Thursday, May 21, 2009

Gabhricha Paus and Harishchandrachi Factory : Indian cinema is alive!

Indian films usually make one feel bad at festivals -- it is either intellectual crap served by the 'arty' directors or utter repetitive stuff from bollywood. So it was a pleasant surprise to catch two fresh, well-made, sensible films at one festival. It was Habitat film festival in Delhi, and both the films were in Marathi. (The only other film worth a mention at the festival was Dev D).

We are talking about Satish Manwar's Gabhricha Paus and Paresh Mokashi's Harishchandrachi Factory. Both these directors are from theatre and are new to film industry -- they have not studied at film institutes, and have not even assisted a film before.

I don't want to bore you with my commentary. I enjoyed watching both the films, and was impressed by the element of humour used in these films.

I can only say, go watch it!

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[Visuals from Gabhricha Paus, from the film's website]

Behind the eyewash of UPA win

Everyone is celebrating the UPA victory. What more, this time there is no "left" to pull them back on the liberalism superhighway. No wonder share prices are rocketing again.

Here is some facts that did not make it to any of the major election analyses.

One, how Raj Thakre and MNS managed so many votes. 4% of Maharashtra's votes, and 21% of all votes polled in Mumbai. There were news pieces about how MaNaSe dented Shiv Sena and BJP's fortunes (See this colourful account on rediff), but even now, nobody wants to acknowledge or address the job insecurities of local people and their fear of outsiders. For us sitting in the air conditioned luxury, it is all just "regional jingoism". You bet, this fear is here to stay. (Earlier post: Why Raj Thakre is the winner.)

Two, why the left (read CPM) got washed away in West Bengal and Kerala.

CPM was hoping to make Kerala another West bengal, but people decided to make West bengal another Kerala. Indian Expresses and Business houses were all feeling sad that tata had to quit Singur on Mamta's anti-development politics, but people have given her the thumbs up. It is a clear mandate against the Nandigram/Singur politics of Buddha in Bengal.

It is not much different in Kerala either. Unlike the mainstream news media wants us to believe, these election results are not just about PDP or SNC Lavlin. The dalit community, majority of whom voted for LDF in the past, have deserted them. (It was the "saint" chief minister who called the Chengara strugglers "thieves"). When they voted for UDF candidates to ensure LDF defeat in most seats, the BSP did well in Thiruvananthapuram and Kottayam.

In Andhra Pradesh, people dumped a Hyderabad-centered, software-blinded Chandrababu Naidu for a second time.

Sangh's Kandhamal experiments did not work so well in Orissa -- probably because they did not quite have a Modi there to make use of it.

At national level, Congress vote share went up by 2% in comparison with 2004 elections, and BSP was the only other major party whose share went up (though they could not do well compared to assembly elections happened after 2004 in many states). Delhi results suprised me in particular, where BJP candidates lost by about 2 lakhs each. I believe playing the hardline Hindutva card costed it dear.

It will be good to have some younger ministers, unlike last time. But will this UPA government listen to the people's pulses, or will they take it for granted that everyone has voted in favour of their current policies? Let time decide.

Biggest Police firing ever in Kerala..

..and nobody is talking about it.

My friend called me yesterday and told me about what can be called the biggest ever Police firing that happened in Kerala a few days back. It killed five people, and injured about 40 others. He was surprised that I did not even know about it.

I have Mathrubhumi at home, my father is active in Kerala's political scene, I have journalist friends.. Nobody told me about it.

May be nobody wants to talk about a "communal" incident.

I did some googling and found some details. From interesting sources.

"Islamic Terrorism" website says,

"Muslims, Christians clash in Thiruvananthapuram Kerala, 5 killed, 38 injured".

Sounds cheeky. But only when one gets to the fine print, it does tell so much:

"Securitymen in different uniforms stood guard in front of shops which remained closed for the second day after the police firing to avert communal clashes claimed five lives."

OK - so it is not the Islamic terrorists who killed five people. It was the Police. The article goes on:

"It all began on Saturday when a goon from Cheiryathura, a Christian belt, tried to extort money from merchants at Bheemappally, a Muslim-dominated region. After being manhandled by the locals, the goon, Shibu, rushed to Cheriyathura only to return with a company of his men to retaliate. The gang from Cheriyathura set ablaze a fishing net at Bheemappally.

Though the police intervened on Saturday night itself, they lowered their guard assuming normalcy had returned. On Sunday afternoon, a group of youth from Bheemappally stormed into Cheriyathura, hurling bombs at the people of the rival side. The police opened fire, killing four people on the spot, as the mob moved towards a local church. Another person succumbed to injuries on Monday. Nearly 38 men have been injured in the incident.."

New Kerala site says, "Four people were killed in this Kerala capital Sunday after clashes between groups of two communities forced the police to open fire, an official said."

A Police firing that kills five people is not a joke. Not even in the infamous Muthanga firing could match that. Yet, nobody seems to be interested in taking up this issue, except for some Muslim groups (at the risk of being branded communal).

Congress-led UDF is busy celebrating victory, and CPM is busy finding reasons for their wash-out. Muslim League has decided to speak about it after three days (See news in today's Hindu).

New Indian Express is probably the only major news paper link that reported the incident. (Again, with a funny title: Four killed in communal clashes in Kerala).

Then I saw one e-mail with link to news on NCHRO page (Kerala Police fires at fishing community, four dead) on a mailing list. Nobody responded to that mail on the list.

I wonder where do we go from here.