Posted in Pictures Foreign

Review: In The Heart Of The Sea

STRONGLY RECOMMENDED 😀

Missed out as usual the titles and opening scene which was anyway predictable. Caught up with it later in You Tube.

A wild life enthusiast, the film no wonder appeals to me. Compelling watch for all nature lovers.

Sperm whale and the Elephant both reign supreme in their respective territories. The former roams the oceans as the world’s largest mammalian predator and the counterpart rules the forested lands as the earth’s surprisingly herbivorous and gentlest giant. The duo though have a mind of their own. They neither forget nor forgive, almost blessed with a sixth sense and emotion akin to human beings.  Most endangered species today, the two also continue to be hunted down ruthlessly to extinction. Quite like whale hunting, culling of tuskers also has been in practice for centuries. While the whales yielded the precious burning oil (literally) to the then darker world devoid of electricity and gas, the elephant tusks became trophies and intricate and expensive jewelry, the most coveted treasure of the wealthiest of the world.

Whaling goes on in present times unabated as we see in Scandinavian seas/countries and also Japan/China. Elephants are pricey too and elephant poaching still goes unchecked in many parts of the world. While the wild elephant habitat and elephant corridors have shrunk by many times in geographical extent, the high seas are now too very crowded by mariners that whale population is threatened for survival like never before.

The greed of the mankind is alarming and cruel, at the same time the adventurous spirit of the human race in touching greater heights, in reaching beyond, in daring, in challenging, in going out the last mile driven by sheer instinct and guts breaking boundaries and shackles, is amazing. May be the future Homo Sapiens will evolve with mutations to breathe in carbon-di-oxide and breath out oxygen who knows !!!

The picture is a whale hunting tale, not to be compared with the likes of the ‘Jaws’, ‘Anaconda’ or ‘Lake Placid.’ These are creatures of our imagination, brought to life in silver screen. Whereas this is real life story from Nantucket, Massachusetts.

Hero whale hunter is Chase played by Chris Hemsworth who is the first mate of the whaleship ‘Essex.’

The brave expedition gets published in America when a fortunate survivor Nickerson who happens to have joined the whaleship as a cabin boy, is approached by author/novelist Herman Melville.

Period film dating back to 1820 based on the non-fiction, as narrated by the teen survivor Thomas Nickerson who lives unto ripe old age to sell his story to the writer, the mysterious whale hunting voyage is unraveled of its hidden and buried secrets locked away forever in the memory of the deck hand Nickerson. So that’s how Moby Dick is born, inspired by the big white, the most ferocious of all to wander in the seven seas (although vaguely I recall reading about it years or perhaps decades back).

What follows is an unbelievable and daring account of harpooning of whales in the Atlantic and Pacific, many leagues far from the coasts of South America, as whale oil was largely in use as fat for lighting as well as in industrial works fetching gold in bullion markets, in a time before the discovery of the fossil fuel was made in the landfall (to drive the world ever since).

Whaler Chase who has earned the distinction of wearing his whale badges is easily the natural leader denied the command of Essex, much to the chagrin of the pedigree and political appointee captain of the ship, Pollard. Although the two strike an uneasy companionship, the harrowing months at the seas away from homes and hearths and the common hardships faced together foster an understanding relationship between them. What ensues is a touching tale of humanity in the midst of inhuman living conditions, the fighting spirit conquering lethargy and the will to survive. Friendship and team work and companionship cannot get better than this.

The teenager Nickerson is live witness to the whaling expedition as the whalers hunt successfully for whale oil hooking and reeling in to death many a mammoth blue whale from the fathoms of the oceans in bold and nerve-wracking escapades after the captain makes an unwise decision about a squall that renders the whaleship weak and battered to face the perils of the sea in full force at the very start of the voyage. The initial grave slip does its damage as drama unfolds in the depths of the Pacific and beyond as the whalers go in search of schools of whales. In a bizarre turnout, the whaleship gets pursued and hunted down by the massive and legendary 100 foot white whale. Ship wrecked and oil lost, the crew is washed ashore to survive and refit in a tiny and deserted island, from whatever is left over to start their return voyage empty handed.

Absolutely stunning visuals of schools of whales deep in the Pacifics. Hopefully it is not photoshop. Or whatever. The whalehunting is excellent picturization. The walk Nickerson takes like kind of initiation in the entrails of the culled whale is astounding, flabbergasting! Can’t believe humanity lived and evolved through this stage of barbarity!

The narrator stops midway with serious misgivings over the abominations the men committed in order to survive when they run out of food and water as they make their return voyage, sun-baked and thirsty and famished. On prompt from his interviewer, he finally bares terrible secrets  that had plagued his conscience for years that make for an incredulous real life story. Moby-Dick is born.

Liked this one better than the ‘Titanic.’ Or may be even ‘Avatar.’ Or the ‘Everest’ or ‘Below Eight’ yet another daredevil real life drama filmed entirely in the Antarctic. Many Himalayan stories nowadays that you actually get to think that Mount Everest is no big deal !!!

My two cents on the film being the best in the category; and more realistic may be because it is true story.

 

Posted in Socio-Cultural

Shall We Have A Greener Cleaner Hinduism?

44037820_10211907449393979_2846391456896122880_nI originally blogged this in 2013, at least an year before BJP govt of Modi was sworn in after 2014 Lok Sabha elections, so this has nothing to do with current Sabarimala crisis. Reproduced with some ‘edits’

Let us get offended for right reasons. It’s not anyone’s prerogative to harm Mother Nature, and champions of the environmental cause are green warriors, not pseudo liberals.

***********************************************

April 28, 2013

An ardent Hindu, I am still not blind to how environmentally polluting our ways of worship are.

Everytime i light an oil lamp in my Pooja, i think of the billion homes lighting up the traditional diya all over India morning and evening just like me… and of our million temples lighting millions of lamps for their part….

I am worshiper of the sacred Diya myself – the lamp, the DEEP, the DIYA, the JYOTHI SWAROOP, that which dispels darkness which is supposed to be the manifestation of the very ‘light of knowledge’ we seek…

Still how many of us stop to think, how much we are heating up planet Earth with our religious practices that were perhaps once justified but may not be justifiable in present times… how many degrees we keep adding year after year to our annual average temperature without any second thoughts? India has definitely warmed up  like never before  in last two decades… to which how much exactly is our religious contribution any guess?

I know its next to impossible even for the rational me to stop lighting the ‘diya’  in my home – its unthinkable, inauspicious…  Age old custom, its pretty tough to shake off this practice in a day, granted.  So  i can imagine how others around me must feel like on the issue… and as for our temples that light tens of thousands of lights every single day… what will happen to them without the ‘deep?’

Hinduism without the lit lamps is hard to imagine.  The flame, the ‘jyothi’ is the light of our very own lives.  Everything for us focuses on ‘light’ – the lamp.  After all, our biggest national festival is ‘Diwali’ (Deepavali), the festival of lights.  The lamps are our identity, like the bindhi (the dot) on our women’s forehead and the sari we drape…  How to put off the lamp ever in this nation of ours without a whisper?

So when we have to rethink even about our oil diyas in my opinion, the question of chemical fire crackers does not even arise. A green Diwali and a cleaner chemical-free colourful Holi are the need of the hour. Immersion of painted Ganeshas (Ganesh Visarjan) and Kalis in our water bodies killing the marine life in the belt also has to be stopped forthwith. Is it anti-Hindu when we sound sane and logical.

One keeps hearing of Global Warming everywhere, especially in India.  In my city, even the lower middle class homes can afford at least a single air-conditioner in harsh summers, so think of how much we are heating up planet earth every summer.  Combined with the religious effect, think of the sum total warming up of our immediate ground atmosphere… (Not even taking into account the air pollution owing to vehicular traffic and fuel exhaust here).

So its ridiculous that year after year we must be complaining of erratic monsoons and melting glaciers and deficient rainfall, or in short Climate Change.  Try explaining to our masses,  the heat that must be generated by a billion lamps through out the country for years, for decades, for centuries and their effect on our environment … but this is one country where reasoning never works!

While i am kind of a believer in most of our rituals (i am not saying they are completely meaningless),  which i understand have hidden contexts,  I am increasingly concerned about the harm we are doing to our environment with our rituals.  The rituals mean more to me for the Sanskrit mantras chanted which are supposed to have neuro linguistic and psycho linguistic benefits.  Look at the Yagna here that is using up so much of precious potable water, a scarce product in many arid Indian states that might be reeling under drought wrought in by failed monsoons. (One may come up with argument about bath tubs at homes and hotels).

The Yagnas or the Homas.  No Hindu marriage or housewarming or whatever is complete without this great Hindu religious ritual in which fire plays a major role.  The holy fire I mean.  In our wedding muhurat, the couples have to walk around the holy fire ‘Agni’ for  seven times that will be alight for hours as sanskrit mantras are chanted in chorus by priests …. and for most of our ceremonies like death anniversaries, birthdays for children etc, again the homa fires in the homagunda will be lit for hours raising a big smoke… into which we pour everything from ghee (clarified butter), dried twigs, Nava Dhania (the nine food grains like pulses), flowers, fruits, even silk clothes, coins (gold if you can afford)….  because we believe giving the holy fire these things means our offerings will reach the Gods directly though the Agni medium which is one of the purest, and one of the five major natural elements of Earth (the other four being the air, the earth, the water, the sky)

Not denying i have participated in homams in my own family, but even the staunchest believer in me keeps questioning always why should so much be put to wastage by our religious practices.  Isn’t there a different way?  Can’t our Gods hear our prayers by any other means?  Should our Gods have to be essentially bribed this way?!

One of our greatest temple rituals is ‘Abhishegam/Abhishek.’  This means bathing our ‘Murthis’ (idol or vigrahas) with water, curds, honey, milk, panchaamirtham (made out five fruits), etc after application of oil to the dieties.  Imagine this done to all Hindu deities through out India in thousands and thousands of temples.  After the ‘abhishek’ or’abhishegam’ is complete, we decorate our deities with floral garlands, silk clothes and gold and diamond jewelery.  An Archana‘ follows which means invoking the Lord’s and/or His Missus’ names 108 times or so with floral tributes.  While i until today revel at the darshan of my Mother Goddess and Her Consort Shiva  (and other gods and goddesses as the case may be) in their finest adornments in our temples, i can’t help wondering at all that which go waste in the name of these rituals…

Fortunately, a Hindu mind is trained in a way never to get carried over by superficial adornments of our deities that despite all the finery glittering in temples, we are still able to focus on the One Supreme – for in the bright ‘thejas’ face of the Lord and/or His Missus, we see infinite contentment, happiness, well being, prosperity, wisdom, health, all goodness of the world.   So that’s one thing that eludes me completely…. that despite my skeptical views on temple rituals, i am unable to draw myself away from all this, that i am drawn like a bee to the nector when the abhishegam and archana are complete and when its moment for the ultimate ‘Darshan.’ 

I have stood in hour long queues for ‘darshans’  so who am I kidding.  Yet i wonder, is this the way it is supposed to be, like whether we have reduced it all to one over-powering physical ‘darshan’ – a view of the reigning deity in all His/Her grandeur….

I wonder if its blasphemous to even write like this… but then i am a believer in a forgiving God always, a reasoning God and NEVER IN A PUNISHING GOD.   One of the greatest advantages of being a Hindu is, you can be an atheist and still you are a Hindu!  The very nature of Hinduism which is all encompassing, permits this!

Quote unquote :

……  No two paths need be alike  ……     that one is most a Hindu when one is least a Hindu. Hinduism’s propensity to absorb a multitude of thoughts including even atheism makes it, at times, inscrutable to its own followers….

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/postkumbh-mela-the-sangam-presents-an-unholy-sight/article4661217.ece

I am not pro-Kumbh and it saddens me terribly to see how we mindlessly pollute the life-giving rivers of our land with our blind beliefs.  Respect and reverence shown to our water sources is best illustrated with maintaining the water bodies clean and the water potable and useful for irrigation purposes for which they are meant.  Rivers are our lifeline.  Millenniums ago, perhaps we could afford the luxury of a Kumbh Mela, but can we in this 21st century wherein  future wars are predicted to be fought over water?

I don’t want to add here how some north Indians dispose off their dead in the flowing Ganga. Its too distressing and gory.  In our families mostly we cremate the dead.  We have completely switched over to electric crematorium at least in cities these days which is a big relief.  Even in our death, we seem to add smoke to our clear skies ….because in villages all over India, the dead of this billion strong nation are cremated with fresh wood cut from trees.  The wealthier you are, the costlier is the wood for your pyre like the sandalwood.

Having blogged about my disgust on use of elephants in our temples only very recently, i wish to make the point once again:

https://vijiravindran.com/2017/02/12/stop-cruelty-to-elephants-in-the-name-of-religion-now/

Elephant habitat has shrunk drastically over years in India. When ‘Ashrams‘ spring up in elephant corridors we do not condemn them because we have the bargaining chip called Tourist Resorts. Finally, we shall wake up when the last Lord Ganesha will vanish for good from our Punya Bhoomi.

After all this i confess, i am a passionate Hindu at heart always….while i believe most of our rituals held some hidden meaning centuries back perhaps, time is now ripe for a revolution to redefine our beliefs in rituals.   What is wrong with self-introspection?

I am for a Green & Eco-friendly Hinduism always if that can be made possible in my lifetime like a miracle somehow.  I deliberately miss lighting my lamp twice a week atleast – my small contribution for a start to keep global warming a bit low.  I wish we could be Eco-Friendly Hindus somehow.

There are many ways we south Indians are eco-friendly by culture.  In our weddings, we still serve feasts on washed banana leaves and not on plates.  The used banana leaves used to be fed to cows in the sheds in olden days.  I am not sure how the used banana leaves are disposed off these days.

To a population that reveres nature so much with worshiping the flora of fauna of the universe, why is not there the realization on the flip side of this ancient culture?

Having said all this, would it be ever possible for me to go 100% green with my faith….  i do not want to lie, the transformation will be tough and testy but can be done step by step over a period of time.  I wish i get encouragement from family and friends.  I wish i could cut down on rituals boldly without being labelled an outcast and keep my faith at heart with just my prayer Mantras ….   the Gods i believe in will be more than happier for the new believing me…

Convincing a billion Hindus around the world on the subject is another impossibility. How anyone should go about it is not clear, because like Christianity or Islam, the world’s oldest faith Hinduism does not have a religious book like the Bible or Quran, does not have a governing body like the Church or the Mosque and has no prophets or messengers from God like The Christ or Mohammad and no religious head like the Pope or the Maulvi….,,, Hindu Dharma is a way of life, way of life for over 6,000 years or perhaps older without all these elaborate set-up or disciplinary control… Sanatana Dharma has no founder, no founding date and is no man’s private or personal invention.

My earnest wish is that Hinduism evolves as it has been doing for centuries, for eons, to a greener way of life, less polluting Mother Earth, less harming Mother Nature.  I appreciate the freedom my faith allows me to think rationally in all circumstances.  At least, ‘a fatwa’ won’t be issued on my head, hopefully!   I am today blogging like this because, Hinduism is still the most tolerant practice in the entire world, its all absorbent, most flexible, and grows with every merciless onslaught, much more powerful and stronger than ever before…

This is a country that celebrates vegetarianism where masses still worship ‘The Tulasi’ (basil) as a goddess, who marry the neem tree to the peepal tree who we think are like gods, who never slaughter the cows that walk on our highways, and who worship even inanimate objects like machine tools and musical instruments and books because they are creations anyway!  I believe my tribe of like-minded Hindus is an ever-growing one.

LET’S NOT ALLOW HINDUISM TO BE TAKEN HOSTAGE BY EMPTY RITUALS THAT HAVE COME TO CONFINE OUR FAITH, ERODING ESSENTIAL SUBSTANCE OVER PERIOD OF TIME AND OBLITERATING THE TRUE ESSENCE OF DHARMA.  HINDUISM IS FAR ABOVE AND MUCH MORE THAN  ALL THAT – AN ENIGMA, A PHENOMENAL EXPERIENCE.

Let us allow Sanatana Dharma the vital lung space it deserves to evolve and flourish without our narrow, crooked-minded and low level of thinking.

JAI HIND!

Posted in Pictures Desi

Padmavat (Hindi)

Every Hindu child in India grows up listening to the heroic and self sacrificing tale of the ethereal beauty Chittore Rani Padmini (Padmaavathi). Of Alauddin Khilji’s avarice, cunning and barbarity. As for me, I had my granny tell me about Padmini a million/billion times perhaps when I was a little girl.

Wonder why the picture drew criticisms for positive portrayal of the historical event. The film also justifies why Sati was indeed practised in India for a few centuries. Notably, it was prevalent in border states of today’s India that were prone to mogul/arab/turk/afghan/mongol invasions.

A typical Sanjay Leela Bansali production, it must have been a grand watch in IMAX cinemas.  I must be the last to review the film. Watching pictures at home comes with a cost: missing out scenes thanks to domestic chores. Despite disclaimer, Hindu India knows better. ‘Padmaavat’ also is the costliest celluloid picture to be made in Indian history to date. (Catching up with lost bits in Tamil version, it comes as no surprise that dubbed ones can never come like the originals).

Numbers may vary from 14,000 to 70,000 from account to account – but that many Rajput Hindu women were believed to have jumped into fire igniting themselves, committing mass suicide  (Jauhar) (Sati) when Mewar was defeated by the Sultan of Delhi (sic) (cannot even come to terms with actual history that these savages once ran a reign of terror in my Punya Bhoomi Bharat), saving themselves from capture by islamists. The historic Sati was led by the queen Padmavat herself when Maharaja Ratan Singh was defeated in the sly in the battle by Malik Kafur. (Malik Kafur the slave himself was reportedly a bisexual as Khilji was, and was in relationship with Khilji).

If not for Padmavat and her fellow Rajput women (as well as other brave Hindu warrior kings like Chatrapathi Shivaji of the Maratha and Krishna Deva Raya of Vijayanagara Kingdom), India could be more islamic today and less Hindu in character. Who knows we could have been a sultanate. Hindu kings and warriors who fought by their own ‘dharmic’ traditions saved us from worst fates. Unfortunately and ironically, the native Hindu bravado is played down in Indian history text books and India’s invaders are portrayed the heroes. This is like viewing Hitler and Nazis as heroses and the victimized jews as oppressors. The price one pays for democracy and secularism. Irony is, in India today, if we talk about our traumatic past, we will be accused of hurting the sensitivities of our minorities (who were in all probability force-converted by our invaders at the point of sword).

The one last picturization of the Sati was good enough for me. Salute my Hindu ancestors for their selfless sacrifices and bravery. Hindu dharma forbids backstabbing. War ethics are a separate dharma by themselves. Aliens from Afghanistan unfortunately were less civilized, most brutal as India has witnessed in last 14 traumatic centuries. Hindus are staunch believers in Karma. Karma has been playing out in Af-Pak for decades now, can’t you see. Anything taken from the Hindu – will have to be paid back by tens of hundreds of thousand times with interest. For the simple reason, Hindus do not disturb others on their will.

Bow my head to the queen of Mewar and the bravest Rajputs who resisted surrender and conversion to Islam with their very lives, and defended the Sanatana Dharma until their last breath, owing to whom India today is still majority Hindu!

Dharma won over Adharm in Mewar, even if Khilji’s psychotic army ran over Chittor.

May be the exact sequence of history was not recorded (as it can never be with Period films) and there are naturally quite some artistic exaggerations here and there, but in spite of these superfluous flaws, the picture is extremely well made with attention paid to intricate details – from hand block designed costumes to period jewelry of Rajastan. Filming entirely limited to Rajastan forts. Outstanding cinematography. As I have never been to this part of the country, I have not much knowledge about India’s north west state. Deepika Padukone lived up to her character, doing justice to the role of Chittore Rani Padmini as Padmavat is widely referred to. Good and apt casting with Ranveer Singh playing the bloodcurdling Khilji and Pankaj Kapoor as the dharmic, valiant king of Chittor. Prior to the picture, I was not aware that Rani Padmaavat was Sinhalese. Speaks a lot about marital relations between India and the island nation Sri Lanka over centuries – starting with the times of Ram and Sita and Ravana?

Hurts when old wounds are reopened. MY HEART BLEEDS… Delhiites may be comfortable with forts and mausoleums, but coming from south, most of us like me cannot come to accept India’s turbulent past. Cannot come to terms with the Taj Mahal representing India. If you ask me, we must have Tanjore Brahadeshwara or Madurai Meenakshi or Hampi in Karnataka or the Kailasa temple in Ajanta or the Sun temple of Konark for India’s mascot in our tourism brochures or whatever. It is time to slowly ease out Taj from our conscience and replace it with a monument of our native pride and self-respect.

A symbol of bloody invasion and tyranny and genocide of my own fellow Hindus simply cannot represent my beloved Bharat. BIG NO TO TAJ !

 

Posted in Pictures Desi

Review: 96 (Tamil)

Some great low budget but delightfully watchable Tamil flicks that are running to packed houses, this season:

Checka Chivandha Vaanam (reddish red sky)

96

Paraiyerum Perumal

Merku Thodarchi Malai (western ghats)

Immaikka Nodigal (the seconds that did not tick)

U Turn

No hyped Diwali release. No school summer vacation.  No big banners either. No superheroes. The one big name is Mani Ratnam (Checka Chivandha Vaanam). Others like Vijay Sethupathi, Sashi Kumar etc., are still legends in the making – outstanding unconventional heroes cum directors. With Siva Karthikeyan, the two truly make up the winning formula for Tamil cinema. Add to them Prasanna and Siddharth and Madhavan (although the latter two share their time with Bollywood). Thanks to these new age heroes, one is taken back to K Balanchander’s times of 1970s (though I was a pre-teen then), when Tamil cinema was all about substance.

For, the strength of Tamil cinema lies in storytelling and wonderful characterization. Story-screenplay-dialogue. Dusky heroes and heroines of native skin script a realistic stage setting for the plots to unfold. Witty and satirist, the films are a fine and hitherto unexplored ground in Indian screen. There have been some in recent past like Jigarthanda, Kidari, Bale Velaiyatheva etc., which were a new genre moving away from outright Kamal Hasan humours like Pammal K Sambandam and Pancha Tantram. Now humour seems to be interwoven in the story. Screenplay-direction merits a thunderous applause. Highlight is, low budget but good content. Commercial success! (Although one cannot underestimate Kamal Hasan socials like Virumaandi or Devar Magan (re-made as Virasat in Hindi starring Anil Kapoor). Only that, what is trending is good, better! A different kind of story telling, a new dimension, a fresh perspective, fascinating imagination.

There have been a couple of ground-breakers like Aruvi (on TRP the television rating points system that drives the media), Kalyana Samayal Saadham (on male impotence) and OK Kanmani (on live-in relationships) (Mani Ratnam), but Thiruttu Payale 2 (the rascal 2) starring Prasanna and Bobby Simha was a tech nail-biter to the finish. Robot (Shankar) with Rajni Kanth could have been the ultimate tech production (with 2.0 trailer now played in cinemas – Diwali release?), but Thiruttu Payale was like math assignment or video game.

Except for U Turn and Chekka Chivandha Vaanam that are racy thrillers, the recent most crop are slow paced (not yet watched all) one believes.

96 Stands out as urban chick yet relaxing like a calm ocean. This is my second Vijay Sethupathi film, first being ‘Rummy’ in tv popular for its number ‘kooda mela kooda vechu.’ One word to describe Vijay is ‘yadhaartham.’ With this he (as well as Sashi Kumar and the tribe) move away from the league of Kamal Hasan, Rajnikanth, Ajith and Vijay who are icons in the film industry mostly thanks to their histrionics (Vikram and Surya only slightly better).

96 is a breather as it flows without a ripple, soothing and unmarred by violence or vulgarity. NO CONFLICT IN THE PICTURE, NO AGITATION OF THE MIND. Over estimation has cost those like Kamal Hasan dearer as we see already with his junk called ‘Vishwaroopam’ series. Sometimes, the pros bite the dust and it takes fresh talent to take the lead. A very neat and easy and uncomplicated script is a huge plus for 96. Trisha is elegant as ever as Janu and Vijay Sethupathi is ‘yadhaartham’ personified. Together they strike an odd but interesting pair. As the drama is day-to-day life of the current Whatsapp generation, it is naturally a runaway hit in both urban and rural centers.

96 reminds me of our school batch 86 (84-86 board batch, 84 – 10th standard and 86 12th standard boards). Only, our school was all-girls school! Reunions are happening ever since Facebook got us connected to our long lost friends.  Intelligent of the director to cash in on a contemporary phenomenon.

The subject treated with a delicate direction, kudos! Male virgin at 37 is not strange in Indian/Hindu society. Coming in the heels of Sabarimala, as someone caught between the two worlds of modernity and traditions, I do not know how to react to this in present times. Is it naive of the hero Ram played by Vijay Sethupathi or is this characteristic is what defines the society we live in. Surprisingly, the same India is now hitting headlines in global media for rapes. My nation is a land of contradictions. To come to grips with our inherent nature is our greatest challenge.

Watching 96 was like reading a Mills & Boon paperback to me – used to finish one book per day in back bench in school days. Addicted to TDH – the tall, dark, handsome heroes of M & B women authors! 96 though sees a reversal of roles. Janu (Trisha) is the leading lady – who takes the charge!

Rerecording by Ilayaraja, a musical treat to ears. Unobtrusive (demanded by script of course) unlike today’s loud and brash BGM these days typical with AR Rahman’s.

The review will be incomplete without a mention on budget: only 1 set of clothes for Trisha mostly (total 3), a plain kurta-dupatta suit. Four local locations in all: a hotel in Chennai (Accord), a flat in uptown apartment block in the city, a resort in ECR (East coast road), some traffic scenes/airport/underground Chennai metro rail. Other than that, some shots are filmed in Tanjore streets and a local temple with a distant view of the millennia old Brahadeshwara. Most Tanjore picturization is within the four walls of a matric school. Trying to figure out the budget cost ever since, especially against the super-duper big time bombers like Vishwaroopam! No glamour content, no comedian track, no melodrama, no fist fight or use of abusive language or double meaning dialogue. Touches a chord without making you emotional. Simply beautiful and as I said, ‘yadhaartham.’ Reminds one of ‘Dil ek mandir’ from 1950-60s, made within four hospital walls which was later remade in Tamil as ‘Nenjil or aalayam.’

The after-taste of cinema must be the ‘feel good’ factor. Felt good going to sleep on 96. Fell headlong into a deep and dreamless slumber late last evening, with a smile on my lips even if the film ended on a heavy note. The characters have my respect!

 

Posted in Social

Sabarimala Is Indication Why Research Will Never Take off in India

“Sometimes it takes your Heart a little longer to accept

What your Mind already knows….”

Can India risk losing valuable man hours debating issues like Sabarimala. Hindus are the most literate lot in India anyday and this is the case with the best educated in the nation. Alternate views not welcome, dogged and rigid persistence with values of bygone centuries, and dogmas inapplicable and impractical in the modern 21st century not allowed to be questioned. In this environment, how can research ever be conducive in India. What is the value edition of these worthless protest campaigns. How many of those who talk big in social media have actually teenage daughters or daughters who will be ruling the corporate world in near future.

All it takes is, daughters to be born in the family, widows in the family, divorced women in the family, the abused and the bruised – to revise our views on Shastras and Sampradayas.

For instance, how do you define the so-called ‘Karpu’ the supposedly most revered virtue of a Tamil Hindu woman.  How do you define the ‘karpu’ of divorcee Hindu women, who may be innocent divorcees. How do you define the karpu of the Hindu women who are taking a second shot at life, remarrying on divorce or widowhood. Don’t these women have karpu.

Karpu made sense for millennia, but has lost relevance ever since women in India are on equal footing with men in every arena of social development. It is not a stigma on women to even cremate the dead these days. Hindu women have come a long way.

This is why I keep out of debates on Karpu or never share in social media anything on karpu. Some of us have friends and relatives who are once or even twice divorced – innocent divorcees. There are children borne out of second marriages. We Hindu women today are violating the most basic shastra-sampradaya called the institution of marriage with the help of law, when it becomes inevitable. Should we even be debating Sabarimala now.

Most Hindus suffer from selective amnesia. Barely a century ago, Hindu women in Kerala mostly went topless. Maximum, a small blouse even some 40-50 years back. How many Kerala Aiyappa bhaktas can allow their women to go topless in present times. Don’t we change with times.

Antagonism to new ideas, unwillingness to give up inexplicable dogmas will forever keep research in unfavourable climate in India. Voice of the dissent is suppressed by mass hysteria movements. More taboos were broken under the British. In Independent India, strangely, it is lot tougher to bring in social reforms. Emotions and prejudice must not be allowed to cloud rationality and judgement.

If 1000 fools jump into a well, should we also jump in without thinking twice. Numbers should not be allowed to deceive our sixth sense of reasoning.

Hindu Dharma is not an organized religion like Christianity or Islam. Sanathana Dharma literally translates to ‘Free Will.’Which is more so reason for us to go flexible and adapt ourselves to changing times and situations.

Either that, or we have to keep our women 24 hours behind doors, not educating them or allowing them to earn a living. That truly is Hindu sampradaya!

Let us women refuse our rightful inheritance as equal legal heirs in landed estates. That is Hindu custom.

Clamping down on progress, ridiculing the logical, and persisting with legalizing and sustaining a totally unacceptable and dated notion, double mind in stepping out of conventional comfort zone will not take India anywhere. I am closing down further topics on Sabarimala because it must not take any more of our time. Sanathana Dharma is not single edition. If you have your version, I hold mine custom-made.

Research necessitates lots of questions to be asked. The old theories have to fall flat at times as new dimensions emerge. That is how world has come this far. From the days of Galileo and Copernicus. Sabarimala is one good reason why Research will always be a casualty in India and why the ‘India growth story’ will never take us beyond TV news bulletins. The tangible realizable development will record ZILCH.

Without unlocking doors, without feeding our curiosity, without questioning, we will forever be the CLERK GRADE.  Innovations will be impossible. Are we Indians made-to-order to be subservient. That is why India will produce more Sundar Pitchais and Satya Nadellas but never a single Steve Jobs or Elon Musk.

That the most literates in India are the ones stalling imagination and diversification and growth is the most worrying aspect.

PS:

Updated: October 7, 2018

Kerala Court has ruled now that supporting the ideology of a ‘ dreaded world terror organization’ is not illegal. Let us get enraged for right reasons. Let law demarcate the line between what is lawful and what is illegal or criminal. When we lose focus squandering our energy on resources on trivial issues like Sabarimala which are nothing but a phase  of evolutio, we will lose perspective and struggle to fight the real battles – as a community, as a nation.