Year: 2018

Best Posters of Malayalam Cinema in 2018

I am a sucker for posters. They are one of my favourite design objects to look at. As an Engineering student, I used to design posters for my college’s annual cultural events and would spend a good time working on them. Because I used to heavily depend on stock images while grabbing ideas off the internet, I understand how difficult it is to design them. And when it comes to films, it is often out of just an idea. First-look posters have to attract a film’s target audience while depending on that tiny idea sitting only in the director’s head. That is why talking about their beauty and appreciating the best ones as well as their creators are important.

Here is a list of posters that were created for Malayalam films that released in 2018. In no specific order; and images sourced from IMP Awards, IMDb, or the film’s respective Facebook pages, with proper credits attributed wherever expected.

These are the best Malayalam posters of 2018:

Carbon film poster
Produced by Poetry Film House

Designed by Oldmonks, the posters for Venu’s adventure drama film Carbon perfectly encapsulates the hidden meaning behind the title as well as the central character’s selfish odyssey. Note the elongated hexagonal outline of the poster as well as the geometrical shapes in the title font and then read the tagline.

Ee Ma Yau poster
Produced by RGK Cinema

I am not a fan of posters that are not vertical (portrait) in shape, yet I cannot resist raving about this poster designed by Oldmonks for Lijo Jose Pellissery’s sombre drama Ee.Ma.Yau. In the film, the titular character dreams of being sent to the Gods on a gigantic coffin with pomp and circumstance. And with this striking first-look poster, we exactly know how big (“breaching a coastline” big), while giving you a bad taste of death and horror along the way.

Dakini Malayalam film poster
Produced by Universal Cinema and Urvasi Theatres

Rahul Riji Nair’s zany crime comedy drama Dakini certainly switched ON the hype through its series of vibrant posters designed by digital artist Prathool N T. I love the title font so much that I just cannot decide between it and the poster’s magnificent colour scheme. Nowhere has a team of four grandmas looked old, lovable, and wicked at the same time. But I don’t think I can forgive the makers for the missing Oxford comma. (Just kidding!)

Trivia – What is surprising to me is that the artist also developed the publicity designs for Rosshan Andrrews’s period crime drama Kayamkulam Kochunni. Which are better than the ones designed by Thought Station that went live.

Lilli Malayalam film poster
Produced by E4 Entertainment

Prasobh Vijayan’s crime drama Lilli ran a pretty successful campaign before its release, thanks to ample help from Oldmonks who only raised the bar if we compare this with their first two designs on this list. Giving the central and titular character a bouquet of lilies to hold, a crown of thorns to wear, and an aura, and then framing her as a character in a High Renaissance painting makes me want to print it (frescoed, if possible) and gift it to a friend so that he can expand his own Sistine Chapel collection of movie posters.

Varathan Malayalam film poster
Produced by Fahadh Faasil and Friends

The neon colour scheme, especially in the title font, made me spit out my coffee the first time I saw the Oldmonks-designed first poster of Amal Neerad’s uppity crime drama Varathan. And then I stopped having coffee for some time because with each poster coming out (even the character ones), I was getting this strange, negative vibe – something bad is going to happen to the lead characters that will unshape their relationship. That is exactly what the film wanted to convey. And it is.

Padayottam Malayalam movie poster
Produced by Weekend Blockbusters

Another poster designed by Prathool N T, the rusty, neon-induced shades added more fun and expectations to Rafeek Ibrahim’s gritty crime comedy Padayottam. It is when you realize that the character (played by Biju Menon) you see in the poster is not as terrifying as he seems to be in the film is what makes this more interesting. (Like an anti-promotion stunt, if you will.) Posters so colourful like these for films like these make me secure my faith in Malayalam cinema.

Ranam Malayalam film poster
Produced by Yes Cinema

With Nirmal Sahadev’s crime drama Ranam (also known as Detroit Crossing), Oldmonks add some Western touch to their design (and rightly so), which makes this poster featuring the ensemble cast look like that of a potential Hollywood blockbuster. Do note the neonized font for the title in Malayalam text.

Iblis Malayalam film poster
Produced by Ichais Productions

Designed by nologomedia, this charming poster for Rohith V S’s fantasy love story Iblis has not only a beautiful, BEAUTIFUL title font but also fantastical factors etched into each and every one of its pixels, which gives you every bit of a hint about what to expect. Iblis is also the third film on this list so far to feature its actors’ names on the posters, which surely is a welcome move by Malayalam cinema at large if you ask me.

Neerali Malayalam film poster
Produced by Moonshot Entertainments

Oldmonks give Ajoy Varma’s slipshod survival drama Neerali (or Nieraali) a more direct reference to its title (which means Octopus) than the director himself gave to the film. The immensely likable designs with a heavy dose of honey yellow scattered across the posters, and an intelligent hue spectrum on specifically the one above, made me go gaga.

Thobama Malayalam film poster
Produced by Radical Cinemas and Thekkepat Films

Designed by 24AM, the poster design for Mohsin Kassim’s ode to romance Thobama gives out a peculiarly oldies vibe (of a time) when you used to hang out with your colleagues on the madhil and whistle at the beauties of your college (which, at the moment, is a type of eve-teasing). It’s supposed to be nonchalant and nostalgic and it very well is, with some amazing use of the watercolour effect.

Trivia – 24AM rose to instant popularity when their butterfly logo on the posters for Alphonse Putharen’s Premam went viral.

Aabhaasam Malayalam film poster
Produced by Spire Productions and Collective Phase One

Designed by artist Pavi Sankar, the posters for Jubith Namradath’s social satire Aabhaasam are as raunchy and vivid as the film’s characters and the central theme. There would be no one person who will look at this piece of art and not want to consider consuming the full content. I remember the publicity team had also released a slightly risque-y poster on social media once the film was certified by the CBFC after much controversy. And it was equally awe-inspiring. Just bravo!

Eeda Malayalam film poster
Produced by Delta Studio and Collective Phase One

One of the best Malayalam movies of 2018, B Ajithkumar’s powerful romance story narrated against a political backdrop Eeda really took the rawness and realism of its theme to a higher level with this poster. Not only does it adopt the “put the ensemble” route – like Dakini, Ranam, and Aabhaasam – but also takes its title font so seriously that it evokes memories of a certain political theory popular in Kannur (and Kerala, in general) where the film is set. It is designed by Oldmonks.

Aami Malayalam film poster
Produced by Reel and Real Cinema

Last on this list is – for the eighth time – an Oldmonks design where they give a subtle nod to the film’s primary subject (legendary writer Kamala Surayya) and her ink-y writings that not only wreaked havoc in her own life but also kicked up a furore in the sensitive literary, political, and religious spheres. What better use of the smudge tool than on a poster for a film that talks about how a person is oppressed by the society because of their outspoken writing. This is for Kamal’s hard-hitting biopic Aami.

These are the 13 best posters that helped Malayalam cinema go the extra mile in its promotions in 2018. I wanted to list more posters (considering around a hundred fifty films released this year) and write about their designers to give them more exposure but I feel doing that would take the focus off from these pieces of remarkable creative art. TN.

My Experience at IMDb’s First-Ever Contributor Meet-Up

IMDb 2018 merchandise

2018 has been very special for me. Especially for my passive association with cinema. I wrote for Little India Directory; I completed 1000 movie reviews (of which over 125 were written this year) on IMDb; and for the first time in four years, I attended all the seven days of the (20th edition of the) Mumbai Film Festival in October this year and caught a record 13 films including the opening and closing films. The fest was perhaps the most exhilarating experience I had all year, which I would compare with my time at the fabulous Young Critics Lab in 2017. 

And then – to top everything – on 11 December I attended IMDb’s first-ever contributor meet-up here in Mumbai. It was unusual of me to go considering I often get cold feet as the day of such events approaches and eventually back out because of a passive case of social anxiety. But that would have meant going against the promise I made to myself earlier in 2018: to invest on experiences. And not on materialistic stuff like wristwatches and jackets and coffee mugs and pens. It is for the same reason why I often forcibly find myself going to soirees and catch-up parties organized by the overzealous HR at work including the one planned for Christmas next week. Gosh, I can’t wait for the Secret Santa activity as I hope to receive either a watch or a jacket. Fingers crossed!

Since I had no idea what the agenda was for the day or even what to expect at the event, I was unsure about going till even the previous day. I emailed one of the staff overseeing content at IMDb to get some idea about it, but all they said was that it was going to be a casual tête-à-tête with other contributors as well as the Founder and CEO Col Needham. I was curious to know more so I finally decided to go. And I did. Unbeknownst to the fact that it would take me by surprise.

This is my personal account of the day-long activities that happened at the casual meet-up at Sofitel in BKC, Mumbai. 

Who Attended?

A total of 19 contributors from different parts of the country were invited for the event. People from different walks of life who have been submitting kilobytes and megabytes of data for years (and even decades) were contacted and their presence ensured by the lovely and relentless Prachi Salgia, Program Manager of Digital Video at Amazon. She also played host for the entire day along with her colleagues – Vandana Pillai (with whom I exchanged the traditional question, “Where are you from in Kerala?), Sneha Shukla, and Neha Gureja, who had come all the way down from Seattle for the session.

The session’s attendance stood at 100%, a fact that I believe made the IMDb folks very happy. (Neha even suggested that there could be a second one soon.) But what was more exciting to me was to meet Anoop Varghese, a fellow contributor on IMDb and one of its top 250 worldwide contributors in 2016 and 2017, who focuses on Malayalam cinema. In fact, Anoop and I have been working together on lists about upcoming Malayalam films at least since 2016 and have only exchanged a few messages when the platform’s Message Boards was still alive. Seeing him at the event was a good enough start for me, helping me keep aside the anxiety I was trying to ignore.

Other than Anoop, I had previously interacted with Dibyayan Chakravorty over at Get Satisfaction. And because of him, I have my first-ever poll live now. (Vote if you can.) We also had Zachary Coffin, a professional actor, amongst us. I knew that I had seen him somewhere and it was only after the first few hours that I realized who he was. For the uninitiated, he was last seen in the Zee5 Original starring, Tigers (2018).

We were also lucky to interact with Col for close to an hour when he took us through the birth and history of IMDb, and quite animatedly, I should say. It was interesting to hear the history from the person who had created it, especially when he attached shoots of trivia and personal anecdotes with it, including the fact about who was the first film person to have their biography published on the platform. (Any guesses?)

Towards the end, we also interacted with Hindi screenwriter Mayur Puri, best known for his award-winning dialogues for Farah Khan’s Om Shanti Om (2007). Competing with Col’s animated antics was Mayur who talked about the essence of Hindi cinema, again garnishing it with interesting trivia of his own.

All in all, it was supposed to be a day full of interactive discussions about Indian cinema and IMDb. And having experienced it first-hand, while at the comfort of some delicious food by Sofitel, I would say it was a 100% success. (I hope this acts as a cue for Prachi and Neha).

Here’s a bit more about the meet-up so that you know what to expect if it is organized in your country next. 

IMDb and Me

I have been on IMDb since 12 July 2012. Yet it was only in October 2012 that I posted my first review (for a film that released in the same year – Anwar Rasheed’s Malayalam-language drama Ustad Hotel). From then on, I have been continuously publishing reviews (1078 write-ups as of 19 December 2018), making edits to titles and biographies, creating lists (mostly focusing on Malayalam cinema), and lastly, simply being amazed at all the data that the platform houses.

One of the major reasons why I transitioned from a basic user – just rating and reviewing films – to a data contributor was because of my obsession with filling up incomplete data. When I started out – sometime in 2015 – a lot of titles I was interested in was either missing or had incomplete information. This triggered a sort of passive OCD in me to begin adding data that I know was true and verifiable, much like how Col first began adding data to his database on an email access system.

While I contributed and still do so as to help people learn more about their favorite movie or film person, I never thought something would come back to me years later in this form of a national meet-up. Which makes this event all the more cherishable to me.

What Happened at the Meet-Up?

The contributor meet-up started with all the 19 contributors and IMDb staff interacting with each other post breakfast, chiefly talking about Indian cinema and content. Once we were seated in a conference room, the hosts asked everyone to introduce themselves. That was the moment I first looked at the door, gauging the possibility of sneaking out. But I didn’t.

Prachi made it simple for us by asking us to mention our favorite film in our intros. When you talk about a topic that you are passionate about, (stage) fear goes out the window. Not so surprising to learn that Rajkumar Hirani’s comedy drama 3 Idiots (2009) was a common favorite. I said mine were Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010), Farhan Akhtar’s Dil Chahta Hai (2001), and Sathyan Anthikkad’s Nadodikattu (1987) in the reverse order. But most of you knew that already.

It is during this introduction that the hosts added some insider tidbits about some of the contributors’ contributions. I am choosing to not write about those because I consider that as a privilege of having attended the event. 😉

Little Bit More About the Contributors

I really loved the diversity in the room. Some – like me – were passive contributors unrelated to the film industry, who added information to titles and biographies on IMDb out of sheer fun. Some were working on films (or aspiring to be) who used IMDb as a starting platform. The age spectrum was between 19 and 50s (I guess) because we had college-going twins coming all the way from Indore as well as a senior businessman (Vinod) who flew down from Dubai.

IMDb India Contributors
The 19 contributors who attended the meet-up

As I have mentioned above, Dibyayan is a seasoned contributor who focuses on old film and TV show titles. He’s also an IMDb champion and a poll expert (with over 400 polls to his credit). Anoop, on the other hand, has added so much information to Malayalam film titles that Prachi did mention – not once but twice – how relentless he was about certain content features and errors on the platform. I also became friends with M Srinivasan (lovingly called Sri) from Chennai who is a professional filmmaker and adman (his portfolio here) and a Kamal Hassan fan. He’s raked up quite a lot of credits as a video producer over the past few years and has his own biography on IMDb.

In addition to these two, we had a casting director, Zachary Coffin the actor, aspiring filmmakers, a Wikipedian, some film crew, and Marathi film enthusiasts amidst us. Everyone had vivid stories to share about their time with IMDb and we could all relate with them. Had an outsider entered the room and tried to make sense of the things we were discussing, they would have not much understood it. They may even have shrugged it off as ‘geeky’ stuff. And that is exactly what it is, only fueled by the love for cinema and information.

Three IMDb contributor friends
(l-r) Anoop, me, and Sri

This type of craze – sheer passion – to add content without expecting anything in return is what I believe got us here. 

There were folks from Kolkata, Chennai, Pune, and Bhopal who had taken the overnight flight to make it to the event. Special nod to the IMDb staff as well as Roshni Rai from Wizcraft World for taking care of the logistics. I wouldn’t deny that it felt really good to one, have been invited to an exclusive meet-up, and two, get a cab ride from my apartment and back. The event was already showing its worth, and then Col entered the room.

Although I have interacted with him a few times at IMDb’s Get Satisfaction community, it is only after meeting him that I took him as more of a nerd who takes fun in coding and technology and cinema and less of an entrepreneur (which is how he comes off as online).

Here’s the story of IMDb as narrated by Col in possibly the best way possible.

History of IMDb by Col Needham

I have told this before and I’ll tell this again: Col talks animatedly and passionately about everything and it automatically makes talking to him amusing. Although, I did find that when I finally got to interact with him, while receiving the Top Contributor award, the anxiety kicked in and it was the opposite of amusing.

Col started his story with a short anecdote from his childhood when he was around seven. How his grandmother had encouraged him to participate in a coloring contest and how he had won the top prize (a ticket to a movie theater). Col found the movie-in-a-theater experience enthralling, which led to his appetite and increased interest in movies. And, with movies, came the need to create a personal database of those that he had watched and that are pending.

IMDb Sizzle Reel (A bit cringe-worthy!)

Initially, Col, the software engineer, started creating an offline database of movies and their associated information about directors and actors. Which then subsequently became a passion project involving a dozen more people from around the world who contacted each other through the first version of email (it took more than 24 hours for the one-way communication to execute itself in the late 1980s). Most of these “volunteers” – who are IMDb’s first contributors – hailed from the United States. If Col was interested in documenting the directors’ and actors’ names, a chap from a US state was interested in the actresses, and another from Italy was interested in the crew members. And thus began the evolution of a rough database that would germinate into the IMDb of today.

Col’s database soon went live on Usenet with information about over 10,000 movies. A direct comparison with the Movie Guide of the early 1990s (popular in the West among Christians) would make this database a strong competitor. was registered sometime in 1995, followed by the acquisition by in 1998. And then Col finally spoke about how his grandmother had helped him to win that contest fraudulently. Since Col was not good at coloring, it was his grandmother who had taken the unfinished piece of paper that night before the submission and colored it to perfection. Which ultimately led to Col’s win.

So, you can say that a little cheating had a role to play behind IMDb’s birth. But, more than that, it shows how little things can transform into big, awesome inventions. So, next time you see that your (or a) kid is doing badly at something associated with a contest, you know what to do. Just don’t mess it up.

Of course, more about the story and history can be found on Wikipedia. But, hearing the backstory directly from the man was a treat, and probably the best element of the meet-up if you don’t consider the food. In that case, it’s food for me, any day.

After the discussion with Col, we were all given out mementos for our valuable contribution on the platform. And post that, we all took photographs with him. Even I took a selfie as a souvenir but it’s blurred, so I’ll rather share the group photo (see below).

IMDb Contributor Meet-Up
All 19 contributors with Col Needham and other IMDb staff at Sofitel, BKC

Post lunch, we discussed about IMDb’s growth in India over the past few years and how it is competing with the US for the number one spot. Neha took us through a small PowerPoint presentation (although those are a strict no-no at Amazon) about how contribution helps IMDb grow, but it soon turned into a Q&A session. So, we zapped the presentation and went and had some good food that I earlier told you about.

Assessing Indian Cinema (with Mayur Puri)

Screenwriter Mayur Puri made an appearance at the event where he talked a bit about the evolution of Indian cinema and film writing. Apart from a few self-congratulatory messages, he did have some valuable points to make about how Hindi films are constructed, what goes into all the writing, film censorship, and how attention to details is an important factor for certain Indian filmmakers. A very cheerful guy.

Mayur Puri with IMDb contributors
That’s us with Mayur Puri (extreme right)

Two of the best film trivia that he shared with us are listed below. I know that this article is showing no sign of ending so I will keep it short.

  • Director Rajkumar Santoshi once finalized a movie location in Hyderabad in the month of June (some year). After the pre-production, he took the cast and crew to the location sometime that November only to find that the location – which was selected for its abundant greenery and scenic landscape – had turned into a picture taken in grey-scale. How the crew had to paint the location later validated Puri’s argument about filmmakers’ extra attention to details. The film is China Gate (1998)
  • Producer Gulshan Rai, in the 1970s, asked his team of writer and director to make a film for him on any subject. He promised no intervention or micromanagement from his side except for a small recommendation. The movie should be titled “Teesri Aank” based on his undying devotion for Lord Shiva, which he also claimed was lucky for him. The team dismissed it as a joke and went on to write and shoot the film. Before the release is when they found out that Rai was serious about the title. It was eventually named Trishul (1978), validating Puri’s another point about how certain movies are named not by taking their content into consideration but through one, abstract randomness, and two, producers’ whim.

Before meeting and interacting with him, I had heard about Puri a couple of times. But I never knew that he had won awards for his dialogue writing in the Farah Khan film or that he has writing credits for some of the top Bollywood songs of recent times. Which makes me – a small-time film reviewer – slightly uncomfortable and this admission embarrassing. Although I make a point – at least these days – to sit through the opening (and ending) credits of movies, talking to him gave me this renewed interest in knowing more about the invisible faces of cinema.

I would readily call it a 2019 resolution but I don’t want to jinx it because I never come around to completing these resolutions. Don’t even ask me what my 2018 resolutions were.

Miscellaneous Stuff We Did

Apart from the sessions with Col and Mayur Puri, we also had a good time with a fun quiz at the end. The IMDb staff had prepared a series of questions that would assess our knowledge of Indian cinema. It’s safe to say that our group came third. (Don’t believe in anyone who tells you how many groups were there in total.)

At the end of the contributor meet-up, each one of us got a nice little surprise. A bag of goodies with IMDb merchandise – something that made me jump up.

A Treat for a Merchandise Fanatic

I think a picture is worth more than I can possibly write about this. Have a look.

IMDb 2018 merchandise
IMDb merchandise and goodies

Here’s a better photo by Dibyayan:

IMDb merchandise
IMDb merch – mug, pillow, pen, and trophy among others

And I’ve been showing off some of them at work. Here’s one, keeping a watch while I write.

IMDb coffee mug
That’s the IMDb mug at my work desk

People who know me even as an acquaintance know how much of a merchandise fanatic and stationery lover I am. Which makes this idea of giving out goodies by IMDb an instant classic and lovable move. It shows how much it cares about contributors, and for all I know, I will be continuing the contribution. (Also, I don’t think I’m ever going to throw that pen away.)

It was obvious why the event was organized, and without stating it here, I can say that it worked 100% on me and the other 18 contributors.

Tips for Aspiring IMDb Contributors

One last section for the aspiring contributors out there. This is because a lot of people have reached out to me when I shared these photos on social media.

If you are someone who likes cinema and would love to contribute information (names, titles, trivia, anything), then here are few tips to help you:

  • Start with this: read the contributor’s charter and create an account
  • Then explore the contributor zone
    • Start with rating and reviewing films; creating lists
    • Add any missing information that you may find while browsing the site
    • Then move to areas where IMDb editors need help (called Data Gaps)
  • While adding information, try to make sure you can back it up with a reference. Because no one likes factually incorrect information
  • Join the small contributors’ community on Facebook
  • Join the IMDb community on Reddit and ask questions
  • Develop a niche of your own (e.g.: Anoop and I focus on Malayalam cinema where we create new titles, lists of upcoming films, etc.)
  • Make sure your contributions are consistent
  • Head over to IMDb’s Get Satisfaction portal and engage yourself

Lastly, if everything seems difficult as you start, reach out to me and we’ll discuss over email. (Requests for goodies will be turned down rudely.)

Top 20 contributors on IMDb India
Some of us after the session decided to take a selfie on Anoop’s iPhone.


I think I have covered almost everything that happened at the first-ever meet-up for IMDb (India) contributors. I would easily nominate this experience as one of the top 10 in 2018 for me because when I came back home that day, I was happy. Just plain happiness without any other emotion taking space in my heart or face. My mom even thought that I had found the one. I’m sorry to have disappointed her.

For the past six years, it was just me and my computer adding all these information into the database. But, today, we have a WhatsApp group where we share tips and tricks, some of us have been exchanging movie and TV show recommendations, I know more about how IMDb works, and last day I published my first-ever poll on IMDb. I don’t remember one single event having such a great impact on me all at once. And I’m just happy that I didn’t skip it. Gosh, that would have been a lifelong regret. TN.

The State of Legal Consultation in Navi Mumbai

property lawyer in navi mumbai

People who know me closely know that we have been trying to buy a house. We struck a resale deal sometime in the middle of 2018 and have ever since been meaning to move to this new apartment. Unfortunately, there has been little progress since we registered the sale a few weeks after the vocal agreement. While I know that it typically takes a good three months for a property sale to go through fully – considering the roles played and snail-paced actions by organizations like CIDCO and NMMC as well as the primary housing society’s co-operative – there is one new entrant that I would like to nominate in this list of ‘delayers’: legal consultation.

Property lawyers who run consultancies in almost all nodes in Navi Mumbai have become one of the biggest role-players of property deals. They know the ABCs of these property laws and usually have contacts with officials of the aforementioned organizations, which acts in their favor. There is hardly any property deal that goes through without the involvement of an advocate who charge anywhere from INR 15,000 to INR 50,000 per deal.

Their indispensability is what made us go to a top lawyer in one of the nodes closer to my new property. The fact that this guy’s name came up as the best recommendation from an immediate relative and since he didn’t know anyone else (the seller or his agents) associated with the deal made us hire him for a not-so-modest one-time fee.

In addition to this guy who I’ll call Mr. Sweet Talk, we also consulted two other top lawyers (second and third opinion) in the same node in the course of our struggle. Which, I believe, makes this a statistically sound rant. I hope you won’t disregard this citing utter generalization, especially if you live in Navi Mumbai and have plans to buy a house.

I know there are nice lawyers out there who work very hard to get their clients get what they want. So, if you are a lawyer and have a practice in Navi Mumbai, do not see this as a negative review. Instead, see for ways to improve your services so that another article in this same vein doesn’t pop up.

Here goes…

The Poor State of Law Consultation

I am not going to focus on my deal anymore, but rather talk about how legal consultation happens here in the city of Navi Mumbai, in general, and what you can expect if you find yourself in an advocate’s office tomorrow.

A Lawyer is Like a Doctor

Even though you hire a lawyer for their service, they treat you like a helpless patient. It is you who has to continuously check with them for updates and not the other way round. 

When in their office, you have to wait for some time to see them. If it’s a “top lawyer”, expect to wait at least 30 minutes. And there’s no concept of appointments either because they never respond to your calls. And their assistants are as useful as white crayon. In that regard, I have known nurses who have helped me get rid of common cold or a septic wound.

I never thought I’d have more issues consulting a lawyer for a small property deal than a doctor for a viral flu. But with a doctor you can still (sometimes) expect progress everytime you meet them. With lawyers, especially if it’s a property deal, expect a smile and “Come tomorrow, please!” And some are not even polite.

Blame Game is Usually Strong

If , for some reason, the deal surpasses the three-month period, these lawyers will have all sorts of reasons to give. In my case alone I have heard at least five different reasons for the delay (which, I should note, were told to me only when I reached out to Mr. Sweet Talk) and also different variations of that. Every time I visit his office, I get a new reason, so much to the point that these days I think of a possible reason myself and tell that to him upfront so that he doesn’t have to think up a new one. He often smiles sweetly.

Our deal is currently stuck because CIDCO decided to suddenly digitize their records. Since our apartment is in an old society, CIDCO does not have all the details (past and new owners’ names, unit area, etc.) in its database. So, when a dumb buyer like me registered the apartment, the society’s file was opened, which triggered CIDCO. They put the responsibility on us and since then I have not been singing praises of the organization, the society, the seller, and mostly, of the legal hire whom we already paid in full.

So, when the society’s NOC is ready, the CIDCO finds an issue with it. Then the NMMC – which was then busy with the Swacch Bharat Mission – gets involved because CIDCO wants to dot all the i’s and cross all the q’s. Then the NMMC takes its own sweet time and then Mr. Sweet Talk goes on a week-long holiday because it’s Diwali and his assistants have no clue what to do. Then our plans to move in in 2018 goes out the window and here I am writing this article.

Competition Howls

If, in a situation like this, you decide to take a second opinion, there will be a dozen lawyers who will promise you the moon. They will all talk like they own CIDCO – without even studying the matter – and before you know it, they will divert the conversation to money. That’s your cue to get out of their office and walk out of the reception where hordes of helpless patents are waiting to get the delaying treatment or ripped off.

When it comes to actual legal work, a very few of them stand out. And Mr. Sweet Talk was supposed to be one of those few. Yet, when it came to a one-in-thousand case – like ours – even he, for a small amount of time, took out the white flag. The main reason is that he had already quoted his price and taken it and now the work was looking like it demanded more of his time and resources. I have heard him utter something about the money at least two times since we hired him and I’m sure he will speak about it again.

But the good thing is that he has not shown any interest for more money because once we asked him. I even had a tiff with him for having delayed our deal for close to five months and that is when things got murkier. Another reason why I’m writing this today.

Final Thoughts

The state of legal consultation is skewed, to say the least. You have these top players like Mr. Sweet Talk who know the real estate industry inside out and yet fail to wrap their services around it in a good package. Because client satisfaction is least of their needs or worries. They know that one unhappy client is not a problem against five satisfied clients. And the flow of new clients is not an issue either because everyone is a real estate agent today.

If you are in Navi Mumbai and decide to buy a house as a common man, you can expect issues from your new society, the CIDCO office, and the NMMC office. Some will be warranted, some will be not. And then there is this new menace of self-obsessed property lawyers who will do everything in their will and whim to make it a bad experience for you. Goodness help us ordinary property buyers.

I once sent a one-liner message to Mr. Sweet Talk that would hurt him for generations to come and his reactions when I met him later that day were priceless. I am not someone who believes in the phrase “tit for tat” but I think I laughed a little that day when we walked out of his office as he promised us again that he would complete the job he was hired to do. TN.

Featured image courtesy: Unsplash

Rethinking Movie Disclaimers

I was watching V A Shrikumar Menon’s Malayalam-language thriller Odiyan (2018) last day and I couldn’t help but think about the disclaimers that flashed on the screen. While I have noticed the disclaimer “Violence against women is punishable under law” in plenty of other recent films, it is only now that I thought about it in length.

I understand why there is a need to add that particular disclaimer (added to a scene where Prakash Raj’s character is forcibly holding Sreejaya Nair’s character’s jaw by his hand) – especially in today’s sensitive landscape where violence against women has shot up unnaturally – and how it satisfies and suggests the country’s various art control and regulation boards into believing that their job is done, but what stumps me is the singularity of it all. Why do we restrict the disclaimers to only certain elements? Why only women, cigarette smoking, and animals?

Why do we append these less-than-useless disclaimers in movies when we know that there are other bigger reasons that cause these very things that we are trying to eradicate? Why do we think that these disclaimers will have a considerable impact when no one even takes them seriously other than those who mandate it who, by the way, I’m told, often look at these disclaimers when they don’t have access to porn? 

Plus, we all know that not a single smoker has kicked the butt after watching that horrendously produced anti-smoking disclaimer, now starring Indian cricketer Rahul “The Wall” Dravid in the performance of his lifetime.

So, here’s a list of common disclaimers that we all have seen and got irritated by when at the movies and how they should be if we were living in an ideal world.

Movie Disclaimers in an Ideal World

If there is a need to add disclaimers in movies (restricted to Indian movies), I would love to see these versions over the current ones:

  • Not all characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is not purely coincidental.
  • No one was harmed during the making of this film.
  • Culpable violence against all genders is punishable under law.
  • Smoking, much like living in a polluted city and other 87 acts, is injurious to health.
  • Intoxication is injurious to health.
  • Not following the rules underlined in The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 is punishable under law.

I know for a fact that as long as we are sensitive about art, this new edition of movie disclaimer texts will never be accepted. My future son already knows this. But I’m still hopeful.

What are some other disclaimers that takes the fun out of your movie-watching experience? Let me know and we will edit it a bit. TN.

David Ehrlich’s 25 Best Films of 2018

Video countdown of the 25 best films of 2018

I always look forward to Indiewire film critic David Ehrlich’s annual countdown of the best of world cinema. For me, it acts as a starter to the month-long celebrations leading up the New Year, which mainly involves best-of lists about almost everything.

I just completed skimming through Kottke’s 2018 gift guide (helped me for my Secret Santa activities this year including Redditgifts), the New York Times’ list of best films of 2018, and Goodreads’ list of best books.

I know there are many more to come, but for now, let’s get overwhelmed by this 13-minute video extravaganza. The film at #1 is a surprise for me, but then I have not always agreed with Ehrlich’s lists. For me, it’s about getting a rush of creativity by just watching it – the visuals, the music, the vivid shots all sewn together like a masterwork. I have tried to mimic this a few times in the past. (This one for The Review Monk in 2016.)

I’m glad to have caught at least couple of these films at MAMI 2018 (which I’m yet to summarize, by the way), especially Roma and Widows. I also watched Burning, Madeline’s Madeline, and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. And that’s just only five.

Enough of me talking, now go and spend 13 minutes of your life watching this brilliant encapsulation of world cinema of this past year. And maybe wait for my own rendition of the best of Malayalam cinema. Maybe.

Endorsing Redditgifts

Last day I came across Redditgifts, the annual gifts exchange program by ‘the front page of the internet’. And after signing up for its Secret Santa program, today I thought I will endorse it on my website. Because not many people know about it.

I dig the idea of gifting random people. Buying a gift and making a thoughtful effort for a person you don’t know sitting miles away, probably in a different country, living their own life sounds fascinating to me. And if you think about it for a minute it might feel fascinating to you too.

I think everyone should participate in it or anything similar; if not for the art of giving, just for the feels. I also recently called out people who do not participate in their workplace’s Secret Santa program. And my case for it has to do with our increasingly isolated lives.

Some days when I’m feeling low, if there’s one thing that keeps me in high spirits, it is waiting for something that I am expecting. It could be a book or some food I ordered or even a day when I’m meeting my friends. The act of waiting for something – something pleasant – is what I would like to endorse here. And Redditgifts feels like a driver of that act of waiting.

The minimum amount you have to spend is $20 – which is not much even if you are naturally forced to convert it to Indian rupees – and if you are lucky, you could get matched to international participants as well. Surely, it does not mean you will have to ship a gift back to another international participant. Redditgifts’s algorithm tries hard to match you to participants of your country.

Such gifts exchange programs can act as a driver of a sense of community in us. Publicizing your generous charity work may help you save on taxes and get likes on social media, but they won’t make you feel good. On the other hand, Redditgifts will. Here are some photos from past exchanges.

While Secret Santa is the only exchange currently available, there are a lot of other exchanges that happen throughout the year. For instance, for Indians and the Indian diaspora around the world, there was this Diwali 2018 exchange that happened in October. You can check out more of them at this link (if you do decide to sign up, use this link so that I get an extra credit) – TN.

Signups for the Secret Santa program ends November 26. So, hurry!

Why I Pursued Master of Arts After Bachelor of Engineering

Because I had always wanted to do something in the humanities.

The long answer is a combination of several interests I racked up over the years since I first signed up for Engineering. I don’t blame the education system, but it was personally a tough call for me to choose what I had wanted to do with my life career-wise at the age of 15. I was living in a bubble to take a wise decision that would capitalize on my inherent talents and interests. So, I did what the rest of the world did. Chose a path that was common and signed up for a four-year diploma course in Industrial Electronics.

This is a short summary listing the different reasons why I chose to pursue MA after doing my Bachelor’s in Engineering (BE).

I Have a Penchant for Writing

The initial years of my diploma were when I first started writing. Thanks to the internet, I was free to write and publish anything without anyone telling me not to. One thing led to another and by the end of the course, I was a seasoned writer. I wrote beautiful trash but at least I was good at publishing it.

It was a few years later that I realized that I had a thing for writing. It came naturally to me once I began blogging. The problem was that I was not reading anything, which made my writing read like a content mill product. No one reads (and still doesn’t) in my family and it would be a cliche if I said I magically caught up with reading since childhood like they show in the movies.

My writing – although looked good to me – was ridiculous from a universal readership’s point of view. I realized this when I got rejected by a couple online magazines where I had pitched for freelance writing gigs. One of the editors was too vocal about the reason why and so I knew.

After the diploma came BE and before the second year was over, I knew I wanted to explore something else. Something other than Engineering.

I Read

My aspiration to be a good writer led to me chasing books. While men (boys?) my age chase something else, which I did give a few tries and enjoyed, I focused on reading. I started reading newspapers, books, magazines – whatever I could get my hands on. I even remember the time I told a job interviewer how I tended to read everything – even the text on sleeves of shampoo containers while taking a bath. He took it seriously and asked me to read his face.

MA after Engineering

I chose literature books over engineering books. / © Nicole Honeywill

I first started reading when one of my maternal uncles handed me a semi-fictional thriller book, Frederick Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal. I so fondly remember its plot details, and above that, the joy of reading. But, more than the joy, what I took home that day when I completed reading that book was general information. The book gave me a little more idea about espionage, the CIA, how foreign government intelligence works, and who Charles de Gaulle was.

This little conveyance of specific information about specific things in the world from yellowed sheets of paper into my mind made me fall in love with reading. And today, I spend a good time reading every day. Which has directly impacted what I write and the way I do it.

I Want to Know the History of the World

I think it is Marco Polo’s travelogue, an online course titled “The Importance of India”, and my English professors who should collectively be blamed for my healthy interest for the general history of the world. Both reading and writing about random stuff also contributed to it, but I think that course – which I did not complete – was the main reason I began reading more about the history of humanity’s existence and associated activities.

One time I even asked a lady – a friend’s sister – out for coffee so that we could discuss the meaning of life. Maybe it was the way I framed the request but I don’t think I have had a longer conversation with her since then. Maybe you should not use WhatsApp to ask people out.

I want to know more about the origins of religion, money, and many other things. What is the meaning of life, how should I react to a particular incident in life, how do I deal with people I don’t agree with, how to ask women out, why and how is Trump president – everything that makes the world as it is right now. And I believe the only way to do it is to study literature.

Yuval Noah Harari’s account of the history of humankind, Sapiens, is an excellent prologue to the complicated answers to these questions, but I am more interested in the materials that he used to write that account. I would only get closer to them if I did something like this.

I Want to Be Better at My Job

People who know me know that I want to be a copywriter. And my current job also entails some kind of writing. There are several ways to be good at it, and last I checked I am doing all of them simultaneously. Signing up for an MA course was definitely on the list, and about two years ago, I told my mom.


And those are some of the biggest reasons why I pursued – or rather, pursuing (I’m in my second year right now) – Master of Arts in English Literature two years after I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering. I used those two years to think through the pros and cons of making the career switch and I am glad I made that decision.

(I took the liberty to leave out another big reason – I failed to land an Engineering job that would pay my bills – from this list because let’s try to look at the positive things, shall we?)

People are often stumped when I tell them about this switch, but I think I will send them this article from now onwards. I hope they won’t mind me using WhatsApp. TN.