humko deewana kar gaye (2006)

I have watched the little known, critically mediocre, average box office, and immensely forgettable Humko Dewaana Kar Gaye 4 times this year.

This is the only Indian film that I think has never been off of Netflix. I don’t know why. Somewhere in Netflix, it will show that since my family and I got Netflix streaming, we have seen it more than 8 times for this reason.

Every few years, my mom comes across it — sees the poster of Katrina Kaif and Akshay Kumar, and says “We haven’t seen this one!”

My sister and I yell, “WE HAVE, MOM. WE HAVE,” because we have not only seen it once, we have seen it several times over our lives.

Yet, if you asked us what happens in this movie, we wouldn’t be able to tell you much about the plot.

I watched this last night, let me try and recap the plot for you:

A dude is engaged to Bipasha Basu. Then he goes to Canada and meets Katrina Kaif. They fall in love. It turns out Katrina Kaif is engaged to Anil Kapoor. They have a misunderstanding, and then they get together at the end.

That’s literally just the cast list plus a 2-line Netflix summary. I saw this last night and I can’t tell you anything more about it.

But, I’m starting to realize I love this movie.

I’m going through a few phases right now, and this movie weirdly hits the middle of all of them.

  1. I am realizing I have an intense, immense crush on mid-00s Katrina Kaif. I have never been really physically attracted to people before, but wow, Katrina Kaif. The heat rises in my cheeks when I see her smile.
  2. I think there’s a place in everyone’s life for hopeful, good people having a good time in our media. This mainly results in consuming a lot of children’s media for me, but this movie falls into this.

This movie is very bad. There’s awkward writing, the dubbing for Katrina is all over the place, and nothing happens. I distinctly remember the stock footage scenes being particularly grainy in comparison to the real film.

But, there’s something really magical and hopeful about a movie like this.

Instead of telling you about the plot… let me tell you about the characters’ journey.

Akshay Kumar is a romantic. He’s charming, a family man, and he’s good at his job. He believes in good things. He has an arranged marriage with the imminently gorgeous Bipasha Basu, and believes he loves her, because that’s the kind of guy he is.

He thinks he loves her, but he doesn’t know what it’s like to be in love yet.

Katrina Kaif is delicate. She’s the child of a broken home, but born into a high status, high wealth society. She’s never really dreamt of anything, she’s always known she would first be a proper socialite daughter, and then be a proper socialite wife. She’s a little lonely.

She accepts the love in her life, because she doesn’t know it’s even possible to have anything more.

These two meet, and Akshay is immediately enamored with Katrina. She’s gorgeous, but he doesn’t think much of it until they run into each other again… and again…

He finds out she’s a bit of a romantic as well — not as far as him, but after the immense practicality that is his relationship with Bipasha, the fact that Katrina even entertains his ideas of destiny and fate are refreshing.

For Katrina, this is the first time in her life that she’s met anyone — romantically or platonically — that cares about her for her. Not for her name, not for her dad. Akshay is just nice and charming and caring. It’s hard not to be his friend.

Slowly, they fall in love, always walking the line between this being a friendship or a relationship. Whenever anyone else asks, though, they’re just friends. They’re both engaged. They don’t know what’s happening, but if they question it, it’ll stop. Neither of them wants it to stop. Let’s live out this fantasy as long as we can.

From a viewer’s perspective — it is really nice to see two good people fall in love with each other before our eyes. This story isn’t disjointed, we see basically every interaction they have. We see every moment between them. Because Akshay and Katrina have such good chemistry, the romance feels real despite the dubbing. Any other pairing on this screen would’ve made this movie so much worse.

In a movie that’s all about the characters, half of this is the story structure of it being a slow burn, the other half is entirely carried by the chemistry between Akshay and Katrina. It’s their first film together, and it’s the only movie they’ve done together where the focus of the film is just displaying their chemistry in their purest form. It’s lovely to witness if you walk in with the right mindset.

He knows he’s in love with her before she knows she’s in love with him. She’s a little cautious about it. Akshay seems to forget Bipasha exists fairly easily, possibly because Bipasha is half a world away. She finally gives into it after holding herself back.

More importantly, they both learn something about themselves along the way. Katrina Kaif dares to dream. She’s met someone who’s finally given her permission to have her own desires, her own dreams. I’d like to think that after she marries Akshay, she even thinks about getting a job and making some real choices in life.

Akshay learns what love really is, and that it’s the most important thing in his life. He was always a bit of a romantic, but he didn’t know it would be possible to have such intense feelings that he can’t live without someone. A hole in his heart has been filled, and he didn’t even know that hole was there.

I gotta be honest — if you can’t tell, I think Katrina has the more interesting character in this film. Akshay is practically perfect from the start, but he has more plot, so it sort of evens out.

And… just then, the actual tension / plot starts.

The ending of the movie is about an hour long. The first 20 minutes of it are decent, and I would’ve accepted that as the ending, but it just starts to get a little out of control when so many conflicts are suddenly introduced.

The first two hours of this movie are an absolutely joy if you’re in the right mood, and the last half hour has the potential to ruin the film.

Despite this slog of an ending, why do I love it so much?

I don’t think we make enough movies that are simply about good characters, good people, and the cute moments between them. It’s a simple, hopeful film. There’s not much threat of death. There’s very little grandness to the situation until the forced dramatic ending. It’s just nice to escape into a mildly fantastic world where you see two normal people have a normal love story.

Let’s be honest — they’re not a very popular style of film. They happen to be some of my favorites, though.

Before Sunset is my favorite romantic drama in English.

And look, this might be a bold statement, but Humko Deewana Kar Gaye is 70% as good as Before Sunrise.

I’m not kidding.

I love this genre of film. I love happy stories with happy endings. I love characters growing together. It’s everything that’s good out of life.

And if cinema, or art in general, doesn’t talk about the simple goodness of life, what’s the point of art?

my new workout routine in quarantine

Right before quarantine started, I had just started going to my (free, at work) gym three times a week. I started doing /r/bodyweightfitness’s recommended routine.

This was pretty good. I relied heavily on the TRX suspension system in order to do assisted push-ups, pull-ups, and rows, though.

As we moved into lockdown, I thought it would be 3 months top, and I’d be back to being a busy, city-living girl who walks a few miles a day and does strength training at the free gym.

So uhh… here we are, 5 months later.

I finally caught up on some other habits I wanted to get better at (specifically balancing my eating), so I was ready to start thinking about working out again.

I wanted something I could do at home (obviously), and bodyweight… despite its claims… wasn’t it. You need some equipment:

  • Pull-up bar. I was afraid of hurting my (rented apartment) doors with a bad pull-up bar.
  • Gymnastic rings. You need enough vertical space to use these properly, and I couldn’t see where I could do this in my studio apartment.
  • Somewhere to do dips, rows, etc.. They say you only need a sturdy table and two sturdy chairs. I, once again, live in a studio. I use TV Trays + my couch as my dining tables for friends.

It just felt risky. I wanted to try something else.

I got an ad for resistance band strength training on YouTube, and at the same time asked a friend for advice. He also said resistance bands. I could replicate weights in a way that’s comfortable and less prone to injury.

I also got pulled into the jump rope side of YouTube. Apparently, jump rope is really good cardio. It’s low-impact and high-intensity.

I decided to go with both! Maybe it’s a bit ambitious, but strength training alone just feels way less healthy when we’re all leading such sedentary lives in such a small radius. I want more cardiovascular health, and I want to work on getting stronger.

Here’s a list of equipment I got/use for each:

Jump Rope

  • Jump Rope. I went with the Wirecutter recommended rope, which was a pain to adjust but it seems fine. I guess any beginner jump rope seems fine. One thing to note is that this was originally $7, but during the pandemic the price has been upped to $11. I think that’s okay, but it’s definitely a huge percentage increase.

That’s it. We’ll discuss more about what I maybe should get in the future down below.

Resistance Bands

  • Resistance bands with handles. I’ve used loop bands before for physical therapy and the like. I think the handled ones are more akin to weights. The convenience makes the form pretty good. They REALLY jacked the price up on these. You should only spend between $20-30 on resistance bands. I got these refurbished for $20.
  • Yoga mat. I bought a yoga mat for the gym at work back in February. I wanted something that I could sink into because that’s my preference! I got mine for $16.

For the resistance band strength training, this is all I need! YouTube covers the workouts. There’s no other equipment necessary for the next year, which is awesome.

So with both, I spent around $40 since I already had the yoga mat. I think that’s amazing compared to a gym (assuming they last!).

YouTube for fitness

This all started on YouTube. I don’t remember how it all started. I think I was looking for ways to do bodyweight exercises without equipment. I either got ads or got recommendations in the sidebar that led me to my two newest subscriptions:

  • ACHV Peak for resistance band training. This couple seems super chill which is why I like them! I’d never seen follow-along aerobics DVD-style workout videos on YouTube before. I really like the style, the editing, and the humanness of seeing two people work out with you, (sort of) live.
  • Jump Rope Dudes for jump rope. I don’t like following along with their workouts since I work out outside. But, I like their style and delivery. I like keeping up with the weekly videos just like any other channel I’m subscribed to.

I fell down a rabbit hole for HOURS last weekend to settle on these two channels. I’m happy I’ve reached this point now. I feel like I’m okay with this commitment.

Schedule and routine

I started working out on Monday. My jump rope arrived on Sunday and it took over an hour to adjust (I kid you not). Now that it’s done though, I’m happy with it and I like how little friction it requires to get out there and do it.

The best thing is getting up and getting it out of the way first thing in the morning.

I just get up, grab my rope, go outside on the deck at around 8am, and go. I’m wearing my PJs and athletic shoes.

Right now, I’ve been focusing on just going for 10 minutes. I’m trying to work on my form so that I don’t get bad jumping habits. This means I’m not even jumping much and I’m still fairly worn out.

It’s been good, but despite being low-impact, my shoes are fairly thin and I definitely need my inserts. I just put them in yesterday, but the inserts are new. They’re stiff. It’s going to hurt for a while, but I hope I’ll adjust.

I’m jumping rope every day that I’m not doing strength training. The resistance band training happens 3 days a week — Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Resistance band training has been much easier as far as adjustment process goes. I need to learn some more form (quickly jumping into push ups is hard when I’ve never done a raw push up before), but other than that, I think it’s pretty easy! Especially since it’s indoors.

So, currently my schedule is as follows. All workouts are limited to around 30 minutes (but I’m starting a lot lower):

M-W-F: Resistance band training

Tu-Th-Sa-Su: Jump rope

Future equipment

I really like this. I know I’m only in week one, but I haven’t had much trouble sticking to the routine and I hope that I can continue to do this for a while yet, even after gyms open up. I’ve never felt better about workouts.

So, with that in mind, if I’m sticking to it ,there’s a few upgrades worth considering:

Resistance bands

I don’t really need anything for this. My resistance bands will eventually break, at which point I may want to switch to a more premium brand like Bodylastics.

If I need more flexibility in resistance levels, I should probably switch to loop bands. I’ll figure out how to deal with loop bands when I get there. For now, the handles are very convenient and I want to stick with them as long as possible. (I’ve seen some options where you can hook handles onto loop bands, though!)

I expect this to cost ~$60-80. Not bad.

Jump rope

All cardio has its limits! There’s a lot more upgrades here.

  • Jump rope. Apparently, cheap jump ropes wear out within a few months. There’s this super premium brand called Crossrope which comes with weighted ropes and steel band cables. They’re supposed to last ~2 years for ~$100-150. I don’t mind spending more for the better workout… once I get to that point.
  • Jump rope mat. Concrete is terrible for our joints and the jump rope. I have a deck right now. Wood isn’t as hard as concrete. However, I may move or I may reach the limits of this soon. I think my family has an extra treadmill mat at home I can use instead. It all just serves the purpose of having a thin, softer landing pad for the rope and my feet.
  • Sporta bra. Jumping can get really high-impact. I bought a cheap $20 sports bra off of Amazon. I’m not going hard enough right now to need anything more than a normal bra as is. But, if I’m jumping 4x a week, I definitely need one more sports bra, and I’ll probably opt for Athleta or Lululemon.
  • Basketball/training shoes. My shoes are thin right now. I definitely need better shoes if I’m going to stick to this. Something flat like basketball shoes is probably best.

This is going to cost a lot more to slowly upgrade to. I don’t even have an estimate, but a few hundred dollars. Just for jumping rope! I thought this would be a lot cheaper. It’s cheap to start, but not cheap to stick to.

It’s fine, I’ll get what’s needed when I need it.

ultimate spider-man (#1-27)

I just finished the first four story arcs of the Ultimate Spider-Man comic series. I was surprised to find out that I’m 20% done with the entire run.

I’ve only been reading it for ~20 minutes (1 issue) a day, so since it’s a 10 year run, I got through 2 years of comics in about 1 month. I now understand why comic book readers have so many subscriptions! It sounds expensive.

There’s a lot of comics in Hoopla I want to read, but I’m still going through Ultimate Spiderman, so I’m enjoying it for now. The pace is definitely frenetic though, and it somehow feels like all the time in the world has passed & also no time has passed. This comic has the long-term pacing of a soap opera. It starts to mess with you if you think about it too hard.

Anyway, how am I enjoying it so far?

I like it. It’s getting darker. The world still feels so new, though. I just can’t fathom how there’s 8 more years of Peter still being what, 16? It kind of feels like nothing has happened yet compared to the pace of a superhero movie or TV show. The world is still being established!

I want to keep up reading comics, although I think I hoped that keeping up with a weekly comic would be… longer. I’m not sure.

I get some Comixology stuff free with Amazon Prime, so maybe I’lll try that soon. I just want to get to the point with comics where I’m waiting for weekly issues to drop. I don’t know if I’m ready to commit to Marvel for that, though. I need to explore a LOT more.

I guess I’m just still having a hard time wrapping my head around comics although I am enjoying this series.

get a financial life

All personal finance books are bad.

This one is written with clearer language than most, and it gives some direction. But, it still gives too much. It still doesn’t grab me by the horns and say to DO THIS.

It’s got some good explanations that helped me, so it was worth a read. But, if I didn’t already have my financial life in order… this wouldn’t have helped me start. I would’ve definitely just read the book and continued procrastinating.

I recommend this only if you seriously know absolutely nothing about finance, and you’re not a high earner.

favorite song of 2015

I love Himesh Reshammiya.

I was a baby when the glory days of the Hello Brother and Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge soundtracks came out.

I was a kid when the chart-topping brilliance of Jhalak Dikhla Jaa and Afsana Bana Ke came out.

People have underestimated his newer work, but his compositions are still brilliant and catchy. His voice has lost a lot of charm, but he’s still a really catchy composer.

He’s not my favorite composer anymore (that goes to Amit Trivedi), but he’s definitely top 3.

The Prem Ratan Dhan Payo soundtrack was a big deal. I didn’t really love the songs until I watched the movie, but the song that made the biggest impact on me was similar to my experience with Do Dhaari Talwar.

The song had never released before the movie came out, and the first time I heard the song was in the theater.

It made an immediate impact. Neeti Mohan has a great voice in this song. Himesh has some catchy instrumentals as hooks. It’s been stuck in my head for 5 years now.

some thoughts on friendships

I think if our extended quarantine has taught me anything, it’s that we emphasize our relationships too much. Hangouts are exhausting. It’s great to have a pool of people available, but keeping up is exhausting. There’s been less pressure to keep up and that’s okay.

I think we’re a little brainwashed to have a bunch of really close friends. I have a few, and then I have a lot of friends at a distance I know I can talk to whenever. I think this is a good balance.

It’s okay. Let’s focus on the media studies & the mandolin.

optimize for less

Today, I thought about adding a “Things I Like” page to despite the fact that no one has ever asked me for this. I was just reading a few blogs that had this and thought I should add one, too.

But what is the goal here? What is the end result of this?

When in doubt, optimize for less.

My inherent curiosity already makes optimizing for less consumption really hard. The least I could do is reduce the obligations for creation and update.

There’s only a few things keeping me online now:

  • Work
  • Email (always being pruned, always under control)
  • This blog (I could leave for 3 years and not care as long as my hosting continues — I write here when I want to)
  • The email newsletter (updated every few months)

Note that isn’t on there. There is no reason to write more for the public web. It’s alright.

Read, absorb, move on.

favorite song of 2014

2014 was the year I fell in love with Alia Bhatt. Some actresses were my favorites before, but wow, I didn’t know what it meant to love a celebrity until I fell in love with Alia.

I remember I saw her second film, 2 States, and was thoroughly unimpressed. But then the Highway trailers… I only saw the movie a year later, but I had so much built around the visuals and the music and Alia in it in my head for a year that I already knew I loved it.

By the time Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania came out, I already knew she was my favorite actress.

Kavya was just my icing on top.

Main paida hi hot hui theen.

Kavya Pratap Singh in Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania (2014)

Humpty Sharma has one of my favorite soundtracks of all time. After the full soundtrack came out on YouTube, the only way I was able to find chein was to watch the entire soundtrack every single night for over 2 months.

It’s the only soundtrack with 5 songs in my favorites playlist. That’s every song except for the exceptionally terrible Daingad Daingad.

Everyone has a comfort movie and soundtrack they return to time and time again. This is it for me. I love everything about this movie.

So choosing a single song is really hard. I think the choice is clear, though. Interestingly, in a soundtrack of party bops, this might be my only yearly favorite that isn’t a dance song.

It’s hard to explain why Samjhawan just transcends everything else. It’s just one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. So many Hindi romantic songs are, it’s too bad they don’t crack my favorite song of the year more often.

What’s important is that I love Alia Bhatt more than I’ve ever loved anyone in my real life.