Spider-Man: Far From Home is a fun trip that lives up to expectations

The wall-crawling Avenger is back to close the phase 3 of MCU. This time the stakes are higher and some unanswered questions are addressed. This is a spoiler-free review, so keep reading.

Read more: A love letter to MCU from a fan with no ticket

Spider-man: Far from home takes place after the events of Avengers: Endgame where the Avengers re-snapped the universe. So fan expectations were unusually high. Does Peter Parker deservedly carry on the legacy of his mentor Tony Stark?

Far From Home, the sequel to Homecoming, easily bests its predecessor.

Homecoming ignored repetitive things like the death of uncle Ben, the hardship of Aunt May and the origin story of Peter Parker becoming a superhero.

However, Spider-man: Far From Home ups the ante and tries something that has never been done with this character. Peter is on the verge of becoming a responsible individual, only to be hindered by teenage angst and identity crisis. For the first time, a Spider-Man film did not take place entirely in New York.

Destination Europe

Spider-man: Far From Home is a fun trip that lives up to expectations

The world mourns the death of the fallen Avengers, but life goes on and Peter is prepping for a Euro trip with his school buddies. He wants to leave behind his spandex life and spend some quality time with MJ. Unbeknownst to him, aunt May packed his luggage with a suit (which will come in handy later in the film).

Peter plans to ask out MJ in Europe. The high schoolers visit Venice, Paris and other landmarks but the Euro trip goes haywire when a supervillain named the Elementals start destruction in Venice. Peter and his friends were just off a boat. He left his suit in the hotel room. with a pair of web shooters his utmost effort to stop the antagonist was not enough.

Spider-man: Far From Home is a fun trip that lives up to expectations

That’s when the fan-favourite Mysterio aka Quentin Beck arrives in the scene. He teams up with Peter but almost single-handedly stops the destruction. We see a glimpse of Mysterio in the opening scene of the film, where Nick Fury and Maria Hill acts as a witness.

Fury coerces a reluctant Peter to suit up and go to his secret lair. Peter finds out Quentin Beck is working with Fury to take down the Elementals. Quentin hints of a multiverse, claiming he came from Earth, just not the one Peter lives in. Throughout the movie, other versions of the Elementals make an appearance. These villains were loosely based on old Marvel characters like Hydro-Man and Molten Man, giving fans a scope to replenish some comic book memories.

To be honest, it is hard to write a no spoiler review of Far From Home, without telling enough about the plot. There’s deception, old enemies and loads of surprise to keep you on the edge of your seat. Peter inherits a pair of high tech glasses named Edith (courtesy of Tony Stark), capable of worldwide surveillance and destruction. Edith plays a central role in the movie, putting Peter on the forefront of enemies he must stop.

An entertaining thrill ride

John Watts returns in the director’s chair, and he does a good enough job to give Spider-Man the opportunity to shine as an Avenger when the world is at stake. The brilliant cast is the heart of the show, you will be occupied with laughter, emotional turmoil and gasping for more throughout the movie.

Spider-man: Far From Home is a fun trip that lives up to expectations

Tom Holland is impressive, but Jake Gyllenhaal’s first outing as Mysterio is something to die for. Samuel L Jackson is as charismatic as he was in the other MCU entries and seems like he’s not leaving the Marvel world anytime soon. Zendaya plays an unconventional MJ, putting a refreshing vibe on the character. Jacob Batalon’ Ned Leeds is the quintessential friend Peter needs by his side. He is super funny and provides some essential jokes to make the audience smile.

There are two post-credit scenes that might just be the best part of the movie.

Far From Home is the last MCU movie of 2019 and albeit an unmissable one.

Get your tickets from Star Cineplex to watch Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Toy Story 4 is a heart melter that makes us crave for more sequels

The last Toy Story movie came out 9 years ago which seemingly gave the franchise a decisive ending. But never say never in sequel hungry Hollywood. Pixar just gave us another round of “Talking toys with identity crisis” and surprisingly, it’s a gem.

We rarely see sequels that fulfil our expectations. Thankfully, Toy Story 4 proved to be an exception. With a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it is an unmissable movie.

Toy Story 4 is a refreshing and witty addition to the series.

The animation is stunning, the jokes are laugh out loud material and like other Pixar titles, this one aligns well with a subtle melancholy.

Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz (Tim Allen) bonds with their colourful crew of toy buddies. The existing characters were fun to watch, but the newer ones are equally charming. After Toy Story 3, what could possibly happen to Sheriff Woody and friends?

You’ve got a friend in me!

Toy Story 4 is a heart melter that makes us crave for more sequels 4

Andy is all grown up and his toys are transferred to another kid named Bonnie. Bonnie is very fond of playtimes but for some strange reason, Woody is not among her favourite toys. When Bonnie goes to her orientation day at kindergarten, she struggles to fit in and make new friends. Unbeknownst to her, Woody sneaked into her backpack and decided to give her a morale boost. Bonnie ended up DIY-ing a new toy and named it Forky (Forky is a plastic fork so the name makes sense). Bonnie loves Forky and wants to take him on a road trip with her, but Forky disagrees and tries to escape.

The thing is, Forky is made up of trash bin throwaways. He doesn’t think of himself as a real toy, hence always referring to himself as “trash”. Forky believes he belongs to a wastebasket where he can live a cosy and safe life. But Woody’s samaritan persona incessantly lectures Forky how important it is for him to keep Bonnie happy. Forky opens up existential questions that trouble Woody likewise- What is a toy without the love of a child? Can a lost toy find meaningful life? Is it okay to leave a kid once s/he grows up and move on for further adventures?

Toy Story 4 is a heart melter that makes us crave for more sequels

A theme that echoes throughout the movie is finding your true self.

In this case, it’s Woody who needs a little push to recalibrate his purpose as a toy. “Nothing lasts forever and you can always find new avenues to start over”. Woody learns this at the end of the movie.

We see flashback scenes, snippets of kid Andy playing with his toys, rescue missions, reunions…what not! One of the paramount reasons we loved this movie is because of its antagonist characters (read: toys). We sort of liked the Huggin’ bear fromToy Story 3, he’s an okay-ish villain. But the one you’ll see in Toy Story 4 is too cute and has sentimental agendas. We don’t want to spoil anything about this movie but you’ll love her for sure.

Greatest animated fanservice (probably)

People who have grown up watching Toy Story will especially like this sequel. It’s emotionally charged, has got fantastic dialogues and the narrative pays off.

The surge of female empowerment in Hollywood movies is evident in recent times, Toy Story 4 also leverages it to put girl toys on the forefront. Little Bo Peep, Gabby Gabby and Jessie get their ‘Power girl’ moments and leaves an inspiring momentum for young girls.

Toy Story 4 is a heart melter that makes us crave for more sequels

One would be happy to see all the fan favourite characters return after a 9-year hiatus. But when comedian Don Rickles (the voice of Mr Potatohead) passed away in 2017, we were half expecting to see some form of tribute to the moustached Potato we loved. Thanks to Pixar, they rummaged through old recordings of Rickles when he lent his voice for the trilogy and used it as a tribute to the actor. Director Josh Cooley deserves a pat on his back for such an amazing job.

This is one film you don’t wanna miss out. Do yourself a favour and watch it in Cineplex. Stick around till the end credits for bonus surprises.

Things you certainly miss from the 2000s

The 2000s were not just a wonderful decade from your old calendar. It was a melting pot of music, movies, fashion, literature (and everything cool) that was deemed unruly but kickstarted a new wave of culture in Bangladesh.

At the turn of the 21st century, globalization was having a massive impact on our life in Dhaka. Yours truly, like any other 90’s kid, have been part of the following things that made us giddy and still aches our heart to go back to the 2000s.

1. CDs

Courtesy: Bangla CD Covers

Before piracy took over the country, the premium medium for listening to music was CD. Compact discs sold like hot cakes prior to the advent of illegal websites like Doridro or Fusionbd.

Tahsan, the famed celebrity was reminiscing about the golden days of physical music on a radio show saying, “This one morning, I got a call from my record label G-series. They congratulated me as my solo album “Krittodasher Nirban” sold out a million copies. They also wanted me to stop by their office to collect the royalty.” You see, people didn’t hesitate to buy music legally. It’s just the internet who interfered and the rest is a tragedy.

2. FM radio

It was 2006 when I was playing around with a gigantic radio. I was rotating the notch in hopes to catch the Bangladesh Betar. But to my utter surprise, I found radio Today, the first 24-hour radio station of the country. The station was running its test transmission. This was the first time I heard the word ‘Radio Jockey’, a jargon unheard of among the millennials of Dhaka. And thank God, the FM stations brought diversity in their playlist unlike Bangladesh Betar and rose to stratospheric popularity.

Soon enough, a couple of other stations joined the cohort and catered audio entertainment to a generation who barely tuned to a radio station beforehand.

Rasel bhai…or Loveguru, anyone?

3. ETV

If you had cable tv subscription at your home in the early 2000s, consider yourself lucky. Ekushey television was launched in 2000. The only open terrestrial channel (other than BTV) became a household name across the country.

Kids and adults who used to nag their parents for dish antenna were soon engrossed in shows produced by the channel. Every drama, telefilm, dubbed series or music videos ETV premiered turned into a cultural phenom.

Who could forget the witty Debashish Biswash hosting ‘Pather Panchali’ or the graceful Ahmed Rubel starring in the horror series ‘Pret’? I used to wait for music video reruns around 6 pm just before I dragged myself for studies. Those were the days!

4. The Underground scene

A new wave of band music was emerging from the underground scene. Limited fanbase and genres which have never been done before by local musicians were prerequisites of the UG movement. Bands like Black, Artcell, Cryptic Fate, Arbovirus and many more notable names became part of this journey and are still going strong with their stellar on stage presence.

Read more: Great Bangladeshi bands that disappeared after their debut album

Just imagine some kid walking into a CD store to discover the newly released record of Artcell. The fantasy gives me shivers down the spine!

5. Cyber cafe

In the 2000s, a few fortunate people had access to super slow dial-up internet. For the rest of us, we had cyber cafes. Every alley of Dhaka city swarmed with cyber cafes, and I don’t remember any of them serving caffeine drinks of any sort.

The Cybercafe was the place where cubicles were set up for your privacy so that you browse the ‘Yahoo messenger’ era internet for 30 TK/hour.

Raise your hand if you took a friend to a cafe to open your first Facebook account.

6. Landline

Land phones were still relevant in the 2000s. Talking to your friends or significant other was made easier by landlines. People even fell in love with strangers by calling the wrong number in hopes to meet someone of the opposite sex. To have a landline connection, one had to go through seemingly endless paperwork. Can you imagine some govt employee giving you hell because you want to have a landline at your home? Gen Z would be bewildered to hear such fairy tales.

Do you ever feel burned out over all the technological amenities that claim to make our life easier? I certainly do. The list can go on since there was no shortage of awesomeness in the 2000s. Yellow taxi, film camera and Tin Goyenda is just a few other names that still makes us nostalgic.

John Wick 3: A better sequel with a bigger kill count

Baba Yaga is back. Keanu Reeve’s third time playing John Wick pays off with ultimate fan service to the lovers of action movies. ‘John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum’ dazzles with fewer dialogues and a bazillion of action setpieces. It seems like the franchise is more interested in worldbuilding rather than a decent script and honestly, we don’t complain.

People don’t go to theatres expecting a John Wick movie to be a storytelling spectacle. If you can ignore some necessary aspects, this film will get your approval as the ‘Edge of the seat’ action mayhem we have not seen since the likes of Mission Impossible: Fallout. Rest assured that you will walk out of the theatre with a vertiginous head. The film is unquestionably violent and mostly, all caps LARGER THAN LIFE.

Run Wick, run!

Director Chad Stahelski’s third entry in the R-rated franchise has got lots of guns, knives and even books as weapons. Parabellum picks up from where the second movie ended. Out soft-spoken antihero, John Wick is declared ‘excommunicado’ by the ruling assassin council ‘The High Table’. With a $14 million bounty on his head, Wick races throughout New York City and eventually, to Casablanca to mitigate his enmity with the high table.

Meanwhile, a mysterious woman called ‘The adjudicator’ pays a visit to the Continental hotel. She warns Winston (Ian McShane)- the manager of Continental to step down from his position. The adjudicator stated it is only because of Winston that John Wick could spill blood in Continental grounds and the high table can’t spare this. The Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) also gets a visit from her. Just like Winston, he is guilty of helping John Wick (he gave Wick a gun). He laughs it off when The adjudicator tells him to leave town.

Wick meets Sophia (Halle Berry) who happens to be an old colleague. Sophia is in no mood to assist him but ends up joining his quest for old times sake. To make amends, Wick tries to find a man called ‘The Elder’, who sits above the high table. But he’s untraceable, can John find him for redemption?

The good, the bad and the bullets

The first act is arguably the best part of the movie. John Wick movies are not known so much for stories as for brilliantly crafted action sequences. The franchise ups its ante with a uniquely presented fight and chase sequences. If there was an Oscar for stuntwork, this move would have won every one of them. Action is the heart of this movie and the only reason we’d recommend you to watch it in theatres.

They say, ‘Your heroes are only as good as your villains’.

What’s an action movie without a terrific villain? Apparently, it’s the area where Parabellum falls short. Zero (Mark Dacascos) the knife-wielding ninja is the baddie of this film. Despite his martial arts masterworks and unwarranted wit, we were not overly fond of him.

John Wick 3 is rightfully a neo-noir bloodbath which ends on a dramatic note but teases for more sequel.

We’ll probably see Halle Berry in a meaningful role next time. Her cameo sets up the backdrop of what she might be up to in the next film.

So go to Star Cineplex if you love the puppy loving hit-man John Wick. Get your tickets from here.

Bonus: This time, there’s a lot of horses as well, and they kick major ass!

Great Bangladeshi bands that disappeared after their debut album

Recently, I came across an article stating, “People stop discovering music after 30”. This is a rather downlifting study for many of us. There will never be a shortage of great music. But most often they are unnoticed and dominated by substandard crap. Bangladeshi millennials can boast of the band music scene they have grown up listening since the 2000s. Speaking of, have we given due attention to the bands who rightfully deserved it?

Read more: Not just a clone: the Imagine Radio Story

Making a career as a band musician is hard in Bangladesh. Many promising bands have shown their potential but eventually gravitated towards other professions. Apparently making music can barely pay your bills. So this article is a homage to the bands who have shown tremendous musicianship but faded out of the scene. Some of them went abroad, others are inactive…or subject to typical rockstar feud.

Icons

Great Bangladeshi bands that disappeared after their debut album

Icons is an alternative rock band who released their debut album Ishshoronio in 2005. Before landing a studio album deal with G-series, Icons made quite a name through various mixed albums. Yours truly still fantasizes about their reunion show…maybe in the distant future.

Notable tracks: Oporanho, Ishshoronio, Neon

Read more: Sodium Batir Gaan – changing the culture of open air music

Vibe

Great Bangladeshi bands that disappeared after their debut album

If I could resurrect one band from dormancy, it would be VIBE. This alternative/heavy metal band created a lot of buzz when their album ‘Chena Jogot’ hit the market in 2007. I remember my peers complimenting about Vibe by saying, “they could be the next Artcell!”. Let’s not go into comparison because Vibe have created a sound of their own. Please come back, we need you!

Notable tracks: Shesher opashe, Nostalgia, Shopnodeb

Read more: Bangladeshi graphic novels: 5 essential reads

The Watson Brothers

Great Bangladeshi bands that disappeared after their debut album

Cryptic Fate and The Attempted Band, two bands that varied in genre, got together to form ‘The Watson Brothers’. Thankfully, the chemistry worked very well. In 2003, TWB released their album “Ohom”. The band may not be around anymore, but their songs are actively performed by Cryptic Fate (which is a relief).

Notable tracks: Rong, Akash, Ohom

Minerva

Great Bangladeshi bands that disappeared after their debut album

Minerva came into limelight with their epic medley of 19 minutes (A tribute to Bangladeshi bands). It transcended every frontier of awesomeness that to call it a cover will be an understatement. But the groove metal band have cemented their position in the music scene with their debut album “Biday Shongbidhan” (2013). The band has been inactive for quite a while. We can only hope their comeback with this year’s Rocknation.

Notable tracks: Ashirbaad, Jaatra, Mrittur Shesh Choy

These artists attest to the fact “Quality matters, not quantity”.

The mentioned bands gave us priceless music. The only thing we demand from them is a reunion gig.

Remember, hope is a great thing!

Watch: Zamor, a Bangladeshi in the French Revolution

(Album artworks featured in this article are courtesy of banglacdcovers.blogspot.com. Head over to their blog to see hi-res scanned image of old, new and rare CD covers)

A love letter to MCU from a fan with no ticket

Dear MCU,

Hope this letter finds you in good spirit. I know you are too busy to respond, but I wanted to let you know what you mean to us.

The millennials needed a major pop culture boost. We were fatigued to drool over dated fandoms. We needed something of our own.

And we got one. The mighty Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Read more: “Thank you, Marvel” – a fan looks back on 10 years of the MCU

The Messiah

Before MCU, comic book adaptations on the silver screen were always dissed by the producers. We sure had some darling flicks at the turn of the century such as Sam Raimi’s Spiderman and the X-Men trilogy, but they were deemed as nothing but potboilers. One 20th Century Fox executive even went on to say the genre ends with X-Men: The Last Stand, there is no future for this kind of rubbish. But tables were meant to turn. With the release of Batman Begins in 2005, superhero movies got a wholly new facelift. Chris Nolan aptly destigmatized Batman movies. But something was missing. We were half expecting some messiah would step in to make some superhero flicks featuring our larger than life heroes.

Finally, the messiah came and conquered.

His name is Kevin Feige.

The mastermind behind the monumental success of MCU. He pitched the idea of an inter connected movie franchise spanning decades. The major reason DC could not win in the theaters on par with Marvel because they couldn’t hire someone like Feige.

The big bang

It all started with Iron Man in 2008. The very idea of post-credit scenes in superhero films was entwined in this movie, and I missed it the first time. Nick Fury sneaking inside Stark mansion to approach Tony for a superhero team-up? It felt surreal. Who could have thought the possibility of one behemoth superhero movie like the Avenger (2012)? Four separate franchises were following a pathway to culminate into one historical motion picture.

The summer Avengers was released, I didn’t go to the theatre to have cinematic experience of some sort. I was just so happy to see four of my poster heroes fighting as a team. But the movie made our jaws drop, eyes bulge and hairs on our back raise in respect. It is arguably (one of the) greatest comic book adaptation till this day and years to come. A big hug for director Joss Whedon. I felt sad when he had to deal critically with Disney execs over creative issues. The man wanted Spiderman and other characters to appear in Age of Ultron. Instead, he got Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Can we blame him for his exasperation to direct the highly anticipated sequel?

On the darker side

The MCU has its fair share of haters too. Loki is the only grade A villain in the whole universe. I am intentionally excluding Winter Soldier, he doesn’t really count as a foe, does he? Thanos should not be compared with other names whatsoever. So where does it put MCU in the radar?

Cool action movies on steroids with unimpressive baddies? Maybe.

The directors who have worked relentlessly for phase 1-3 deserve a round of applause. The Russo brothers deserve something more, like a gigantic bouquet the size of a hulkbuster suit.

The people who made it happen

MCU succeeded with flying colors. One key reason is the casting. The people who played their respective characters in the movies, were meant to play those parts. Can you imagine Tom Cruise as Tony Stark? He almost bagged the role of this fancy billionaire if former cocaine junkie Downey Jr didn’t show his relentless passion to make a comeback in Hollywood. He gets 50 million per movie now for playing Iron Man.

And last but not least, we want to gleefully remember the masters who drew and wrote about the characters and universe. You guys rock! Stan Lee was fateful to see his creations on the silver screen. I wish other artists were as lucky as Stan the man. Jack Kirby (and many more) creators never got the due money or respect they should have gotten.

Before I manage to survive the adrenaline rush Avengers: Endgame has to offer, this is my token of love for the movies I will re-watch for the rest of my life.

Read more: A roadmap to Endgame: Everything you need to know

Yours truly

A fan with no ticket

Hellboy reboot is a stinker, but David Harbour shines bright

Clearly, the world was not anticipating a R-rated Hellboy reboot weeks before the release of Avengers: Endgame. Based on Mike Mignola’s terrific comics, Hellboy (2019) is the third attempt of the series. Despite its Deadpoolesque (or lack thereof) wit and gore, the David Harbour starrer bombed at the box office upon its release last week. We haven’t seen a comic book movie fail in this proportion for a long time. Seriously, what went wrong?

The 2019 version of Hellboy is starkly different from the previous two instalments directed by Guillermo Del Toro

Neil Marshall steps into the shoes of Del Toro and crafts a shamelessly violent yet wisecracking version of Hellboy. Marshall is known for horror and action movies and he orchestrated two Game of Thrones battles. His GoT connections justify the gorefest in Hellboy.

A brief (and digestible) origin story

At the height of world war 2, the Nazi’s initiated project Ragnarok, which brought the demon Hellboy on earth from the depths of hell. Trevor Bruttenholm (Ian McShane), the chief of B.P.R.D adopts and raises him to fight against the dark forces.

A below average villain

Mila Jovovich plays the role of a 5th-century sorceress (Nimue-the blood queen). She was defeated and dismembered by King Arthur in the ancient time. In a wicked turn of events, her disjointed body parts are retrieved from different corners of Britain in order to resurrect her in current time. Nimue and her pig giant henchman bring wrath upon the earth and she also has a crush on our main man Hellboy.

Nimue miserably fails to impress as a villain. She might have a similar agenda that of Thanos’, but her character lacks any kind of persona a baddie should possess.

Forgettable cast

This movie has an ensemble of forgettable supporting characters. There’s M11 special agent Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim) who can evolve into a wolf by injecting a super serum. Alice Monaghan (Sasha Lane), a medium who can foresee the future teams up with Hellboy but for us she was a sidekick reject.

Only acting that warrants respect in this film is Ian McShane’s Bruttenholm. David Harbour is unquestionably the heart of this film. He delicately portrays a funny yet ruthless demon beneath the layers of his brilliant makeup.

The worst comic book movie of the decade (probably)

Ron Perlman and Del Toro’s Hellboy was not something we will root for in the future. Both Hellboy (2004) and Hellboy: The Golden Army (2008) were average flicks and earned passable box office money. But at least they were miles ahead in comparison with the reboot version. Lionsgate is going to lose a lot of money as the film fell flat at the theatres.

Another great comic book character wasted on the silver screen.


Watch Hellboy if you love the comics. There is an MCU style post credit scene which hints a sequel (which we don’t want for God’s sake). The soundtracks are cool. Check out the Smoke on the water cover by 2WEI.

Hellboy is now running in STAR Cineplex. Get your tickets from here.

Interested in creative writing? Check out these two books

Books are a uniquely portable magic. The wordsmiths who write magical books are not entirely God gifted individuals. Their writing prowess is in fact, result of intense work ethic and some rule of thumb. Writing may be about craftsmanship and imagination, but it can be learned if you closely follow specific guidelines, courtesy of veterans of this field. Obviously, no one can train you to become the next Shakespeare or Tagore, but have firm belief that writing skill can be mastered. Who knows, you could be a bestselling author someday!

Let us introduce you to writing pro tips by Stephen King and Syed Shamsul Haque. The following books can teach you to write better in English and Bangla.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Stephen King is revered as an astonishing horror writer across the world. His books have spawned films like ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ and ‘Stand by Me’.  This one time, Stephen King’s publicist told him to write a book for aspiring writers. King took this opportunity and wrote his autobiography “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”. This book is a Bible for people who want to start writing but clueless about where to start from. As a religious Stephen King fanatic, I had to lay my hands on this masterpiece. Little did I know this will change my perception about writing forever.

“On Writing” was published in 1994 and immediately met with critical and popular acclaim. Part biography, part writing masterclass, this book consists of 2 parts, one tells about his life from the early sixties, the other part is his way of interpreting the art of writing. The writer himself is very confident that with the appropriate orientation and tools, it is possible anyone can be a successful writer. Not of Shakespearean or Dickensian stature, but at least s/he will be able to make a living out of writing. Stephen states some writers are God gifted and their talent is way beyond our understanding. But like any other skills, writing too can be learned and mastered, given the person gets the right dictation at the right time.

Marjine Montobbyo (মার্জিনে মন্তব্য) by Syed Shamsul Haque

Syed Shamsul Haque, the eminent poet, playwright and novelist- decodes the art of writing  in his book ‘Marjine Montobbyo’. Originally published as newspaper columns, this book is a holy grail for any aspirant to excel in Bangla creative writing. Haque cracks the technique of writing poetry and fiction.Nevertheless, he is reluctant to call this book a manual of some sort. “Writing has some prerequisites attached to it, if someone gets a mentor and exposure to the tools earlier in their life, it’s easy for them to nurture those habits and apply it to their writing. This book nonchalantly approaches the dos and donts of creative writing”, states Haque. The author not only reveals his manta but also analyzes work by other literary giants. Marjine Montobbyo is so inspirational that even bestselling writer Anisul Haque recommends this to novice writers.

If you want to start writing, these books might be your north star. Just don’t stop reading as much as you can. And never let anyone undermine your writing.

Good luck!

That ’70s Show: The criminally underrated sitcom you need to binge.

“Hello, Wisconsin!”

If those words do not ring any bell to you, chances are you have never watched “That ’70s Show”. For those who are unfamiliar with this sitcom, here is a piece of television history for you. That ’70s Show is an American period sitcom that aired between 1998 and 2006. It ran for 200 episodes, spanning 8 seasons.

If you are a patsy for comedy, now might not be the best of times for you.

The Big Bang Theory is closing its curtain with its twelfth and final season this year. Modern Family will return for its final season in 2020. And I know you have already binged Friends a bazillion times (for some people, HIMYM applies as well). In case you feel void of a great sitcom in your life, here is a cue for you. Go watch That ’70s Show. You will be hooked. By hooked I mean you will not rest easy until you finish all of the 8 seasons. Oh, you are not convinced yet? Fine, let me take the lead then.

The resurgence of retroelements in pop culture is an indication that audiences, mostly millennials are obsessed with nostalgia. We love living in the past. This is why you will fall in love with That ’70s Show. It is set in the bell-bottom era of th mid-’70s, chronicles the lives of 6 high schoolers and interprets the cultural aspects of that period that few shows ever could. Keep in mind that this is a show about living in the ’70s and it was produced in the ’90s.

The plot

Without further ado, let’s delve into the cast and settings. The pilot episode opens in a basement of a middle-class house. 6 teenagers are orchestrating their plan to steal beer cans from Eric Forman’s dad. They are all in Eric’s house so Eric is coerced to go upstairs and scavenge the cans for them. We just met our lead cast of the show and most of them are very recognizable actors. Eric (Topher Grace) is a boy desperate to become a man, oftentimes get lectured by his funnily rude dad. Eric has a love interest, named Donna (Laura Prepon) who is not your typical retro chick. Her independent and strong nature is a hint of the burgeoning gender equality of that era.

Jacky and Kelso are an ever quarrelling couple played by real-life sweethearts Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher. Jacky does not fit into the group yet sticks with them whereas Kelso is a stupid good looking guy whose greatest challenge in life is to break up with Jacky. Hyde (Danny Masterson) is a nihilist and rebel. He is easily my most favorite character in this show. His Zeppelin t-shirts and love for good old rock and roll makes me like him even more. And last but not least, we have Fez (Wilmer Valderrama), a foreign exchange student who is still recovering from cultural shock. Fez is the heart of this series and he will do anything to steal your girl.

What makes this show an underrated gem

One of the prime focus of this show is the chemistry between Eric and Donna. Their “More than friends but not really in love” affair is something to die for. Kelso-Jackie, the other two lovebirds put on quite a show as well. Ashton Kutcher does a phenomenal job playing Michael Kelso. Mila Kunis who was 14 while filming the pilot, is equally impressive. That ’70s show hilariously showcases the practice of smoking pot which gained notoriety in the ’70s. 4 teens lock themselves up in a basement, smoke pot and trash talk until their shenanigans get hindered by Eric’s dad. One of the most memorable scenes of this show, I can vouch for that.

I have met with mixed responses when I argued this is a gem of a show and quite underrated. Some people disagreed. The reason some people may not enjoy the jokes and sentiments of this show is because not all of us can relate to the references that entwines the music, norms and relationships of that time. Nevertheless, it rests with a special place in my fandomverse.

You will love the theme song. Rock, disco and pop reigns throughout the show. The soundtracks are unmissable, do check ‘em out!

Komola rocket: the floating montage of misery, lust and greed

Komola Rocket, the Bangladeshi drama film entirely shot in a vintage steamer, has landed on Netflix earlier this year. As a ferry vessel enthusiast, the film was a long overdue one for me. Here’s my two cents about this 112 minute feature film that have made its way to international film festivals and earned accolades as well.

The brilliant minds behind

Based on short stories (‘Moulik’ and ‘Cyprus’) by esteemed writer Shahaduzzaman, Komola Rocket is the debut directorial venture of Noor Imran Mithu. Mithu previously worked with Mostofa Sarwar Farooki as an assistant director and was the lead actor in ‘Pipra Bidya’. Mithun merged two stories of his favourite writer and turned it into a script for Komola rocket. As interesting as it may sound, the film was shot in a century-old steamer and locations range from Sadarghat to the river beds of Khulna.

The plot

(SPOILERS AHEAD)

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Rocket, a very old steamer where queen Elizabeth once onboarded (not kidding), starts its journey from Sadarghat towards Khulna. With a crazy mix of passengers, rocket moves toward Meghna river. We see a packed vessel where every passenger has a story worth listening.

From circus freaks to corrupt business magnate, the stark contrast in social class is the heart of Komola rocket.

Atik, an idiosyncratic man is going to Khulna on a hideout to spare himself from an arson conspiracy. He meets a dysfunctional family he would rather not involve with. The family consists a couple with a child and a young woman. Atik, ever so edgy, also stumbles upon a weirdo called Mofizul. Camouflaging as a poet and kabiraj, Mofizul runs a prostitution ring in the steamer. Atik is bewildered when Mofizul mistakes him for a client, but he gets used to his fawning.

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We see a narcissist young girl who secretly mates with her boyfriend, not knowing Atik is right beside her room. Atik seems uninterested. His only concern is to withdraw insurance money for fire attack at his factory. It is clearly implied that Atik is the mastermind behind this sabotage. Fatefully enough, a distraught man named Monsur also onboarded rocket with a corpse. His wife was burnt alive at a factory fire tragedy and he’s going to bury her at their native village. Monsur meets Atik, not knowing he’s the owner of the very factory where his wife died.

The subtle messages

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There are other supporting characters who appear once in a while, aptly reflecting our social conscience.

Unemployment, cheating husband, rotting dead bodies- Komola rocket explores it all.

In the final act of the film, the steamer gets stuck in a ridge and it stands still in the middle of the river. Food supplies in the rocket shrinks soon. people from VIP cabin to freeloaders- all stand in line with a hungry stomach to eat overpriced dinner. The movie ends on a depressing note. We don’t see where the characters end up; we only see their misery, lust and greed.

What works and what doesn’t

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Komola rocket sees Tauqir Ahmed and Mosharraf Karim sharing the silver screen for the second time. Atik and Mofizul are played by Tauqir and Mosharraf respectively. Samia Syed, a Lux-Channel I superstar contestant appears as the narcissistic girl. Other acting credits include Joyraaj, Sheoti, Dominic Gomez etc. One thing I have to highlight about this film is the pristine cinematography. There are several drone shots of the rocket which I significantly liked. Noor Imran Mithu gets a pass for his first direction. If I have to nitpick anything about Komola rocket, then it should be the dialogue. I think the dialogues could have been a bit relevant and matured with the context. Overall, Komola rocket should be on your watchlist as one of the few decent Bengali language movies out there.

Check out other Bangladeshi films streaming on Netflix. ‘Television’ and ‘Pipra bidya’ are some of the popular titles you will currently find on this website.