Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

by Bushra on December 19, 2016

NOTE: There are NO spoilers for the movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Rogue One

Awaiting Rogue One: A Star Wars Story to hit theaters was a very different experience than waiting for Star Wars: A Force Awakens. The latter was the first Star Wars film to hit theaters in ages and I was slightly on edge as to whether or not it would be any good. If I didn’t like the characters that the movie introduced TOO BAD because we were going to be stuck with them for the rest of the trilogy. Thankfully, Rey and Finn were awesome characters and I can’t wait to see them in the next films.

I didn’t feel that kind of stress for Rogue One. I mean, I was hoping that it would be good. I knew there was a lot riding on it being good and doing well in the box office because this was the first standalone Star Wars movie and its success (or lack thereof) could pave the way for our expectations for other standalone films. But whatever, it’s just a movie. Life would go on if it was lame, especially since chances were high that we’d never even see any of these characters again.

Even going to see Rogue One didn’t have the same fanfare attached to it in the way that A Force Awakens did. There was no long email thread to coordinate screenings with friends, no taking the day off from work and making sure we got there early enough to stand in line to get good seats, no leaving the house even earlier for the donut run from Donut Savant in Oakland to make sure we all had some sustenance while standing in line.

This time around, I went with my sister and mom. I had bought tickets with reserved seats so we didn’t have to show up too much in advance. The seats themselves were the kind that recline and make you spoiled on the cinema watching experience. There was nothing to it.

Last year, I ended up liking The Force Awakens. I’m sure so many people breathed a sigh of relief when that movie ended, confident in the direction the next set of trilogies was going down.

With Rogue One, I figured it would be good enough but I don’t know these characters. And it’s about stealing plans for the Death Star. Considering that in Episode IV: A New Hope (aka just “Star Wars”), the rebels have the plans, we even already know how this movie ends.

And yet.

Wow.

I didn’t expect to enjoy the movie as much as I did. I was completely enthralled and for the last half hour, I was on the edge of my seat* and my heart was in my throat. And the way it ended… All I’ll say is that it puts a lot in perspective (is that vague enough?).

Folks, I may even have liked this better than A Force Awakens.

The cast was great and I got quite emotionally attached to the characters. I bought it all, their motives, everything about them. There was also a robot I loved**. During a speech that Felicity Jones’s character, Jyn, gave to the rebellion, I even got chills.

By the way, it was very cool to to see such a diverse cast. Otherwise it’s always like people’s minds can wrap around aliens of all shapes and sizes but God forbid there be an Asian in space!

To be honest, I have no idea what it would be like to watch this coming in cold on Star Wars but I would like to think this works as a standalone movie. I do know this though – that if you know anything about Star Wars, then this will be an incredible movie experience.

Further Listening: For a full on spoiler-filled discussion, listen to The MovieFilm Podcast’s episode on Rogue One.

*Figuratively speaking. I was sitting in one of those reclining theater seats after all.
**Was it a betrayal to love a robot in a Star Wars movie that wasn’t C-3PO or R2-D2? I don’t know, my friends, I don’t know.

{ 5 comments }

Getting to Know the Ones You’ve Lost

by Bushra on December 6, 2016

When I planned my trip to Pakistan, I fully expected to have deep conversations with a lot of my relatives. And I did. I enjoyed talking to my elders and my cousins, hearing stories, and all that good stuff. However, I didn’t expect to get to know my dad better than I ever knew him, almost a decade after he passed away.

One morning, I was sitting around and talking with my cousin Sayem and his wife Mahrukh when Sayem told me a story about my dad that I hadn’t ever heard before. My dad was over visiting them on one of his solo trips to Pakistan and when he was sitting with everyone, a feeling took hold and he said that an Urdu poem he liked came to mind. He recited the poem from memory and then at the insistence of everyone, kept on reciting Urdu poetry for a long time, only taking breaks to sip his chai.

I don’t even know what kind of expression I had on my face as my cousin was telling me this story. I mean, my dad did that? He not only sat around and recited poetry but he held a captive audience while doing so? I of course knew of his love for Urdu poetry but don’t even ask me for the name of his favorite poems or poets. That’s not anything he ever shared.

I ended up hearing more stories about my dad as the days in Pakistan went on:

-During an extensive conversation with my eldest aunt, she told me how my dad would send money every month for her to use for people and projects that she saw needed funds. I knew my dad did that but my aunt put stories to it. She told me that once, the money was used to fund a well for the school where she was a principal and that to this day, it benefits many people.

-When my mom and I met up with one of my dad’s oldest friends, I asked him about how he and my dad became friends. I heard about how he met my dad back in 1963 at his relative’s place and that the two of them got along really well right from the start, their love of similar music and books starting a friendship that lasted decades. My dad’s friend spoke of my dad with such warmth that I missed my dad so much with just his words. I can’t tell you all how grateful I am that the bond between our families still exist even though my dad is no longer around.

– One of my other cousins told me that once when she was young and being teased by our cousins (why are you all so terrible… ;), my dad told her not to worry about what the other kids said and gave her 10 rupees to help her feel better.

– Sayem Bhai also told me about a time when my dad bonded with him and his siblings over music, giving them Paula Abdul and Janet Jackson albums (obviously that was a long time ago!).

Hearing all those stories… well, I couldn’t help but think that he shared a side of his personality with others in a manner that he didn’t with me.

There was one time my dad and I had to drive to Bakersfield to see one of his friends. It’s a three hour drive from Fremont to Bakersfield so I had about six hours in the car with my dad round trip. We talked about… nothing. I’m not kidding. It’s like neither of us could think of a topic that the other would’ve wanted to talk about so we didn’t say much of anything. Looking back at that time now, I can’t believe I didn’t use that drive as an opportunity to talk to my dad. I can’t tell you how much I regret that silence.

I know it goes both ways. My dad could have been the one to start, to be the one to engage with me. But, I feel as if I should take the responsibility here. I should’ve been the one to take an interest. I never thought about the fact that there would be one day when my dad would no longer be around and that I would do anything to have a conversation with him on any topic.

In the end, there is no point hanging on to regret as I can’t undo the past. However, as it’s been been nice learning all this interesting stuff about my dad, I want to continue the journey of getting to know him better. I figure the best way to do that is to talk to more of his old friends. There are two uncles* in particular who I think can help fill the blanks – one is local and one is in England. Now excuse me as I book a ticket…

Dad Graduating

Dad Graduating

Random Side Note:
I have to admit, during the course of writing this post, I did realize that some of my interests can be traced back to my dad. My love of older films starring people like Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant come from my dad sharing movies like Roman Holiday and Charade with my siblings and me. I grew up on Bond films** and Bruce Lee movies because of my dad. As a kid, I loved Roald Dahl’s children’s books but didn’t even know about the author’s short stories until my dad told me about them and had me read them. I can’t say that I knew nothing about my dad. I just wish that I knew more because I understand now that there was so much more to him than I ever knew. Seriously, I would’ve given anything to be one of the people sitting around while my dad was reciting poetry.

*In case you aren’t part of the desi culture, “Uncle” just refers to any older dude your parents’ age, not someone you are necessarily related to :)

**Which is probably never a reason to get into a conversation about the latest Bond movies with me. I have too many opinions.

{ 10 comments }

Hanging in Pakistan – Nine Years Later

November 10, 2016

I was wandering through the aisles of Springs Mart, a grocery store in Karachi, Pakistan, studying everything. A supermarket isn’t a big deal but checking one out in another country is always fascinating to me. I saw stuff that I’m used to seeing in markets here but then there were also items I had never […]

Read the full article →

White Helmets – A Documentary Short on Netflix

September 19, 2016

The strife in Syria has been going on for five years at this point. A lot of the story is on the refugee crisis, with millions of Syrians fleeing their country to find a life somewhere else. But, as a picture of a young boy named Omran Daqneesh, who was covered in dust after he […]

Read the full article →

Oh, *That’s* How You Pronounce It

September 10, 2016

I was wondering what to write about so I figured I’d google “Muslim” to see what was up these days. Honestly, I already know what’s going on for the most part just by scrolling through my Facebook feed and my own general knowledge. Currently, the Hajj pilgrimage is happening right now in Saudi Arabia and […]

Read the full article →

Coffee with a Side of Nintendo

September 9, 2016

I was in a cafe not too long ago that was filled with decor from the 80s, from movie posters of popular movies of the era to what I think was an actual Delorean, done up in the manner of the time traveling one from the Back to the Future series. I was instantly in […]

Read the full article →

An Ode to Ms. Marvel

September 3, 2016

In my “About Me” page, I say the following: I’m a huge Superman fan. There was even one point of time (well, a point of time that spanned 5.5 years) that I read Superman comic books. I used to get upset when I saw someone wearing a Superman shirt because I felt like I should […]

Read the full article →

Watching The Night Of

August 31, 2016

The Night Of recently held its finale on HBO. It’s an eight episode miniseries about Nasir (Naz) Khan who is arrested and tried for the murder of a girl that he met one night after he stole his dad’s cab to drive to a party in Manhattan. Naz is in his early twenties, attends college, […]

Read the full article →

When the Best Intentions Lead to the Worst Coffee

August 29, 2016

I’m not a hero when I drink coffee black. I genuinely like the taste of coffee when there is care to the beans, it’s roasted well, and the barista brews it in a way that really makes the notes of the coffee come through. I tend to go to the kind of cafes where I […]

Read the full article →

On Stranger Things

August 27, 2016

It has been over a month since I first watched Stranger Things the day after it was released on Netflix. I had plans to hang out with a friend but it had been a long and busy week and so I decided to stay in and just relax. [Side Note: Quick shout out to awesome […]

Read the full article →