The Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight is Quentin Tarantino’s Eighth Film (well, it is if you consider Kill Bill as one movie).  Being a huge Tarantino fan (his Pulp Fiction is one of my all time favourite movies), I was eagerly awaiting the release of this movie, and I finally got to see it a few days ago.  As expected, I loved the movie, and did this drawing of Samuel L Jackson as Major Marquis Warren from it –

Samuel L Jackson as Major Marquis Warren from The Hateful Eight - Artwork by KarthikThe movie is set a few years after the American Civil War.  It opens showing us a stagecoach with two passengers – bounty hunter John Ruth “The Hangman” (Kurt Russell) and his prisoner, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), heading towards the town of Red Rock, trying to escape a blizzard.  They are soon about to have company – stranded in the snow are Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L Jackson) and Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), and the two are picked up by the stagecoach.  In order to escape the blizzard, the party must stop midway at a place called Minnie’s Haberdashery, where they must stay for the next few days.  Already at Minnie’s are a few other characters – Red Rock’s Hangman, Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), Bob the Mexican (Demian Bichir) and General Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern).

Pretty soon, suspicions arise, and John says that one or more of the people at Minnie’s are not who they say they are, and they may have their own agenda involving the bounty on his prisoner.

What follows is an engaging mystery-thriller-Western hybrid that keeps one completely absorbed for three hours.  The characters in all of Quentin Tarantino’s movies seem to be crafted with a lot of love, and it is no different here, and the actors really bring them to life with their excellent performances (Leigh and Jackson are standouts).  The dialogues and screenplay are great, as is typical of a Tarantino movie.  The first half of the movie might be considered to be a little slower moving, but it builds the characters so it’s necessary.  The movie picks up pace in the second half.

The movie features beautiful cinematography (by Robert Richardson, who has shot all of Tarantino’s movies after Kill Bill, except for Death Proof).  It was shot in a process called Ultra Panavision 70, where the image is shot on 70mm film but using anamorphic lenses to create a very wide image (2.76:1 aspect ratio as opposed to the typical 2.35:1 widescreen image if movies are shot on 35mm film or digital).  This is apparently only the 11th film to be shot in that process, and there exists a “Roadshow” version of the movie which was projected on film as well, in selected theatres in the US.  The sweeping and snowy landscape scenes look great, but one might question what difference would filming in 70mm make, to indoor scenes.  It affords the opportunity to create some interesting compositions, as there are several shots where the entire frame is used to show different characters in the foreground as well as background.  There were a couple of instances where I noticed the use of a split-focus diopter to get different planes in focus in the same shot.

Unlike several of Tarantino’s movies, which used previously existing music, this one features original music written for it, by Ennio Morricone (the composer for Sergio Leone’s westerns such as The Good, The Bad and The Ugly). I thought the music was very good and liked the opening theme in particular.

One of the inspirations for The Hateful Eight was the 1982 John Carpenter horror movie The Thing. That movie also stars Kurt Russell, it is set in an isolated place in extreme cold, it has characters who are not what they seem to be and a sense of paranoia among the other characters. That movie was also scored by Ennio Morricone (interestingly, John Carpenter got Morricone to score the movie and made him do a very John Carpenter-ish music score), and in fact, The Hateful Eight uses a couple of tracks from The Thing on its soundtrack, and some of the other music is unreleased music originally composed for the 1982 film.

I loved the movie overall.  I felt Django Unchained was a little more enjoyable and more upbeat compared to this movie (the two are set in the same Universe). Overall, I would rate it a solid 9/10.

Warning: If you are watching this movie in a theatre in India, beware that it is cut.  Swear words are muted, but not completely consistently (for example, the occasional “fuck” is audible, while most instances of “bitch” are muted).  It’s distracting.  They have also cut the bloodier scenes, so you would be puzzled at the fate of at least two of the characters whose death is not shown.  You would still be able to enjoy the movie (the cuts total to around 2 minutes), but it’s not the way the movie was intended to be seen.  Unfortunately, if you want to enjoy the theatrical experience, you’ll have to tolerate these alterations.  Of course, there are ways to see the missing scenes if one wants.

It’s sad that there need to be cuts in a movie that is already certified as “A”, suitable for adults only – something I have been against for several years.  David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead didn’t even get a theatrical release in India, while Fincher’s Gone Girl had some weird pans and zooms to cover nudity.  Our censor board is only promoting piracy by doing this!

The version of the movie that I saw (PVR Cinemas at Hyderabad Central Mall) seemed to be projected in 2.35:1 ratio.  While I don’t think any part of the image was cropped, it seemed to be squished horizontally to fit the 2.76:1 frame into the 2.35:1 shape.


The below video talks about the different widescreen processes (and aspect ratios) that have been employed by filmmakers through the years –

And this video talks about the “Roadshow” version of The Hateful Eight, and also about how Panavision supported Tarantino in shooting this movie on glorious 70mm film –

The Opening Credits feature two fonts (apart from the title of the movie itself, which I think is hand made) – as far as I can make out, the names of the cast are typeset in Rockwell, and the rest of the credits are in Tarantino’s favourite ITC Benguiat.

The movie features Red Apple tobacco (which is a fictional brand used in many of Tarantino movies).

The Samuel L Jackson drawing which I did (in ballpoint pen on paper), is available to purchase here at my Postergully store.  Postergully ships worldwide, and their prices are reasonable.  The prints are of good quality too.  Visit my store here, and if it is your first purchase at Postergully, you can use the code PGARTIST to get a 15% discount.

John Romero’s “Tech Gone Bad”

John Romero, one of the designers of the original Doom games released a new level yesterday.  This is the first level he is releasing in around 21 years (before this, he designed two of the levels in the original Doom expansion, The Ultimate Doom, in 1995).  This new level is his first non-commercial release, it replaces E1M8 of the original game, and I played through it yesterday.  Here are my comments about it.

John Romero's Tech Gone BadE1M8: “Phobos Anomaly”, the last level of Episode 1 “Knee-Deep in the Dead” of the original game was a significant one, since it featured the first “bosses” of Doom, two Barons of Hell (also called the “Bruiser Brothers”).  The original level was considerably short, and after you got through the first seven levels (or eight, if you played the secret E1M9 level), you fought the bosses and then exited the level.  [SPOILER: Once you killed the two barons, a teleporter is revealed and you pass through it to come to a dark room, where you are fired upon by many monsters and the level ends as a ‘cliffhanger’.]  That level was created by Sandy Petersen (who designed much of Episodes 2 and 3).

You could say, this level (according to the text file, it’s called “Tech Gone Bad“) is a reboot or reimagining of the ending map.  It is designed only using the original Doom Episode 1’s resources (so no graphics or items from later Episodes seen).  It syncs up well with the original levels’ look and feel (that’s not so surprising, considering that John Romero himself was the one who created most of the original Episode 1 maps).  However, for a level made in 2015/6, it obviously is more polished than the older levels.

The level flows really well, you start off in a tech base surrounded by radioactive ooze all around, and streaks of hot red lava indicate that hell is transforming the entire place slowly.  There are a couple of neighbouring buildings which you would need to gradually gain access to.  After the starting base area, there are primarily two major sections in the level – one after you get the yellow key card, and the one after you get the red key card.  It’s probably not so much of a spoiler, but the ending of the level has you facing two Barons of Hell, and multiple other monsters.  Once you kill the Barons, the exit teleporter is revealed and when you pass through it, the level ends in a similar way as the original E1M8.

I really enjoyed playing through the level and figuring out the route to the exit.  You would have to work things out but I liked that there was no unnecessary key or switch hunting required.  The difficulty level is quite high, probably comparable to that of Romero’s E4M6 from The Ultimate Doom.  This is thanks to many shotgunners and you having to wade through pools of radioactive nukage.  I played the level on Skill 1 and completed it, at Skill 4, there are close to 300 monsters on the map.

The visuals are very nice, the map looked really interesting had a good variation of heights.  You would go to rooftops, and down tunnels with ooze, and there are ambushes that would remind you of certain aspects from the original Episode 1 levels.  Lighting and colour were all really nice too.  The map looked good without being overly detailed.

John Romero's Tech Gone BadThis level was built with Pascal vd Heiden’s Doom Builder 2.  I am not sure why Romero decided to make a level for Doom all of a sudden, but it’s a really nice thing for all Doom fans.  He mentioned in the text file that it’s a warm up.  I wonder what for!

It has been a long time since I played and reviewed a Doom level.  If you’ve been following me on Instagram (@karthikabhiram), then you know that on 31-Dec-15, I bought myself a new laptop after 5 years, a Dell XPS 13.  This post is being written on that laptop, and I also played the level (with the ZDoom engine) on it.

If you want to download and play the level yourself, you can do so here (this is a Dropbox link that John Romero posted in his tweet, which I’ve embedded below).  You will need a copy of the either the Doom shareware WAD (doom1.wad) or the full Doom / Ultimate Doom WAD (for that you would need to purchase the game).


I had also released a Doom Episode 1 tribute map back in 2002, called The Other Side of Phobos.  At that time, it took me about a month to make, and I had a good time making it.  I think it’s a fun little map to play.  If you would like to play that, you can check it out here.  The rest of my Doom levels are available here (I mainly did maps for Doom II).

Since Romero’s level runs on E1M8, you will be listening to the track “Sign of Evil” by Robert Prince.  Over the years, Doom’s music has been remixed many times, but in my opinion, this moody atmospheric version called “Doomed” by Rimco (released 16 years ago) is one of the best versions of that track.  You can listen to it on YouTube below, or download the MP3 from here.

I posted about John Romero’s level on Instagram, and that happened to be the 2000th post on my account there.  I have embedded that as well, below.

John Romero has released a new Doom level! For those not familiar with it, Doom is a classic videogame released by id Software in 1993. John Romero was one of the designers behind the game and made many of the levels for it. The game allowed fans to make their own add-on levels for it, and after 21 years, Romero himself has released a new level for the original game. Why is this so important that I would write about it? You see, many years ago, myself and my brother used to make add-on Doom levels (and we have released quite a few of those, available on our respective websites). Here is a photo of me playing that level, at 3200 × 1800 resolution on my new laptop (with the ZDoom engine, yes, I installed ZDoom a few days ago). The level is quite large and difficult, sort of like Romero's work on E4M6 from "The Ultimate Doom". This level replaces E1M8. This photo was taken by Varun, I edited it in Lightroom. I didn't play through till the end of the level (died midway through it, mutated in the expansive area of radioactive nukage all around the level). Will play it once again and write more about it. BTW this is my 2000th post on Instagram.

A photo posted by Karthik Abhiram (@karthikabhiram) on

That’s about it for this post, the first post of 2016 on this blog!  I resolve to be more active this year (the whole of last year, I only made one post here).

Kick-Ass 2 Drawing

This weekend (including Friday night), I watched three movies in the theatre – Jobs, Madras Cafe and Kick-Ass 2.  Out of the three, the most entertaining one was undoubtedly Kick-Ass 2 and I had a real blast watching it.  Hence, this drawing, done today –

Kick-Ass 2 - Drawing by Karthik AbhiramI drew this one in pencil, then scanned it in, added the paper texture in the background and the text.

I like how they expanded upon the storyline established in the first movie.  The movie shows us how Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) inspired other people to fight crime in costume.  Kick-Ass joins a Justice League-type outfit led by Col. Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey).  Meanwhile, Mindy Macready (Chloe Grace Moretz) is trying to adjust to life in high school and trying not to be Hit-Girl.

Gangster kid Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) reinvents himself as the super villain The Mother Fucker after Kick-Ass killed his dad in the first movie, and starts assembling an army of thugs to take over the city.

Kick-Ass 2 is a proudly A-rated movie (and I was overjoyed that it was released uncut in theatres here), it’s crude, ultraviolent, and a whole lot of fun.  Christopher Mintz-Plasse was absolutely hilarious as The Mother Fucker, Jim Carrey was great, and as expected, Chloe Grace Moretz was outstanding as both Mindy and Hit-Girl.  I liked the new superhero characters – Doc Gravity, Night Bitch, and the villains Mother Russia, Black Death, Genghis Carnage.  Loved the action scenes and the one-liners.

I read some of the original Kick-Ass comics by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr, but not Kick-Ass 2.  My cousin tells me that the movie follows the book pretty closely.

Kick-Ass 2 has more action than the first and there’s a lot going on.  I liked both movies about equally.  This one I’d rate an 8/10.

Kick-Ass 2 - Artwork by Karthik AbhiramAbove is an in-progress version of the drawing.  The completed poster of mine has the working title for the movie, Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall (I wonder why they changed it).

Check out the extended Red-Band trailer here:

There are two good pieces of music from the soundtrack.  The first one is a version of “When the Saints Go Marching In”:

And this one is a version of “Korobeiniki (Traditional Russian Folk Song)”.  I didn’t know it was a folk song.  You might know this music better as the theme from the game Tetris!

Stay back for the credits of the movie – there’s a short scene afterwards.

Nokia 808 PureView – My Impressions So Far

NOTE: This is going to be a long post, but written from the point of view of someone who is passionate about photography and therefore really appreciates the technology that Nokia has put into this device.

Nokia’s new flagship phone, the 808 PureView, was announced on 27-Feb-12 (I wrote about it in this post).  After reading about it, I immediately knew that if I was ever to upgrade my existing phone (a Nokia N8), the 808 would be the one I would get.

My phone choices have been dictated to a huge extent by the kind of camera in the device.  In 2006 I got a Sony Ericsson w300i, followed in 2007 by a w700i, post that, a Nokia N82 (which had the whopping 5 megapixel camera), and in 2010, the Nokia N8 (which, with its 12 megapixel camera, had the best camera on a mobile device).

The N8 now has the second-best mobile device camera on the planet.  This is because, the Nokia 808 PureView has a 41 megapixel sensor.  Over the last few months, I’ve been reading everything I can about the camera and the technology behind it, and I decided that I was going to buy it as soon as I could.  Fortunately, India is one of the countries to get this phone early, so I managed to get my hands on the device on 21-Jun-12.

The retail price of the phone is Rs 33,899, but I ordered it on Flipkart and got it for Rs 32,499.  Plus, they even threw in a cover for the phone worth Rs 1,000.

You can see more pictures of me opening up the package I got from Flipkart on this Facebook album: Unboxing the Nokia 808 PureView (19 photos).  This is like a little kid opening up a Christmas present.

I have been talking about this phone to my friends for the past couple of months now, so quite a few people knew that I was crazy about this device, and people told me that I probably was one of the first people to order this from Hyderabad.  And I know of at least one person who actually bought this phone because of me.

Now you might ask the following questions (and people have asked me this) –

  • Why would anyone need a 41 megapixel camera on a phone?
  • Why would I want this, considering I already have a Canon EOS 550D DSLR camera?

My answers to that –

  • You don’t NEED a 41 megapixel camera, but that doesn’t mean it’s not nice to have.  Recently, I saw Ren Ng’s TED talk about the Lytro Light Field camera, in which he says that the Lytro opens up new creative possibilities.  In the same way, the Nokia 808 allows one to take different types of pictures that wouldn’t be otherwise possible.  You can use it as a normal camera and produce 5 or 8 megapixel images with it.  But you can also use it to produce large-resolution images with lots of detail, and when done right, those images would be unique and can’t be produced with any other camera in its class.
  • Who says you can’t own and use more than one camera?  The DSLR along with the lenses I have can produce beautiful images, and yes, the images are superior to what the Nokia 808 PureView produces.  But a big advantage of the PureView is that I have it with me practically all the time – including situations where I wouldn’t be able to take along my DSLR.

Here are my impressions on this device so far.

Right now, I am not using the 808 PureView as a phone, more as a camera & recording device, and a device to carry around photos, music and videos.  I am using my Nokia N8 as the phone still.

As you can make out from the above picture, the 808 PureView is larger in size than the N8 and feels heavier too.  This phone has a Micro SIM slot, so I have to get my SIM card cut down to size if I have to use it with this.  I haven’t yet done that.

The AMOLED screen on the 808 PureView is bigger than the one on the N8, but it has the same number of pixels (360 x 640 resolution), as a result of which the N8’s display actually feels sharper to me.

Due to the higher memory and better processor, the 808 PureView feels smoother in operation than my N8.

The phone come with a higher version of the Belle OS than the N8.  People told me that if I was investing in a phone, an Apple / Android / Windows phone is better in terms of the applications.  But that was not really my concern, since I was interested in this device only for the camera.  I seem to have bought a camera that also in its spare time, makes calls!

Now that the other stuff about the phone is out of the way, let’s talk about the things that I am actually using this phone for.  Firstly, the camera.

PureView Technology

To really understand what’s special about the camera on this smartphone, here’s a small primer on photography and what Nokia is calling their PureView technology.

A camera is a box that is completely dark inside.  At one end of this box is a shutter – which is something like a curtain.  In order to take a photo, the curtain opens for a brief instant of time, admitting light inside the camera.  This light is focused by a lens, and it hits a light-sensitive surface (film if one is using a traditional film camera, or a digital sensor, if one is using a digital camera).  And this is how a photo is produced.

Nokia put a huge sensor into the 808 PureView.  This sensor is the biggest ever in a mobile phone, and is actually bigger than the sensors found on many compact digital cameras.  A comparison is given below –

  • 35mm Full Frame Camera (Canon EOS 5D Mark II) – 36 mm x 24 mm
  • Nikon APS-C Crop Camera (my brother’s Nikon D90) – 23.6 mm x 15.6 mm
  • Canon APS-C Crop Camera (my Canon EOS 550D) – 22.2 mm x 14.8 mm
  • Nokia 808 PureView – 10.7 mm x 8 mm (1/1.2″ sensor)
  • Nokia N8 – 7.2 mm x 5.3 mm (1/1.8″ sensor)
  • Compact Camera 1/2.3″ sensor (Nikon Coolpix P510) – 6 mm x 4.5 mm
  • iPhone 4S – 4.5 mm x 3.4 mm

You can see more details on this Wikipedia page – Image Sensor Format.

So Nokia’s engineers have put in a big sensor that’s capable of capturing 41 million pixels of data.  This information is used to produce images of different dimensions.  One can shoot in “full resolution” (which equates to a 34 megapixel image if you’re shooting in 16:9 aspect ratio, or 38 megapixel if in 4:3), or in “PureView” mode.  PureView mode produces images of 8, 5 or 2 megapixels – but in order to generate these images, the phone actually crunches all the data that the sensor captures, which means that the smaller dimension images are actually very detailed and noise-free, and in this mode, you have 2 or 3x lossless zoom.  This is what they call “oversampling”.  Video quality is also great, because this oversampling is used in video also.

Nokia is going to put in PureView technology in their upcoming phones too.

The lens on this camera is an f2.4 lens, as compared to f2.8 on the N8.  This means that the lens can open wider (smaller f number = larger opening), and therefore let in more light into the camera.

So what can you do with the camera?

You can use this camera as you would an 8 megapixel compact camera.  It’ll produce very nice images, and works well in low light thanks to the lens and the PureView oversampling.  But you can also put it in the full resolution 34 or 38 megapixel mode, and shoot images with lots and lots of details.

This gets you thinking differently.  It’s like having a wide angle prime lens attached to a huge-resolution camera.  In this full resolution mode, I like setting it to take 16:9 images as I find the wide aspect ratio interesting.

Enough talk, let’s see some sample images – below is one of the early images I took with this camera.  This is Cyber Towers at Hitech City, Hyderabad.

Click the above image to see a larger version.  Of course, that is about 2000 pixels wide and not the actual 7728 pixel wide version that came straight from the camera.

Below are some sections (100% size crops) extracted from the full image – where you can make out text on signs, license plate numbers, you can see faces of the people in the crowd, and two people standing on the roof of the building.  You cannot get images like this with any other mobile phone on the planet!

With a little editing, below is the final image.  I boosted the contrast and colours in Photoshop Elements.  The lens produces a very pronounced pincushion distortion when you shoot it at the wide aspect ratio (I think the distortion would be reduced if shot in 4:3 ratio, I have not tried this much so can’t tell exactly), so I got rid of that too.

I have uploaded the full size image at deviantART here – Cyber Towers at Dusk by ~karthik82 on deviantART.  You can download the 7728 x 4354 pixel image from there (it’s big in terms of file size – approximately 7 MB) and see all the little details for yourself.

One more bit of trivia about the image above – the text I put in is in the typeface Nokia Pure – which is Nokia’s new font that they’re using for all their branding (their earlier font was called Nokia Sans).  This is the font used on the packaging of their phones and also on their websites.  You can read about it here and even download the font file from this page.

One more picture which I shot with this camera, this is a tall one as opposed to a wide image –

As you can see, I am illuminated and enlightened by the light!  This was taken at Prasad’s Multiplex when I went to see the night show of Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur.

This is another image I took with the camera, that I am proud of –

This was taken on a rainy night, and shows off the low light capabilities of the camera.  This is also an edited image, but even the image straight from the camera looked great.  This one, I shot in the 8 megapixel PureView mode.

On 23-Jun-12, pretty soon after I got this camera, I went on a Photo Walk.  I had carried along my Canon EOS 550D, but decided that I’d take all my photos that day with the PureView camera only!

Here is the full album of photos on Facebook: Photo Walk by Karthik and Vikram Jammula (21 photos).  Apart from resizing and a little auto-contrast boosting, no other editing is done to the images in that album.

Recently, I attended Pecha Kucha Night Hyderabad Volume 9.  As it has been for the past 4 volumes, I was the ‘unofficial’ photographer at that event.  This time though, I took photos using both by Canon EOS 550D as well as the Nokia 808 PureView.  (To understand what this event is all about, you can read my detailed post here.)

Here is the full album of photos on Facebook: Pecha Kucha Night Hyderabad Vol 9 (78 photos).  The last 20 photos in this album (beginning from this one) were taken with the 808 PureView.

In retrospect, these images aren’t probably the best that the 808 can produce.  I took all of those in the 34 megapixel mode, at ISO 1600 (since it was a very low light environment).  I should have taken them in the 8 megapixel mode, where PureView oversampling would have kicked in and made the images cleaner (I’d still say these images are pretty decent, since many cameras don’t even go up to ISO 1600).  Well, it’s a learning for next time.

Okay, one more image before we wrap up talking about the camera.  I don’t think you can take a picture like this on any other mobile phone camera on the planet –

This is blasphemy… this is madness!  Madness?  This… is… PUREVIEW!

Let me explain a little about how I took this shot.  Earlier, I had taken a photo of the Supermoon.  That experience taught me that when taking a shot like this, you actually have to cut the amount of light entering the camera, since if you keep it in the auto mode, all you’ll get is a white circle.  I also knew that I’d have to zoom as much as possible.

So, I put the camera in the PureView 2 megapixel mode (so I could zoom), set it at ISO 100 (so that the image would have less noise) and zoomed in all the way.  I reduced the exposure as much as the camera would allow (I think I’d put it at -4.0), to cut the light so I don’t lose shadow detail.

I set the focusing mode on the camera to either hyperfocal or infinity (now I don’t remember which one), and then took a bunch of shots.  I selected the one that was the best out of the lot, then cropped the image and darkened it further in Photoshop Elements.  Added text in the elegant Nokia Pure font, and there you have it.

If you want to see the image straight from the camera, it’s below –

Some more tips on using the camera on the 808 PureView

The user interface on the 808 PureView’s camera, I think, is really nice.  It’s very intuitive.  There are three modes in which you can use the camera.

  • Automatic – Camera decides all the shooting settings, provides you with no options at all, excepting the shutter button and an option to turn on / off the flash.  Very simple to use.
  • Scenes – You just decide the scene mode – landscape, portrait, low light, sports, etc, and the camera will decide the settings suitable to that scenario.
  • Creative – Here’s where you can select all the shooting options.  Automatic and Scenes both shoot only in the lower resolution PureView mode.  In Creative, you can select whether you want to use PureView or shoot in full resolution, you can select the aspect ratio (16:9 or 4:3), adjust contrast, saturation, sharpness.

One thing I’d advise you to do is, go into the Creative menu, scroll down all the way and click on Preferences.  There, you can turn on the Viewfinder Grid and enable Video Stabilisation.

The Viewfinder Grid is very useful as it will enable you to apply the Rule of Thirds while shooting stills and recording video.  Also, in the video mode, it provides you with guides to compose your image for a 2.39:1 aspect ratio (crop marks), so if you are going to crop your video later on to a Cinemascope-type widescreen format, you can be sure that you are not placing anything of interest in an area that’ll be cropped off later.

While taking a picture in Creative Mode, the icons on the left allow you to choose the following options (in order) –

  • Flash On/Off
  • Exposure – To brighten / darken the image.  Default is set at 0.0, you can go to -4.0 at one extreme and to +4.0 at the other extreme.  This is what I was talking about in the Moon photo example.
  • White Balance – Sunny, Cloudy, etc options.
  • ISO – This camera goes from ISO 50 all the way to ISO 1600.  And it has relatively less noise even at ISO 1600 for a camera in its class.
  • ND Filter – The camera (like the N8) has a neutral density filter which can cut light (for example, if you’re shooting directly into the sun, you’d obviously need to have it on, else you’ll get a fully white image).  You can set it on, turn it off or leave it in automatic mode for the camera to decide.

There’s another parameter you can set which you might not readily be aware of, since it’s not accessed by any of the above-visible options – Focusing mode.  You access this by long-pressing on the screen (touch and hold for a second or two till the menu pops up).

There are four options here and here’s what they mean –

  • Automatic – The normal mode of operation – you touch on an object to focus on it.
  • Close-up – Similar to the previous one except this allows you to focus closer.
  • Infinity – Set the camera to focus at the farthest distance.  This way, when you press the shutter button the camera won’t spend time trying to focus on anything.
  • Hyperfocal – Focuses the camera at the hyperfocal distance – essentially meaning you get the maximum depth of field possible (one explanation is here).  This means that excepting for objects that are very close to the camera, everything will be sharply in focus.  The “Sports” scene mode uses Hyperfocal focusing.

Again, referring to the Moon shot, I used either Infinity or Hyperfocal focusing (I don’t remember which), since when I kept the camera in Automatic focusing mode, it had trouble focusing sharply on the moon.

Video and Audio

The 808 PureView can shoot full HD video in 1080p.  You can zoom when recording video too, and the quality is amazing, much better than what you’d find in any other camera phone.  The video camera also has Automatic, Scenes and Creative options (just like in stills).  If you put the camera in 360p resolution, you can really zoom in a lot (enough for filming the moon)!

When you’re filming video, the audio quality in your clips is really, really good.  Nokia has put in something called Rich Recording in this device, and it really produces very nice audio.

You can take advantage of this even when you’re just using the Sound Recorder.  Put it in “High Quality” mode and you’ll get really nice audio.

Take this piece, for example –

[soundcloud url=”″ iframe=”true” /]

This is a short theme music that I made, for the Galacticast audio podcast on my cousin Girish’s blog Galactica.  Listen to it with headphones – the quality is great.

A couple of things about that file –

  • My cousin’s name, his blog’s name as well as the name of the podcast all begin with the letter “G”, therefore, this theme music uses the G#7 chord, and I simply played 3 of the strings!
  • Broken Plectrum is a name I came up with.  A few days before, the plectrum I was using broke.  That’s what led me to come up with this name, and I even made an image for it (as you’d expect, I shot that with the Nokia 808 PureView camera as well).

Nice, isn’t it?

That about wraps it up for this post!  As and when I come up with more interesting stuff to post and talk about, I’ll write about it.  I have an album on Facebook for 808 PureView Photos, I’ll keep adding to that.  And of course, any videos I shoot with this will be uploaded and written about later.

More Video Links

Items of Interest – 2-Apr-12 to 15-Apr-12

[Note: This post was drafted on 15-Apr-12, rather than update it with another 15 days worth of stuff, I decided to publish this, and then write another post to cover the additional information.]

I’d mentioned in the last post that my brother spoke at Pecha Kucha Night Hyderabad Vol 8.  Well, the official video for Varun’s presentation is up on YouTube now, and that’s what I’m opening this post with!

Here you go –

Great presentation, isn’t it?  In case you missed it earlier, this post should tell you about what Pecha Kucha Night is.

Recent Trailers of Note

The trailer for the upcoming remake Total Recall is an interesting one, and it looks pretty flashy.  It seems to be following the Schwarzenegger movie quite closely (some of the setups and lines are translated intact here), although this one isn’t set on Mars.  Colin Farrell plays the character of Douglas Quaid, and Kate Beckinsale is Lori and Jessica Biel plays Melina (the character that Rachel Ticotin played in the 1990 movie).  The trailer reminded me of Minority Report a little bit.

I didn’t know this, but my friend Kashyap Chandra had this to say about the tracking shot at around 1:06 in the trailer –

That shot is One Hundred percent practical. Zero CG camera movement. They actually rigged up the RED One cameras to move around the room at speeds of upto 35 mph!

That’s pretty fascinating!  I assumed that was CG.

Talking about trailers though, this is probably the highlight of the recent past – the trailer for Rian Johnson’s science fiction movie Looper

Incredible, isn’t it?  Just check out that makeup on Joseph Gordon-Levitt, making him look like a younger version of Bruce Willis.  The concept is interesting too, and I really like the music in the trailer.  Obviously I was interested to know what was the exact track used, and a little Googling turned up the answer.  It’s a track called “K.I.L.L.” by Nick Murray and Mark Moore.  You can listen to it on this YouTube video titled Music from the Looper Trailer.

One Year and 15,825 Photos

April 2, 2012 marked one year since I got my Canon EOS 550D camera.  And on that date, the number of photos taken with the camera numbered 15,825.  Interesting milestone, eh?  It has been quite a journey reaching this number, and I’ve enjoyed every bit of it.

@Galactica_gk’s Hyderabad Visit

Between 5-8 April, my cousin Girish visited Hyderabad.  It was a hugely entertaining long weekend.

Here is how I received him at the airport –

I was flashing this paper with his Twitter handle, I thought someone would notice and smile, but no – it didn’t seem like anyone had a sense of humour about this.  There was a guy from a hotel who was also receiving someone and he asked me why I was holding up this?  Had I never seen my cousin before?  I told him it was just for style.

We had a midnight movie screening every night that he was here, and I got to revisit some of my favourite movies – Fight Club, Grindhouse and From Dusk Till Dawn.  Apart from this we saw 3 in the theatre.

Along with family we visited Golconda Fort, Salarjung Museum and had lunch in pitch darkness at Taste of Darkness in Inorbit Mall (this restaurant is the only one of its kind in India).

These two Facebook albums cover the entirety of his visit to Hyderabad – Karthik’s Coverage of @Galactica_gk’s Visit (121 images), Varun’s Set (39 photos).

We also got t-shirts made out of our Ten Commandments of Downloading.

Another interesting thing which happened, is that one day, we were discussing about Jyothika and I wanted to search for the article on Wikipedia, but instead of doing that I typed the name into The Pirate Bay.  And I was wondering why the autocomplete wasn’t working!

You can read Girish’s reviews of the Midnight Features here – Fight Club, Grindhouse (Planet Terror and Death Proof), From Dusk Till Dawn.

On the way back home from the airport, I took the above picture of the moon.  Was shot handheld and is a definite improvement over the moon photo I took a year ago.

Insightful Commentary about Commentary Tracks

At FilmSchoolRejects, they write articles about commentary tracks on DVDs (this feature is called Commentary Commentary).  I recently came across a bunch of these and found them very interesting to go through.  Thought I would share two in particular, which I found very insightful.

“For me Dark City is a film of hope and optimism. It has a firm belief in the individual winning out over the mass mind, and I think that’s a very important feeling to have in this world.” – Alex Proyas

39 Things We Learned from the Dark City Commentary is one of them, very interesting stuff.  Of course, you would need to have seen the movie first, to appreciate this stuff.

The second feature I wanted to talk about is 35 Things We Learned from the Memento Commentary – which is a great read.

Other Links of Interest


Two more quotes from Facebook – this one from Arrow in the Head on April 5:

Happy Birthday Roger Corman! Thanks for all them years of monsters, boobies and blood!

And this one from my friend Abhishek:

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. (Tears in Rain Soliloquy) – Karthik Abhiram this one is for you 🙂

Collection of Tweets

As usual, here is the collection of tweets from 2-Apr-12 to 15-Apr-12.

Tweets 15-Apr-12:

  • One year ago, this awesome thing happened:
  • I tweeted this 1 year ago TH @karthik82 “Boom! And a Bear Co…
  • RT @rob_sheridan You guys. Go see “Cabin In The Woods.” Don’t read anything about it. Just go before someone spoils it. Super super fun and inventive.
  • RT @omgthatspunny Why did the capacitor kiss the diode? He just couldn’t resistor. #punny
  • RT @mihirfadnavis Drinking Mogu Mogu with its little bits of fruit feels like accidentally swallowing your own mucus. #SardiKiGuthliyan
  • RT @AapChutiyeHain People connecting randomly on LinkedIn by mentioning you’re a ‘friend’ without even a message, jai veeru ki dosti ki kasam #AapChutiyeHain

Tweets 14-Apr-12:

  • @Galactica_gk It’s good, as I remember – lots of gore, action, weird stuff, more cartoonish than the previous ones! Writer is Joss Whedon.
  • @Galactica_gk I actually haven’t seen this “Assembly Cut” version… I should also plan a day for watching all 4 back-to-back 🙂
  • Flat = Funny and Depth = Dramatic
  • From the end credits of “Planet Terror” – “Mr. Rodriguez’s Chef – ROBERT RODRIGUEZ” 🙂
  • In kdenlive, I really like the “Technicolor” effect under the Colour Correction tools. Gives a nice boost to saturation in a video.
  • If you see the “scratch-free” version of @RobertRdz’s “Planet Terror” you’ll realise the genius behind its cinematography / lighting!
  • RT @Galactica_gk James Cameron’s Aliens is better than Alien. Could be because of the extra ‘S’ or more Aliens. @karthik82
  • RT @laughbook *Stalking crush on Facebook* * Accidentally likes status from 2009* *Deletes Facebook* *Sets computer on fire*
  • RT @mihirfadnavis I wouldn’t be surprised if someone finds RGV hiding in the bathroom of a girls hostel brandishing a camera and licking his lips.

Tweets 13-Apr-12:

  • RT @psam @dharmeshG Official synopsis for Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’ |
  • RT @rob_sheridan It’s cute how flight attendants tell you sternly to “completely power off your cell phone” and then carry on as if ANYONE actually did that.
  • RT @Deepu2rebel Quentin Tarantino was in India past months, He spent almost 20-30days here. Delhi, Mhmbai and many other places. Should’ve met him #lifetime
  • RT @Nader230 Dropped my N8 while crossing the road. Minor scratches, screen as good as new, still working perfectly! @nokia @Nokia_Connects
  • @Nader230 @nokia @Nokia_Connects That’s not surprising 🙂 I’ve dropped my N8 a few times and I think the phone doesn’t care one bit 🙂
  • RT @cliffordsouza SRK – “Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahin, namumkin hain.” New York Airport officials – “@AapChutiyeHain!”
  • The Importance Of Being 35mm
  • Worm In The Eye! New PROMETHEUS Pictures
  • RT @vincentlaforet Canon joins the world of 4K with C500 and EOS 1D C – but at what price? my thoughts:
  • RT @Galactica_gk RT @denofgeek A new poster for Tarantino’s Django Unchained

Tweets 12-Apr-12:

Tweets 11-Apr-12:

  • #NowWatching Anukokunda Oka Roju
  • RT @planet5D #HDSLRscoop Nikon D800 – From A Canon Users Perspective. #HDSLRnews
  • RT @psam RT @nokia: #Word, #Powerpoint and #Excel Mobile are now available for you lucky #NokiaBelle users!
  • RT @funnyhumour When James Bond is out of his home country of England, is he known as +44 07?

Tweets 10-Apr-12

  • Going to Vijayawada for a day (giving a presentation tomorrow). Will be back in Hyd on Thursday morning.
  • RT @abhishekmadan “Ei machaan you are going to Delhi vaa? Meet my anna, he lives in Crater Gailash.”
  • RT @kruttikaS #nowplaying – where is my mind? – the pixies
  • RT @funnyoneliners I never know whether to screw up my taxes myself, or hire a professional to do it.
  • Hahaha!! RT @funnyoneliners Facebook buys Instagram for $1 billion. Idiots, they could have downloaded it for free. RT @pleatedjeans
  • 2 in 1 Movie and TV Poster Art by @JoeyPaur at @GeekTyrant
  • Devolution of a Beard
  • RT @planet5D #VincentLaforet New Zeiss wide angle SLR Lenses – and how they stack up against their Canon EF counterpart #HDSLRnews
  • RT @jakefogelnest Is it true that Friendster just bought Polaroid for eleventy-billion dollars?
  • #NowWatching Kickboxer (1989) – Good oldschool 80s action stuff with Jean Claude Van Damme.
  • So far, “Kickboxer” feels like an Americanised version of a 1970s Hong Kong martial-arts movie!
  • The training montage in “Kickboxer” reminds me of “The Fearless Hyena” and “Kill Bill Vol 2”.
  • Man, what gruelling training Van Damme goes through, to learn Muay Thai… one should take this stuff as inspiration when exercising!
  • Btw… the music in “Kickboxer” is by Paul Hertzog, and if I am not mistaken, he did the music for the Van Damme movie “Bloodsport” also.
  • And I have not seen “Kickboxer” before (if I have, I don’t remember the movie), but I remember liking “Kickboxer 2”.
  • I should watch Kickboxer 2 again, and one bit of interesting info about that movie, is that it’s written by David Goyer (The Dark Knight).
  • Wow, they’ve included a dance number in “Kickboxer”! Van Damme dances!
  • RT @madhulikamathur Forget valuation for now, @om explains Facebook’s reasons for buying Instagram.
  • RT @JennyJohnsonHi5 Instagram is now in a relationship and it’s complicated.

Tweets 9-Apr-12:

  • RT @epandu Ever since Flipkart launched Flyte, I have not pirated a single song. I think I can afford spending 150bucks a month on legal MP3s
  • Day 64 #Gym
  • RT @laughbook When I was a kid, I used to sing, ‘A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, ELEMENO, P’
  • RT @mihirfadnavis For ultra hard boiled movie buffs – Russian films on YouTube –
  • One year ago, this awesome thing happened:
  • One year ago, this awesome thing happened:
  • RT @iSujayS A note to myself: @AapChutiyeHain
  • RT @kunaladnani @mohitjham @aapchutiyehain #UnlikelyBooks “eating right” by Anna Hazare
  • RT @mastersRback agar agentvinod dekhne k baad aap ko jet lag nahi huva to bollywood ki kasam @AapChutiyeHain

Tweets 8-Apr-12:

  • Yesterday when searching for info about someone, instead of typing in the name in Wikipedia, I typed it in The Pirate Bay.
  • RT @Oatmeal Happy Easter
  • RT @AapChutiyeHain #UnlikelyBooks Solving Crimes by #DelhiPolice
  • At Hyderabad Airport, having a coffee at the arrivals area. The Cafe Coffee Day outlet there has a drink called WTF!
  • RT @vertikaA RT @autocorrects: Retweet if you love finding money in your clothes. It’s like a gift to you from you.
  • And so, @Galactica_gk’s Hyderabad visit comes to and end. 3 midnight movie shows and a bunch of places visited. Good times.
  • RT @rajith_23 Having Cheez Burst Pizza during Recruitment drive .
  • RT @omgthatspunny What do you call a royal printmaker? A screen prince. #punny
  • RT @funnyhumour I have decided I’m not going to focus on my past anymore. So, if I owe you money, tough shit.
  • RT @Galactica_gk Taste of Darkness is an awesome unique experience. Eating food in absolute darkness.
  • RT @funnyhumour “Jesus loves you.” A nice gesture in church. A horrific thing to hear in a Mexican prison.
  • Interesting article about movie posters today –
  • RT @Galactica_gk Post-Midnight Feature #3 From Dusk Till Dawn is slapstick comedy and horror. The perfect combo. + writer is Quentin Tarantino. @karthik82
  • RT @omgthatspunny If the movie hero of the Matrix was a woman, would she have been called Ingrid? #punny
  • RT @funnyoneliners “Doctor! Doctor! How long do I have left to live?” “Ten.” “Ten what? Months? Years?” “Nine, Eight, Seven..”
  • #NowWatching “From Dusk Till Dawn” – Midnight… er… 2 AM Feature with @Galactica_gk

Tweets 7-Apr-12:

  • 3 – Liked it. Felt like 2 movies separated by an interval, a bit overlong and second half had exaggerated drama. I loved the music. 7/10
  • I didn’t understand why the movie is called “3” though…
  • RT @edgarwright My 10,000 tweet better be something really amazing… oh fuck-
  • RT @SimpooSir To see Anil Kapoor in Mission Impossible 4, plz wear Red glassez. Just did. Mr. India Protocol. #Yuss
  • RT @arocks Titanic wasn’t a tragedy for everyone apparently. Just look at James Cameron 🙂
  • Just realised that @Galactica_gk and I watched “Grindhouse” on April 6, 2012 – exactly five years after the movie’s US Release date!
  • Midnight Double Feature 2- Grindhouse was very good. Planet Terror is intentionally like a Hindi movie. @karthik82
  • RT @scottEweinberg With respect to (virtually) everyone, WHY REVIEW SCREENPLAYS? Fucking hell! Food critics don’t review the recipe. Assholes!
  • RT @rajith_23 “Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.” – Lao Tzu
  • It’s a great feeling to wake up in the morning and find that your downloads are completed.
  • #NowWatching “Grindhouse” Theatrical Cut with @Galactica_gk – “Planet Terror” & “Death Proof” back-to-back as they were meant to be seen.

Tweets 6-Apr-12:

  • RT @rajith_23 Watched Housefull 2. Liked it. Keep brain at home . Don’t have any expectation. Full fun. Little long but fun..
  • RT @timescapes There is something really special about this particular panel from Mœbius.
  • RT @arocks To know how theft-proof your home is, you just have to forget your key inside
  • RT @vemana You are either a tea person or a coffee person. Just like either you are a cat person or a dog person.
  • RT @arocks Enjoying the new Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens. Its razor sharp images have revived my ol’ trusty SLR. Thank you Flipkart!
  • RT @WolfpackAlan Dear Vegetarians, if you love animals so much then stop eating all of their food!
  • Listening to “Operation Latte Thunder” from the Fight Club soundtrack.
  • RT @vemana #having That coffee (no)one has somewhere between midnight and early morning
  • RT @Galactica_gk Fight Club is awesome. Already broken the first rule.
  • #NowWatching “Fight Club” – midnight show along with @Galactica_gk

Tweets 5-Apr-12:

  • RT @ankash1009 Department Trailer love mr. Bachchan in it..
  • Awesome! RT @atulkasbekar: @FarOutAkhtar in full stride. The ‘Flying Sikh’ lives. #BhaagMilkhaBhaag
  • RT @psam Happy birthday, Microsoft. Thank you for all your creations and contributions to this world.
  • RT @bcfilmmaker 39 Things We Learned From the ‘Phantasm’ Commentary Track #filmmakers #filmmaking
  • RT @zombeaner Fun flick.”@RobertRdz: Enjoy ROADRACERS (my personal favorite) finally out on DVD now, and coming to Blu Ray April 17!
  • RT @planet5D #HDSLRscoop Hilarious video compares Nikon D800 and Canon 5D Mark III #HDSLRnews
  • I’m going on a trip to Barsoom – #NowWatching “Total Recall” 1990 – one of the movies I’ve seen many times since childhood 🙂

Tweets 4-Apr-12:

  • Easy Elements
  • RT @chuck_gopal Hahahahaha RT @sumants: Hyuk RT @ashwan Swype just auto-corrected Instagram to underwhelm.
  • Is Twitter the new Google Reader? I find myself sharing more stuff here these days. @rajturl any comments?
  • RT @psam: @karthik82 “live” updates on twitter compared to reading later a factor? @rajturl
  • @psam @rajturl I guess so! Also the ease of RTing contributes, I think…
  • RT @rajturl @karthik82 absolutely. Now that I (or even ppl I know) hardly use G+, twitter serves the sharing purpose. @psam Agree with you.
  • You know you’re a photographer if… Nice list, posted on Alan Hess’s Blog.
  • Day 63 #Gym
  • RT @josephradhik Facebook is the new hunting ground for email forwards.
  • RT @rob_sheridan Cleverly made videos of Facebook in the 90s, Twitter in the 80s, and more: – via @wired
  • RT @FarOutAkhtar Your tweet made my day. Thank you so much. “@SoniaMilkha: @FarOutAkhtar Omg u actually look like dad. All the very best.”
  • RT @funnyoneliners My brother’s in prison for something he didn’t do. He didn’t run fast enough.
  • RT @vemana The smell of napalm in the morning… no no.. the smell of mud in the evening. #hyderabad
  • Awesome! RT @ankash1009 Releasing the dubbed version in India. The kickass action movie of the year. THE RAID
  • Rewatched Rick Jacobson’s “Bitch Slap” 2009 yesterday. It had the potential to be awesome but was disappointing.
  • Zoe Bell is the stunt coordinator and fight choreographer for “Bitch Slap”. The movie appeared to have plot elements cut from it.
  • I read that the original cut of the movie was more than 2 hrs long, but the released version is 105 min / 109 min (unrated cut).
  • Just bought 5 tickets for 3 (Tamil) (U) for Sat, 7 Apr, 2012 on @bookmyshow

Tweets 3-Apr-12:

Tweets 2-Apr-12:

  • Wow what a rush, I was just recognized in public! I didn’t think that wanted poster was still in circulation. RT @_theguy_
  • Fun stuff & @vemana take note 🙂 RT @Oatmeal So excited to go watch season 2 of Game of Thrones tonight. OH WAIT
  • Karthik Abhiram looted this cool item at @24hoursLoot 3 minutes ago
  • RT @zombeaner Now you can watch this nutso trailer! “@TwitchFilm: First Trailer For Akshay Kumar’s ROWDY RATHORE Blows The Roof Off!
  • RT @josephradhik I predict 2012-13 to be a crazy war between Canon and Sony for the HDSLR and indie large sensor market.
  • RT @vemana: @karthik82 Its awesome the way you digitally chronicle your life. It seems like you arent missing anything and not overdoing it either!
  • @vemana Thank you! I guess it’s more for myself that I am doing it, but if it’s interesting to others too, that’s great 🙂
  • LOL indeed!! RT @rajturl #cyanideandhappiness ‘TEST…..’ [LOLness, this!]
  • RT @stupidusmaximus Happy birthday, Ajay Devgn. Here, have a vowel.
  • RT @YaavanoObba Gangarams closing. | Oh, that’s sad man. I’ll miss their bhujia and khatta meetha. | Dude. That’s Haldirams. | Oh then what’s Gangarams?
  • RT @dharmeshG Ashton Kutcher will play Steve Jobs in an upcoming biopic. #facepalmtree
  • RT @justkalpana this is quote is soo for me. “@kritzeln: Respect your first thought. Don’t worry abt length, grammer, tense. Vomit! #IndiaSocial12”
  • RT @AapChutiyeHain Whenever you feel you’re a failure in life, think of Tusshhaar Kapoor #feelbetter?
  • RT @mihirfadnavis Also, I would not watch a Total Recall movie that doesn’t have the three boobed lady.
  • RT @gurpreet_bhatia: @karthik82 cngrts. U wl never frgt d date of two reasons. #worldcupwin #poonampandey
  • #LinesNOTinTotalRecall2012 “See you at da party, Richter!”
  • #LinesNOTinTotalRecall2012 “Give dis people AAIR!”
  • #LinesNOTinTotalRecall2012 “Get your ass to Mars”
  • My Canon EOS 550D camera is one year old today! 1 year and 15,825 photos – it’s been a wonderful ride!
  • One year ago, this awesome thing happened:
  • RT @Criterion This hand-painted KINDERGARTEN COP poster came all the way from Ghana!
  • @FakeCriterions Did you see this – and Akira Kurosawa visiting the set:

Sickipedia Tweets

More tweets from Sickipediabot on Twitter – from the repository of sick jokes –

  • “You won’t like me when I’m angry. Because I always back up my rage with facts and documented sources.” – The Credible Hulk
  • Doctor: “I can’t figure out what’s wrong you, I think its the heavy drinking” Patient: “Well then, I’ll come back when your sober”
  • So “The Rock” won Wrestlemania. Its a good job for him that “The Scissors” beat “The Paper” in an earlier bout.
  • What do African children get during Easter? Sicker, weaker and thirstier.
  • You never realise what you’ve got till it’s gone. Toilet paper being a good example.
  • Tits are proof that men can focus on two things at once…
  • I used to only do blondes, but then I thought “Fuck you criminal profiler” and did a few brunettes.
  • Must have been a nightmare before facebook, having to ring all your friends to tell them what you’re having for dinner
  • What did the Somalian say to the skeleton? Move over you fat bastard
  • How come I can’t get a mobile reception in my house, yet a terrorist can upload his vids from a cave in Afganistan?
  • I only wear glasses when I’m playing tennis. It’s a non-contact sport.
  • Two hours ago I told my kid to shut his mouth and eat his supper. He’s still sitting at the table trying to figure out how to do it.
  • I thought my wife had Tourette’s, turns out I really am a fucking cunt.
  • My mate posted on Facebook: ‘Spending the night in with my girl’ I couldn’t help but chuckle, My Girl is a shit film.
  • I tried to find love on the Death Star, but I was looking in Alderaan places.

Jesus Tweets

I am following this account on Twitter called “Jesus”, and the tweets from that user are interesting!  Here are some of them –

  • For the record, seat belts don’t save lives. I do.
  • I didn’t see nothin
  • Back up your data.
  • Was going make my second trip down to the surface to get tech support for my iPhone, but now that Steve is here…

Items of Interest – 18-Mar-12 to 1-Apr-12

I didn’t have an Items of Interest post last week as I’d been a bit busy with work and other stuff.  So this is a double-sized issue again.  As usual, I’ll cover interesting links and events and then go on to the collection of tweets over the last few days.

Pecha Kucha Night Hyderabad Vol 8

For a while now, I have been talking about Pecha Kucha Night Hyderabad on my blog here (this post) and also on Facebook and Twitter.  Well, Volume 8 of this event happened yesterday (31-Mar-12) and my brother Varun was one of the presenters.  His presentation was called “Know Tools, Create Better” and was about how software tools have aided his creative process.

Varun’s presentation was the first of the evening, and it was very well delivered.  He’d done his homework well – and that was apparent as he was presenting.  There were 7 other speakers at this volume and the event’s MC was Varun Todi (who was one of the presenters in the previous volume).  I was there to cheer my brother, and also took a whole bunch of photos as usual.

Karthik’s Coverage of PKN Hyd Vol 8 [Facebook Album – 60 Images]

You can click the above link to view the album of my photos on Facebook.  This time I carried along my flash and used all my lenses, so there’s more variety in these photos compared to what I’d done at the previous volumes.  My mom and dad also had come for the event, as did a considerably big bunch of friends.  Very nice evening I’d say.

Like last time, the talks were all filmed.  So those of you who missed some of the presentations can see them when the videos are uploaded to YouTube.

This is the latest video that the team uploaded on the PKNHyd YouTube Channel: Behind the Scenes.  This is a sort of “trailer” for PKN Hyd Vol 8.  It’s pretty nice, more so since I appear twice in the video!

A couple of other interesting things about this edition of Pecha Kucha –

  • All hail Open Source!  The computer that was hooked up to the projector was running openSUSE 12.1 and presentation slideshows were run on libreoffice-impress.
  • The speakers’ presentations (PPT files) were converted into MOV videos, so as to preserve the timing of 20 seconds per slide exactly.

Some Glimpses of Hyderabad

Last Saturday I had to go to office to conduct some interviews.  I thought I’d use the opportunity to take some photos – so I took my camera along with me.  I took a bunch of photos on the commute to and back from office.

This is the album on Facebook – Long Weekend gets a bit Shorter.  Only 7 photos but I think they’re interesting.

Above is one of the photos from the set.  In this, you can see the poster for the movie 3, starring Dhanush and Shruti Haasan.  This is the movie featuring the song “Why this Kolaveri Di?” and it was released here in Hyderabad on Friday (30-Mar-12) both in Tamil and Telugu.

Galactica’s Season 2 Premiere

My cousin’s blog Galactica resumed publication of posts on March 27 (he calls it a “Season 2” Premiere).  A couple of days before, I made this as a promo –

I had taken a print of one of the posters he made, held it up and asked my brother to take this photo.  There’s a bunch of movie reviews you can read.

The budget of the movie was $300 million. For that they might have actually flown the actors to Barsoom.

The above quote is from his review for John Carter.  Other notable reviews: Nicolas Refn’s Drive, Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, Kahaani (features my Vidya Balan drawing), The Artist, Scorsese’s Hugo (which I am yet to see).

He also did one Observer-related post, which Fringe fans should see.

Two Movies – “Agent Vinod” and “Dookudu”

I watched both Agent Vinod and Dookudu in the recent past.  The former was seen on opening day in the theatre, whereas the latter was on DVD.  I posted a bunch of tweets about them, thought I would summarise them here.

Agent Vinod from director Sriram Raghavan intended to be a globetrotting spy/adventure thriller.  I thought it was well shot (the director of photography is C. K. Muraleedharan, who shot the director’s earlier Johnny Gaddaar) and stylish.  However, I wasn’t as entertained by it as I’d hoped – the movie was disappointing not because it was incompetent, but I think they tried cramming too much stuff in.  The plot was needlessly dragged out (it’s essentially a lot of people following what seems to be a MacGuffin initially, and then the movie turns into a more conventional action-thriller) and I felt they set scenes in various locations (Latvia, Somalia, Russia, etc) just because they had the budget for it.  Sometimes felt like 2 movies put together.  There was one ‘long take’ sequence which was very nicely done, shaky cam in some action scenes was distracting.  If it was trimmed down and if the central character was more interesting, it could have actually become a nice franchise.  But I’d say it was an interesting letdown.  6/10

That’s the censorship certificate for the movie.  I posted one for Businessman earlier – and like that one, I found the description funny – “Deleted lovemaking sound in the background (replaced with other sound)”.

Dookudu was a huge hit for its star Mahesh Babu, and is a movie that combines action, sentimental drama and comedy all in one package.  If you know what you are getting into, and don’t expect anything even remotely resembling reality, you will have a lot of fun with this movie.  Somehow, despite being almost 3 hours long, the movie worked, I thought it was very entertaining.  The character of “Cool Babu” was… cool, and there were some great one-liners and very funny lines in the movie (“no one can scratch me”).  One rooftop fight sequence in the movie was filmed opposite Inorbit mall, near Durgam Cheruvu.  7/10

Two Songs, and a trailer for a Trailer

Apparently, the Indian release of Joss Whedon’s The Avengers is going to have a Hindi song, performed by the band Agnee.  This is called “Hello Andheron” and it’s pretty nice.

I have been following Matthew Inman’s site The Oatmeal for quite a while now.  The latest entry there is a sing-along video for a song called “The Motherfucking Pterodactyl”, presented by him and Sarah Donner.  There’s more info on this page (you can download the MP3 too).

In a short while, the trailer for the upcoming Total Recall, starring Colin Farrell and directed by Len Wiseman would come online.  A couple of days back though, we had the below trailer for the trailer –


Sickipediabot Tweets

A collection of tweets from @sickipediabot –

  • April Fool’s Day: The day every newspaper tries to fool readers by sneaking in at least one properly researched, factually correct story.
  • If I had to describe my mathematical ability in just one word, it would be “fucking awful.”
  • What a wonderful feeling it is waking up next to a beautiful woman. Oh well, back home to the wife then.
  • “Knock knock.” “Who’s there?” “Don’t fuck around, Buzz. Who the hell do you think it is?” “Sorry, Neil.”
  • I’ve just had a new car horn fitted. It replicates the sound of a gunshot. You should see how fast the fuckers move out the way now.
  • I committed the perfect crime. I put a mime in an airtight glass box. Nobody suspected a thing.
  • To cut a long story short, use fewer words.
  • My grandad asked me what I wanted for my birthday so I told him a ship in a bottle… Shame his hearing is getting bad
  • I think it would be fantastic to actually see a great white shark before I die. Just not RIGHT before.
  • My girlfriend just said, “You’re far too vague.” I said, “Well it’s a lot better than being that other thing.”

Collection of Tweets

And finally, we arrive at the collection of tweets over the last couple of weeks.

Tweets 1-Apr-12:

  • RT @r_nikki #AprilFool :Go into a public toilet cubicle. Melt dark chocolate in your hand. Extend same hand to next cubicle & ask for tissues
  • RT @AapChutiyeHain waiting for a text from someone you love must feel like the wait for the reply to a leave request email on a sunday evening.
  • RT @anujgurwara So our financial year begins on #FoolsDay. Think about all the politicians and their scams and it makes so much sense. @roshanabbas
  • RT @justkalpana First 20 Facebook employees and where they are now (via a friend on Facebook)
  • RT @funnyhumour As I sat down next to a bloke he gave me a realy strange look. typical I thought.D bus is empty,yet I still end up sitting next to a nutcase
  • RT @edgarwright This tweet is not real. April Fools.
  • RT @zombeaner Who decided that Shriya Saran should be an actress? Can I slap that person?
  • RT @ManMadeMoon Going to see The Raid tonight. Never been so excited about the prospect of having my arse kicked before!
  • RT @ManMadeMoon Really enjoyed The Raid. Some bloody marvellous death-dealing!
  • RT @zombeaner Where is the Funny Names blog when you need it? #DicksonPoon
  • @zombeaner Hahaha! Reminds me of the character “Poon Dong” from Crank 2 🙂

Tweets 31-Mar-12:

  • RT @AdorianDeck KNIFE TO MEET YOU, SIR!
  • RT @RGVzoomin “@karthikfou: we in AP have earth hour everyday. Daily 3hrs..”
  • Charging my camera in preparation for @pknhyd Vol 8! My brother’s presentation is first, so I’ll be there early.
  • @PrashantKV My brother & I will probably reach by 6 – 6:30 PM types.
  • Leaving now for @pknhyd Vol 8! All the best Varun for your presentation!
  • RT @pknhyd Ppl have started coming in already!! 🙂
  • RT @pknhyd Technical team ready with everything! Lights, camera and sound ready! 🙂 #pknhyd
  • Pecha Kucha Night Hyderabad Vol 8 – Great show and I loved Varun’s presentation – very nicely done!
  • RT @PrashantKV And it all went well! #pknhyd @pknhyd
  • RT @RGVzoomin On the ocassion of save earth campaign I put all the lights on even the ones I normally don’t put on just to be different
  • Very well said! RT @vemana Fuck up as much as you want. Its all fun and learning as long as you are alive and kicking
  • RT @rob_sheridan Holy hell, @trent_reznor was right, The Raid is an INSANE action movie. Like a martial arts Die Hard on steroids. Nicely done @ghuwevans!
  • Reviews
  • @rajith_23 Khnrrrr
  • #NowWatching Dario Argento’s “Tenebre” (1982) (Uncut Version)

Tweets 30-Mar-12:

  • RT @Laugh_Riot How do you get four old ladies to say the F word? Have the fifth one say…. BINGO! RT @Yaminikunjur
  • RT @Laugh_Riot What’s the best thing about turning 65?No more calls from insurance salesmen.RT @Yaminikunjur
  • RT @Laugh_Riot An Empty Web Browsing History Is A Sure Sign 0f Guilt..RT @Chhupa_Rustam
  • RT @kunaldgp: @karthik82 check out this one. Even more hilarious.
  • Day 60 #Gym
  • RT @ID_AA_Carmack I’m going to turn on every damn light in protest of Earth Hour. Lighting the darkness is fundamental to humanity’s climb.
  • RT @ajith27 Today’s edition of the Mint is brought to you by Trollo- the mint with the a**ehole #AakarPatel
  • RT @mihirfadnavis “Critics are C.h.u.t.i.y.a.s, I’m a R.E.S.P.E.C.T.E.D filmmaker” – Sajid Khan . I look fwd to reviewing your film, sir.
  • RT @zombeaner THE RAID inspired numerous “Oh, FUCK”s at the midnight show I attended. Job: Done.
  • RT @kunaldgp Misheard lyrics from popular songs #music
  • RT @pkedrosky Those were the days when you could travel from Okinawa to Tokyo with a Hattori Hanzō sword as carry-on.
  • Nice! RT @m_shinoda OK, it’s time. You guys have been so patient, and you deserve a SNEAK PEEK at our new video:
  • @m_shinoda Great to see you and Chester trying something different with the vocals here. Can’t wait to hear the full track.
  • RT @Galactica_gk One year ago, this awesome thing happened:
  • RT @kevinshahinian Great tutorial RT @vincentlaforet: Get your GREEN SCREEN skills on w/ Epic & 5DMKII – free 34 min tutorial
  • RT @zombeaner WATCH THIS & HAVE YOUR MIND BLOWN!! RT @twitchfilm First Trailer For Akshay Kumar’s ROWDY RATHORE Blows The Roof Off!
  • RT @mihirfadnavis Goddamn it. Watched ‘London Paris NY’ last night. MY FACE NOW SPORTS RED BLISTERS THANKS TO ALL THE FACEPALMS.
  • RT @zombeaner This crazy ass nutball of a movie is now on DVD. Ghost (Hindi): via @AddThis
  • RT @the_moonface I need to invest in whatever company prints those little “Made In China” stickers.
  • Teach Teach Baby

Tweets 29-Mar-12:

  • A Catastrophe
  • Successfully managed to break the capo I had for my guitar! Now must buy a new one.
  • Acoustic Chords for Linkin Park’s “Numb” – – Em, C, G, D with capo on 2
  • RT @omgthatspunny Those who jump off a bridge in Paris are in Seine. #punny
  • RT @thevirdas Some day…hopefully soon. A whole day will go by, where no one tweets me asking if I actually drink orange juice, and on that day..I shall.

Tweets 28-Mar-12:

  • Can’t wait! RT @m_shinoda First single from new Linkin Park album: “Burn It Down” Coming April 16. #LinkinPark2012
  • RT @funnyoneliners My neighbor’s dog is so popular that every time he barks, the neighborhood dogs RT him. RT @Thedudish
  • RT @m_shinoda Who wants some official news on the new single? Stay tuned TOMORROW. #LinkinPark2012
  • RT @Oatmeal Been catching up on the latest episodes of “People standing outside a farmhouse and arguing”– er, I mean Walking Dead. LITTLE TYPO
  • #307843
  • #307813
  • I totally tweeted this 1 year ago TH @karthik82 “Manos: The Hands of…
  • From Twitch: DESPITE THE GODS Goes Behind The Scenes Of Jennifer Lynch’s HISSS Debacle:
  • RT @OMGwhatateen Friend: “What are you watching” Me: “Snakes on a plane” Friend: “What’s it about?” Me: “Horses….horses on a boat”
  • RT @josephradhik Ok byeee tweeple! #tweetslikeaceleb
  • RT @omgthatspunny If you don’t pay your exorcist, you get repossessed. #punny
  • Xavier Gens’ “The Divide”. Really want to see it!
  • The “Don 2” DVD that I ordered from @Flipkart was delivered today.
  • Don 2 is a 2-disc DVD. Disc 2 has a 40 min making of feature. Other than that there are songs and Talaash trailer, which Disc 1 has already.
  • Censor certificate on the DVD says “Don 2 with Additional Scene”. Wikipedia lists the runtime as 146 min, and the DVD is 148 min.
  • I’ll have to watch the “Don 2” DVD to identify the additional scene that’s been included. Will report back once I do.

Tweets 27-Mar-12:

  • RT @IMDb Happy Birthday, Quentin Tarantino! What’s your favorite Tarantino film? #itstheonethatsaysbadmotherfer
  • RT @Aashu_Salotra Fool you once, Shame on me; Fool you twice, @AapChutiyeHain
  • I totally tweeted this 1 year ago TH @karthik82 “I’d hate to run up …
  • Reservoir Dogs is awesome as it always has been… give Tarantino his standing ovation!
  • RT @27bslash6 “They have an army of lawyers & you don’t even own a suit. Just change it to a cat or something. Everyone likes cats.”
  • Inspired by @Galactica_gk I am #NowWatching “Reservoir Dogs”. Awesome movie no matter how many times you see it…

Tweets 26-Mar-12:

  • RT @edgarwright My friend Brandon is stuck. Can you help? Please RT.
  • RT @trent_reznor If you’re in the mood for an ACTION film, immediately go see The Raid: Redemption. God DAMN.
  • Fringe S04E12 had a creepy setup, 13 was good, 14 was great… starting 15 now. @Galactica_gk tells me that it’s even more awesome…

Tweets 25-Mar-12:

  • RT @Galactica_gk Reservoir Dogs is the first masterpiece by Quentin Tarantino. Also has an awesome background score. Loved the song- ‘Stuck in the middle’
  • RT @Galactica_gk Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right, here I am, Stuck in the middle with you -from Reservoir Dogs..
  • Yesterday caught up with “The Walking Dead”, today it’s “Fringe”. Now on S04E12, will see till S04E15 today.
  • RT @vemana Indian translation of “Mad Men returns(airs) tonight! ” is “Mad Men will be available on torrents tomorrow morning” 🙂
  • RT @Veronica OK, that was pretty good. RT @kenyatta: What do they call The Hunger Games in France? Battle Royale with Cheese. #PulpFiction
  • “Shiitake Happens” – from Fringe S04E11 🙂
  • RT @This_Is_Hari Agar aap @tatadocomo par vishwas karte hain.. toh kasam USB driver ki – @AapChutiyeHain
  • I totally tweeted this 1 year ago TH @karthik82 Our old French text …
  • Done with “The Walking Dead”, few more months to go for S03 to begin. Should be awesome, and the prison arc begins.
  • RT @IIFAUpdates Hitman responsible for death of J Bachchan evaluated as schizophrenic; cannot credibly be traced back to A Bachchan
  • If you ask me, TV Release Groups did the right thing by switching to the x264 codec for encoding their rips. Quality is superior to Xvid.
  • I liked South Park S16E02, much better than the first episode of the season. #NowWatching The Walking Dead S02E11

Tweets 24-Mar-12:

  • RT @Galactica_gk #Drive is a lovely movie with awesome background score.
  • RT @JonMwords Please keep tweeting the stats from your runs and workouts. I enjoy learning about new and interesting apps to mute and block forever.
  • RT @headius I learned today that @flipkart, the “Amazon of India”, is MRI+Rails frontend with JRuby+Padrino for the backend. #awesome #rubyconfindia
  • RT @DanaDanger HTTP response codes for dummies. 50x: we fucked up. 40x: you fucked up. 30x: ask that dude over there. 20x: cool.
  • RT @IIFAUpdates BREAKING: Private Investigator hired by J Bachchan earlier this month to follow husband A Bachchan killed by sniper in gorilla costume
  • RT @IIFAUpdates: @ankash1009 Sorry about this, this is just for a committee for Model UN at our university – we didn’t mean to have you killed or anything
  • RT @omgthatspunny A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said: ‘Keep off the Grass.’ #punny
  • Btw: the last tweet about “Slumdog” director Anurag Kashyap being killed was retweeted by @ankash1009 himself 🙂 now following @IIFAUpdates
  • RT @IIFAUpdates BREAKING: “Slumdog Mil.” director Anurag Kashyap killed! Deep connection between Bollywood/mafia puts all in danger.
  • RT @omgthatspunny How do you get holy water? Boil the hell out of it. #punny

Tweets 23-Mar-12:

  • RT @Galactica_gk Agent Vinod is one of the worst Hindi movies ever made!! It’s the interval. :((
  • RT @poonamkhatri: @PunsNProses If he’s a washer, he’d be called Detergent Vinod.
  • RT @PunsNProses If he is in a hurry, he’ll be called Urgent Vinod. #Sorry
  • RT @Galactica_gk Going for 2 movies back2back: The Hunger games at 5:50 (Finally) and Agent Vinod at 9:45.
  • RT @josephradhik Photo tip: Stop looking at EXIF Info. It teaches almost nothing but lusting after more gear or making excuses for why you can’t take a shot.
  • RT @Nokia_Connects 12MP video power – the Nokia N8 ^TH
  • Catching up on “The Walking Dead”, watched S02E08 and S02E09 yesterday. 4 episodes left to watch for me.
  • I totally tweeted this 1 year ago TH @karthik82 RT @krishashok: #Fac…
  • RT @thehorrorchick Out tomorrow- This may be my first 5-star review ever! Raid: Redemption, The (2012) @TheRaidUS

Tweets 22-Mar-12:

  • The Pirate Bay Attacks Censorship With Low Orbit Server Drones
  • Michael Bay responds to fans about the TMNT movie’s alien origin
  • I plan to buy this. RT @rj_white The new Aziz Ansari special. RT @scharpling: Oh, and buy it at Five bucks.
  • The Canon EOS 5D Mark III is launched in India. Price is 2.5 lacs INR for body plus 24-105 lens.
  • RT @funnyoneliners Somewhere, a smart Laser eye surgeon has an office full of brochures that are all slightly out of focus RT @funnyhumour
  • RT @supaarwoman Chalo yaar sab log ek ek DSLR kharid lo aur apna Photography page banalo facebook pe.
  • Brilliant stuff! RT @BoingBoing @MouthTapedShut Sony pirates itself with “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” disc
  • RT @TheBookofBatman Every house is built by someone, but the Batman is the builder of the Batcave. (Pennyworth 3:4)

Tweets 21-Mar-12:

  • DSLR Basics: Stops and Metering (by PhotoExtremist)
  • RT @bobbyllew Top notch Ted Talk on Piracy Maths. Very funny.
  • RT @rj_white Wild Orkut #socialmovies
  • The Facebook of Eli #socialmovies
  • RT @funnyoneliners 7 Habits of Highly Ineffective People 1. Twitter 2. Twitter 3.Twitter 4. Twitter 5. Twitter 6. Twitter 7. Twitter RT @marebytes

Tweets 20-Mar-12:

  • RT @GDBALA 10 Things to Leave Off Your Résumé
  • RT @m_shinoda #HappyBDayChesterBennington
  • Day 55 #Gym
  • RT @josephradhik RT @mehrzee: RT @tyrantasorus: Whats common between tight jeans and cheap hotels? No ballroom. @mehrzee
  • RT @reiinamoto The genius of Saul Bass. Proves adding shadow and 3D to a logo ALWAYS makes it worse.
  • RT @rj_white From James Ellroy’s recent television program: Johnny Stompanato, Lana Turner and a guy on his cell phone in a mirror.
  • RT @RGVzoomin You can be on the right track nd still get hit by a train!
  • RT @omgthatspunny What does a mermaid wear to math class? An Algae-bra! #punny

Tweets 19-Mar-12:

  • RT @omgthatspunny What did the buffalo say to his son when he left for college? Bison #punny
  • RT @rj_white Yesterday, I walked past someone explaining the phrase “Epic fail” to a child who had asked about why it was on the person’s Smurfs t-shirt.
  • RT @thedavesherrill I’ve noticed girls like to wear shirts that say “I Love Nerds” but never want to hear all 45 ways I would have improved the Watchmen movie.
  • RT @simonpegg Paul was NOT the third film in the so called ‘Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy’. World’s End will be the final part.

Tweets 18-Mar-12:

  • RT @planet5D #cinema5D Zeiss 15mm T2.8 – an impressive new lens, but it ’s unaffordable #HDSLRnews
  • RT @clientsfh “I understand that you don’t work on weekends, but I have a very special circumstance. I spoke with my…”
  • RT @ilovetypography My next tweet will be profoundly typographic.
  • RT @ilovetypography The secret to RTs: ‘cats’, ‘sex’, & ‘free fonts’ — working on a free font called Sex Cat.
  • RT @planet5D #planet5D The Canon EOS 5D Mark II mates with a 93 year old view camera #HDSLRnews
  • RT @funnyoneliners Looking up “obsolescence” in the Encyclopedia Britannica. RT @davio1962
  • RT @ravi_mohan A journey of a thousand miles starts with an Amazon order.
  • RT @PrashantKV The best part of what I do, is what I do!
  • RT @funnyoneliners The Cop: “How do you explain all the cannabis in your loft?” The Suspect: “Someone must have planted it there.”
  • RT @predominant “My mom called it Mozzarella Firefox”

And that wraps up this update for now, see you next time.

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!

The Artist

I watched the Oscar-nominated movie The Artist yesterday.  This is a romantic drama presented in black & white, and as a (mostly) silent film.  It is written and directed by Michel Hazanavicius and stars Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo.

It is Hollywood (or rather, Hollywoodland), 1927 – George Valentin (Dujardin) is the star of Kinograph Studios’ silent film productions.  After a screening of one of Valentin’s films, the star is signing autographs and getting photographed by the press.  A young woman, Peppy Miller (Bejo) bumps into him, and the star poses for a photo with her.  This encounter inspires the girl to audition at Kinograph, and she is initially featured as a dancer in one of the films, but soon rises to become a star in her own right.

As years pass, sound films make their appearance, and Kinograph decides to stop production of silent films.  They sign on Peppy Miller as their new ‘fresh face’.  Valentin though does not believe that sound films have a future.  Will his pride lead to his downfall?

It’s always interesting to see this type of “film about the film industry” (the most recent one I saw before this being The Dirty Picture) – a common thread running through them is that one can fall as quickly as one can rise, and that nothing is permanent.

The Artist is a wonderfully well-made movie – the photography, production design, costumes and music all serve to recreate the look and feel of a silent film brilliantly.  You’ll notice that it is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio as opposed to being in widescreen (check this Wikipedia article on the Academy Ratio).  The acting is terrific by all, including by a dog who steals the show every time he is on screen!  The movie is not 100% silent – as you will see, there are some very clever uses of sound and music.

Apart from the technical aspects, it’s a very charming movie, and if you are watching it, you should enjoy it on a big screen.

Rating: 8/10

Note: As far as I could tell, the typography in the movie is respectful to the period it is set in.  Look at the title of the movie, for example.  It looks like it really came from an old movie.  This use of old-type fonts in a title sequence reminded me of Quentin Tarantino, who used a similar style in Kill Bill Vol 2, and oddly enough, Rob Zombie, whose The Haunted World of El Superbeasto had classic film-inspired titles.

Someone like Mark Simonson would have a field day analysing this movie from a “type” point of view (he’s written a number of very interesting articles on his site about uses of fonts in movies – which are accurate in some instances but not so much in others, like this example from Back to the Future Part III).

Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu

I don’t normally watch romantic comedies, but I saw Shakun Batra’s Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu on opening day (10-Feb-12) with two friends of mine at PVR Cinemas at Chandigarh.  I’d started writing this review on the day I was travelling back from Chandigarh to Hyderabad, but didn’t get around to completing it.

The movie is still in theatres, so I am not too late in posting this, I guess!  A few days later, and the movie will be out on DVD!

The movie stars Imran Khan as Rahul Kapoor, a 25 year old architect who lives in Las Vegas.  His parents (played by Boman Irani and Ratna Pathak Shah) have planned every aspect of his life (career, relationships) – and he has never gone against their wishes.  The movie’s plot is put into motion with Rahul losing his job.  He starts attending therapy sessions, and at one of these visits, he meets Riana Braganza (Kareena Kapoor).

Riana works as a hair stylist, but she is also out of a job, and has just got out of a relationship.  She mistakes Rahul for a stalker sent by her ex-boyfriend.  When she realises that she was wrong, she tries to make it up to Rahul and they meet in the evening on Christmas Eve.

Riana is free in all the ways that Rahul is not – and she tries to get Rahul to unwind.  As a result, they get totally wasted – and to their horror, realise the next morning that they’ve gotten married to each other at one of those wedding chapels where couples do foolish things like this without thinking.

They decide to get the marriage annulled – but it will take a few days for the paperwork to go through, and in that time, as you’d expect, the two become close to each other.  I thought the movie handled the relationship between the two really well.  Such movies probably have a tendency to turn into a sappy, sugary love story (then again, since I don’t watch many such movies, I can’t say this as a fact).  This one didn’t, it was funny and sweet, and nicely acted.  Being only 110 min long it doesn’t overstay its welcome and is easy to watch.

The movie’s songs are by Amit Trivedi and Amitabh Bhattacharya, and they’re good, as is the music score by Amit Trivedi.  The movie looked very nice (director of photography is  David MacDonald), it looked colourful without being garish and loud.

I had a lot of fun with it – while it’s not absolutely essential that it be watched on a big screen, you’ll be able to enjoy the cinematography and production design better that way.  If you’ve not got the chance to see it in the theatre, you can catch it on DVD once it’s out.

Rating: 8/10

Camera Spotting:

  • Riana presents Rahul with a classic-looking camera in the movie.  It looked like a Leica but since I don’t know about older cameras I couldn’t identify it exactly.  The camera’s brand was not visible on screen.
  • Towards the end, Rahul appears to be using a DSLR.  Again that appears on screen very briefly and it’s a wide shot so I couldn’t make out what type of camera it was.  I’ll look again once the movie is on DVD.
  • The camera is probably a Canon EOS 5D Mark II.  The reason I say this is, I checked out two videos on YouTube after my friend told me about them – apparently, during the filming of the movie, Imran Khan took candid photos of his co-star Kareena Kapoor and had an exhibition of them – Video 1, Video 2.

As evidenced by the red border on the strap, the lack of a popup flash on the camera, and the overall size of the camera, this is a 5D Mark II with an external battery grip.  It’s probably the same camera that his character was using at the end of the movie.

The bright poster designs for the movie are done by the firm Marching Ants, and they were designed by Raj Khatri who also did the posters for The Dirty Picture, Players and the upcoming Agent Vinod and Kahaani.  You can view his work on deviantART here and connect with him on Facebook here.