So you wanna watch something…
Indian Predator: The Diary of a Serial Killer: Why not begin your weekend with some grisly true crime? If nothing else, things can only get rosier in your life after that. This new season of the crime documentary series is based on the true story of a serial killer who beheaded individuals who possessed qualities he envied—and then stewed their brains in a boiling pot… and drank the soup!
While the first instalment of this series was underwhelming, The Hindu says the show has redeemed itself with a “well-crafted narrative that explores the psyche of a terrifying killer while also employing different social lenses to look at his story”—including his identity as a marginalised tribal. Indian Express is less impressed with “the ‘sansani khez’ storytelling style” and says it is every bit as “salacious” as the first season. The series is available on Netflix.
Pinocchio: If you’re in the mood for something lighter, check out the new live-action version of the classic ‘Pinocchio’ based on Carlo Collodi’s 1883 novel. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, the story remains unchanged. Geppetto (Tom Hanks)—the lonely woodworker who has lost his son—creates Pinocchio (voiced by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth). His wish to make him “real” is granted by the Blue Fairy (Cynthia Erivo) and the puppet takes the long journey—with many adventures in-between—to become human. It is, of course, a family friendly movie with kids as the target audience—though it’s hard to think of any child who considers it their favourite.
The Guardian says that while it is “competently crafted, dutifully acted, clearly laboured over with soul,” it is still “never not weird, on a visual level, to watch a CGI puppet interact with real humans.” Scroll agrees, saying that it is too slick, and fails to capture any sense of wonder. Watch it on Disney+ Hotstar.
Brahmāstra Part One: Shiva: The much awaited Karan Johar film is among the most expensive Bollywood films produced. From what we can discern, the plot revolves around a group of sages who protect the astras (sacred weapons)—each of which command different sources of divine energy, such as water, wind and fire. They are part of a secret society—called the Brahmānsh led by the Guru (Amitabh Bachchan). Ranbir Kapoor plays Shiva—who discovers the world of astras—specifically the one connected to fire. His job is to foil the villain who wants the ultimate weapon—aka Brahmāstra—and save his lady love (Alia Bhatt) and ultimately, the world—as one must in these kinds of movies.
The reviews aren’t in yet but the plot seems to have borrowed very liberally from ‘X-Men’—by way of the Avatar anime series. Add in rousing music, extreme CGI and Shah Rukh Khan, you have all the makings of an excellent Bollywood flick. And frankly, we’re here for the shirtless SRK, if nothing else. The film releases in theatres today.
So you wanna listen to something…
Podcast: Mumbai Crime. Vikas Swarup’s novel ‘Q&A’ was first brought to life by Danny Boyle’s Oscar-winning 2009 film, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. This time, it gets a podcast reboot—that was first recorded as a radio drama on BBC Radio 4. The award-winning first season was recorded on the streets of Mumbai. Like the best kind of radio play, it is immersive and atmospheric with some very good voice acting. The plot builds slowly keeping the suspense going. It’s a great way to experience the story—especially if you found the movie version problematic or simply skipped it. Hear it on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
A list of good reads
- Film Companion has an excellent read on romcoms—and why there are so few that are any good. The essay ranges from ‘Liger’ to ‘The Next 365 Days’ and K-dramas, explaining why a good romcom is hard to find.
- New York Times looks at India’s EV revolution—powered not by expensive cars but two-and three-wheeled electric vehicles.
- Animal species can be vulnerable or endangered but this Vox article looks at the several thousand that are simply “missing”—and the efforts to find them.
- Scroll offers a sobering read on the exodus of young Muslim people out of India.
- Also in Scroll: the horrors of queer conversion therapy in India.
- Food writer and critic Vir Sanghvi in Hindustan Times has a handy guide to his favourite places to eat in Goa—and the best dishes on their menu.
- The Guardian explains the use of nature as a weapon in war—an age-old practice that now has a new name: WarWilding. The good news: it can be used to revive habitats, as well.
- Group-chat exhaustion is real, and The Cut explains how making the dreaded exit could actually benefit your friendships.
- After all the talk about ‘quiet quitting’—basically, doing the minimum to keep your job—Fortune looks at ‘quiet’ firing’. Yup, it’s the all too familiar tactic of making someone so miserable that they quit.
- We think of studying abroad as a privilege reserved for urban Indians. Mint reports on an exodus of rural students who are scrambling to get a foreign degree—which offers an exit from their dead end lives.
- Can you really get as ripped as Nicole Kidman is, in your 50’s? According to The Guardian the answer is both yes and no. You can, but getting there might come with other, avoidable problems.