The Dark Knight - not just a movie review

All right, I'm not much into movie reviews and this is one that has been reviewed a thousand times over by people far better and far worse than me - however, it would simply be not fair to not comment on this brilliant movie. The Dark Knight is probably one of the best movies I've seen - and not just in recent times. But my comments on the movie come in a different context - of that of a boy who has read through many of the caped crusader's exploits. Although having been a fan of the Batman character since I was a kid, I always knew that this one series was different from the other super hero comics I used to read - Phantom, Mandrake, Superman, Tarzan, et al.

The Batman has always been a darker comic series than any of the other ones. He was one that had enough gray shades that made him more human rather than super human. For a young boy reading these comics, Batman was the ultimate in super-cool - he had the gadgets, the car, the planes and didn't waste his time romantically (too much). Most of his female counterparts were also in the same league - Catwoman, Batgirl etc. And many of the stories actually were more of detective stories than action oriented ones with dark and sinister events.

I was lucky to have watched only a few of the Batman & Robin TV series when it aired. The serial converted the duo into a set of - pardon the pun - jokers!  A caricature of the true Batman, the paunchy crime fighter with his "kapows" and "Holy <whatever>" disgusted me enough to never venture near that series for more than a few odd episodes. When the new Batman movie franchise was launched I was quite happy that finally we might have a more serious Batman version.

To a point, the first Batman (the Tim Burton one) was quite dark - at least as compared to the TV series. Jack Nicholson's Joker was eerily evil with a bunch of one-liners that made his characterization interesting. But the later parts of the franchise disappointed big time - BatGirl, Robin, the villains were all more around for their star power in Hollywood rather than the depth they could bring to their characters other than taking them back to being caricatures.

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Book: The Kalam Effect

I picked up this book to read on a flight and finished it in one sitting (including the taxi to the venue at my destination). This is a book about our previous Indian president Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam written by his personal secretary Mr. PM Nair.

The book is a light read filled with many incidents that show many facets of our most popular president so far. Dr. Kalam - a rocket scientist, no less - was a completely apolitical appointee to the President's post and has probably envisioned and done more for India than any of the crop of politicians we have or seem to have in the horizon.

Anecdotes about his meeting with the President of Pakistan and George and Laura Bush make interesting reading. He was a tech-savvy person who did not care about protocol when it came to his passion about India, honesty and knowledge. The book has many photos of the President in ways you couldn't think of - sitting on the floor of the stage at a panel discussion on journalism, playing the drums with Sivamani, flying a fighter aircraft (he's over 70!) and more.

Although the book does highlight him as the President we all loved and looked up to, it is fair in also showing him to be human - with human failings. One of the things that Dr. Kalam had a major problem with was time - he was extremely unpunctual and would make up meetings at odd hours of the day without giving a thought about the infrastructure requirements that the President of India needed when visiting places. I guess as a geek himself, he was used to working odd hours of the day!

This is a great book to pick up and read about Dr. Kalam. Many small things in the book reinforce the fact that after a very long time we actually had a visionary leading the country - albeit for a very short time. It is surely a pity that our country's politicians did not heed the pleas of the citizens to make him the President for at least one more term.


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