8 ideas that Christopher Nolan brought into “Interstellar” from “Inception”

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               Christopher Nolan is undoubtedly one of the greatest directors in the history of cinema. He has been an inspiration to many, in fact me too. His fine works are visible all over, but his true genius comes out when he utilises the concepts from his previous movies. Interstellar feels like a sister movie for Inception, but it is amazing in its own way. These cleverly crafted movies make me feel like watching them over and over again. It is not only Christopher, but also his brother Jonathan Nolan, who deserves equal credit for his amazing writing skills. Thank you, Nolan brothers for all these movies.

There are a lot of similar ideas between Inception and Interstellar, here are a few I noticed. This is just an attempt to show how beautifully these ideas are embedded into these two vibrantly different movies. 

1. Gravity

          Gravity has been the centre element for Christopher Nolan in both his epics.

Inception: The use of Gravity as a kick to get people out of the dreams is as good as anything can get. It is pretty common to all of us, at least the ones who dream frequently, to experience the sudden jerks and jumps in bed in the middle of a dream.

Interstellar: In his latest space adventure, he used Gravity as a medium to communicate with our world from future. It is a great thought, if we accept his creative liberty. Of course, the planetary sling shot, the giant waves etc., also show this usage.

2. Time Dilation

           Time is the core concept in both these films. The only difference is that time works exactly in opposite ways in both of them.

Inception: Our dreams usually feel really long. You would have experienced a long stretch of time in a dream during a few hours of sleep. Inception strictly follows this rule. Here, 5 minutes in real world = 1 hour in the dream. Time runs slower in our dreams.

Interstellar: The strong gravitational pull of the black hole causes the time dilation. On Dr. Miller’s planet, 1 hour = 7 hours on earth. Time runs faster on our planet, due to weaker gravitational pull of the sun compared to Gargantua.

3. A riddle

          We do know that Christopher Nolan loves leaving hints here and there throughout the movie. If we carefully observe, he gives us enough food for thought through riddles and poems. Beware, they are highly interpretable.

Inception: This riddle kept me thinking about a lot of things.

You're waiting for a train, 
a train that will take you far away. 
You know where you hope this train will take you, 
but you don't know for sure.
But it doesn't matter.

Interstellar: This is a poem, but I would like to think of this as a riddle. It talks a lot about the Interstellar travel and the venture into the Black hole. The mention and interpretation of “THEY” are the points to notice.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

4. Love

           Well, Love has always found its way into Nolan’s movies. Memento, Inception, The Dark Knight Trilogy and now Interstellar. It has always played an important role in the storyline. Well, to keep it short, Memento and Batman had their own love stories running through the movie, as you all already know.

Inception: Cobb’s love for his wife is clearly an important point in the movie. His blind love for her and of course, guilt as he calls it, handicaps him to let her go from his memories. She turns out to be the one that sabotages most of his plans.

“You promised me that we would grow old together.”

“Do you know what it is to be a lover?”

Interstellar: Murph’s relationship with her father, Cooper is one of the most beautiful portrayal of father-daughter love on the silver screen. And this time, Nolan pushed it a bit further with Dr. Brand’s love for Dr. Edmund. It can be seen in her advice to go to Edmund’s planet instead of Dr. Mann’s.

“Love is the one thing that transcends space and time.”

5. A father desperate to get back to his children

         Both the movies have this deep similarity between them, a father who wants to get back home to his children.

Inception: The only thing Cobb is bothered about  in the whole movie is to get back to his children and look at their faces for real. He does everything and puts his life at risk to get back home. Yes, that’s the underline of the story.

“I need to get home. That’s all I care about right now.”

Interstellar: Cooper’s promise to get back to his daughter and his decisions during the interstellar travel talk about his desperation to get back to his family. Except for the end, when he gives up as he had no other choice left.

“I’m coming back.”

6. Highly interpretable endings

           Christopher Nolan is famous for his endings, undoubtedly. Every time, his movie comes out, the crowd talks about nothing else other than his movie and the ending. Yes, the endings leave us enough thoughts to ponder over and these are the kind of cliff hangers that make his movies unique.

Inception: As Cobb returns home, but decides to check if it was reality he spins the totem. Now, the best part is when the movie ends with the totem spinning continuously but also wobbling once in a while. Well, I have my own theory of why I think that he’s still dreaming, but I would like to leave it here for you to think of what would have happened. This is what Nolan wants, according to his interviews.

Interstellar: The much talked about “THEY”, the five-dimensional beings and the creative visualisation of time as a dimension that is accessible has been the most talked about debate for the past two weeks. The events that take place after Cooper falls into the event horizon, his recovery near Saturn etc., have been the points of interest.  Well, a lot of people don’t agree with these things and playing around with time, but we ought to give it to the creativity of Nolan brothers in bringing out such a script, while still getting most of the science right for a Sci-Fi movie.

7. Water & Ice

           We know that water is the one thing that humanity really needs and it is the first thing that we search for on different planets, but Christopher Nolan loves it more than any of us does. He loves it so much that his team makes special water based effects and embed them into the movie. Of course, the other form of water also finds its place somehow.

Inception: The slow-motion water effects and the sprinkles of water at different point of the movie talk for themselves. The final act when the Van takes a free fall into the water and the rain in the first level of the dream. Not to forget the third stage of the dream when they get into gunfire and fights etc., in some ice covered mountain range.

Interstellar: The Giant waves on Dr. Miller’s planet and an important character’s death because of those waves defines a major part of the movie using time dilation. Dr. Mann’s planet has nothing but ice(may be frozen ammonia, not sure) and Ammonia.

“Those aren’t mountains. They are waves.”

8. Sleep

          Sleep is important for everyone. This natural rejuvenation process of life forms usually is of some importance in Nolan’s movies. These movies are pretty much different in the way they induce sleep.

Inception: The sleep induced here is due to the usage of sedatives, in fact strong sedatives. The sedatives are so strong that the person killed in the dream before the effect of the drug wears out happens to be pushed into further dream stages called “Limbo”, a vast empty subconscious.

Interstellar:  Cryo-sleep is a pretty familiar concept in the field of space travel. Interstellar uses this concept to help their astronauts save their years of life. In simple terms, this is a sort of hibernation for humans.

One more thing….

9. Michael Caine

          Oh, not to forget this man, Michael Caine, who consistently made an appearance in all the previous movies of Christopher Nolan. A Nolan movie without Caine is incomplete. Be it Interstellar  or Inception or The Dark Knight or The Prestige.

Inception: Michael Caine plays a college professor Dr. Stephen Miles and also father-in-law of Dominick Cobb (Leonardo).

Interstellar: This time he came back as Professor Brand, who is the key scientist for the Interstellar travel.

Mankind’s next step, will be our greatest.

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Inside Out

*This is entirely my personal interpretation of the animated motion picture, Inside Out.

Every once in a while, there comes a movie that pushes us to think and interpret our own life’s happenings. A movie need not necessarily impart any wisdom or give some food for thought, but as a powerful medium, they do have an influence on the way we look at things. We can safely say that our characters are not only shaped by the real lives around us and our interactions with people, but also by those fictional characters that appear for a definite time on the silver screen, but stay with us indefinitely.

“It’s not what you are underneath. It’s what you do that defines you.”

– Batman Begins

“With great power comes, great responsibility.”

– Spider Man

Such quotes taught us a lot and sculpted us to make us who we are today, either directly or indirectly, whether we accept it or not.

Now, let’s talk about the much awaited, Pixar and Disney’s new brainchild, Inside Out. This is a really simple movie, just like every other animated movie from these studios, but only this time, did they talk about a lot of important issues. This is not about what makes it a good or a bad movie and not about why you should watch it. It is something we need to talk about.  What makes a human being a human or in fact a living being alive? Well, our emotions and our ability to communicate. All of us have emotions and therefore feelings, yes, even the most insensitive ones do too. Every emotion is as important as the rest, nothing more and nothing less. Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear and Anger, these are the vital emotions that decide our course of life. Really, they do. And they are also the subjects of this latest movie.

Imagine this, what if, one day, all of a sudden you don’t have happiness anymore in your life? Nothing you do gives you a satisfactory feeling. Now, this would leave you with four other emotions. The moment we don’t find joy in anything we do, our entire life turns gloomy, doesn’t it? Well, this is Depression. It may be due to the tiring and relentless career pursuits, underperformance, enervating lifestyles and something unimaginable too. This has been a global phenomenon now. Anyone can be a victim, be it a celebrity or a countryside farmer.  Inside Out, talks about this exact horrendous phase that one might be going through. And the best way to get out of it is to talk it out and seek help. If we let it be, it would sprout many terrifying ideas and most of them are life-threatening. This is something we ought to talk about.

Right now, at this moment, one of your closest or even you might be suffering from this dreadful depression. I bet you wouldn’t wish it upon your most hated enemies. When you think you know someone is suffering from depression, do take it seriously and talk to them. It is better late than never and a recovering friend is better than a friend living in your memories. There are helplines around the world that will help them, but we need to take the steps to bring your old friend back. All it needs is you to make your inside out. We don’t want depression to be another plague, killing people from the inside. To all those battling depression,  just  remember that you are not alone and you have people who are willing to help you.

Life is not about just a single emotion. What makes a feeling complete is a mixture of emotions. Fear and joy, Anger and sadness, they may be very different and be out of context, but they have no meaning without each other. You wouldn’t know the value of light until you experience darkness. What makes joy that it is, is not joy, but sadness. A subtle philosophy, fading memories, addressing a burning issue, a journey through your childhood memories, the bond with your loved ones, the jealousy of your best friend making new friends, this is what a movie can make you feel and may be you’d find your life in it too.

Inbox by Google – A week with a smartbox

It’s about that someone did something about the e-mail that’s become a menace. Google seems to be taking the problem with e-mail seriously and it does reflect in their new (maybe future of email) app “Inbox”.

Invite systems have always worked no matter what the product is. Google is careful enough to take something this revolutionary slow. You can request access to this intelligent mail client by sending a request to “inbox@google.com” or get an invite from a friend who already is using it.

Inbox is an attempt to repair e-mail’s biggest problem, which is clutter and inability to keep and convey the information in a concise form. Google tried to address the above issues with the help of its intelligent algorithms. Inbox rethinks emails as a to-do list.

Screenshot_2014-10-29-11-43-37
What does it have?

The moment you log into to inbox with your Gmail account, Google crawls through your thousands of mails and tries to tidy it up by grouping them into various sections called “Bundles”. These are more like Primary, Updates, Social and Promotions in Gmail. Now, there are more sections like Travel, finance etc., and custom bundles. These are nothing but labels and filters with a greater IQ.The more I use, Inbox gets better and better at filtering and bundling mail. Thanks to Google’s cutting edge algorithms.

Screenshot_2014-10-29-11-43-47
As already mentioned, Google wants to make the email more useful. They chose to make the mail a to-do list. You can swipe(archiving, named “done”) away mails after attending them or snooze them to attend later. They can also be pinned to attend later, this is Google’s way of saying that it is important. This swipe away and snooze has been around for a while and proved to be useful in mail clients like Mailbox and Mail app on iOS 8. Also, no matter what the bundle is, as soon as a new mail is pushed to the bundle, it moves to the top of the Inbox. This is actually great, unlike in Gmail, where you need to go to the Promotions or Social or any relevant label.

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Reminders, an important feature that was introduced with Google now. Add reminders alongside with mail. This helps a section of people who get a lot of mails that carry tasks to be done.

As a designer, it feels great to see where Google’s design is headed to with the introduction of Material design. Transitions look great and better than ever on Inbox. It reflects their philosophy to make design delightful across platforms and devices.

Screen_Shot_2014-10-29_at_11_53_02_AM
What does it miss?

Bundles do a great job when grouping the mails, but looks like even they fail to address the problem of clutter. It looks more spacious than a Gmail inbox but again, they are the same filters and this time more in number. Also, another annoying feature is the placement of all the attachments in the bundle. It feels really annoying, when you don’t know where that attachment is from and it only pushes you to dig deeper into the bundle rather than making it simpler.

Screenshot_2014-10-29-11-43-24

The idea of rethinking of mail as a to-do list is refreshing and makes mail slightly more useful than before. But may be this is not the revamp of email we are looking for. It probably needs to address the gap between email and IM to make it more usable.

I have used Inbox and only Inbox for a full week to ensure that I use it to the maximum. It felt great, but at the end of the week, I felt more than happy to get back to the Gmail app. It is not really right to judge Inbox and its future, certainly not at this point. With Google taking up the job, the future looks really promising. It is safe to say that email is in good hands for its long overdue makeover.

You can download Inbox right away here and find an invite from someone who already has it. With Android Lollipop release scheduled for November 3rd, you should expect Google to open this Inbox up for everyone.

The Bygone | Episode 5

         Hours later, Varun regained his consciousness and looked at the phone he managed to pull from one of the men. He dialled the last called number.

            “Is it done?” asked the voice on the other side in a tone little above a whisper. But Varun did no mistake in recognising the voice.

Read the final episode of the Bygone series here

Thanks for reading this series, in spite of the long gaps between episodes.

The Bygone | Episode 4

Generations ago, there were visitors. They came in from far off worlds, out of a light, brighter that the sun, that no human could bear. Their flawless white outer coverings made them look superior, strongly emphasised by their length. They were really tall, as the paintings described. Francisco still wondered about how that gift had been saving people.

Read The Bygone | Episode 4 here 

See you soon.

Every place in this world is haunted.

        Haven’t you ever felt like something is watching you? Walking with you along an empty, dark alley? Never felt that someone is trying to tell you something, even in an empty room? We are so deeply engrossed in our busy lives that we tend to ignore anything that feels haunted. Even when we do, we just dust it off the shoulder and walk away. 

       After the end of the 10 year long court trial for the settlement of the family asset distribution disputes,  Nirvan’s family was given his late father’s share in the property. It is an abandoned factory, 90 kilometres from Mumbai, on the road to Goa.  It hadn’t been functional for the past 32 years. No body knows the reason why they shut down that drug manufacturing factory. Not even Nirvan, who planned strategically to get this factory as a part of that settlement. He had bigger plans in the place of that abandoned factory.

        Nirvan wanted to take his mom and sister there and tell them what he was planning to do with that place. Naina, his 16-year old sister was super excited about going there, as if someone really wanted her to come there. And his mom was somehow feeling uneasy about going to that place, as if someone was trying to warn her from going there.

        It was a Sunday morning and Nirvan convinced his mom to come along, who was still not sure about going there. After an hour long journey, they reached the factory. They left the car and walked towards the gate of the compound. Nirvan was also unusually calm that day, but with a wide grin on his face. It was a typical warehouse construction with an asbestos roof top. It was a single block of around 800 metres long and 600 metres wide. The abandoned equipment was lying around in the dust and rusted. They walked around for a while and finally sat down at the entrance of the building, in the verandah on the wide parapet wall.

      Nirvan was explaining the new venture plans to his mom, while Naina was playing with his mobile phone. Something drew her attention and she found a small black cat staring at her from a distance. She left the phone in her place and started walking.

“Oy, Naina, where is my phone? And where are you going?” asked Nirvan.

      “Next to you. Nirvan, see that cute little cat there. How cute!” said an excited Naina who was walking rapidly towards the cat. But Nirvan remembered that she hated cats all her life.

       Nirvan turned his head around, but he could not find anything. He could neither find his phone nor the signs of a cat that Naina was talking about. His mom wasn’t paying attention to him, but staring at something in the distance and lost in her own thoughts. He could see that his mom is scared of something. He shouted at Naina to come back, who wasn’t listening and walking all along.

       Nirvan started running towards her and started to pull her back. But she was resisting him and not even turning her head towards him. She was lost staring at the invisible cat. He dragged her towards the verandah, but only to find his mom walking away. He called her, but in vain. He started to panic and decided to leave the place at once. He walked towards his mom and caught hold of her too, with great difficulty. Naina and his mom were out of their control and walking with their eyes pointed at something at a distance, as if they were being lured into a black hole.

       Suddenly, his missing phone started to ring. He turned back and it was in the verandah, where he couldn’t find it earlier.

       “There is no sign of a signal in this place minutes ago and how could it possibly get a call now?” That was just the beginning of the horrors for Nirvan.

        He decided to not to go back for his phone, dragging his mother and sister into the car and rushed to leave. He accelerated as much as his Land Rover let him in a hurry to leave that odd place. He looked into the rear view mirror of his fast moving car and found a bunch of men in factory uniforms standing at the gate, staring. Much to his horror, his phone started to ring again in the dashboard of the car. He could also see a black cat on the side of the road. Not just once, he could see the same cat after every 10 seconds sitting in the same place on the road, staring at them.

        There was something else he didn’t realise. Everytime he crossed a milestone, it said Mumbai 88 Kms. 


From the writer’s desk:

         After I finished writing this piece, I needed to check my phone for something. I started searching for it. I remember leaving it on the bed, but it was no where to be found. I searched the whole house and couldn’t find it anywhere. I came back and searched my bed again. This time, it was exactly where I remember seeing it last. I was the only one awake at that time in the entire house to suspect any pranks.

Every place in this world is haunted.