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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Bharat Bandh: Closure for whom?

Do we need to say that we don't support a Bandh?

The Opposition has called for a nationwide bandh on Nov 28, 2016 to protest against Demonetisation under the garb that it is trying to protect the interests of the common man. 

In principle, the majority of us do support the Demonetisation drive. The small percentage that disagree, do so because of primarily two reasons. One, that they do not trust the motive behind this cleanup process and secondly, they find the execution of the plan very messy. 

Let us ponder over the issues. The Government had in its agenda promised to fight black money. We had taken it for granted that it was an uphill and improbable task which would never be accomplished and would die down till the next general elections. But, just midway into its term, the Govt has shown nerves of steel and proved most of us wrong. "But what about the the stores of money stashed abroad?", we wonder aloud. That too, doesn't seem to be a distant dream. Come 2019, Swiss banks have promised to share invaluable data with the Indian Govt. 
Do we still distrust the Govt? 

When we revamp or clean our homes, isn't there a mess? Don't we get irritated at the temporary inconvenience? But, we look forward to the days ahead and silently bear the trauma. Here, we are not looking at days, but years forward. Do I need to say anything more? 

The common man has never supported a bandh because it always has been a loss to him and his country. In such times when trades are trying to claw their way back, this call could just set them back yet again. Bandhs have always been called to gain political mileage. Let's carry on with our schedules and select another day to holiday and party. Nay I say more? 

- A simplistic reasoning from the desk of a common man….

Friday, July 31, 2015

Drishyam: Visuals may be deceptive.

Drishyam, a Bollywood adaptation of a blockbuster Malayalam movie, is a story of Vijay Salgaonkar (Ajay Devgn) who runs a cable business, his wife, Anu (Ishita Dutta) and two daughters.


The family gets embroiled in a murder when the son of the Inspector General is killed while attempting to blackmail them. It is now upto Vijay to protect all the members from the cops. 

The IG is played by Tabu and Rajat Kapoor is the helpless father. 

The first half of the movie lacks pace, but the impetus is provided by Tabu in the latter half. Though the audience is kept interested throughout the film by director, Nishikant Kamat, the mystery element and the thrills are lacking. Ajay Devgn and Tabu usually come up with power packed performances, but here their roles are quite restrained. Except for a few guffaws, humor and music is non existent. 

This two and a half hour potboiler lacks steam to get the audience to the theaters. 

Rating: 2.5

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Masaan: Quality cinema

Masaan, a colloquial word in Banaras for a cremation ground, follows four characters whose lives are connected by the Ganga. Vicky Kaushal, Richa Chadda, Shweta Tripathi, Sanjay Mishra and Pankaj Tripathi lead the cast. 

The plot revolves around two stories that run parallel along the banks of the Ganges. 
1⃣A sexual escapade in a dingy hotel room goes wrong when the couple is caught in the act by the cops. A tragedy follows, which affects the lives of all the people involved in the mess. 

2⃣A young couple, fresh in love, court around irrespective of their caste status, till tragedy strikes. 

The film is all about how one copes with these personal tragedies, fights with one's own demons and moves on in life. 

A storyline which is simple at heart, without the fancy locales, lacking the routine Bollywood masala, but highly endearing. 
Richa Chadda as the damsel in distress is very convincing. Sanjai Mishra, as the father who has to undergo all the duress because of his daughters misdeeds comes up with a superlative performance. He sure is a highly underrated actor. Vicky Kaushal and Shweta Tripathi as the love birds strike us with their innocence. 
The film however belongs to the debutant director, Neeraj Ghaywan who left his job as an Engineer with MBA to pursue his passion in film direction. The sequences, where the urchins dive in the river to fish out coins and when the male protagonist breaks down in front of his friends, are crisply directed. 

The background score that takes you across Sangam lingers on. 

It was surprising to see a foreigner couple at the theater for this movie, but the English subtitles and the response this film generated at Cannes probably explained it. 

Accolades coming from Mrs Shabana Azmi, the queen of non mainstream cinema says it all. 

Recommended audience: Couples. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Bajrangi Bhaijaan: Don't think anybody would miss.

Come Eid, come Salman. This has become  the norm since the last few years. Unchallenged till date, our Bhaijaan has almost always ruled the Box Office. Eid 2016, however promises to be a different game with the Badshaah  threatening to tread into Salman's territory. 

Pawan Kumar Chaturvedi fondly called Bajrangi, as his name suggests is a true Hanuman devotee. He happens to stumble upon a 6 year old mute girl who seems to have separated from her parents and is unable to trace back her residence. His love, Rasika, is his motivation to help the girl reunite with her parents in Pakistan. 
Once Pawan decides that he has to take her across the border, there is no stopping him. Chand Nawaz, a media reporter,  is his only support in the foreign country. Will our Bhai succeed in his mission? 
Pawan Kumar as played by our Sallu endears straight away to our hearts. He doesn't get to showcase his Salmanisms here but he gets us high on the emotional quotient. His lady love played by Kareena Kapoor Khan has a significant role in the first half of the movie but is replaced by  Nawazzuddin Siddiqui, the reporter in the second half. 
Harshaali Malhotra, as the Pakistani girl is superb. 
The music is good for a few numbers including the "Selfie le le" and the Adnan Sami song. 
The script has numerous flaws but all said and done, a year is not complete without watching a Salman starrer. 

Just go for it!!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Save our Souls: The Quake Aftermath

Whenever an earthquake or tsunami takes thousands of innocent lives, a shocked world talks of little else. 

In the wake of the massive disaster wreaked by nature on our Mother Earth, let us unearth a controversy that has probably skipped our attention. 

With Nepal and its surrounding cities, still reeling under the aftershocks of the 7.9 richter quake, let's start preparing ourselves as to what are the best ways to escape injury and death in case a similar fury strikes us. 

"Drop, cover, and hold under a table or desk" has been the gold standard recommendation, according to the American Red Cross. 

Mr. Doug Copp, the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of American Rescue Team International (a private company not affiliated with the U.S. Government or other agency), has however challenged this dictum.

In his article, "Triangle of Life", he clearly states, that when buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings falling upon the objects or furniture inside crushes them. However, it leaves a space or void next to them - NOT under them. This space is what is called the 'triangle of life'. The larger the object, the stronger, the less it will compact. The less the object compacts, the larger the void, the greater the probability that the person who is using this void for safety will not be injured. 

1. Everyone who simply 'ducks and covers' under objects like desks, beds, sofas or cars when buildings collapse are crushed to death. The safest bet would be to lie next to these objects, not under them.

2.Curl up in a fetal position since chances of survival are more in a smaller void. 

3. If you are in bed when earthquake strikes, just roll off the bed and lie down on the floor next to it. 

4. Stay away from the doorways and avoid taking the stairs. 

The American Red Cross has strongly refuted these observations made by Doug. 
"These recommendations are inaccurate for application in the United States and inconsistent with information developed through earthquake research. Mr. Copp based his statements on observations of damage to buildings after an earthquake in Turkey", they have retorted. "Building construction standards, techniques, engineering principles, and construction materials in Turkey and the United States are incomparable", they further say.

In fact the Red Cross advises against moving out of bed for fear of causing damage to oneself by the debris on the floor. Also, trying to escape during the shaking of earthquake could be far more dangerous especially if the distance is long since there is always a risk of tripping and getting injured by broken floors, walls and objects in the path of escape. 

The debate could rage on and on. However, it would be wise to conclude it on this note that since very few buildings collapse or "pancake" in the U.S. as they might do in other countries, the Red Cross recommendation - "Drop, Cover, and Hold On"; are best suited for the developed nations whose infrastructure is similar to the U.S. and the "Triangle of Life" may indeed be the best thing to teach in other lesser developed countries where the risk of building collapse, even in moderate earthquakes, is great.

A famous English author once quoted, "I got quite annoyed after the Haiti earthquake. A baby was taken from the wreckage and people said it was a miracle. It would have been a miracle had God stopped the earthquake. More wonderful was that a load of evolved monkeys got together to save the life of a child that wasn't theirs."

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Travails of the Common Man

At the outset, I would like to clarify that I am a non political, non bureaucratic and non religious person. I am just a Common Man

A middle class citizen of India who has for long been driven by other outside forces. I have been living in a country where religious tolerance has always been questioned. As a top U.S. Leader very recently quipped, " India will succeed so long as it is not splintered on religious lines.”

I have been working  in a country where rules are made to be broken. Where if a law is made, also made are tens of ways to safely bypass that law. I am in a country where the highest national awards

are bestowed upon Godmen and politicians responsible for creating communal rifts. I have received my education here where our books abound with sacrifice stories of freedom fighters. That has instilled a sense of patriotism and love for my nation. This has always deterred me from exploring avenues abroad. Over a period of time, this feeling seems to be dwindling. A sense of frustration now seems to be creeping in. Corruption, lawlessness, lack of education, religious disharmony and poor etiquettes have all become so deeply embedded in our systems that it has become virtually impossible to get rid of them. 
In the modern-day world, where time is premium and battle for subsistence is unimaginably tough, the hapless common man simply gives in and pays the bribe just to get on with life. He has lost hope and seems all but buried. He has been driving himself at the behest of others, striving to make ends meet, and following a religion which his ancestors have been following. 
He has now decided enough is enough. He has only two options left. Either he begins a revolutionary movement or he gives up his life as a coward.

Suddenly, things seemed to be improving. The grass looked greener on this side. The clouds had reduced their gloom over the sky. The birds were chirping much more than before. The common man had won the general elections in the capital city of this country. It was a victory of the masses. A victory of the people. It had been a coup of sorts where the ruling party was overthrown and a single person had emerged a winner in this bout - the Common Man. The locals were out on the streets celebrating.

The champagne was uncorked,  and the ale was flowing. And why not. Every Indian at this juncture wished to be a part of the celebration, a part of this movement. Everyone hoped that this victory would replicate itself in their state and city." Was this the beginning of the revolution that we had been long waiting for? " The question seemed to cross every Indian's mind. It was a sort of déjà vu for the oldies. They were reminded yet again of the freedom struggle that they had witnessed against the Britishers. This conquest had now given a ray of hope to every Indian that all was not lost.  

The media was abuzz the next day with reports as to how the fort was conquered, whether a recipe for success could ever be charted or not and how the common man's woes would be over soon. Amid all this, the ruling party was working overtime to provide explanations for its dismal show. It had failed to anticipate a defeat of this magnitude.

Then came the turnaround. The next few hours saw a plethora of newsfeeds making a mockery of the triumph. While some said that the election results were fixed, some dubbed it as a deliberate walkover given by the ruling party to shift the media attention away from its inadequacies.

So? What is the truth? Nobody will ever be able to tell. But what everyone knows for sure is that the one to suffer yet again is the Common Man. The promises abound. But will they deliver? Or will the Common Man have to continue his endless wait? Life has to move on for him....

"God must love the common man. He made so many of them."

'Honge kaamyaab, honge kaamyaab
hum honge kaamyaab ek din.
ho ho mann main hai vishwas
poora hai vishwas
hum honge kaamyaab ek din.'

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Cough Etiquette: Does that exist?

It’s winter and the respiratory ailments are here again. 
Colds and flu have the ability to spread easily via the transmission of the germs through the air, carried on droplets.

If dispersal of these droplets can be prevented then infection transmission can be reduced. Cough etiquette can help to contain infectious respiratory droplets at the source.

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

    A cloth handkerchief can act as a breeding ground for the germs that are causing the infection. Carrying a used handkerchief around when you are sick may spread your germs.

  • If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.

  • Turn away from other people when coughing/sneezing.

  • Put your used tissue in a waste basket.

  • Try to keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth.

  • Remember to wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after coughing or sneezing.

  • Help to prevent spread of infection by using face masks when sick.

  • Keep safe distance of at least 3 feet from others when sitting in common public areas.

Love and a cough cannot be hid.