All posts by Anu Hastings

About Anu Hastings

I am a self-confessed geek. As a former academic, analysis, interpretation, and expression is my stardust! My writing mainly reflects my interests in the moving image arts, social issues, animals, everyday joys, and anything else that compels me to write. I live in Seattle, Washington with my husband and our furry babies.

Fan: SRK Negotiates His Own Stardom

Fan is the story of a superstar (Aryan Khanna) and his devoted fan (Gaurav Chandna), and what happens when the mask of stardom comes off. Let me start by saying that I think Fan is one of the biggest risks of Shahrukh’s career, and an extremely commendable one at that. And if I may say so, it was totally worth it! It’s a challenge for a mainstream actor to step so far out of his comfort zone.

fan-movieFrom the moment we slowly followed the fan Gaurav Chandna with his back to the camera as he swaggered with confidence and took the stage to emulate his hero, I was hooked! Fan triggered my thinking on a few different aspects.

  1. Return of the psychotic antihero
  2. The tension between Shahrukh Khan’s and Aryan Khanna’s star image
  3. Commentary on the complicated relationship between fandom and stardom in India

Continue reading Fan: SRK Negotiates His Own Stardom

Don Draper – It’s Time to Look Inward

I’m a junkie for books and movies with ambiguous endings, because it means that your relationship with the piece of art isn’t over. The story lives with you as you spend days and weeks mulling over various interpretations, and making it your own. And that is why I loved the finale of Mad Men – one of the greatest shows ever made in the history of television. There’s so much to say about all the characters, but I want to start with Don. I want to present my theory of Don’s resolution, if we can even call it that.

I don’t think he became a yogi, but I don’t believe that he went back to McCann and made that Coke ad either. For me, the entire season starting last year was a build-up to the rebirth of Dick Whitman. Don Draper was a façade. He’s always been a façade and it was time for the curtains to go down on that show.

The first time we met Don Draper was through a slow zoom-in on the back of his head in a dark and dingy bar. The series ended with a slow zoom-in on the front of his face on a clear and breezy day, out in the open with no barriers of any kind. It was a journey from the back of his head to the front.

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DonDraper6 Continue reading Don Draper – It’s Time to Look Inward

The Whale’s Tale

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Photo courtesy: Center for Whale Research

I have long resisted writing about Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s Blackfish (2013) since I watched it a couple of months ago, as I was sure I would just launch into a raging tirade (not against the documentary, but because of the facts that it brought to light). Let me preface this piece by saying that I have very strong feelings about killer whales. For me, they are a source of strength, power and faith. I have an orca tattooed on my back, several orca knick-knacks around the house, and I donate as much as I can to the Center for Whale Research in Friday Harbor, WA.

The documentary debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and created quite a buzz because of its provocative content. Blackfish uses the infamous death of SeaWorld’s senior trainer Dawn Brancheau at the jaws of Tilikum, one of their senior performing orcas, to launch into a poignant and terrifying tale about the plight of a captive orca’s life. I do not wish to reiterate all the points that Blackfish makes, as several blogs and reviews have already done that. Instead, I want to recount my own experience of the film and try to communicate what I believe we owe to these magnificent beasts, why orca captivity (and that of dolphins, other captive mammals) is so very inhuman. For those interested, please refer to this rather lengthy but very balanced and exhaustive article about orca captivity by Tim Zimmermann. Continue reading The Whale’s Tale

Need some inspiration?

Everyone has something that they reach to for inspiration and encouragement. It could be a person, a poem, a book, a speech, a place.  You cannot predict where inspiration will come from and when it will strike. I am always seeking magical positive energy and awe-inspiring ideas. Here’s one of my “go-to” pieces of inspiration. It’s Conan O’Brien’s commencement address to the Dartmouth College class of 2011 (reproduced here courtesy of teamcoco.com via YouTube). I have lost count of how many times I have watched this speech.

 

Besides being side-splitting funny, Conan O’Brien is intelligent and insightful. This speech is inspiring not only because of Conan’s sensible and wise advice to the youngsters, but more importantly because of his genuine depiction of life’s uncertainties. He steers clear of the “reach for the stars” and “the world is your oyster” clichés. With an unpretentious quality, Conan convinces the audience of how dreams can change and how living through that experience can be liberating rather than devastating. I want to pause here to commend Dartmouth on their excellent choice for a commencement address speaker. It’s not just about picking a successful person, but it also matters at what stage that person is in his/her own life. Continue reading Need some inspiration?

Gratitude for all that matters

I used to have a blog a few years ago. But I didn’t post new writing as regularly as I should have. So here’s to a fresh start. I intend to update this blog regularly with my reflections and musings on anything and everything that moves me to write. My life is steeped in cinema, media, theater, music and everything else to do with popular (and unpopular) culture, freedom and expression. I have a lot of opinions on a lot of issues, so stay tuned!

In India, we have a tradition of praying to God before starting any new venture. I am not much of a believer in organized religion. But I do believe in the power of goodness. I believe in being kind, honest, and a carrier of positive energy. I believe we are all connected and we get back as much positivity as we invest in everything around us, and that is what gives me the courage and strength to keep going. Gratitude forms a major part of my personal religion. Being grateful makes me humble and makes me work harder to retain all the good things in my life. In turn, I end up projecting more positivity. See how that works! Continue reading Gratitude for all that matters