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Ratheesh KrishnaVadhyar's Journal



Ratheesh KrishnaVadhyar's Journal - LiveJournal.com



Last Build Date: Sun, 20 Aug 2017 14:44:51 GMT

 



Vikram Vedha

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 14:44:51 GMT

Though Tamil film Vikram Vedha tells a typical story about Police Vs Gangster fights, corruption in police force, etc., I found it to be a very interesting film, thanks to the energetic performances by Madhavan and Vijay Sethupathi, and the narrative style by directors Pushkar and Gayathri who dramatize the blurring lines between the "Good and Bad" in an engaging way.



Olappeeppi

Mon, 07 Aug 2017 13:09:38 GMT

Watched Olappeeppi, Malayalam film directed by Krish Kymal. Biju Menon plays the role of Unni, an NRI, who visits the Kerala village where he had spent his childhood during the 1970s. The film goes back and forth between the scenes from the past and present times. In the flashback scenes, we can see a 10-year old Unni living with his grandmother in their ancestral home. The feudal system had collapsed after the land reforms in Kerala, and Unni's grandmother, who was one of the landlords of the area, is finds it hard to earn enough to make both ends meet. The film follows various events in Unni's childhood in the flashback scenes, while in the scenes of Today, we see Unni trying to reconnect with some of his friends and relatives.

Though at places it appeared to me that the director was trying a bit too hard to develop the elements of pathos in the flashback scenes, I felt that he presented the story without falling into much of melodrama. There were a few scenes which I found touching, and the actress Punnassery Kanchana in the role of the grandmother who always brings out feelings of optimism to Unni's life even in grim times, seemed to be almost living in that role. Overall, Olappeeppi gives the feeling of watching some of those good tele-films of old Doordarshan era.



A Motivating Speech

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 12:38:59 GMT

"We have a number of exciting projects lined up for the coming year. We will ensure that you will have minimal sleep for the next one year at least. Please make sure that you don't make any personal commitments for this period! But we will make sure that we will do the whole thing as a fun exercise as much as possible...", so on goes speech by a manager at my workplace. This speech was intended to motivate the employees to work towards the bright future ahead of them, and the projected workload and potential demands for unpaid service I guess was supposed to be a light hearted exaggeration (though it is a sort of reality for most of the Worker Class IT employees these days).



A Death in the Gunj

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 13:01:04 GMT

Watched A Death in the Gunj, a brilliant directorial debut by actress Konkona Sen Sharma.

Set in 1979 at the village of McCluskieganj, the film narrates the events associated with a family/friends visit and get-together at the village home. Shutu, the key character, is in his early 20s - a shy, introvert, sensitive and somewhat timid youngster who seems to be suffering from depression as well. The film shows how the behavior of people around him affects Shutu's life during that short visit to the village.

Konkona's characterizations are brilliant, and the performances (especially by Vikrant Massey in the main role) are excellent.



Catch Me If You Can

Sun, 09 Jul 2017 11:58:48 GMT

I got a chance to watch the 2002 film Catch Me If You Can directed by Steven Spielberg today. The film is based on the real life story of Frank Abagnale (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), who had done various forgeries related to bank checks when he was a youngster. After getting caught, Abagnale spent some time in jail, and later became a consultant for FBI.

The film was a very engaging watch.



Tax Reforms

Sat, 08 Jul 2017 04:25:35 GMT

I read the news that the Government is going to revisit the implementation of Direct Tax Code, and the news looked scary to me.

If we have to go by prior experience, any attempts at "revision" or "restructuring" of Income Tax laws in India, would eventually end up squeezing the the salaried class, extracting some percentage from their various investments and savings, irrespective of the political party holding power in the center.



BSNL

Sun, 02 Jul 2017 14:53:21 GMT

I have been using BSNL wired broadband service for last 2 years, and last 6+ months it has been becoming worse day by day. The connection is completely unreliable and the service has been pathetic. Technical complaints raised via their web interface are repeatedly closed promptly after 3 days, with absolutely no action taken on them and no update given to me. When I call their customer service center by phone, they direct to various officers and AGMs, and each of them in turn keep on redirecting to other people. Eventually, I need to follow their escalation chain all the way to the top to get a simple problem like cross-connection resolved.

As the technical complaints became more and more frequent, I decided to terminate the broadband connection altogether and raised a request for the same on their web interface last week. They closed the request within 3 days, but I was not sure if this is a genuine indication of any action taken or just the usual automated "case closing mechanism" used by the technicians. So, I called up BSNL once again and a very sleepy customer care person informed me that I need to personally visit the local BSNL office for closing the connection. When I visited the local BSNL office at HSR layout, I was redirected to their "Customer Service Center" at Koramangala, where I was asked to give an application on plain paper. I felt thankful that I was not redirected any further, and I hope that the request will be processed this time. It is funny that in today's Digital Era, an Internet service provider would insist its customers to go and meet the babus and give a paper application for a request. It is also puzzling why they are providing an option to initiate service closure on their website, when it is clear that they are not going to do anything on that request.



GST

Sun, 02 Jul 2017 12:53:33 GMT

Though the GST is supposed to simply the taxes and probably reduce the tax burden on consumers for majority of their purchases, the general impression created by the merchants has been somewhat opposite. Multiple weeks of pre-GST sale melas preceding July 1st made all feel as if the GST is going to bring doom on the consumers. And during this weekend, whichever shop I visited, the people in the cash counters were explaining me that the bill amount would be more because of increased GST, etc.

It appears like there is no direction on passing the benefits of "input tax credit" that the merchants receive to end consumers. So, wherever the tax rate has gone up, the consumers have to take up the burden for the extra tax, and if I understand it correctly, the merchants can now effectively pocket a part of that tax, equivalent to the input tax credit they receive, mapping to the item sold.

I wish there was a mechanism for the end consumers also to receive some sort of "tax credit" for the GST amount which the merchant has levied from them, so that they can adjust it against their regular income tax, and avoid double taxation? Perhaps this can be easily done for non-cash transactions, since the credit cards, debit cards etc. are linked to the PAN of the consumer? This would be a good encouragement for all consumers to go "cashless". Without such a mechanism, I am not too sure if GST will bring much changes in the lives of ordinary people.



Hostage

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 12:23:11 GMT

Hostage, a brilliant graphic novel by Guy Delisle, is based on the real life story of Christophe Andre, who was kidnapped by a Chechnyan gang in 1997, when he was working at an NGO located in Nazran, Ingushetia. He was kept in captivity in Chechnya for close to four months.

Most of the panels in this 432 page book include simple portrayals of the various places where Christie was kept - in a small room without furniture, handcuffed and attached to a radiator box most of the time, in a store room, in a closet, etc. The events shown are mostly repetitive in nature - like serving food (with the same menu of vegetable soup, tea and bread all the time), going to the toilet, etc. and the text mostly consists of monologues by Christophe. Through these pictures and text, we get a feeling of being with Christophe as a hostage through these 100+ days.



Caste based Discriminations

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 06:44:40 GMT

It is a shame to see such an open debate on caste even for identifying a candidate for the post of President of the country. The "opposition parties" are now trying to find a suitable "Dalit" for contesting against the candidate of NDA, and many of the constituent parties have declared that they will not support anyone other than a "Dalit". The caste of a person would be his foremost qualification which would play a key role in various political game plans.

The hypocritical nature of the Left Front (who claim to me the most progressive) is most evident in these kind of discussions, and they keep on proving again and again that they are one of the most communal and fascist political elements in the country.



Smart City!! Really?

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 06:42:05 GMT

Bangalore is now in the list of "Smart Cities" marked for development in India, and is going to get several hundreds of crores of rupees as funding from the Center as part of the project in coming years.

It sounds like a joke to me. An urban slum where the corrupt, clueless and inefficient Government officials, politicians, greedy landlords, builders and Water Mafia, etc. are busy inventing various schemes to extract the last bit of natural resources and converting to cash, and where an average citizen has pretty much nothing to hope for and feel optimistic about, is now going to be called as a Smart City!



Alamara

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 04:02:54 GMT

The Malayalam film Sasneham (1990), directed by Sathyan Anthikkad during his vintage days in his typical family-sentiments-humor format, showed how the relatives of a married couple (played by Balachandra Menon and Shobhana) interfere in their lives and create a mess. Alamara, directed by Midhun Manuel Thomas, picks up the same subject set in the present times. It shows how a simple thing like a Cupboard can play a pivotal role in married life.

It was a pleasure to watch this light-hearted comedy with likable characters (or rather caricatures), interesting dialogues and some gentle humor and satire.



The Best We Could Do

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 02:40:06 GMT

The Best We Could Do - An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui is yet another work that shows the power of Graphic Novels as a medium for narrating serious subjects autobiographical in nature, like Persepolis or Maus.

The author, in her forties now, living in America with her aging parents, reconstructs the story of her parents, grandparents and family (including herself as a small child) going through the political turmoil in Vietnam, and eventually "escaping" to a refugee camp in Malaysia in 1975 after The Fall of Saigon, and then finally immigrating to America. Along with the historical events of Vietnam War as seen from the perspective of her parents, Thi Bui also touches upon various other subjects like the kind of permanent scars that a War would leave on people, the combination of generation gap and cultural differences that the immigrant parents face during interactions with their growing children, and the general feelings related to parenthood. The illustrations are brilliant, and the book gives the experience of watching a feature film.



Haraamkhor

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 14:24:35 GMT

Watched Hindi film Haraamkhor, which tells the story of an affair between a school teacher (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) and his student named Sandhya (Shweta Tripathi). In parallel runs another thread that shows the crush Sandhya's classmate has on her, and his various adventurous activities to win her attention, with enthusiastic support and advice from his best friend.

Haraamkhor is debut feature film by director Shlok Sharma, and he deserves appreciation for making an entertaining film with a touch of humor (the thread involving Sandhya's classmates mostly contributing to the humor element) based on a serious theme which is rather unconventional even for non-mainstream Hindi Cinema. The performances are all brilliant too.



Rice People

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 04:03:57 GMT

Khmer film Rice People (1994) narrates the tragic story of a farmer family in a Cambodian village, struggling to cultivate their paddy, adjusting with various elements of nature. Narrated in a very realistic way with no touches of melodrama, the entire film focuses on the lives of the family members, who seem to have pretty much nothing other than their paddy as the sole thing in life, about which they constantly think even in their dreams, or even when they are in their deathbed. The performances of all actors (including the child actors) are so natural that it would appear as if the camera captured some moments from their real lives.

In certain aspects, this film reminded me of the Japanese classic The Naked Island, but that one was not such a sad and depressive tale like Rice People.



Maanagaram

Mon, 05 Jun 2017 17:05:24 GMT

Watched Maanagaram, a Tamil film that narrates events of a day in the life of a few people living in Chennai city. There are multiple story threads, and the actions of some people affect others in different threads, all of which finally converge in the climax. Though such narrative techniques have been used very often these days in many of the "new generation films", Maanagaram still looks interesting for its clever arrangements of various sequences, and an engaging plot.



Trapped

Tue, 30 May 2017 02:59:30 GMT

I don't think there have been many true survival drama films made in India. I liked director Vikramaditya Motwane's recent film Trapped, which tells the story of a man (Rajkummar Rao) who gets trapped in a flat in one of the top floors of an unoccupied, tall apartment complex. The electricity supply gets cut, and water also gets over, and the film shows how he survives and finally escapes from the place. The narrative is gripping, and I think the director deserves credits for attempting a genre that is not often tried before in Indian Cinema.



Thithi

Fri, 26 May 2017 08:36:13 GMT

Watched Thithi, a brilliant debut film by director Raam Reddy.

The film starts with showing the sudden death of Century Gowda, a 101 year old man living in a Karnataka village. Gowda's son Gaddappa is a fun-loving old man who likes to roam around and play games like "Lambs and Tigers" with children, and he has a kind of detached attitude towards materialistic things. Gaddappa's son Thammanna is an ambitions man, who wants to get his late grandfather's property transfered to his name quickly, so that he can sell it off and get some cash in hands. Thammanna's son is a youngster who likes to spend time playing cards with his friends or earning some quick money stealing timber from the forests, but his main focus during the length of the film is to woo a girl from a gypsy group settled in the village, who graze their sheep in the surrounding grasslands. The film shows Century Gowda's funeral, and the various drama unfolding in the lives of three generations of his successors during the next 11 days, till the ritual of "Thithi".

Thithi has all non-professional actors from villages, and it is amazing to see how naturally they perform, and almost live in their roles contributing to the realistic narrative of the film. There is absolutely no background music used, and there is no elaborate camera work or attempts to romanticize "village life" etc.; The film just follows the events in the village and presents in a kind of raw form. I think Thithi would be a masterpiece of Kannada Cinema, and one of the best Indian films of recent times.



Ottaal

Thu, 25 May 2017 09:27:41 GMT

I think director Jayaraj has always been very unpredictable. Sometimes, he would bring out atrocious films like Camel Safari, Rain Rain Come Again and Of the People, while occasionally, he would also make touching and memorable films like Deshadanam and Kaliyattam. Off late, his films have been in the former category more often, but through Ottaal, Jayaraj returns to meaningful film-making once again. Jayaraj has been successful multiple times (Kaliyattam, Kannaki) in adapting plays and stories from outside India to Kerala environment, and Ottaal is an adaptation of an 1886 short story named Vanka by Chekhov. It is amazing to see that the social issues that were touched upon in the 19th century story are still relevant in the Indian context today.

Ottaal starts with showing a little boy named Kuttappayi, who is forced to work at a fireworks factory, writing a letter to his grandfather in a remote Kerala village, requesting him to come and rescue him. The film shifts to a flashback then, and we see Kuttappayi's carefree life with his grandfather in a Kuttanad village. His parents, who were debt-ridden farmers, had committed suicide and Kuttappayi was being brought up by his grandfather since then, who earned a living taking care of ducks grazing in the backwaters. As he is diagnosed with a terminal disease, the grandfather is worried about Kuttappayi, who does not have any other relatives. He decides to hand over Kuttappayi to his "boss", the owner of the ducks, hoping that the little boy would be able to get something to eat at least. The boss promptly "sells" the boy to the fireworks factory owner, where he would now start his "lessons of life".

The key characters of Kuttappayi and his grandfather are played by new actors, and I felt that there was scope for improvement in their performances at least in some of the scenes. However, Jayaraj makes up for that by having Kuttanad itself as a main character of the film, capturing the mood and atmosphere of the pristine landscapes like never before. He is greatly helped by MJ Radhakrishnan's camera, and the few lines of poems by Kavalam Narayana Panicker. We see panoramic views of the waters covered with beautiful lilies, and a flock of ducks making various patterns in the canals; We see the sun setting gradually with a couple of static silhouette images of erumadams and huts in the foreground, and can sense the way the sort of sad but beautiful loneliness spreads in the evenings. Jayaraj's attempts to make a forceful emotional impact on the viewers is evident in some of the scenes, but he has managed to never let the film slip into melodrama, and I think Ottaal would be one of the best films from him.



Panchari Melam

Tue, 16 May 2017 09:27:37 GMT

I had a short visit to Irinjalakuda, and could watch Sheeveli processions at Koodalmanikyam temple for three days. I could also see Shree Rama Pattabhishekam Kathakali performance after a long time.

I have been listening to the Panchari and Chembada Melam at the annual temple festival from my schooldays. I don't know any technical aspects of Melam yet, and I have been a layman listener all this while. One aspect I greatly look forward in the 5+ hours long Melam is how it induces various visualizations, especially the geometric ones, and creates unique experiences through its symphony of instruments. At times, I see it as a construction of a three dimensional pyramid, but with exponentially slopping edges and blurry tips. At other times, the music feels like carving out a rectangle out of various curvy patterns, chiseling out parts of them to form sharp edges and corners. From another angle, the Melam looks like zooming into a mesh shape in multiple steps, each time focusing and expanding on a cell of the mesh, only to see there can be several smaller cells in that single cell, which can be expanded further. Every time I listen to the Melam, I get some new perspective of it at some point, and I feel deep respect for the folks who developed this music and tradition, which might be unique in the World.



The Three Colors Trilogy

Mon, 08 May 2017 09:25:07 GMT

Watched Kieslowski's Three Colors Trilogy over the weekend. The films Blue, White and Red point to colors on the French flag, and they represent the concepts of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Though the stories narrated in the three films are completely different, there are some common scenes between the first and second, and second and third films in which the characters are shown to come together, or are indicated to have potentially co-existed at a location. In the end of the last film, the key characters of all three films are shown again, as they are among the survivors of a yacht accident.

I liked the films for the intense portrayals of the inner emotions of the characters. When watched together, the three films provide a unique cinematic experience.



Toni Erdmann

Sat, 06 May 2017 11:26:58 GMT

German film Toni Erdmann shows the happenings in the life of a father and daughter. The career-oriented daughter works in a business consulting firm. Her workaholic nature and ambitions suck her continuously into a 24x7 loop of work and stress, leaving no time for interactions with her aging father. "What is the meaning of Life? Is it so often about getting things done? How are we supposed to hang on to moments?", Her father asks one time. He likes playing practical jokes, and comes in various disguises (though they are intentionally left very obvious to his daughter) and lands in front of his daughter at various places - in restaurants, party halls, and even in her office.

I found Toni Erdmann to be an enjoyable film, with some interesting and thought-provoking scenes that are brilliantly acted.



After the Storm

Fri, 05 May 2017 14:09:16 GMT

After the Storm, the latest film from Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda, is made in the same pattern as some of his earlier films I have watched, narrating the story of relationships in a family in a gentle and touching way, with great focus on character development. Actors Hiroshi Abe and Kirin Kiki, who were there in his earlier films like Still Walking and Like Father, Like Son, are there in this movie too.



8 Thottakkal

Thu, 04 May 2017 12:58:40 GMT

Watched 8 Thottakkal, debut film by director Sri Ganesh. The official gun of a young police officer gets stolen, and it is eventually lands up in the hands of a group of people who rob a bank. The film shows the efforts to catch the robbers and recover the gun. Though a part of the narrative is in the format of a thriller, the main focus of the film is on the character development of the leader of the gang, an old man, played by MS Bhaskar.

The actor who plays as the police officer (I think he is a newcomer) has the same sort of bewildered expressions throughout the length of the movie; But that doesn't matter much because the real hero of the film is MS Bhaskar, and it is worth a watch for his performance. I remember seeing him in a few small roles in Tamil films in the past, but this is the first time I see him in a major role.



Logicomix

Wed, 03 May 2017 13:06:19 GMT

In the graphic novel Logicomix - An Epic Search For Truth, authors and artists Apostolos, Christos, Alecos and Annie bring the life of Bertrand Russell in pictures. The comic is narrated as a "self-referential" book, showing the making of a comic book on the great Philosopher-Mathematician-Logician. The life story of Russell unravels through a speech given by Russell himself, and a lot of focus is given on his quest for developing logical foundations for Mathematics, and the 10 years he spent on development of Principia Mathematica. Though some of the timelines of events in his life have been altered and some fictional events added in the book for creating dramatic effect, the authors claim that they have made sure it remains true to the spirit of the underlying philosophy and principles.

I think it was a brave attempt to make a comic book based on dry subjects like Logic and Mathematics. I felt that the makers have succeeded in giving the readers glimpses of the passion, frustrations, dilemmas that Russell and others might have gone through during their years of research. Even though the book doesn't go deep into technical aspects, we get a high level view from layman's perspective regarding why would someone write 300+ pages to prove the arithmetical consistency for "1+1=2", and also regarding the deep impact on the study of Logic and Mathematics caused first by Russell's Paradox, and then later by Gödel's Incompleteness Theorems. Moreover, the book also presents Russell as a person, and shows how his research affected his personal life and vice versa. The book is wonderfully illustrated too, often giving the feeling of watching a feature film.