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The Basil plant….

One of my goals for 2018 was to start writing life articles on my blog. The goal stayed on the back burner because I was not sure where to start or what to write. But as my favorite quote from the movie Forrest Gump, ” Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get“, life always had surprises for me. One day morning I was standing on my apartment balcony enjoying the morning tea. Putting my mind in the “no-thinking” zone, I looked at the sky. It helps me to appreciate the beautiful world around. After a while, I started to get back inside, then I noticed the garden pot on my balcony. I bent down and took a closer look..there it is !!!…. a tiny green leaf, nudging just above the soil like a newborn baby. And there it is, the inspiration for my article. Life just gave the surprise chocolate. 

 

Now you all might be thinking, why there is this much fuss about a sapling and it’s leaf. That’s the story I am going to narrate. In the spring of 2016, me and my wife decided to buy seeds of Tulsi plant ( Holy Basil) online.  The plant has a lot of medicinal values and Indians consider it to be lucky to have a Basil plant at home :). We bought the seeds and the pot for it. We started watering the seeds once in a while and eventually, the saplings came out. Spring passed and summer came, the saplings didn’t grow much but somehow stood against the wrath of torching sun. We were watering it then and there. But when the fall came, the saplings lost their game. They surrendered to the mother nature. By the time winter came, our basil pot looked empty and dry. Both me and wife felt sad about it but that was the least of our worries. We moved ahead and my wife went to college for her post-graduate studies. This was during August 2017. And our basil pot was still empty….

On one of my lonely weekends at home, I took the garden tools and plowed the basil pot. There was still seeds remaining on the packet we bought in 2016. I took a handful of seeds from that and put it on the pot. The fall season was on the cards and it was not the right time to plant new seeds, but I didn’t care. I just put the seeds in the pot and took it inside of the apartment. I pray every evening in-front of an oil lamp and also keep a copper vessel filled with water for the prayer. Every day the water in the vessel needs to be changed. So I started a new habit, sprinkling the old water into the basil pot. The pot was very dry and mother nature was getting cold outside. But I was not worried about the sapling. I just poured the water daily without worrying whether it will be enough for the seeds or even to keep the pot wet for germination. Winter came with all it’s mighty. We had a couple of heavy snowfalls but the process of pouring water into the basil pot continued. My wife came back after her studies, we got busy again. But the habit of “water to basil pot” got instilled into me and my wife also took that up. And in the Spring of 2018, I saw that tiny leaf!!! coming out with all its power to life …And for me it was one of the best feelings of my life. Life is always beautiful, we just need to look around and enjoy it. The joy of small things is so graceful and that’s the reason why we all are nostalgic about the wonderful things we did when we were children.

The basil sapling failed in its first attempt and surrendered to mother nature. It took two years for the seed to turn into a sapling and raise above the grounds covering it up. This time they are strong. I am sure that they will outlast this winter. There is this dialogue in the movie Batman Begins Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”  We all fail at times in our life, face setbacks or difficult situations which will test out limits to push forward. But always keep in mind, we are learning, learning to push our limits, learning to rise above the bars set by others and ourselves. Never be afraid of failures because one day, you are going to come back with all the things you have learned. The tiny basil seed didn’t succumb to the hardness of the soil above and the weather outside, rather it decided to rise above the limits and come into this world to play its part. Never be afraid of your limits and failures, because you can outrun them.

 

For me, I was not thinking about the day of seeing sapling when I started watering the pot. I never worried about the end result. I focused on the process, one step at a time. I watered the pot all day every day that it became a ritual. We all fail to commit to habits because we are way too focused on the end result. We set the end goal way before we are anywhere near it. People going to gym sets their goal to reduce weight by 10 lbs or have six-pack abs, students set their goal to a certain score and so on. Never do that. Focus on the process, never on the end goal. If you follow the process, you will be rewarded. This was not the first time I was experiencing this. I will write about all of them in the coming days.  Me and my wife will continue to water the pot because we are never worried whether the sapling will become a large plant or not. We enjoy the gratitude of watering a plant daily. We all should be happy to be alive on this wonderful planet. Find happiness in the smallest of things and never worry too much about tomorrow. Step by step, lay the stones and you will build the mansion of life. Be it in your career or finance or personal life, learning for an hour daily, investing $100 monthly, giving your loved ones a kiss and hug daily will go a long way…. 

 And old Malayalam ( Indian regional language) poem which I learned in my school days.

 

“Maduvin mathaalppaari moolunnu madupangal 

Maduram ijjeevitham cheruthaanennakilum”

arellammen gurunathar arellammen gurunathar 

parithil ellam enne padippikkunnudennum”

 

-Olapamanna.

 

When translated it reads as below

 

” In the kick of honey, bees are whizzing

  Life is beautiful even though it’s short

  who all are my teachers, who all are my teachers

  Everything in this world teaches me something daily”

 

 So life is short … Enjoy it and be happy…..And always be a learner…..

 Our basil plant …..

 IMG_0375

 

 

 

 

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Tamizh Padam 2.0 : An “Original” entertainer…. Total Paisa Vasool

When released in 2010, Tamizh Padam attempted a daring act in an industry of ‘super-human’ heroes, spoof out those moments which made the heroes into ‘super-humans’ and ‘god’ like figures. The acceptance of the movie exceeded all expectations and raked in box office collections. 8 years after, when the team made the sequel, they made sure that the movie met all expectations and stands above the first part. With these two movies, Shiva and Amudham created a successful franchise in Tamil movie industry, perhaps the first of it’s kind.

Amudhan, the director, and Chandru, the writer took their sharp witty skills against all the defined guidelines of stardom. The title showing Shiva as ” Ulaga Akhila Super Star Shiva” marks the classy beginning of it. Then the trolls run right into Ajith, Kamal, Vijay and Vikram movies or at a bigger level, they took a kick at every sequence of yesteryear blockbusters. They didn’t stop at creating spoof sequences, rather they went ahead and showed how pathetic is Tamil movies in placing songs, how badly commercial potboilers treat heroine characters and so on. The wall of obituaries of Shiva’s wife is a classic spoof shot at “Gautham Menon” format of ” police officer’s wife’s lifespan is inversely proportional to the officer’s truthfulness to his job”. In the acting front, it’s Shiva all the way. His comedy timing is amazing and you can’t imagine any other actor doing the role. He is very casual and maintains the comic tempo of every sequence. I am sure Shiva is going to have busy days ahead. Satish was neat and classy in his villain sequences. Ishwarya menon was lovely and attractive. Tamizh Padam is the movie which the common moviegoers will feel their minds out. The movie’s take on the socio-politic issues is absolutely hilarious.

 

Tamizh Padam is an absolute entertainer …..Expecting something similar in Malayalam industry as well.

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Sanju : Rajkumar Hirani at his best again…Ranbeer Kapoor strikes gold…Sanju is Spectacular

Without any doubt, Rajkumar Hirani is the most successful filmmaker in India now. His craftsmanship is beyond exceptional and I was often bewildered on his ability to deliver masterpieces on a continuous streak. All his movies hit the right pulse of the audience, the intricate detailing in scripting the story-line, editing of sequences, selection of actors to play the characters, Raju Hirani stands tall and apart from any other film-maker in the country. And all this was repeated for Sanju as well.

We all know how well Sanjay Dutt and Rajkumar Hirani are bonded together. Being one of the most perplexed personas in Bollywood, Sanjay Dutt’s biography always had the cinematic charisma on it. As the movie dialogue goes “Bad choices often make good stories”. Rather than telling the story from a plain biographical perspective, Rajkumar Hirani opted to tell the story through relationships, the relationship between Sanjay and his father, Sunil Dutt, the friendship between Kamalesh and Sanjay Dutt.
Selection of Ranbir Kapoor to play Sanjay Dutt on the reel was sharp shot. Ranbir nailed it all the way. The hard work he has put for the character was evident. In some of the sequences, Ranbir was Sanjay Dutt. The swag he worked out for this character deserves a stand-up ovation. If no wonder happens, he got a national award on the way. Paresh Rawal was excellent in the role of Sunil Dutt. Maybe the ‘hug’ scene in Munnabhai between Sanjay Dutt and Sunil Dutt seeded the idea of this movie on Hirani. Paresh Rawal handled the role with an exceptional ease. Another character with a lauding performance was Kamalesh, best friend of Sanju. This was another character from Hirani which reminded me of Chathur from 3 idiots. So emotional and lovable.

Hirani left out many sequences of the real life but what have chosen the best to convey what he intended to and that is where ‘Sanju’ becomes a spectacular movie. Sanju sticks phenomenally closer to Sanjay Dutt as a person and reveals what we have never known about the muscle man of Bollywood.

One complaint : Ranbir Kapoor is still stuck with “Searching for Identity” roles … 🙂 … But this one is his career best without any second thought.

Sanju is highly recommended……

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WorkOutWednesday #2

Without much do, let’s get into the game.

The challenge is to plot sales in a horizontal bar graph and show the city with top sales in each state.  Tableau’s super store data-set is used for the viz. Below is the final output we are looking at

This seems simple in the first look, but if you take a closer look, the hidden details will reveal.  Below are the requirements for the viz.

    1.  Use only table calculations
    2. The bar length is the total sales of each state
    3. City must be included in the view.
    4.  Display only one mark per state.
    5. Label each bar by the city with the highest sales, sales for that city, and    the total sales for that state.
    6. No level of detail calculations allowed.

Let’s go step by step

Step 1

Pull the State field into the Rows expand it to have the City as well. Make sure you are dragging and dropping the field. Double clicking the field will result in a dotted map.
Step 2

We want two values to be displayed in the label area

a. Total Sales of the State

b. Sales of city contributed the most for each state

To find the total sales of each state, I wrote this formula

Field Name : Total Sales for each state


TOTAL (Sum(Sales))

TOTAL is table calculation in Tableau.  Pull the field into the Label mark and change Compute Using as “Pane Down”. Tableau will compute the calculation for every pane and give us the total for each state. Refer the below screen shot.

So we are good with Total Sales for each state.  We can use this calculation in our column mark as we are plotting the sales of States in the axis. But let’s hold there and find the city with top sales.

Let’s write a table calc for that.

Field Name: City with most contribution
WINDOW_MAX(SUM([Sales]))

Pull the field into the label mark and select Compute using as “Pane Down”. Voila!!, we get the below view which contains both the variables we discussed during the start of step 2

Step 3: Let’s make the viz 🙂

Pull  State field into the column shelf.
Pull  Total Sales for each state field into the row shelf. Change compute using to Pane Down
Pull City with most contribution field into Label mark. Change compute using to Pane Down
and we get the below viz

oopsss!! …. We should get only one city here and not all cities labeled with top contribution amount.

Let’s write a RANK calc to fix this.

Field Name: RANK Calc

RANK(SUM([Sales]))

Pull the field into the filter shelf. Select compute using as Pane Down.

After that select range of values as 1, 1 on both sides. This is because we want the top ranking cities only.

Once done, we get the below viz

Now we need to fix the sorting and labeling. For that do the following.

Sort the State field based on descending sales.

Hide header of City field.

Pull the fields from Step 2 into the label mark. Don’t worry if the values are not

appearing. Slightly drag the row grid line a tad down. And the final output will be

 
That was fun !!!!!! ……………
Access the final Tableau workbook here
 
I hope this will help lot of people in learning new things. Do let me your thoughts about the blog. Your feedback is my inspiration.
 
Happy Learning !!

We Do Not Inherit the Earth from Our Ancestors; We Borrow It from Our Children…. Protect it for them!!!

 
 

 

 
 
 
 
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Uncle : Tale of our un”civilized” times. Thought provoking…

uncle malayalam movie new poster

Uncle tells the tale of our horrified times where each and every act of us is judged with a fallacious mindset. The movie focus on the subject it’s trying to convey across rather than tailoring the script with a hero-centric ethos. We are living in a society which has a censorious attitude towards everything happening around it, particularly about subjects involving men and women. Uncle focuses right on that part and delivers a brilliant silver screen experience. The characters are so realistic. Be it Vijayan, who represents Dad of every other girl in our society, be it Muthumani’s mother character, a stunning reference on how a Mom should be or be it Krishna Kumar, the flamboyant character played by Mammootty or be it anyone you come across in the movie.

Mammootty is on top notch as Krishna Kumar aka KK. The countenance of emotions glistening across his face is an absolute treat to watch. The fear in the eyes of KK, when he notices that two bikers are following him, the fear when put on the queer street by ragging mob. Even when the script shows him as splashy and dazzling, the presence of a young girl makes him worried about the situations and makes him protective. Another master performance is from Muthumani. She played the character with an amazing ease. Even when the world is turning upside down for her, she walks to the neighbor talks casually to take care of her younger daughter when she returns from school. The very next moment, she gets into the car and asks her husband whether he can drive or need to call a cab. That one scene is enough to determine the strength of the character. Joy Mathew also did a clean and neat performance as Dad. You don’t see that much power in female characters quite often.
Girish Damodar can be proud of his debut. He sets the bar up high. The only thing I felt out of the place was the solo song of Karthika, which was avoidable.
All over Uncle is thought-provoking and raises the middle finger to the lamentable attitude of our society towards men and women…Uncle is must watch …
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The Post : Pure Classic

Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep. If I start to write their achievements, the whole write up won’t do any justice. When the three comes together for a movie, that one definitely don’t need any other reason to get in my list of must watch movies. The last time I saw the Spielberg excellence in a periodic drama was in the movie ‘Munich’, released in 2005. After that, I was waiting for the see the ‘Steve brilliance’ in the silver screen. I haven’t watched Lincoln until now and I need to catch that soon. But apart, from that for me, Spielberg was not at his best for the last couple of years. For Tom Hanks, Captain Philips and Sully showed us what he is capable of but at the same time, he also made some wrong script selections for an actor of his stature. And for Meryl, she has been giving some amazing performances for a while. There is nothing more of a solid value than the venture from these legends together. And I saw a surprise name in the credits, it was Reliance. I have been hearing about Reliance – Dreamworks alliance for a while but I am seeing the studios name for the first name for a Hollywood movie.

The post tells the story about the famous newspaper “Washington Post” and it’s struggling times during the infamous ‘Pentagon Papers’ press roll out. The very opening shot of the movie will give set the baseline of the plot. Tom Hanks plays Ben Bradlee, the chief editor of Washington Post while Meryl Streep portrays Katherine Graham, the paper’s publisher in this journalistic thriller. You will feel the Spielberg touch in every shot right from the start. Most of the shots are lengthy ones, the camera moves as if it’s following the string of events. The cinematography is at it’s best in The Post. You will see a wide range of shots from various angles which are not very frequent. The reason why I mentioned much about the camera work is that of the exceptional depth it adds to the story and the characters. In the performance front, I felt its Meryl Streep who stole the show, The scene when she walks into the hotel restaurant which is filled with men, filled with cigar smoke, Katherine appeared clueless, she was not comfortable and hostile even when she is as wealthy as anyone sitting there. Katherine’s palms were rubbing each other when she was talking to Fritz. That’s the scene where we feel sheer respect to Spielberg for the exceptional scene detailing and to Meryl for giving a mind-blowing performance. I am almost sure that Meryl will the top contender for Academy Awards. Then comes Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee. To be frank I am a big Tom Hanks fan. He made an exceptional performance as Ben Bradlee. The scenes and dialogues of Ben Bradlee are so relevant at these times where on one side, the freedom of the press is under constant threat and on the other side, the press itself abstaining from the most relevant matters. The very base of democracy lies with the freedom of the press. The scene when Ben asks Katherine, “if we don’t question, who else will” and Katherine responds “ How will we question if we don’t have the paper?”. That’s two lines which culminate the entire storyline. Tom Hanks made a captivating performance. While Meryl Streep amazed with the cadence on her dialogue delivery, Tom Hanks stunned by adopting a different style altogether for the dialogue delivery. The very final scene of the burglary in Watergate building is like the perfect Spielberg seal of this cinematic brilliance.

 

In short, even with the story set on the backdrop of Vietnam war, “The Post” is ever relevant in these times where freedom and democracy are under constant threat. And for that reason, it stands as a Must Watch ….

And Hello Academy Awards …. Here comes “The Post” ….. And Reliance can be proud of being a part of this classic.

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5 Movies.. 5 Languages ….Epitome of Cinematic Transcendence

2017 was a happening year in terms of the movie experience, especially because of the plethora of options came up in the year. A movie subscription service was rolled out which enabled viewers to catch the big screen experience with a very minimal monthly subscription fee. That was phenomenal I would say. I have watched nearly twenty movies in a span of three months using the service. While the big screen experience was being entirely reinvented, in the home screen streaming services like Netflix, HBO was spending millions of dollars to create original content and stay ahead of the competition.
 In the middle of all these global happenings, Indian film industry also witnessed some mind-blowing movies which were splendid in terms of cinematic realism..5 movies from 5 languages … The order of the movies is not an indication of their rankings of any sort.
Solo: Malayalam / Tamil
Solo is a bilingual movie helmed by Bejoy Nambiar having Dulquer Salman in the lead. The movie told five stories with its root elements based on five basic building blocks of our life aka ‘Panchabhootha’. A movie is a realm, a realm of 2-hour experience which can either go south or break the barriers and unleash a spellbinding experience. Solo belongs to the later. Solo is a prime example of the story detailing perhaps I would say that the movie is a reference guide for any upcoming director or cinematographer. Every scene was brilliantly thought out, the framing, the composition, everything. Solo showed how a Script, Director and the Cinematographer can work hand to hand to create an ultimate experience. Dulquer Salman was on an absolute roll. He pulled himself out from his comfort zone and get into the thick and thin of every character. From the heroine perspective, that is where the movie fell a little short. The script doesn’t have much to offer for the female counterparts. But keeping that apart, Solo is a must watch. A masterpiece for sure and with no doubt I would say that the movie will get into the cult status in the years to come.
Arjun Reddy: Telugu
 
If there is any movie industry in India which tries and achieves the unthinkable, that’s Tollywood. The filmmakers from Tollywood, set the example for nerve-wracking action sequences for all other movie industries. No wonder Bahubali happened there. But one shortcoming of Telugu movies is the hardcore commercialization. I will not complain about this because a movie ultimately needs to make the producer happy no matter what. Due to the heavy larger than life heroes and stories, movies from Telugu often failed to connect with real life, at least from my viewing experience. Yes, I do accept that exceptions like Happy Days, Kotha Bangaru Lokam happens once in a while. Arjun Reddy happened when there was a serious dearth of such movies in Tollywood.
I was not aware of this movie until it was recommended by one of my friends. I am highly thankful to him otherwise I should have missed this gem for sure. Arjun Reddy tells the story about the transformation of a college boy into a self-made man. But what a fascinating performance from the leading actors, especially from Vijay Devarakonda. Without a second thought, I can give a standing ovation for that and I am sure that he is a strong contender for national awards for this time. You will never believe this was the directorial debut of Sandeep Reddy. Beautiful frames, nicely crafted and connected sequences, Arjun Reddy is a worth for a double or triple time watch. The characters never tried to overpower themselves rather they tried to stay close to the real life. All claps to the director and scriptwriter. Shalini Pandey, the leading actress made a commendable job as well. In short, Arjun Reddy will contemplate the Telugu movie industry to make movies of this genre. If you ask me, what’s the highlight of the movie, I can say it’s the scintillating performance from Vijay. Arjun Reddy must not be missed. This is a pure cinematic exuberance. Feel the power of it.
Ondu Motteya Katha: Kannada
 
Kollywood, once reigned with amazing movies but later it lost all of its sheer and succumbed to creating movies which are not worth time. Once in a while, movies came out to hold the spirit up but nevertheless Kollywood needs a serious resurrection. Being said that, I have seen some awesome movies in recent years which gave the hope that Kannada movies can still create wonders. U-Turn, Lucia are some of them and no wonder if you see the name ‘Pawan Kumar’ behind these movies. He is the man of the hour which Kollywood needs to stay put. This time the suggestion came from my colleague. And when I checked on the internet, I saw the name Pawan Kumar again with this movie and without a second thought, I decided to give it a try. Ondu Motteya Katha tells the story about a young college professor, who is ‘bald’ trying to seek the perfect match for him. The director never tried to tell the story in a catchy way rather he adopted a straight pattern. This is when you feel a camera being rolled on against the real life. The actors selected for portraying the characters were an absolute match especially Raj B Shetty, the hero. He himself helmed the direction and script as well. When you watch OMK, you feel the total control director have on the storyline. A neat and simple way of storytelling made the movie to have a direct connection with the audience. I have seen comments from many people who mentioned their connection with the storyline. That alone shows how a movie can break the silver screen barriers and connect with the audience and enthrall them. Ondu Motteya Katha never makes you think over the storyline but it will make you feel the story and sometimes reminisce about your past experiences. For me, that is the absolute experience of movie watching… Ondu Motteya Katha walks with your life … Maybe your past life .. Maybe your future…
Trapped: Hindi 
There are two reasons for me watching Trapped. One, the hero, Rajkumar Rao and Two, a personal frightening experience of something similar to the movie’s storyline. Rajkumar Rao is one of the promising actors of these times. The meaty roles he does in various movies definitely develops the intrigues in the audience to catch his movies. Trapped tells the story of a man who rents out an apartment in an yet to be developed flat complex and gets trapped inside. And forgot to mention, the apartment is on the 18th floor !!. Trapped is the movie where you envision yourself in the shoes of the hero. You will see the very sense of human boundaries of food and water shy away when survival becomes the only need. The cinematographer made an exemplary work in managing the low light conditions inside an apartment and brilliantly captured the frames with its almost originality. Rajkumar Rao was vivacious, he brought all the energy into the character so that the viewer will never even think about the story or the movie but they travel along with the hero with a survival instinct. Many times I thought what would I do if I have been put in the situation and I am sure the same will happen with many people. Trapped stands apart by its originality. In the days where directors and actors are competing to bring out commercial potboilers which will give the audience a paisa vasool feeling, Trapped will give its audience an excellent experience which will change their behavior at some point of time in their life. Trapped is terrific !!!….
Vikram Vedha: Tamil 
Who in the world can believe that this masterpiece was created by a husband and wife, Pushkar and Gayatri :). I am just kidding but yet the fact makes me wonder. It’s undoubtedly a behemoth task to create an artistic masterpiece that too when a husband and wife work together on it. Vikram Vedha tells the story about the police officer, Vikram and a gangster, Vedha. The portrayal has it’s backdrop set on the mythical story of King Vikramaditya and Vedhala. Couple of scenes of the movies were rip off from various Hollywood flicks, especially the surrender scene of Vedha is lifted from the series “Blacklist”. But in spite of all these, Vikram Vedha is a brilliant craft. It is undoubtedly one of the best Tamil movie made in 2017. You can feel the visual brilliance in the scene where Madhavan( Vikram) sits opposite to Vijai Sethupathi ( Vedha) and the antagonist wears a white shirt and the protagonist in a black shirt. The light coming through the three rectangular windows are not uniformly spread, in fact the central one is more strong and the rays are spread equally between Vedha and Vikram. Camera comes from a down angle and rotates around the characters giving a zenithal feeling of superiority. Vikram sits back and firm on his chair and Vedha leans forward to tell the story. This is what I call cinematic excellence, apotheosis of heroism and so on. The low tone BGM plays in the background. Music adds the fire to the story. The BGM won’t leave your mind even after days of watching the movie. That’s the real fire power BGM. Madhavan and Vijai Sethupathy made a mind-blowing performance. Madhavan, even when he does movies once in a while, the script selection is perfect. Vikram is the character which will be written in the golden leaf of his career. On the other hand, Vijai Sethupathy continues to excite. Sometime back I really thought Surya and Vikram will be new age Kamal Hassan but now I seriously doubt that and I would change my bet to Vijay Sethupathy. He is damn natural and amazingly flexible. I am sure that I will win my bet this time. Rather than the story or the leading actors, its the making style of VV which will make us awestruck. Perfectly crafted, that’s all I can say. If you haven’t seen VV until now, you are missing one hell of a movie.
There are still great movies like Aruvi, which I haven’t watched yet. But from the movies I have seen in 2017, these are the best ones.. And I hope 2018 will unleash more pure silver screen experiences !! …
Thank you all for the support…..
Wishing all my dear friends & families a Merry Christmas &  Happy New year !! .. May God bless all of you and turn your dreams into reality … Have a happy 2018 ahead !!
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Justice League: A half-baked affair

DC and Marvel are two big names in the comics industry. In fact, they are the biggest on their turf. While Marvel joined hands with Disney to create it’s cinematic universe, DC teamed up with Warner Bros for theirs. Before going into the details, let me say that I am not a hardcore fan of any comic characters and if still being pushed to pick one, it will be the Batman and Joker from the mighty “Dark Knight”. Marvel has been churning out hits one after the other for a long time. Except for Nolan’s Batman series and recent Wonder Woman outing, DC movies failed to strike gold with the audience. Justice League is the DC’s answer to Marvel’s Avengers. Let’s see whether Justice League heroes lived up to the expectations.
 
Wonder Woman, Batman, Cyborg, Flash, Aquaman and the mighty Superman, that’s team for Justice League. That’s the legendary line up. I felt that the heroes are more powerful than the Avengers line up. I am not talking about their physical or metaphysical abilities, DC heroes are mentally powerful than that of Marvels. Anyway coming to the movie, the story is about Steppenwolf, a mythical character who has long been under the wraps coming out to get the ‘mother boxes’ to conquer and destroy the world. If you feel this exactly similar to the tesseract story of Avengers, then you are with me. The team of heroes comes together and fight against the bad man. But they are outnumbered, the villain is damn powerful than the heroes. So someone special needs to come back for winning this for the Justice League. That’s the one line.
 
Overall I felt, DC is trying to become Marvel. Introducing the ‘cool’ factor on Flash felt like the spider-man effect on Avengers. I am not sure why DC attempts this but I can clearly say that they are a big failure in that. Creators of Marvel comic movies are legends. The visuals they create for their movies are prime examples for that. So when DC attempted to become Marvel, it went half-baked. I vied for a catching visual but unfortunately, nothing was there One another thing I felt is that Nolan has set the bar way too high for anyone to reach. Any Batman reincarnation on the silver screen will remind us of Dark Knight. That’s a big problem. Now DC needs to outlive Nolan’s Batman and they are limping on that. Lack of a strong storyline and simply trying to show characters with dark tone didn’t work out well in Justice League. On an acting front, everyone did a neat job but there were no exceptional offering from the screenplay or dialogues.
 
Positives
 
Gorgeous Gal Gadot….
 
Some terrific Aquaman moments
 
Goose bumping moment on special hero’s entry
 
Negatives
 
ISO sensitivity / Grains on the screen most of the time. Why can’t they shoot in the film when the movie has got nearly 90% of the visual in low light?
 
Poor cinematography
 
Poor VFX. Some of the visuals will remind you of the GTA game.
 
Messy direction.
 
Overall: Watchable. Nothing great
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Thor Ragnarok : Cool Entertainment… Totally worth it !!!!!

By DC teaming up Warner Bros and Marvel teaming up with Disney, the cinematic universe is getting more attention than ever before. Each superhero is brought to the silver screen with so many fresh visuals and action sequences like never before. Thor is from the Marvel’s arsenal and one of their prime release for this year.
The only thing I know about Thor is that he is a demigod and son of Zeus and he belongs to a cosmic country known as ‘Asgard’. Since I am not an adherent follower of comics, my knowledge on the details is limited. The mainline of the movie is Thor’s long gone sister Hella is back and want to get to the throne of Asgard so that she can conquer the other cosmic planets. And unfortunately, she breaks Thor’s hammer 😔 …. So the movie revolves around this. One thing I have noted with Marvel movies is the brilliant creativity behind it. Every time I watch a new Marvel movie, it will be filled with fresh visuals and excellent cinematography. The same goes with Thor as well. You will see some absolutely fresh visuals in this movie. I bow in front of the creative heads behind this whole cinematic series with all due respect. I have no how they can continuously create this type of stunning graphics and keep up the game with their competitors. Thor has a flavor of 90’s popcorn flicks, the color, the visuals and so on. I felt like the makers are giving the movie a rejuvenation so that the series will stay relevant for the upcoming years.
A couple of scenes gave me a reminiscence of Mummy Returns. But the director, Taika Waititi covered that very well with his brilliance sense of imagination and execution. One other shortcoming for the movie was the predictable storyline. Most of the superhero movies I think except Batman series face this problem but since the audience are not worried about that, Studios can relax. In the technical front, Mark Mothersbaugh music was catchy and interesting. I loved the BGM… Supercool yet have the flavor of that popcorn culture. Chris Hemsworth was charming and muscular. He was rocking on the screen. Other than him Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Cate Blanchett as Hella and Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie did their parts well.  And yes Mark Ruffalo as Hulk, stole the show many times from Thor!!!… Nailed it !!!…By including lot of comedy stuff, Marvel has succeeded in the maintaining the cool factor and from my experience audience are loving it.
Thor was made on a whopping budget of 180 million dollars which is on the upper side even with Hollywood standards. But I am almost sure that the movie will set the cash registers ringing.
Overall: Thor is ultimate entertainment… I will recommend this movie for the weekend. 
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Mersal: Vijay’s David Blaine attempt is not perfect but paisa vasool

Mersal Premiere Review

Let me tell you this first, I love Vijay and his movies and have no qualms in accepting it. But I will never argue with any other fans over his acting powers or anything of that sort. Mersal is the movie where Vijay and Atlee joining hands after their last outing Theri which was a box office money spinner. Let’s see how Mersal faired…

The US premiere show was delayed due to some key issue. But without much delay, the movie started. Normally I would get a gist of the whole movie from the first 15 minutes itself. And for Mersal, that 15 minutes was pathetic. The opening shot when commando team trying to get in into the house, resembled a flock of ducks swimming to the other side of the pond. That scene absolutely lacked any sort of coordination People were running out from different places… I clearly expected more because I have seen way too awesome police operation shots in many Tamil movies. Vijay’s intro was nice and neat. But then the movie started a feel of zig-zagging. A bunch of robbers robbing a coffee shop !!.. Come on Atlee !!!….. I thought how I will sit through the whole 2.5 hours. These 20 minutes are filled with way too praising of Vijay’s heroism which is something I hate to the core. The script should have natural scenes to boost the heroism( remember the shot inside the pipeline in Kathi ) and this one lacked it at least during the kickoff.

After the initial hiccup, the movie picked up the pace, fast-paced editing and nicely placed songs are the reasons for this. Then the interval  .. bammm !!!!!.. damn good suspense … Atlee rocked there…Really nice suspense and punch. The first half ended with an OK mark. Moving to the second half, the story concentrates mainly on the flashback story of Vetrimaran, in a remote village in Madurai. Vijay carried this role very nicely and it was nice thought from Atlee to place the “Aalaporan Tamizhan” song in the second half. If you are a Tamilian, goosebumps are guaranteed for this song. The song keeps up the racy mood of the movie and the second half started in a roaring style. But after a while it gets lagging, the reason is too much detail. From a director’s perspective, it’s entirely his choice. I felt a lag in the flashback but if you think from a different perspective it’s completely right with Atlee to give the detailing to support the emotional scenes. Probably we can expect some cuts soon in this part. But the scenes are neatly pictured and definitely done with the mass expecting audience in mind. Among all the three heroines, Nithya Menon topped in the performance among the three leading ladies. S J Suryah excelled in playing the antagonist, he filled the character with his own charm and richness. In the technical front, G.K Vishnu’s cinematography is damn excellent.  You will see a lot of fresh frames in the movies which you have not seen before in any Tamil movies. But I can’t stop saying this, in some of the dance shots, the warm halogen lights were clearly visible. But being his first movie, he knocked it way out of the park. Ruben’s editing was good, the cuts were neat but a little more can be done to make it perfect. A.R Rahman’s music is cool and awesome especially the “Aalaporan Tamizhan” song is damn good….
 

Coming to Vijay, he made a neat performance. You can feel the hard work he put on for the characters. But something which I felt not right was the David Blaine act. There is nothing wrong in his show but even when David Blaine shows the trick, I was like ” How the hell this guy is pulling off these things ?” and think about how I would feel when Vijay is doing it. And there were way too many magic tricks in the story. That could have been avoided. Another thing has I missed the flow at couple of places. Mersal tells a highly relevant social issue. The story had enough elements to create an ultimate mass entertainer but Atlee missed the dart at places. Vadivelu had made a full-fledged comeback via Mersal. I would say he was good but not excellent. Many of jokes were not firing up as earlier but still, there are a lot of laughing moments in the movie.

Overall: I will recommend Mersal for its high social relevancy and a paisa vasool entertainment ….Happy Diwali dear friends !!!>…

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Solo: Brilliant yet fell a little short of becoming a cult classic

Solo which is one of the most expected releases of this year is now getting noticed for a number of reasons. One being is the clash between people who liked and people who disliked it and then followed by a post from the director about the changed climax and so on. For me, the reason to watch this movie was Dulquar – Bejoy combination. Solo is an anthology movie, where four different stories are told and they don’t have any connection. Each story is based on one of the panchabhootha and connected with Lord Shiva. Let’s see how they were on the silver screen.

1. Sekhar( Jalam/Water): Here Dulquer plays the role of Sekhar who is in love with a  blind girl. They are madly in love and finally gets married. I am not going into the details of the storyline. The name ‘Sekhar’ indicates “Storage or One who stores” and the character of Dulquer have long hair. This indicates Lord Shiva holding Ganga in his ‘Jada’ (don’t know the English term for this). You should watch closely to understand the brilliant thoughts director has put in building up the characters of this story. Sekhar always wears clothes which have a blue color on it, showing the Jala bhava of Lord Shiva. The character have stammering and this resembles the sound of water we all hear when the water flows through the rocks, it doesn’t make a continuous flow of sound rather it makes a mix of sounds. Female protagonist’s costumes always have a red or orange tint to it showing the goddess part. The visuals are brilliantly envisioned and I would say Bejoy deserves a standing ovation for this. I was awestruck by the detailing, the pickup truck carrying the female character to the hospital for delivery, is blue color, the cradle where the baby is kept is blue color, the towel used by the nurse while handing the baby over to Sekhar is blue color. Only a very few directors in India goes to this level of detailing… Phenomenal !!!…The bad part was the dialogs when the costumes and visuals supported the screenplay in a superb fashion, the dialogue was just par or just Ok.
2. Trilok ( Vayu/Air): The name of the male protagonist played by Dulquer is ‘ Trilok’ in this story. There is only one thing common in three worlds of Earth, Pathala and Akasha, that is air and hence the character is named in that manner. Here you can see the main color of costume as white which indicates air. The look of the central character is calm but he is very vicious in the back of his mind. Even when he approaches the villain’s they are unaware of him. It’s like a carbon monoxide poisoning, you will never know you are breathing something which is going to kill you. While in another part of the revenge, it resembles a choking. You know that you are breathing a toxic one, but you are helpless. That is how the story is caricatured. Regarding the connection with Lord Shiva, Lord Shiva did Nataraja dance in the air after killing Tripurasura and known as Urdhava Tandava Moorthy. This dance is a guided action which is perfectly under the control of Shiva and not just random steps. The central character’s action resembles the same in the movie. He knows what he is doing in each step and enjoys the revenge. While the last killing is happening he is simply eating up an apple as if it never affects him. The dance in the air indicates Lord Shiva’s joy after the slaying. Bad Part… Again no strong dialogues supporting the character buildup.
3. Shiva ( Agni/ Fire): In this story, Dulqer plays the role of Shiva, a gang member. There is an uncanny resemblance of the shot when Dulquer walks into the bar and shoot the villain to various shots in Aryan and Abhimanyu. Dulquer heavily resembles of 90’s Mohanlal in various shots of this movie. The character wears only black dress, indicating that he is a messenger of death. The only dialogue the central character has is calling his dad ..”Dad”. That’s all. The reason is fire never have a sound. None of us know what is the sound of fire. His love towards people is also fierce same as Agni, even playing with it cause your death. In this story, again the mythical element is brilliantly portrayed. The villain’s name is Vishnu and Shiva aims to kill Vishnu for his father’s death. The story goes like Kamadeva poked Lord Shiva unnecessarily and Lord Shiva opened his third eye to burn Kamadeva. Kamadeva is believed to be an element of Lord Vishnu. In the movie, this story is well played out. Also when the shootout happens, you will hear “Aigiri Nandhini” in the background which is about Goddess Durga, who is believed to be an element of Shiva. With all this fierceness, Agni is believed to the best of all the panchabhoota because it purifies whatever you throw in it. The love of Agni is pure and you can see when Shiva gets his sleeves rolled up to take revenge for his long left father.
4. Rudra ( Bhoomi/ Earth): Outside the mythical elements, Lord Shiva is considered as Rudra, a tribal leader. Even in the history, it is believed that South Indians aka Dravidians worshipped Shiva more than Vishnu and later due to the onslaught of Aryans, Vishnu became the supreme power. If you have traveled across multiple temples like Brahdheswaram, Chidambaram, Kapaleshwaram etc you can feel how Chola and Chera kingdoms treated Lord Shiva as their supreme god. During the tile of this story, if you notice, Lord Shiva won’t be holding his trident weapon, rather he will be holding a stick like a weapon used for hunting. Rudra indicates the mythical tribe leader who is willing to fight for his land. Remember that even in these days for most of the Tribal people, Lord Shiva is still their prime lord. In the movie, the character played by Dulquer uses earthly color costumes to project the feel of the story. He is an army officer, which in turn indicates a man who fights for his land. He is firmly in love and loves his girl as he loves his land. The physical fight he does to get the girl shows the ancient culture of “best fighter” gets the girl. But the story also shows that whatever you consider yours will leave you one day….
Please excuse for the really long review. The reason I wrote a lengthy one is that a movie like this is a reviewer’s big feast. Overall Solo was damn brilliant and amazingly executed. A lot of thought and hard work has been put on this feature film. I would rate this is Dulquer’s best movie with no doubt even above Charlie. The reason being he portrayed all the four characters with much easiness and in an excellent flow. Bejoy Nambiar can be proud of his creation. The area where Solo fell short was in the dialogues, the dialogues appeared so plain and without any support towards the storyline. When you put tons of thought in etching out each scene, I would expect a brilliant set of dialogues to accompany that. Unfortunately Solo missed that. For new filmmakers, you have a million things to learn from this movie….

 Overall:

I will surely recommend Solo to anyone who loves and passionate about movies.

 If you want to get in the theater and have a 2-hour unlimited entertainment, Solo may not be your cup of tea.

If you want to watch a brilliantly executed cinematic excellence, Solo is a feast for you… The choice is yours …

Mission Impossible : Fallout — Slick and Sharp, Best in the series

MissionImpossibleFalloutPoster

 

In this sixth edition of one of the most successful action franchise in Hollywood, Tom Cruise knocked over with a feather. Even at 56, he made each and every one of the audience flabbergasted and made the best of the whole series That’s bloody brilliant and dashing !!!…….Those stunts….Formidable and Terrific!!!…. Fallout is the compendious show of what Ethan is best at …..Never miss this !!!

No matter what critics say, Mission Impossible series in one hell of a franchise for 90s kids like me. It was Terminator, Jurassic Park and Mission Impossible for us or at least for me. The name Tom Cruise and the iconic bike stunt of MI:2 was the bar to which we compared every other Hollywood action movies. Even when every outing raked box office numbers equal to or better than the previous, critics were querulous about Ethan Hunt and team. Maybe that was Tom’s biggest headache even after making the most spellbinding action sequences of his times. But with this one, he silenced even the harshest critics.

Even with an age-old storyline, Christopher McQuarrie staged the show with a perfect balance of pure and wild action stunts. Scripting the entire storyline in a breakneck pace and getting Henry Cavill into the cast added the much-needed pump up for the series. Then comes the mighty Tom Cruise’s stunt sequences… After every other sequence, the thought was like “Bloody hell, how the heck he did that”?… The skydiving sequence, The bathroom stunt sequence, the chase sequence in London city, the chopper sequence…Tom Cruise was on his ultimate best all the way. Henry Cavill was the refreshing factor of MI:6. He played his part brilliantly. The supporting cast including Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, and Rebecca Ferguson was also excelled in their roles.

Excerpt from Wiki for the Skydiving sequence
Filming concluded in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on March 25, 2018. The production in the UAE included filming of a High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) jump scene with Cruise. The scene required Cruise and the crew training on a ground-based vertical wind tunnel, and then using a C-17 military aircraft to make over one hundred jumps from around 25,000 feet (7,600 m) to end up with three takes that McQuarrie wanted for the film. As the scene was to be set near sunset, they could only make one jump a day to try to get each shot.

That’s a C-17 they are talking about, world’s largest military transport aircraft !!!!………
I am not sure how he was able to do the hair triggering action sequences all by himself but the opening box office numbers for MI:6 proves one thing, he is one of the very few action stars who can pull the audience into the movie halls just by their name. With a $59 million USD opening weekend, Fallout has exceeded all the expectations and touted to have the best box office numbers of the franchise.

I am certain that Ethan Hunt will return. Looking forward to that…

Summary:

Mission Impossible: Fallout is the best movie in the franchise. It has got all the elements of an action thriller with damn brilliant stunt sequences and the dashing “Tom Cruise” at his best!!…. Go for it !!!

WorkOutWednesday Series

“If all you can do is crawl, start crawling. -Rumi”
 
Without much ado, I decided to take my luck in crawling on the tech blogging world, focussing in data science. All my learning in this field, particularly on Tableau comes from the stalwarts of Tableau community and their amazing blogs. The blogs they have written about various problem-solving methodologies using tools such as Tableau, the do’s and don’ts of data visualization and so on guided beginners like me to learn the tips and tricks of the game. On one of patio talks, my beloved wife told me ” The best way to learn something is to teach it”. Since then my mind wandered about an idea of a tech blog. But I was quite skeptical about that, the reason being there are tons of amazing blogs out there and why should I start something which may be of a crawling nature. I write to express myself, be it movie reviews or travelogues, which were my main portfolio until now. Finally I made up my mind to give a shot and see how it goes and here I am with my first blog.
 
To keep it neat and clean, I am starting with a Tableau based write up: “WorkoutWednesday Series”. WorkoutWednesday is a weekly tech challenge series organized by Tableau stalwarts Andy Kriebel, Rody Zakovich, Luke Stanske and Ann u Jackson. Every week the team posts a challenge on the WorkOutWednesday website. The goal is to replicate the same viz without referring to the original one. In the blog, I will write about the steps I have followed to reach the goal. Please bear with me for any mistakes as I am crawling and have a long way to go. Keep reading and if your time permits please do leave suggestions….
 

Week 18: Customer Retention by Cohort and quarter.

 
So let’s go straight into the challenge. Recreate the following viz. For more details do visit WorkoutWednesday website here 
 
xWeek-18-Jedi-1.png.pagespeed.ic.FtMkaz5CCp
So the above viz is about customer retention. When I first saw the viz on the WoW website, I got puzzled. It took a while for me to understand how to read the viz. So if you are new to this, the viz needs to be read as below
 
The X- axis represents the customer cohorts and Y- axis represents user retention percentage. Consider 2014-Q1 cohort ( cohort is nothing but a  group ), During Q0, which is 2014 Q1 itself, the percentage of customers is 100 ( all new customers for that cohort). Moving to the right, we can see 25% under Q1. This means 25% of the customers who ordered in Q1 cohort are from Q0 cohort or or in other terms, 25% were repeat customers. Now you might be thinking, an year have only four quarters but its showing until Q15 why is that ?. The reason is it is the number of quarters from the the cohort under consideration to the maximum date in the data set. There are 15 quarters from 2014 Q1 to 2017 Q4, which is the maximum date in the data set.
 
Hope my explanation makes sense.
 
Now let’s see how can we get this done on Tableau.
 
So first write a calculation field to get the distinct customer cout
 
 
1
Now let’s calculate the Minimum Order Date for every customer aka the date at which they placed their first order
 
 
 
 
2
Now let’s get into the rows and columns. Let’s plot the Order Date and First Order Date in columns and rows respectively. This will give something similar to our end product. For 2014 Q1, we have 121 customers distinct customers and 2014 Q2, we have 20 distinct customers from 2014 Q1 and so on
3
But we need percentage not the count. For that let’s write the below calculation. What this will do is for every row ( as the it is computed Table across), it will find the highest customer count and find the percentage of  others related to it. And the as per our plotting highest value will be first one.
 
4
Now is the real challenge. Even though we got the numbers correctly, the viz is the mirror image of the original one. Let’s see how can we get this fixed. Let’s take a look on the rows of the original viz. It is like 2014-Q1, 2014-Q2 and this is calculated from the First Order Date. So let’s write the below formula to calculate the cohort.
 
STR(DATEPART(‘year’,[First Order Date]))+”-“+”Q”+
STR(DATEPART(‘quarter’,[First Order Date]))
 
What actually happens here is “DATEPART” will return the numerical value for the mentioned parameter ( year or month). So the first part of the above field will return “2014 + – + Q+1 ” for 2014 Q1 orders. So now we have cohorts ready.
 
Now to the columns part. We want to have the Q0, Q1, Q2 etc. But the catch here is, in the above viz when we plotted the counts, for every year, the quarter value got reset. In the original viz, we need continuous quarter values till the max date. If we think logically, its the difference in the quarter number between the dates. So for calculating  that, let’s write the below calculation
 
“Q ” +
STR(DATEDIFF(
“quarter”,
DATETRUNC(“quarter”, [First Order Date]),
DATETRUNC(“quarter”, [Order Date])
))
 
This calculates the quarter differences between the First Order Date and the latest order date. Then it attaches with a “Q” string. For example, if the First Order Date is 02/24/2014 and the latest order date is 05/15/2015, then the calculation will act like this
 
Step 1: “Q” + DATEDIFF (“quarter”, 01/01/2014,02/01/2015).  Since we have given quarter as the parameter for the DATETRUNC function, both dates will get truncated to the start of the respective quarter ie is why you see that they got truncated 01/01 and 02/01 
 
Step 2 “Q” + 5:  Now we are reaching the end result. In this step we will get the Column values.
 
So now we have cohorts as well as quarter values. Let’s plot them and see how it work
 
5
 
Voila !!!….. We got the result … Looks super cool. Some formatting tips to get the right color combo
 
1. Select square in the mark shelf.
 
2. Use two color diverging and make sure one color is white.
 
3. Select use full color range
 
4. Make start as 0 , Center as .05 and End as 1.
Now we have a perfect customer retention cohort. But wait what are those blanks on 2016 – Q3 and 2017-Q2. Let’s give 0% there as blanks doesn’t look good. We cannot give 0% to all the blank fields because that will populate the entire right side with 0%. Let’s think about the logical solution first.
So if the NEXT FIELD IS NOT BLANK, then we can fill the current one with 0%. if the NEXT FIELD IS BLANK, then keep it as blank itself.
 
The calculative field for the above logic as below
6
 
What the above calculation will do is, If the Retention percentage is NULL and the following one is also NULL then keep it as NULL itself. This will ensure that the right side of the viz will remain as NULL itself. If this condition is not met, then return retention percentage or 0, if it is NULL.
 
Let’s see what happens when we plot this value.
 
 
 
7
 
Cool!!!…. We have done it !! … Neat and clean…..
 
 
When I am writing this blog, I noticed that the original viz had one more row on the top as “Overall Retention”. I completely missed it when I did the WoW. To show the overall retention rate. Click on the Analysis tab on top. Then Select Show column totals and also ” Show Column totals on Top”. This will give the Overall Retention Percentage
 
 
 
This is my first tech blog. Please give your suggestions and thoughts so that I can fix the mistakes and get better.
 
Enjoy Life….. Be Altruistic 🙂 

Insidious: The Last Key – It’s time to sleep this franchise

Insidious has been a cash cow for the producers since James Wan created the original movie in 2010. The original one was an absolute fan treat for the horror movie lovers. But from the second time onwards the series has been losing its luster in every attempt. Even though James Wan helmed the director’s chair in the first attempt, he decided to opt out and take the producers role in the successive outings. From a box office standpoint, all these insidious movies are a super success as they were made on a very low budget and rakes in huge profit. Let’s see how the latest attempt fared.

Spectral sightings is now coming to New Mexico, the old home of Elisie Rainer, played by Lin Shaye. Elisie was haunted by her past in her dreams and she gets a disturbing phone call from a man staying in her old house in Five Keys, New Mexico. The story unveils from there. This time rather than solving someone else’s trouble, Rainer is solving her own. More characters are introduced to make the story thicker. But the due to the same reason, I felt that Insidious is deviating from its genre of horror to family drama at times. Except for a couple of jolting moments, the movie is plain with a very weak story. It gave me a feeling that the story is written just because they need to create a sequel and not because there is a thread on it. Lin Shaye made a commendable performance but other than that the movie doesn’t offer much. It was evident was Insidious is the horse Universal needs to sleep. The franchise doesn’t offer freshness anymore. But I am not sure whether the studio will do that as even this latest one collected more than $50 million with a production cost of $10 million.

Overall Insidious is merely OK and you can pass it if you are not a fan!!