Last Build Date: Tue, 18 Oct 2016 03:42:10 GMT
Tue, 18 Oct 2016 03:42:10 GMTThe Arrival, by Shaun Tan, is a "silent" graphic novel - one without any dialogues or text. The novel attempts to generalize the "migrant experience" in pictures. A man bids farewell to his wife and daughter and goes to an unknown, distant place in search for employment. The new place is drawn as one from a fairy tale world with bizarre landscapes, animals and vegetables, but the human beings are just the same as in the normal world. After he settles down in the new place, the man brings his family there, and they are happily re-united.
Mon, 17 Oct 2016 09:04:08 GMTCourt, National Award winning Marathi film directed by Chaitanya Tamhane, is a unique satire on the Indian Judicial System. An aging folk singer, who conducts his shows on the streets, is arrested with charges of incitement for suicide committed by a person who cleans the sewage channels. It is apparent that the charge sheet was filed as part of some political agenda, to suppress the singer who has been a social activist. The case goes on and on for days and months, and the film follows the scenes in the courtroom, interleaved with the scenes showing the happenings in the lives of the lawyers and the judge.
Sat, 15 Oct 2016 12:27:59 GMTRead Craig Russell's graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Coraline - yet another fantasy story involving ghosts, similar to The Graveyard Book. Craig Russell's artworks for the book are beautiful.
Fri, 14 Oct 2016 13:27:40 GMTWith great expectations I watched Thanga Meenkal (2013), an award winning Tamil movie, but was disappointed to watch the melodramatic traits in it. The film narrates the close relationship between a father named Kalyani (played by the director Ram himself) and his daughter Chellamma. Kalyani was a dropout from school, and he doesn't have a permanent job to support his family. He lives with his aging parents, and his father constantly criticizes him for his failures. Chellamma is a playful girl and there is a special bonding between her and her father. She is curious and enthusiastic, but is regarded as a dull child by her school teachers as far as academics are concerned. Kalyani's egos are hurt after a heated argument with his father regarding the payment of school fees for Chellamma. He leaves the place and goes to Kerala, searching for an employment which could help him stand on his own feet.
Wed, 12 Oct 2016 15:40:15 GMTWatched Tamil film Kuttram Kadithal, an excellent debut from director Bramma. The film narrates a series of happenings of a couple of days, all triggered by a school teacher giving a mild slap to a student for a behavior which she finds mischievous. The boy collapses after receiving the slap, and is admitted to the hospital. The teacher is advised by her colleagues to stay away from the town for a few days, fearing public reactions against her, while the media jumps into their job of sensationalizing the matter, and organizing talk shows, etc.
Tue, 11 Oct 2016 15:36:06 GMTThe Hidden Life of Trees, written by German forester Peter Wohlleben, is a fascinating book in multiple ways. The book lovingly presents several advances in research related to the life of trees that have come out in last two decades - for e.g., how the trees interconnect with other trees through underground networks of roots and fungi that attach to them, and how they exchange information, like warning signals, through scents. This information is supplemented with various observations on the behavior of trees (as well as other plants, insects and animals that are part of the ecosystem), all written in a very engaging way.
Sun, 02 Oct 2016 15:56:18 GMTMost of the Malayalam movies releasing these days are from new directors. It is good to see the refreshing feel they are bringing to Malayalam Cinema through these engaging films.
Sat, 01 Oct 2016 13:07:55 GMTThe graphic novel Hyderabad is scripted by Jai Undurti and illustrated by Harsho Mohan Chattoraj. The description of the book states that it is "a unique city-centric storytelling initiative", and I expected it to contain a mix of legend and history associated with the city of Hyderabad; But after reading the book I could not figure out what exactly was the intention of the scriptwriter and why the book was titled "Hyderabad".
Wed, 28 Sep 2016 02:18:32 GMTI remember reading some extracts from Jerome K Jerome's 1889 novel Three Men in a Boat in my English reader text book during schooldays. I have never got a chance to read this book fully, but I read a graphic novel adaptation yesterday, published in the Campfire Classics series.
Sun, 25 Sep 2016 11:58:23 GMTDuring this weekend, I read the 2-volume graphic adaptation of Neil Gaiman's novel The Graveyard Book, which had won both the Newbery Medal and Carnegie Medal awarded for literature for children and young adults. The book narrates a fantasy story of a baby who escapes from being murdered, and is then onwards raised by many types of "ghostly beings" living in a graveyard. Different chapters of the book are illustrated by different artists.
Sat, 17 Sep 2016 15:50:54 GMTWatched Sairat, a popular Marathi film of this year. The film is based on a simple story - A boy and girl of different castes and financial backgrounds falling in love with each other, eloping from their native place and establishing a living in another city. Though this is a recurring theme in Indian cinema, Sairat has a refreshing feel to it, thanks to an honest narration style and good performances - especially the lead actress Rinku Rajguru was outstanding in bringing out multitudes of expressions. After the gradual progress of the tone of the movie from that of a light hearted sweet romance to a sort of thriller to a non-melodramatic portrayal of the hardships of the lovers in an distant town, the final scenes of the movie and the climax come out as shocking and touching.
Fri, 16 Sep 2016 12:50:26 GMTIn our academic circles, criticizing "Hindu Fundamentalism" often crosses the border and transforms into criticism and mockery of Hinduism itself (I have read many articles of that kind published on Left Wing Malayalam periodicals like Deshabhimani). This is a special liberty taken on Hinduism alone, and such acts of blasting of Hindu religion and undermining of Hindu beliefs, scriptures, value systems and contributions is in general regarded as model secularist behavior in the media. In his book Rearming Hinduism, author Vamsee Juluri addresses this topic.
Thu, 15 Sep 2016 15:41:44 GMTWatched Tamil film Visaranai directed by Vetrimaaran, a brilliant movie portraying the corruption, brutality and violation of human rights imposed by the Police system. The story is narrated without any elements of melodrama, and the performances are very realistic - Overall, a very powerful film.
Fri, 09 Sep 2016 07:26:32 GMTAfter moving to Bangalore, I have been missing the tradition of "Bandh", which used to be such an integral part of life in Kerala. I still remember the anticipation of a free holiday, and the associated feelings of pleasure and excitement, as the announcement of Bandh used to come on newspapers during my schooldays. I know many people will have very valid reasons to protest against various things through the display of Bandh, and there may be reasons for others to empathize with it. I also know that there would be many people who would be inconvenienced a lot because of the Bandh. However, for people who don't belong to either of these categories, Bandh is essentially an unexpected day of leisure when you have valid excuses to just sit and relax at home. It would be hypocritical to deny the fact that we don't welcome such occasions.
Tue, 23 Aug 2016 07:58:58 GMTOne more Olympics has concluded, and India is back with a silver and a bronze. While those who got the two medals certainly need to be appreciated, it is sad to see such dismal performance from the country overall in such games. A nation of 1.2 billion people, support from the Government and Media in multiple ways, and showers of rewards waiting for any winner when he is back home - and still as a team we barely manage to make it to the medal table, while countries much smaller in terms of size and resources consistently win more medals than us.
Sun, 21 Aug 2016 14:16:54 GMTRussian film Come and See (1985) portrays the atrocities committed by the German soldiers during World War 2 at a Belorussian village, seen through the eyes of a boy who was enrolled into the Soviet army forcefully (though the boy is initially thrilled and excited about being a soldier). The detailed picturization of the war crimes, burning of villagers live after sealing them inside buildings, etc. were very shocking to watch, and this was one of the most disturbing war films I have ever watched, Kajaki being the other one.
Fri, 19 Aug 2016 14:44:38 GMTThe Man Who Knew Infinity tells the story of Srinivasa Ramanujan's life, mainly focusing on his stay in England. The film seems to have fictionalized some of the aspects of Ramanujan's personal life, in the thread that portrays his relationship with his wife and mother.
Wed, 17 Aug 2016 16:28:42 GMTMalayalam film Kammattippaadam tells the story of an area of old Kochi where there used to be slums surrounded by fields till the 1970s, over which many of the posh localities of the current city are built. The story revolves primarily around two brothers Balan and Ganga (played by Manikandan and Vinayakan) and their friend Krishnan (Dulquer Salman) living in Kammattippaadam, who enjoy their friendship, drinks and adventures that are mostly illegal and reckless in nature. They help the real estate mafia by threatening and displacing many of the poor families living in the area, and indirectly cause the complete transformation of the very place where they have been residing.
Fri, 12 Aug 2016 06:30:54 GMTTwo people traveling in an old jeep, evidently with some secret and illegal mission, are asked to take a diversion from the main road by their boss. The jeep breaks down in a rural area, and they are stranded there for night. In the morning, they manage to find a mechanic from a nearby village, but he is very curious to know the whereabouts of the two, and about the "load" in the jeep. He is not naive, and when he gets to know more details, he refuses to repair the jeep. And he wouldn't budge from his decision even after receiving some severe beating. He stands against the two sternly, but without any acts of violence. CR No:89, a brilliant Malayalam film directed by Sudevan, narrates these events.
Wed, 10 Aug 2016 16:34:20 GMTI read stories from the book The Greatest Bengali Stories Ever Told, selected and translated by Arunava Sinha. This book includes 21 short stories, including those by Tagore, Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, Tarashankar Bandyopadhyay, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Banaphool, Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Ashapurna Debi and Mahasweta Debi.
Tue, 09 Aug 2016 13:57:14 GMTAfter the recent "flash floods" in Bangalore, BBMP has suddenly woken up and started a drive to demolish the constructions on areas that encroach lakes and storm water drains. Certainly it is a good initiative in theory; but in practice, the implementation of this plan shows such levels of sadism that one would wonder if we are living under the Taliban regime or something.
Sat, 30 Jul 2016 05:54:27 GMTAn overnight rain, and many parts in Bangalore are flooded. Roads looks like rivers and people are trying to traverse through those roads, putting their lives at great risk because there could be uncovered manholes and drains at random places that are covered with muddy water. Lakes filled with sewage and filth are overflowing and get mixed with piles of garbage that are now an integral part of Bangalore landscape, posing health hazards everywhere. Ironically, even though rains have given us so much water, there are hundreds of water tankers seen on road that contribute greatly to the traffic jams. All this is because of unplanned development, land encroachment, corruption and greed, and now the pathetic Karnataka Government is busy amending the KUDA bill to officially allow reduction in open spaces in the cities (as if the current allocation of open spaces has been strictly enforced and people have been always going by the rules).
Tue, 26 Jul 2016 15:45:03 GMTMarathi film Natsamrat, directed by Mahesh Manjrekar tells the story of a veteran theater actor post his retirement. Some of the basic thematic elements of the film are frequently recurring ones in Indian family drama films and television serials - generation gap, misunderstandings and clashes between aging parents and daughter-in-law, a misplaced bundle of cash and false allegations, and so on. But what makes the film different and memorable is the brilliant performance by Nana Patekar in the lead role and some of the scenes in which the director presents the outbursts of the character, who tries to identify himself with the various roles he pad played on stage. Equally good are the supporting performances by Medha Manjrekar in the role of the actor's wife, and Vikram Gokhale in the role of his friend.
Thu, 21 Jul 2016 15:45:05 GMTI watched three more films directed by Hirokazu Koreeda recently, and was greatly impressed with them.
Tue, 19 Jul 2016 13:37:46 GMTGerman film Run Lola Run (1998) tells the story of twenty minutes in which a girl, Lola, has to manage to gather a large sum of money to save her boyfriend's life within a short span of time. There are three different narratives of these twenty minutes presented in the film, each involving some changes in the events, time lines and Lola's interactions with other people, which are inter-related, and result in drastically different results and change the course of the story. This stylish and innovative film is a very interesting watch.