Captain America : Civil War – Movie Review


First up let me get one thing out of the way straight away. I am a big Avengers fan and I like Iron Man more than I like Captain America. Now that my personal biases have been put out there, let me go on with my thoughts on Captain America: Civil War below.

Continuing with the events that unfold after Avengers: The Age of Ultron, the movie begins with an action set piece in Lagos, Nigeria where the entire team (sans the Hulk and Hawkeye, but with the addition of The Falcon and The Scarlet Witch) are in pursuit of Rumlow, ex-HYDRA agent who is there to steal a bio-weapon. While the Avengers manage to thwart Rumlow’s mission and save the day, the collateral damage that occurs in the form of civilian deaths sparks worldwide outrage and results in the UN Assembly ratifying what is called The Sakovia Accords. The idea behind this resolution being the establishment of an international governing body to oversee and control the Avengers. This immediately splits the team into two halves – the fors’ and the againsts’ setting in motion the so called Civil War among the Avengers.

While I am not going to talk about the plot and the set pieces in the movie (there are going to be more than enough reviews out there which already talk about it) I am going to focus on a few things which I found particularly interesting about the movie itself.

Firstly, the evolution of Tony Stark over the course of three Iron Man and two Avengers movies is nothing short of mind-blowing. His transformation from a philandering, womanizing, ‘don’t have a care in the world’ playboy to the Avenger is something which I think the Marvel Cinematic Universe has pretty much perfected to the T. And what’s more Robert Downey Jr’s casting in the role is nothing short of a brainwave and a masterstroke rolled into one. RDJ brings such gravitas coupled with impeccable timing when delivering his trademark one-liners that it is impossible for audiences to imagine anybody else playing Iron Man.

Couple this with Steve Rogers’ transformation from a geeky-thin teenager desperately trying to get enlisted in the US Army during WW-II in the first Captain America movie to being the default ‘leader’ and ‘moral compass’ of the Avengers over the course of the rest of the movies in this franchise. As Stark seems to be getting clearer and clearer with what he wants to do with the rest of his life and his ‘powers’, good old Captain America seems to be getting more and more confused as to his role in this new world. Adding to this confusion is the soft spot the Captain has for Bucky Barnes (aka the Winter Soldier) who seems to be flitting between the good and bad sides in the last couple of movies he has featured in. In fact, the Winter Soldier and his friendship with the Captain is one of the biggest driving forces in this movie as well.

The evolution of Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, their entirely opposing points of view on the Sakovian Accords and one mystery man’s actions involving the Winter Soldier; these form the driving forces of this movie. And trust me when I say this, it truly is a treat for all serious fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Avengers in particular.

To me, the most fun part was *****SPOILERS BEGIN*****inclusion of Spider-Man in the proceedings. The entire sequence where he was featured is nothing short of hilarious and heart-warming at the same time. This is how a teenager who suddenly discovers his superpowers would react and unfortunately none of the earlier movies featuring him brought out this aspect. Peppered with a liberal dose of humor, his contribution to one gigantic set piece in this movie remains one of the most fun parts of the movie for me. *****SPOILER END*****

Watch this movie with your family and kids. Even if you don’t quite enjoy the serious parts of the movie, the action set pieces (all of them) more than make up for the same. If you are a fan of the Avengers franchise, then this movie is a ‘must-watch’ for you at any cost; no two ways about that. You have to see this to make any sense of any future Avengers movies, for sure.

24 (Tamil) – Movie Review


At the outset let me confess that I like Suriya more than I like Vijay or Ajith for no other reason other than the fact that he remains the perennial underdog in this trinity of the current crop of stars in the Tamil film industry. Yes, his choice of films and roles leave a lot to be desired, but that being said one has to admit that he puts in his 100% effort in all the films he does irrespective of the box office prospects of the film itself.

Now that I have put that disclaimer there right at the top, let me go on to pen down my thoughts about 24. When I first saw the poster of this movie some time ago I was intrigued by the fact that Suriya chose this particular script and theme not only to star in but also to produce the film itself. From the poster itself, it was quite visible that this was one movie which completely went against the grain of the standard masala movies that most Tamil superstars tend to settle down for and was quite ambitious and bold in its attempt to present a story with a sci-fi bent of mind. And believe me when I say this director Vikram Kumar manages not only to deliver a competent sci-fi movie but also manages to keep the audience entertained for most part of the film itself.

I am a reasonably big fan of sci-fi movies and have devoured the Back to the future series of movies made in the ‘80s more than once. Now while this movie also deals with time-travel at the very heart of its story, the fact remains that there are more than a few logical and ‘time-space continuum’ issues and lapses in it. However, given that this probably is the first large scale project in Tamil cinema dealing with time-travel as its subject I have to say that the director has done a commendable job. The best part is that there are absolutely no loose ends and on more occasion than once the director has left little tit-bits here and there which make sense only when the movie ends. Not one scene (at least the ones relating to the time-travel bits) is wasted and the director has ensured that he has made the most of the screen time devoted to the main plot of the film itself.

What is even better is how he has managed to infuse more than a sufficient bit of comedic element into the proceedings without it feeling forced on us. When Mani (Suriya) first discovers he can travel back and forth in time and essentially bend time itself, what ensues for the next ten odd minutes is nothing short of hilarious and how he initially uses his new found abilities make for quite a few amusing moments in the movie.

While acting in a double role is nothing new for Suriya and he has done it more than once in the past, I personally cannot remember a movie in which he has played a negative role. And from his performance in this movie it is quite visible that he enjoys playing such characters quite a bit, and to be honest, he is quite convincing playing the part as well. Of course it helps that the role itself is quite meaty and is well carved out with more than a few nuances. This is not one of those dumb villains whose actions are mostly reactions to the hero’s, but is somebody whose actions drives the script forward and has got the smarts to outwit the hero more than once. I, for one, would love to see Suriya play the villain more often, if possible with other heroes as well. Would make for interesting hero-villain conflicts in my opinion.

All of the above being said, the only loose end or unnecessary aspect that I found in the movie was the inclusion of the romantic angle with Samantha. Yes, Tamil audiences don’t quite accept a movie without songs, and to hear of a movie with AR Rahman in the roster without songs is quite sacrilegious, but my personal opinion was that Samantha and her romance with Suriya did nothing to the movie. It didn’t add anything at all to the proceedings nor did it provide any eye candy (what with Samantha being among the list of heroines I am better off not watching at all). However, in the director’s and AR Rahman’s defense, the songs are really nice and the soundtrack is one which I intend to download sometime soon and enjoy quite a bit (without the visuals, of course).

In a nutshell, this is one summer movie which you must watch and for sure take your children to see as well. Am more than sure the entire family will enjoy this brave, competent and entertaining attempt at popular science fiction.

Chilli, Chicks & Heart Attacks – Sanjaya Senanayake – Book Review


Book blurb: Dr Manju Mendis, a Sri Lankan living in Australia, comes through medical school with first class honors and is chosen to intern in the much vaunted St Ivanhoe Hospital. But right from the word go, the author leaves the reader in no doubt that this is no mere diary of hospital life.

Even as Manju deals with the rigors of an exacting job, he finds himself in the midst of a series of misadventures – from a prolonged case of priapism, to the ‘murder’ of a well-heeled ‘sugardaddiphile’, to a sudden encounter with a foul-mouthed braggart. Worse, his personal life is on the verge of being wrecked, what with an overbearing mother determined to set him up with a prosperous Sri Lankan girl, a father who fails to understand his disconnect from his homeland’s culture, and a sister inclined to saddle him with her young son.

In the span of a year, Manju must learn to confront fraudulent specialists, self-important clients, and an imperious set of immigrant relatives. Equally, he must find time to sustain his friends and relationships – with patients, colleagues, celebrities and most importantly with a troubled past.


At the outset let me be honest and state that I picked up the book primarily based on its catchy title – Chilli, Chicks & Heart Attacks. I mean, how many of us can resist reading a book with a name like that. And true to its cheeky name, the book itself is a tongue-in-cheek look at one year in the life of a medical intern at St Ivanhoe’s Hospital in Australia.

Written in the style of a diary, the author Sanjaya Senanayake narrates the events that transpire in the life of Dr Manju Mendis, the protagonist in the one year that he serves as a medical intern in the prestigious St Ivanhoe’s Hospital. As if being a Sri Lankan in Australia was not funny enough, Manju has all the trappings of a classic molly-coddled mama’s (and papa’s) boy as most Sri Lankan immigrants in Australia do. Couple this with the fact that his year as intern throws more than quite a few daunting medical and non-medical challenges his way, and lo and behold, you have a true-blue coming of age story. Does Manju emerge out his troubles the way a beautiful butterfly emerges from its ugly cocoon or does he succumb to the pressures and wilt away into nothingness is what the overarching story arc of the book is about.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book due to many reasons, primary among them being the fact that Manju, as the protagonist and the situations he faces are so completely relatable. Despite the fact that I am not Sri Lankan nor am I an immigrant in another country, the fact that the author manages to bring out so many everyday situations which I am sure all readers can relate to, speaks volumes for how well the author has managed to translate all our everyday lives into the protagonist’s life in the book. And what’s better Manju’s reactions, the way he tackles these situations, his approach to life in general, all of these resonated so well with me.

Another reason why I thoroughly enjoyed this book was the tongue-in-cheek humorous way in which the author takes a look at the medical profession in general. Not once in the book does he deride or poke fun at the profession or at doctors, but using only the ‘bad apples’ ie, the bad doctors and their malpractices, the author clearly brings down the façade that most of these ‘big famous’ doctors and hospital hide behind. Using patients and their ailments and conditions as the backdrop, the author brings to fore some of the rot that ails the hospital system in general without being too overbearing and preachy about it. After all, this is a coming of age story and not a book which looks to highlight these ills in particular.

End of day, this is one book which is a quick breezy weekend read which shouldn’t trouble readers too much while ensuring that they have more than a few laughs when reading it.

Click here to purchase the book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link].

Temple – Matthew Reilly – Book Review


Goodreads blurb: Four centuries ago, a precious idol was hidden in the jungles of Peru. To the Incan people, it is still the ultimate symbol of their spirit. To William Race, an American linguist enlisted by the U.S. Army to decipher the clues to its location, it’s the ultimate symbol of the apocalypse…

Carved from a rare stone not found on Earth, the idol possesses elements more destructive than any nuclear bomb–a virtual planet killer. In the wrong hands it could mean the end of mankind. And whoever possesses the idol, possesses the unfathomable–and cataclysmic–power of the gods…

Now, in the foothills of the Andes, Race’s team has arrived–but they’re not alone. And soon they’ll discover that to penetrate the temple of the idol is to break the first rule of survival.

Because some treasures are meant to stay buried..and forces are ready to kill to keep it that way…


William Race’s boring everyday life and boring schedule is disturbed when the US Army temporarily ‘recruits’ him to translate an old manuscript written by a Spanish explorer which supposedly contains clues to an invaluable treasure, one that has the potential to change the world. While Race hesitatingly accepts the assignment, little does he realize the crazy roller-coaster ride that he gets on! From being taken on crazy chopper rides to midnight jaunts through the South American rainforests, being attacked by giant feline cats to being shot at by neo-fascist Nazis, the next few days in Race’s life are like no other that he has ever experienced so far. Does he survive this ordeal, and more importantly do his efforts bear useful fruit is what the overarching narrative arc of this book is about.

Temple was the first Matthew Reilly book I read and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I thoroughly enjoyed his style of writing. The action picks up pace right from the get go and not one page goes by where the script is not pushed forward relentlessly. The speed at which the action unfolds is breathtaking and readers cannot afford to relax one bit during the entire duration of the book. The author does an admirable job at not giving any respite to readers, despite the fact that the plot combines science fiction with historical facts and legends from a far time ago. The only other author that I would compare Matthew Reilly to would have to be Michael Crichton where he combined science, fiction and history so well together that readers wouldn’t be able to figure out where facts ended and fiction began. The fact that I picked up this book and re-read 9 odd years after I first read it speaks volumes for the longevity of the author and his wonderful narrative style.

Given that it is that time of the year when Hollywood Action Blockbusters hit movie screens, and our adrenaline levels are at their highest, there is no time like summer to pick up this book and devour it to satiate our energy levels. Or look at it this way, this book serves to keep our energy levels high despite the best efforts of the searing heat to keep them low.

Click here to purchase the book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link].

The Emperor’s Riddles – Satyarth Nayak – Book Review


Goodreads blurb: More terrifying than the savage murder of historian Ram Mathur on the ghats of Ganga, are the questions that follow. Desperate for answers, Sia turns to esoteric writer & friend Om Patnaik. But what begins as a hunt for the killer, becomes an extraordinary trail of riddles strewn across the country that must end at the gates of an enigma.

An ancient enigma so powerful that even gods would kill for it!!!

In another time and space, rules an Emperor who plays with phenomenal forces that make him supreme…who faces these very forces when they threaten the survival of the human race. An Emperor who must ultimately pay homage to the enigma…

As Patnaik and Sia race from one riddle to another, towards a royal secret that has remained alive for centuries….will the final truth, save them or destroy them forever?

The path beckons. Can you solve The Emperor’s Riddles?


While the blurb of the book piqued my interest in reading it quite a bit I must confess that I wasn’t quite prepared for how interesting the book actually is and how obsessed I would get in finishing it. Travails of being a book lover, I guess. That being said, I have to admit this has to be among the better books I have read in recent times in terms of how the plot is constructed, the pace at which it unfolds and ultimately how it all ends up.

As the blurb states what starts off as a murder mystery soon metamorphoses into a treasure hunt (which seems like a ‘wild goose hunt’ at times to both the principal characters Om and Sia). As they keep solving riddles one after the other and move across the length and breadth of the country, the author segues into the Emperor’s life (yes, the eponymous Emperor whose riddles they are solving) and gives readers an insight into why he designed the riddles in the first place. Do Om and Sia succeed in their quest, what they gain at the end of it, what they lose at the end of their journey, these questions form the crux of the climax.

The one grouse, if I can call it that, would be the somewhat dragged out ending, especially the last five odd pages or so. While the ending is perfectly logical and all loose ends are tied up, somehow it seemed a little contrived to me, especially given the clarity with which the rest of the plot unraveled itself. However, it is not so bad that I would dissuade you from reading the book, in fact, I would strongly recommend the same, especially for any fans of Dan Brown and similar authors.

To me, this book would remain in my memory as one of the best books in which the plot manages to seamlessly combine fact, fiction, history, mythology and good old fashioned thrills into a coherent enjoyable story.


A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in return for an honest and unbiased review of the same.