Frasier (Seasons 1-11)

My first brush with Frasier was more than a decade ago on the Star Plus TV channel. Frasier was a staple on it, but I could never understand what was happening and why it was supposed to be funny. After a lifetime, I am glad I gave Frasier another chance.

Frasier (Kelsey Grammar) is a radio psychiatrist, who after a separation with his wife moves to Seattle, to live with his dad and his dog. His younger brother Niles (David Hyde Pierce), also a psychiatrist, lives in the same city embroiled in an unhappy marriage. Completing the family is Daphne, a physical therapist for Frasier’s dad, who lives with them taking care of the house. The humour in the series comes from the differences between these characters and the complexity from Frasier’s conversations on radio. Frasier and Niles are highbrow snobs, while their dad is a beer swilling ex-cop. Add to this the competitive streak between the brothers, which should have died way back in high-school. The public call in to Frasier’s radio show to get advice on their personal problems and the show gets some real depth by linking their troubles to the flaws in Frasier’s persona.

Frasier ran for a stupendous 11 seasons (264 episodes) and getting through Season 1 was the hardest for me. Once the people and format become familiar, Frasier becomes as warm and comfortable as a puppy. Though the script is nothing to write home about, it is the fantastic acting by Kelsey Grammar and especially David Hyde Pierce which makes this series memorable.

There are a few episodes which really stood out for me. Ham Radio (Season 4) was stomach-churning hilarious! Odd Man Out (Season 4) reminded me of the times I felt really alone. Cranes Unplugged (Season 8 ) showed how things like TV and busyness can hide dissent in the family, instead of bringing it out and making everyone discuss the issues. Rooms with a View (Season 10) was an especially poignant episode, which reminded me of tense moments spent in hospitals with sick family members.

Watching through a TV series this long feels like living a lifetime with the characters. I am glad to say that Frasier is well worth the time! 🙂

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Prithvi (ಪೃಥ್ವಿ)

Prithvi (ಪೃಥ್ವಿ), a 2010 Kannada movie, brings together my current favorite on-screen pair: Puneeth Rajkumar and Parvathi Menon. I loved their chemistry in Milana and was eager for more. The illegal mining happening in Bellary district of Karnataka is the topic of this movie. That also explains the title, Prithvi is a Sanskrit word meaning earth.

Prithvi (Puneeth) is a new IAS officer who is posted to Bellary district soon after his marriage to Parvathi. Dust, dryness and disease pervades Bellary. On a visit to the district hospital that is choking with asthma patients, Prithvi discovers that the air and water in the region is completely polluted due to mining. Following that lead, he discovers that the mining companies are operating in the district paying no heed to regulations of any kind. When he tries to control the mining, he discovers how the mining barons control all the politicians right up to the state ministry. With sensationalistic TV channels turned onto him and his wife expecting a baby, he finds himself between a rock and a hard place.

Directed by Jacob Varghese, Prithvi could not have been any more pertinent! The Reddy brothers mining mafia that is raping Bellary and pulling the strings of the BJP government in Karnataka right now is depicted well. As you can expect, one IAS officer cannot end corruption of this scale and thankfully the movie does not offer such a solution. The script is well written, the movie is fast paced and there is not a single boring moment. Puneeth and Parvathi have acted well, Puneeth is really starting to show his chops in non-action roles. The music by Manikanth Kadri is pleasing, the songs Haagella Nee Nodabeda, Hejjegondu and Ninagende Viseshaa are still on my playlist. All in all, Prithvi is an excellent movie that should not be missed.

Flight: Volume One

Consider my surprise on finding all volumes of the Flight series one evening at a branch of the Singapore Public Library! Flight is an anthology of comic works by creative young artists that is edited by Kazu Kibuishi. He is famous for his Copper series which I am familiar with. Published in 2004, Flight: Volume One brings together 22 creations from young independent artists, some of them brilliant in their vision and artwork, all loosely based on the theme of flight.

A couple of works which I loved in this volume are by Kazu Kibuishi and Neil Babra. Copper: The Maiden Voyage is by Kazu himself, filled with his trademark characters Copper and his talking dog Fred. Living in their dream world, which will seem surprisingly familiar to anyone who had a childhood, they build their first plane and attempt flight. Taj Mahal by Neil Babra attempts a different take on the flight theme. The protagonist is an Indian who returns home from America and we see a different India through his prism.

Flight: Volume One was a good enough compilation of comics that I am now interested to read the rest of the series! 🙂

The Guru

The Guru is a fun movie which in retrospect I should have seen a long time ago, considering how much it used to show up on Star Movies and HBO. Jimi Mistry stars as a dance instructor from India who arrives in USA with dreams of becoming a movie star. Having no luck at the movies he ends up acting for an adult movie with Heather Graham. With some philosophy from her and a stroke of luck he turns into a guru who preaches sex as the solution to all problems in life. With the help of Marisa Tomei, he gains popularity but it also brings distance between him and Graham who he loves.

Despite what its theme might suggest, The Guru is a good clean romantic comedy that is lots of fun to watch. A tight plot and fast pace ensures that there is no boring moment. Definitely an entertaining movie to watch once.