#366days366posts – Day 60 – And the Oscar goes to……

What a night it was! Recognition, redemption and glory all on display on a night when Chris Rock’s one-liners were as much the topic of talk as the awards. Readers will remember that I had attempted to predict the winners of the awards last week. Now that the results are out, let us see how my predictions went. I will list the categories with the winner in bold green and my prediction (if different) in bold black.

Best Picture
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
Martian
The Revenant
Room
Spotlight

Best Director
Adam McKay (The Big Short)
George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Alejandro Inarritu (The Revenant)
Lenny Abrahamson (Room)
Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)

Best Actor
Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)
Matt Damon (The Martian)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)
Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett (Carol)
Brie Larson (Room)
Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)
Charlotte Rampling (45 years)
Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale (The Big Short)
Tom Hardy (The Revenant)
Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)
Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)
Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)
Rooney Mara (Carol)
Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)
Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)
Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

Best Original Screenplay
Matt Charman, Joel & Ethan Coen (Bridge of Spies)
Alex Garland (Ex Machina)
Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley (Inside Out)
Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer (Spotlight)
Andrea Berloff, Jonathan Herman, S Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus (Straight Outta Compton)

Best Visual Effects
Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Martian

This means I got 3 categories out of 8 correct which translates to 37.5%. I think this is the lowest success rate for me in the past 5-6 years.

It was quite gratifying to see Leonardo DiCaprio finally covet the Oscars for the first time. His performance in ‘The Revenant’ wasn’t his best according to me but he has been recognized for the hardwork that he has put in. Brie Larson won hands down – there really was no opposition for her as far as the Best Actress category was concerned. Alejandro Inarritu is the dream director now – back-to-back Oscars for him!

However, I was disappointed to see Rooney Mara lose out on the Best Supporting Actress yet again. Maybe, like DiCaprio her time will come some soon. ‘Spotlight’ over ‘Room’ for Best Picture was probably very, very close. ‘Mad Max’ winning six awards was way beyond even my wildest imagination.

I look forward to the next Oscars. Hope my predictions will be more accurate next time. I have a point to prove, don’t I? 🙂

#366days366posts – Day 59 – Doubts

The sky laid a canvas for his dreams;
To paint the picture perfect clouds.
He could hear the claps in his mind;
The hands that didn’t cast doubts.

The equestrian field, an opportunity;
Greatness beckoned the show jumper.
A grand podium finish he did visualize;
The nervy horse cast doubts.

The theatre looked a surreal planet;
With a new star to be unleashed.
She had a spring in her step;
The piercing stare cast doubts.

How do we overcome doubts?
A positive thought, pat on the back.
Rise above the doubts we should,
For glory beckons at the end of it.

#366days366posts – Day 58 – Is the government’s GDP projection realistic?

The Government of India released the economic survey for 2015-16 the other day which says that India’s GDP could grow between 7-7.75% in 2016-17. The GDP growth for 2015-16 according to an advanced estimate has been pegged at 7.6% vs 7.2% for 2014-15. I think the government should have adopted a more conservative approach on GDP projection for the next fiscal.

The outlook for the world as a whole continues to remain bleak. The World Bank projects the world to grow only by 2.9 % in 2016 and 3.1 % in 2017 as well as 2018. Against such a backdrop, I believe the government could have pegged the GDP growth for fiscal 2017 between 6-6.5% which would be far more realistic, not only to achieve but also to believe. It is true that they have provided for a wider margin for the projection for the next fiscal, but the upper end of that margin is simply not attainable. If we are lucky, we may scrape 7% but it looks like 6.5% would be reasonable.

The survey also says that the correlation between world economic growth and growth in India has doubled from 0.2 to 0.42. With the World Bank estimate suggesting a stagnant to decelerating growth rate, such a positive correlation should have resulted in a much more prudent estimate. The doubling of the correlation is a sign that India would be impacted more than before if a recession were to hit – the probability of which is increasing.

In 2014-15, the government had projected the GDP to grow at 8.5% in 2015-16 but even in the advanced estimate, the growth likely to be achieved is only 7.6%. Given that the projection is off by close to 1% with a month to go for end of fiscal, this year’s survey could have addressed the situation a bit better. It would have put the government in a better light if the state of affairs  were to turn out really bad.

#366days366posts – Day 57 – The Baby Sweaters

Gloria finished stitching the third baby sweater. Just one more to go, she calculated.

The four baby sweaters would be all she would leave for her three sons and only daughter who had banished her to the bridge house. She would rewrite her last will. They would not get a single penny. Gloria made a mental note to contact her lawyer.

This would be her retribution. A stinging reminder of a mother’s eternal love for her children.

#366days366posts – Day 56 – The Soiled Shirt (a different take)

“Acha, very happy to see you again,” Mythili exclaimed when she saw her father as she answered the doorbell. It had been more than 6 months since she last saw him.

Her happiness quickly made way for petulance as she saw her father’s soiled shirt. “Why don’t you wear some of the nice shirts I had given last year? You always seem to wear only this one. Look at it, it’s dirty, the white color has faded and you look terrible wearing it,” she complained.

“Ha ha ha, it’s okay dear. You know I only wear this type. This is what I’m. Stop fussing about it.” Rama Panikker admonished.

“But still, look at you,” she pleaded. Her father just smiled.

Mythili realized that each time her father had come to visit the family – she, her husband and her two boys – he had on the same shirt – soiled, the white color drained and in a pathetic condition. She had felt sorry for him as he had to work really hard to bring up a large family. He was still the simple man of 30 years back, even though the situation had improved quite a bit. Mythili decided to do something about the shirt this time.

The family had an early but hearty lunch during which Rama Panikker had shared the happenings at the village.

“You know Keerthana, the daughter of the temple priest?” her father asked. “Oh yes, I know her,” Mythili answered.

“Ah, she eloped with a fellow student from her college last month. The priest and his wife were terribly agitated at this and it took a lot of effort to console them,” her father narrated.

“Oh God, did she come back? Or is she still not contacting her parents?” Mythili enquired.

“No, there is no information about her after the news of the elopement.” her father responded.

“The pawnbroker Kumaran has shut down his shop and gone to the Middle East,” her father continued.

Mythili’s husband Mayur looked up on hearing this piece of news. “The last time we saw him, he said his son was going to the Middle East. Is he joining his son or did he go of his own?” he asked.

“Yes, he is joining his son. Apparently, the son had earned some money and wanted Kumaran to join him. It’s unlikely they will return anytime soon,” Mythili’s father quipped.

Mayur smiled, nodded his head in understanding and went back to his lunch.

Rama Panikker asked about his grandchildrens’ school, happenings in the city and about the new home that Mythili and Mayur were planning to purchase later that summer.

The lunch done, Mythili’s father decided that he wanted to sleep for a while before he headed back home. Mythili agreed to wake him up at 3.30.

A while after he had gone to bed and was sound asleep, Mythili, Mayur and her two boys put a plan into action.

At 3.30 in the afternoon, Mythili woke her father up. “Acha, it’s 3.30,” she said.

Rama Panikker stirred, rubbed his eyes, stifled a yawn and said, “Okay, dear. Get me some tea. Soon after, I will be leaving. It’s a long journey back home.”

“Yes, Acha. By the time you get fresh, I will get tea for you.” Mythili promised.

He washed his face, arranged his bag and then looked for his shirt. It was then that he realized that the shirt wasn’t where he had placed it before his nap. He searched elsewhere in the room with no luck. It was missing.

“Mythili, where is my shirt?” he was suddenly agitated. He was a man or order and detested chaos.

“Please have your tea, Acha. I will search for your shirt. You must have misplaced it somewhere,” Mythili volunteered.

Rama Panikker stepped out and walked to the dining room where tea and snacks had been laid. As her father sipped the piping hot tea and partook the delicious snacks, Mythili and her two boys put another plan into action.

By the time Rama Panikker had finished his tea and snacks, Mythili was by his side again. “Your shirt is on the hanger in your room, Acha,” she said.

“Huh? But it…….it was not there when I looked,” her father was bewildered. He was sure his eyes did not play any tricks on him. It was true that he was getting older, but he trusted his eyes more than any other sense. He quickly went to the room where he had his nap and was astonished to find a white shirt, as good as new, in the hanger.

“This is not my shirt, Mythili,” he called out aloud.

“It is Acha. Just look at the inside of the collar. The label is the same. Your favorite,” Mythili tried to convince her father.

Not one to be easily fooled, her father took the shirt from the hanger and started inspecting it. “But….But….this can’t be mine. I had worn a different one when I came in the morning,” he insisted.

“There are none of your shirts here. So this has to be yours,” Mythili was trying hard to suppress a giggle.

“But how did it become whiter? Besides, the stains have vanished.” With each inspection, her father refused to believe that the shirt was his.

Seeing the confusion on her father’s face, Mythili decided to spill the beans. Her two boys started giggling.

“Acha, when you were asleep, I took the shirt which you had draped in the hanger, washed it thoroughly, laid it out in the hot sun to dry and put it back when you were having tea.”

“What?” Mythili’s father could not believe what he was hearing.

“Look at how better it is now. The dust is gone, the stains are gone. You’ll look more presentable.” Mythili made her point.

Rama Panikker could not believe that his dearest shirt had undergone a makeover. Though he was mildly upset at the state of his shirt, he was happy for his daughter and grandchildren. They indeed loved him.

He smiled finally and put on the shirt. Mythili was exceedingly happy to see her father wear the clean shirt. He looked at the mirror, grinned, took his bag and prepared to leave.

“I had better get going. It’s already 4:00 and I’m late because of the confusion with the shirt. I have to rush,” he was suddenly aware of the time.

“Mayur will drive you to the bus station. You will reach there faster and will get your usual 4:25 bus to the village,” Mythili said.

This was another surprise for him. His son-in-law had never dropped him off at the bus station, not even once.

The sound of the horn woke everyone up from their little reverie. Rama Panikker hugged his daughter and his grandchildren and stepped into the car. “Shall we go?” a smiling Mayur asked.

“Yes, son. Let’s go.”

The car soon started and Mythili’s father waved goodbye to his closest family. Mythili watched with teary eyes while her boys smiled at each other, quite happy at having been part of a prank but with good intentions.

Annotations:
Achan – father

This story is largely inspired from a true incident. However, the names of the characters are not real, they are imaginary.

#366days366posts – Day 55 – The Soiled Shirt

The sun beat down radiantly,
With sharpness unrestrained.
Wilted trees; parched land;
The village struggled to the core.
As she alighted her hut,
Approached a man in soiled shirt.
Frazzled hair and grisly beard;
Skin bone-dry and eyes scratched;
The world seemed to be against him,
So haggard and hopeless did he look!
He gazed left and then right,
Unsure which way his hopes lay.
Feeling pity on the poor soul,
A jar half-filled with water,
She offered the disheveled man.
His sunken eyes brightened,
While he clutched at the jar.
Smiled she as he drank to the brim.
She went inside; fetched a shirt,
As white as an angel’s wings; and,
Happily presented to the lost soul.
Tears welled down his cheeks;
Lips trembled, hands shook;
As he accepted her generosity.
He turned around, began to walk,
To a destination even now unknown.
She smiled as well as sighed;
Cheerful but confused nonetheless!

#366days366posts – Day 54 – Predicting the Oscar winners

With only a few days to go before the Oscar winners are announced, let me get back to the prediction game. Readers of this blog will recall that I had a decent success rate predicting the nominees for the awards. I had promised a piece on predicting the winners as well. This piece is a fulfillment of that promise. The categories of prediction are the same as before and the predicted winner is highlighted in bold in each of the categories. Come Sunday, 28 February night (early Monday 29 February morning in India), we will know how we stand on this prediction. Hope I’m luckier this time!

Best Picture
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
Martian
The Revenant
Room
Spotlight

Best Director
Adam McKay (The Big Short)
George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Alejandro Inarritu (The Revenant)
Lenny Abrahamson (Room)
Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)

Best Actor
Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)
Matt Damon (The Martian)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)
Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett (Carol)
Brie Larson (Room)
Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)
Charlotte Rampling (45 years)
Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale (The Big Short)
Tom Hardy (The Revenant)
Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)
Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)
Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)
Rooney Mara (Carol)
Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)
Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)
Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

Best Original Screenplay
Matt Charman, Joel & Ethan Coen (Bridge of Spies)
Alex Garland (Ex Machina)
Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley (Inside Out)
Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer (Spotlight)
Andrea Berloff, Jonathan Herman, S Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus (Straight Outta Compton)

Best Visual Effects
Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Martian

Here’s some interesting tidbits concerning this year’s awards:

♣ This is the second consecutive year that a film from Alejandro Inarritu is running for the Oscars. Birdman won Best Picture, Best Direction and Best Original Screenplay Oscars last year.

♣ If Eddie Redmayne covets the Oscar again this year, it will be the first time since Tom Hanks (Philadelphia, 1993 & Forrest Gump, 1994) that an actor would win back-to-back Oscars.

♣ Our very own Priyanka Chopra is one of the award presenters this time. It is not yet clear the category of award she will be presenting.