Parasite – Review

I had heard about Parasite from a friend, but was not getting enough time to watch it. To be totally honest, I tend to procrastinate watching movies in foreign languages as it takes me more time to follow.


Parasite is a South Korean dark comedy thriller film, directed by Bong Joon Ho.

It is a story of an underprivileged family. Everyone in the family is smart but unemployed when the movie starts. As the movie progresses, they manage to con a wealthy family and end up working for them.

Then something unexpected happens and it changes the lives of both the families.

The social satire is shown through a very simple story of two families. The writing is to the point and smartly funny. The movie connects with the viewers from the word go.

The cinematography and screenplay is a visual treat, be it the wide outdoors or the shots inside the house. Also, the background music enhances the mood of every scene.

Last but not the least, the actors have done a splendid job. Their work seemed very fresh and effortless. As far as I am concerned, it felt very refreshing to me. Others might differ on this as I haven’t seen much content in the similar space.

The story very intelligently differentiates the rich and the poor by using rain metaphorically. A night’s rain floods the entire neighborhood of the poor, whereas it’s a very calming and beautiful event for the rich. This shows how a beautiful message can be conveyed through a scene, instead of focusing on specific character development.

The amalgamation of light comedy and suspense makes Parasite a modern day masterpiece.

Parasite at the Oscars

Parasite was nominated for Best Picture, Original Screenplay, Direction, Film Editing, Production Design and International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards.

Parasite is the first foreign language film to win Best Picture at the Oscars. Also, Bong Joon Ho is the first South Korean director to win the Best Director Award.

Akash Chaudhuri
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The Diary of a Young Girl – Review

Author: Annelies Marie (Anne) Frank
Edited By: Otto H. Frank and Mirjam Pressler
Translated By: Susan Massotty
Publisher: Amazing Reads
Pages: 315

Anne Frank was a Jewish teenage girl from Frankfurt, Germany. She was a happy, cheerful and chatty soul. The Frank family (father Otto Frank, mother Edith Frank and elder sister Margot Frank) moved to Amsterdam when Anne was four. Everything was normal and they were leading a happy life in Holland.

On her thirteenth birthday, Anne received a red and white checked diary along with many other gifts. She named this diary ‘Kitty‘ and started penning down her day to day thoughts in it.

Problems started after May 1940, with the arrival of the Germans and with them came in numerous restrictions on Jews.

During the war, Germans started to send call-ups for deporting Jews to Nazi forced-labor camps in Germany. This forced many Jews to conceal. The Frank family found a hiding place (Secret Annex) in Otto Frank’s office building. Their entire time in hiding was spent in fear. Not in fear of dying. But in fear of getting caught by the Nazis.

In her diary, Anne wrote about how they lived, what they ate and what they talked about as Jews in hiding.

“Terrible things are happening outside. At any time of night and day, poor helpless people are being dragged out of their homes. They’re allowed to take only a knapsack and a little cash with them, and even then, they’re robbed of these possessions on the way. Families are torn apart; men, women and children are separated. Children come home from school to find that their parents have disappeared. Women return from shopping to find their houses sealed, their families gone. The Christians in Holland are also living in fear because their sons are being sent to Germany. Everyone is scared. Every night hundred of planes pass over Holland on their way to German cities, to sow their bombs on German soil.”

The above passage clearly explains the fear and tension in Amsterdam during the second world war.

Anne also expressed her interests and views on politics, religion, mythology, foreign languages, genealogical trees and what not. She was certainly not like any other teenager. She was well read and knowledgeable. She had opinions about things which other teenagers were completely unaware of.

“Paper has more patience than people.”

“Memories mean more to me than dresses.”

“Laugh at everything and forget everybody else.”

“Laziness may look inviting, but only work gives you true satisfaction.”

Lines like these speak largely about her mood, character and personality.

The diary accounts for Anne’s experiences from 12th June 1942 to 1st August 1944. On 4th August 1944, the residents of the Secret Annex were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Later the diary of Anne Frank was published as a book and is still considered as one of the most relevant historical documents of the second world war.

The book has personal experiences of many historical events like persecution of the Jews from Germany and suffering of the Dutch under German occupation. The story of Anne Frank is equally disturbing and inspirational, disturbing because of their struggles as Jews in hiding and inspirational because of their will to fight against all odds. This makes The Diary of a Young Girl one of those books that everyone should read at least once in their lives.

Akash Chaudhuri
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Hogenakkal Falls – The Niagara of South India

It was second of October and we had a national holiday in India on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary. So, we set out to visit the Hogenakkal Falls.

Hogenakkal Falls is located in the Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu. The falls can be viewed from both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu as it lies on the border. Also, this is the point where river Kaveri enters the state of Tamil Nadu.

Hogenakkal greeted us with ample sunlight. This was not much of a surprise as the sun rarely feels diffident at most places in Tamil Nadu.

Once you reach Hogenakkal, you have to walk down a few stairs to get tickets for the coracle ride. Coracles are small and round boats made out of bamboo. Coracle or as the locals call it ‘parisal‘ is one of the main attractions there. Hogenakkal Falls is not accessible by land and one can only reach the falls by water.

The place was crowded as it was a public holiday. We, who don’t speak the native tongue, generally face problems in long queues. We waited for our turn and received our tickets.

A maximum of five including the helmsman were allowed in a boat. We had to take two coracles as we were eight in number.

On the way to Hogenakkal Falls

The coracle ride over river Kaveri was fascinating. Coracles, being small and round shaped boats, turn both clockwise and anti-clockwise depending on the way one rows it.

The helmsman gave us a nice swirl. First clockwise and then anti-clockwise. This swirling and whirling was certainly high on adrenaline, but it assailed me a faint rotatory vertigo.

Coracles at Hogenakkal

After half an hour of riding through the waters, we reached the falls and were welcomed by the most beautiful views of Hogenakkal.

Hogenakkal Falls

The river is surrounded by hills and dense forests. The gushing river water drops into a semi-round cavity and forms the Hogenakkal Falls.

Situated at a distance of 127 kms from the IT capital of India, Hogenakkal Falls, popularly known as the Niagara of South India, is a good one day trip destination from Bangalore.

Akash Chaudhuri
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The Reluctant Fundamentalist – Review

Author: Mohsin Hamid
Publisher: Penguin Group
Pages: 184

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a metafictional novel by Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid. The story is a dramatic monologue with an autodiegetic narrative.

The story starts at a cafe in Lahore, where Changez, a bearded Pakistani man meets a foreigner. Changez presumes him to be an American by his built. He volunteers to introduce this stranger to different Lahori delicacies. They sit down in a cafe and as dusk deepens to dark, Changez talks about his years in America.

Changez had moved to New Jersey from Lahore to study Finance at the Princeton University. He was also a part of the varsity soccer team, but had to discontinue playing due to an injury. In his final year, he got recruited by the Underwood & Samson Company, a small valuation firm who hired less but paid maximum.

On a trip to Greece from Princeton, Changez meets Erica. They feel a striking emotional bond from the conversations they have there. Their relationship unfolds and gets complicated as the story progresses.

After having spent four years in New Jersey for college, Changez moved to New York to join the Underwood and Samson Company, where he was a part of a team of five. The team members were both different and similar. Different because of the gender and racial diversity. Similar because all of them belonged to elite universities like Harvard, Princeton, Stanford and Yale.

During his stay in New York, he often thought about how New York was different from Lahore.

“Pakistan was many things, from sea-side to desert to farmland stretched between rivers and canals.”

Whereas, America had universities with funding more than the national budget of education in Pakistan.

The story takes a turn when Changez visits Philippines on his first work assignment. On 11th September, his last day at Philippines, a hijacked plane crashed into the World Trade Center at New York and everything changed overnight. He is then detained at the airport while returning to New York and is released only after hours of questioning.

He gets back to work, but keeps on hearing that Pakistani cab drivers were being beaten, mosques, shops and even people’s houses were being raided by the FBI. Changez thought all these to be rumors and certainly exaggerated. He thought these things happen to the poor and not to Princeton graduates earning eighty thousand dollars a year. But, disappearances of Muslim men and ghostly night-vision images of American troops dropping into Afghanistan were the only stories on news.

He just couldn’t take his mind away from this. It worried him as his family was still in Pakistan and Afghanistan was a neighbor to Pakistan. Muslims in America started to face discrimination in the business world. Rescinded job offers and groundless dismissals became very common.

That December, Changez travels to Lahore and finds out “things are not good”.

He fights a mental crisis and has doubts about his identity. Where does he belong to? America? Pakistan? Or neither? He is both nostalgic and cynical at the same time. He feels confused.

He returns to New York after spending few weeks at Lahore. He gets back to work, but continues to ponder over many scattered thoughts.

Finally, one day he decides to quit his job and permanently moves to Lahore.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is an abstract and intelligently framed story. It continuously plays with your imagination and psyche. The narrative is unconventional but exciting. Also, being an Indian, the story gave me a different insight to the events of 9/11.

Akash Chaudhuri
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The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari – Review

Author: Robin Sharma
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House
Pages: 196

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is a story about Julian Mantle, a brilliant, handsome and fearless trial attorney. A Harvard Law School graduate turned litigation lawyer whose courtroom theatrics regularly made the front pages of the newspaper.

Julian was very successful and affluent. He had a great professional reputation, a seven figure income, a spectacular mansion in a neighborhood favored by celebrities, a private jet, a summer home on a tropical island and a prized possession – a shiny red Ferrari.

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is about a physically, emotionally and spiritually drained workaholic lawyer.

John, who was a junior to Julian, sees everything very closely. Julian had selected him to be his assistant for a case which later came to be known as “The Mother of all Murder Trials”.

The story begins when Julian Mantle suffers a heart attack on a Monday morning in the very court room where he had won many cases. Post the heart attack, Julian quits his law firm, sells all his material possessions and decides to set out on a spiritual journey to India.

The story skips to three years later when Julian returns to visit John.

When Julian had left for India, he was fifty-three years old and looked as if he was in his late seventies. Whereas, he looked much younger and appeared to be in pink health on his return. John was surprised to see this incredible transformation. He couldn’t believe that his former colleague, who always used to have a morbid expression, was now glowing radiantly.

Julian wondered in disbelief.

“Was it some magical drug that had allowed him to drink from the fountain of youth? What was the cause of this extraordinary reversal?”

John asks Julian about the secret behind this magical transformation.

Julian narrates his experiences and learning from his time in India and how he met the Mystic Sages of Sivana. He shares all the wisdom that he had learned to lead a more prosperous and rewarding life. He tells how physical, emotional and spiritual goal setting is as important as our materialistic goals. He describes all these life lessons through a fable which he had learned from the Sages of Sivana.

The book relays many secrets of leading a purposeful life. Although, it becomes monotonous and repetitive at times, it explains every life changing practice with logic and reason.

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is not just a tale of wisdom from the mystical land of Sivana, it also raises some very hard and realistic questions to the modern way of life.

Akash Chaudhuri
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If God Was A Banker – Review

Author: Ravi Subramanian
Rupa. Co

If God Was A Banker is a story about two management graduates (Sundeep and Swami) working their way up the corporate ladder. Sundeep from IIM Bangalore and Swami from IIM Ahmedabad met each other on their first day at the New York International Bank (NYB). Aditya, Head of Retail Banking for NYB in India hired both of them as they were the top minds of their respective institutes.

Both Sundeep and Swami had great intellect, but contrasting personalities.

Sundeep had no conscience and was everready to cross any limit for meeting his deadlines. Whereas, Swami would never compromise on his values, be it at the cost of falling behind in the race.  

Sundeep, son of an Army Major and the winner of the Director’s Gold Medal for the best all-round performance at IIM-Bangalore was overconfident and dynamic. 

On the contrary, Swami belonged to a very humble background. He lost his father very early and his mother had to work extremely hard to raise Swami and his sister.

If God Was A Banker

The story begins on a cold and dark winter morning in New York, where Sundeep is lying on his bed staring at the chandelier. He couldn’t sleep the entire night before as something had been bothering him. He had a meeting with the Group CEO of NYB the next day and the agenda was the poor and unethical conduct that Sundeep had shown over his time at NYB. The entire story unfolds as Sundeep ponders over his past while waiting for this meeting. 

He goes back to the starting days, when he and Swami joined NYB together as management freshers and what led him to this current situation. He repents about how things could have gone differently.

It is a classic tale of what happens when success gets into one’s head. The book is very gripping and continuously shows us the difference between breaking rules and playing by the rules.

The book also throws plenty of light on the financial domain and corporate politics. Overall, If God Was A Banker is definitely a page-turner.

Akash Chaudhuri
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Savandurga Hill Fort Trek

A friend of mine had come from Hyderabad to visit me for a week. The vacations were about to end and we had nothing planned as such. We made a sudden plan and decided to go for a trek to Savandurga.

Savandurga is a hill 60 kms west of Bengaluru. It is a part of the Deccan plateau and is considered one of the largest monoliths of Asia. Savandurga is very popular among rock climbers and hiking enthusiasts. Weather plays a very important role as far as climbing or trekking is concerned. It’s really difficult to climb Savandurga on a bright sunny day. That’s why many prefer a midnight trek over a day trek at Savandurga.

We started early from Electronics City and reached Savandurga around 11 in the morning. It was the month of October and the weather was friendlier.

Veerabhadraswamy Temple at the foot of the hill marks the starting point of the trek. We started our climb and as we progressed, the weather no more seemed friendly. The terrain was rocky and very highly inclined at places. It’s so steep that anything you drop might roll down the slope even before noticing.

Onwards and Upwards

Savandurga is also one of the most popular places for serious slab climbing in the world.  A pretty nice view of the forest below accompanies you throughout the climb. The view gets better the higher you get. You will also find small stretches of jungle and old fort walls towards the later stage of the climb.

We climbed, stopped, rested and struggled our way to the top.

View from the top

Visiting Savandurga is a must for adventure enthusiasts in and around Bengaluru. Good pair of climbing shoes, plenty of water and will to reach the top is all you need!

Akash Chaudhuri
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