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Ratheesh KrishnaVadhyar's Journal Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "Ratheesh KrishnaVadhyar" journal:

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February 3rd, 2016
06:57 pm

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Whale Rider
Watched Whale Rider, a film from New Zealand, which portrays the relationship between a Maori chieftain and his 10+ year old granddaughter named Paikea. The grandfather claims to be descendant of Whale Rider, a mythical chieftain of the Maoris, who were one of the original oceanic settlers in New Zealand. Even though they have adapted to the life style and comforts of Modern world for ages, the chief still keeps the Maori traditions close to his heart. His sons are not much interested in the traditions, so he is hoping to find some other young boy as his successor. Paikea has developed a genuine interest in the Maori songs, dances, martial arts and rituals, but the strict chieftain believes that only a boy child is eligible to become the next chief.

It was interesting to see the film that is set in premises that are very unfamiliar to me. The child actress Keisha Castle-Hughes, who plays the role of Paikea, has performed amazingly well.

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February 2nd, 2016
08:27 am

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Everest
Watched the film Everest, which is based on Mount Everest expeditions of May 1996 during which eight of the explorers had died. I remember reading a book by Paul Dowswell on Everest adventures, and the memoirs of Hillary sometime back, but don't remember watching even a documentary film showing the Everest adventures before.

Made in a documentary format, Everest creates the impression that the actors had really climbed the Everest, with multiple aerial sequences showing views of the mountain, interspersed with other scenes. There are no Cliffhanger sort of dramatization of the events to create an element of thrill; The emphasis is on the painful experiences of the mountaineers - which sometimes made me wonder why people would want to go through such endeavors, to reach the summit where they cant even afford to sit for a few minutes to relax and "enjoy the views" - It is certainly adventure just for the sake of adventure alone :)

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February 1st, 2016
09:17 am

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Airlift
Watched Hindi film Airlift yesterday, which is said to be based on the real events associated with the evacuation of more than 1.5 lakhs of Indians from Kuwait during the Gulf War of 1990s. Akshay Kumar plays as a businessman named Ranjit Katyal, and the activities of his character are based on those of a few real life people who had played vital role in the evacuation process.

Airlift is a well-made film, and I liked it for the way it invokes patriotic feelings in viewers in spite of being critical of the initial lack of enthusiasm and support from the Indian Government officials as it is portrayed in the movie. A sole official from the External Affairs Ministry is shown to take some interest in helping with the diplomatic arrangements and logistics initially; But despite those all too familiar scenes of official lethargy, things are shown to be working eventually, and I felt the director has managed to develop a touching scene near the climax, where the Indian flag is shown being raised at the refugee camp at Jordan, and that too without a touch of melodrama. Also, the hero is not portrayed as a superman, and Akshay Kumar plays the role neatly as well.

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January 25th, 2016
01:12 pm

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Kalpana
It was shocking to hear about the sudden death of actress Kalpana today. Mostly known for her hilarious performances in comic roles during the initial phase of her career, she had recently focused more on non-comic roles, and had given memorable performances in movies like Kerala Cafe, Spirit, etc.

In her most recent movie Charlie, she comes in a short along with Dulquer Salmaan (playing as Charlie) and Chemban Vinod, who arrange for a boat ride for her character, named as Queen Mary. While he is engaged in a conversation with Vinod's character, Charlie is shocked to notice that Queen Mary has vanished from the boat - she has jumped into the sea. It looks tragic that Kalpana's exit from Malayalam Cinema too has been sudden and shocking in a similar way.

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January 23rd, 2016
10:07 pm

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Two "Sincere" Malayalam Movies
In general, I am easily impressed with films in which the makers have evidently made a sincere effort to come up with a genuine work of art without making any compromises for gaining commercial success; Whether the end product itself has come out as a fine work or not, is a different matter. One such movie I recently watched was Kaliyachchan, debut film by director Farook Abdulrahiman, which is based on P Kunjiraman Nair's poem with the same name. The movie has some brilliantly choreographed visuals captured by MJ Radhakrishnan, and the background score by Bijibal, which uses the traditional instruments used in Kathakali music, is excellent.

Salim Ahamed's Pathemari was another film I liked. Narrating the story of a Malayalee who spent his life toiling in a Gulf country for improving the living standards of his family members in Kerala, the film is an effort to show the sacrifices the pravasi Malayalees make for the sake of their families. The film has a few touching moments, and it was good to see Mammootty getting to do a good role after a series of unbearable films last year, like Bhaskar the Rascal, Achcha Din, Utopiayile Raajavu, etc.

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January 5th, 2016
06:33 pm

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Kuda Nannakkunna Choyi
Read M Mukundan's latest novel, Kuda Nannakkunna Choyi, in which he brings the village and people of Mayyazhi once again to Malayalam Literature. The premises of the novel, its characters and the style of conversations would look very familiar to people who have read his renowned works like Mayyazhi Puzhayude Theerangalil and Daivathinte Vikruthikal.

The novel tells an interesting story of Madhavan, a youngster who is given the responsibility of keeping a secret envelope (lackkott) by Choyi, the umbrella-repairer of Mayyazhi, when he is about to board a ship to France. Madhavan is asked never to open the envelope until Choyi asks him to do so, or until he hears that Choyi is no more. The villagers and Choyi's relatives are no happy about this secret to which they have no access, and try various ways - coaxing and threatening Madhavan to tell them what it contains. The local political leader - the jana prathinidhi - kind of believes that it is his right to open the envelope, and commands Madhavan to handover the envelope to him.

Through its allegorical narrative, Mukundan seems to be making comments on our social and political systems, but I could not clearly understand what he is hinting at in the last two pages of the novel, where Madhavan finally opens the envelope and misrepresents its contents to others. There are some vague references to saffron and sannyasis, so it is likely that the author is commenting on "fascism and intolerance" as it is the trend today among intellectuals, but I could not understand the exact message that he is trying to convey through the abrupt conclusion of the novel.

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January 4th, 2016
08:05 pm

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Zodiac
Watched Zodiac (2007), a crime film that is based on the real case of Zodiac Serial Killer of 1960-70 San Francisco, which still remains unsolved as per records. Narrated without any attempt at dramatization of the events, the film makes a brilliant and gripping watch.

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January 3rd, 2016
08:03 pm

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Memoirs by Actors
I read memoirs by two Malayalam actors last week - Innaleyude Innu by Janardanan, and Venjaramood Kathakal by Suraj Venjaramood.

Janardanan mentions in his book that it's hand-written by himself, and is not a work that someone else wrote based on interviews with him. The book starts with narratives of his childhood days spent in a typical Nayar Tharavadu of 1950s Kerala. He draws a candid picture of himself as a directionless youngster, who vaguely desires to become an officer with Air Force, but has a strong dislike towards classrooms. It is interesting to read about the ways of Life that took Janardanan to the field of Cinema, even though he never had any passion for acting in his days of youth. The book has a very loose narrative structure in the second half (after the author's entry to Cinema), and it tends to become a random collection of anecdotes. I guess the book would have become more refined if Janardanan took the help of a professional writer (as is usually done by many other actors who have written their memoirs), but it still has a special charm of coming "straight from the heart", and I guess it may prompt me to look at the actor from a different perspective when I see him in movies in future.

Though Suraj is known for his mimicry-oriented comic roles in Malayalam Cinema, his memoirs are very different from the image we may derive from the characters he played. In this book, we could see a person who grew up in a lower middle class financial background, worked very very hard, giving thousands of mimicry stage performances all over Kerala to earn money for constructing a house for his family and for improving his living standards, and then followed up his passion for Cinema which eventually brought him the National Award for best actor. The memoir, put down into writing by NM Navas, makes a good reading.

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January 2nd, 2016
07:14 pm

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Three Malayalam Movies
I spent the Christmas vacation at Kerala, and watched three new Malayalam movies during this time.

Jo and the Boy, a "feel good movie", seems to be an attempt to build on the popularity and talent of actress Manju Warrier "who has returned", and the smart child actor Sanoop of Philips and the Monkey Pen fame. The locations used in the film are very beautiful, especially the house in which Manju Warrier's character lives. But that is all what is there in the movie - After the initial scenes, I found the movie to be increasingly boring and sleep-inducing.

Charlie is yet another "feel good movie", and tells the story of a girl (played by Parvathi), who runs away from home and moves to a rented home. The belongings of the previous tenant of the house, which lay scattered in the rooms, catches the attention of the girl, and she finds the character of the guy, as it emerges from the examination of his articles, to be a very intriguing and enigmatic. She tries to find more details about him, and eventually falls in love with him - it is somewhat like a refined and elaborate extension of a common theme seen these days in Tamil and Hindi movies - where a guy (or girl) would see a girl (or guy) helping blind people cross a road or offering food to poor people, etc., and immediately enter into a love affair, getting knocked off by the kindheartedness of the other person. Charlie has some excellent camera work, and it's good to see the expressions of Parvathi. Overall I found it to be watchable film.

Adi Kapyare Koottamani comes with no pretensions of any "feel good factor" - it is a mindless comedy narrating some funny incidents in a boy's hostel. Somehow I found this to be the most entertaining among the three films I watched.

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December 23rd, 2015
03:38 pm

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Fables Inc.
Bibhuti Kar, a key leader in the organization I am working for (He is fondly called as Bibs by all, and I don't remember ever referring to him by his full name before :) ) has written a book named Fables Inc. that is published as a Kindle edition on Amazon now. This book is a collection of 17 short stories that gives lessons on business management and leadership.

Though in general I don't read books on Management, I read this book because it was written by Bibs, and enjoyed reading the short stories that are written in the format of tales from Panchathanthra, or fables by Aesop. It is amazing to see how the stories, narrated in straight-forward and simple language, are constructed in such a way as to deliver very relevant messages and interesting observations that have applicability beyond the Corporate World. Since I have had opportunity to work in Bibs's team for many years, I could relate many of the stories in this book to his own style of management and leadership.

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