Items of Interest – 4-Mar-12 to 18-Mar-12

I couldn’t post an “Items of Interest” update last week since the Kahaani and John Carter posts took quite a bit of time to write (and besides, it took me time to get comfortable with the drawing tablet to make that picture of Vidya Balan).  So this time you have a double-sized issue.

Before I get to the tweets and other links of interest, allow me to write about two awesome things that were recently unveiled.

Prometheus Trailers

This morning, the full trailer for Prometheus went online, in HD.  Take 2 and a half minutes to watch this –

Incredible, right?  The video page also includes the plot synopsis –

In the distant future, two superpowers control Earth and fight each other for all the solar system’s natural resources. When one side dispatches a team to a distant planet to terraform it for human colonization, the team discovers an indigenous race of bio-mechanoid killers.

Ridley Scott, director of ‘Alien’ and ‘Blade Runner,’ returns to the genre he helped define. With PROMETHEUS, he creates a groundbreaking mythology, in which a team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a thrilling journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.

Somehow, I think I preferred knowing less about the movie, this explanation of the story somewhat demystifies Prometheus for me.  Nonetheless, it’s still a terrific trailer and I can’t wait to see the movie this June, in IMAX 3D.  I just hope our censor board guys won’t cut anything from the movie.

There was another trailer that preceded this, which came online yesterday.  This post on FirstShowing has it.  It’s also great and has some footage which isn’t in this complete trailer.  A friend of mine aptly described this as “one big ‘Holy Shit’ moment that is 1:30 long”.

The Raid: Redemption Soundtrack

In my earlier post about the movie The Raid: Redemption, I mentioned that the American release of the movie features a music score by Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park and Joseph Trapanese.  At, one can pre-order the soundtrack album, and one can also listen to five tracks from the album.

The music in the above video is the opening bit from the track “Razors.Out”, which is also the music used in the Red-Band trailer of the movie.  The track is by Shinoda with vocals by Chino Moreno.  You can listen to it here (that’s a SoundCloud link, you can listen to the other tracks from the sampler too.  The track “Drug Lab” is the one used in the most recent official US Trailer).

From the top to the end
You’ve got your razors out
To the end, til you stop
You cut the frames apart

Here are the lyrics to “Razors.Out” (perhaps not 100% accurate).

Two Facebook Statuses

This one from Kartheek P S K –

That sudden sense of kinship I felt when my phone rang to the tune of Hans Zimmer’s “Discombobulate” from Sherlock Holmes in a bus, and ONE person somewhere amidst the crowds snaps around with a glimmer in his eyes… One of Life’s moments… 🙂

and this one, from Vinit R –

…so Hades comes to Zeus and says “Yo bro. Im gonna tell u a joke thts gonna get u KRAKEN”

I liked both, so thought of sharing them.

B&W Shooting Challenge

I was reading an article on Ken Rockwell’s site, called Making Great Photos in Crappy Locations – where he talks about locking yourself up in a bathroom (a literally ‘crappy’ location?  Heh heh) and taking pictures –

Many photo classes have an assignment to lock yourself in your bathroom and shoot a whole roll of film. Your first reaction is “this is stupid.” Then things start dawning on you as you start seeing details. Eventually you make so many photos you wish you got to use more film.

That inspired me to try taking some photos under self-imposed constraints.  No, I didn’t go into a bathroom, and I didn’t lock myself in – but I took some pictures in my room only, and decided that I’d only use my 50mm f1.8 lens.  Till now, I really hadn’t used the “Monochrome” picture style on my camera, so I thought it’d be interesting to strip away colour and then shoot.

I ended up with some pretty interesting photos.  Not too dramatic, but not too bad all the same.  You can check out the album on Facebook (10 photos).

One of those photos has me holding up two pens, one labelled “Black” and the other labelled “Red”.  I tried being clever there, though I’m not sure it comes across effectively!

The above image is one of the discarded photos that I didn’t upload on the ‘official’ set. (sort of like a “deleted scene” on a DVD).  Again, this is me trying to be clever.  The “on” light on my laptop is green, but you can’t see it since the photo is not in colour!  Wow, how dramatic!

Other Links to See

  • This is a nice blog post about “Less is More”, from Mike Shinoda.  He also writes at the end about a kind of extreme example of “Less is More”, with this piece of art.
  • I’d posted two nice music tracks from Final Doom: Evilution on Facebook – Legion of the Lost and Death’s Bells.  I remembered these tracks from my Doom mapping days, so posted them.  One of my favourite pieces of music by TeamTNT is the theme from “Bloodlands” – which I couldn’t find on YouTube.  You can listen to it on this page (I know, embedded MIDI music is so 1990s, but still).
  • Interesting article in last week’s Economic Times about Nikon vs Canon and how they’re competing in India.
  • Wilbur Sargunaraj shows us How to use an Eastern Latrine.  Very funny stuff.
  • Kung Fu Balayya – also very funny video.
  • Sungha Jung performs Canon Rock – Great Stuff!  I guess this is his first electric guitar video.
  • A friend told me about this song called “Looking Glass” by the band All Hail the Silence.  An interesting thing is that you can get this song for free, by tweeting or posting on Facebook about it!  Here is the ‘Tweet for a Track’ Page for it.  It’s an 8 MB MP3, and a very retro / 80s style piece.  As my friend said, it wouldn’t have been out of place in Nicolas Refn’s Drive.
  • In my review of The Artist, I had commented about the typography in the movie, and I mentioned that someone like Mark Simonson would be able to do a proper analysis of that.  Well, a few days later, Mark Simonson did do a post on it from a typography perspective.  A very interesting read.
  • Vincent LaForet’s post about Setting up your Canon HD DSLR for filming video.  Unlike the more advanced Canon EOS DSLRs like the 7D and 5D Mark II, my EOS 550D doesn’t allow me to set ISOs like 160, 320, etc.  Does anyone know if that’s possible, or do I just go with ISO 200, 400, and so on?

Edible Actors

Sometime back on Twitter, #edibleactors was trending.  I found it very funny, so here are some of the names of actors that sound like food items –

Antara Thali, Bruce Chilies, Jackie Chana Masala, Prawn Connery, Cheese Witherspoon, Curry-shma Kapoor, Imran Naan, Milkshake Bachchan, Anuttapam Kher, Curryna Kapoor, Sean Bean, Al Cappuccino, Aamir Corn, Christian Bhel, Rajma Kapoor, Benedict Cucumberbatch, Daniel Breadcliffe, Salmon Khan, Katrina Cafe, Bread Pitt

None of them are my own – they’re the property of whoever tweeted them.

Now, onto the collection of tweets from the past two weeks.  I am not re-posting tweets about stuff that I already linked above.

Tweets 18-Mar-12:

  • RT @mihirfadnavis Just watched ‘Beyond the Black Rainbow’ – a moody ultra trippy film that grabs you by the head & SKULL FUCKS YOU INTO SUBMISSION. Brilliant!
  • Used Kdenlive to edit a video yesterday. Just trimming and colour correction done but it’s the first video I edited on Linux.
  • Kdenlive has presets to export video for YouTube at 1080p, 720p, 480p etc. That’s pretty cool. I must try with a bigger project soon.
  • RT @GDBALA 7 Words That Only Bad Movies Have in Their Titles
  • RT @funnyhumour Want an anagram of “Rodeo incidents”? Consider it done.
  • I totally tweeted this 1 year ago TH @karthik82 ‘Dongala Mutha’ – A …
  • I totally tweeted this 1 year ago TH @karthik82 Going to watch RGV’s…
  • RT @funnyoneliners Being sick can really affect your grades in school. The kid my son cheats off of was out all last week. RT @technopriest5
  • RT @omgthatspunny Wanna hear a joke about pizza? Nevermind.. its cheesy #punny
  • RT @timcarvell “One question about your film in which two dozen children murder one another: Do any of them use the F-word? No? Here’s your PG-13, then.”
  • RT @kruttikaS I draw and I feel okay.
  • Nagesh Kukunoor’s Hyderabad Blues 1 ( and 2 ( are both available on YouTube.
  • I don’t know whether those videos would be viewable outside of India or not, but sharing them anyway.
  • RT @Canon_Camera Canon celebrates 25 years of photographic expertise
  • Ebook? 🙂 RT @justkalpana note to self: do it right now! “@NiceHappened: Switch off your screens and switch on a book. Do it.”
  • RT @NiceHappened Shaun Of The Dead. RT @mojorojo: What do you think is the most criminally under-watched film ever?
  • RT @sickipediabot My friend suggested I should prepare for the brutal lighting storms we’ve been forecast. So I’ve changed my name to “Twice.”

Tweets 17-Mar-12:

  • @Galactica_gk You asked today why I wasn’t watching Hugo, it’s because I was working on a drawing. Posting it now, I think you’ll like it.
  • Just got my Vedam DVD that I ordered from @Flipkart.
  • Finished reading all of “Y: The Last Man”. It was a good series.

Tweets 16-Mar-12:

  • RT @kruttikaS Brilliant illustration! Sarah and the Seed, a comic by @hey_ryan_a (Ryan Andrews)
  • RT @Kahaanithefilm Kahaani smashes another record! It’s #12 on IMDB’s Top Rated “Thriller” Titles and going higher!! Thank you ALL!
  • RT @vemana If you are too daft to learn, no amount of ‘experience’ will help you.
  • RT @FarOutAkhtar Read today: those who are capable of admitting they made a mistake are the ones capable of growth.
  • RT @sunielwadhwa: @ankash1009 Yes Sir first releasing Mumbai Cutting Then Paanch will keep you posted 🙂
  • RT @ravsriram Gonna start with #micro this weekend.will b 15th #michaelcrichton #book I ll read.
  • RT @FarOutAkhtar Baby Falak. RIP. We should all be ashamed to be part of a society in which violence like this is no longer uncommon.
  • RT @RGVzoomin Today is the 1st day of shooting of the most important film of my career `The attacks of 26/11 `
  • RT @Kahaanithefilm Hot Running Water =
  • RT @josephradhik My new weapon of choice. Nex-5N + Voigtlander 35/1.4 Leica M mount. Joy.
  • Seeds of Truth

Tweets 15-Mar-12:

  • RT @vemana When you are driving on the highway with the sun in your rear view mirror, you are literally leaving the day behind. Quite picturesquely too
  • RT @krishashok If one is a developer, Stackoverflow is pretty much philosopher, friend, guide, techsupport and a shoulder to cry on
  • RT @atulkasbekar A chubby colleague of mine insists she’s been doing her ‘GM’ diet for yrs to no avail. Since her GM is ‘Ghee Maida’ its no surprise 😉
  • RT @MillaJovovich thank you @chrissbrenner 4 this pic me w wearing @LOrealparisusa “telescopic” mascara! my lashes r SICK, right ladies?
  • RT @omgthatspunny To write with a broken pencil is pointless. #punny
  • RT @Canon_Camera How to photograph flowers
  • “Y: The Last Man” – 46/60 done.

Tweets 14-Mar-12:

  • I’ve pre-ordered the “Don 2” DVD from @Flipkart. A tweet from @FarOutAkhtar indicated that it would be an extended version.
  • Just bought “Vedam – Movie – DVD” from @flipkart
  • Here you go – “Vedam” DVD on Flipkart for Rs 155. I will go home and place an order.
  • RT @Galactica_gk Must Read!! Why Hugo wont be released in India Mumbai Mirror
  • Vedam (2010) appears to be out on DVD/Bluray! Time to buy it, will search on Flipkart & order, if not available will go to a store and buy.
  • RT @Galactica_gk 3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993 751058209749445923078164062862089986280348253421170679821480 Happy Pi Day!!
  • RT @designersays Have any of you ever gone to the bathroom to do a no. 2 and forgot to bring your phone? I know, boring right?
  • The Nokia N8 has a close-up mode while recording video – had I known this earlier, my drawing videos would have had better focus!
  • Lesson learnt – know your tools.
  • RT @BrettSahuri: @edgarwright You’re a fucked up individual, that’s for sure.
  • Ram Gopal Varma and Puri Jagannadh are doing a remake of “Businessman” with Abhishek Bachchan. Make of that what you will…
  • RT @arocks Simple way to make a wireless presenter. Tape off the bottom of a wireless mouse. Works beautifully…
  • RT @RGVzoomin “@theMadhuShalini: Being selfish is gud..if u urself don’t think abt u urself, then who else will?”
  • RT @arocks Biggest irony of 2012: Twitter takes more time to load than Facebook
  • RT @RGVzoomin Finally its confirmed..Me nd puri jagan together are making the remake of the block buster telugu hit `Businessman’ with Abhishek bachchan
  • “Y: The Last Man” – 32/60 completed.
  • “Y: The Last Man” – finished reading 25/60 issues. This reminds me of when I was reading “Preacher” in 2005 or 2006.
  • I get broadband bill notifications to my email from Airtel, Reliance and Idea, though I use none of those services! I ignore those mails.
  • But I wonder whose bills I am getting 🙂
  • Reading “Y: The Last Man” by Brian K Vaughan and Pia Guerra. Finished 10 issues out of 60. It’s brilliant stuff so far.

Tweets 13-Mar-12:

Tweets 12-Mar-12:

  • Head, Ribs and Hips part 1
  • Day 50 #Gym
  • RT @mihirfadnavis The most epically epic thing you’ll read today – Harry Potter vs LOTR: The Final Showdown
  • RT @sarcasticapple What do you get if you cross an octopus with a cow? A stern rebuke from the Research Ethics Committee and an immediate cessation of funding.
  • RT @mihirfadnavis In case your Monday isn’t fuckall enough, let me remind you that ‘Hugo’ isn’t releasing in India. Cheers.
  • RT @SrBachchan T 678 – Just finished watching ‘Kahani’ on UFO at home .. Simply superb ! Sujoy, what the heck were you doing making films like ‘Aladin’ !!?
  • A line of dialogue from a “John Carter” and “Total Recall” mashup would be: “Get your ass to Barsoom” 🙂 I’m going to use that quote soon.
  • Letters & Stone
  • RT @omgthatspunny I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me. #punny
  • Lee Bermejo – Before Watchmen
  • One year ago, this awesome thing happened:
  • One year ago, this awesome thing happened:
  • Mosquitos to all out and good night.. @AapChutiyeHain

Tweets 11-Mar-12:

  • Just finished my first digital artwork. Will be posting it online soon. Done with Wacom Bamboo drawing tablet in the GIMP on Ubuntu 11.10.
  • RT @ankash1009 Vidya is slowly emerging to be atrue successor of Aamir.. a great career is defined by choices one makes &courage to see it through
  • My friend Raaj Kumar’s portrait of his mother – drawn in 2011 –
  • Amble (via FontSquirrel)
  • RT @josephradhik You have not experienced joy as a photog till you have used a 35/1.4 lens properly. 🙂 Love this focal length and dof combo.

Tweets 10-Mar-12:

  • Trouble on the Internet
  • RT @Galactica_gk The movie is just awesome. One of the best Hindi movies I’ve see. Awesome acting by Vidya Balan. 9/10. #KahaaniMovie2012
  • RT @io9 Legendary French artist Moebius, the man who made The Abyss, Alien, and Tron even weirder, is dead at 74
  • RT @planet5D #noFilmSchool: Canon 4K DSLR Announcement Possible at NAB 2012 #HDSLRnews
  • Kahaani – Loved it! Intriguing mystery, very nicely made and acted. Ending was great. Read as less about it as you can before seeing it! 9/10
  • John Carter – Enjoyable movie, little slow in the beginning but I liked second half and ending. Visuals were great, 3D not essential. 7/10
  • RT @RaaVi #WebDesign | Here is why vim uses the hjkl keys as arrow keys: I was reading about vim the other day … via @DZone
  • RT @sandy_budhiraja “Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.”~Ralph Waldo Emerson #quote
  • RT @Nokia_Connects The Week in Pictures: 5 inspirational photos from around the world. A new feature on Nokia Connects
  • Pickup Artist

Tweets 9-Mar-12:

  • RT @Oatmeal Did you hear about the restaurant on the moon? Great food, NO ATMOSPHERE! *ba-dum-kssh*
  • RT @DamienFahey I was blown away by how realistic the raindrops on the new iPad wallpaper looked until I realized they were actually a Chinese child’s tears
  • RT @Mr_A36 Mr.A36 is a sucker for typography. Lo♥es Sans-serif esp Helvetica & Myriad typeFaces 🙂
  • RT @gurpreet_bhatia #mycrazyobsession photography
  • RT @clientsfh “Please let me know if you do not receive this email.”
  • Watched “Critters 4” after many, many years. Nice movie. I used to like this series a lot during school days.

Tweets 8-Mar-12:

Tweets 7-Mar-12:

  • RT @Nokia_Connects Nokia 808 PureView: your questions answered (part 2) –
  • RT @Flipkart Some should answer this question on @Quora : Afterall, @Flipkart is headquartered in Quoramangala.
  • RT @DanielCamer “Tell me, I will forget; Show me, I may remember; but involve me and I will understand.” – Ancient Chinese…
  • RT @slashfilm Watch director @AndrewStanton’s TED Talk: ‘The Clues To A Great Story’
  • It would be interesting to see the back of the Indian Censor Certificate for Piranha, detailed description of all the stuff they cut! 🙂
  • #NowWatching Piranha (2010) – including all the parts I missed when I saw in the theatre 🙂

Tweets 6-Mar-12:

  • Nokia 808 PureView: your questions answered –
  • RT @firstshowing Got a second dose of The Raid, so damn good, so frickin’ badass. Gets your adrenaline pumping. Can’t keep recommending it enough!
  • Awesome!! RT @funnyoneliners I was playing my air guitar and accidentally woke up a mime. RT @luiki89
  • RT @MariaEolani Better a little fire to warm us, than a great one to burn us.
  • RT @justkalpana Death by PowerPoint
  • RT @rob_sheridan Download a PDF of JoyStix Magazine, April 1983 (they have some great tips for that new game Galaga): -via @lostateminor
  • RT @designersays ME: You’re like a drug to me. FRIEND: You mean I’m addictive? ME: Please! I mean I can only take you in small doses.
  • NOT FOR THE FAINT HEARTED! RT @planet5D Fire and Brimstone – one guy’s reaction to the Canon EOS 5D Mark III
  • TV Release Groups Dump Xvid and Enrage the Internet
  • Outerra Engine Makes The Entire Earth Into An Open-World Game, Has A Free Tech Demo

Tweets 5-Mar-12:

  • RT @IslamicThinking A friend cannot be considered a friend until he is tested in 3 occasions: in time of need, behind your back, & after your death. (Ali RA)
  • RT @funnyoneliners Dear Women, We’re not as dumb as you think we are. We’re dumber. Love, Men RT @yoyoha
  • RT @mihirfadnavis So tired. So much work. What to do ya.  #MundaneTweetsFromHotChicks
  • Tumblr
  • RT @alecbaldwin I’m going to the gym. I’m gonna sit in the parking lot and read the Times. But at least I’m going.
  • Day 46 #Gym
  • RT @josephradhik The problem with being a photog in the social media age is appreciation comes very easily. Enough to get a false sense of superiority.
  • RT @schmmuck In case of earthquake : Please tweet!! DO NOT go to an open area. DO NOT help ur neighbours & coworkers. The internet needs to know FIRST!!
  • Lytro Light Field Camera: This Is What New Feels Like [Photography]
  • London Super Comic Con

That stuff I said about the close-up mode on the Nokia N8 – I plan to write a separate post with example images.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Lisbeth’s T-Shirt Drawing

My first attempt at digital art (can be seen in this post) was pretty decent, I’d say, but there was a lot of scope for improvement.  Based on a suggestion I got, I tried a different style for my second piece of digital art today.

This is a picture of Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander from the 2011 adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, directed by David Fincher.  In the scene where Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) first meets Lisbeth and asks for her help, I loved the t-shirt that she was wearing.  So, when looking at my images folder for something to draw, I picked this.

This time, I did three things differently from the earlier piece –

  • The earlier piece was done on The GIMP in Linux.  This time, I did it in Windows, because I actually installed the drivers for the Wacom Bamboo drawing tablet.  It makes a huge difference, since without the drivers, the tablet behaves like a mouse, so you don’t actually get the benefit of pressure sensitivity.
  • I drew this in Photoshop Elements, which I am more comfortable with using, than The GIMP.
  • Third, I used the reference image as a 70% opaque layer and kept turning it on and off, to draw more accurately.  Some might consider this cheating, but then, I didn’t ‘trace’ it all the way through – I only used it in the beginning and later on was looking at the reference image in a different window.  Anyway, that’s one of the advantages of doing things digitally, right?

You can click on the drawing to get a larger image (800 px wide).  I took an image canvas of size 2000 x 3000 and worked on it.

John Carter 3D

John Carter is an adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars, from Disney Pictures and directed by Andrew Stanton.

I watched the movie in 3D on opening night here at Hyderabad.  Having never read the source material, I initially wasn’t too keen on watching the movie.  The trailers seemed interesting and I’d read that they’d spent $250 million on making this.  But I was worried that it would be a bunch of effects that still managed to be boring.

On the other hand, I’d got some good feedback about the movie from friends, and probably the strongest selling point for me, was that it was directed by Andrew Stanton, a Pixar animation director (Wall-E) making a transition to live action.  Another recent example of such a thing was Brad Bird (The Incredibles) who did Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, and I absolutely loved that movie.  So, I went ahead and booked my ticket for the 11 PM show.

The movie opens with Edgar Rice Burroughs (Daryl Sabara – I’ll always remember him as Juni Cortez, one of the original Spy Kids) being called in by his uncle’s lawyer.  His uncle – John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) – has mysteriously died, and has left some personal effects and instructions for Edgar.  Among the items is Carter’s journal, which forms the narrative for the story.

Carter is a soldier with the Confederate Army during the American Civil War.  A mysterious medallion transports him to a place called Barsoom – the planet we know as Mars.  On Barsoom, due to lower gravity, Carter is sort of like a Superman (who can “leap tall buildings in a single bound”), and he is taken in by the Tharks (a four handed species indigenous to Barsoom).

There is a conflict between the societies of Helium and Zodanga, and the outcome would have implications for all of Barsoom.  The titular Princess of Mars (actually Princess of Helium), Dejah Thoris (Lily Collins) is at the center of this conflict – due to diplomatic reasons, her father has promised her hand in marriage to the slimy Zodanga prince Sab Than (300‘s Dominic West – who seems to always play this type of slimy character!).

Once circumstances bring John Carter and Dejah Thoris together, the reluctant Civil War solider realises that he has an important role to play in Barsoom’s fate.

As you can probably make out, there is a lot of meat here (characters, story elements), which necessitates quite a bit of exposition.  This made the first half a little sluggish for me but I guess the movie could not have done without that.  It was at least more interesting to me than the Economics / Politics stuff in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (which frankly, totally disinterested me whenever that was up on screen).

As John Carter went on, I quite enjoyed it, and it built up to a very satisfying ending.  The action scenes were nicely done.  There is a tendency for movies to throw in a lot of effects into the mix but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the audience will be thrilled.  This movie I think didn’t fall into that trap.

Imagination is certainly not in short supply here – while we tend to have a cold, jaded view of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs and the filmmakers have portrayed it as a rich human-like world.  The visuals in the movie were great.  The director of photography here is Dan Mindel, who also shot J J Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek.  In fact, though I watched it in 3D, I felt the extra dimension didn’t actually add anything, the visuals would have worked well enough in 2D.  The CGI is well done but at certain points of time, I felt the uncanny valley still was yet to be overcome.

Another J J Abrams / Star Trek ‘crewmember’ returning here is composer Michael Giacchino.  The music was nice but not memorable (in my opinion) like Giacchino’s other works.

All said and done, I enjoyed John Carter, and especially by the end I think the movie did capture a sense of wonder.  Only, as I mentioned in the beginning, I have no familiarity or affinity towards the source material, so this being my first exposure to this character, I liked the movie but wasn’t necessarily blown away by it.

Rating: 7/10

Additional Notes

  • When I think of Mars, the first movie that comes to mind is the awesome 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger classic Total Recall, directed by the crazy Dutchman Paul Verhoeven (RoboCop, Basic Instinct).  So if there was ever a Total Recall / John Carter mashup, one line from that movie would probably be “Get your ass to Barsoom”!
  • Another thing that comes to mind when one mentions Mars is the classic game Doom.  I wonder what the people of Barsoom would refer to their moons as (was it mentioned in John Carter?  I may have missed it).  We know the moons as Phobos and Deimos, and I know this because of Doom (I even released a Doom level called “The Other Side of Phobos“).
  • As far as I can make out, the font used in the posters for John Carter is Akzidenz-Grotesk.  This was released in 1896, which is a few years after the events of this movie take place.
  • And finally, if you want to read the original Edgar Rice Burroughs novel A Princess of Mars, you can do so on Project Gutenberg.


Kahaani is a 2012 thriller from director Sujoy Ghosh.  It was released in theatres on 9 March, and I watched it the next day.

If you are going to watch this movie, it’s better to go in knowing as little as possible about the story.  Therefore, in my review I’m not going to reveal much more about the plot than what you can already gather from the movie’s trailer.

The movie opens with Vidya Bagchi (Vidya Balan), a pregnant woman, arriving in Kolkata during the Durga Puja festival.  She has come here from London.  Her taxi driver points out that most people head home, or go to a hotel, on arrival in a city.  No one so far has ever asked him to drive them directly to a police station – which is what Vidya does.

Vidya is searching for her husband, Arnab Bagchi.  Arnab had come to Kolkata from London on official business a few weeks before.  But when all contact is lost with him suddenly, the worried Vidya comes to Kolkata herself to find him.  A young police officer Satyoki a.k.a. Rana (Parambrata Chatterjee) helps her in her search for her husband – but it appears that the two are looking for a ghost – Arnab seems to have vanished off the face of the Earth.  Just what is going on?

The movie sets up an intriguing mystery and doesn’t let go till the very end, constantly introducing plot turns and keeping the viewer engrossed.  The execution is excellent – Vidya Balan carries the film brilliantly and her character is one of the most interesting protagonists I’ve ever seen in a movie.  Think back – how many movies can you name which feature a pregnant woman as the heroine?

Not only her, the acting from the rest of the cast is also good.  The characters are also interesting and the good guys are likeable.  The movie is nicely shot and captures the feel of Kolkata (and of the Durga Puja) well, and when the ending comes and leaves you with your mouth open, you’ll realise that this is a lean and efficient thriller, with no unnecessary scenes.  I really liked that the setting and Vidya Balan’s character were all actually integral to the story and not just gimmicks.

The movie features a nice rendition of the song “Ekla Cholo Re” with vocals by Amitabh Bachchan.

When I saw the trailer, I was reminded of Anurag Kashyap’s That Girl in Yellow Boots, since that movie also had a woman searching for someone in an alien city.  Both movies seem to have been shot in a handheld, almost vérité style.  But then, having watched the Kahaani, I can safely say that this is a totally different beast.

Overall, a very nicely done movie and a must-watch, in theatre.

Rating: 9/10

Further Notes

  • It’s not too often that you see a Chief Minister thanked in the opening credits of a movie, this one has it.
  • The movie has some relatively realistic depiction of using computers – unlike other movies where one might find some made-up OS, here it’s Windows XP that is shown, and certain other elements that don’t require you to suspend disbelief too far.  Also, realistic use of actual Adobe Photoshop seen!
  • The photography for the publicity campaign is credited to fashion photographer Dabboo Ratnani.
  • As I’d mentioned in my review for Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu, the publicity campaign for this movie was handled by the agency Marching Ants.  In this instance too, the art director is Raj Khatri who I am following on Facebook and on deviantART, and it was cool to see his name in Kahaani‘s end credits.  (poster sample)

My first digital artwork – a drawing of Vidya Balan from this movie

When I installed Ubuntu (as I mentioned in an earlier post) on my computer, I noticed that the System Settings page mentioned configuration options for a Wacom Drawing Tablet.  And I happen to own a Wacom Bamboo Fun graphics tablet, which was a gift that I’d never made use of till now.

So I thought I’d use this as an excuse to draw something based on this movie, and I did.  Below is the result – perhaps not that great but I think it’s decent for a first attempt.

I did this one using the GIMP.  And as is usual for me, I used a screenshot from the trailer as a reference image.  Below is the way that I did it – had the reference screenshot open and then painted with the tablet on a blank file.

It was not that easy to do, I still need to get comfortable with drawing this way.  The GIMP seemed to have limited options for altering the brush sensitivity etc (or maybe I didn’t explore enough).  I will try installing the tablet on Windows and use it in Photoshop next.  Digital art should be something interesting to try out!

Two Drawings from a year ago (Natalie Portman, Lord Sheldon)

Thanks to this neat application called Timehop, I’m reminded of tweets and Facebook updates that I posted a year ago.

On this day (6 March), one year ago, I completed and posted this drawing of mine – a stippled portrait of Natalie Portman.

I drew a rough sketch of her in pencil, and then placed dots all over the paper with a pen, and erased the pencil lines.  No cheating, I really did make this with dots.  You can watch the below “behind-the-scenes” video to see how this was made –

That drawing seems to be the one that got me the most likes and comments on Facebook.  I’d also uploaded the image to deviantART, and that was my 100th deviation there.  The inspiration for this picture came from a fellow deviant, Angelina Benedetti who is a big Natalie Portman fan.

The keen-eyed among you will notice that the image in this post is of better quality than the one I originally uploaded a year ago.  That’s because, the original image was an edited photo taken with my Nokia N8 phone (I didn’t have my scanner at the time).  The image in this post is an edited photo taken with my Canon EOS 550D camera.  For some reason I never uploaded this improved image anywhere else, so thought I’d post it for the one-year anniversary!

The other drawing is this one, which I call Lord Sheldon

This one was made later in March, but the quote in this image came from a conversation I had with my cousin in early March 2011.

When I ‘confessed’ to him that I’d watched an inferior quality print of a movie, he told me this.  I loved the quote so much, that I’d posted it on Facebook, and later, when I did this drawing of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, I put this quote on it, and subsequently turned this into a t-shirt.

This stippled drawing was done at Lamakaan, during a sketching outing.  I had my laptop with me and looked up a couple of reference images of Jim Parsons as Sheldon, and drew this.  This time, no pencil was used, I directly placed the dots on the paper.

The hand image on Sheldon’s t-shirt is a reference to Fringe.  The symbol is the glyph for “S” (“S” for Sheldon).

Pecha Kucha Night Hyderabad

The next volume of Pecha Kucha Night Hyderabad – Volume 8 – is happening at Lamakaan, Banjara Hills on 31 March 2012.  The event starts from 7 PM onwards.

When I tell people about this, they always ask me what this event is all about, and so I thought I would write a post about it.

“Pecha Kucha” is the Japanese term for “chit-chat”.  A Pecha Kucha Night (PKN) is a gathering where a group of speakers talk about their work, hobby or passion, in a presentation format known as 20 x 20.  This means that each speaker’s presentation must consist of 20 images or slides, each of them being shown for 20 seconds.  Therefore, each presentation at a Pecha Kucha Night runs for approximately 7 minutes.  (more info: Pecha Kucha Website, Pecha Kucha Article on Wikipedia)

The time limit avoids the “death by PowerPoint” effect – and since each presenter is speaking on something they are really passionate about, the talks are always interesting.

Pecha Kucha Nights happen all around the world.  Hyderabad has played host to 7 successful volumes of PKN so far, all of them organised at Lamakaan, the open cultural space at Banjara Hills. (Google Maps page)

I was one of the speakers at Pecha Kucha Night Hyderabad Vol 6, and I attended Vol 7.  Here are a few glimpses from those events.  Since it’s my blog after all, I fully intend to use this opportunity to highlight my seven minutes of fame all over again!

Pecha Kucha Night Hyderabad Vol 6 – 5-Nov-11

PKN Hyderabad Vol 6 featured 9 speakers, talking about a variety of very interesting subjects.  This was my first time at a PKN, and I had earlier expressed my interest to participate.  As it turned out, mine was the first presentation that evening.  I spoke about “My Movie Fan Artwork”.  The organisers had two Canon EOS 5D Mark II cameras set up to film all the talks.  Here is the official video of my presentation on YouTube –

I’ve made a PDF of my presentation – you can download it here: Karthik Abhirama Krishna – “My Movie Fan Artwork” [3.14 MB]

I had my camera with me, and I took a bunch of photos at the event.  Above is a picture featuring the other speakers at PKN Hyd Vol 6 (photos by me).  These are the talks (all YouTube links) –

I had a wonderful time at the event – and I was totally hooked.  Therefore, I eagerly awaited the announcement of the next volume.

Pecha Kucha Night Hyderabad Vol 7 – 4-Feb-12

Volume 7 was held last month, again at Lamakaan.  I was present this time as an audience member, and an ‘unofficial official photographer’ (I took photos at the event and sent them to the organisers, who uploaded some of them on their album on Facebook, with due credit to me).  Above is a look at the speakers who presented at this volume.

There were seven speakers (so the first image in the collage above is of Harish Krishnan, one of the organisers, introducing PKN Hyd Vol 7) and another interesting set of talks.  Here are the YouTube links to the talks –

Here are a few more glimpses from the two events I attended so far –

One section of the audience at Vol 6.  If you’re taking photos at this event, it’s in low light, so you’ll either need a flash or a good and fast lens.  That’s the reason why I took many of my pics with my 50mm f1.8 II lens.

This is an interesting moment that I managed to capture at Vol 6.  Anwar Ahmed is speaking, while Viswaprasad Raju draws a sketch of him!  See the full size photo to see more detail.

The presenters at Vol 7 got a copy of Viswaprasad Raju’s Travel Sketches calendar.

Apart from the presenters at PKN Hyd, the MCs are also important contributors to the event.  Srinidhi Dasaka was the MC for Vol 6, and Dixith PNP was the MC for Vol 7.

If you want to see still more photos, take a look at these two albums on Facebook (my photos) –

Are you interested in participating?

I would recommend you “Like” the official Pecha Kucha Hyderabad Facebook Page.  That’s the easiest way to get updates on upcoming events.  You can also follow @pknhyd on Twitter.  This is their YouTube channel where videos of talks and promos of events are uploaded (apart from the videos I have linked above, one of the most popular uploads there is Joseph Radhik presenting at PKNHyd 3).

If you are interested in participating (either as a presenter, or as an MC), you can send the organisers an email to, indicating what you would like to present on.  They would then send you further details and a PPT template using which you can create your presentation.

If you’d just like to attend the event as an audience member, all you have to do is come over to Lamakaan – there is no entry fee.  It’s advised that one arrives early, since the seating space is limited and these events tend to attract large attendance.

A few concluding notes

The Hyderabad Editions of Pecha Kucha Nights are organised by the people who run Hands Media and 17d North and a few other helping hands.  These passionate people must be appreciated, since it’s not an easy task pulling off events like this when you have day jobs.

I didn’t know till I saw the 17d North website that this firm did the branding for the Rubaiyat and Nautanki Gali restaurants!  If you’ve been to these places, you know how creative the ambience is.  Also, I find the name of the firm interesting – it’s a reference to the latitude at which Hyderabad is located.

Finally, I have to mention and say thanks to Pratyusha J, since it was she who told me about Pecha Kucha to begin with, several months ago!

Items of Interest – 27-Feb-12 to 4-Mar-12

As usual, here is a rundown of interesting things that happened in the past week.  This week saw the announcement of two cameras, I shared TED talks from two speakers, and there were a couple of other items of interest.  Here you go –

Announced: the Nokia 808 PureView

On 27-Feb-12 at Barcelona, Nokia announced their upcoming device – the Nokia 808 PureView.  This to me is a camera which just happens to have a smartphone tacked on to it!  The reason I say this, is that the PureView has a camera with a 41 megapixel sensor.

Yes, you read that correctly, 41 megapixels.  Of course, just having a larger number of megapixels doesn’t necessarily mean you get a better picture, and the engineers at Nokia know this.  So is this just marketing fluff or is there something actually remarkable about this?

I would go with the latter – the camera on this smartphone has a larger sensor than the one in the Nokia N8 (my current phone, and in terms of image quality from a smartphone camera, the N8 is by some accounts, the best).  So, the detail it captures is indeed more than any smartphone camera around.

The sensor can capture 7728 x 5368 pixels of information.  If you shoot a picture in 4:3 mode, then the image dimensions would be 7152 x 5368 (38 megapixels), and in 16:9 mode, you get a 7728 x 4354 (34 megapixels) image.  Since the camera is capturing a lot of information, it would perform very well in low light, zooming would still produce very clear images, and when scaled down, the images would have excellent detail.  The larger sensor would allow it to produce excellent video (1080p) too.

The phone runs the Nokia Belle OS (same as the N8) – since apparently, that can handle the hardware required to process this huge amount of image information.

The phone would be available towards the end of March and in India, it would cost around Rs 35,000.  So far I have been very happy with my Nokia N8 and have not thought of upgrading my phone.  But the Nokia 808 PureView is certainly tempting!  I will definitely consider buying it.

When I told my friends this, some thought I would ditch my DSLR – I would never think of doing that, since a smartphone camera cannot replace a DSLR.  But in my opinion, it’s great to have a good camera on your phone, since you’ll be carrying your phone almost everywhere, and in situations where you may not have a bigger camera with you (check this Facebook album for example – these photos were taken by me with my N8 at a get-together at office where I didn’t have my DSLR).

See the following links for more information –

  • Nokia Conversations Article
  • Nokia 808 PureView Whitepaper (593 KB PDF File) – I highly recommended you download this, if you want to understand this technology better.
  • Nokia 808 Test Shots (31 MB ZIP File) – Sample images!  These are apparently unretouched images straight from the camera, shot at the huge 38 or 34 megapixel resolutions.  There are only 3 images inside the ZIP, each being around 10 MB in size.  They’re all shot in good light (apparently by a pro photographer).  If you zoom in all the way, the quality is amazing.  The detail is great and since the sensor size is larger, you can get a better shallow depth of field effect that you can get with the N8.
  • Gizmodo Article – If you don’t want to download the 31 MB archive, you can see smaller versions of the sample images on this article.

I would love to have a camera like this to complement my DSLR.  You’ll notice, that I am only talking about the camera on this phone – a phone to me in most cases is a necessary evil.  One can take for granted that the 808 would do nicely in allowing you to make calls and send messages.  And the OS is no different from what I am using now – it’s only Facebook and Twitter that I access from my phone, and I sometimes view my Gmail on it.  Otherwise I don’t use other apps.  That’s why, if at all I am going to upgrade my phone, this is the one I would get.

Announced: the Canon EOS 5D Mark III

On 2-Mar-12, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its EOS system, Canon announced it’s upcoming DSLR – the Canon EOS 5D Mark III.

This is the successor to the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, which was introduced in 2008 and was considered a game-changing piece of equipment.  The Mark II is used by professionals all around the world and it has been used to shoot movies (our own Ram Gopal Varma has made two movies with it – Dongala Mutha and Not a Love Story), music videos and TV shows.

The 5D Mark III is a 22 megapixel full-frame camera and like it’s predecessor, it can do 1080p video (perhaps in the future we will see a DSLR that can shoot 4K video).  Because of its large sensor, the video is very film-like.  There are improvements in the focusing system, and there are improvements in video (technology borrowed from the 1D X) that will aid pro cinematographers.

It’ll be available in April it seems, and will cost $3499 for the body only, and with the EF 24-105mm f4 L lens, it’ll cost $4299.

If I were to upgrade to a full-frame DSLR, this is the camera I’d like to own.  So, as I said on Facebook, if someone would like to rob a bank and then buy me this camera, please let me know.  I will give you my address.  My birthday is on May 15.  Just saying.

I wouldn’t mind if you get me a Nikon D800 either, but I can’t use my 50mm f1.8 II lens with that.  So I’d stick with Canon!

Check out the following links for more info –

TED Talks of Note

There were a few TED Talks that I came across and shared this week.  The first out of these is from the future – Peter Weyland’s TED Talk on “I will Change the World” from TED 2023.

Interesting, right?  This is actually clever marketing for the upcoming Ridley Scott movie Prometheus, and features Guy Pearce playing the character Peter Weyland.

As much as Ridley Scott & Co. have been denying that Prometheus is a direct prequel to Alien, there is quite a bit of evidence to prove otherwise.  The ‘evil corporation’ in the Alien movies is called Weyland-Yutani, and Peter Weyland is obviously linked to it.

This video was directed by Luke Scott (Ridley’s son) and written by Damon Lindelof (more info).  It’s very well done, and one can make some interesting observations from this video –

At around 00:50, a tweet is visible –

Where’s Weyland going with this? Thought fire was for all mankind. He’s probably franchised using it now. #TED

Typing in the link will take you to the Prometheus Trailers page on

This tells us two things – one, that Twitter will still be around in 2023, and so will the URL shortener  When I compile this list of tweets each week, I always think, what if either or Twitter’s own URL shortener cease to exist?  A whole bunch of links would stop working (“as if a million voices were suddenly silenced”).  Coincidentally, I mentioned this in just the previous “Items of Interest” post.

There is another tweet that you can see earlier on (at around 00:12) –

WOW! This is EPIC!! #TEDlongbeach2023 What has @weylandcorp got up their sleeves this time? The anticipation is killing me.

I had to download the 1080p clip to see this clearly.  @weylandcorp on Twitter does not seem to be officially part of the marketing by Twentieth Century Fox for this movie though.

Later on in the video (at around 01:48) there’s another tweet that comes by, but it’s out of focus so I couldn’t make out what it says.  Only a few words – “Killer #TED…”, “online collaboration” – are discernible.

Weyland mentions that we now have the ability to create cybernetic individuals who are completely indistinguishable from humans – that is a reference to Michael Fassbender’s character in the movie.

Also, in the Paul W S Anderson movie AVP: Alien vs Predator, Lance Henriksen played the character Charles Bishop Weyland.  That movie was set in 2004, so Peter Weyland would be either the son or grandson of the other Weyland.  That is, assuming that the Prometheus filmmakers are considering AVP as part of the continuity.  They could just be ignoring that AVP ever happened, though.

As I was mentioning to my friend, that is probably a convenient thing for them to do.  AVP wasn’t a bad movie in my opinion, but I think it would be better for everyone to ignore what happened in “Gunnison, Colorado” – I’m referring to the second AVP movie, Aliens vs Predator: Requiem which was thoroughly disappointing.

This is like saying that they made only one Matrix movie (as immortalised by this xkcd comic – “Too bad they never made any sequels”), that the Star Wars prequels didn’t exist, and that Indiana Jones was a trilogy (see some of the comments in this Slashdot article).  So I’d say “it was interesting to see a crossover between the Alien and Predator franchise, I wonder if they’ll think of making a sequel to it sometime”. (TVTropes calls this Discontinuity)

Weyland mentions M-theory in his talk, which I did not know and looked up on Wikipedia.  Apparently it’s a concept to describe what makes up our universe, I couldn’t understand it beyond that.

Another TED Talk you should check out, is the below one, by T Chendil Kumar (a.k.a. CK), given at TEDx Chennai in 2010.  This is a talk called “Stand Up, Speak Up and Shut Up (The Art of using Humour in Presentations)” and is really insightful.

You can also watch these two other talks by him – Humour Workshop Dubai, TEDx Dubai “Unleash your Humour Quotient”.

Really brilliant stuff.  How I came to share these talks is, CK conducts training sessions at our company.  Several years ago I had the pleasure of attending two training sessions by him.  Recently, he was in Hyderabad to conduct a program at my office, and I got to meet him.  That’s when I came to know that he had spoken at TEDx.  I looked up those talks on YouTube, and loved them, so shared them.

Other Links of Interest

  • Flipkart has launched Flyte – a digital store that offers MP3 downloads of music.  It’s really a progressive move, you have a variety of music available at good quality and completely DRM-free.  The prices are low too (each song costs around Rs 10).
  • Panjaa Working Stills – This is an album on Facebook, has around 100 “behind-the-scenes” photos from Panjaa.
  • If PHP Were British – Fun stuff.
  • The 84th Academy Awards – I wasn’t too interested in the Oscars this year, since none of the nominated movies really were that appealing to me (not my type).  You can have a look at the list of nominees and winners though.

This image (not by me) was shared on Facebook –

I found it really funny – if anyone knows the source, please tell me.

And to conclude this post, here are the tweets from last week:

Tweets 4-Mar-12:

  • “Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this…
  • RT @omgthatspunny A polar bear, a giraffe and a penguin walk into a bar. The bartender says, “What is this? Some kind of joke?” #punny
  • RT @mihirfadnavis ‘ ? ‘ wastes lot of time setting up the chars, but the last 10 mins are ball-quivering scary. And surprisingly the acting is quite decent.
  • RT @chasejarvis What the hell is Sepia? photo knowledge 101 #ImpressYourFriends

Tweets 3-Mar-12:

Tweets 1-Mar-12:

Tweets 29-Feb-12:

  • Day 44 #Gym
  • RT @R_beccaBlair Whoa, whoa, whoa. February 29th? WTF is this, an alternate universe?
  • RT @torrentfreak The Pirate Bay, Now Without Torrents
  • Rage – Excellent action sequences, never boring and acting is good too. Highly Recommended! 8/10
  • There’s an action scene set in a mall near the end of “Rage” with a fight in a video store – it’s full of PM Ent videos & posters!
  • RT @GreatDismal I liked it better when I thought Kardashians were one of those prosthetic forehead races on Star Trek.
  • Man, they certainly don’t make them like they used to – Rage (1995) is a terrific action movie. Saw it many years back, great to see again.
  • RT @rajturl Feb 29
  • #NowWatching Rage (1995) starring Gary Daniels, a PM Entertainment Release

Tweets 28-Feb-12:

  • RT @urbandaily pocket pool – To stick your hand in your pocket and scratch your balls. –
  • RT @sickipediabot Following a sexist joke I made the other day the Feminist Society now has my address. Fortunately none of them can read a map.
  • Haha 🙂 RT @josephradhik RT @sickipediabot: I’m going to get an Oscar next year for my movie, The Fartist. It’s silent, but deadly.
  • RT @R_beccaBlair Not the best thing i’ve drawn, but it IS a sketch for #ASketchADay. Megan Fox doodle from Love The Way You Lie vid
  • RT @mworch That took my brain 20 seconds to process. “@wkerslake: This picture makes my brain hurt:
  • So It Has Come To This
  • RT @someecards Sweatshop translation error results in least motivational sports bag on earth.
  • RT @clientsfh “When you make a logo, do you design it yourself or do you just find something from the internet that…”
  • RT @justkalpana No amount of real scientific analysis can beat the drama one anecdotal evidence can create.
  • Best Picture Winner The Artist Sets New Oscar Records
  • Police Find Apple Branded Stoves In China

Tweets 27-Feb-12: