day 1:Time Zoned, Lessons from the sunlit sky, Charming Boyhood, Indomitable Ali

San Francisco Diary Day 1: Time-Zoned, Lessons from the sunlit sky, Charming Boyhood, indomitable Ali
By Faridoon Shahryar

It has been a roller coaster 24 hours. It is 4 am in #SanFrancisco and I've been awake for the last two hours, jet lagged but confident that things will settle down from tomorrow. It is an interesting experience to see sunlight and more sunlight for the entire duration of a 20 hour flight. Travelling between time zones is taxing but a unique experience nevertheless. I like observing the shift in landscape from the plane window. There's so much that you see that you may have never imagined. The course of the gurgling river waters, wide ocean expanse and their changing colours, varied shapes and sizes of vegetation, sea of clouds...a hell lot of food for the imagination.

During the #Mumbai #Istanbul flight I saw #Boyhood. It is a film that I always wanted to watch but somehow kept missing it. A film literally weaved over twelve years, with changing camera technology, growth in the protagonists, the mere fact that how the actors and the team must have retained the interest level...fascinating! I always look out for social or political statements that a movie, book or any art form makes. #Boyhood makes a solid progressive, liberal point but it also puts across the radical point of view too without judging it.

As the plane descended at the #Istanbul airport, the landscape from the plane window was breathtakingly beautiful and serene. There had been a failed coup in #Turkey merely a week back. I was a bit apprehensive as it had also involved fighter jets and an attempt had been made to take control of the airport. The news papers at Turkey airport and even the #NewYorkTimes and #WaltStreetJournal painted a chaotic picture. President Erdogan has cracked a whip, emergency has been declared for three months and it is a volatile situation. Such a beautiful country, great history but mired in a state of confusion and despondency.

The flight from #Istanbul to #SanFrancisco was over 13 hours. I read #ShashiKapoor's biography and found it engaging. Mr Kapoor was an extremely good looking and universally loved actor who sailed between hard core commercial Hindi films and classy independent cinema. The biography so far details the love story between Shashi and Jennifer Kendall, his struggle in the early days, how he attained fame with commercial potboilers and how he selflessly supported independent filmmakers. It also details the criticism that a few of his independent films received. Criticism and showing-the-shortcomings makes biographies interesting. Only mushy praise is so one sided and boring.

I saw the documentary #IAmAli on boxing giant #MohammadAli. What a charismatic man and how little I knew about him. The fight against racism, the ability to be a master entertainer, a stoic self belief, bang-on prophecies, refusal to be a part of Vietnam war, his affinity with nine children, balanced out by details of his womanising ways and children out of wedlock, audio conversations with children, wives, friends interspersed with lovely songs...it was time well spent! I also saw #MelGibson and #JuliaRoberts starrer #ConspiracyTheory. I enjoyed Mel Gibsons's madness and the movie wasn't bad but it wasn't great either. I also saw #MissionImpossible2. #TomCruise is simply amazing. More importantly he has maintained himself superbly. The scene where Tom Cruise saves #ThandieNewton as her car meets with an accident and she holds on to the car door hanging in the air and Tom grabs her hand has been duplicated by #ShahRukhKhan and #Kajol in #Dilwale.

I hope to explore #SanFrancisco in the next few days and I hope I shall have fun being a part of #WorldFilmFestival.