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Saturday, November 16

Sachin Tendulkar

Tributes will flow today like the open sluices of Hoover, and surely the journos, commentators, cricket writers and fans will face an acute, frustrating crisis of words when putting pen to what goes through the heart. 

Language clearly fails us, there are instances where you find that Oxford Dictionary doesn't hold enough words in it, neither does M/s Google.

There are times when you feel a void in your heart, so deep and wide that the Chicxulub asteroid had crashed into it.

There are times when you'll be appreciated for the over production of lacrimal glands, because the emotions are genuine which controls your heart, and mind, which makes us humans, humans.

It's just like waking up, after a long, beautiful, 'Inception'-istic dream in limbo.

The world over, cricketers, analysts, journalists and critics have been generous when it comes to describing Sachin Tendulkar at work. Almost all the verdant adjectives have been showered on him. Sachin, without a shadow of doubt, was the most loved sportsperson on the planet; the adoration reaching unprecedented levels in India. A few pundits used their electron-microscopic eye to expose faults in the jewel, forgetting the one conspicuous point: Sachin is just another blue-blood homo sapien in flesh and blood.

Sachin Tendulkar is a testimonial to enlighten us that perfectionism does not occur in nature. Sachin may be the near-perfect out of that horrible imperfects that we all are.

What can one say? Is the word "#Thank you" enough for the rapturous joy we received in the last 2½ decades? "We miss you" is a mild way of expressing our feelings, here is where the problem of the earlier mentioned barrency with the English language.

Personally, it's a hard pill for me to swallow; to accept that the journey which started when I was 9, when my household would wait anxiously and hopefully to see the little, wonderboy appear on field, is finally over. As I grew up, along with Sachin's career, the bond with him only strenghtened, with even my parents who didn't understand the spelling of cricket would sit down to watch Sachin play. Such was the exception for Sachin that my draconian dad would allow me to watch Sachin's batting, just Sachin's batting, during the '96 World Cup which coincided with SSLC exams. I saw the lengthy phase of the young man who single-handedly had to shoulder responsibility of an Indian win, for over a decade, until the Ganguly-Dravid-Laxman era dawned.

And 24 years later, as the incredible sojourn ends, it takes a while to envisage an Indian team, and the game of cricket, without Sachin Tendulkar, though he is now leaving it in a much healthy state than when he was inducted into it.

Look it from Sachin's side, how many cricketing generations has he seen pass through? He has seen the likes of Gavaskar and Kapil bid adeau, he has seen Azhar, Sidhu and the likes fade out, he was right there when Ganguly, Kumble, Dravid came in , blossomed and left, he has seen the likes of Sehwag, Dhoni, Yuvraj and co taking over and blossom (and fade) and now he's overseeing Kohli, Rohit and Pujara bud. Its like watching over the whole world revolve from up there, but we still feel he is one from our neighbourhood. Sachin was able to cut a chord with the Indian middle class that made his the undisputed darling of the nation. India will ever get another one like him? It's an obvious no!

I can still see the 18 year old Sachin when he celebrates after taking a catch. There's hardly one instance where he lost his cool in the quarter-of-a-century of limelight, on or off the field. The world is all over flukes like Beckham who is a hahahaaa when compared to Sachin. Wouldn't Sachin have a wry smile on his lips if he had seen the frentics by the LA paparazzis when the Beckham family made the much trumpeted American move? Sachin experiences a gross times that effect if he steps out anywhere in the world.

Sachin should be, and will be a case study for what he was, not just due to his achievements or numbers, but for the way he presented as a role model to inspire billions, and to raise the bar by rigurous and continuous thrive to improve self, and most importantly, how to give and take respect.


In the current social-media era when cricketers are instant celebrities, even the mediocre ones, Sachin always remained the ONE original hero. A family man to the core and a gentleman to the outside world, it bewilders me as to how some section of the population treated him. He has been accused of being 'selfish', placing personal goals and priorities before the cause of the nation. Now tell me how many times India lost or fortified a game because of Sachin? He has been the most selfless cricketer of our times, according to my book, who gave predominant priority to India before any personal goals. And who has Sachin scored all these runs for? That's a good thing to say about someone who contributed so much to Indian cricket..

He was different ever since he broke on the scene; unique not just because of his age, he appeared too young to ever bear the weight of his bat. The bleak match situation seemed suddently hopeful when he walked in at 5/6; there was a radical change in the momentum, the boy just so easily grabbed hold of the pivot. In a side filled with high-ranking seniors like Azhar, Kapil and Manjrekar, it was Sachin that induced panic in the oppisition ranks... Think of those early 90s matches in Sharjah, or outside the subcontinent and you'll know what I mean. 

Think about it, when Sachin walked the greens of Karachi, the sperm that created Mohammad Shami hadn't even formed...and Dhoni just got off his nappies...

Who brought the middle class housewives, stubborn husbands, nannies and grand-kids together in front of the TV when a cricket match was going on? Which cricketer ever single-handedly carried the dreams of a billion hearts whenever he appeared in the Indian colours? Did you forget the times when India was a one man army?

And to play with a God-like status, commanding love, admiration and respect from all nook and corners of this world, for 24 years... its just mind boggling! 


   Surely ridiculous, but this is where trust and passion takes over your head. Simple enough, blind faith makes your head believe that Sun revolves around the Earth. Faith which can move mountains, made the religious cricket fans believe their God can do nothing wrong. The element of disbelief and regression when Sachin's exploits failed to produce results was as a result of this disregard of fact: just another glorified ape like you, like me, albeit super evolve. 

And Tendulkar saga teaches us one bare fact. Sports, which often is a bonsai life, teaches you that however good you're, may be the best in business, you dont always win. The best dont always win.

The one aspect I see in the legend, with all the charm he possessed he lacked the company of lady luck. I'm not talking about the countless dubious decisions the umpires gave aginst him but about the no of times his teammates let him down after he had played a gem. And who bear all the brunt? Sachin himself for being a choker.. The lady luck played a good part in taking the sheen off many poetic knocks, just because the other 10 cool-dudes bungled at their job.

So it makes you wonder, how much has this 'God' been with Sachin...Obviously not many times...


It's always been about his numbers for us, aint it? Cricket is THE GAME of numbers; take away the numbers from the game and see what you've got...The roar is more for the Sachin 100 than India's winning runs. Its not just about the 100 100s or the tens of thousands of runs but these numbers are what will define Sachin for the next gen. Just like 99.94 stands for Don for us. Numbers matter for the next gen to remember you, simple and plain.

Sachin is something more than the 30k int'l runs, the 200* in Gwalior, the 0 in WC '03. Mere numbers which may be a statisticians delight, but he is something more..much more..

Perhaps someday, someone will cross the 100 ton record, the 200 Test mark or the total runs aggregate records, but to make millions lose sleep when he is batting on an overnight 90, to cause hundreds of fluttering tummy butterflies when he faces his first delivery or to cause pandemic disappointment and frustration when he misses another ton by a whisker... I doubt if anyone will create such waves.


Runs...Sachin has almost become a synonym for it... Runs. The numbers are just much up into the air that it would be like attempting to see Mt Everest's peak from Ground Zero. And its not just those mere mountain of runs; its the beauty and vigor in getting them. The stance, the poise, the effortless fluid style in which those runs were amassed depicts more of a classical poetry; perhaps what appeals to the senses of a knowledgable cricket watcher...more like how the splash of a Monet caricature stands out from those ubiquitous landscape a Vintage Mercedes Engine flutters the heart of an automobile-phile.

That is what makes Cricket looks different...the likes of Sachin,Waughs, Lara, DeSilva, Kallis or Dravid differs from en masse...They're poetry in motion.

What makes Sachin the standout from all those great contemporaries was that he could make a bowler bowl where he wanted the bowler to bowl, he could rocket-propel to 3 figures in 71 balls as well as grind one out in 5 Test sessions, could hit an unbeaten 241 even when in poorest of touches, he could cut out his favourite shot for 10 hours and also as per many of his colleagues, could play 6 different shots to the same delivery.

All aside, its 15921 + 18426. Try beating that!


Reminds me the Tenali Raman tale of  fable-age. Godess offered Tenali two pots: one for 'wealth'  and other 'intelligence', asking him to choose one. Tenali fooled the Godess by requesting to taste them before drinking, and then gulping down both the cases.  Sachin, bestowed with both affluence and an astute cricketing brain, lacked something quintessential: rub of green. Sachin's story has its own crests and troughs, his captaincy stints definitely one of those troughs, with injuries and lack of form threatening his career more than once. But as we look back, the Phoenix always rose up and flew higher when the naysayers thought it had crumbled down to ashes. 

Sachin had the tragic fate to lead one of the most lackluster teams of recent times with bowling standards, sans Kumble, were at club-levels. Such a shrewed and agile cricketing brain was all at sea when marshalling the forces, and perhaps the legend that great players never make great captains might be true. Whatever, the whole nation begged to get him off the Captain's seat, because we were missing Sachin the batter dearly. Those times as Indian captain still remain the worst years of Sachin, and he carried on the legend at the helm of Mumbai Indians.

That is life...Anyone who'd think you can live your life tasting only sweetness is living in  one hell of a deluded sphere. Even Sachin has had troughs; even Sachin, but you tell me one sportsperson who hasn't had tough times in a carrer spanning a youth-age...This is real life. And get your lesson; see how the man endured. He kept his head down, family close, believed in self and worked hard to redemption is 2008-09. Get your lesson. 

As Sachin famously said, he has managed to turn the stones thrown at him into milestones. And after 24 long years here's a call out to the critics. Where are thy all?

Sachin almost resembled the fine wine which mellowed with age, in those golden twilight of his career.


The critics were grossly unfair to the man during the latter years of his career, asking him to hang his boots everytime his wicket fell cheaply. Even after meticulous hundreds with a strike rate of over 90, I've seen a desi-critic frowning over the number of dot-balls he faced. I remember after a hundred in Australia, Ian Chappel noted that Sachin didn't play the hook-shot during his innings, that he ducked to all the short stuff... What can one say about these guys?? 

Not just the Chappel guys but its a poetic justice to note that the whole bunch of critics had their foots stuck in the mouth after Sachin went on to prove in 2010 that the demons were still bubbling under the surface.

Hard lesson for the unthinking critics, who dared to challenge the legend of the game. Sachin has warmed and won a million hearts zillion times than these fad critics and commentators ever did in their collective careers. In a team sport such as Cricket, to expect two slender clavicles to shoulder the dead-weight, literally the dead weights of the remaining 10 'warriors' against 11 opposition team predators time and time again, must be a walk in the park.

Whoever thinks Sachin's hundreds did not help India win should check their numbers; it'd also help checking your heads before the numbers. 


Sachin has been more than just another cricketing hero. India will not get another role model like him in years to come. In people's heart Sachin will just be the 18 yr old boy who thrilled our senses for the best part of 25 years.

Where in the world, or who in the world can replicate the scenes we saw at Wankhade today, the tears that he brought into the eyes of millions of his fans, commentators and critics from Mumbai to Melbourne, from Dubai to Darwin, from Manchester to Karachi, from the transistor radios of Delhi shantytowns to LED screens of sky-kissing penthouses...This is where the irreplacability of this man, the gravity of his achievements, create an awe in us.

You can hit tons of tons, but earn the respect and admiration of your colleagues, opponents and other contrymen? Just try. That feels like Sachin.

He became much greater than the game itself...not just in India. It's not an IQ 160 scenario to find out where the game is headed in post-Sachin era. Another Sachin won't be born; not in our lifetime. Cricket has lost it's last original class act.

 Cricket will never be the same again; it'll now be a rainbow in B&W.

It is this which makes onedulkar, tondulkar, rundulkar and duckular amalgam into one mighty, little, immortal Tendulkar. Surely the most valuable treasure we are all proud of. The Bharat Ratna of our times. Befitting.

This post has one title, one label, its enough. It's a huge privilege writing about Sachin here, I'm happy you're reading this and as I read the readied-draft I shockingly realise that I've failed appallingly to put my original feelings to words.

Blogs can have infinite words, M/s Google?  The world is not enough.

Monday, February 27

Emotions in Motion Page III

Concluding from Part I and Part II. Unforgettable scenes from movies around the globe, this time from Hollywood and World Cinema.

Film: Once Upon a Time in the West
Year: 1968
Director: Sergio Leonie
Cast: Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson
Scene: The Final Duel. Frank learns about his shadowy, nameless nemesis on his very last breath. The film is being heralded as the finest of the Wild West genres, and many sequences have cult status even after 40+ years.  'Once upon a time in the West' and its peachy scenes are being celebrated like no other. The legendary Ennio Moricone and his groovy background score added to the tense aura of this climactic reel. What more to say, Bollywood's own colossal film Sholay is visibly inspired by this movie, especially the Frank introduction and massacre at the beginning of the film. Pure class.

Film: Pulp Fiction
Year: 1994
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Bruce Willis, Samuel Jackson, John Travolta, Uma Thurman
Scene: The Mia Wallace adrenaline shot scene and build-up. Pulp Fiction is a movie 100% filled by unforgettable characters and legendary scenes. Picking one from this fantastic hip-hop film was quite an effort, but for me the sequence of resuscitating the OD-ing Mia takes the cake. A tense, rip-roaring sequence, absurd at times, but somehow the director managed to load some outrageous humour in the reel, if fact Tarantino has overloaded it with whimsicality. The near-clinical expressions of the characters need special mention, as if it has been a extensively rehearsed scene. Pulp Fiction is one hell of a dark humour-film, without any direct stand-up comedy. Butch, Marcellus Wallace, Pumpkin, Honey Bunny or Vincent Vega, I just can't get enough of PF!

PS: What's it with Pulp Fiction that has made the film a modern epic? I still get my monthly dose of PF on one lazy weekend beer o' clock or late night. I never get tired of it while my wife can't understand what is there in the film that obsesses me. Well? Probably it's a man-thing baby, its a man-thing!

Film: Forrest Gump
Year: 1994
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright
Scene: Forrest meets his son for the first time. Tom Hanks lives the perfect role as Private Gump where he exhibits his surprise of finding out that Jenny is a momma, and the shock that he is the dad, followed by the overwhelming anxiety if his son is smart or "like me" and the incessant relief that he was "one of the smartest kids". The ambiguity on how to approach the situation, the overwhelming emotions taking over and the initial attempt to bond with his offspring, "the most beautiful thing in the world" according to him. Subtle scene, great direction and riveting performance. Forrest Gump is one film you must not miss for any reason.

Film: The Shawshank Redemption
Year: 1994
Director: Frank Darabont
Cast: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman
Scene: Andy earns his first serious points with the vicious Sergeant, on way to the Supt, not to mention his mates. The classic movie, out-winding in the foreground of a captivating Morgan Freeman's (Red) voice-over, celebrates what the essence of  'hope' could do to human spirits, even in the distressing and ruthless stetting of a penitentiary. Andy has a purpose behind every single move he makes, not known to anyone except him, even Red, and unleashing the meticulous plan only in that stormy, uncomfortable night at Shawshank, 20 years after he was convicted. 

Film: The Dark Knight
Year: 2008
Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Christian Dale, Micheal Caine, Heath Ledger
Scene: Joker crashes the mob 'group therapy'. Heath Ledger's unforgettable performance as The Joker was the USP of the Nolan Batman franchise II. Honoured post-humously for the mind-blowing portrayal of arguably the most sinister villains in Hollywood, Heath gave the comic-book character some bold new mannerisms, ruthlessness and coldness. This scene, where the Joker starts off with the 'pencil trick' to lay his cards on the mob table, in their own courtyard, is just a culmination of the evilness Heath could attribute to Nolan's Joker.

Film: Shutter Island
Year: 2010
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo
Scene: The point where Andrew 'snaps'. One of the most disturbing meters of film in World Cinema. The Bipolar Dolores drowns the kids in the lake by the house and waits for Andrew. Andrew's universe collapses around him after seeing the cold, lifeless bodies of his angel-like kids. Andrew loses it, shoots his wife and turns into the monster that he became. 'Shutter Island' goes back from there, though the deep, dark and disturbed labyrinths of Andrew's (Teddy) lost mind and the Psychiatrist's attempt to bring it back to reality from which he was deliberately running away. The kind of mind-f**k movie which warrants more than one viewing to gather all the tangled threads.

Film: Amores Perros (Spanish)
Year: 2000
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Scene: Anticlimax. The 3 threads reach their reel end. El Chivo decides he's had enough, leaves the sinful brothers to their ambiguous fate and returns to the previous self after 20 long years. The transformation is quite remarkable; almost unrecognisable from the wretched image prior to it. In the meantime Octavio waits in futile for Susana who was never going to turn up, and leaves the city probably for the last one time. And as El Chivo departs his squalor, the massive, sexy hoarding of Valeria is being brought down, probably leaving her with the lone faithful companion in life: her dog Richie. This coming-of-age Mexican movie tells the tale of love; that of the treachery of man and the honesty of dogs. In fact dogs play a vital role in all the three threads in the movie. Love's a bitch. Amores Perros.

Film: Amelie (French)
Year: 2001
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Scene: Amelie finds and returns the long-lost childhood collection of 'Bretodeau'. Amelie's search for small pleasures in life reciprocates to her finding 'absolute harmony'. In the backdrop of the fair city of Paris, which is a strong character in the film, Amelie is a whimsical feel-good movie of everything good in life, not of the Utopian category, but of ordinary humans leading extra-ordinarily simple lives. The fast-paced, clippy movie rushes through the virtuous protagonist's search for goodness-rich life which culminates in her finding true love.

The list is potentially unending, and I had to leave out some of my all-time favourite scenes from Inglourious Basterds, An Officer and a Gentleman, Father of the Bride etc. Rest assured, cinema still is the most influential medium of entertainment in the new age just because it's been most successful in realistically portraying and transferring basic human emotions from the stage to our hearts.

Friday, February 10

Angels of a forgotten league

We all know this one thing about Nurses, especially nurses in India. Over-worked, inhumanly underpaid, systematically abused and vulnerable to all kinds of exploitation. Not to mention the constant emotional and physical harassment being meted out by co-workers, superiors, patients, by-standers, passer byes and the society itself as a whole.

Nursing in the democratic Republic of India cuts a sorry saga. Its still in Jurassic era. The femme-oriented profession represents a perfect cross-section of the abject, rural, middle-class Indian woman: enduring, submissive, tolerant, obliging and expected to absorb everything and anything like a super-giant sponge. Even with all the social and financial leaps the nation has made, Nurses in India still shy away or are deliberately kept out of mainstream socio-political advancements.

I'm forced to come out of my short blogging hibernation because of two factors:
  1.  The ongoing nurses agitations and not-so-surprising stories of cruel exploitation dribbling out from various corners of the nation.
  2.  Being a Registered Nurse myself, it's my duty and responsibility to stand up and fight for the vocation which provides me my livelihood.
There is more to it. It's not just the pay-scale, working conditions or the abuse which has appalled me. It was the incessant apathy some sections of society exhibit towards nurses and the profession, even during times of need. Even in this nifty age, large sections of our parochial society still view nurses as pure sex symbols or as easy-to-trod-on defenceless creatures, credits to India's socioculturally hierarchical background and our equally partisan film/ entertainment industry. Personal and professional respect is something the unfortunate, hard-working and extremely loyal nurses in our country never received, or expected.

Kerala has been a torch-bearer in Nursing profession in India, mainly due to Christian-dominated Central Travancore pockets. Easy job opportunities, chances in the affluent Middle-East and the West allured young women with an attitude to care. Over time, with the career graph looking up, the male gender and even sections of Hindu and Muslim societies which once frowned upon the profession, took up the job. Negative stereotype gradually got replaced by an opulent image, though some cliched caricatures still linger.

One aspect which increased the luminosity of the 'white frock', apart from the larger Catholic population, is the America-magnet, which was direct effect of the quality of Nursing education in Kerala. The reference books and curriculum is set cent-percent on Western standards which made that India-to-America transition a hell lot easier. The curriculum, especially the 3 year Diploma and 4 year Bachelor's Degree Course offers a comprehensive syllabus with generous clinical hours, on par with any advanced countries in the West. Precisely why Kerala Nurses are much sought after in the civilised world. But that's where the high standards in Indian Nursing end, unfortunately. I mean, with the curriculum.

Nobody bothers to glance into how well/ ill equipped our state or country is in helping nurses adhere to the Professional Code of Ethics, crucial in maintaining the standard and dignity of the profession. In the unregulated Private sector, a Nurse looks after 20-30 patients in a General ward when she should be handling 10; working hours are a gruelling 12-15 hours with lack of proper breaks, 6 days-a-week rosters, no sick leave or non-existent annual leave allocations, shift allowances are unheard of and a salary which would just about pay the laundry, transport and hairdressing charges. All this, after putting up with unruly administrators, Medical Officers, patients and relatives and an often pathetic infrastructure.

Private Nursing schools and Hospitals view the educational programme and workforce an easy way to save and mint money. Nursing students are substituted for free, quality labour to local hospitals and nursing homes. Students are forced to work hands-on in all Medical and allied Departments rather than attaining the goal of learning their trade. The real torture and exploitation happens when the freshly graduated nurses venture out to practice the job. Most hospitals exploit this free-labour in the name of 'bond' and 'internship' by offering stipends and salaries which range from Rs500-1000/month.

That's what you get for keeping awake all night watching over a living, breathing human? A securityman at the nearby morgue gets 10 times more for snoozing over dead bodies.

Worst of all, in such a female oriented profession, getting pregnant means a frightful prospect of losing the job by childbirth. Most private hospitals in our 'cultured' society does not provide nurses any sort of  Maternity Leave or benefits; and they force the nurses to resign...Oh yes, life isn't fair, isn't it...Endure?

In plain words, this is modern day slavery.

The situation of these selfless women, and men, should've shaken up the pillars of any ethical, democratic society long time back...Well, that's what our society is NOT...Ethical or democratic. Or compassionate.

But in the 'emerging' India hungry for a change, Nurses eventually decided "Enough is enough!" and chose to wage the war themselves.

The first major upheaval which occurred in Asian Heart Hospital, Mumbai, following the suicide of a Staff Nurse, has opened the flood gates for similar onslaught on high-and-mighty managements across the country, including in Kerala. The feeble voices of a scattered, non-unionized females had never scared the fat-cow managements in the past, and some chose to retest their previously successful model of 'intimidation, threatening and abuse'. Some bosses tried 'Quotation gangs' while in Cochin, a luxury 'charity' Hospital run by a prolific 'Godwoman' used their influence to manhandle the striking nurses using the Police!

Befitting a 'God', certainly! Well, when have God ever treated humans in a civilised way, especially the Nurses? Someone said to me Nurses are expected to be like candles, provide love and light by burning itself out. Lest you forget, that the same candle can severely burn your bum.

The strikes in Kerala, this time, have caused more than a flutter among the political and social circles. The iron fist and one-upmanship attempts by the Hospital administrators didn't yield the desired results as the agitation gained widespread public sympathy and support this time.There were funny sides too, the cream of it being the Indian Medical Association (IMA) asking the authorities to enforce ESMA on the strike; IMA is notorious for engaging in lightening strikes and arm-twisting tactics at the drop of a hat!

Perhaps if you look at it in another way, nurses severely missed a strong representative union like the IMA. The one's nurses had, the spineless Trained Nurses Association of India (TNAI) and accreditation bodies like the inefficient and corrupt Indian Nursing Council (INC) are just bad jokes to discuss here. I'm saying nothing more about those pitiable organisations...

The Govt, though reluctant at first, have come out in support of Nurse's agitation. Labour Ministry and the Honourable High Court took a good step forward to ensure that Nurses are paid minimum wages, at least 9000/month, and better leave and working conditions. Opposition Leader VS Achutanandan, social and political leaders, Women's and Youth Organisations and common public en masse stood behind the striking nurses this time.

Anyone who wants to see the bare facts, the Nurses are NOT fighting for a piece of the moon. A decent wage to feed themselves and their kids, safety and security at work, to practice their vocation within set guidelines and to earn their living with dignity and respect.

Who says it's too much?

The only belly-ache was from the greedy hospital administrators who thought they could nakedly violate the Minimum Wages Act (from Labour Dept website) for decades and could get away with it.

Let's think about this. It is a Nurse who receives each and every life born into this world into their arms, who watches over each breath of our near and dear ones at their worst times and who sacrifice their sleep to care for them at wee hours when we're fast asleep under the covers. What justice or culture is it to treat the guardian angels of life in such inhuman ways just because their collective voices didn't have enough dB to be heard over the cling of money? When even a lesser productive Govt clerk with basic education earns 5-digit salary, a fully qualified Nurse is thrown crumbs.

Nurses are inevitable components of any health set up; especially when India struggles to protect the health of Indian women who give birth to our next generation. The more power they're given, the better it is for the society.

We're going through a phase in our history where the oppressed and the subjugates rise...and revolt, bringing down great temples of power. The anti-corruption movement in India, the Arab Spring, the "Occupy" protests...and now the 'Angels' Uprising'. Sometimes we've to believe justice will be served, even if late.

Wednesday, November 23

Emotions in Motion: Page II

Continuing from Part I list which featured a handful of personal favourite scenes from the long lost 'golden age' of Malayalam cinema. Taking a look at the films made outside Malluland, and as I said, films transcend barriers of language, culture and nationality because human emotions are the same everywhere. Apologies for not wandering into Tamil or Bengali film duniya, where I believe more quality films are being made than what our desi-Hollywood churns out. Reason: I don't watch much of them to fill-in a blog post.

Film: Halo
Year: 1996
Director: Santhosh Sivan
Cast: Benaf Dadachanji, Rajkumar Santhoshi
Scene: Sasha finds her Halo after much perseverance, with the whole of Mumbai city lining behind her. But then she encounters something which changes it all. Sasha leaves her puppy behind, the innocence and compassion of her young, brave and kind heart is evident in the closing shot of that honest, painful smile of hers. When Children's Movies are losing relevance in our film industry, Santhosh Sivan's simplistic presentation of a butterfly-esque storyline shows why we need to focus more on kiddies films. As said before, there is nothing like a good film which can touch and influence our lives, and that of our kids.

Film: Dil Chahta Hai
Year: 2001
Director: Farhan Akhtar
Cast: Aamir Khan, Akshay Khanna, Saif Ali Khan, Preity Zinta
Scene: Akash's moment of redemption. This clip summarizes the philosophy of Dil Chahta Hai. Akash, realizing he has been horribly wrong about relationships in life, tries to speak to Sameer to relieve his heavy heart. But his subconscious, overwhelmed by the guilt from his past act against Sid, dials Sid's number instead. The once-obnoxious and  ever-resilient Akash breaks down, feeling terribly lonely and remorseful, realises what he has done, and what he has been missing. Akash flies back home to straighten his broken and tangled ties, also to get back what he knew meant most to him at that point of time: the woman he loves.

PS: Equally riveting is the climactic sequence when the trio meets again in the Hospital. The "just turn around" scene brought tears to the eyes, ironically to the male audiences, a telltale sign of how well connected the movie has been with the 'rougher' sex in exploiting their strange emotional sensitivity, or lack of it?

Film: Kabhi haan kabhi naa
Year: 1993
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Suchitra Krishnamoorthy, Nasseruddin Shah
Scene: Chris's and Anna's wedding scene. Shah Rukh Khan's best performance to date by miles, before his transformation from Shah Rukh Khan to SRK. This feel-good movie against the backdrop of Goa and its culture portrays a class of Bollywood movies which have totally become extinct. Khan's expression from 0.55s to 1.14s proves that the man can indeed act! Ironically, Shah Rukh is the lone character in the film who portrays tinges of negativity in his role amongst a make-merry society pictured in the film.

Film: Munna Bhai MBBS
Year: 2003
Director: Rajkumar Hirani
Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Sunil Dutt, Boman Irani
Scene: Dr. Astana clinically exhumes Munna Prasad Sharma's play-act. This emotionally charged up scene has acclaimed performances from the Dutt family, Boman Irani. Munna Bhai MBBS enters the Bollywood hall-of-fame because the in-charge guys got the script right. The dew-drops of humour always laced within the realms of those reels, even in the draining scene below, made this film an all time hit, which propelled even bigger sequels.

Film: Sholay
Year: 1976
Director: Ramesh Sippy
Csat: Sanjeev Kumar, Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan
Scene: Gabbar Singh's Russian Roulette. It was tough to pick one scene from a reel-full of memorable scenes from Sholay, India's evergreen wonder-movie. Gabbar Singh's intro sequence is picked just for its cold, pulsating, anything-can-happen-anytime feel about it and the ruthless way the villain's psychotic traits are exposed to the audience. Amjad Khan, Amitabh and Sanjeev Kumar's legendary characters and the hip-hop dialogues made Sholay what it is today. The movie itself kicked started a formula in Hindi film industry, a hero-villain-revenge plot, which ruled our screens for decades before the triangle love stories completely took over.

Film: Mr India
Year: 1987
Director: Shekhar Kapoor
Casr: Anil Kapoor, Sreedevi
Scene: Sreedevi's famous wet saree song. All this ado for just a song? Rain-Saree erotica wasn't exhibited for the first time on celluloid but "kaate nahi katte" created a template for sensualitica for Bollywood and other language films. The voluptuous figurine of the super-gorgeous Sreedevi in the plain peacock-blue satin saree skipped many a heartbeats, including yours truly's. (Now you know why this one got 'special' ;-])This bona fide superhero movie featured the late Mr. Amrish Puri as the evil blonde villain Mogambo. His punchline "Mogambo khush hua" still lingers around in our movie reels. RIP Amrish Puri,one of the best 'specialist' villains in Indian Cinema.

Film: Company
Year: 2002
Director: RamGopal Varma
Cast: Ajay Devgan, Vivek Oberoi, Mohanlal
Scene: Malik meets Sreenivasan. Mohanlal illustrates his acting skills in the most meticulous way in the RGV thriller in this short, high-voltage scene. The heavy, uneasy air is cut only by the ridiculous ease with which Mohanlal performed by enacting a real-life character, delivering the dialogues and playing with the paper-weight at the same time (which amazed co-actor Vivek Oberoi) and the cold, fearless character of Malik.

Film: Swades
Year: 2004
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Gayathri Joshi
Scene: The boy with the water-pot at the Railway Station. This is as best and realistic as Bollywood and SRK could get. The suave Jaguar-driving NASA nerd gets to understand the ocean between the privileged and the under-privileged. On way back after aching rendezvous with the outcast, defaulted peasant, Mohan encounters the boy who sells water for 25p on the desolate Railway Station. The scene where the boy counts the pennies he earned while the train leaves him behind has been pretty realistically picturised without the melodrama of Bollywood. AR Rahman's background score adds flavour to the scene.

To be concluded in Part III, and you guessed it right. Odes from my personal collection of World Cinema, not just from Hollywood.

Tuesday, November 1

Santhosh Pandit Phenomenon: Pun Unintended

Our Lord! Condemn us not if we forget or fall into error; our Lord! Lay not on us a burden Like that which Thou didst lay on those before us; Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Blot out our sins, and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. Thou art our Protector.

- The Noble Quran 2:286 

Doordarshan in the early 90's had aired a short but extremely popular satiric comedy series called Flop Show. The extremely well-made show featured Jaspal Bhatti and his characteristic intentional self-mockery. The attributes of the show were evident from the fact that the title credits rolled out under headers "Misdirection", "Over-acting", "Underground Singers", "Hair-Spoiler", "Graphic Defects" and so on.

The individual we're going to read about here has a notable trait of the Jaspal Bhatti show. He has created something which fits perfectly into all those titles Mr.Bhatti had created. Only that the pun here is largely unintended. Yeah,we're going to discuss about the phenomenon, Messrs Santhosh Pandit.

I'm pretty confident that 3.5 crore Malayalees are now familiar with the name 'Santhosh Pandit', who've descended on us via www, grew in stature thanks to the ubiquitous social media, and conquered our Newspapers, News & Entertainment Channels and lastly the cinema theaters, a glowing case-study to what the new-age social media can do to/for you.(Also a case study for Clinical Psychologists and Management students)

In the delirious aftermath of the release of Krishnanum Radhayum and the phenomenal cult-following & theatricality, one begs to answer this riddle: How, why and what the...?

Krishnanum Radhyum is a very amateur 'film' (if you can call you that), from a very very amateuristic wannabe film-maker with an even immature, rare and confusing personality traits, on a shoe-string budget. It's unintentional self-mockery at its best, the art of film-making at its worst.

There is hardly anyone left who hasn't exploited the strange behavioural aspects of this young 'lost' man. The media houses, 'bourgois' film-makers and social media geeks find their own ways to mock and ridicule this avatar, Malayala Manorama taking the matter to pathetic lows. I too plead guilty, for I'm using my blog and Twitter to get some free-thoughts in on this spectacle.

Happened to watch one interview on Reporter Channel the other day. Ironically, Santhosh Pandit managed to shut out even seasoned reporter Nikesh Kumar. Not just Nikesh, all seasoned interviewers and presenters have been overwhelmingly vanquished by the Santhosh Express.

Nevertheless, one thing strikes me: This guy still doesn't get it, does he? I'm certain he'll never get it.

"This film has created a wave  just like 'Subrahmanyapuram' created in TN".

"No one has the right to criticize me. I did 18 works, even Balachandra Menon did only 4-5 works" 

"Current film makers feel threatened by me. They're attempting to create a ruckus by deliberately creating a negative opinion"

Awesome. There lies the basic character of this guy. He is all too confident and proud of his talent, creativity and novelty. The problem is; only he does. Someone said on TV that this is a case of "Narcissistic Personality Disorder". Difficult to argue, there IS evident deviancy.

Saying that, I mean talking about this pride and confidence, these are the same attributes which Ranji Panicker had when he wrote "Praja", Thambi Kannanthanam had when he directed "Onnaman", and Ram Gopal Varma had when he created "RGV ki Aag". I'm not mentioning the quality of the never-ending mega-serials, especially the erstwhile sops from Madhu Mohan, JK, Ananthapuri and co, we were forced to watch before the dawn of Satellite TV. So Santhosh Pandit can be forgiven for feeling good about it. At least he has lived upto his reputation.

An industry which has become some sort of a graveyard for newcomers, Pandit has given role to 100+ newcomers. Although the fact may be that most of them may not be proudly typing Krishnanum Radhayum on their Curriculum Vitae.

I sincerely hope  this won't become a parallel cinema for Malluland. Even if it does, there wont be much degradation in quality. After years of stagnation we're getting to see some new life back in Malluwood. Some seriously fresh themes and actors have come forward to treat the rust slowly evading out industry. Pandit, definitely, is NOT among them but still his success and the debates it kicked off may prompt  some bigwigs to do a self-assessment. Them pointing a finger at Pandit would surely mean the old saying of 3 pointing back at themselves.

Channels and newspapers competed top get this phenomenon aired to improve their TRP and buy a chunk of this internet sensation. In Tamil, a sort of a sensation came and went, called Sam Anderson and his film "Yaarukku Yaaro" which sorta created a benchmark for mock fan following. Nothing as epic as Krishnanum Radhayum though :P

"Yaarukku Yaaro" full film here. (Read disclaimer before clicking the link)

Youth of malluland who thronged the theaters NEVER expected a Dasharadham on screen. This is cartoon, sans the graphics. Call it mock-porn. They've got their 3 hours of non-stop entertainment, don't ask me which way, but still it's full-time enjoyment our mainstream film-makers hardly manage to give us. Let's not talk about the artistic value of the movies we've been receiving in the last one-and-half-decade.

The hard truth is that we're now in a transitional phase where the Gold Standards set by Padmarajan, Lohithadas, MT, Aravindaan, Bharathan have long deserted us, and this is the lowest one could get. We've ceased to make classics, and we can't even create Parody Films mocking the way our Superstars and their 'support' staff get about their job.

Parody Films are serious work of art which sometimes get critical acclaim. They have an intention. Krishnanum Radhayum differs from mainstream parody movies in that it is 'serious'. Except for the comedy scenes, Pandit never for a moment intended mockery, as this has turned out to be. Leave it as it is, but genuine Mockbusters are one area Malluwood ought to explore more to bring some audience interest back. Am I the only one seeing a gold pot here, giving the existing drama and flop-shows going on in the industry?

There has been one "Thamizh Padam" created across the Ghats which won accolades for the way a few new comers dared to mock the contemporary style and theme of film-making.

The one positive out of all this, except for financial success and fame for Santhosh, must be that this may make some serious, talented, original film-lovers 'who know their abilities and limitations', to come forward into out dried out film-scape and hit some random oasis. Parallel film could blossom outside the devilish clutches of a few 'stars' and their cronies. No need to lick the boots of the bigwigs; if you're sure you have it in you, then go for it. At worst, you'll still turn out something much better than Santhosh Pandit. #win-win

Make no mistake about it, many film-makers have turned legends by taking the first step the hard way, without any Godfathers. Christopher Nolan made his first movie 'Following' for a mearge $6000, using the cheaper Black & White reels, working only on weekends when his friends were off work. Nolan learned about film-making for years, carefully planned his debut film by doing most of the works like script, editing & camera. 'Following' was the stepping-stone for Nolan onto movie-magics such as Memento, Dark Knight etc.

If this Pandit phenomenon inspires new talent who're aware of their strengths and weaknesses, to come forward into our industry, then this could be one lone but big positive out of all this.

One thing we need not do is waste more time on our man, he'll continue to 'entertain' us with more tomfoolery. The Internet and social media will do it's job, but when our accredited news channels take up the job to publicly and intentionally mock and insult this man, that is where things cross the mark.

This is a great cause of itch for serious-minded people and film industry experts but that's a general principle: Mayhem in order always gets attention. I've enjoyed every bit of it. Now that the hype is almost over, our 'serious' media houses can gather their thinking hats on and re-assess weather this passing shower needs more coverage.

 All because his tagline appears to be:

"Love me or hate me, you just can't ignore me!"


Tuesday, September 20

Emotions in motion: Page I

Exceptional creations of art have one feature in common: they stand the test of time. Their beauty and value multiplies over time, providing sheer delight to those who can appreciate the finesse. Movies touch our lives like no other medium of entertainment; the tales and emotions packed into those reels cut a chord with the real life of the audience. I present my personal choice of a few highly artistic moments from some unforgettable movies in Malayalam language over the past few decades which still continue to touch and thrill our senses.

Film: Namukku parkkan munthirithoppukal
Year: 1986
Director: Padmarajan
Cast: Mohanlal, Thilakan, Shaari
Scene: Climax. Solomon returns for Sofia. He honks twice but Sofia doesn't come out as promised. Solomon breaks into the property, anticipating the scuffle with Sofia's evil step-dad, who has already violated Sofia and has no better plans for Solomon. But Solomon overwhelms the man and carries his girl away. The lorry, which is a strong, persistent character in the movie, disappears into the hazy-dark dawn taking the couple to their vineyard haven where Solomon has promised his love for Sofia. Unforgettable finale to the most charismatic love story ever told in Malayalam.

NB: Padmarajan, apparently, was a touch sceptical about how the audience would receive the climax where the hero goes off with a despoiled woman. Cameraman Venu, who ferociously argued in favour of it said he wouldn't be doing the movie if the climax was altered. Pappettan had to succumb!

Film: Thoovanathumbikal
Year: 1987
Direcotr: Padmarajan
Cast: Mohanlal, Sumalatha
Scene: Climax. Clara agrees to see Jayan one last time. Neglecting his fiancee's (Radha) staunch warning, he goes to the Railway Station to bid adieu to the woman who taught him the first lessons in love, subconsciously relegating his guilt for causing her lose her virginity. Jayan and Clara meets and parts, being anxiously watched by Radha from a distance. Padmarajan wove this sensitive and explosive theme so aesthetically that Thoovanathumbikal is still very much a family film; no stigma attached. We miss you Pappetta!

Film: Innale
Year: 1989
Director: Padmarajan
Cast: Shobhana, Jayaram, Suresh Gopi
Scene: Climax: Suresh Gopi's heart-wrenching cameo stole the show. Narendran comes in search for 'Maya', something Appu always feared deep down his heart. Maya welcomes Narendran into the house, not knowing he is her husband from the 'erased' past. Appu senses that he may lose Maya, steals some time off during the meeting to share some intimate moments with her. A heart-broken Narendran leaves without revealing the truth, accepting that he has no presence in her present. Title credits roll on as the car leaves the meadows obliterating the last possible connection from Maya's long lost past.

Film: Nokkethadoorathu Kannum nattu
Year: 1984
Director: Fazil
Cast: Padmini, Nadia Moythu, Mohanlal
Scene: Climax: Kunjoonjamma drugs Girlie to sleep, her final few moments in that house. She is taken away by the Ambulance personnel as Sreekumar brings her belongings down. Mohanlal shows his brilliance in that short sequence but its about Padmini's Kunjoojamma all the way. This sequence was devoid of Fazil's occasional burst of melodrama which did enhance the melancholic scene but the climax is an outright winner. Girlie is carried away to meet her almost certain fate but Kunjoojamma fixes the call bell back on the portico hoping that someday Girlie will return to use it.

Film: Manichitrathazhu
Year: 1993
Director: Fazil
Cast: Shobhana, Suresh Gopi, Mohanlal
Scene: Ganga transforms into Nagavalli. Egged on by Dr. Sunny, Nakulan approaches Ganga, still not convinced about his wife's severe and dangerous psychiatric condition. Nakulan enacts the pre-written script to intimidate Ganga into revealing her darker twin-personae much to his astonishment. This National Award winning performance by Shobhana is backed up by the superlative dubbing by Bhagyalakshmi and exceptional screenplay and direction.

Film: Oru Vadakkan Veeragadha
Year: 1989
Director: Hariharan
Cast: Mammooty, Suresh Gopi, Madhavi
Scene: The end of Chathiyan Chandu. Mammooty's National Award winning performance provides impossible perfection to a once-in-a-lifetime MT script. The impeccable portrait of Chandu and exceptional dialogue delivery by Mammooty have made this movie a timeless masterpiece.

Film: Kireedam
Year: 1989
Director: Sibi Malayil
Cast: Mohanlal, Thilakan
Scene: The making of Sethumadhavan. Mohanlal's portrait of an unforgettable Lohitadas's character gave rise to one of the most emotionally draining climaxes ever in Malayalam film history. The film and character had been so popular that it was remade into many languages but none could match the way Lal gave life to the volatile and tragic metamorphosis of Sethumadavan.

Film: Sandesham
Year: 1991
Director: Satyan Anthikkad
Cast: Thilakan, Jayaram, Sreenivasan
Scene: The famous 'Poland' scene. A mirror to contemporary Kerala political situation, this extremely simplified and satiric classic is increasingly becoming relevant, food for thought even during present times. Sreenivasan's best script to date, Sandesham's social angles and philosophies join to scribble a rejoinder to the severely marginalized and mostly concurrent Kerala political scenario.Talk about realistic movies with a strong message!

Films transcend the barriers of language and culture in depicting and exploring human emotions and behaviour. Part II of this post will feature my favourite scenes from beyond Malayalam and Indian cinema.


Monday, August 15

Independence Day Greetings!

The lady we love most is 64 today!

Still she is young, exuberant, poignant and versatile. Young, though she has a proud, priceless tradition of over a thousand years, but the aura of spiritual enlightenment still keeps in check the values she beholds when the new era surges at breakneck speed.

At 64, curiously, she exhibits the issues of an adolescent teenager than a world-wise mother. Blame it on the years preceding the 64, if you like, but past seldom solves today's issues.

At 64, the caricature is different from different angles...These snapshots if made into a collage may present us with a frozen-frame-in-time of the present day India.

with astounding cultural and traditional heritage

with the uncanny ability to spring back instantly from cruel, sleazy back-stabbings

the citizens, whose knowledge and skills are much valued at home and abroad

and whose ideas and achievements make us proud like no other

but yet can't dismantle the concretely set stereotypes of self

whose problems are much more than a handful of individuals

fuelled by an excruciatingly ineffective, uninspirational, uncharacteristic leadership

where no pillars of democracy have so far been effective in taming the menace

where solutions themselves become bigger problems

But we have faces which could hide any tears behind those radiant eyes and honest hearts

and people who could inspire millions, if not billions..and nations and continents

to keep the spirit of this nation afloat in viscous, non-buoyant waters

As long as there's HOPE left in Pandora's box, we will keep smiling

and we will rejoice that August 15th 1947 happened!