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Stunnig visuals and amazing animation.
"Stunning" is the word that comes to my mind. Avatar will be a milestone in movie-making technology - like Jaws, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and Lord of the Rings. 3-D visuals effects and animations are superbly realistic - you feel like being there on the Pandora. Pandora is the planet that humans are trying to exploit for mining (reminded me of Nauru)- a theme which will resonate well in many parts of the world.

Story is pretty old-fashioned: exploitation of natives (locals/nature/Indians/ Africans/ American Indian/take your pick) for mining by a greedy corporation (industry/British/Europeans/Colonists) from earth. In fact movie has shades of several Sci-fi and mythical films: Star Wars (battle ships and spacecrafts), Lord of the Rings (strange creatures, and battle scenes), Chronicles of Narnia (blue creatures, horses, harmony with nature), Planet of Apes (human race vs. other race), Matrix (avatar), Eragon (dragon-bird choosing the rider), Jungle Book (flowers, butterflies), Finding Nemo (jellyfish-like seeds), Transformers (big robots)...

But in the end it's quite different - and awesome!

Safed Haathi

Beautiful movie, though too long, about the friendship between man and animal
Tapas Sinha's Safed Haathi (White Elephant) is one of the rare Indian movies made for children. It won the Indian National Award for the Best Children film. Movie is about the life of an orphan boy in a village near jungle and his friendship with an elephant. The child is saved by the elephant in the jungle and they become friend. Boy returns the favor later when the elephant is caught by an hunting king. And helps the animal in becoming free again.

Music is pleasing on ears but songs obstruct the flow of movie. And movie is too long - unnecessary songs and characters (producer, director, cameraman)- to hold attention of today's kids.

And that's the tragedy! Because "Safed Haathi" carries a beautiful message.

Barah Aana

Slumdog saga continues....
This movie, though not as high profile as Slumdog Millionaire, has all the gradients of that movie and more - life in slums, Indian riches (Rs 2,000 for pizza but no money for poor watchman's sick child...), foreigners, government bureaucracy (person is alive but dead in government records)and so on.

Barah Annah also has tight script and paces well - though could have been made shorter, and climax could have been handled better. No songs and dance - I wish move Bollywood could be like it. Movie is built around three characters - waiter, driver, and a watchman - and their struggles They hit upon a easy-money earning formula but...

Naseer, as always, is great but real surprise is Vijay Raaj who is superb and subtle as watchman. Background score is another plus.

Overall 2009 is turning out to be good year for Indian movies. Wish same was true for Indian stocks.

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