Weekend Advisory

So you wanna watch something...

Eternals: This is one you’re either going to love or hate. Directed by Oscar winning director Chloé Zhao, this is the latest offering from the Marvel Universe. There's a lot to love about it—including a highly diverse, A-list cast that includes Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek. And yet Daily Beast calls it “one of Marvel’s emptiest movies yet.” The Guardian acknowledges this is a “big” movie in every sense—both in terms of visual spectacle and a storyline that “spans the entire globe and the entirety of human civilisation.” But it requires so much backstory that it feels like “a very sophisticated PowerPoint presentation.” Eternals premiers in theatres on November 5.


Spencer: This is not just another royal family biopic. Spread across three days at Sandringham Estate, it tracks the dissolution of both Princess Diana’s marriage and her emotional and mental health. But don’t expect a straight-forward narrative in this movie that revels in the bizarre and the absurd. The Guardian calls it “a full-blown Gothic nightmare,” while Variety describes it as “a royal version of ‘The Shining.’” Point to note: All agree Kristen Stewart as Diana is amazing. Drops in cinemas on November 5.


The Electrical Life of Louis Wain: This one is for lovers of Benedict Cumberbatch and cartoons. It charts the zany life of Louis Wain—a 19th century artist best known for his distinctive sketches of cats. New York Times describes it as a “poignant biographical portrait… tethered by a garrulous, lightly funny script”—but warns that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Available on Amazon Prime on November 5.


Meenakshi Sundareshwar: Set in Madurai, this Bollywood film follows a pair of newly-weds as they navigate living in separate cities—along with joint families, and the inevitable awkwardness of a new relationship. Since it is a Karan Johar production, everyone's a little worried if it will wallow in the usual ‘Madrasi’ stereotypes—and the trailer appears to have plenty of them: Rajnikanth fan, engineering graduate, vibhuthi smear on forehead etc. OTOH, there is no exaggerated Tamil accent. Director Vivek Soni said: “We have made a Hindi film set in the south, eventually it is a Hindi film.” Wait, wasn’t that Chennai Express? Available on Netflix on November 5.


A list of good reads

  • A State Bank of India report claims that our informal economy has shrunk from 52% to 15% of the GDP in just three years. Quartz explains why experts are sceptical of that claim.
  • From meatless meat to 3D printed burgers, BBC News offers an interesting look at food innovations that can fight climate change.
  • Also from BBC News: an eye-opening video report on Uppada—a coastal village in Andhra Pradesh that is disappearing due to rising sea levels.
  • Is it a really good idea to kick the kids out the door at 18—or is this a giant capitalist scam to make all of us spend more? ​​This thought-provoking Twitter thread makes you wonder. Also: The best Amreeki argument for the Indian joint family.
  • National Geographic offers a fascinating look at the oldest mummies in the world. No, they’re not in Egypt but in Chile—and in great danger of being destroyed. 
  • Shobhit Mahajan in the Indian Express skewers the idea of India’s demographic dividend—and flags the great mismatch between a college graduate’s aspirations and the jobs at hand.
  • Imagine a really funny, even witty scientific research paper? You can’t? Well, then you haven’t read this brilliant and in-depth analysis of James Bond's exposure to infectious agents. Sample: “We uncovered above-average sexual activity, often without sufficient time for an exchange of sexual history, with a remarkably high mortality among Bond's sexual partners (27.1; 95% confidence interval 16.4–40.3).”
  • Just in time for Diwali, Caravan magazine has two wonderful essays. One is on the many Islamic iterations of the Ramayana—where Hindu gods are often replaced by Allah or Adam. The other is on the ethnic histories of Ram and Krishna.
  • Why do we have casual sex? Zhana Vrangalova in the New Yorker offers some interesting answers.
  • Another very good New Yorker deep dive answers a different pressing question: Why do some people have way more energy than others?
  • We’ve not been able to bring ourselves to cover this in the news section. But Indian Express has everything you need to know about Aroosa Alam—the Pakistani journalist who is in the middle of a political firestorm in Punjab because of her relationship with former CM Amarinder Singh.
  • Naheed Ataulla in The News Minute has a wonderful profile of legendary actor Rajkumar and his family—including his son Puneeth who recently died—and their aversion to politics.
  • A good watch: Speaking of silver screen sweethearts, The Print has a great video interview with Shrayana Bhattacharya whose latest book takes an intimate look at the women fans who love Shahrukh Khan.
  • A good listen: This episode of the Sandip Roy Show with Dr Sulochana Gadgil—who talks about the myths and realities surrounding the Indian monsoon—is simply unmissable. Trust us. It isn’t what you expect.
  • Worth your attention: This Twitter thread offers an eye-opening tale of what it’s like to be a same sex couple trying to open an account at Axis bank—yup, the same bank that made great PR hay of its #ComeAsYouAre and #DilSeOpen campaigns.
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