Ratheesh KrishnaVadhyar's Journal
Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "Ratheesh KrishnaVadhyar" journal:
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The 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.
The book has wonderful and detailed illustrations (many of them resembling photographs) colored and arranged in a stylish and imaginative way.
Court, 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.
The narrative of Court moves at a very very slow pace. I am guessing that this movie might be having the most realistic portrayals of court room proceedings in Indian Cinema: Everything has a clear tone of lack of urgency here - We see a lawyer quoting the complete text of a rule from a book for more than a minute, for example. In many of the scenes, the camera stays static for several seconds even after the main happenings in the scene have concluded, and there are no "dramatic transition effects" anywhere. And there is absolutely no background music in the entire movie. All this seems to be deliberately done to enhance the sense of procrastination in the matter of investigation and the court case being depicted. To add to the feel, we get to see the lawyers and judges mostly relaxing in their daily life and mundane discussions after their respective work schedules.
It requires patience to sit through Court, but I felt it was a rewarding experience watching it.
Read 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.
With 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.
The film starts well, but it soon becomes evident that the main intention of the director is to forcefully extract some emotions out of the audience. So, there are multiple scenes displaying the "cuteness factor" of the girl followed by scenes that try to make the viewers empathize with her and her father. In the second half of the film, the drama intensifies, and we see the father literally climbing mountains, making narrow escapes at steep rocky terrains, etc., all for earning money to buy an expensive dog which his daughter had asked for!!
Watched 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.
While the film touches on different social issues, the director manages to keep the main thread mostly away from any direct preaching, criticisms or statements. The focus is given to the characters, their emotions and dilemmas as they address various situations, which is portrayed without any melodramatic elements.
The Hidden Life of Trees|
The 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.
I think anyone reading this book would look at trees (or any small insect seen in the mud, for that matter) from a new perspective when they see one next time. And we would also be left with great feelings of admiration towards the processes involved by which the entire system of undisturbed forests emerge and take care of themselves.
A Few Promising Debut Movies|
Most 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.
John Paul George comes first in the list with Guppy
. The central character is a boy of around 14 years, who works in a teashop in a village. As a part-time business, he grows Guppy fishes in an encroached portion of storm water drain, and sells them for a price. His father had died when he was a kid, his mother is paralyzed, and they live in a kind of slum area which has a bathroom "arrangement" that overlooks a beautiful beach and pristine blue seawaters. To add to these surroundings that are slightly unfamiliar for a Malayalam Cinema, an engineer comes to the village to construct a railway over-bridge; And what starts as some minor teasing and pranks played by the boy on the engineer, soon grows into full-blown rivalry. The film ends with some twists that look a bit "forced", but it still has several scenes with the marks of a brilliant director, and I am looking forward to see more movies from John Paul George. The performances by Chethanlal and Tovino Thomas deserve special mention too.Kismath
, directed by Shanavas K Bavakkutty, revolves mostly around the happenings in a police station, where a Muslim youngster and his scheduled-caste lover (who is 5 years elder to him) have come, expecting to get "police protection" from relatives who are against their marriage. The film has a realistic narrative style and we will never feel that it is the first work of a director, but what I liked most in the movie was the character of the rude and practical SI of the police station, brilliantly played by Vinay Forrt, who is a stark contrast to the heroic policeman of Action Hero Biju
.Anuraga Karikkin Vellam
is a feel-good romantic comedy from director Khalid Rahman. Though the director attempts only the tried-and-tested ways of narratives for this genre, the film is executed well and it didn't bore me - and it is much better than any of the films directed by veteran directors of Malayalam in recent times. Biju Menon is one of the finest actors of Malayalam Cinema today, and he does a good job in this film too.
In the film Oru Murai Vanthu Pathaya
, director Sajan K Mathew tells a story that is a mix of horror, mystery and romance - all packaged inside a thick wrap of mindless comedy. I liked it for the colorful premises of the village that the film presents (the director receives great support from cinematographer Dhanesh Raveendranath here) and a few songs that are good to hear. While Unni Mukundan is adequate in making his character likeable with the right mix of innocence and confused expressions, newcomer Prayaga Martin stands out with some unique dialogue delivery style and expressions that made her character believable.
Hyderabad - A Graphic Novel|
The 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".
The book starts in an intriguing way with a fantasy tale of a researcher traveling by time machine to 15th century Hyderabad in search of a poet, but then, without any particular reason that I could figure out, it jumps to narrate the making of Chandigarh city. The script then goes on in a convoluted style, which looked very pretentious to me. It has nothing about the city of Hyderabad, and eventually it ends in a confusing way. The only thing worth mentioning in this boring book is the artwork by Chattoraj.
Three Men in a Boat|
I 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.
The book, which is based on real life incidents, narrates the adventures of three friends and their dog, as they go through a two week boat trip on the Thames. Many of the humorous situations narrated in this novel have later been adapted in many other books and movies and hence would look familiar, but the book still remains a very engaging read, and it would make us also wish for being part of the boat trip with these very funny characters. The illustrations by KL Jones are very apt for the book.
The Graveyard Book|
During 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.
I liked the illustrations by Craig Russell for one of the chapters. They reminded me of the beautiful and stylish illustrations done for world classics in the Pendulum Illustrated Series, which Paico used to translate and publish in Malayalam a while back.
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