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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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August 23rd, 2016
01:28 pm

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India at Olympics
One 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.

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August 21st, 2016
07:46 pm

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Come and See
Russian 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.

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August 19th, 2016
08:14 pm

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The Man Who Knew Infinity
The 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.

Though the film is a good effort, I was disappointed with actor Dev Patel's portrayal of the central character. Somehow, he didn't match the personality I had in my mind of the enigmatic mathematician, an introvert youngster from the village who had numbers for his friends. And the fact that the entire film is in English, makes the matters worse. However, I liked the performance by Jeremy Irons in the role of GH Hardy.

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August 17th, 2016
09:58 pm

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Kammattippadam
Malayalam 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.

Kammattippaadam is a well made film, and it further underlines the skills of director Rajeev Ravi, who had earlier directed Annayum Rasoolum and Njan Steve Lopez, and the film has his signature style of narration. However, I felt that the theme had the potentials for making a masterpiece out of it, if Rajeev had given complete focus on the destruction of the cultural aspects during such "forced" relocations happening as part of real estate developments (which is not something that is specific to Kochi), and the moral dilemmas of the characters in a generalized way, instead of spending much time on the specifics of a particular crime and scenes of heroism.

Performances by Manikandan and Vinayakan stand out in the film, and they look like literally living in their roles. Dulquer Salmaan gives a sincere performance which can be termed as his best so far, though there are scenes in which his sophistication, refined behavior and dialogue delivery come in contrast with that of his friends even though they share similar backgrounds as per the narrative.

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August 12th, 2016
12:00 pm

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CR No:89
Two 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.

I liked the film for its original narrative style. The film just portrays the situation without delving into the backgrounds of each individual character, leaving many things open-ended, reminding of some of the Iranian films by Abbas Kiarostami. At the same time, the film captures the situation itself in detail, with a series of close shots of the characters and their expressions, creating an engaging atmosphere for the film.

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August 10th, 2016
10:04 pm

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Greatest Bengali Stories
I 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.

Arunava Sinha says that he selected these stories based on how he was able to personally relate and "romance" with them. So, in a way, this book should have been named as "My Favorite Bengali Stories" - The readers need not necessarily feel that each and every one of these stories are among the "greatest Bengali stories". Personally, I found most of the stories in the book to be interesting, while there were a few which I could not appreciate much.

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August 9th, 2016
07:27 pm

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BBMP Demolition Drive
After 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.

Instead of starting with identifying and penalizing the land developers and builders who have done the encroachment and those corrupt government officials who have facilitated and co-ordinated the encroachment activities, BBMP is now busy demolishing some of the independent houses that were built on such allegedly encroached areas, leaving the innocent end users (who are termed as "encroachers" by BBMP) homeless even though they possess all valid approvals and documentation from government, and have been living there for decades. The identification of encroached areas surrounding lakes and storm water drains is done based on some old village maps which are either not published anywhere with the desired level of accuracy, or are not easily accessible for common people, thereby leaving the details open to interpretation, and the doors open for further corruption. Further, the demolition activities are carried out with such a stealth manner as if they are targeting to catch some underworld elements. Ironically, while all this is going on, we could also see new constructions being approved and huge apartment complexes coming up all over Bangalore which do a complete mockery of the building laws or the guidelines on protection of environment, pointing to a completely collapse of the state machinery.

Would it be too pessimistic in saying that we don't have much to hope for the future of this urban slum of Bangalore which we call as a "city"?

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July 30th, 2016
11:24 am

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"Government Approved" Terrorists
An 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).

The nexus of politicians, land grabbers, builders and corrupt government officials is a greater threat to our society now than all the terrorist organizations put together.

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July 24th, 2016
09:14 pm

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Natsamrat
Marathi 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.

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July 21st, 2016
09:15 pm

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Three Films by Hirokazu Koreeda
I watched three more films directed by Hirokazu Koreeda recently, and was greatly impressed with them.

Nobody Knows is a film based on a real incident, in which four "unregistered" children are left alone in an apartment in Tokyo by their mother. The eldest child, Akira was given some money by the mother before leaving, and the film shows the plight of the children for next few months.

In Like Father, Like Son, we see Ryota, a rich, ambitions and career oriented man and a strict, disciplinarian father, suddenly realizing that his 6 year old son is not really his own, as there was a mistake done at the hospital during his delivery and the baby was switched with another one. His real son's parents are of middle class background, but they have a much warmer bonding with their kids. The film focuses on the dilemmas of both the parents, and shows how each of them look at the situation in very different ways.

Our Little Sister is about three sisters who live on their own. Their father had married some other woman several years back, and the mother had also followed suit. When they come to know of their father's death, they reluctantly decide to attend his funeral, and there they meet their 13 year old step-sister, Suzu. Suzu's mother had passed away, and her father had married a third time. The three sisters invite Suzu to live with them, and the rest of the film shows the relationship between the four girls.

Hirokazu Koreeda handles stories involving complex human emotions with warmth, and all these films are wonderful viewing experiences.

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