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Contents Movies Man of Steel Pulkit Agarwal The Intouchables Nakul Talwar Ship of Theseus Ms Purnima Dutta

Obituaries JJ Cale Zayaan Khodaiji Cory Monteith Vireshwar Sidhu

Music The Fray Agni Raj Singh Babel - Mumford and Sons Arjun Kamdar 13 - Black Sabbath Zayaan Khodaiji

Books The Help And the Mountains Echoed Inferno The Cuckoo's Calling

Kunal Kanodia Vireshwar Sidhu Anvay Grover Yash Dhandhania

TV Shows Seinfeld Rahul Srivastava Saturday Night Live Armaan Imam


Editorial Dear Readers, For our final issue of 2013, we have continued to cover movies, music and books that we hope will entice you to expand your iTunes libraries, book shelves and DVD stacks. This time, we have reviewed works that are not drawn from the distant past, that are probably not loved by our folks at home, but are creative works that we must enjoy as young men and women of the 21st century. However, in this information age, the Doon School Information Review continues to write articles on works that have not cemented their place as the most popular works of their time. The highest grossing films are never the ones that need teenagers in a boarding school for publicity or appraise. The books, music and movies we have covered are obviously appreciated, but not everyone knows of their existence. Our review on Man of Steel is an anomaly to the trend of articles that we have produced, but you don’t need to read much into it in order to understand why. This time, we have also allowed our senior editors to throw in their recommendations on books, movies and music that they feel you must have the pleasure of enjoying. As another term and another year comes to a close, many of us are beginning to plan our holidays. Some of us are in eager anticipation of certain movies to watch, or a book to pick up. Awards season will slowly pick up; many of us will eagerly wait for comedian Ellen DeGeneres to host the Oscars, while some of us will watch Shahrukh Khan dance with the newest actress found in a Karan Johar movie. However, it is the DSIR’s job to find you things to do aside from the mainstream stuff that is so easy to pick up from television commercials and billboard ads. As I pass on the baton as Chief Editor of one of the school’s most widely read magazines, I hope you continue to read the DSIR for its work as the flagship magazine in school built for your entertainment and cultural education. Signing off,

Rahul Srivastava


Movies

Man of Steel

"Is Man of Steel the Superman film we were waiting for?"

Pulkit Agarwal reviews the latest attempt to revive a cult superhero. “It’s a bird…it’s a plane…it’s Superman!,” err is it really? Man of Steel unfortunately has turned out to be one of the biggest let down’s of the year thus far. The proponents of what has been termed as “Superman: The End” would probably argue that for a superhero like Superman to be compared to the more contemporary Iron Man and the technically adroit Batman is rather unfair. However, my point exactly, if only someone had told this to Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan before they went on to put before the world, what can only be termed as the death of one of the most loved film franchises of all time. After the ostentatious and crisp Batman trilogy directed by Nolan, one would question whether his experience was out taking a walk when he agreed to produce this disaster. It’s as simple as this: a Superman movie cannot, simply cannot, have a polarizing effect on its fans, it is after all Superman! At the core of what Man of Steel lacks, is its ability to connect with the audience using the repeated flashbacks. Even though these scenes have a valid presence, their aura is just not bright enough to show the viewer that the kiss between Clark and Lois in the end is plausible. The myth of Superman is put to question, and that is territory where I, as a fan, would never want to be taken. Unfortunately, this 109 minute ‘gibberish,’ doesn’t even fail to do that. Then we have the violence scenes, which for some reason seem rather unlikely. For one, with chaos and mass destruction around the city, for Kent to grab a falling Lois is not a triumph worth the Superman tag. Snyder’s 300-like fight scenes mixed with Nolan’s murky ‘press the button and see it unfold’ display, just don’t add up. As far as the music of the film is concerned, as much as I loved Hans Zimmer’s composing of the soundtrack, the timeless Superman March was much missed. Next comes the depiction of Krypton, the planet that is the epitome of this franchise. However, Man of Steel, along with all the other boxes, forgets to check this one too. For all those fans that have learnt to love the Superman comics, the portrayal of Krypton is shockingly underwhelming. Unlike the vivacious and boisterous Krypton that we know was destroyed due to an unfortunate gravity incident, Man of Steel tells us that it starts to lack the very idiosyncrasy that we remember it for: life! This further puts the viewers’ anticipation to death as this tragically lackluster and tedious tale adds nothing to the fantasy of Superman fans. It almost drags onto the end, with an underdeveloped plot, an unrealistic climax and no out-of-the-box special effects. The one criterion where Man of Steel perhaps doesn’t fail is that it shines a light on human side of our beloved Kal-El. Even though we have seen all the violence before, the underlying humanity is heart wrenching in some instances. For instance, Clark’s emotions of loneliness and bafflement are portrayed skillfully. That being said, the acting of Henry Cavill along with the masterly portrayal of Lois Lane by Amy Adams calls for appreciation. Sadly, the script doesn’t manage to reciprocate the same. If there is another positive to come out of this film, after repeated efforts, one might concede at least Superman finally got his dressing style right; the fanciful underwear was not worn above the pants this time! Even so, Man of Steel is not the Superman film we were waiting for, and after watching it, you would feel the same way.


Movies

The Intouchables

"A spectacular display of modern drama."

Nakul Talwar comments on the sensational French blockbuster. When I first saw this movie, sitting in my French class, I expected nothing more than the usual depth that accompanies biographical dramas. I took it as an exercise in French and a chance to try and relate to more than the usual ‘Oui’ and ‘Bonjour’. Despite the fact that I barely understood a word more than that, the two hours I spent in front of the screen were truly enlightening. ‘The Intouchables’ or ‘Les Intouchables’ as it is originally titled, is a comic depiction of the life of French aristocrat Phillipe Pozzo di Borgo after he became crippled due to a paragliding accident. The movie essentially seeks to portray the relationship between Phillipe and a man named Abdel Sellou, who is hired by him as a caretaker. The character of Abdel, called Driss and played by Omar Sy, is presented as an ex-convict with no ambitions, living on the brink of society. Driss, who has no wish to take up any work, meets Phillipe with the intention of getting him to sign a document that would ensure continued unemployment benefits. Instead of receiving a signed letter from Phillipe, he is notified that he has been given the job, as Phillipe’s caretaker, on a trial basis. What ensues is a very vivid representation of Driss turning into an important part of Phillipe’s life and becoming much more than a mere caretaker. François Cluzet, who plays Phillipe in the film, has very successfully managed to bring life to his character as an eccentric millionaire who possesses peculiar habits and an esoteric relationship with a distantly situated lady. Directors Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano have gone beyond all racial stereotypes to present two characters that are far from nondescript presences, but are a delight to watch when put in conjunction. The relationship between Phillipe and Driss could be mistaken for one that exists between two lovers, but is instead an enduring bond that manifests itself through vehement displays of affection, care and support that exist throughout the course of the film. Nakache and Toledano have managed to come up with something that comes across as a touching display of camaraderie which everyone can equally relate to. The Intouchables aims to inspire by encouraging all to live life to the fullest and make use of every opportunity that comes the way. After releasing in 2011, The Intouchables received massive accolades all over the world, becoming the most successful French movie since 1994. In March 2012, it became the highest-grossing movie in a language other than English after grossing over $281 million worldwide. Despite all of this, the film received mixed responses from critics in different countries, owing to the movie’s very typical style of humour. As part of its comic approach, the film often attempts to ridicule the many racial and social issues that dominate the modern world, which probably instigated adverse attitudes towards this brilliant work. All I can do is encourage you to distance yourself from these opinions, as they might cause you to miss out on a spectacular display of modern drama coupled with an unusually amusing component that you will not forget too soon.


Movies

Ship of Theseus

"The viewer is left deeply shaken up."

Ms Purnima Dutta reviews this classic thriller blockbuster. If you are looking for a movie that will demand your attention, engage your mind and leave you a lot to mull over at the end, Ship of Theseus is the movie you must watch right away. A triptych of three apparently disparate narratives, the first is about a talented photographer who has lost her vision to a corneal infection. With the help of specialized software in her camera designed for the visually impaired, she is guided by her instinct and a supportive boyfriend (Faraz Khan) in her photography. Very convincing in her role as Aliya, Aida El Kashef ends up leading her audience to see the world the way she does. Subsequently, she regains her sight through an implant, but does she lose something in the bargain? The second story is of a monk, Maitreya, (Neeraj Kabi) who fights against big pharmaceutical companies for animal testing. When he is diagnosed with liver cirrhosis and is asked to have a liver transplant and all the associated medicines, all that he holds sacred is challenged. The dilemma between survival and commitment to his ideals is presented through his dialogues with young lawyer Charvaka (Vinay Shukla) who questions him on his decision to sacrifice one life (his own) by not taking pharmaceutical products to uphold his principles. This is a superbly crafted narrative with superlative acting particularly by Kabi. The third narrative is of a stockbroker Navin, (Sohum Shah) who travels half way across the globe, following a meeting with Shankar (Yashwant Wasnik). Shankar has had his kidney stolen in the course of an appendectomy and Navin decides to track down the organ recipient and find justice for Shankar. The allegorical reference to the 'Ship of Theseus' remains the leit motif of the movie as well as ties up the three narratives with Theseus’s Paradox - if all the parts of Theseus’s ship were replaced, was it still the same ship? And if those parts were used to build a new ship, which was the real ship of Theseus? The three narratives meet to a gripping climax, and the viewer is left deeply shaken up with the same unsettling questions and dilemmas that the protagonists experience. The stories are lucidly told and the visuals are captured in stunningly colourful and imaginative frames. It is a refreshing experience to watch this intellectually stimulating film with its cleverly crafted narratives, ably executed by a talented cast and supported by great cinematography.


Editor's Picks

Movies (Rahul) Taxi Driver American History X (Kunal) The Help Red Star (Nakul) The Fourth Kind (Agni) The Pianist Amadeus (Udbhav) Lost in Translation Almost Famous Music (Rahul) The Forrest Gump Soundtrack (discs 1 & 2) John Mayer (Kunal) The Script (Nakul) tyDi (Agni) The Beatles Pink Floyd (Udbhav) (500) Days of Summer Soundtrack Books (Rahul) On China - Henry Kissinger (Kunal) Where China Meets India - Thant Myint-U My Life - Fidel Castro (Nakul) Freakonomics (Agni) Jonathon Livingston Seagull - Richard Bach (Udbhav) Ithaca - David Davidar The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold Game (Nakul) Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell : Blacklist

Editor's Picks


Obituary

Cory Monteith

"Don't stop believing."

Vireshwar Sidhu comments on the unfortunate death of the young Glee star. Cory Monteith, 31, who played heart-throb Finn Hudson in the hit show series Glee, was found dead in a hotel in Vancouver on July 13 this year. The Canadian actor shot to fame in this American drama based on an Ohio high-school show choir. Monteith’s parents divorced when he was seven and he was raised by his mother in Victoria, Canada. Cory Monteith’s teenage years were in stark contrast to his ‘clean’ role in Glee. He missed school regularly and engaged in drinking and drugs at an early age. He was persuaded to attend a rehabilitation centre at 19. However, there was no change in Monteith’s habits as he returned to his old ways. Monteith was given an ultimatum by his family and he finally decided to turn his life around. In 2011, he told People magazine that he was lucky to be alive and that he didn’t want kids to think it is okay to drop out of school. Cory Monteith had small roles in TV shows and also made two horror movies and one comedy movie. But stardom came with Glee. The role of Finn Hudson made Monteith not only a global TV star, but a leading singer in a recording act as he recorded sales of 50 million singles and 13 million albums. Tributes poured in for Cory Monteith soon after news of his death spread. Actors, co-stars and fans were all left shocked. Zooey Deschanel tweeted, “What an absolutely tragic loss of a very talented man.”


Obituary

JJ Cale

"Crazy mama, where you been so long?"

Zayaan Khodaiji remembers a musical legend and his band. John Weldon Cale (J.J. Cale) was an American singer and songwriter famously known for originating the Tulsa sound. His music was highly driven by blues, rockabilly, country and jazz and was influenced by Elvis Presley’s guitarist Scotty Moore. Cale was born on December 5, 1938 in Oklahoma City. He graduated from Tulsa Central High School in 1956 and moved to Los Angeles. Cale wasn’t known for hogging the spotlight; rather he stayed in the background, while better known musicians turned his songs into hits. His most successful solo track was Crazy Mama, which reached #22 on the US Billboard in 1972. He however found little success until Eric Clapton recorded his tracks Cocaine and After Midnight. He released his first studio album Naturally in 1972 and followed it up by a string of addictive albums which included Really (1973), Okie (1974), Troubadour (1976) and Guitar Man (1996). Call Me the Breeze – a single from Naturally was covered by Lynyrd Skynyrd and John Mayer. In 2006, Cale won a Grammy for a collaboration with Eric Clapton – The Road to Escondido. Cale died on July 26, 2013, at the age of 74, of a heart attack. In spite of his low and laid back profile, Cale was able to exert an impact on subsequent generations of musicians.


Music

The Fray

"They balance simplicity with style and play to their strengths."

Agni Raj Singh

tells us why this band still survives as one of the few oases in the age of

electronic music.

The 21st century has seen the usual “three-guitars-and-a-drum-set” recede into the shadows while electronic dance music and house music have come to the fore. Modern bands have had a difficult time in keeping up with the musical demands of today’s listeners and they seem to rely on a fan base that they have already gathered. Certain bands however, are still holding on to their instruments with style and are competing with the technological revolution that has dominated music; the modern audience’s ear has welcomed the piano and bands like Augustana and Coldplay have taken full advantage of that. Another band that has followed a similar formula of employing the ‘Alternative Rock’ genre successfully through the 2000s is The Fray. Since 2005, The Fray has established itself on the international music scene with a surfeit of successful singles. Their musical style debut album, How to Save a Life, was reminiscent of Coldplay’s piano-driven power ballads in X & Y. The Fray’s album even overtook the same to qualify as the best-selling digital album of all time. The eponymous single has been The Fray’s best-selling single till date and with this song, The Fray’s style of creating a synergy of delightful melodies on the piano along with a firm grounding of their music in rock was established. With another hit single from the same album titled, Over My Head, the band had created a niche for themselves globally, receiving Grammy nominations and losing out only to bands as accepted as Red Hot Chili Peppers. With their second album, The Fray, the band again brought forth their emphasis on the piano and had a few hit singles that propelled the album as a whole to success. You Found Me did extremely well and its strong guitar riffs that juxtaposed with the piano’s melody were well received by critics and listeners alike while Never Say Never has the piano dominate in a slightly different manner, but was received with the same acclaim nevertheless. Never Say Never also became popular among people through its use in the second of the Transformers film series and overall, The Fray saw itself at unusual heights for a second album. In 2012, The Fray released their third album, titled Scars & Stories. The manner in which this album was brought together was slightly unusual, with the band using part of the album’s budget to travel around the world and find inspirations for their music. The band composed and wrote more than 70 songs before narrowing down to 12. While the album has not been able to achieve as much success as its admired predecessors, it too has its own highlights. Heartbeat, the album’s first single blends precise falsetto singing with an appealing chorus and leaves behind the delicate treatment that The Fray usually gives to their songs. With a fourth untitled album in the pipeline for a 2013 release, The Fray seem to be going strong. The front man of the band, Issac Slade, is key to the band’s “standing out”; his simple yet effective composition techniques coupled with his characteristic falsetto highlight The Fray in the midst of many other bands. The Fray’s emphasis on vocal harmonies has been aided by the bass guitarist and backing vocalist, Joe King, who complements Slade’s vocal prowess effortlessly. While the drums and rhythm guitars in The Fray’s songs usually do not play an instrumental role, Ben Wysocki and Dave Welsh do clean jobs with them and keep the band’s music going well. The Fray’s music is pleasing and popular while their lyrical effusiveness is received well. They are not extremely different or eccentrically innovative, but they balance simplicity with style and play to their strengths, which though may sound obvious, is something which a lot of 21st century bands are not able to manage.


Music

Babel

"Each song has the capability to lift your soul."

Arjun Kamdar tries to do justice to the brilliance of Mumford & Sons. Grammy Award for Album of the Year 2013. Six Grammy Award nominations. Number one on UK Albums Chart, US Billboard 200 and 9 other charts. Biggest selling debut of any album in 2012. Winner of the Juno Award for International Album of the Year. Fastest selling album in the UK. Mumford and Sons’ Babel. The quartet’s second album was an absolute success with every song bustling with the strumming of acoustic guitars, double bass, banjo and rich vocals. Each song has the capability to lift your soul and make you feel as though you were soaring up through the roof, into the clouds. The passion and fervor in the vocals of the lead member, Marcus Mumford makes you believe that the man is singing from within, for his life. The songs are also riddled with biblical allusions, with Broken Crown alluding at the curse placed on the serpent in the Garden of Eden- ‘Crawl on my belly ’til the sun goes down’ and Noah’s Ark- ‘Spare my sins for the ark, I was too slow to depart’. However, these allusions never seem out of place and blend in with the vibe of the songs. The title song, Babel, transports you to an entirely different realm; it is that sort of rock that makes you delve into and lose yourself in the rich acoustics. The peppy instrumentals have the capability to move one from within. Whispers in the Dark starts with a light pace, building up as it shifts from gentle melody to an outburst of strained emotion in an invigorating folk crescendo. Lover of the Lights is undoubtedly this album’s most riveting track with an enthralling chorus and a heart wrenching harmony. It’s poignant yet enchanting lyrics are enough to arouse one’s sentiments and understand the feelings behind the track. Opening with a slow harmony and intensifying until it reached a moment of epic urgency only to fade out is Lover’s Eyes, a song about a traitor’s remorse. The closing track, Not with Haste is characterized by the heavy rhythms drifting in and out of focus, augmenting to the strong instrumentals. For those Below is the only song from the album that didn’t quite strike a chord with me. In addition to the brilliant array of music, the show continues with a couple of bonus tracks. One track that caught my attention and rung in my head for a couple of days, was a superb track called Where Are You Now? Leaving the best for the last, a simply sublime track called I Will Wait, which also happens to be Mumford & Sons 'must successful track till date. The reviews of this song, share my opinion, magnificence defined. Grady Smith of Entertainment Weekly, accurately described this song, saying how the song "hearkens back to their Grammynomination-festooned single The Cave with its shouted refrain, triumphant horns, a driving kick drum, and an earnest lyric about a relationship so perfect it has Marcus Mumford kneeling down in reverence, raising his hands, and wishing for his mind to be "freed from the lies." It is the perfect sequel to their first album, Sigh No More. Without changing their style too much they have been able to produce a fist pumping second characterized by its dramatic loud-soft shifts and dropouts. This cathartic album is a must for anyone who has an inclination towards folk rock.


Music

13

"Their new album has certainly had a large impact on the music world. "

Zayaan Khodaiji documents the return of Black Sabbath after 18 years. Most of us have heard of Black Sabbath, either through their classic albums Paranoid or Masters of Reality or through groundbreaking records such as Iron Man, War Pigs or Electric Funeral. For those who may not know, Black Sabbath is the founding father of the heavy metal genre music, and dominated the heavy metal music scene of the 70's. So, Black Sabbath releasing a new album after 18 years is a HUGE deal for us metalheads. Metalheads all around the world have been waiting for this reunion probably since before most of us were born. Their music may not be as relevant now as it was 30 years ago, but their new album has certainly had a large impact on the music world. Black Sabbath released 13 on June 10 2013, their first studio album in 18 years, with Osbourne on vocals for the first time in 36 years. Three out of four of the founding members have reunited for this album– namely, Tony Iommi(lead guitar), Geezer Butler(bassist) and Ozzy Osbourne(vocalist), leaving out former drummer Bill Ward for Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk. Famous producer Rick Rubin has also joined hands with the band for this album. After all the problems the band has had over the years, they start afresh on 13, in an attempt to recreate the music they created in the past. In the studio however, the band gelled as if they were never apart. Iommi uses riffs he compiled after the band broke up; Geezer’s bass line is in complete chemistry with Iommi and Ozzy uses his vibrant voice to relive Black Sabbath. Even though there were huge expectations from this album, the band did not disappoint their fans. While their age was detrimental, the band has not compromised on the quality of their music. The album opens with the sluggish riff of End of the Beginning, but latter tracks such as God is Dead? and Damaged Soul create the vibe that Sabbath are known for. Many of the tracks on 13 pass of as standard Sabbath tracks, but Zeitgeist stands out with its unusual acoustic tune and lyrics resembling Planet Caravan (a single from Paranoid). It may seem that Sabbath have taken great influence from their previous albums, but songs such as Damaged Soul and Dear Father show us that they still have something in store for us after all these years. A couple of grey areas in this album are the lack of editing, with most songs over the 7 minute mark. Also, in my opinion, a couple of faster tracks were needed to enhance the tempo of the album. Iommi was sadly diagnosed with cancer, and he was undergoing treatment during the recording sessions. His riffs and solos along with Ozzy’s eccentric personality has always defined Sabbath's music. After this album he proves that he is still the God of doom metal. Ozzy’s voice has always had a special ring to it. Surprisingly his voice has remained more or less the same. Age does not seem to have much of an effect on his voice, which is surprising, considering the harsh life that he has led. Geezer’s lyrics are masterful in some tracks, and Wilk is a more than sufficient replacement for Bill Ward. 13 was released on June 10 and received highly positive reviews. It reached the No.1 position on the UK Albums Chart after its first week of sales. This was the bands first UK chart topping album since Paranoid in 1970. The album also reached the No.1 spot on the Billboard Chart, selling over 155,000 copies in its first week alone. There have been many reviews criticizing this album as well, but honestly, I don’t feel that Black Sabbath have anything left to prove. This album is most probably the last one of their illustrious career and has certainly surpassed my expectations. For a band which is over 40 years old, 13 is a more than respectable way to end their career.


Books

The Help

"She has the power to stop you from reading without thinking."

Kunal Kanodia reviews Kathryn Stockett's thoughtful and 'feel-good' book. Rarely does a book wield the power to make the reader stammer and stutter or put down his copy in distress, trying to reassure himself that the world he’s living in isn’t the same as the one being presented in the plot. That is the power of Kathryn Stockett’s The Help: beautifully written and wonderfully crafted, it is a work that redefines the manner in which we view America: it is no longer the land of seamless opportunity, but a land of social injustice. It is no longer the America of promise, but it becomes the epitome of discrimination and prejudice. This is The Help’s single largest achievement: readers far removed from the reality of the American South of the 60’s can connect with her. In The Help, we are introduced to a community based in Jackson, Mississippi. It has, everything that the American South is known for: small bouquet houses, chattering white housewives and of course, their colored help. Stockett uses crafty means to achieve her end of presenting to the reader the reality of discrimination and she achieves this in absolution. We are introduced to a society where Jim Crow laws make Black women use different washrooms from their White employers; where these laws require colored people to get off the pavement if white people are walking on them. Stockett uses her keen eye for absurdity when she presents to us Skeeter – a white girl who has broken with tradition to study journalism at Bryn Mawr. With the breaking of tradition, Skeeter developed an understanding of the racial inequality in the American South and she supports the Civil Rights movement. While at high school, Skeeter was in a friend circle which comprised the now racist Ms. Hilly and the ever submissive Elizabeth. She finds herself in a dilemma, as she doesn’t know what to choose: friendship with people in whom she doesn’t believe, or a rejection of the same in light of their backwardness. She finds her answer in Aibileen, Elizabeth’s help who, after much persuasion, agrees to help Skeeter with an anonymous book that would talk about the colored help in the South. And it takes off from there. The Help is not a poignant tale of racism eroding and egalitarianism prospering: it is rather, a crushing satire that is heart wrenching. It made me flinch and look away: not just because I was disgusted, but also because I couldn’t fathom what these people might have gone through. That is the power of Stockett: she not just writes, she has the power to stop you from reading without thinking. The Help not only captures the story of a people oppressed, but also the story of a society reinventing itself.


Books

Inferno

"Everything turned out the way one never thought it would."

Anvay Grover introduces us to another bestseller from Dan Brown. 'The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain neutrality in times of crisis'. Dan Brown is back with the new installment of the Robert Langdon series. This time he explores medieval Europe and the architecture of Florence, Venice and Istanbul. As we have come to expect from him, the book tells a great deal about the history and background of these cities and prominent Renaissance artists. One has to marvel at the depth in which he has researched about the historical monuments where Langdon must travel to uncover the mystery surrounding him. When Langdon wakes up in a Florence hospital, he has lost his recent memory and has no idea where he is. He escapes with a doctor named Sienna Brooks as it is revealed that an organization called 'The Consortium' is after him. As the storyline progresses, a pattern begins to develop. Langdon has few clues. To advance in the hunt he must visit some famous historical site where the villains turn up. After a brief chase where Langdon displays his immense knowledge of history by effortlessly navigating through secret passages, he escapes. However Dan Brown continuously throws in twists, and what initially seems predictable turns out not to be. Just when you think Langdon will be successful in his quest, yet another turn throws the entire novel the other way. Like all the books featuring Langdon, Brown gives out clues and is extremely areful how much to reveal at a time. Dan Brown is often regarded as being one of the worst prosestylists today. However, with his masterful way of knowing when he has to reveal something to the reader he keeps one flipping the pages continuously. This is in part due to the ominous endings he gives to each chapter. So much so that an anticipation of what will happen at the end of each chapter starts building up as one approaches the last page of the chapter. The prose in this book isn't impressive. It is nowhere close to the level of the contemporaries of his time. Sometimes it seems that the author himself hasn't re-read the book. No one will believe the way Robert Langdon can call upon his eidetic memory, which seems god-like, at any time. Or the way Robert and Sienna discuss Dante while the Consortium is on their heels, almost like nothing ever happened. But maybe that is what makes the book click. Also, along with sticking to his trademark historical theme and giving clues from Dante's Divine Comedy, there is a theme of trans-humanism and scientific advancement. The villain is Bertrand Zobrist, a scientific genius and pioneer of genetic engineering. Maybe the author is actually hinting towards an enormous problem we face today; that of overpopulation. Zobrist wants the human population cut down to 4 billion. He may come across as an antagonist in the story, but there is distinct scientific logic to back him up. Thus, Brown manages to make one question his ethics. Is it right to believe in what Zobrist does, to achieve the greater good or is it morally wrong to do so? Do we really need a drastic solution to this problem which sooner or later will rear its ugly head? Whatever critics might say, I am sure everyone will enjoy the book. Once the plot begins to get into your head, you do not even care about his style of writing. Just the way Langdon escapes from one place to another, going from Florence to Venice to Istanbul, makes it readable. But the book does make one think whether Zobrist was right, whether we actually need a Zobrist today. In the end, everything turns out the way one never thought it would. But we never stop flipping the pages.


Books

And the Mountains Echoed

"One which will not be forgotten quickly."

Vireshwar Sidhu reviews Khalid Hosseini's newest bestseller. He had been basking in the success of mega hits The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns for a while now. But six years after the success of A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini is back with a bang. His latest book, And The Mountains Echoed, is a more powerful, complex and intricate web spun through a series of enthralling characters than his previous two releases, both of which I devoured. In the year 1952, when Afghanistan was a long way off from being invaded by the Soviets and torn apart by the Taliban, Abdullah lives with his sister Pari in the fictional town of Shadbagh. To Abdullah, his sister means the world. This bond of the siblings forms an integral part of the story, as the characters find out that their actions have many affects, sometimes adverse, especially on the ones closest to them. However, life soon takes a twist for Abdullah and his family as 'a finger is cut to save the hand'. What follows is a riveting tale revolving around the siblings, which moves over characters, generations and countless places. From 1950s to the 21st century, from Afghanistan to Paris, San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos; the book has it all. Though the book starts digressing after the beginning, it is a tantalising narrative of different characters, each of whom are compelling creations and could have their own novellas of sorts. Parwana, stepmother of Abdullah and Pari, is a bearer of childhood unhappiness and sibling sorrow. Her brother Nabi, lives a sympathetic life. Nila Wahdati, another impulsive yet fascinating character of the book, defies the Afghani culture by smoking in the open and wearing sleeveless dresses. Each character's story, branching off from the tree trunk, ripples, resonates and echoes through subsequent generations. And this 'echo' of each life has probably given rise to the title of the book. While the story ricochet different countries, Hosseini explores, as he has in his previous two books, his recurring concern: the relationship of Afghanistan with the rest of the world. Hosseini, who left Kabul for USA in his teens, still has a major apprehension about what happens to those who leave their homeland and return to a devastated nation. The book at times however, is devoid of resolution. The reader is left with an unsatisfied feeling, not knowing what happens to all the characters. The book starts with a narration of a story by Saboor, father of Abdullah and Pari which prepares the reader for what to expect from the book. Hosseini and heartbreak seem to go together, as has been evident with his novels, but And the Mountains Echoed meanders into many tributaries and the mainstream plot seems lost. Moreover, the book has been at the receiving end of some critisicm as critics and fans alike have said that Hosseini hasn’t lived up to their expectations. Critics add that the deviating nature of the book gives rise to various complexities. But this is Hosseini at his best. As the reader is left wondering, Hosseini ties all loose ends to weave a multi-layered story, the base of which is connected. And The Mountains Echoed is truly an epic saga and Hosseini, as a matter of fact, is one of the most bewitching storytellers around. Khaled Hosseini keeps the readers engrossed throughout the book, making them yearn for the ending, and when it finally does come after a rollercoaster 400 pages, it is a trigger of memory. This is a book which must be read again and again, one which shall not be forgotten quickly. I too have read it and re-read it, and it is right there, at the top, with the best I have read.


Books

The Cuckoo's Calling

"A beautifully crafted murder thriller full of suspense."

Yash Dhandhania elaborates on how 'Robert Galbraith's' new book was probably too

good for a first one.

Being regarded as one of the greatest literary hoaxes of the century, The Cuckoo’s Calling has definitely made its mark. Authored by J.K. Rowling, as is now common knowledge, the book was published under her pseudonym, Robert Galbraith. Apparently, it was so because she wanted to confirm her talent as an author and ascertain that all the acclaim she had received was not only the result of hype and promotion. It does now seem that she was fruitful in her actions as The Cuckoo’s Calling has gone on to become a sleeper hit. One dreary winter’s morning in England, a supermodel, Lula Landry, falls to her death. Three months later, when the media hype has petered out, her brother, John Bristow, hires a private detective to further delve into all the ambiguity which surrounds the case. The latter, who boasted a rather quirky name, Cormoran Strike, was a friend of the family’s and, even though his life didn’t really seem to progress from behind the eight ball, reluctantly, accepted the case. However, as most successful crime novels would progress, as Strike begins his probing, he finds that the case wasn’t as straightforward as it seemed and that there was more obscurity surrounding the whole conspiracy than was brought into the limelight. As a matter of fact, there turned out to be only one actual witness, a drugaddict, and some aberrant discoveries of the victim’s actions a few days before her demise. Initially the most probable suspect, Lula’s boyfriend, as is easily foreseen, turned out to be the most alibi laden. Dotted with these twists and turns throughout, the story seems to never let go of the reader; even though it may not be a page turner, a sudden development always seems to pop up at the apt time. The story also sports a variety of idiosyncratic characters ranging from a caring boyfriend with a rough demeanor, to a mother who cannot move much from her bed and a rash and obnoxious uncle. All these characters are reminiscent of the style of writing of some highly reputed authors of the 20th century such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. Even Strike’s methods of analysis are along the lines of Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes, slow and vague initially, but eventually putting all the jig-saw pieces into place towards the end. With thoughts like families and friends falling apart because of threats of wealth, fame and the media’s want to grab at anything popular, the book doesn’t lack in its moral value either. There are also some references to Princess Diana which, even though I couldn’t unearth, would probably catch the attention of any Englishman who would have some idea about the conspiracies that surrounded the Princess’s death. Another possible understanding of the book has been that it could possibly be a sort of elaboration of J.K.Rowlings’s life’s tale. The Cuckoo’s Calling may just be intended to show her rise from the depths of us commoners to that elite d’état she now resides at. All in all, the book isn’t as gripping as is the trend with most of the books these days, but is a nice break from the ones so popular. It is a beautifully crafted murder thriller full of suspense and gives a feel of the style of writing that is fast becoming obsolete. Whether J.K.Rowling writes as herself, or under a pseudonym, she definitely is one of the better authors around.


TV Shows Books

Seinfeld

"The show about nothing is definitely worth the time."

Rahul Srivastava reviews a much loved comedy show. For a show about nothing to be considered as the ‘Greatest TV show of all time’ by TV Guide, it probably has to be about something. While it seems as if I’ve terribly contradicted myself, it’s true; Seinfeld is actually about nothing. But just because Seinfeld is about nothing doesn’t mean that it was devoid of a terrific plot and some great acting. Seinfeld never had the usual plot progressions we saw in other sitcoms. Important characters have died in various TV shows during season finales in what are emotionally packed episodes. In Seinfeld, similar occurrences have created what Jason Alexander (a lead actor in the show) called the ‘coldest moment in American television.’ Now you must remember that Seinfeld is a comedy, and so any attachment to emotion, positive or negative, is short-lived. Writers Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld created Seinfeld in 1989 and produced one of America’s most successful comedies for the next nine years. In the show, Jerry Seinfeld also acts as the titular character, Jerry Seinfeld. He’s a comedian in New York, and three very distinct individuals visit his apartment: his pessimistic best friend George Costanza (Jason Alexander), his eccentric neighbor Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards), and his lively ex-girlfriend Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Together, they acted in 180 episodes that were distinct, fresh, and completely unrelated to each other. Seinfeld’s brand of comedy is different from any other comedy sitcom I’ve seen before. It relies heavily on observational comedy; something that Jerry Seinfeld often practices in his stand-up routines. As a viewer, I laugh at the most mundane things about life, be it uncomfortable social obligations or idiosyncratic habits of the people around us. The humor is never crude, and is always derived from the plot and genuine dialogue between the characters. Today’s comedy is often reliant on foul language, plot-less humor, and strong themes of sexuality. Seinfeld avoids that unless the episode warrants it. The episodes are emotionally detached, and I don’t recall a single episode where emotions like happiness, anger, and heartbreak have spilled over to the next. If the episode has parallel storylines, like many sitcoms do even today, they always merged in what is clearly seen as some brilliant work by the writers of the show. To bring out such comedy, Seinfeld needed some great actors playing out well-rounded characters. The four principal characters of the show bring out the comedy very well, as they have their own idiosyncrasies that make us laugh. After nine seasons, Kramer’s occupation remained as elusive as the Holy Grail. George’s dismissal of no one but himself always made me crack up and Elaine, who was the only woman on the show, always remained consistently capricious (yes, the irony of it all). To temper the three, Jerry appears to be the sober, sane character of the show, balancing the demands of his three best friends, all of which, as one can imagine, creates recipe for great comedy. Through the course of nine years, Seinfeld became one of America’s most loved TV shows, far eclipsing the popularity of other 90s sitcoms like Friends and Full House. After four seasons alone, Seinfeld was the number one TV show in America. In India, it has still not picked up the same levels popularity amongst the English speaking population. Nevertheless, that does not discount the fact that the show continues to fetch Jerry Seinfeld hundreds of millions of dollars in syndication, along the huge bag of Emmy Awards the show received for its writing and acting. Seinfeld definitely caters to men more than women, and so it’s safe to say that for a Dosco audience, the show about nothing is definitely worth the time.


TV Shows

Saturday Night Live

"Live from New York, It's Saturday Night!"

Armaan Imam talks about the 38-year legacy of a classic American sketch comedy. 38 seasons, 745 episodes and still running. A Saturday night for a normal American teen means hanging around with a bunch of friends and catching the newest episode of SNL on TV. Surprisingly, not only Americans have their Saturday night’s pre-planned. SNL’s fame has reached every corner of the world, including our very own country, where we can catch the show on Comedy Central. Saturday Night Live is a late night live American show created by Lorne Michaels and Dick Ebersol. The show comes under the category of sketch comedy, which refers to a series of short comedy scenes (usually less than 10 minutes), which parody contemporary culture and politics. A feature which makes this show stand out the most is that every show has a guest host. In the past we have seen a variety of guests, be it Justin Timberlake, or Megan Fox. Besides that, SNL also has a recurring cast, including famous people like Seth Meyers and Kenan Thompson. Seth Meyers is a fan favourite. His sketch, “Weekend Update”, is one segment of the show that I look forward to watching every time I watch SNL. “Hillary Clinton will receive eight million dollars from Simon and Schuster to write her memoirs. Mrs. Clinton has said she'll use the money from the book to "pay off all the legal bills incurred by my husband's five hummers." The book is tentatively titled Why I Throw Things. The confidence with which Seth mocks world issues and people as a news reporter is simply exhilarating. His impersonation of Ron Weasley and Toby Maguire (Spiderman) is something that always makes me laugh. Some guest hosts have enjoyed hosting SNL so much, that they just can’t get enough. These people come under a category which is popularly referred to as “The Five Timer Club”. Alec Baldwin holds the record for most number for most appearances as a guest host, with 16 appearances. Also, every show features the live performance of a band, with Mumford & Sons and Nirvana having performed in the past. Every show has something new in store for us. Every guest host has his own personality and his own style, which he or she reflects on the show, giving the audience something to remember from each show. The show generally starts with a monologue by the guest host. My personal favourite monologue is that of Zach Galifianakis. Besides the monologue, the guest host showcases his personal passions and talents, which is fascinating on so many different levels. The show also features recurring sketches, which are seemingly popular with the audience. My favourite of these sketches is one which is called “the Californians are Back!”, and I’m sure it’s the personal favourite of the SNL cast, as you can actually see them enjoying it when they break out of character with the suppressed giggles. The ridiculous facial expressions and also the over-the-top Californian accents is something which I found exceptionally entertaining in this act. The show’s humour is one that may bring around some concerns. Some of the humor is explicit , and is not taken lightly by sensitive targets . For example, recently in the 38th season, SNL decided to take a dig at blockbuster movie Django Unchained, by making a spoof of it called Djesus Uncrossed. Even though some audiences may have had a laugh, many Christian families were outraged by the display. The humour may not appeal to those who don’t follow American issues, as the show is greatly centralized and restricted to America, occasionally taking a dig at other countries. It is believed that the show’s political skits may have an influence on voters. A survey revealed that many people were influenced by SNL to vote for Obama. From this we can draw the conclusion that SNL’s portrayal of people will make viewers formulate an image of that particular person. For instance, Gerald Ford, the 38th US President, tripped on the staircase of Air Force One, and was portrayed as a clumsy person on SNL. Reports suggest that this may have influenced the voters to vote for Jimmy Carter when Ford was looking for an extension of his term. Also the show serves as a platform for a celebrity to enhance their personality. In this case, the show is similar to the Ellen DeGeneres Show. Barack Obama made an appearance on both shows during his 2008 campaign. Either way, SNL has had a long and illustrious career on national television, and it will continue having one in the forseeable future.


Editorial Board

Editor-in-Chief Rahul Srivastava Chief-of-Production Agni Raj Singh Associate Editors Zayaan Khodaiji Armaan Imam Pulkit Agarwal Vireshwar Singh Sidhu Master-in-charge Ms. Anamika Ghose

Editor Udbhav Agarwal Senior Editors Kunal Kanodia Nakul Talwar Graphic Editor Abhayraj Jain Correspondents Yash Dhandhania Anvay Grover


The Doon School Information Review Š Copyright The Doon School, Dehradun. 2013


DSIR- the November issue