This award winning Hollywood flick with Cynthia Erivo playing Harriet was on Netflix. The picture sheds light on socio-economics of America in the nineteenth century and how discontent is brewing among the black community who pine for slavery to be abolished. They leave no stone unturned to win over freedom from their slave masters and one way of going about it was to flee. Families stay united and keep track of/searching for the sold or missing members. There are underground networks who aid the fugitives in settling down when recruiting more ‘conductors’ to help rescue slaves from their miseries. Minty who later goes by her ‘free’ name Harriet Tubman is an exceptionally brave black woman who flees from her slave master in Maryland. Her flight to freedom wading through inhospitable terrain is incredulous. In Philadelphia her new home, she assumes the name of ‘Moses’ and becomes a successful ‘conductor’ directly involved with freeing dozens of slaves and ferrying them across to northern states from the dangerous south, either by road or rail or boat or even by foot as she proposes in the secretive Abolition committee (or society?) to which she is appointed. The freed slaves are to be gainfully employed in the underground railroad work. Real life story, Harriet is a very inspirational picture, a gripping watch. Period film set in eighteen hundreds, it is about the determined pursuits of the one bold woman who would not take ‘no’ for an answer. Harriet is forced to flee once more to Canada crossing borders as the Fugitive Slaves Act comes into force. As civil war ensues, Harriet leads a battalion and in the process frees hundreds of slaves as she lights up the beacon of hope for what is to come in future: abolition of slavery and freedom from slavery for the African American Blacks (called Negros in the picture).
Just finished watching this heartwarming flick based on true life story of an Orca conservationist from South America and couldn’t wait to post the review. Filmed in breathtaking locales of Patagonia in Argentina, the beachside shack where the orca park ranger Beto is posted is far cry from civilization with not a telephone in vicinity or cell phone tower leave alone a decent flushable toilet. Yet the man pursues his passion, relating to the magnificent and mesmerizing sea creatures that roam the oceans in this part of the world, the Pacific. How this reserve officer, lover of wildlife, draws out the autistic Spanish boy who flew in with his mother from Spain watching him in tv show is the story. Strongly recommended. What a landscape. Tough but peaceful life. Why should everyone walk by the beaten path. Offbeat is good! I really want to see South America, as i am also concurrently watching the Magical Andes. This massive continent from southern hemisphere hardly receives its fair share of attention except when it comes to soccer. How different lifestyle is in every single part of the world. Sometimes it is irritating to listen to cultural rhetoric of fellow Indians. We need to go see the world, see it for what it is, and see how too very insignificant we petty ourselves are in this vast universe. Conservation of nature to me is the hallmark of most civilized and cultured societies that have truly evolved. Heritage is not always showcased in ancient architecture like we view in India or in masterpieces hanging in Rome or Paris or in the operas of the west. Orcas seem to be darlings of the sea and they seem to relate to Beto is a special way, just like Lawrence Anthony, the elephant whisperer of south Africa could communicate with wild elephants Wow, what a gift, like none else. As is mentioned in the flick, may be the autistic kids can pick up some very feeble vibrations from the orcas that emit low frequency communication waves just like the their terrestrial counterpart the pachyderms roaming the forests of Africa and Asia. It did seem to have helped Tristan, the boy in the picture at least..
If an orca is to approach the marina in Chennai, our guys would be drooling over orca biriyani omg! What kind of people are we. I liked the gentle hero the orca man, the survivor mom Lola who is so courageous to risk it for her special kid in a godforsaken barren place half way around the world. But that is what mothers are… aren’t we. I am familiar with autism. No, I don’t pity the autistic children, rather i guess they are merely different. As Beto says, these kids see the world through better glasses than ours. However, easier said than done. Not at all a fairytale. Patience stretched for parents and even marriages suffer. But the naivety of the autistic kids can melt your heart. With orcas they can be deadly combo! Lovable, lovable, adorable! Feelgood factor for me. World needs to hear more of this kind of stories.
Loved this Netflix serial probably meant for kids with the kind of narration in the background, yet equally enjoyable for adults. Some of us may have prior knowledge of south African penguins, still this was the first time, I could glean so much info about them. Otherwise, when you think of penguins, you picture only the Antarctic.
The Penguin town as the Simon town is nicknamed after the takeover of the seaside place for over 6 months an year by the invading penguin colonies numbering in million, for their breeding season, is a bustling spot for both man and bird who do not only coexist but also tolerate each other to a great degree. Here is something for everyone of us take back: that shared space and peace. In India, such a scenario may spring up Penguin biriyani business (not a joke)! This was what was flashing frankly in my mind, as i relished watching each and every single episode on the adorable tall boy bird, the south african penguin. Picturesque beachfront and laidback villas from another age add charm to the setting. No wonder the bougainvillea family, the culvert family, the courtyard family all breed happily and look forward to coming back to their holiday homes (!) the next year. The travails of the penguins are very much humanlike! At least the struggle to secure a good comfy home is! Real estate hotcakes! Respects to the bougainvillea widowed father penguin for the way he is out in the sun day long to secure food for the family. The culvert family falling apart also is not unlike something that does not happen in human society. For the wild nature, the penguins have natural adversaries such as fellow gangster baddies, the lynx cats, the kites etc. Once the fledglings take to the water, of course there are the sea predators. The fragile ecosystem is balancing it out tactically against all odds. Yet, how well the town people have accommodated the penguins as part of their lives without counting them as nuisance deserves an applause. Their attitude matters.
Until now I was under the impression that the penguin fledglings take to water immediately on hatching. This is news to me that they need so much grooming and energy, and have to grow their waterproof oily feathers/skin to enter water. Great conservation work by the townspeople rehabilitating wounded/abandoned/orphaned penguin hatchlings before making them sea-fit for survival. You need education, awareness and maturity to be doing this job, hats off.
A must for kids and wildlife/nature lovers. Easy on our mind. Feelgood factor. The way wildlife care for their young ones is a reminder to us as to how everyone, every single life on planet Earth counts.
I have done blog posts on physical violence on women and I have been harsh on Indian cinema for including scenes of sexual violence on women in their content.
Now I am watching Spanish soaps in Netflix in which I find the same scenario which is shocking. To tell the truth, the serials tell a good story. They are period pieces done with a very fine taste otherwise. A treat to watch really. I got to see ‘the Cook of Castamar’ and ‘ the Cathedral by the sea’ both of which were interesting, but still had violent scenes on women shot with nitty gritty details. Now I am watching ‘the High seas’ which also already has had a violent episode on women.
Until now I thought it was our Indian film industry that resorted to such cheap gimmicks to cash in on sensationalizing crime scenes. Looks like, this is international formula now. Disgusted. Even if the script warrantees, I guess the script writer and director can still work their way around such a distasteful scene and avoid it at all costs. It can’t be impossible for creative people to circumvent frames that can leave women fuming and cringing. No, you don’t even have to leave a hint. I wonder what these folks can gain from including gory scenes of violence on women in their productions.
There obviously is no censorship which must help? Assaulting women is one thing, trying to pass off crimes on women normalizing them with films, soaps etc., is another. It is almost as if this can be routine and may be acceptable. This is what the rape scenes in pictures did to the illiterate masses in India. Everyone out there seems to be for a quick buck. If we cannot help a cause, at least let us not try to deteriorate the situation. Women are still vulnerable whichever part of the world we may be, how much ever we may be accomplished. Casual inclusion of violence on women, sexual assault on women and physical abuse of women need to be done with in our flicks. No, this cannot be for public consumption.
Watched this sweet Chinese romance this forenoon. Almost felt like my fave M&B paperback.
First of all I want to raise a point here. What is this term ‘Asian.’ By Asian, mostly in America, they mean Chinese. America also clubs India, Pakistan calling us ‘South Asia’ as if we lack our identity. We are of the Indian subcontinent. Don’t America put us on the same board as Pakis, calling us Indians South Asians. In UK, the grooming gangs of Brit teen girls are Paki muslims not Indians or Chinese or Japanese. The UK media refers to these criminal gangs generally as ‘Asian.’ It is insulting.
So the title made me wonder which Asian this was about.
Also mostly the Chinese are stereotyped as the Kungfu type martial arts people. Their films are monotonous right from the times of Bruce Lee. Jackie Chan confirmed albeit with a difference what was chinese all about. So I was hardly prepared for this picture.
The film is completely shot in Singapore. I have been as a tourist in Singapore for more than a week over twenty years back. That Singapore is now history as I can see. The picture is a recent one – from 2018. Twenty years is a long, long time.
But I have to say, still a lot about Singapore may not have changed especially concerning their street food, train and taxi services and pan Asian culture. I saw a very few other faces than chinese in the film. It does no justice to the inherent multi-cultural set-up of Singapore. Leave alone representation.
Rachel, a chinese american professor with New York University follows her singaporean chinese boyfriend to the island nation to attend a family wedding of his. The infamous Asian snobbishness greets her to her dismay. It is chinese in the picture. It could have been Indian. Such a typical Asian mentality i must say! Omg, have I not been through this grind, married for over a quarter century! Is my family any different! I can author a book on the subject!
Whether Indian or Chinese, we have our way of forcing our dreams and ambitions on our children. I am sorry to admit this is exactly how Indian society is. Our children are not our property. We never realize this and take them for granted. We refuse to give them space and allow them to grow independently. Well this is one side of the coin.
During my four year residence in Malaysia, I have met with equally ambitious chinese parents like Indians. It used to surprise me always. I used to think back then, we Indians found our match only in the chinese! Our cultural values may be different but also somewhat similar in many ways. The elderly dominating the family, the family molding young minds from a tender age grooming them for a future business or profession, arranged marriages, marriages of convenience, extraordinary importance accorded to academics, etc., etc.. South Indians are less muted, but our north Indian brothers and sisters are boisterous like, nobody can enjoy life like them if you ask me. The world thinks we Indians and Chinese hardly enjoy life, but it is so much untrue. Our north Indians have to compete with the chinese on equal footing when it comes to partying! Again, i have been in Malaysia for four chinese new years. From casinos to local pubs to flashy cars, the chinese way of life used to completely amaze me. May be because who i saw then were Malaysian chinese not mainland chinese. Even their supper and dinner rituals every evening used to be a gala event. Every single day it happened without a break. Work hard in the day. Party hard at night. Booze flowed yet for not a single day, the chinese reported late for work. Something Indians can never ever manage. The significance and respect the chinese attached to wining and dining was a surprise to me in those days. Food and eating together were revered not to be disturbed for any reason! Most of our friends then were chinese who came home. It was an other world totally! I never got confused with Li or Chin or Lai or Cheng! Neither did they all look the same!
The kind of crazy rich chinese as in the film, I can imagine. We have such old rich families in India too. They don’t belong in our universe.
I liked the fact that young Rachel cared nothing for Nick (her boyfriend)’s family background. She was clear about what she wanted. She was mature enough to give him up to his mean mother on moral highground. That was stupendous. Her strength of character and integrity touched a chord in me. As she and her friend aver, sometimes some of us have just that left with us- those of us bereft of a family background and social circle that come by default of birth to the lucky few. No we don’t have to wait for anyone’s acceptance where we may never belong in a million years!
In my Malaysian days I knew many hardworking middle class chinese as well. The chinese women especially were very smart. When it came to money matters, the chinese were very shrewd. Corporate empires to side walk cafes, the chinese ran everything as family enterprise. Family restaurants were popular in Malaysia. The families worked as a single unit. I only once told them about my vegetarian habits and how for me, even the cooking pan has to be fresh. They kept it in their memory for our entire period of residence. Father was the chef and daughter was the waitress. Billing was by the son and the wife dishwashed. The chinese family values used to be so much like Indian even if the chinese were more westernized. One thing that cannot happen with Indians is this westernization!!! The south east Asians like the chinese and thai are easiest to adapt to the western influence and culture. Yet like us Indians having Ayurveda, the chinese took only their own herbal medicine. Their cuisine was as indigenous as our Indian. The contradictions were interesting!
The single mother of Rachel who brought up her daughter all alone by herself – this is again a very common chinese trait. Many of their families break up. Loose morality and alcohol are the reason although some may think I am cheeky to say that. But it is the truth. We have this single mother condition now in India too. Very brave and intelligent and hardworking women these single mothers are! However, the joint family sentiments are no exaggeration either. Joint family system is the very fabric of Asian societies be it Indian or Chinese or Japanese. Only in recent times we are having nuclear families. In fact for filing IT returns, we Hindus still have a category named HUF (Hindu Family) – where we can file tax as a single unit. This applies to joint family businesses where brothers may be carrying on traditional trades jointly for ages. Even cousins and extended families for generations may come under a single HUF umbrella. Even now this is common scene in India. Only business families can understand this custom and this breeding culture. Outsiders generally won’t. I am not blaming Rachel here but it is not easy for anyone to get a sense of this mindset unless you live this life.
After a long time I was kind of transported to Malaysia! A male chinese colleague of my husband used to get me my veggie ‘kuihs’ every evening from kampongs (villages) that were tucked in too interior. The dumplings we make in India by name ‘modak’ (kozhukattai in Tamil) but we don’t stuff non-veg filling. Some similarities there. Then the rice eating country people! I used to identify more with South East Asians like Malays, Chinese, Thai, Indos over the wheat eating north Indians for this single reason: they ate lots of rice like us south Indians!!! They can’t do without rice totally! Chinese are also much more than ginseng and fried rice and jasmine tea. And mathematics! There is a humane side to them that is hardly portrayed rightly in films/media. Fortunately, I have seen that side of theirs in Malaysia.
The bachelorette and bachelor parties are now common even in India. Once reserved for the well-off, now getting popular with the middle-class. The richie rich can get away with anything stupid literally. Why can’t we follow just the good things for a change from the west. Why do we have to ape their worst habits. The big, fat Indian weddings are worldwide popular. This film is centered around one big fat chinese wedding. Obscenely extravagant. Somehow I believe in nice warm and cosy marriages not in pompous weddings. Haven’t lavish weddings become showcase of one’s social status. Once upon a time on earth, character and wisdom made masses look up to someone as role models. Today money power is what buys one societal respect and recognizance sadly.
The curse of Asia is: the rich and the poor live side by side without any qualms. You can see dirt poor being the next door neighbour of the stinky rich. I respect the dignity in some poor people and not-so-rich who hold their head high come what may. It won’t take some of us more than a minute to tick someone off for their boorish, haughty attitude who think they are good because of their material possessions and ‘birth conenctions’ but we keep our ground for peace’ sake and for sanity’s sake. It is not worth it.
Finally all is well that ends well. Fairy tale wedding that left me with a good aftertaste! The cast is perfect. Light dreamy magical story. Made my sunday! I must say, our Asian guys have to have some guts and stop being Mamas’ boys!!! Sigh!
Watched this second world war picture ‘Unbroken’ based on real life story of American military man Louie Zamperini. No idea who the cast were.
Louie is an Olympic athlete representing America in the 1936 games. Later his flight with Phil, Mac and other military men crashes. The duo Louie and Phil survive a grueling and record 47 days baked and famished, adrift in the ocean before being saved (?) by the Japanese military.
The land is no better as the two men discover. ‘The bird’ as nicknamed by the POW American soldiers, is in charge of their garrison. The Japanese man exhibits a sadistic streak isolating Zamp and taking his wrath out on him repeatedly, trying to break his spirit. As the war is drawing to a close, the jail warden fails to break Zamp who undauntedly challenges the cruel Japanese in his own way. From getting battered and bruised for no reason to working the coal mines of Japan to lifting heavy iron bars, Louie’s mental strength is stretched maximum to break his spirit. His stamina, pretty impressive! Without such a stamina to match his unyielding willpower, our hero would have been lost. May be it got to do with his Olympic training. The one and a half month in the sea must also have hardened our man. When all ploys fail, Zamp is tempted with bribes that could change his plight overnight. Louie Zamperini refuses to bow down, remaining strong until the end.
Reminded me of our own national hero Abhinandan who with his MIG downed the F16 flewn by Pak airforce man in the aftermath of Balakot. How proud he made India!
War is over and the the prisoners of war return to America after the ordeal. Louie and Phil get married and have families, remaining friends life long. Louie turns to god as he discovers peace in forgiveness over revenge. He realizes his dream of running in Tokyo Olympics in grand old age (his 80s). He makes peace with his former Japanese captors but Bird still refuses to see him. The film ends here.
War pictures are not my cup of tea. However this one was different. No explicit brutal war scenes that could make one flinch.
War is not rosy.
I only have this question to ask America. So you know war brutality. Still why do you force it on so many nations. How much more oil do you want. I can say this because I am an unbiased Hindu from neutral India. I am neither a muslim nor a christian both by race and/or religion. I belong everywhere and nowhere. I also know that, none can play games with my strong India. That gives me a sense of security.
Hollywood may make a war picture like this one, but Japan won’t. I have never seen a picture on Hiroshima Nagasaki bombings that wiped millions in a flash of a second. There have been Pearl Harbour, The Schindlers’ List etc., etc. They have been good. But nothing from Asian perspective. A coin has two sides.
They say all is fair in war and love.
Neither the First world war nor the Second world war concerned most other nations, especially Asian. As if India’s 1000 year siege under the islamic invaders and the British was inadequate, these wars were unnecessarily inflicted upon us. India was robbed totally by the Brits and left threadbare. And today these guys have the audacity to talk about immigrants. How about returning our stolen Kohinoor diamond Queen Elizabeth? Only UK can royally boast the loots from Asia and Africa with such a misplaced pride. And now a phony care for wildlife. After shooting to extinction nearly most of the world’s exotic species in African and Indian wilds. Natives have always lived with wildlife. Never hunted them down.
As for America, I wonder how many Americans ponder over the Indians wiped out entirely – ethnic cleansed to some ninety nine percent. Who will make films on the Red Indians. Or Aborigines of Australia. Or the Maoris of New Zealand.
Sorry, such pictures still fail to move me. Pretty much like Louie Zamperini, I remain untouched! But I respect the fierce individual spirit of Zamp. This is what captivated me most about the picture. What he endured, how he endured. First of all there was no self-pity. There was no question of giving up on life. His survival was a constant factor. You knew that from his attitude. Revenge lay in mere staying alive, a fellow American POW in Tokyo tells Zamp in their camp. How true. Living well is the ultimate tit-for-tat.
In a nation that is re-discovering our lost identity since Independence from the British, after a terror reign of nearly 800 years under the Moghuls etc., India is only now picking up pieces and trying to move on. War movies therefore have least effect on me.
Sometimes I feel even a sense of anger when I watch such pictures. The goodness of it all, I appreciate. But not having the courage or honesty to tell the whole or entire story comes as a big disappointment. But then after all, history is scripted by winner with additions and deletions replete. Although Zamp impressed me with his physical stamina and mental strength, Bird earned my respect as well, refusing to see Zamp on reconciliation. Japan had much, much to lose.
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.
Can’t figure out why film channels from India are beaming pictures like ‘Shawshank Redemption’ and ‘Planet of Apes’ for our Independence day!
Anyway, as a fierce wildlife lover, I couldn’t have bargained for more.
I hate to bring the Hindu factor into everything but can’t help mentioning here.
I grew up in a home/culture where before we ate a morsel of food everyday, we offered it to Goddess Annapoorna first and then the crows in our terrace next. The crows we see as our pitrus (forefathers) waiting to be fed every morning.
Cows are everywhere in India because we think they are divine. Same for monkeys. Our temples also have snakes !
Every Hindu God (we have a galaxy of them, each for a different department) has a pet animal attached (very much like in Avatar picture – the word Avatar being the Sanskrit word for reincarnation) (reincarnation by itself is another Hindu philosophy). Every Hindu temple has a ‘thala vriksha’ – the temple tree.
All trees in India are sacred and considered divine.
I recall when we had to fell the four tall standing and overgrown Ashoka trees in our house because their roots were damaging the structure.
The day before, the crew came with their tools and machinery and performed an earnest Puja (akin to Christian service) offering the septuagenarian trees ‘Neivedyam’ (food meant for the divine) and pleading for their pardon for cutting their lives short.
The next day morning before chopping of the trees using machines and saws (for the top most branches), there were again fervent prayers for the souls of the trees. The woodcutters were labourers who routinely felled trees hindering highways. But they said, cutting old trees was like murdering wise old men.
Which other culture of earth would think the way we Hindus do. Who will even bother about the souls of trees. Some trees we Hindus believe may house ‘Muneeshwar’ for one thing, the saviour god of little children! And He is believed to be an unforgiving angry old man, not wanting to be disturbed! Better not provoke Him!
The Ashoka trees in our compound were taller than three-four floors and home to a handful species of birds. Cutting them down was no easy task. In spite of machinery and good amount of manual sawing, the street had to be cordoned off for the day for safety purposes. The way the trees fell! Unforgettable even today. For years you assume they are one among you, they are like a family member, but then you chop them down one fine day!
If you think Ashoka trees had no branches, you are wrong. How the birds had intelligently built their nests in the crooks and nooks in the Ashoka trees was amazing.
I couldn’t help wailing out in agony as the trees were taken down one by one. As they were huge, they took two whole days. The base never yielded. Not quite possible to completely uproot them. Acid was poured on their roots to snuff out whatever life could possibly still sprout from them at a later date.
The evenings were the worst. I remember it vividly because my son was still a primary school boy then. I have fed him food pointing out the birds to him and the nests and eggs.
The birds were back for their nests at sun down and were clearly disoriented not finding their homes. Their screeches in pain and shock rented the night air – the crow families, the cuckoo families, the pigeon families and the sparrow families were all flying in circles. I wondered how much curses must have been heaped on us by the voiceless and helpless bird parents looking for their nests and nestlings. After a week of encircling our house, they stopped coming back eventually. Where in the city they took refuge was something I thought about for a long time.
Urban Chennai has no place any more for tall old trees. Every inch of space is worth in millions of rupees, sadly. I forgot the squirrels. I didn’t know until then how many squirrel families had holed up in the trees.
The trees had to go still. It was practical solution with neighbours complaining from next street about the intruding roots damaging their foundations.
But the love and respect we Hindus have for all living creatures is immense. Our temples house the cows, the snakes, the trees… In fact this is the main conflict between the majority native Hindus of the nation and the converted muslims who cull cattle and relish beef. The Middle eastern culture does not sync with the ten thousand year Hindu civilization which is too strong and deep rooted in spite of a thousand year invasion.
So as a wildlife lover and lover of nature, it gave me ample satisfaction to watch the latest ‘Planet of Apes’ picture today that saw the mutilation of Human race back to their fifth sense (of the Ape world) and the Apes ultimately ruling the world gaining an upperhand inadvertently.
Return to the Nature. That’s simply wonderful. Back to the basics.
Foreign ideologues like the Churches (on conversion spree) and the Islamists have always poked fun at the Hindu way of life for living close to nature, demeaning and disrespecting our love for birds and animals and trees, and even rivers.
Hindus are the only race in the world to have elevated the flora and fauna and the five elements of nature – the Agni (fire), the Wayu (wind), the Jal (water). Bhoomi (soil) the Akaash (sky) to divine status. All these are living Gods for us. Every christian and every muslim I have come across in my life has only ridiculed our cultural belief. The Hindu belief system has been worshiping nature for tens of thousands of years, being the oldest civilization in the world.
In Hindu temples, we marry the Neem tree with the Peepal tree (!). If a woman goes childless, all she is advised by the elders is to do is, to circumambulate the wedded trees every morning and evening. The reason is pretty scientific. Neem is a natural pest and infection controller. Together with the Peepal, the oxygen level in the air gets maximum purifying the environment. Who knows how, but it has been working for Hindu women.
In Mylapore, in the Kapaleeshwara temple where i literally grew up in, the ‘thala vriksha’ (the local shrine tree) was the Punnai tree. The temple bird was peacock. As it was a Shiva temple, we also had the Vilvam tree inevitably. And a cowshed where they reared a dozen high breed cows and bulls as tall as six feet. It would be a glorious sight to watch peacocks dancing with unfolded feathers before the onset of the monsoons.
All that is disappearing even in India now. Every single custom, belief and tradition from Hindu culture is degraded first, then copied and looted by the followers of Abrahamic folds. Simultaneous attack from multiple sides, i do not know how we are still ticking as a nation. Both the Middle east and the West are bent on their agenda: to either make us into world’s largest terror nation or another Latin America – at any cost. Hindus today are endangered species!
Watching a picture where mankind perishes from planet Earth totally leaving the world to the wildlife (in this case the Apes) felt good really. Hopefully this turns into reality!
Barring that, the human gene in the Ape Caesar is remarkably captured by the direction as the Ape leader’s face registers a variety of conflicting emotions coming face to face with humans in extra ordinary circumstances. The humane face of the merciless general doing his duty is another case in point. It is a battle between emotions and wit. For an ape leader, Caesar is a good characterization. I remember ‘him’ from his earliest movies – from the time he is a baby.
With this film, i have watched the entire series of the Planet of Apes. Whoever conceived the idea merits the highest awards, no wonder the latest picture bagged Academy awards last year.
May be not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are a nature lover like me, you will appreciate the Ape flicks.
In spite of ridicule, we Hindus must never give up our love and reverence for the wild life and domesticated animals and for birds, insects, trees and rivers – in general, for all that is natural. All rivers of India are goddesses going by names Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Kaveri… the only boy is Brahmaputra, the son of creator Brahma Himself, among the trinity of Male Hindu Gods of Creation, Nurturing and Destruction.
When visiting the Thala Kaveri in the state of Karnataka, the origin of river Kaveri, I offered a Puja to Mother Goddess Kaveri, the lifeline of south India, who nurtures life to the south of Vindhyas. Thanked Her for the rice we eat, the water we drink, for the earth we slept on. Emotional moment for us. Dozens of Hindu families offered Puja (prayers) to Mother (river) Kaveri anointing her with flowers at Her source.
I am a Hindu. I am proud we worship our rivers. I am proud the Neem trees and Banyan trees and Crows and Snakes and Rivers and even the Seas are gods for us. There is no other culture like ours. The more I see such films, the more I love my culture and the more I refuse to let India be converted.
Apes are all the more special to us Hindus because, monkeys are the family of our god Hanuman. Hanuman we believe, still lives eternally somewhere, watching out the world. No other better custodian for planet Earth than Hanuman. We have exclusive Hanuman temples, dedicated to the monkey god. He is our protector god against all things evil. He is god for sharpness, alertness of brain. He is god for godspeed success.
Something like the planet of Apes within India is already described in our Historic epic Ramayan. It is called ‘Kishkinta’ – the kingdom of monkeys. Lord Ram helps ruler Sugriva defeat Vaali and consolidate the monkey kingdom.
After ‘Avatar’ a total lift of the Hindu philosophy of reincarnation (from one body to another), i have always felt that the Planet of Apes is another copy of Kishkinta, the ancient monkey kingdom believed to have existed in India by Hindus over tens of thousands of years ago. (At least director James Cameroon titled the picture ‘Avatar’ acknowledging its Hindu inspiration).
It so happened that I heard about the book and real life story of ‘The boy who harnessed the wind’ from Malawi, in Toastmasters Meet just yesterday. The day before, I had watched ‘Queen of Katwe’ – based on real life story of a Ugandan girl who went on to become a legend in Chess.
The glaring and depressing squalor of the girl’s society throws light on tough life and survival conditions in African countries. Uganda is supposedly better off, I reminded myself.
The first shocker for me was something like ‘culture shock.’ I am ashamed to admit that before this picture, I hardly got to watch a full length film with cast predominantly black. Or overwhelmingly black ,with not a single exception. A fight in my mind started … whether to continue watching or stop. I clicked on the ‘info’ on my tv remote and discovered that the story was that of a chess prodigy. That helped.
I have watched of course some Will Smith pictures like ‘the Pursuit of happiness’ and some of Morgan Freeman’s but they are basically set in America. Somehow my mind classified African Americans as different species compared to native Africans. Watching a full length picture set entirely in Africa was like a challenge i set to myself.
We Indians accuse others of racism always, for the first time I found that even watching a picture totally centered in Africa was like difficult home assignment for me. Looking at the streets in screen where only black heads bobbed felt different. By no way I mean insult to anyone. Everything, everyone is God’s creation. I respect that. Until now, I am just not exposed to this kind of crowd.
I remember the first time I landed in Malaysia over 20 years back. More than the slight culture shock, what I felt immediately was my new status as ‘minority.’ It was impossible to come to terms with accepting this basic fact: that outside India, I am minority. I despised the tv adverts there where the models were either Malay or Chinese. Indian skin could/would not sell a beauty cream or soap or shampoo. Frankly, it was a humbling experience.
My days in Middle East are far better. Now I am more mature, and here there are mixed nationalities.
Europe too is increasingly a mixed society and America, a melting pot of cultures, even if both may be predominantly Caucasian. At least nobody moved away from me or stared at me. I won’t say I felt exactly at home, but I was relieved nobody paid me attention. I wasn’t a freak. Indian skin was regular.
Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria are popular tourist/work destinations with flourishing game business and oil trade. Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia may have Arab influence while South Africa, Zimbabwe may still boast of a residual white population to balance. But Katwe comes across as 100% purely ethnic African-Ugandan. It is a small rundown shanty town perhaps or some forgotten rural picket where our girl Phiona (played by Madhina), nurtures a passion for chess. Encouraged by her coach and his wife, Phiona surmounts uphill tasks both in personal and social life and carves a niche for herself in the world of chess at African summit. She aims to become a Grand Master. The dilemma Phiona faces as she goes places (literally), with confused emotions, reflects to me somehow what every middle class Indian who climbs up the social ladder may identify with. Phiona’s family circumstances are typical African where crime and poverty go hand in hand. It is not easy to escape this vicious circle. It requires greatest courage and determination to beat out of the corrupt system and emerge a winner. Phiona makes her village proud as she reigns supreme as the Queen of Katwe, crowned the chess champion.
After I finished watching the picture, I asked myself if as a routine film buff I had had second thoughts beforehand, how film critics around the world would receive a picture filmed in Africa. It is unfair. Even a trained and educated mind like mine took a while to adjust.
Personally to me, Queen of Katwe proved to be cathartic … the experience has molded me. My cinema world has been so far limited to Hollywood, Bollywood and Tamil filmdom. The glitz and glamour of these fake film industries probably blinded me to bare essential truths.
However, I couldn’t help thinking how entire Africa is completely either christianized or islamized. The new missionaries are no more the Europeans. Now the conversion mafia are Africans themselves. The present day African native/tribal travesty is troubling. Strip them off their indigenousness , what is left of them.
Watched this rare love story in tv but happened to miss the title and opening scene that I managed to find in You Tube. It was from Berg (the hero)’s bath tub scene that I watched the picture in the idiot box. Catching up with the first couple of reels on internet, I was amazed to discover how our censor board continues to edit steamy scenes for us Indian viewers!!! One would think by 2018, things must be different!
Anyway, having watched over a hundred times the debut picture of Kate Winslet the Titanic (of which I never tire), nothing prepared me for her middle-aged mature looks in ‘The Reader.’ She looks her age. The second part of hero character is played by Ralph Fiennes. I like him from his ‘Maid in Manhattan’ with Jennifer Lopez, another Hollywood romance favourite of mine. Like Richard Gere, Fiennes seems to have compassion written in his eyes… How important cast selection is, is something I learned from his role. Why do directors pick on certain actors. Why not others. Ralph Fiennes, from two of his films i have watched, seems to have an answer.
Googled Kate Winslet and found her to be born 1975. Not too young.
Powerful and bold script but totally understandable. I don’t know how I missed this one all these days. (Obvious reason: i watch most Hollywood films at home, in tv, never in cinemas. Cinemas are reserved for watching local Tamil ‘masalas’ with unruly and non-stop whistling Chennai ‘machis’ hahaha) ‘The Reader’ looks like an Academy award winner. No memory of it but I could guess right away that this one was different and well made.
We speak of unconditional love, but when you come across one it totally bowls you over. Such a rare gem to find.
As for Hanna Schmitz played by Kate Winslet, her obsession with perfection is baffling. OCD, the obsessive compulsive disorder. Could it be that? It is easy to hold her in contempt if not for her honesty and forthrightness and the false pride that convicts her for life.
In spite of the gravity (literally) of the crime she is tried for, one can deeply empathize with Hanna-Kate. The bubbly Irish tap-dancing Titanic girl has come a long way. Ralph Fiennes’s Micheal Berg character is equally crafted with care. I fell in love with this man. His sensitivity to Hanna moved me to near tears. Respect for the man who wouldn’t judge Hanna. The way Berg reads his love to Hanna is poetry. How Hanna matches his imagination teaching herself to read is a love letter by itself. The proud woman leaves a proud woman.
The Jewish daughter refusing absolution is understandable. May be here, we Hindus can take cue. May be this is the steely Jewish resolve.
The one who has played the junior Berg is perfect.
War movies have somehow been touchy : ‘The Schindler’s List’ and ‘Life is Beautiful’ .
Looking forward to watching this beauty a second time. Felt like reading a good book. Few films leave you with such a lingering after taste. Melancholy can be sweet.