Monday, 30 September 2013

Game Review: Grand Theft Auto 5 (GTA 5)

Less than two weeks ago,Rockstar games launched a follow up for their flagship series,Grand Theft Auto.It took the world by storm,creating record sales within less than a week.I was lucky to pre-order a copy via Fllipkart and got the games two days prior to its release.


For those who didn't watch the trailer,the game revolves around three people;Franklin Clinton-An average grove street homey who works in the vehicle repo business. Michael Townley(De Santa)-A successful bank robber who is retired with real family issues.Trevor Philips-A lunatic businessman specializing in meth and arms.The plot revolves around how they meet and solve each others problems and their ambitions to make it big.Although the number of missions are short(69 to be exact),it will still suck you into it.


First impressions were good.There is a lot of places to be discovered, from traffic infested cities,to desolate mountain tops. GTA 5 boasts of a huge map size,more than their previous games put together,so there's places to be explored if you're bored. Rockstar has also included animals in this game,so you'll never know when a mountain lion will jump on you or when a shark decides if it wants to reenact Jaws.Cars,bikes,boats and planes can be bought online(for those who want their own vehicles),properties ranging from garages to golf courses. Rockstar has really brought everything possible in the real world here.Inclusion of the stock markets,LCN and BAWSAQ(classic Rockstar wordplay) was something out of the blue.So this means that even after you beat the game,there's a lot of things to keep you interested.
The graphics on this game is absolutely stunning.From the protagonist getting wet if its raining,to glares during sunny days,Rockstar has really taken a long step from their previous games.Vehicular detail have been improved,taking styling cues from real-life brands like BMW,Jeep,Audi,Jaguar,Mini and so on.The game also features an option to lower/raise the roofs for convertibles.Also customization makes a return for GTA:San Andreas,so you can trick up your ride to stand out.
The music in the game have been carefully selected to include more of the popular songs of today.Artists from Johnny Cash to Rihanna have been featured to suit all tastes.The games also plays a certain song during some missions to build up the moment,a nice touch.
Combat has been improved,although it took some time for me to get used to it from GTA 4.Guns can be upgraded(Thank God!)The weapons range from gasoline filled jerry cans to rocket launchers,just the thing you need to cause mayhem in the city.Taking cover from shots have been improved and health regenerates to half when the protagonist is stationary.
Missions are specific for each protagonist ,but in some like heists,they join together allowing the player to switch in between.Plenty of side missions for each character to do.Random events can also be interfered by the player,like stopping a robber and to choose whether to return the stolen item or to keep it.
GTA 5 has really improved from the disappointing GTA 4 in almost every way.Cars handle better,friends don't call to hang out while you're busy trying to not get killed,the Internet is more functional,and for the guys…the strip club is gonna blow your mind!They should have put in car dealerships,who buys cars online?But it's definitely a must have game
Rating-9.5/10

This was a guest post by Stevan Thomas, our brother who was held at gunpoint to write this post!!

Monday, 16 September 2013

The Best Portable Bluetooth Speaker Today – Bose Soundlink Mini


Let me start by saying – never judge a product by its brand. Just because it’s an unknown brand does not mean it’s products will be bad, likewise just because a speaker is from Bose does not mean it’s going to be good (but in this case it is).  A quick background - I tend to listen to music on my phone when I’m getting ready for work in the morning as it’s a bit inconvenient powering on the living room speakers. Recently there have been a number of portable Bluetooth speakers entering the market so I was intrigued however they all were rather disappointing for the reasons mentioned below. I soon abandoned the thought of buying one since they were (IMHO) toys. The Soundlink Mini is one that I can, with all confidence say, is not a toy. 

What makes it a ‘great’ speaker, specifically when talking about a portable Bluetooth
speaker segment? Before I answer that let’s talk about the main challenge faced by this segment – Poor sound quality and low volume levels due to small sized speakers. There’s no getting away from this. If you want pocket-sized speakers you have to sacrifice on sound quality. You see most good portable Bluetooth speakers can go loud enough to fill a room however they cannot reproduce base notes and typically sound tinny like a mobile phone speaker, albeit louder. This is because base notes can only be produced by larger woofers/sub-woofers which move a lot more air. You can never truly get reasonable base reproduction on a set of speakers that fit in the palm of your hand … or can you?

Enter the Bose Soundlink Mini – this is one of those rare combinations of great tech, beautiful packaging and stunning performance. Not only can this almost pocket-able speaker easily fill a room with clear, crisp music but it can also hit those low notes. If you are in the market for a portable speaker to take with you on your travels, or friends parties or even take around the house – you owe it to yourself to check-out this device. I’ll be honest, it’s expensive at 200 USD. In India it retails for a bit more at 252 USD (Rs. 16,000). This is twice as much as many Bluetooth speakers in the market however I do feel it’s easily twice as good.

 
A couple of tips with the Soundlink Mini – it has base port at both front and back of the device so I get the best performance if I keep it on the floor near a corner of the room or wall. Keep about 5 inches to a foot of space from the wall for best base performance – depending on the type of music you listen to. Also play with the equalizer settings of your phone to get the best performance out of the Soundlink Mini. I use PowerAmp and I keep tweaking if for different genres. 

Limitations – 

  • The Bose Soundlink cannot be used as a speaker phone
  • It has a rather limited battery life of 5 hours continuous usage 
  • It uses a proprietary charger (no Micro-USB)
  • It cannot charge your smartphone (like some other units)
  • It has limited controls on the device and no remote
  • It’s rather heavy for it’s size because of its powerful magnets (for me this was a good thing but others may disagree) 

Another great alternative is the UE Boom which has none of the above limitations but cannot match the base frequencies of the Bose. 

This is a guest post by Prithvi Raj. To be more precise, all the gadget reviews in future will be done by him. :)

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Movie Review: Sandcastle

We were contacted by Ginger Liu from Ginger Media & Entertainment to do a review on this movie.


Sandcastle is the first feature film by well known Indian theatre personality, Shomshuklla Das.

The movie revolves around Sheila, who is an aspiring writer from an upper middle class family in urban India. She has the perfect life, at least to the outside world, married to a very successful man who's able to provide her everything to live a comfortable life. They both have a beautiful daughter.

Sheila finds her life boring and far from perfect. She's tired of being the stereotypical wife, attending to her wifely duties and being a good mother.

She's sick of the routine,being a trophy wife, and lacks a sense of achievement, a condition all too common in urban India.

She comes across Maya, who tells her to build her own sandcastles with her life. Maya tells her to follow her dreams and not be a doormat letting people walk all over her.

Sheila starts writing her book with Maya's help by using her as an inspiration. Maya in turn helps her to stand up for herself.

Sandcastle has been nominated in the London International Film Festival 2013 under the Best Foreign Language Feature Film

Shahana Chatterjee as Sheila has done a commendable job playing the complex role of someone who's got all that she needs and still feels an emptiness.

The movie is an in-depth albeit slow narrative into the life of the modern Indian house wife - her comfortable yet boring and under-stimulated life. The women in urban India can easily relate to the movie.

My only gripe with the movie is that it could have been a bit more fast paced.

My rating: 2.75/5

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Movie Review: Madras Cafe

Image courtesy of Wiki
I was barely eight when Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. Even after more than twenty years, I still recall the pall of gloom that descended on that small, remote town in Arunachal Pradesh. Those days were long before the advent of cable TV. Newspapers usually were dated three days back by the time they reached our sleepy town, so naturally, not much was known about what had transpired at that fateful rally. 

I recall the men, engaged in intense discussions, and the women, fighting to control their tears. What, everyone wondered, could possibly incite the brutal killing of a man that was loved by the entire country.  I was too young to understand political machinations, all I realized was the permanence of death, and that the handsome man we used to see on Doordarshan was no more. 

I remember watching the funeral on TV, the Gandhi siblings putting on a brave, dignified face, as people across the country wept, some openly, others surreptitiously. Since then, numerous people have been arrested, mercy petitions have presented, rejected, and then presented again. Many theories have been floated, debated and dismissed. Perhaps we will never know the truth. But now, here’s a movie that explores the geopolitical events of that age to understand the motivations that ultimately led to the assassination.

Madras Café is directed by Shoojit Sircar, of Vicky Donor fame - and what a contrast this movie is, as compared to his earlier effort. It is stark, gritty and unrelenting. Major Vikram Singh is sent to war torn Jaffna as an undercover agent to help the Indian government achieve the aim of conducting peaceful elections in Sri Lanka. His mission is to encourage an uprising against Anna, who considers himself to be a revolutionary and has built up a massive army named the LTF. 

Madras Cafe Trailer

The rest of the movie deftly combines fact and fiction and takes you through the ideological differences of the two factions, the capitalist approach to the necessity of war, and the triumph of greed over morals. The film underlines how civil war, while being the scourge of any nation, fills the coffers of the big defence and armaments companies.  The heartbreaking images of pain and suffering are haunting. It is implied that while the Indian government is intent on restoring peace, someone in the chain is hand in glove with the corporations, and is providing inside information on troop movements and plans, so the rebels are always a step ahead.

The film moves across Sri Lanka, India and Bangkok, stitching the taut storyline together. A word about the editing - if the first half is well paced, the second half is positively a high speed thrill ride. As the tension builds, the soundtrack is in tandem, adding flair without being intrusive at any point. For a movie to create this kind of suspense while telling the story of a well-known and still remembered tragedy is a triumph of film-making. 

Madras Café is anchored by a superb cast. John Abraham playing the role of Vikram Singh, does full justice to his role, always intense, always restrained, no over the top antics or needless bravado. It was a delight to watch the suave Siddhartha Basu as Robin Dutt, the RAW Chief, while Piyush Pandey was impressive too. For me, the one character that stood out was Bala, an Indian intel officer based in Sri Lanka. Prakash Belawade gets under the skin of the hard drinking, aggressive character and delivers a great performance. SP, another intel officer, also makes an impact, as do the LTF suicide bombers. Their preparation for the assassination is handled realistically, showing the inevitable attack of nerves as the hour looms closer. Nargis Fakhri seemed to be the only weak link, her performance slightly wooden, her role not very well defined. Ruby, Major Vikram Singh’s wife, seems to have been included in the plot as an afterthought, and does not have much screen time or relevance. Also, the flashback style storytelling was unnecessary, as was John Abraham’s disheveled look in those scenes. 

These minor gripes aside, Madras Café made for a riveting watch. Finally, Bollywood has managed to churn out a political thriller that is taut, hard hitting and sensitive at the same time. I would recommend you go catch this movie at the theater. It might be a while before something as good comes along.

My rating: 4.5/5

This is a guest post by Deep Chakraborty who is on the wrong side of thirty, living in the happy denial that all one needs to live a good life is an abundance of books and the opportunity to make music.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Book Review: Amreekan Desi

Image courtesy of http://book.amreekandesi.com/
We received this book from the Readers Cosmos to do a review.

This book is about 2 guys who have passed out of engineering in India and have applied to the US universities to do their masters.

How many people do you know who have gone to the US to do their higher studies? All my college mates and pretty much everyone I know is in the Land of Opportunities. I'm probably one of the few who stayed back in India.

I could easily relate to this book and can confirm that I know of people who have been on one of the situations described in the book.

The story revolves around Akhil Arora and Jaspreet Singh aka the Jazzminator. They turn out to be roommates and couldn't be poles apart. Akhil becomes more Indian than he's ever been in his entire life living in India and Jass becomes a pseudo american from eating burgers to wanting to marry someone like Pamela Andersonji.

It captures the hilarious moments of the cultural differences from something simple as capsicum being called bell pepper in the States.

This is a fun afternoon read and I'm sure everyone would have a good laugh.

I have friends who are either Akhil or Jass and I would like all my Amreekan Desi friends to read this one.

My rating: 3/5

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Book Review: The English Girl

Gabriel Allon is back and this time to save the life of Madeline Hart, a rising member of the British ruling party. 

This is the 13th book in the Gabriel Allon series by Daniel Silva. 

The unlucky number 13 has not let Silva down. He has given us another mind blowing thriller.

For those who have never read Daniel Silva books, I highly recommend it. I'm a huge fan and been avidly waiting for this book for almost a year. 

Who is Gabriel Allon??

He works for the Israeli Intelligence aka Mossad (not explicitly mentioned in the book though. They affectionately call it "The Office") and also a art restorer which is used as his cover for most the of the operations. 

He was recruited by Ari Shamron, his mentor to avenge the Munich massacre where 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team were kidnapped and  murdered. 


Coming to The English girl, Gabriel has been asked(more so requested) by the British government to get the kidnapped Madeline Hart, safe & sound. Madeline also happens to be the mistress of the British Prime minister and they want the best of the best to get her back. 

Gabriel teams up with Christopher Keller, who incidentally was hired to assassinate Gabriel in The English Assassin. The snide remarks they pass is quite funny and for once we get to see Gabriel being funny. 

As usual, Gabriel has his efficient team to help him on this operation.

The English girl will take you from the lovely island of Corsica to London and the final showdown in Russia.

All in all its a fun exciting read. I was up all night reading this one. 

My rating: 4/5

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Movie Review: The Wolverine

Image courtesy of http://www.thewolverinemovie.com/
I quite like the X-Men series for a couple of reasons:-

  • You have a number of characters with interesting powers
  • There is no 'superman' among the X-men in the sense that all are equally strong or vulnerable and that makes them relatable 
  • They face issues of discrimination adding a grey dimension to the conflict of good and evil
The X-men movies were average at best with the exception of X-men first class which was a truly great movie. For me a movie - specially a superhero movie - should make me relate to the character. It's fun dialogue is an added bonus (thank you Avengers). 

Among the long list of X-men characters one stands apart and that is Wolverine. His menacing claws, his cool healing ability and hos bad attitude make for a fun character and this lead to two movie spin-outs (i) X-men Origins: Wolverine and the currently running (ii) The Wolverine 

The first movie (Origins) was pretty lame. Yes it had a number of characters, yes it covered his mysterious back story and yes there was a fair amount of fighting, but it still did not work. I guess my expectations from a Wolverine movie were too lofty which is why I felt The Wolverine will give the character the movie he deserves. 

It tried and failed. Yes the movie helps us understand what Wolverine was going through, his life of seclusion and his 'curse' of immortality but the pace was too slow. There was also an unusual lack of other mutants which is a departure from the series and most disappointing. I know this is not an X-men movie in that sense but I still expected a little but of mutant vs mutant death battles. 

About the actual story, without giving anything away i'd say it was needlessly convoluted and at times down right stupid. While the broad theme is interesting the actual story seems far to contrived and leaves many unanswered questions. Now you can get away with a shoddy story if you have great action sequences (Pacific Rim i'm looking at you) but here the action was few and far between and even then practically no mutant on mutant fun. 

My final gripe is with 3D, all the theaters here were playing it only in 3D and there was nothing in the movie that would justify it. 

Rating: 2.75/5

This is a guest post written by Prithvi Raj. 

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Rossette: Where Little Princesses Shop

For all those mommies who can't just wait to dress up their cute toddlers ,Rossette is your one stop shop!!
An online store run by mother-daughter duo Susy and Neethu Eipe, Rossette earned its fame through Facebook.



They sell the most cutest dresses for kids between the ages of 1 to 4. They are personally involved in every step of the way to create these adorable outfits, from designing the look, to finally getting it to the very happy customers. Their wide variety of patterns, trendy designs and vibrant colors would catch any parent's eye.After all who wouldn't want their daughter to look like a superstar!


                     
This monsoon, they have come out with a new collection of ethnic wear which is just fabulous!! Any girl would be the showstopper of a party if she was caught wearing it. :)


They have also recently started a new line of sarees and housecoats. I just couldn't help but buy one saree. It was really tempting and my shopaholic instincts were too strong.:D



They sell other accessories like hand towels and hair accessories. I find every item to be so colorful and adorable that I just need to have them all.Their prices are affordable and are of top quality.

They also take custom orders for baptisms, weddings and other such special occasions.
To see more of their collection and shop, go to  their facebook page.




Photos Courtesy : Neethu Liz

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Aurelia Store in Kottayam



"W" is finally here in Kottayam!!!!! But what's even more exciting is that Aurelia's come along too.. I'm sure most of you like us, have not heard of Aurelia brand. The store looks very colorful and like a moth to light, I was drawn to it.

The Aurelia and W stores are located on Shastri Road near the Wrangler store. Almost everyone I know (who are into kurtis as well..) love "W" and I'm sure they are definitely gonna LOVE Aurelia cause guess what??? It's way cheaper too...It's prices are along the lines of what Max Fashion has to offer and the quality is good too.


Floral prints are every girl's best friend and that's exactly what Aurelia offers. They have very vibrant colors and pretty patterns which really catches the eye of the customer.

This is the Kurti that I got for myself from Aurelia which I felt was really cute. Even my sister, Sonia ended buying a similar one.


We ended up going to W store after Aurelia and my mom was like Aurelia has better collection. Gasp! The sales lady over there got offended and was like 'Aurelia is a subsidiary of W but W has a wider range of collection'. My sister & I were like 'Oh! Just like how Maybelline is a sub brand of L'Oreal'
Secretly we were like 'We so prefer Maybelline over L'Oreal' and the same applies here too considering the fact we walked out empty handed from W. To be honest, it wasn't that W didn't have a good collection, we had our mom along who was like 'ENOUGH!!'

W - We'll be back soon!!

W and Aurelia are having their Monsoon sale going on currently.So girls Hurry up!!! Shop Shop Shop!!!




Monday, 22 July 2013

Movie Review: RED 2

Image courtesy of Wiki
I don't know where to start the review for this movie.

This movie was just brilliant. This is easily one of my top picks for this year.

When RED was released in 2010 I was not even aware of this movie. I was browsing on imdb on the list of Bruce Willis movies and this came up. After reading up on this movie and the stunning cast, I was surprised that I never heard about this movie nor seen it.

When I saw it, I was laughing non stop and absolutely loved the action. I wanted to be as bad-ass as Helen Mirren's character. John Malkovich was quirky and really funny by trying so hard not to be funny. 



When I came to know they are making a sequel for this movie, I was skeptical. Will they be able to live up to the first movie? Sometimes the movie is so good just by making the sequel might leave a bitter taste just like the Ocean 10 , 11.. series. 

Oh Boy was I wrong?? This movie was just as good as the first one with the added bonus of Catherine Zeta Jones & Anthony Hopkins. 

Mary-Louise Parker was a surprise package. I mean she was there in the first movie as the confused girlfriend of Bruce Willis. In the second part she was given a meatier role. 

Ladies you have Byung-hun Lee to drool on. His introduction in the movie is just worth the money. I was drooling all over and that man can work a suit. Barney Stinson would be so proud of him!!

The movie goes all over Europe with everyone hired to kill each other. The story is not that great but the action and comedy just makes up for the lack of it. 

So people go out and catch this movie in the nearest movie theater.

My rating: 4.75/5 :)

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Movie Review: Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

Image courtesy of Wiki
This movie is about (for those who are living under a stone and never heard of Milkha Singh) Milkha Singh, who was a field and track athlete and represented India in the 1956 & 1960 Olympics. 

The producers claim that this movie is not a sports movie but a film about human spirit.

Well that they did. 

They captured the spirit of Milkha Singh to the dot, what made him run and get the famous pseudo name 'The Flying Sikh'. 

The people out there who say that we, Indians, can't get into the Olympics because of lack of infrastructure and support need to watch this movie. In the 50's & 60's if Milkha Singh could do it then so can this generation. All we need is the drive and determination to do it.

Coming to the awesome bit of the movie, i.e Farhan Akhtar. That man has done his homework and is a treat to watch on the big screen. 


YOWZA!!!
I'm sure Milkha would be proud of Farhan Akhtar portraying him. Farhan was awesome. I would have been fine watching this movie even if it was in a different language all together. 

Sonam Kapoor had little or no role. Hers should have been credited as a guest appearance and nothing more. 

A special mention to the child actor, Japteg Singh, who played a younger Milkha Singh. 

All in all this a must watch for everyone. A lot of inspiration and motivation to go out and run. 

For all the women out there, its worth the money just to see Farhan!!

My rating: 4/5

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Maybelline Diamond Glow Eye Shadow Quads

Craving to do try the Smokey eye look, I was in search of the perfect eye shadow and that's when i ended up buying this eye shadow(though it is nowhere related to the smokey eye look.).

I think I was drawn in by the pretty pattern and beautiful colors of the kit. The most striking feature for me was that it was provided with written instructions at the back on how to wear the different shades in order to get the finished look.



Now let me get to the pros and cons of the product.

Pros: It's easy to apply with the provided sponge brushes and all you have to do is follow the instructions properly. Definitely a stunner for the night time look. It isn't too loud but still one would know a difference in the eyes.

Cons:It is a little powdery and does't blend that well. A total NO NO for a daytime look as it is glittery. Finally I think its a little too pricey.

Price: Rs 475

Shades:Lilac Mauve, Ocean Blue, Wine Pink, Gray Pink, Copper Brown.

Outside India the product name varies and is known as Maybelline EyeStudio Color Plush and is available in a larger variety of colors than what Maybelline offers in India.

Final Verdict: Those who aren't going for the exact smokey eye look but with a bit more pink and glitter  should definitely go for it. I mean, after-all which girl doesn't like a combination of pink and glitter???

Shade used in the picture:Gray pink

Photo Courtesy: Neethu Liz (to check up more on her, visit her page at Neethu Liz Photography)

My rating: 2.5/5

Monday, 24 June 2013

Book Review: Dongri To Dubai

This book is like India's version of The Godfather except all the stuff happened for real.

Growing up in Dubai, I have always heard of Dawood Ibrahim to the point when I came to India to study, my classmates used to make fun of me and say 'She's from the land of Dawood. We need to be careful with this one!'

This book talks about the Mumbai mafia, the rise of Dawood who incidentally was the son of a police officer in Mumbai  and becoming the kingpin of Indian mafia.

This book is brilliantly written by Hussain Zaidi. He makes it sound like he was present as each and every event that was taking place.

This book gives an insight on how mafia ruled over Bollywood and how some of the famous stars were literally peeing in their pants. Being a Bollywood starlet is not just looking pretty and dancing around trees. I mean there are serious threats to their lives.

 Bollywood had made couple of movies based on the mafia such as

Image courtesy of http://www.join4film.com







and the latest flick with John Abraham and a whole bunch of heroines doing 'item' numbers

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

I have never been a fan of these kind of movies because Bollywood being Bollywood would make the movie so far fetched that its quite impossible to believe such things happen in real life. After reading this book, I take back my words. I mean some of the stuff that these guys have pulled off in broad daylight is just unbelievable.

This book is not just about Bollywood. It talks about how the mafia has a hand in everything that's happened in India in the 80's & 90's. Its just crazy and a huge eyeopener.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. This is a must read.

My rating: 4.5/5

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Movie Review: ABCD (American-Born Confused Desi)

Image Courtesy of http://dulquarsalman.in
This movie is definitely for those Dulqar Salman fans!!!And hence me totally in love with it!
An absolute entertainer and nothing more especially with its pointless story-line and poor climax.For the guys out there who don't go drooling over every stupid thing Dulqar does,they'll just find it to be an okay movie.But for those who do drool over him....Girls...you are in for a ride!!!It's Dulqar everywhere!!!Hotter than ever!!

The story (though there really isn't anything..) is where the American-born Malayalee teenager (the amazingly hot Dulqar) gets send to Kerala after he puts himself into a lot of trouble back in America(you can blame it all on the messed up hormones).He's fooled into coming to India by his dad (played by Lalu Alex) saying it's a one month vacation but his dad has other plans for him.His father gets him into a college in Kerala.Johns(played by Dulqar) is accompanied by his best pal Korah (played by Jacob Gregory) are stuck in Kerala with no money or ticket to get back to America.His dad provides them a measly amount of 5000 Rs to survive a month which would become even less if they fell short of attendance in college.The movie then goes on about how they try to get money to get back and all the trouble they get into.

Another prominent role is taken up by Aparna Gopinath (playing the role of Madhumitha) though she doesn't play the heroine look.She is their friend from college and helps get the Johns-Korah duo out of trouble most of the time.She plays a strong activist role and it's really fun to watch her especially her ears that had about a million piercings on it.

The songs in the movie are also fun especially the pointless song Jhonny Mone Jhonny which is sung by Dulqar himself.The video of the song is pretty good too.


Overall the movie is really fun to watch especially with friends.You could watch it more than once to get a good laugh or if you just go on ogling on Dulqar..:)..It's a must watch for those who love entertainment movies and also for those Dulqar fans.

My rating:3/5

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Camera buyers guide – DSLR Vs Bridge Camera

A lot has been said about the benefits of a DSLR to the point that many people consider themselves
professional photographers just because they own one. The truth is if you don’t know the fundamentals of photography then you are better off with a point and shoot camera. But what if you know the basics, what if you want to shoot in full manual, what if you know what shutter speed, ISO and aperture work for different scenes and what if you want prefer manual focus. Can you now go in for a DSLR? Hmmm … no!

Knowing how to use a full-manual camera is one thing, but what about the end result of your snaps? Are you the type to print your photographs into posters? Will you be cropping into small sections of your photograph? Will you be doing some heavy post processing on your photographs? OR will you simply upload your snaps to a Facebook album and wait for people to comment on them?

If you fall into that last group then I’d say a DSLR is overkill and you may get better results with a good bridge camera. Let’s do a quick comparison of the two:-

First the advantages of the Bridge camera over the DSLR:-


Bridge Camera (e.g. Fuji HS50 EXR)Digital SLR
Cheaper (good ones start at Rs. 18K / $310)More expensive especially when factoring the costs of additional lenses
Smaller and LighterBigger, bulkier and with the added burden of carrying extra lenses
Significantly longer zoom lens (24mm – 1000mm) 42x optical zoom lens Much shorter zoom range (18mm-55mm) Telephoto lenses are available but at a much higher cost and even then don’t come near the range of the Bridge (superzoom) cameras.
Macro to moon shots on a single lens. No hassles of changing lenses in the middle of a shootChanging lenses may not be difficult but it needs to be done carefully and not in dusty environments plus takes time away from the shoot
More feature rich than most DSLRs
Features include- Optical image stabilization, Digital Zoom, faster burst mode, more scene modes, panorama mode, high speed video mode, ultra high ISO (12,800)Don’t usually pack in as many features
Look and feel of a DSLRIs a DSLR so yea, looks and feels like one too


Now the advantages of a DSLR over a Bridge camera:-


Digital SLRBridge Camera (e.g. Fuji HS50 EXR)
Much better low light performance thanks to the larger sensor allowing for great night shots with no flashWhile the low-light performance may have it trumped the flash does compensate to a large extent. Also in daylight shots there is little difference between the two when viewed on a web album
Shallow depth of field – especially with additional lenses – giving you much better portrait snapsThe fixed lenses of bridge cameras have a lower aperture range so you won’t usually get the same effect however you can ‘fake’ the effect through simple software solutions – Photoshop, picasa and apps like After Focus on Android
Usually faster autofocus While this is true for many bridge cameras it’s not the case for mine (Fuji HS50) which matches and is often faster than your average DSLR at locking focus
RAW mode photography available should you need it (which in many amateur cases you won’t)RAW mode is available in some bridge cameras as well like the Fuji HS50 though I admit I’ve never used it
The placebo effect – makes one feel that by owning it, you automatically take great photographsThe Fuji HS series looks every bit as much as a DSLR and has all the bells and whistles. They even have full manual zoom and focus rings.

I’ve given the Fuji HS 50 as an example as it’s one of the best bridge cameras on the market today (and since I own one I can attest to it's greatness). Also most of my photographs are limited to Facebook albums (yes I’m one of those) and with that massive 24mm to 1000mm lens I don’t ever need to crop into a photo so there’s never any perceptible noise in my photographs (a common issue with all small sensor non-DSLR cameras). For me a good bridge camera is the clear choice and I know that most of you out there are like me. You should know I love experimenting with challenging photography situations and this camera is a perfect tool to give me that freedom (fast shutter, amazing lens, wide ISO range, good screen, tones of useful presets, very good EXR mode (especially the pixel-binning 8MP mode), complete manual zoom and focus plus a great battery life.
A demonstration of the massive zoom capability of today's bridge cameras

I’ve owned a couple of bridge cameras and have no plans of making a switch to a DSLR yet. My bridge camera is ideally suited for long range wildlife shots, landscape panorama shots and macro shots of insects or flowers. For portrait shots I’d use software to blur the background and for night shots I’d use a tripod so in essence I don’t think I’ll need a DSLR. Do you think otherwise?

Check out this video that compares the older HS20 with a Nokon D700 -

Guest post by Prithvi Raj

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Movie Review: After Earth

With all the hype around the much awaited return of the famous father-son duo plus a sci-fi movie filled me with
Image Courtesy of Wikipedia
anticipation on whether the film would leave me astounded just like The Pursuit of Happyness. It let me down sourly.The story was really good(considering Will Smith himself wrote it), an amazing star cast (though it mainly consists of the Smiths..but who does't love them) but the direction was poor which was a major letdown to the audience.The movie starts abruptly, ends abruptly and the middle is really slow and hence leaving the viewers really frustrated.

The plot runs around the lines where the humans are living on another planet called the Nova Prime as Earth becomes inhabitable due to environmental cataclysm.The father-son duo accidentally crash land their ship on earth after being hit by an asteroid shower.The crash leaves Will Smith with two broken legs.So, he sends his son,Jaden Smith (boy, that must be a tough role to enact!!) in search of the beacon in order to send a signal back to Nova Prime. The flora and fauna of Earth are evolved to an extent where they pose a threat to human life. The movie then goes on to show how he has to fight these monstrous creatures and blah blah blah...These full on action scenes leaves me asking one simple yet important question :WHERE ARE THE GUNS???Throughout the movie ,I'm expecting laser guns and other powerful armory to pop out any moment.Sadly, I'm left disappointed with nothing other than good old hand to hand combat.

The movie has a few "over science-fictionalized" scenes which makes it really hard to take the movie seriously. All in all, the below-par direction was the major setback for this movie which otherwise would have been huge with the impressive cast, story line and a couple of special effects.

It's a one time watch unless you are a die-hard Will Smith or sci-fi fan.One thing that did leave me astounded after watching the movie was how young Will Smith still looked. The movie reminded me of his Men in Black days and leaves me in awe.I see a lot of potential in Jaden Smith who is definitely a promising actor and we can definitely hope to see him carve a career similar to his dad's.

My rating: 2/5

One of the best thing related to this movie was when Will & Jaden came on Graham Norton's show.


This video is hilarious and a must watch for The Fresh Prince of Bel Air fans.

This was a post written with inputs from John Cherumala. 

Movie Review: Man of Steel

Man of Steel … Is it the best superhero movie of all time? Well, no… but it is by far the
best superman movie of all time. Why is it so hard to make a good superman movie? Well that’s because of superman’s near god-like powers (thanks to his ability to absorb solar radiation from yellow or blue sunlight) which are:-
  1. By absorbing enough solar radiation superman can ‘effortlessly’ move planets
  2. He has X-ray vision – can see through all objects except lead
  3. Telescopic vision – can see far out into space
  4. Microscopic vision – can see at the subatomic level
  5. Supervision – can see objects moving faster than light
  6. Multispectral vision – can see in the electromagnetic spectrum
  7. Super hearing - He can hear sounds ‘millions’ of miles away and through the vacuum of space (huh)
  8. Super flight  - can fly at 8 times the speed of light
  9. Super strength – can punch with the force of a supernova (10 octillion megatons if you must know)
  10. Super healing – practically invincible, can take being hit by 15 planets and keep on walking
  11. Super breath – can simple blow away the bay guys
  12. Freeze breath – can freeze everything around him
  13. Heat vision – able to incinerate entire planets
  14. Can vibrate his body to phase through objects and turn invisible
  15. Super brain – can process information thousands of times faster than a human brain; has photographic memory; is a technological genius
  16. Invincible – well this has not been stated explicitly but in the comics when he was apparently killed his body went into a healing coma and he soon recovered and was back to kicking ass

His only weakness is kryptonite which takes away all his superpowers and could eventually kill him after prolonged exposure. This why most superman movies involve kryptonite and it’s always the same old wine in a new bottle.  Man of Steel - however is different. It’s about superman, the person. It adds realism and personality to his character. For the first time we can almost relate to him. His struggle with his powers, his dilemma to help people yet remain hidden, his search to find out about his past. 

This movie shows a very human side of him and does it well. Then there’s the villain element. Here superman is up against multiple characters that equal him in strength. The fighting is truly epic with entire city blocks being leveled. The collateral damage adds to the realism. I did find the ending fight to be a bit too Neo Vs Agent Smith (from the matrix) but I guess that’s to be expected and is not necessarily a bad thing.

In summary Man of Steel does a great job in introducing the character. The detailed back story covered very effectively. The action is well paced and all the actors did an excellent job. However I did feel the ending could have been more dramatic. My biggest gripe with the movie though is the frequent use of a shaky cam effect which gets annoying to watch especially in the less action scenes. While it does add some documentary-like feel it’s clearly overused.

I recommend watching the movie. My rating:3.5/5.

Note: do check out DEATH BATTLE! - Goku VS Superman 


It’s a well researched and fun video to watch. I took the list of superman’s powers and abilities from that video and the guys at ScrewAttack put a lot of work into it. 

This was a guest post written by Prithvi Raj aka PR. 

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Movie Review: Now You See Me

Image courtesy of Wikipedia
The trailer of this movie, when it came out last year was very inviting and promising.

It looked like it would be in the lines of  The Prestige and The Illusionist. If you haven't seen these movies, please watch them. They are highly recommended if you like magic and illusion.

It looks like a full action packed magic-adventure roller coaster ride with a phenomenally good cast.

Morgan Freeman & Michael Cane.. Do I need to say more??

And the Hulk aka Mark Ruffalo!!!

The movie starts off really good with a brief background of each magician's specialty. They have been called to a single location by a mysterious person to start their own show in Las Vegas.
They are known as The Four Horsemen!!

The first half of the movie is really fast paced, keeps you at the edge of the seat.

I wish I could say the same of the second half too. I really want to like this movie but the ending of the movie has left a bitter taste in my mouth.

I compare this movie to a three course meal where the starter and main course is out of the world. The dessert just falls flat on the ground. Its like a sunk cake. This is the side effect of watching too many cookery shows.  Must stop watching these shows..  :(

I mean just see this trailer. Its really really good!!


Michael Cane was wasted in this movie. A versatile actor and to be given a minuscule role, such a shame!!
Jesse Eisenberg played Mark Zuckerberg again, the socially awkward guy.

I would recommend this movie to everyone, just to watch the first half of the movie.

My rating: 3/5 (I would have given a 4 but the climax was really blah!!)

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Movie Review: Gippi

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia
This is an out-an-out girly movie.  Lots of fun, laughter, embarrassment, pains of growing up and how life is so over since the guy we had a crush on doesn't even know we existed.

I mean every woman/girl can relate to Gurpreet aka Gippi.

This movie reminded me of all the Hollywood movies that I watched as a kid in the 90's such as Matilda, Little Rascals, Casper,Rookie of the Year, Parent Trap.. Good clean kids movie.


All the actor have done a good job.

Starting with Gippi, she's the clumsy, fat and not so popular girl in school and has her set of friends who are geeky with the stereotypical glasses.

She has her younger annoying brother who provided the comic relief in the movie.

Then you have the popular girls aka the bitches who have straight hair, slim, sexy and hot. I hate those kinds!! :)

Then you have the guys, the chocolate boy and the bad ass. Every girl's kryptonite!!!!

A special mention goes to Divya Dutta for playing the coolest Punjabi mom superbly!





All in all a fun afternoon watch with your girlfriends!!

All the girls/women out there, give this movie a shot. To the guys, don't bother. I'm sure you all would have hated it from the title itself.

My rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Book Review: And The Mountains Echoed

Image courtesy of http://khaledhosseini.com/
Set across different continents and moving across timelines, this new tale from the master story teller -Khaled Hosseini does not fail to strum the chord of emotions like his previous attempts. Clearly, the writing has set new standards, and the art of narration has reached unclaimed heights for this Afghan-born American novelist and physician.( In your face Literary critics, our man has arrived ! ) To be not moved by this heart wrenching story , is to be devoid of any sort of humane emotions( Yes, you read it right ! ).The author who moved millions with his masterful insights on Afghanistan and his awe inspiring choice of words to convey human emotions and is back at what he does best- to write about human bonding and hope that shapes our otherwise rather mundane life.

And The Mountains Echoed tells a tale about siblings Abdullah and Pari , and the bonding they shared . Unlike his previous stories, this book moves across timelines and continents and traces the lives of several important and unimportant characters to give us insights into their lives and emotions. Khaled Hosseini is known to portray freedom in his women characters , which are unheard of in modern day Afghanistan . The narration travels to Greece, France, and California, apart from Afghanistan. He is not to be blamed if one romanticizes about Kabul in the yesteryear's through his flair.  His literary critics may be silenced for a while now , but sometimes the reader finds it a little too much of desperation by the author to take his writing to newer heights by moving across time zones. Yet, he manages to connect the loose ends with a common human bonding and lets the reader out of the dark as the pages turn. Well, this book is a must read for people who loved his previous 2 books and are looking forwards to be emotionally ransacked by yet another one from his stable. This saga of heartbreak and hope is sure to keep his fans closer, and to strike new bonds.

Verdict: Strongly recommended. Go grab the tissues, its another tearjerker.

My rating: 3.5/5


This is our first guest post and it was written by

Manu Mohanan 22.Narcissist.Engineer by education. Catch up with him on http://reviewrevelations.wordpress.com/


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Monday, 10 June 2013

Book Review: Inferno by Dan Brown

Image courtesy of Wikipedia
It took me ages to finish this book, with the exams and all in the way...
Now I ask myself...Was it worth it? Spending time during my exams to read this book??? A total Yes!!! A lot of people may not agree,but I truly loved the book even though the book does bend one's ear at certain chapters. Overall the book was truly enjoyable.
I must say, this is not one of Dan Brown's best but Brown's fans (like moi :) ) would like it anyways.
Starting on Inferno as your first Dan Brown book would definitely leave you astounded by his way of writing. For those, where Inferno isn't their first Dan Brown book,there isn't much of a difference from his previous books.
Introduced to Angels and Demons during high-school left me grasping for my breath after every page and hence it still remains my favorite book of the Robert Langdon series. So in short, if Inferno was your first book then it would definitely become your favorite book and the rest of the other books from the Langdon series would seem parallel in the plot where the world is going to end due to one reason or the other and only Langdon (the history professor),  who is like "totally awesome" with symbols and stuff like that, can save it. The world kinda depends on him and if he can't like decipher the symbols then the world would die!!(this is how the plot was described to me when I asked a high schooler...:P)

Coming back to Inferno,the plot as usual is where this mad scientist (aka Bertrand Zobrist) wants to kill half the population of the world by releasing a plague so that the future generations wont die out due to over population.So what Langdon has to do is prevent the plague from being spread by finding it  before it contaminates the world. Inferno had its twists and keeps you hanging but there are times where it gets a little boring where he describes a little too intricately about the places he travels to in order to find the plague.After reading the book, I don't think I'll ever need to visit Venice.He's already told me what I would see, feel,smell, hear and what not...So this one's out of the list for places to visit in future...hooray!!!! Thanks Dan Brown!! :)

My rating: 3/5

Sunday, 2 June 2013

M.A.C Archie's Girls Eyeliner


I was window shopping in one of the numerous malls in Delhi and I was walking past the M.A.C store  and the below caught my eye.
image courtesy of maccosmetics.com
 My first thoughts were  Archie looks gay, Betty looks like a hooker and Veronica a vamp.

Keeping my feeling aside, I did go into the store. Don't judge me, I used to read tonnes of Archie comics as a kid and still do if I get my hands on one.

They had a lot of products in this range with the cute Archie's packaging. Thankfully the packaging had the comic characters and not the above models!!

I didn't know what to get and I had recently hoarded on quite a bit of make up products. I didn't have the heart to leave the store without buying anything. Then I remembered that I needed a blue eyeliner.


I picked up MAC Archie's Girls Pearlglide Eyeliners in petrol blue.

+ves: the blue color with the glitter, the fact that its long lasting, it doesn't smudge.
-ves: the exorbitant price and the fact that I need to sharpen after every use.

Would I purchase it again?: I'm on the fence on this one. I like it but not sure whether I love it that much to spend so much.

Movie Review: Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani

pic courtesy of Wikipedia
This movie was A Awesome!!! The whole movie is as fun as this movie poster on the right.

There was a lot of hype around the movie because it was the first movie after the Ranbir-Deepika  break up and the promoters of the movie played on that line in the trailers to get people interested.

They didn't need to do that because the movie was bloody good.

This is a typical Karan Johar family entertainer with the whole emotional(rhona-dhona) twist being tuned 10 notches down. There was a bit of drama but then again what would a Karan Johar movie be without it.

Let me start of with the song and dance bit. The songs were catchy. My favorite is "Badtameez Dil". Benny Dayal has sung it beautifully and his voice suits Ranbir to the T. Coming to Ranbir, he was, like Russell Peter would say, "Mind Blasting" in this song.  He danced so well.

Next is "Ghagra" which featured Madhuri Dixit. It was money's worth just to see the goddess dance. She was so graceful and I loved her in this song.

Kalki Koechlin & Aditya Roy Kapoor, playing the friends, were not reduced to just a couple of scenes. They had equal footage in the movie which is commendable and they did full justice to their roles.

Deepika unfortunately didn't have much of a role. I mean she did, after all she's the heroine but I feel  they didn't use her to her full potential. She had a meatier role in Cocktail.

PR somehow got the idea that there was a lesbian angle to the movie and some sort of scene would be there, I'm guessing between Deepika & Kalki. Well sorry to disappoint PR & the rest of the guys - no lesbian scene and no lesbian angle.

This was an out-and-out Ranbir Kapoor movie and he has held the movie strongly on his shoulders. This could be the reason I loved the movie cuz he was just YUM in the movie.

My verdict: 4.5/5