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Ratheesh KrishnaVadhyar's Journal

Ratheesh KrishnaVadhyar's Journal -

Last Build Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2017 02:49:05 GMT


Water Worries

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 02:49:05 GMT

Summer is just starting now, but bore wells have all already started drying out and I guess this year Bangalore is going to face the worst Water Crisis in recent times. In spite of taking huge property taxes and even advance payments and deposits from the residents for BWSSB water supply, the pathetic Karnataka Government hasn't been able to extend water pipelines to many parts of the city. The pipelines in fact have reached till just a few hundred meters away from the place where we live, but the authorities are saying that we will have to financially sponsor the laying of extension pipelines from the current endpoint to our area in case we need water! However, there is no guarantee that we would get a drop of water even if we spend money for the pipelines, as the situation of Cauvery water availability is overall grim anyways.

Water has become like a luxury material now, and even the tankers supplying water from faraway places are not able to get enough supply, even though consumers are ready to pay higher amounts than usual. Near my home, at least 10000 apartments are nearing completion in the coming few months, and construction work by some more builders have started, just adjacent to a lake-bed, making mockery on the order by National Green Tribunal. I am not sure what is going to happen when people start living in these apartments and would need another couple of millions of liters of water every day.

Lakes are frothing with chemicals, Stench from compost processing plants setup in the middle of the city have become a part of the landscape.. and when all this is going on, the Government, which is not even able to provide basic necessities to its people, is working on crazy proposals like steel flyovers and what not!

Perhaps my age is making me rant on very pessimistic lines, but I am now getting seriously skeptical about the future of our species beyond probably a couple of centuries. There are types of animals like river dolphins which had survived multiple cataclysmic events over a span of millions of years, but Man managed to make them extinct by just a couple of decades of industrialization. How will our future be after a hundred years, if the current political and government systems continue as they are? I earn a living working for a company that takes pride in being "environmentally conscious". But beneath those colorful banners advertising the "green initiatives", the reality remains that the company is hoping to monetize by various means Man's laziness and craze for fancy means for convenience - by filling the world with sensor devices to do funny things like operating the toilet flush by staring at them, to give an example.

I think the current school eduction system needs radical changes to give primary emphasis on creating consciousness about the state of our planet, rather than on generation of more batches of potential IT professionals prepared for the so-called "competitive world". It is likely that the coming few generations of humans would be the last ones which would have realistic chances to initiate changes to reverse the current trends.

Aliyan Vs Aliyan

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 09:07:47 GMT

I enjoy watching the Aliyan Vs Aliyan comedy serial coming on Amrita TV channel. The serial portrays the rivalries between two Aliyans and their families, living in two separate portions of a single house. Most of the actors from the Marimayam serial act in this serial too, and their humorous performances often reminded me of veteran actor Jagathi.

Pa Va

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 08:30:13 GMT

Watched Pa Va, a Malayalam film with Murali Gopi (Pappan) and Anoop Menon (Varkey) in lead roles playing as two old men, who have been close friends since their childhood. Varkey passes away, only to come back to Pappan as ghostly visions and continue their friendly conversations. They talk about the girl both of them had fallen for when they were young (the events are shown briefly over a sweet song). The girl could never reveal if she was also in love with any of the two friends, as she was enrolled in the catholic convent by her family, and she fell sick and died soon after. The two friends had moved on from there and grown up to become very rich men. Varkey had a craze for collecting antiques, and his ghost now wants Pappan's help to acquire the most precious antique he could hope for - the old diary of the girl with whom they were perennially in love.

I think the basic story thread of Pa Va was very promising and had potentials to make an excellent film. But it looks like director Sooraj Tom wanted to make just a light hearted comedy based on it, and the result is a very mediocre film. However, considering that this is his first film, I think he deserves some appreciation. The parallel thread in the film showing Varkey's efforts to persuade Pappan to go back to his roots and shift his edavaka to his native place, and the impact of this decision on the local church and its priest (brilliantly played by P Balachandran in his characteristic style), adds some humor to the narrative.

Angamaly Diaries

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 16:41:39 GMT

Angamaly Diaries, Malayalam film directed by Lijo Jose Pellissery, portrays the rivalries between to "gangs" in the background of the town of Angamaly. One "gang" consists of mostly youngsters, lead by the main character of the movie named Pepe who is also the narrator of the story - They were friends from childhood and had derived inspirations from the previous generation of local goondas, who used to gather trophies from all the football matches they played, even by snatching them from the real winners, if needed!

Actor Chemban Vinod Jose has written the script for Angamaly Diaries, and he does a brief guest role in a few-seconds long scene of the film. The film has 86 newcomers in it, and I guess, other than Chemban, there is not a single person in the film who has come on screen before. Though the story or script doesn't have much to boast of, Lijo's directorial skills stand out in this film, and it is amazing to see him derive excellent performance from these newcomers, who all seem to be living in their roles. There is a kind of rawness to the narrative style, with a tinge of of dark humor that is typical of the director, the camera work and background music are excellent, and the editing is crisp. Though the events in the story are somewhat predictable and mundane, Lijo's fast-paced and entertaining narrative style makes us feel engaged in the happenings.

Though I liked Lijo's efforts and can say that Angamaly Diaries is a unique Malayalam film, I cant say that it is such a touching or memorable film that I would want to watch once again. A lot of emphasis has been given on the eating habits of Angamaly through those recurring scenes of butchering, cutting and cooking of pork-meat, which I suppose was meant as something to be looked at from the aspect of fun. There are many detailed picturizations of scenes of fights as well (which are done in a very realistic way, and reminded me of Uriyadi, a Tamil movie which I had watched recently). I wish that a percentage of that focus was reallocated to develop the main characters a bit more, at least that of Pepe, to show the finer sensibilities in them - For example, It would be apparent to any person watching the movie that the character Lichi has a crush on Lijo all the way. But Pepe seems to be completely oblivious of it until she tells him in the end, but once he knows of it, he readily accepts it. Even though Pepe has been narrating the story all the while, somehow I never got a feeling of getting to know him closely. I think a bit more attention on some of the finer aspects of characterization would have taken the movie to a different level.

Winter Sleep

Sat, 18 Mar 2017 11:40:59 GMT

Turkish film Winter Sleep, directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, is set in Cappadocia region. We see the landscape changing through various seasons in the movie - The small hills and barren plains that dominate in the beginning of the film, are completely covered with snow in the second half. While these transformers are shown in the background, the film focuses on its characters - The wealthy, aging hotel owner who was once a stage actor and now a column writer in a local magazine, his young wife who takes great interest in philanthropy, his sister who is a divorcee, members of a poor family who are his tenants, and a few other people with whom he happens to interact.

The narrative mostly contains one to one conversations between various characters. Through these lengthy conversations, the director portrays various forms of conflicts - the rich versus poor, the husband versus wife, and so on. The performances are brilliant, and the remarkable film has made me look for other movies made by the director.


Sun, 12 Mar 2017 03:39:42 GMT

Pranay Lal's book Indica narrates the natural history of the geographical area of Indian subcontinent, from the days earth was formed, till the evolution of Homo Sapiens. The author has written this book based on extensive geological and paleontological research that has been done so far, and he tries to connect various findings in order to narrate the story of the subcontinent in a linear form. Though the main subject is the Indian subcontinent, the story cannot be told in a disconnected way; so it narrates the formation of earth and its geographical structures, and the evolution and extinction of various species of earth in general, over several billions of years, with a special focus given on India.

Brilliantly written and informative, the book can be read by people like me who don't have much of a deep scientific background regarding the topic, but want to get a high level glimpse of the whole thing in a condensed form, and it gives the right perspective regarding placement of Man in the larger scheme of things. The book is beautifully published, with several color illustrations and photographs.

Hacksaw Ridge

Sat, 11 Mar 2017 15:12:43 GMT

Watched Hacksaw Ridge, based on real life story of Desmond Doss, who served as a medic in the US army during World War II. Adhering to his principles and religious beliefs, Desmond Doss refuses to touch a weapon even though he volunteers to join the Army. Even though he is ridiculed by his colleagues and superiors during the training period, Doss surprises everyone during US operations in Japan by single-handedly rescuing several wounded soldiers, putting his own life at risk throughout his adventures.

There are several horrifyingly realistic visuals in the war scenes of Hacksaw Ridge. Though the film would make us appreciate the real life hero, I felt that the film as such is neither as gripping and moving as other famous war films like Saving Private Ryan, nor is it an all-round cinematic experience as The Thin Red Line.

Ozhivudivasathe Kali

Wed, 08 Mar 2017 14:39:15 GMT

Kerala State award winning Malayalam film Ozhivudivasathe Kali, directed by Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, narrates the events during an Election holiday, when a group of friends get together at a guest house in a remote area, to have some drinks, fresh chicken curry, kappa puzhukku and some time-pass. In the beginning, the event goes as planned, with the discovery of an unripe jackfruit from an adjacent farm adding one more dish to the lunch menu. However, after getting drunk, the friends start discussions on politics and various other social issues, and it becomes apparent that not everything is fine between the friends. They go through ego-clashes, fight with each other, patch up again, and finally play a "game" in the climax.

Through the game, the director shows the way one among the guys, possibly from a Dalit community, is "taken for granted" and oppressed by his friends, even by those who were projected to be having a "progressive outlook" during their earlier conversations. I felt that these scenes were very over-stretched; While I could appreciate the director's efforts to make a "serious" film with different narrative style, I felt that the eagerness to make a very explicit political statement through the climax scene considerably diminished the artistic quality of the film.

Planet Earth II

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 07:49:24 GMT

I watched the six episodes of Planet Earth II, nature documentary series from BBC. Titled as Islands, Mountains, Forests, Deserts, Grasslands and Cities, the series focuses on how animals adapt to the changing environments, how they prey on, and how the preys manage to escape.

It was a very memorable experience watching this series which is amazingly picturized, and we get to see some of the places and animals on earth which probably have never been videographed before.

The Red Turtle

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 11:09:16 GMT

The Red Turtle, a dialogue-less animation film from Studio Ghibli, tells the story of a castaway man in an island.

I liked the film for its brilliant images - The way the film portrays the storms in an ocean, approaching rains in a bamboo forest, a group of young turtles entering the sea in batches - there are many scenes that are remarkable for their brilliantly painted frames and accompanying background music. Apart from the images, the narrative of the film, showing the relationship between the man and a "turtle-woman", as he passes the rest of his life in the island, has elements that would make us ponder over Life in general.


Sun, 12 Feb 2017 14:45:10 GMT

Watched the Kannada film Kendasampige, and liked it. Narrating the adventures of two lovers as they are trapped in a fabricated police case, the road thriller is an engaging watch.


Fri, 10 Feb 2017 07:56:52 GMT

It looks natural that in the Indian state in which Politics and Cinema have been the most inseparable fields for decades, the political events are unraveling as a comedy thriller.

The updates from Tamil Nadu show the rotten and pathetic state to which Indian Politics has fallen. The level of sycophancy, corruption and hypocrisy have come out all in open without any camouflage.

Jayalalithaa "ruled" the state for years, theoretically standing within the framework of constitution and democratic processes, but at the same time having all the "look and feel" of an empress from 19th century. The moment she dies, the same people who used to prostrate in front of her whenever they got a chance and were ready to openly state that they are her "slaves", jump in to grab her seat and properties, and define newer and newer levels of depths.


Wed, 08 Feb 2017 03:20:54 GMT

Recently only I got a chance to watch the critically acclaimed "crowd-funded" Kannada film, Lucyia (2013).

The non-linear narrative of the film takes us through the life of a youngster named Nikki, who is working in an old cinema theater. He gets a bottle of "dream pills" in his hand, called Luciya, which will help him have beautiful dreams. In his dreams, Nikki is a successful film actor named Nikhil, and the characters in his real life make an appearance in his dream life too. Soon, it becomes unclear whether the real life that is shown is really his dream or not.

I think the film has an interesting concept. The editing works are good, and overall it was a good watch.

Two Hindi movies

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 03:59:31 GMT

Watched two interesting Hindi movies this week.

I liked Pink, an engaging court room drama that addresses some very relevant questions regarding the ways women are perceived in the society. It has got some excellent performances by all the actors.

Dear Zindagi, set in colorful locales and beautifully picturized, is about how a girl named Kaira (Alia Bhatt) finds it difficult to have longstanding relationships with her boyfriends, and how a psychologist (Shah Rukh Khan) helps her to root-cause her problems to the feelings of being abandoned by her parents during childhood. The film is well-intentioned and is filled with "one liner wisdoms" which one can expect from such feel-good category of Bollywood films. It was also good to see Shah Rukh Khan acting normally, without his usual shivering and eye-brow gimmicks. However, the failure of the film was in the portrayal of the main character, Kaira, as a completely spoiled girl - in fact Alia Bhatt plays the role in the same way she had played her earlier roles in films like Highway and Kapoor & Sons. It was difficult for me to feel any sympathy for her character in the movie, though overall it was still a watchable film.

MS Dhoni - The Untold Story

Sun, 08 Jan 2017 14:41:07 GMT

Watched MS Dhoni - The Untold Story, biopic on MS Dhoni directed by Neeraj Pandey.

MS Dhoni came from a middle class background, and grew up to become one of the most successful and respected captains of the Indian cricket team. Indeed, his life story might be having potentials to make an inspiring film, but I found Neeraj Pandey's work to be strictly mediocre, one that at times looks to be dull and directionless - a biopic made just for the sake of it.

The first hour of the film is relatively better, as it shows Dhoni's schooldays and early cricketing career. We see Dhoni's skeptical father preferring his son to focus on his studies and earn a "secure Government job", but reluctantly agreeing to him pursuing interests in sports, Dhoni getting encouragement from his coaches and group of friends, finishing school exams faster to reach his cricket coaching classes, his friends struggling to drive him to the airport so that he can reach for a match on time, etc. Indeed, there is nothing that would make the viewers feel as "really extraordinary" in these "struggles", and Dhoni's dilemmas in choosing between his work and passion, are also something that most of the people might have experienced at varying degrees, some point of time in their lives. Nevertheless, the narration of these parts is done reasonably well by the director.

The film looses focus slowly. We see Dhoni's romantic experiences, which are narrated not very differently from typical Bollywood films, and a few scenes in which Dhoni meets his old friends and well-wishers after becoming successful. Indeed, there are scenes of cricket - Dhoni's batting displays, followed by series of closeup expressions of his parents, relatives and friends who watch the matches on television; but I could never feel that there was anything "Untold" in this story, or if it was worth telling this story at all.

Organic Manure

Sun, 01 Jan 2017 14:51:27 GMT

Last week I had bought some "organic manure" from a temple at Jayanagar, which they said was made out of kitchen waste and dry leaves in the temple premises. While applying the manure to plants, I noticed that there are numerous tiny shreds of plastic in the manure - like pieces of a biscuit packet, bubble wrap, a small chunk of thermocol, and so on. I thought of various methods to get rid of these, like pouring water over the manure kept in a bucket, etc., but could not find anything that is foolproof and easy.

A few weeks back, I had attended a small workshop at Bhoomi College, where I observed them making manure in a large scale. Dry leaves are a key ingredients for this process. They get these leaves from their campus itself, or from other places. And if we look into the piles of leaves they have accumulated there, we can always see several plastic things - chips packets, toffee-wrappers, etc. - It is not unexpected, but it is such a tedious job to remove these things before adding the leaves to the compost system. And we can never be 100% sure of making the compost plastic-free.

At our home, we make compost out of our kitchen waste. Not more than a small bucket of waste is generated each day, so it is not so difficult for me to take some extra care to remove all sort of plastic or non-decomposable things from the waste before dumping it in the composter; But after a few months when we take out the mature compost for gardening, I always end up seeing something or the other which had escaped me - like a sticker on the apple skin, for example.

It is scary to see plastic becoming such an integral and unavoidable part of our lives, even at a micro level.

Reaping the Fruits!

Fri, 30 Dec 2016 15:07:21 GMT

"I have worked really hard to make this party, what was their role in this? I work hard and they reap the fruits?"

After expelling his son from party, it seems Samajwadi Party Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav made such a comment, and it looked amusing to me. It is good to see a supposedly "national leader", who was being projected as a "PM candidate" at one point of time, openly stating that Politics is all about working hard and reaping the "fruits" for ourselves.


Fri, 30 Dec 2016 13:55:28 GMT

We had a short vacation in Kerala. One day was spent on visit to Guruvayoor temple, where I was going after a long time. We had to spend around 6 hours in the queue for darshanam! Thankfully the people were all very patient and there was no pushing or anything in the queue.

Watched two movies during the trip. Kattappanayile Rithwik Roshan, directed by Nadirshah, was an enjoyable time-pass comedy film with some humorous performances by Dharmajan and Vishnu (who has scripted the film as well), and I liked the clever use of film music from old Malayalam movies as background for some scenes (like the way the Pramadavanam song was used in the scene of a school examination).

Dangal is one of the finest Bollywood films I watched in recent times, and I think it would be the finest from Aamir Khan so far. The first half of the film focuses on the way the the aging wrestler (Aamir Khan) tries to fulfill his dreams through his daughters, by training them as wrestlers from a young age, and the narrative has a touch of humor. The second half is a concoction of patriotism, father-daughter relationships, generation gaps, a villainous coach, etc. which can create a déjà vu feeling at times, but the film remains engaging thanks to the sincerity in presentation, and those brilliantly executed sequences of wrestling. Aamir Khan gives an excellent performance, and the four girls who played his daughters at different periods of time were also equally good. I especially liked the transformation shown by Zaira Wasim in the role of young Geeta, as she grows from a very reluctant student who is just drawn towards the sport by her father, to a very proud, confident and ambitious wrestler as she starts winning matches.

Queue for Cash

Sat, 17 Dec 2016 14:45:34 GMT

Half of today was spent on the process of getting some money from my bank account. I had withdrawn some amount a month back, soon after the demonetization, but that time I had thought that the "demonetization effect" and long queues for cash would come down by the time I run out of cash again. I never thought that even after one month, the situation would continue to remain the same, and I would have to waste my time once again on the queue.

While so many people are patiently waiting in queues for the limited withdrawal amount allowed for them, in the newspaper we daily see updates about crores worth of new currency being caught from various places as part of "raids". What is not caught, could obviously be much higher than that, indicating that the "rich and powerful" are not at all impacted and they continue to get support from the corruption infrastructure. I sincerely hope that the officials who are part of these rackets are caught, and they should not just be suspended - They should be dismissed, debarred from any form of employment for a few years, prosecuted through a fast-track court and put in jail immediately. In the absence of determined, swift and stern actions on corrupt officials and politicians, the entire demonetization exercise would just look like a punishment imposed on the common people.

Asha Jaoar Majhe

Wed, 14 Dec 2016 07:16:38 GMT

Asha Jaoar Majhe, Bengali film directed by Aditya Vikram Sengupta, tells the story of a husband and wife (who are not named) living in Calcutta. The husband works at a printing press on night shifts while the wife works during daytime at a bag company, so the time they get to spend together is very limited. The dialog-less film patiently follows the routine of the couple, and the only instance when they are at least hinted to be seeing each other is near the end of the film, which follows a beautifully picturized "dream sequence" for a few minutes.

The 1.5 hour long film would look like much longer than that, because of the slow and detailed picturization of routine and monotonous activities and events, which create a unique atmosphere for the film. So, we see sun setting over the buildings in the city in a scene that is nearly two minutes long, which is accompanied with the usual evening-sounds of the city. In another scene, we see the face of the husband as a series of static images, seen through the moving parts of the press. Later, we get to see closeup scenes of various provisions - rice, pulses, etc. being transfered to containers, and get to know the variations in sound that they make during the process.

Asha Jaoar Majhe gives an extreme account of people who spend most of their time on their work and routine (some, to make both ends meet, while others just for the sake of it), getting that rare glimpse of Life probably once in a blue moon.

Earthquake is Going to Come!!

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 09:05:09 GMT

Rahul Gandhi warns that earthquake is going to come if he speaks in the parliament!!

I think as long as Rahul Gandhi is there in the field of politics, we will have a constant source of entertainment in the form of statements like this.

Chander Pahar

Sun, 04 Dec 2016 13:52:05 GMT

I watched Bengali-English film Chander Pahar, adaptation of a Bengali novel with the same by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay. The novel, an odd one among the author's novels which in general portray life in rural Bengal, is all about adventures of a Bengali youngster in the wilderness of 1909 Africa.

I cant say the movie matched the experience of reading the novel, but I felt it was an earnest effort. In spite of the obvious limitations the makers would have faced while making an Indian regional language movie in such a large canvas set in a foreign country, they have succeeded in making a very engaging film that does justice to the original novel.


Mon, 21 Nov 2016 15:05:09 GMT

Set in Rajasthan, Hindi film Dhanak directed by Nagesh Kukunoor tells the story of two children - a brother and sister. The brother had lost his eyesight when he was four years old, and the sister wishes to make him see again during his ninth birthday, which is just a few days away. After sees a poster featuring Shah Rukh Khan, the sister gets the idea that the star would personally help them if they meet him. One night, she secretly leaves home with her brother, and starts a journey hoping to meet Shah Rukh Khan at a shooting location near Jailsalmer.

The narrative of Dhanak begins in a realistic way, but it slowly evolves to some sort of a feel-good fairy tale. The most notable things in this interesting film are the performances by the two child artists who play the lead roles.


Sun, 20 Nov 2016 07:57:58 GMT

Amruta Patil's graphic novel Sauptik is the second book in her Mahabharata series, after Adi Parva. Ashwatthama takes over the role of the narrator after Ganga, and continues the story of Mahabharata from the arrival of Pandavas in Hasthinapura after the death of Pandu, till the conclusion of the War of Kurukshetra and Ashwatthama's revenge.

Just like Adi Parva, Sauptik too doesn't plan on giving a continuous and complete narrative of the epic, but instead gives short accounts of some of the major events in the story with comments given from the perspective of Ashwatthama, and it is amazing to see the author capturing the essence of multiple subtle aspects of the epic with just a few hundred pages of text and illustrations. With insightful observations and beautiful, stylish artworks, Sauptik is one more brilliant work from the author.

The Return of the 100-Rupee Note

Wed, 09 Nov 2016 06:30:00 GMT

I think it was a bold and brilliant move by the Government to withdraw the 500 and 1000 rupee notes overnight - a step taken with the right intentions, and I think it is in the right direction towards controlling the accumulation of black money as well as curbing of fake currency.