Saturday, December 17, 2011

Song of the Coastal Lillies

Neythalin Paadal (Song of the Coastal Lillies), a music video by Pedestrian Pictures.

Some links below.

Why the Nuclear Liability Rules need to be modified Dr. A Gopalakrishnan in DNA.
(Dr. A Gopalakrishnan is a former chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board of the Indian government)

Why The Media is Nuked, by P K Sundaram, a research student at JNU.

Koodankulam: Indian democracy under nuclear threat, also by P K Sundaram.

("When charged with sedition under the same section of the Penal Code in British India, Mahatma Gandhi said “sedition is the highest duty of the citizen”.

The government has resorted to slapping an 1860 vintage legislation (Section 124 A of the Indian Penal Code) against the agitating people in Koodankulam. In this colonial provision enacted by the British, “to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India” is defined as sedition. The cases, including 121 (waging war against country) and 124-A (sedition), have been slapped against 3,015 persons, including leading activists like Dr. S P Udayakumar, M. Pushparayana and Father Jayakumar..

Starting Koodankulam reactor without sufficient backup water would be fatal, by R Ramesh, V Pugazhendi and VT Padmanabhan.

Koodankulam Anti-Nuclear Movement: A Struggle for Alternative Development? Srikant Pratibandla,  Institute for Social and Economic Change, 2009. 

Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant Is Destined To Reset The Nuclear Priorities In India -- Buddhi Kota Subbarao, former Indian Navy Captain, Ph.D in nuclear technology from Indian Institute of Technology Bombay.


Kapil Sibal is a well-intentioned guy. Please do not misunderstand him.
N Ram and Praveen Swamy
(paid news on the front page of The Hindu, December 7 2011)

Monday, July 18, 2011

All about Belly, All about Magic

Ever since its release, Delhi Belly was being flaunted as bold, and a "ground-breaking and inventive" comedy (see Taran Adarsh's review). Nikhat Kazmi (Times of India) said that "it re-writes all the moth-balled rules of an ageing industry".

I waited for the film eagerly, and finally when I saw the film, it was not a complete disappointment. But is it really a path-breaking film? I had enjoyed Mithya (2008) and Sankat City (2009) (two other recent Indian comedies with mix-ups involving under-world / gangsters in the backdrop) as much if not more. (Delhi Belly poster had high resemblance of Hangover -- I guess it was intentional.)

In contrast, Salt n' Pepper was yummy overall (concept, execution both), living up to the accolades it received. One could smell the freshness. It hardly had any 'story' but it held the viewer's interest almost throughout the film. I'd have rated it a great film if it avoided:

1. The repeated laments about a woman's life being incomplete without a man,

2. The scene where the husband lifts the burqa and says "shubanallah" (I found the first burqa scene funny), and

3. The song scene in the second half -- it was plain boring to me.

I'd still rate it the best Malayalam film to have come out this year. Above Adaminte Makan Abu and Traffic.

(My friend Rajeev later told me the first Burkha sequence in this film was 'inspired' from Marai Porul, a Tamil short film by Pon. Sudha.)

Cheers to Aashiq Abu. Cheers to the writers, Syam Pushkaran and Dileesh Nair. Cheers to Lal, Shwetha, Baburaj, Asif Ali and Mythili. Many cheers to the producers and the audience.

[PS: I believe in Magic. I believe in the Deathly Hallows. I believe in J. K. Rowling.]


Vilayatyeri Imbichikoya started his social work by taking TB patients to government hospitals at a very young age. Imbichikoya won the first Nawab Rajendran foundation award for his contributions to the society.

He was always busy helping out people to access their rights -- be it health, government welfare schemes or more routine things like filling out forms and applying for government jobs. (The formal education he could boast of was four months at school -- first standard.)

Sri Imbichikoya, Vappa for us, passed away at the age of 62 at Medical College Hospital, Calicut this May. I consider it a blessing that I could meet him and get to know about him when he was alive. And it puts the responsibility on me and Bena, Umma (Ayisha) and others who remain to carry the good work forward.

[the photo was taken after he fell ill, early May 2011]

Friday, April 08, 2011

Down with Corruption

After the world cup, it is Anna Hazare time. Everyone is speaking up against corruption, lighting candles, skipping lunch. Kashmir to Kerala, Gujarat to Kolkata (I doubt if it goes beyond that). Aamir Khan to Baba Ramdev to Barkha Dutt to Lalit Modi.

Sure there were one-off voices that refused to join this frenzy. In Open magazine, Manu Joseph wrote that Anna Hazare has always been someone who sought media attention.

I don't think it is bad to seek media attention. But I believe this is an easy "solidarity" and a comfortable "revolution" of the middle class. They will continue to remain corrupt, the caste-class nexus continue, the Lalus and Rajas will get tried for corruption, the Chidambaram kind or Kapil Sibal or Manmohan or Ambani kind of corruptions will never even be called corruption.

It was Facebook that offered some relief from this madness. Yes -- the same facebook that worked as the backbone for this new "jasmine" revolution.

Anoop Kumar linked to this story and said: "Read about the heady mix of caste and corruption. On how an honest dalit, a top official, is treated for trying to crack down on corrupt officials under him." (The news was from Kerala.)

Karthik Navayan wrote: "Where were you, Dear Anna Hazare, when Lakhs of Crores were misused (and still misusing) and diverting which are supposed to spent for development of Scheduled castes and Scheduled Tribes under Schedule caste sub plan and tribal sub plan? is this Not corruption??"

Rasshad Al-Hindi wrote: "....if only Irom Sharmila was Anna Hazare."

Kuffir Nalgundwar wrote: "it's not about anna hazare.. he's been roy-ized by several 'civil' society celebrities who consider themselves the 'right' people to rule. it's not about corruption either. it's about hindu society's inability to digest even formal democracy and its tendency to send the 'wrong' people into parliament." 

Ajith Kumar A S wrote: "a great chance for revolutionaries to enjoy fighting against corruption without being charged with UAPA! Anna Hazare is calling! hurry up"

Sanjeev Sreedharan wrote: "the idea of mother india that looms large over this reformation is undoubtedly more dreadful than any corruption that could befall the subcontinent." (see image)

Dilip Mandal wrote: "बिल्कुल जातिवार जनगणना विरोधी आंदोलन (मेरी जाति हिंदुस्तानी) और आरक्षण विरोधी आंदोलन वाला माहौल है। मुट्ठी भर लोगों का आंदोलन, क्विंटल भरकर मीडिया कवरेज, आरएसएस का समर्थन, हवन, गायत्री मंत्र, सिविल सोसायटी फिल्म स्टार आदि का समर्थन, राजनीति को गाली, सरकार के साथ अंदर से तालमेल।"

Anu wrote: "its like taking a dip in the polluted ganges to become pure, again. this anti-corruption angst comes complete with a mela feeling too. so pious i feel right now."

I will end with another comment from Anoop: "The problem is not that the Lokpal bill will unleash anything against the dalits. The problem is the hypocrisy of indian civil society in defining the term corruption and limiting it to politicians."

[Thanks to my facebook friends and to Rasshad Al-Hindi. Anoop Kumar is likely to come up with a more detailed write-up on this issue].

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Feeling numb, seeing TV footage from Japan. Hope the people of Japan recover from this disaster.

The only positive fallout is that there is some talk about the hidden costs involved in generation of nuclear power. Today there was a programme on Manorama TV that discussed the risk that the radiation levels cause to people living near the Tarapur reactor. [Here is an old post from this blog on the nuclear option.]

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Seven Dead Husbands and a Live Film

Saat Khoon Maaf tells the story of Susanna and her seven dead husbands. Based on the story Susanna's  Seven Husbands by Ruskin Bond, Vishal Bharadwaj gives us a film that outperforms all his previous films.

It takes patience to sit through the first 10-15 minutes of the film. But that is true with any Vishal Bharadwaj film -- including the much celebrated Omkaara and Kaminey. I did not watch Omkaara in a movie hall, so I purchased a CD. I tried watching it several times, but it did not move beyond the first 20 minutes. For more than a year the film remained unwatched :-) (I first thought it was my problem, but later a friend shared a similar experience with Omkaara.)

But as one survives those initial hiccups, there is realization that it was worth it. What awaits us is an experience that we have not had on Indian screen yet. Priyanka does a great job as a woman who keeps seeking love, and so does her associates. Those who came to watch a serial killer Priyanka are in for a disappointment. Because she is not the kind of "killer" we are familiar with.

Her husbands do not have much screen length, but they also do their parts well. Niel Nitin Mukesh, the Russian actor and Annu Kapoor get the meatier roles among them, and they make good use of it. (Now I think I know why Mohanlal refused to act in this film -- he was offered the role of the husband who dies of Viagra overdose.) Irffan Khan's character could have been developed better. That one episode appears unconvincing compared to others.

The male viewers would feel jealous of Vivaan Shah's character. Susanna is in love with him -- so much that she never marries him.

In an interview given to Indian Express, Ruskin Bond had said that "My only regret will be, I couldn’t be cast as one of Ms Chopra’s seven husbands. Guess I am too old for that." He makes it up by playing a cameo in the film.

Bandini, Mother India and Ek Haseena Thi are three other prominent fictional Hindi films that told stories of women who kill others. It would be interesting to study Saat Khoon Maaf in contrast with them. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Women Start Cheating in Kerala

"..It must have been in the beginning of twenty first century that women started cheating on their husbands in Kerala. There are references to such relationships in Malayalam films that came out circa 2010. While Cocktail (2010) had cheating as its central theme, Traffic (2011) has a cheating wife and a betrayed husband playing important roles. Another 2010 film Pranchiyettan and The Saint has a casual mention of Khushboo's character cheating on her husband.."

Cannot rule this out if one were to write history based on mainstream Malayalam films. With all the problems that I have with these three films, I think one must thank them for that one character that was almost non-existent till now in Malayalam films -- the cheating wife. We have had cheating husbands, though we could not imagine justice playing out in the form of having them paralyzed or the wife running them over with a car.

(Thanks to Devadas, Prasanth et al for the discussions on Google Buzz).

Saturday, January 08, 2011

When Loknath Sharma becomes our Brand Ambassador

Grand Kerala Shopping Festival is going grand. Selling this festival is one Loknath Sharma and one Major Mahadevan. Do not scratch your heads if the names are not very familiar -- they are characters from a Malayalam film titled Kandahar.

Nothing new about this. Having sponsors, models or "brand ambassadors" selling products and services is common practice. But what makes this one interesting is the fact that it has cleverly undone a policy decision taken by the Kerala government a few months back.

[Old news in brief: The government of Kerala decides to make Amitabh Bachchan the brand ambassador for Kerala tourism; This move faced opposition from within and outside the party as Amitabh was the brand Ambassador for Gujarat;  (Mid-Day: CPI-M against making Big B as Kerala tourism brand ambassador, Statesman‍: Stiff opposition to Amitabh Bachchan as Kerala tourism ambassador) Succumbiong to these pressures the government backtracks on the decision.]

We also got to hear that Big B was not very happy with the whole episode. (Not made Tourism ambassador, Bachchan slams Kerala : Indian Express‌, 2010 March 25).

That was about nine months back. Now we see the same Amitabh Bachchan disguised as Loknath Sharma and selling another business initiative of the same government. All major newspapers carry colour advertisements on their front page every day, featuring images of Mohanlal and Amitabh Bachchan. Huge hoardings in all big cities of Kerala. The bigger ones have the Government of Kerala symbol of two elephants prominently on them. To make sure we don't mistake the face to be that of  Amitabh Bachchan, there is a small script below (smaller than the "Cigarette smoking is injurious to health" in the old cigarette ads) that says: "Major Mahadevan, Kandahar" and "Loknath Sharma, Kandahar". Intelligent.

Those who opposed the earlier move to make Amitabh our brand image appears to have been done in by this trick.

[Images: (i) Ad on the front page of The Hindu, December 25; (ii) A hoarding in Kozhikode city]

[A Malayalam version of this note was carried in Countermedia. The images were removed for some technical reasons.]

Monday, January 03, 2011

LSD and Ishqiya: Indian films come of age

This is not one of those year-end round ups. I am as tired of them as many of you are. For some reason or the other, I could not write about these two films that I watched in the early months of the year gone by. LSD: Love, Sex Aur Dhoka and Ishqiya. I loved them.

There are many reasons why I love them. I do not intend to do an essay here.

Babban's question to Khalujan, "Aapka Ishq Ishq, Aur Mera Ishq Sex?" rips through our "divine love" hypocrisies, and the final shot of the happy triplet breaks the cliched notions of the pairs made in heaven. Provocative right from the title itself, LSD went one step further and did a tightrope walk on the thin lines between love, sex and deceit.

Exceptionally catchy "Dil To Bacha Hai Ji", racy "Ibn Batuta" (Lyrics: Gulzar, Music: Vishal Bhardwaj), crazy "Love Sex Aur Dhoka..", controversial "Tu Nangi Achchi Lagti Hai" (this was changed to "Tu Gandi Achchi Lagti Hai" in CDs) and totally mad "I can't hold it any longer" (Music credits: Sneha Khalwalkar / Dibakar Banerjee, Sung by Kailash Kher, Sneha) provided a complete musical feast. Dil To Bacha Hai Ji has been more or less a unanimous choice as the best track to have come out last year.

I'd rate LSD above Ishqiya for the form that we were not used to.

[Images: Film posters]