Wednesday Watching Post: What Are You Reading and Watching and Thinking and Listening To the Day Before Independence Day?

Happy Wednesday! I have such a freaky horrible day at work today, many many phone conferences. Expect a lot of reruns, even on top of the ones already scheduled.

I’ll start!

Reading: Nothing interesting. A few old Reema-Zoya interviews for research, stuff like that. My goodness are they smart and charming!

Watching: Last night I rewatched Bend It Like Beckham to prepare for my review, and my goodness it is so much better than I remembered. Really, I encourage you all to watch it next time you have a chance, even if you have seen it before.

Thinking: Such weird weather last night! It kept feeling like it was going to rain, but then it didn’t rain. I hate that. Just rain already!!!!!

Listening: I tried to listen to Springsteen to prepare to see Blinded By the Light, but I don’t like it. It all kind of sounds the same? Anyway, I retreated to Yo Yo.

Anyway, question for you! In honor of the theme week, What is your one favorite NRI experience film?

34 thoughts on “Wednesday Watching Post: What Are You Reading and Watching and Thinking and Listening To the Day Before Independence Day?

  1. On vacation this week, and also trapped indoors mostly because of bad weather—currently in the middle of a typhoon. So, lots of movies!

    First I saw Mumbai Police, which I really enjoyed except that the subtitles got wonky about 20 minutes from the end (delayed by a significant amount—like a minute or two). You will recall that 20 minutes from the end is when you REALLY want to know what’s going on. I was able to work it out, but it was super frustrating. That is quite the twist. When I started the movie I was thinking “This is going to be Regarding Henry, only with a murder” but the movie subverted all my expectations. Prithviraj is so great.

    Then, still in corrupt cop mode, I saw Simmba. Also not what I expected: stylised action with cameos and self awareness and a women’s empowerment message. Again, liked it except it seemed like poor Sara is just shoehorned in there and there isn’t a lot of point to her role.

    So then I was in Ajay Devgn mode and thought I’d see De De Pyar De but Einthusan doesn’t have subtitles yet, so I was just browsing around and stumbled on Hichki, which my South Asian teaching friends really like, Teacher movies are of course so predictable you could base a drinking game on them—drain your herbal tea when the bad boy throws away his drugs! When they were all doing the hand thing to see the North Star I knew right away that that would come back and describe Rani. I think it was elevated by very good performances, both Rani’s and the children’s. I thought Rani was really good at being natural with the tics, and subtly increasing them to show stress. And the kids did none of the cute kid things but were sympathetic human beings. Not the best movie but a masterpiece compared to the trash fire that was Chalk ‘n’ Duster.

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    • By the end of Hichki in the theater, my friend and I were whispering to each other what was going to happen, “and now he is going to chase after him. And now they are going to say ‘no, I’m wrong’. And now they will slow clap”. It was great, like we were Gods controlling a film. Or in Groundhog day and knew exactly what would happen because we had seen it before.

      Agree about Sara in Simmba. It almost might have been better without her, she had so little influence on what happened. Just kind of there to mark time until the real plot started. Come to think of it, she was kind of last minute casting, I wonder if before they picked her they planned no heroine or a heroine with an even smaller role?

      So glad you saw Mumbai Police! Hop over to my SPOILER review so we can really really talk about it. Prithviraj is great, taking that role and then performing it perfectly, all those layers in his character. Also of course a very sad movie, people trapped by an impossible unfair situation that leads them to do terrible things.

      Oh, and now that I think about it, I think Notebook is my favorite teacher movie of the past few years. Way way better than Super 30, that’s for sure. Maybe because it wasn’t trying to be a “teacher” movie? It was about the kids and a romance and all this other stuff, so they didn’t go for a simple plot of “inspiring teacher fixes everything”, but more about the day to day life of teaching and worrying about the kids and trying to do their best by them. And a blunt discussion of how love and passion isn’t enough, you need to actually be trained as a teacher to be able to help the kids.

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      • Wow, that really sounds good! I was so subconsciously influenced by the Hollywood Notebook that every time it pops up I think “Ew! No!” but I had no idea what it was about.

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        • Oh yes, you have to watch Notebook! It’s sweet and beautiful and the kids are adorable and it takes teaching fairly seriously.

          On Thu, Aug 15, 2019 at 4:37 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. `
    I saw “Blinded by the Light” — and I similarly do not understand the attraction of Springsteen. But, in the film, you can completely believe the kid’s feelings about him. Good movie.

    Interestingly, I found the film “feel” very much like Billy Elliot.

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    • I’m so excited about this movie. You liked it?

      Springsteen is a generation ahead of me, so no deep connection despite living in Springsteen country, but listening to him through the character of a British Indian kid sounds super fun.

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  3. I saw 2 malayalam movies on Prime this week: Virus and Unda.
    Virus was very good and interesting. I’m happy I watched it even if now I’m creeping everytime I see a bat (and there are a lot of bats here). And from all this enormous cast do you know who I liked the most? Asif Ali, he was great and broke my heart in pieces in this few scenes he got. He was also the reason I watched Unda. Prime was saying he is in this film, but now I know he only has a cameo role and almost in the end. The movie is good even though very masculine. There are no female characters (I don’t count the wife on the phone), only men doing manly things like fighting, lifting things and hiding their fear.

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    • I am going to continue to avoid Virus. But I also love Asif Ali! He’s gonna grow up to be one of those character actors in Malayalam films who shows up in father or uncle roles and steals the movie, I can feel it.

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  4. Regarding rain, I’m at the other end of the spectrum.It has been raining non-stop in Kerala for a couple of weeks and what with the flooding and land slides thousands have been shifted to camps or higher ground.Last year was supposed to be a fluke.But it seems like we have to get used to the new monsoon pattern.The worst thing is that come February, we’ll run out of drinking water again.

    Stuck up inside it seemed the perfect time to watch another Gulzar weepie.Except this one turned out to have a happy ending( after all the plague and pestilence of course).In Khushboo, Hema Malini plays a young village woman Kusum, who had been betrothed to Jitendra when they were children.When the movie starts, Jitendra now a widower with a child moves back to his ancestral village.He only remembers Hema as his childhood playmate.When he learns that she considers herself married to him and has in fact refused to marry anyone else he feels guilty.His mother very condescendingly takes the proposal to Hema who refuses.As she explains to Fareeda Jalal, her best friend “Why are they offering the marriage as if giving alms to a beggar? I’m only asking for my rights.” The rest of the movie is about clearing all the misunderstandings and takes its time about it.The movie is very slow.It’s based on a Bengali novel by the author of Devdas.So as usual the women are all passionate and independant while the men are rather passive and undecided.

    But what a wonderful cast.There’s of course bubbly irrepressible Fareeda who sneaks off to meet her fiance in secret, a closet rebel who’s an ideal counterpart to solemn Hema.. Asrani,Hema’s sweet supportive elder brothe who arranges things when he feels that Hema is being too stubborn.Jitendra himself, is very different with his slicked back hair and glasses as the village doctor who does not know how to handle the women in his life.But the best of the lot is Sharmila’s cameo as Jitendra’s first wife.Really,Gulzar could have cast any unknown actress in this role.But Sharmila shows what a first class actress can do with just a few lines.

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    • Yeah, what is up with Chattapodhyay? Is this his ideal world, where men just sort of hang around being noble and the women work to make them happy? Or is this his dystopia where men never DO anything and it all slides into chaos? Anyway, glad to hear that Hema whipped things into shape this time around.

      And I will continue to look on the bright side that at least the rain gives you a chance to catch up on movies 🙂

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  5. I have been watching Gossip Girl (trashy tv helps with work stress!)…anyway season 4 has the same plot line as Jab Tak Hain Jaan…girl loves boy A but engaged to boy B, boy A has near-death accident…vow to god, save his life etc etc. Its uncanny how two separate people thought of the exact same dumb plot line….but atleast in Gossip Girl boy doesn’t go fight war…he tells girl I will patiently wait for you to come back to me whenever it’s right…and after 2 more seasons of stupidity they are reunited!

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    • I always pictured Yashji stealing that plot idea from the Graham Greene novel/book, but now I am in love with the idea of Yashji sitting up nights desperately addicted to Gossip Girl.

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  6. I’ve been on a small Tabu kick. First watched Fitoor. ARK is excellent at smoldering, Kat was not quite there, Tabu is limp and tragic. Kept the visuals and art from the Alfonso Cuaron version of the story, took a turn further from the book. I felt like they made the morality of the characters too black and white by the end, especially with the happy ending to the romance. The songs were nice, but the background score went wrong in a distracting way at a couple of key moments. Anyway, then I was curious if Tabu could be funny, or at least something different than tragic and crazy. Scrolling landed on Jai Ho. Wow, this is a bad movie. Kind of glad I saw it so I understand how late era Salman can make an utterly Salmany movie made up entirely of songs, fight scenes, and tag lines. I think the only times Salman spoke it was to utter wannabe iconic catchphrases like “they don’t know the common man is like a lion”. Tabu brought the only genuine emotion in the whole film. It was fun to see the saffron-scarved political party cast as villains, though. And the need to see real acting and plot after that fluff might push me to finally watch Haider.

    Bummed it looks like I missed the one weekend of Superstar at the local theater. Trying to figure out if there’s a way to go see Blinded by the Light, with or without the family. My movie buddy is away on vacation. Summer! Everybody goes missing.

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    • Oh there are so many fun Tabu movies! De De Pyaar De, her recent one, is a kick. How do you feel about sweet sappy lightly comic 90s family romances? She’s got a great Telugu one with Nagarjuna, Ninne Pelladatha. Also, this song always cheers me up:

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      • Thanks, I’ll check it out. Sweet and sappy sounds nice.

        In my head I’m curious because I’ve cast her in my fantasy action movie with SRK as the old flame or otherwise complicated love interest who keeps getting them in trouble, thus fight scenes. Tired of the perfect soldier or bumbling manchild action roles, would love to see a jaded grown-up character with that dry humor he can do well. But then you need a reason for him to fight people without being a bad guy. Tabu could totally do this, and hot romance scenes too. I know they’ll never cast her as a romantic co-lead with SRK at this point, but in my fantasy movie they’re great together.

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        • Oh oh! I wrote this movie! I think I had Shahrukh as a soldier investigating army misbehavior in a rebel area and Tabu as the tough local schoolteacher widow who heals him back to health and hides him from the villagers, while he charms her kids and stuff.

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          • Same casting, but I was thinking more of a Moonlighting vibe. SRK as a former bounty hunter or something unglamorous but still realistically requiring fighting skills who is trying to be a regular guy with an ordinary job, but gets drawn into someone else’s drama, with Tabu as his accidental partner/trouble magnet. Wisecracks, dark humor, and reluctant but effective ass kicking.

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          • Oooo, I like this idea! But I’m stumped on what would work to explain that kind of Shahrukh skill level. Maybe lowlevel goon/security guy? Started with a local street gang, got hired to be a driver/security for a bigger gangster, never was smart enough (or maybe was too smart?) to rise in the gang, but could take a beating and hand out a beating as needed. I’m thinking like small time real estate crime/loan shark, that level of gangster. Oh, now I have it! Shahrukh’s retirement job from the gang is running his own small loan shark office. He sits around all day at a coffee shop meeting people and sometimes if they can’t cover their payment back to his boss, he pays it himself because he feels so bad.

            And then Tabu shows up, her brother or someone took out a loan and can’t pay it back, but she promises Shahrukh that she has a plan to get the money and just needs a little help. And then they end up going on a cross-country treasure hunt looking for her inheritance from her crazy uncle, with Tabu constantly getting into scraps and Shahrukh having to get them out and so on. They find the money, Shahrukh half serious says that it doesn’t make sense to split the money between them after all this work to find it, why don’t they share? And it ends with the reveal that Shahrukh bought the coffee shop where he always sat, and the nice house behind it, and is anonymously giving money to the people who borrowed from him because they really needed it (about to lose their land, kids medical bills, those kinds of reasons). And Tabu is following her small dreams too (whatever they were, local theater group? Painter? Singer? something, you can decide). And she and Shahrukh are still cheerfully together but not married, living in the house behind the coffee shop with Tabu trying to cook and almost burning down the kitchen while Shahrukh stands by with a fire extinguisher.

            What do you think?

            On Wed, Aug 14, 2019 at 9:18 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • This version is sweet, kind of an action version of JHMS. I like the loan shark into local philanthropist twist.

            My fantasy movie got way more complicated. Bear with me, I definitely tried to stuff too many characters in. We start with Saif, he is a moderately successful businessman but his company does something extremely boring, like production/printing of instruction manuals. He lives with his daughter (Kiara Advani? Sara?? let’s say Sara), he is loving but strict and trying to guide her onto the correct path of college and career, say a business degree. Sara, though, spends all her time on Instagram, she’s fashion mad and goes to great lengths to stage complicated selfies to post, trying to build up her followers so she can get free designer stuff.

            Sara has a meet cute with Vicky Kaushal, who plays at being head of a local ring that smuggles in ripoff designer bags and clothes. He woos her with swag, she loves that he’s tough and leads an exciting life, and one day she runs away from her boring house and shows up on his doorstep ready to play glamorous moll to his small time smuggler. Only it turns out Vicky isn’t the gang leader, he’s one of the junior guys, and definitely wasn’t planning on his girlfriend showing up. Cue comic sequences of Sara swanning around in gold necklaces and sunglasses, ordering around the other guys in the gang, while they decide to humor her and make fun of Vicky…for now.

            Meanwhile, Sara’s disappearance has forced Saif to call his ex-wife, Tabu. Tabu is furious and worried for her daughter, but she knows this might be an impulsive thing Sara did and insists that they have to keep things quiet and call her old friend to help them find her. This is of course Shah Rukh, who spent years as an undercover cop – all of the close contact with the criminal element, none of the status of the uniform. Shah Rukh’s entry into the situation opens all kinds of old wounds. He and Tabu used to have a thing when they were young, but her parents didn’t like him because he was a rebel boy and always getting in fights and didn’t have any solid job prospects. She honored their wishes and married Saif instead, but she was never happy and the marriage didn’t last. When Saif is around Shah Rukh he feels he has to prove himself, and Tabu provokes him, but she’s also still prickly with Shah Rukh and hasn’t forgiven him for letting her go all those years ago.

            Shah Rukh starts digging and talking to his contacts and soon figures out that Sara is with Vicky’s gang. He sets up a secret meeting with Vicky. He tells Tabu and she insists on coming. Shah Rukh skillfully handles Vicky and pulls the whole story out of him. Tabu sees that Vicky is actually scared for Sara now, which scares her too and also makes her a little sympathetic to this rebel boy who reminds her of a guy she used to like.

            Shah Rukh and Tabu go home and plan for a visit to the gang’s warehouse to try to extract Sara. This time Saif is there and wants to come too. Shah Rukh wants to go alone but no one will back down and finally they all go together, agreeing to follow Shah Rukh’s lead. When they get to the warehouse, Sara doesn’t want to leave. She’s not ready to give up her adventure to go back to her boring life, and besides her Instagram follower count has gone through the roof with all the new designer gear and gritty backdrops for her selfies. The real gang leader sees that Sara has a family who might be lucrative so he’s not inclined to let her walk out. In the course of Shah Rukh’s trying to negotiate Sara out it finally becomes clear to her that Vicky isn’t the boss and she’s actually at the mercy of the gang, which, it also becomes clear, does more than just smuggle clothes and bags. Sara now wants to go, and Saif feels the need to be manly and fatherly and starts posturing, which causes Tabu to make fun of him, which causes Saif to start a fight, which ends in Shah Rukh fighting a room full of bad guys while Tabu bashes a few on the head with handy objects and Saif mostly avoids getting beat up but does come in handy at some point by figuring out how to drive a forklift or something through a bunch of goons (he’s good with machines, that’s how he got into instruction manuals). The gang leader, however, escapes with Sara, and Vicky, who hasn’t revealed he double crossed the gang by helping Shah Rukh, goes with them.

            Yadda yadda, character and plot development. Shah Rukh finds out more about the gang, it uses the bags and clothes as a cover for the fact that it’s smuggling bad stuff like drugs, and weapons, and people. He tracks the leader and figures out he’s stashed Sara in a hideout where they’re keeping a bunch of girls who were brought from their poor region under the false pretense that they’d be given jobs as maids. Shah Rukh, Tabu, and Saif come up with a plan to rescue Sara. Shah Rukh doesn’t want to involve either of the others but he needs the help. Let’s say Sara is being held at the docks and Saif can figure out how to operate one of the giant cranes to move the shipping containers (he has all the instruction manuals!). Tabu is going to be used as bait, supposedly a desperate mother carrying ransom money. Vicky is secretly helping them again. Daring rescue, big action sequence. Saif does his giant crane thing, Tabu and Vicky rescue Sara, who brings along the rest of the girls. Shah Rukh does the Enter the Dragon thing and fights successive levels of goons until he defeats the head bad guy.

            Happy endings. Sara has learned that the designer madness drives a whole illicit economy that does bad things to people, she uses her fashion sense and her business training to set up a company that helps women in the poor region the girls were from make a living sewing original creations. Vicky is recruited by Shah Rukh to become an undercover police officer – maybe Shah Rukh leaves him with an offhand bit of advice that will set him up to have a better career, “if I’d only learned a language or two I could have become a proper spy.” Saif has rediscovered his love of tinkering with machines, he starts restoring old…cars? bikes? IDK, he’s happy and maybe meets a beautiful fellow geek. Tabu and Shah Rukh end up together. She gives him a reason to finally decide what to do with himself after retiring and he gives her life that sense of freedom and adventure she’d been missing all these years.

            Very long, see?! OK thank you for letting me get that out of my head :).

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          • I love this! Except I came out of it liking Saif way more than Shahrukh. So cute! With his little instruction manuals and stuff!

            On Thu, Aug 15, 2019 at 10:58 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Yes, we’d have to flesh out Shah Rukh’s character a bit more. Let’s say Tabu is a university professor, biology, she’s been spending a lot of time on research that’s why she hasn’t been home for Sara much. Shah Rukh in his semi retirement has gotten into…something bookish…classic poetry. He was spiraling in his solitary secretive life and started reading and studying up on the classic poets, this kind of saved him and he’s turned himself into an amateur expert. When Tabu calls him for help, he sees the chance to impress her with his new intellectual side. He keeps trying to present her with this refined thinker/reader and she – craving excitement, out to punish him – keeps pushing him into fights.

            Their happy ending has them traveling somewhere, maybe to see the cave or temple where one of the poets wrote an important work. Something that goes with Shah Rukh’s new cultured side but involves a bit of adventure. They climb up to the top of the mountain and look out and Tabu sees the flower or bird or whatever that she’s been studying in the lab, but a whole living forest of them. A return embracing to life, together.

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          • Hmm. I don’t like the idea of them both having semi-empty lives and this love that should have been all along. So I would put in a slight tweak. Let’s include some flashbacks showing that it really wasn’t the right time for them to be together until just now, but in another way they have been together all along. Fun light flashbacks just scattered through out. We start with Tabu and Shahrukh meeting each other and clearly having a complicated history. And then over the course of the film as they get into fights and snap at each other, we have little flashbacks to the things they are fighting about. I see it as them getting together and then breaking up about once every 5 years.

            They were together in college but Shahrukh was always getting into fights and was a “bad boy” and at the same time Tabu was dating the nice boy her parents set her up with, Saif. She finally has a big fight with Shahrukh when she learns he volunteered for undercover duty and is choosing danger and excitement over her and agrees to marry Saif. But 5 years later, they are separated and moving towards divorce and she meets Shahrukh again. They immediately fall into a passionate relationship (I’m picturing like Bulleya in ADHM), only for him to disappear for days at a time with his undercover work and then show up with black eyes until she can’t take it any more and they have another big fight and break up again. And after their break up, she is inspired to take a man-break and go back to school and become a biologist. 5 years later she is a professor and sees Shahrukh on campus, he says he is going back to school, she is thrilled, they start a mature relationship (and also have sex in her classroom for fun), only for her to learn that he was undercover the whole time and going after a professor who was smuggling antiquities. Another big fight and break-up. 5 years after that, they randomly bump into each other on vacation at the same resort and decide to have a “just vacation” thing, pretend to be a married couple, have a wonderful 3 weeks together, but when it is over they both have real lives waiting and have to say good-bye. For the past 5 years they’ve been thinking about that “almost”, Tabu’s been dreaming about rediscovering her spontaneous vacation personality and Shahrukh’s been trying to let his job go and be that interesting vacation person who read books and ate fancy meals and stuff.

            As I picture it, we wouldn’t see the flashbacks in chronological order, so we would have something like Tabu sarcastically mentioning Shahrukh’s time in college, a flashback to that first meeting when he was a returning student and she was a professor, and then later a flashback to their big final fight, and after that a flashback to some cute flirtation moment when she taught him a thing, and mixed in would be flashbacks to all the other relationships. Kind of a tease to the audience too, we know they are exes but it takes a while to find out when they first started dating and broke up what with all the break ups they’ve been through.

            On Fri, Aug 16, 2019 at 9:00 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Wow, we’re definitely up to a 3 hour movie by now, but I like this version of the back story too, leaves room for more comedy.

            It’s funny, the whole time I was trying to think of what a fun action movie could be that would realistically have a real age SRK fighting bad guys, I kept falling into Dilwale. Like now I see why they made all those choices – the Romeo and Juliet back story, but with the Kriti-Varun parallel romance to bring in fresh blood and the younger audience, and the comic side plots (though totally overdone in Dilwale) to make sure it didn’t get too heavy and to humanize SRK and Kajol.

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          • Yes! Dilwale is a totally logical plot structure that should have worked. Only they were a bit lazy with drawing out the romance in the past, and the comedy track went on for ETERNITY.

            Also, I am totally posting our version and my solo version on Sunday.

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          • Yay! So many fans trying to come up with the perfect action movie for him, something has to work out so we get him back.

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  7. Congrats on being an aunt!! Being an aunt is truly the best.
    Watching: Thaneer Mathan Dinangal – this was soooo cute! Loved it. The leads Mathew Thomas and Anashwara Rajan were so endearing and effective. I loved him in Kumbalangi as well , but in this he carries the whole movie. The supporting actors were great as well, you should def catch ti if you get a chance

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    • Ooo, I can watch it! That is, if I feel up to doing another movie this week after stupid Mission Mangal (I haven’t even seen it yet and I already hate it).

      On Wed, Aug 14, 2019 at 11:15 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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