Ratheesh KrishnaVadhyar's Journal
Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "Ratheesh KrishnaVadhyar" journal:
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Watched Hotel Rwanda
(2004), a brilliant film based on the conflicts between Hutu and Tutsi people of Rwanda, and the Rwandan Genocide
of 1994. Paul, the central character of the film is a well-to-do Hutu, and is manager at a star hotel. For him, his close family comes first before anything else in the world, and in the beginning of the film we see him as a person who wouldn't want to intervene when he sees his Tutsi neighbors are being beaten up and taken away by police, because he thinks that would be an unnecessary risk to take. However, as the film progresses, we see him providing shelter for more than a thousand Tutsi refugees at his hotel and trying all he could do to ensure their safety.Hotel Rwanda
brought a recent Hindi film Airlift
to my mind. Though both of these films are based on real events, there are quite a lot of resemblances between the main characters and certain events in these films.
Embrace of the Serpent|
Embrace of the Serpent, a film from Columbia, tells the story of two travels - The first one in early 1900, when a German scientist, who is unwell, is guided by his helper (who worked for a Rubber Baron earlier, and was freed by the scientist after paying some money to his "master") to meet Karamakate, the last survivor of an Amazonian tribe. The scientist hopes that Karamakate would be able to show him Yakruna, a secret, sacred plant that is supposed to have great healing properties. In the second story that is set several decades later, a scientist from the US is in search for the Yakruna plant, and he too approaches Karamakate (who is now an old man) and they together take up a journey through the river. Through these stories, the film attempts to discuss (though not in an explicit manner) various subjects related to colonization of the Amazon areas, religious conversions, and destruction of indigenous cultures.
The film is picturized in black and white, and it looked very different to view the "lush green landscapes" of the Amazon through shades of gray. Along with some native music that is used for background, the imagery of the film provides a unique viewing experience.
Malayala Cinema Charithram Vichithram|
Chelangattu Gopalakrishnan's book on the history of early Malayalam Cinema starts in the beginnings of 20th century, describing the photo exhibition systems that were seen around the Thrissur Pooram venue and some of the later evolutions in the film exhibition systems, including the manually operated film projectors that showed Tamil and Hindi silent films in Kerala. He writes in detail about the makings of Vigathakumaran (1930) (Apparently it was Chelangattu Gopalakrishnan who played a significant role in rediscovering JC Daniel's movie several decades later, helping it receive due credit as the first Malayalam movie to be ever made), Marthanda Varma (1933) and Balan (1938), the first talkie.
We then read about some other early Malayalam movies (and movie-making attempts), about the establishment of Udaya Studio and Merryland Studio, and several movies (many of them mostly unheard of) made during the 1950s. After taking the readers through the movies of late 1950s, the author jumps to 1967 and writes about a few movies made during that time, and the book abruptly ends there - It gives the impression that the book is a collection of various articles written by the author, not specifically aiming to document a continuous history of Malayalam Cinema.
Malayala Cinema Charithram Vichithram has a journalistic narrative style, filled with several anecdotes and gossips surrounding people involved with film-making. They are often interesting to read, and it was amazing to note the perseverance of the author in following up on the personal lives of many of the colorful characters associated with those early Malayalam films.
Ethel and Ernest|
Ethel and Ernest, graphic novel by Raymond Briggs, tells the true life story of the author's parents from a day in 1928, when they met for the first time, till 1971, the year in which both of them pass away within a short span of time.
Ethel worked as a lady's housemaid and lived at her employer's house in London. On that day of 1928, she happens to open the windows of the upper floor of the house; At that precise moment, Ernest, who worked as a milkman and was cycling through the road, turns his head towards Ethel and suddenly the yellow towel in her hand happens to unfold and flap in the wind. Ernest greets her, and that was their first meeting.
After illustrating this part in the first few pages, the author continues with the story of their relationship - We get to see Ethel and Ernest getting married and taking a bank loan to buy a house, leading a simple and pleasant life supported by their meager income, but still managing to get themselves updated with the new technological inventions as time moves. We also see them surviving through the World War II. The narrative of the book progresses through multiple series of conversations between the couple - most of the time they are about the various happenings in their own life; At other instances we see Ernest reading newspapers and passionately commenting on the social and political developments around them, while Ethel's interest in such news is limited to the practical aspects of how they are going to affect their day-to-day life.
Though from the outside it appears as a matter-of-fact, dispassionate narrative, Ethel and Ernest is a moving book and it was touching to read about the warm relationship between the husband and wife, and follow the events in the Briggs family as they find happiness and satisfaction in various "small things" of life.
Action Hero Biju|
Watched Malayalam film Action Hero Biju directed by Abrid Shine, which tells the story of a "good" police officer, played by Nivin Pauly. The film doesn't have a conventional plot to mention; It follows the happenings in the life of the police officer as he investigates various unrelated cases and interacts with different people. The narrative tries to underline the importance of the role of a "good" police officer in the society. It was an interesting film to watch, and has some good performances.
The Rabbi's Cat|
Read The Rabbi's Cat, a graphic novel by Joann Sfar. The novel tells a fable-like story involving a Rabbi, his daughter, and his pet cat living in Algeria, sometime in early 20th century(?). The story is narrated from the perspective of the cat, who is often drawn a bit like a kangaroo. He eats the pet parrot of the house, an act which gives him the power to speak. The conversations between the Rabbi and his cat are filled with a mix of philosophy, satire and pure fun. The cat loses his special skill after a few days, but he continues to exchange his thoughts and comments on the happenings to the reader, as he along with the Rabbi accompany the daughter and her husband during their visit to France, soon after their marriage.
The illustrations are stylish, and I found this book to be very interesting.
Aya of Yop City|
I liked the Aya series of graphic novels scripted by Marguerite Abouet and illustrated by Clément Oubrerie. Originally published in French as a series of six graphic novels, Aya is translated to English and published as two books, titled Aya - Life in Yop City and Aya - Love in Yop City. Set in the 1970s at Yopougon, a suburb of Abidjan, capital of Ivory Coast, the novel brings out a handful of colorful characters and their adventures in life in a very engaging and humorous way, and through them we get a glimpse of life in the African city. The illustrations are simply brilliant.
During my school days, I used to collect postal stamps as a hobby, and one day my father handed over his old collection of stamps (which I had been eying for a while) that was kept in our wooden almirah to me. In this collection, there was a stamp with the picture of a fort, with "Fort De Dabou" and "Republique de Côte d'Ivoire" written on it. I couldn't figure out which country this stamp is from. Today it would have been just a matter of clicking a few keys to figure this out, but those days I had to spend many days asking around to my stamp-collecting friends, searching the "Manorama Year Book" and some other Malayalam "encyclopedia" I had at home, etc. After all this, I could only make a guess that the "Ivoire" could probably be associated with "Ivory Coast" but was not able to confirm this. So, the stamp retained an aura of mystery, and it was one of my most treasured possessions those days since none of my friends had a stamp from this strange country. While reading Aya, I remembered those days, and thought of that poor old stamp which is now resting in one of the pages of my stamp albums at Kerala, not having seen daylight for a long long time. Probably it will be handed over to my son if he starts stamp collection at some point of time, but he will miss the excitement of unraveling the identity of this "Republique de Côte d'Ivoire".
My 5 year old ancient mobile phone grabs attention of people whenever I display it publicly, because of its antiquity. The phone still does its job, and I do not want to buy a new one until it stops working. But people in general "upgrade" their phones every year so I am getting the tag of a miser :)
We want to bring more and more advanced technological equipments to the world to "connect" every piece of brick to the network, attach sensors everywhere and fill every corner with wireless media access points to improve the convenience and "cool factor" of life, and also do many other great things related to a wide spectrum of areas like health care, energy management, environmental monitoring, etc. The corporates and vendors of various equipments make money and a portion of it is spent on CSR activities related to sustainable development and environmental aspects, and all feel happy and proud. But, where do all these old phones, sensors and other electronic gadgets go? Are these disposed properly? It would be a stupid question to ask in India, as everyone knows the answer.
Watched Tamil film 24 starring Suriya - A fantasy-masala film in which we see a scientist "inventing" a sophisticated watch that can be used for time-travel, freezing time, etc. The scientist's lab constitutes various glass bottles and pipes through which colorful liquids are passed and mixed as part of the development process of this time travel equipment, and in case the machine lacks the functionality to jump over 24 hours, it can easily be enhanced to support this by adding a couple of extra dials - just a matter of an overnight effort by a watch mechanic who need not have such "advanced scientific background" and chemistry lab equipments handy. The colorful film was great fun to watch, and was entertaining.
It looks like the works of Kannada author Srikrishna Alanahalli are equally or more popular in Malayalam than in Kannada. Malayalam Translations of his three Kannada novels, Kaadu, Pavathan and Bhujangayyante Dashavatharangal were serialized in Mathrubhumi weekly way back in the 1980s, and they continue to be reprinted in book format by DC Books even today. More than two Decades after the untimely death of the author, DC Books has brought out a short book named Santhapthan, collecting four short stories by the author, translated by AVM Narayanan, who had translated his novels earlier.
The four stories deal with human relationships, dilemmas, confusions - set in typical premises of Alanahalli's novels, and all these have a common characteristic that they don't tell a tale in conventional way with a conclusion, but narrate a particular situation or events and stop it in an open-ended way. While these stories are not related and they deal with different characters, we get a feeling that they are somehow connected - For eg., the last story, Shravanam, looks like a slightly modified version of the first story, Santhapthan (which ends abruptly), told from a different perspective and time line.
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