As we look at receiving better news about the pandemic, we must stay put and hold on to what enriches us.
Is there time for self-reflection during this extra busy time you’ve had during the lockdown? You’ve worked from home (extra hours because the notifications don’t stop), there’s chores at home (whether shared or not), and if you have children, there’s homeschooling as well as entertainment to look at. But that chaos has subsided and there’s a routine now within the confines of your home. Your heart, though, remains a rebel. It yearns for something different. You wish there were more of this and less of that...I actually made a list of things I wished to save when this pandemic is better controlled.
If I could I would go back to the little town called Ushuaia, the Southernmost town in the whole world. And when I get there, instead of going down further South to the lonely continent of Antarctica like I did the last time, I would travel up North along the coast of South America for 7,500 km and experience the magic of the Andes. Apologies for sounding like I’m boasting, but when you see gigantic chunks of ice - some as tall as the apartment buildings you live in - collapse into the ocean, it is a sight you will never ever forget. The Glaciers National Park (Parque Nacional Los Glaciares) is one of the most awe-inspiring places on the planet and we need to preserve this treasure for all humanity.
This trailer of Andes Magicos is in Spanish, but why would you need words when you are going to experience the incredible beauty of these mountains? The show on Netflix has subtitles, so you can meet people who are living tough yet simple but elegant lives. She says her great grandparents saw the view, her parents did the same and it is time she and her family wake up to the magic of the mountains and the lake and the trees. The magic of the Andes is so strong. She adds, ‘We belong to where our hearts live. We should live wherever our heart pounds. That’s where we should be.’
When that sinks in, you find yourself wanting to gather your ambitions, your to-do lists and open that file on your computer and calculate again when you could get off the merry-go-round of corporate life, the hamster cage, the everyday and open that jazz restaurant you wanted to forever.
I started watching The Eddy because of jazz, and I got stuck because of the brilliant writing and oh yes, Damien Chazelle. If I didn’t love the films he has made - Whiplash, First Man, La La Land - then I’d be jealous of his ability to pursue his passion. But we are talking about The Eddy. A man’s quest to save not only his jazz theatre but also his life that is coming apart. Relationships and music have never been so beautifully interconnected as they are in this wonderful show on Netflix.
And no, I’m not biased about any streaming platform. It’s also a weekend of birthdays: Madhuri Dixit (May 15) and Pierce Brosnan (May 16). These stars don’t really need an introduction from me, and your everyday cable will be broadcasting all their films. There’s a huge list of their films on Amazon Prime. My favourite appearance of Pierce Brosnan though is in Mrs. Doubtfire. Robin Williams plays a father who is desperate to stay near his kids and Pierce Brosnan plays a suitor to his separated wife. Speaking of going out on a limb for the sake of your children, there’s a Korean show called Angry Mom.
Bullying in schools is not unknown, and you’d do everything to get to the bottom of a system that is rotten and will not protect the innocent. Watch Nil Batey Sannata (on Zee 5) and Hindi Medium (on Amazon Prime Video), but if you like to watch a mom who can truly kick butt by taking a place in her daughter’s high school as a student, then Angry Mom it is. I must confess that I am a huge BTS fan (don’t laugh!) and have followed interesting music coming out of South Korea. I heard the jazz in the title song of the show before I even wanted to see the show. The old fashioned big band jazz singing by Lee Hyun Woo makes you wish more shows experimented with music. The whole Angry Mom jazz album is on YouTube.
Another film that uses cool music, has a fun narration by Stephen Fry and has amazing cinematography is called Dancing With The Birds. That researchers have been observing the birds for twenty-one years, and that you get to see Carolas and Bowerbirds and Manakins and other absolutely wonderful Birds Of Paradise do their serious thing to attract mates. Warning: You may chuckle at Stephen Fry saying, ‘It takes a trained eye to spot the prettiest bottom,‘ but you are bound to struggle to explain if your children are watching with you.
I was most impressed with the mimicry skills of a MacGregor’s Bowerbird that builds towers to attract a female partner. The documentary is only 53 minutes long, but if giggles and guffaws is what your mood demands, this is perfect.
There are so many imperfections in our lives though, that we instinctively sweep them under the carpet. We grow up wanting to be like our dads, wanting to be the best for our families, and want to be the best mothers and fathers we can be. But there are flaws, there are those chinks in your armour that you hide and hope no one gets to see them. Sometimes, we share that pain only with one, perhaps two people who may or may not be taking shelter with you. With these folk, you don’t have to pretend to be perfect. You can share your deepest, darkest place of pain.
If you are like most of us, schooled to hide the pain, watch this father and son journey of life. Although it is a tough watch, and the film is set in a prison (for most part) this coming of age story from the co-author of Black Panther goes deep inside of you and pulls out the hidden demons and makes you face them. Watch All Day And A Night and find pieces of your heart melt.
This film affected me so much that I began to wonder how all those dealing with violence both physical and mental are coping during the lockdown. It’s like being in prison without a ray of hope. But hope is a thing with wings, and I do go back to Amazon Prime Video again and again to watch one of the best films of our times: The Shawshank Redemption. And yes, I do admit, I had the poster once too…
And if that doesn’t make you sink deep into your sofa and sigh into Scotch (or your favourite Pinot), then you may be looking at a different kind of excitement. Presenting another gem called Raid: The Redemption. It’s on Amazon Prime, and you are bound to love it if you live in an apartment building and have a thing for memes. My neighbours may not be as trigger happy or sword and knife-wielding thugs like in this film, but I do feel like I have faced the same villains after an encounter with any one of them. Thankfully, the lockdown has kept all these neighbours inside. Iko Uwais is a fabulous martial artist but the coolest, most murderous, most accomplished villain I have seen in the movies is Mad Dog (played by Yayan Ruhian). Even though I have seen the film many times, Gareth Evans as director is so skillful, I have discovered new awesomeness every single time.
Why are cop shows so popular? I wonder, when trawling through show after show, searching for something different, less predictable to watch. Of course I find the answer in Crisis: Special Security Squad.
Not because the two leading men in the squad are handsome as heck, but that the whole team just fits in perfectly. From the young girl who is a computer wiz to the bespectacled guy who can sniff out explosives and is a one-man bomb squad, to the boss who holds the team together, this show is ten episodes long, and worthy of a binge watch. I have seen how quickly people fall off the straight and narrow and go to ruin when they fall for the dark side, and this show balances action with philosophical questioning very well. Don’t miss the beginning, is advice that works well for the show. As we look at receiving better news about the pandemic, we must stay put and hold on to what enriches us...Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication.