Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Oct 31 - Anniversary of the 1984 riots

On this day, in 1984, Indira Gandhi was killed. While the Congress burns crores (someone should file an RTI to know how much money the 64% bigger newspaper made across the country from these advertisements alone) on paying homage, this blog post is for the thousands who were mercilessly slaughtered, burnt alive with their own turbans soaked in petrol and then used to gag them. Their throats burnt first. With the same turbans that had covered their proud heads.

On these 3 days, out of thousands and thousands of stories, is also the story of Sandeep, whom i remember every year. And the stories of what happened and was never told.

When the courts of this country tell the petitioners that this is a history that is best buried and forgotten, they are not exactly promising justice. They are, in fact, asking for forced amnesia. How can you forget the sight of an innocent child burning to its death, if it was your son? Or anyone's son.

So, on this day, every year, is the anniversary of the Carnage of 1984. Not Forgotten. Not forgiven.

PS: If you have not already seen it, and want to understand what i am talking about, this film will help.   - Amu. Its an award winner at multiple film festivals but was not screened in India.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

English Vinglish - A Review

Yes, there hasnt been a film review here for a long time. But then, one hasnt seen a film like English Vinglish for a long time either.

This film is being liked a lot. And though the title is about English, English is only the hook used to tell the story of personal achievement. Of being put down by "family" - repeatedly, almost without thinking, as a matter of course, then finding enough courage to go beyond.. and overcome that one shortcoming (if it can be called that) to emerge stronger, better, more confident.

Almost every married woman will identify with this story.. we all have families who love putting us down. Best part? They do it in the process of complimenting the wife or mother.

There is a scene in the film where everyone is going ga ga over the laddoos made by the lead protagonist. The husband of the lead (Sridevi, of course), says to the newest member of the family (a groom, not a baby), "These are the best laddoos you will ever eat. And my wife, she was born to make laddoos." That is a very telling shot - because he actually meant it as a compliment. And did not even realise its an insult to the rest of her personality. The danger of the Single Story.. as a TED speaker would put it.

The film has clear parallels with another brilliant film on the same theme - Mitr. (wiki entry here)


Since most of the shooting is on location, one cant really go wrong with the sets. The Costumes deserve a standing ovation - for everyone, and especially for Sridevi. Every single woman i know is swooning over those saris, urs truly included. But even for the supporting cast - the husband, the daughter and the class mates, the costumes are well thought out and do help to bring out the personality in very subtle ways.
The dialogues are all sooo right.. just the right sort of humour.. the right sort of emotion.. there is a part where Sridevi tells her child, "i dont know what PTA means.. but i know what parent means." i could have stood up and applauded her at that point.

Its a film that leaves one entertained and thinking.. one that comes out of the theater with you, then stays as you admonish little children calling their mother "Fat". For the first time, you look around and realise in how many small ways we gnaw at the self confidence of the women closest to us - by putting them down in such tiny ways, bit by excruciating bit.. by just not paying attention.. by overlooking the fact that unlike us, who have a life outside, these women depend on us for their daily dose of appreciation and positive feedback. They depend on us for their daily dose of adult conversation.. the kind we find easy to have at work "saari important baatein to english mein hi hoti hain na?" .. by ignoring their small, almost imperceptible cries for attention..

This is the kind of film that all tweenies of our country must watch - we have made a national sport of putting down mother in our peer group because it makes us so "cool".

One Line Review:  Its a movie that should be seen. Good story, well told.

Monday, October 08, 2012

The Case of The Corrupt Voter

When the Congress dared team Anna to fight elections, i laughed. Because the Congress knows one thing - no one has the necessary money power to buy voters like they do. Asking a new person (not moneyed) to fight elections is like forcing a boxer to play sumo wrestling.

And that brings one to something that is not mentioned in our vibrant democracy - the corrupt voter. we talk about corrupt politicians, corrupt babus, corrupt army people, but never the corrupt voter. Because they are "poor people" . Somehow, in my mind, being poor does not mean they can sell democracy for a blanket and 150 rs. I cannot think of that as not being a crime.

When we dont vote, or vote for money, we are hitting at the very core of our democracy. Like termites, we gnaw into the very foundation of our State - democracy. Why is that not a crime?

Should people be prosecuted for voting for  money? Yes. As much as the babus and the netas should be prosecuted for accepting bribe.

I wonder why the Corrupt voter is not even mentioned, much less publicly censored. THat is where the entire vicious cycle starts. If the voters dont vote for money, they will start looking for real issues and candidates will be forced to work to get votes. If we choose good candidates, and if candidates dont have to spend money on campaigning, their need to be corrupt and moneyed will vanish. Once the netas dont need to be moneyed to be elected, we will be able to contain corruption in the bureaucracy through tight governance. The theory may be oversimplified, but its still valid.

The end of the corrupt voter will mean the end of the corrupt politician. The aware voter chooses the working candidate. About time we shamed the corrupt voter as much as we hate the corrupt politician and the corrupt babu.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Alice in Wonderland

I want to look
At your intelligent looking faces
And find
A trace of identifiable cells there
That looks anything like
Any cell I have
But I don’t look
Anything like any of you
In your world of real people
I am
An anime doll
An object of play
Not of camaraderie
In your wonderland
I am Alice
Maybe, the wonderland is unreal
I am.