This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and are not a reflection of Ping! as a whole.
Getting into IIIT, Hyderabad is no easy task, and to do so, you all must have sacrificed entertainment in your life to varying extents. Now that you have passed the hurdle and are looking to catch up on missed shows and movies, you must have realised that there are so many things you need to watch. To help you with this dilemma, we have put together a list of TV shows and movies that are something that every student in IIIT should be watching. Now, this is in no way an exhaustive list, nor is it a list of the best movies or shows on the particular topic. These are pieces that we feel will resonate with you for the rest of your time in our college. We have musicals, sitcoms, anime, documentaries, and biographical dramas. Additionally, it might be worth your time to check out all the pieces in this list simply because they are great watches and you might find a new interest!
One of the best things about being in IIIT is the fact that you are part of a beautiful community. We are a small campus, unlike the other campuses in the country. You know most of your batchmates, and it is straightforward for you to find a group of people with whom you are comfortable and share common interests. Community is about a similar study group and their story in community college. Their group also has the same kind of dynamics that you will find in your regular IIIT – the nerds, the outspoken liberals, etc. The characters are complex, the relationships are intricate, and it forms an uncanny resemblance to how you form relationships in the campus.
The Imitation Game
Benedict Cumberbatch stars in this movie about the famous mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing. The film is not just about his team building a machine to decipher the German Enigma code, which helped save uncountable lives but also the tragic life story of the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. Benedict Cumberbatch does a wonderful job portraying the awkward mathematician and a closeted homosexual. The movie is an essential not only because of the discoveries of Turing but because of a common theme of perseverance in the film that is a critical skill in an aspiring researcher.
Silicon Valley follows the story of Richard, an entrepreneur and programmer, his start-up, and his friends. Richard wants to build his company while ensuring he maintains his ethics. Silicon Valley is a wonderfully written comedy with multiple programming jokes and references. The show acts as a spoof on some of the hotly contested debates in the programming circles – “Tabs v Spaces”, “Vim vs Emacs” to name a few. It manages to be realistic with the constant ups and downs, and the inside jokes will make you chuckle. There are spoofs on some real-life incidents(find them!) and the ending is lovely and funny with elements of dark humour.
The story is about the world’s youngest billionaire, Mark Zuckerberg, who ironically cares little about money. Jesse Eisenberg does a great job of playing an arrogant, intelligent programmer who goes on to create one of the biggest technology companies in the world. Throughout the movie, we see his arrogance, his egocentricity, and yet we still go on to love(?) him by the end of the movie. “You’re not an asshole, Mark. You’re just trying so hard to be.” is one of the last lines in the movie, and it captures the essence of what everyone feels in the film.
Will Smith stars in this sci-fi movie set in a dystopian film in 2035. Highly intelligent robots take part in multiple posts and help humanity in routine tasks. They follow the Three Laws of Robotics by Asimov, and get entangled in logical contradictions of these very laws. The movie follows a detective, who hates robots, investigating the murder of the co-founder of a robotics lab. It also follows the story of Sonny, a robot with more emotions than that of regular robots. This is a movie which explores robotics, an interesting subtopic of electronics.
Pirates of the Silicon Valley
Pirates of the Silicon Valley is a biographical movie about arguably the biggest rivalry in the history of tech – Jobs and Gates. This is a story about the development of the personal computer, one of the most groundbreaking technological innovations. Although the movie is not entirely accurate, it manages to capture the essence of how modern computing reached where it is – via Apple and Microsoft. The characters have been portrayed in an unnecessarily negative manner, but the gist of the story is fundamental, and the movie is a must-watch.
The sequel to the famous movie Tron is a science fiction action film based on a story by Adam Horowitz. The movie is about Sam, the son of a renowned video-game developer Kevin Flynn(as seen in Tron) and his adventures in Flynn’s Arcade, a cyberworld created by Kevin. Kevin has been trapped in the arcade for 20 years. Sam has a loyal aide in Quorra played by Olivia Wilde, and they try escaping from this surreal universe which is as magnificent as it is dangerous. The visuals are astounding, and it is a fun movie to watch because of the crazy things in the Arcade.
Arrival is a movie about linguistics, what a surprise! No, really, it is a movie about linguistics that manages to get things right(mostly). It is based on the novella “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang and follows Dr Loiuse Banks, a linguistics professor, when she is contacted by the US army to translate an alien language. It breaks multiple stereotypes about linguists such as “You are a linguist, you must know multiple languages”. The movie is almost entirely based on the strong Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, and while people might disagree with the hypothesis, it is still a great movie to understand what the premise is, and why it is wrong. This will surely earn you marks in your sociolinguistic classes!
IIIT is known for its research on Indian Languages; we have labs dedicated to creating better computer language systems for Indian languages. The Linguists is a documentary about language extinction and language documentation. It is the story of two linguists as they travel around the world and collect data from speakers of moribund languages. Sora, a language in Odisha, also features in the movie. This is an important movie because it speaks about how the globalisation of languages has led to the extinction of many other languages. We hope watching this movie gives you the motivation to work on the countless Indian language examples in the Linguistics classes.
My Fair Lady
My Fair Lady is a musical drama film based on the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. This famous 1964 adaptation stars Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle a poor flower-seller. This movie was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. The story follows Henry Higgins, a professor of phonetics who believes that accent and tone are synonymous with how a person is perceived in society. He challenges Colonel Pickering, another expert that he could teach anyone to speak so well that they could pass off as royalty. Eliza has a strong Cockney accent which makes it impossible for her to achieve her dream job of being a flower seller. Higgins agrees to teach her, and the story ensues. This is a masterpiece as it provides multiple insights into Sociolinguistics and society.
Computational Natural Sciences
Dr Stone is an anime that is surprisingly very scientific. Humans of the world are suddenly petrified and are now stones. Taiju, the protagonist, awakens along with his scientist friend Senkuu, and they plan to revive civilisation. A straightforward premise masquerades multiple essential themes, such as using science for good, the power of knowledge, and the importance of persevering(an important CND skill). Taiju’s brawn and Senkuu’s brains combine to form the perfect duo to bring back civilisation from its unfortunate demise. This is a great show for anyone who is even remotely interested in anime.
Another anime with a simple theme – a scientist who wanted to make his microwave more efficient ends up creating a time machine. Now, we are not saying time travel is possible. However, if it were possible Steins;Gate does a great job in ensuring that it is as scientific as possible and there are no paradoxes or loopholes. Once he has this machine, he goes about making things better for his friends and helps them achieve their dreams but has to make several difficult decisions which slowly turn this anime into a wholesome yet sad experience(kind of like CND). It teaches us the vital lesson that actions have consequences which makes it a must-watch.
Breaking Bad is arguably the best TV show of all time. Honestly, we included it just because we want you to watch the show, there is not a lot of CND here(Also, we are not encouraging you to cook meth). The show follows Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher, who is diagnosed with a terminal disease. So, he becomes a drug dealer cooking the best meth to leave behind bucketloads of money for his family. The show does all things correctly, including but not limited to the plot, the characters, the dynamics and the narrative. This is one of those shows that appears in all “Top x TV shows ever”, and we thought we would be doing a disservice if we ignored it. Seriously, watch it!
Computing and Human Sciences
Mr Robot stars Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson, a cybersecurity engineer and hacker with depression and social anxiety disorder. Christian Slater plays Mr Robot, an insurrectionary anarchist, who gets Elliot to join a group of hacktivists called “fsociety”. It focuses on using technology to help reduce the inequality between the 1% and the rest of the world. It is extremely meta and talks about topics affecting the real world. It plays into the global anti-establishment trend, and it brilliantly juxtaposes with the importance of technology in the world. Everyone should watch this show because it focuses on the essential aspects of the current scenario.
We finally have a romcom in the list. Her is an amalgamation of science fiction and a romance. It stars Joaquin Phoenix who forges a relationship with Scarlett Johansson who plays Samantha – an artificially intelligent virtual system. Throughout the movie, Theodore(Pheonix) interacts and builds a relationship with Samantha because he is always in contact with her. This film speaks volumes about Human-Computer Interaction. There are many parallels to “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and akin to the movie science fiction is used to ask deep and meaningful questions. A movie which asks many philosophical questions, we feel this movie might be perfect for some debates on whether machines can achieve higher consciousness.
Westworld is a dystopian TV show based on the 1973 movie of the same name. The story follows Westworld, an exclusive theme park where the rich can live without any limits. The park contains hosts who are robots that can pass off as humans, allowing the guests to carry out their fantasies. It focuses on a simple question – If robots become conscious, does that make them human? Add striking visuals of the Wild West with deep, intelligent science fiction, and you have Westworld. The soundtrack is terrific, and there are multiple small clues hidden in tiny details throughout the episodes which make it an entertaining watch. It is one of the best shows on TV right now.
Again, this list is not exhaustive and we probably have missed out multiple pieces that should rightly be added here. Do let us know what you thought of this list and what you thought of these shows. There are various groups in college which you can join, which have recommendations and discussions on shows. We hope to see you in those discussions, hopefully discussing these shows as well!