Thursday, 23 July 2009

Glory: A Review

While watching Glory (1989) one of my friends came calling and it was a couple of hours until he finally left. All this time I just couldn't wait to get back to the movie. This is the beauty of a good movie. Well now let's get to the job.

Glory is a American civil war saga about the Union's first all-black volunteer company with the main protagonist being the commanding officer of the regiment Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. The movie begins at the Battle of Antietam and follows through the formation of the black unit and its training, and ultimately ending at the storming of the Confederate held Fort Wagner. Directed by Edward Zwick (of Blood Diamond fame) the film is simply marvellous. Though there were quite a few historical inaccuracies, those were made good by the excellent direction. This is not just another mindless chauvinistic war movie, but rather a war drama as it tries to analyse the sentiments of the men charged with the responsibility of protecting the American Union. Matthew Broderick as the baby faced Col. Robert Gould Shaw does a great job, though sometimes he leaves something to be desired. But still after Ferris Bueller's Day Off (his movie which I saw last) he still manages to surprise me. Cary Elwes (one of my favourite actors) is also quite good, but his rather small role doesn't really justice to his capabilities. Denzel Washington as the hot headed Trip is one of the greatest characters in cinematic history and singlehandedly becomes the uncontested spokesperson of black anger. Morgan Freeman is his great self as usual, and Jihmi Kennedy plays a rather interesting cameo with a nice accent. One stand-out of this film is the near about absence of any female characters. And lastly a mention about the music by James Horner - simply fabulous. It almost doubles the impact of what we see on the screen.

Plus factors - Great direction, great script, great acting, great characterisation, good utilization of characters and great music.

Minus factors - Average cinematography and quite a few historical inaccuracies.

My Rating - 8/10.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

The Day I saw 2 Movies

Didn't have pretty much to do the whole day. Most of the time I fiddled around with FL Studio on some songs I had been working upon with Priyankar. And the rest of the time was spent watching two mindless films (pure timepass). One was Accepted (2006) and the other was She's the Man (2006), for the both of which I provide a little short review down below.

Accepted is a story about a guy, who after being rejected to every college he had applied to, sets up his own college to satisfy his parents. 
Plus Factors - Good timepass, feel good movie
Minus Factors - Bad characterisation, stupid direction, highly flawed screenplay and average acting.
My Rating - 5.5/10.

She's the Man was the second movie, and I finished the 150 minute movie in about 20-25 minutes. Because I absolutely hated this movie. I hated it, hated it, and hated  it. I hated every second of it that I watched. So I won't bother much with the review itself.
Plus Factors - A talented storyline
Minus Factors - Bad direction, bad dialogues, absolutely terrible acting, stupid screenplay, obnoxious casting and highly irritating.
My Rating - 2.5/10

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Gorkhaland: The Solutions & Why Not

After my last post about Gorkhaland (to which I received a lot of constructive criticism), this is the follow-up post. The issue of Gorkhaland is not inherently a complex issue, and therefore should not be made to look so. So let us look at the probable solutions one by one.


The state government does nothing and the central government turns a blind eye to the hills. How much steam does GJM have? It's all going to fizz out in a few months. And if still the agitations continue, well then lets suppress it.

Advantage: None in particular. Might satisfy some higher egos in the state government.

Disadvantage: Agitation continues, and all the harmful things associated with it (mostly financial). Plus, it leaves the issue open to dispute later.

SECOND SOLUTION: Merge Darjeeling with Sikkim.

Yeah, that saves the hassle of forming a new state, and must also placate the Gorkhas (Man, doesn't Sikkim also consists of mainly Nepalis?). But I don't think that's possible. If the Gorkhas are looking for an identity, Sikkim is hardly going to provide that. And ironically it was to save Sikkim's neck that the British had annexed Darjeeling from the Gorkhas. Plus I think any merger plans would be vociferously opposed by the SDF, the ruling party in Sikkim. This would be triggered by the fact that the population of Darjeeling is 3 times more than that of Sikkim. So any merger would see the rise of another strong party (GJM) in state politics, and this might very well cost Mr. Chamling is beloved chair.

Advantage: Saves the hassle of the formation of a new state.

Disadvantage: Fails in all other objectives.

THIRD SOLUTION: Form a new state, Gorkhaland.

This is what the GJM is presently dreaming about. A state of their own. So that they can say that, "I belong to Gorkhaland, and that's a state of India." Very well. So first let me state the various factors.

Favourable factors-
1. Land area comparable to Goa (the smallest state).
2. High population
3. Distinct language and culture
4. Success of smaller states like Goa and Sikkim

And now the unfavourable factors-
1. Land area even less than Goa (yeah, it counts both ways of the argument).
2. Strategic concerns (it lies in the chicken's neck corridor).
3. More governments mean more ministers. More ministers mean more bureaucrats. And all this means more cars, servants, houses, and ultimately more money (and so less money available for development).
4. Failure of smaller states like Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland (the other side of the same coin).
5. The wrong message to all other communities desiring their own states.

Advantages: Solution of the problem. Complete withdrawal of all strikes and agitation. Spurt in economy.

Disadvantages: Wrong message to other communities fighting for statehood. Plus the Bengali population in Siliguri might not be too pleased. Anti-Gorkhaland strikes and rallies. Siliguri might be kept within West Bengal (but this certainly won't find much favour with GJM). But hey, you win some, you lose some. You lose a city, but you win the state.

FOURTH SOLUTION: Declare Darjeeling to be an Union Territory (with partial statehood later on).

This would be more amicable to the Central Government, and would also solve the problem of identity which the Gorkhas feels so keenly. The Government of West Bengal too, I have reasons to believe, will be less opposed to this plan. The Lieutenant-Governor appointed by the Central Government might be chosen from any of the Gorkha Regiments. This would certainly go a long way in creating goodwill amongst the people of Darjeeling. Later on as the political climate stabilises in the state, Darjeeling (or Gorkhaland after renaming) can be conferred the status of partial statehood with its own elected legislative assemblies and the executive councils of ministers on the lines of the DGHC.

Advantages: Solution of the problem. Spurt in economy. Strategic interests will be taken better care of (Gorkhaland will be a frontier UT then).

Disadvantages: The issue can still be exploited by vested political interests. GJM might not be satisfied as it's leader Bimal Gurung will have failed to get the power for himself. His dreams of being the Chief Minister will be dashed.

Finally the choice lies with the Gorkhas. It will always be difficult to satisfy all the parties. But this doesn't mean that an agreement will remain forever elusive. All we need are a few compromises and a dilution of the excited egos on both side of the political fence. And God willing everything will be great.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Gurung's Gorkhaland

The unruly Gorkhaland fiasco is again rearing its ugly head. And that head is ably represented by Mr. Bimal Gurung. The markets are closed, the roads are blocked, the schools and colleges deserted. Yippee! It's a strike. Sikkim is suffocating, the prices of commodities are increasing, tourism is taking a bad hit and all the people (whether a Bengali or a Gorkha) are getting equally inconvenienced. The police are to be seen nowhere, and for all reasons its a one party rule out there.

But on second thoughts this whole thing seems to be a little funny. The Gorkhaland issue first got prominence under the leadership of Subhas Ghising of the GNLF. The man lead a rather bloody struggle to achieve Gorkhaland, but then abandoned the struggle after the formation of the Darjeeling Hill Council. He got the power he so terribly wanted (evidently) and then ruled like a tyrant for 20 years. He had the power and the money, now why should he go on bothering on issues like development? And then steps into the scene the young and ambitious Bimal Gurung. He takes the cue from Guru Ghising and starts his morning walk following his footsteps. He forms his own party, proclaims his aim to achieve Gorkhaland and helps BJP win the Darjeeling LS seat (just like GNLF had helped Congress win the seat in the late 80s).

And if Gurung achieves Gorkhaland then after a period of time there will be yet another guy who will revolt against Gurung and form yet another party and then demand independence. The cycle will continue as history repeats itself.

My argument is that if Bimal Gurung really cares about development (as he professes in his huge rallies) then he can very easily do so in the present framework. Formation of a whole new state will do little in such a situation, unless of course, Gurung wants a personal fiefdom. Ghising had his DGHC, Gurung wants his own state. Rest of the story will be similar I guess - a single party state, a single leader, concentration of all the resources and power in one hand leading to - corruption and tyranny.

Thinking rationally, Gurung doesn't even have an premise for his demands. The West Bengal Government doesn't suppresses the people, nor their culture or traditions. For development DGHC is there. There is complete freedom and all the Gorkhas enjoy exactly the same rights as everybody else. And remember the more the number of governments, the more will be the common man taxed to elect and support the huge entourage of ministers (and deputy ministers, and bureaucrats, and cars, and buildings, and of course more corruption).

And if they think that Gorkhaland is required to save their identity, its all fine and good. According to them,
"The main reason for the demand for a separate state is the assertion of an Indian identity for the Gorkhas. Such an identity cannot be bestowed by any locally envisaged administrative systems. These are meant only for economic upliftment and social development."

But then that rule must be applied to all minority communities throughout India. For example lets take a look at West Bengal after applying this rule --
West Bengal can be broken up into 6 parts - Darjeeling, Cooch Bihar, Kamtapur, Santhal dominated areas, Murshidabad (for Muslims) and proper West Bengal.
Applying this rule we get some 90-100 states in India, and I wonder how possibly India could survive then. God bless India. Amen.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

A Thing called Television

People usually change after finishing school. Colleges are hot and happening, and the perfect catalyst for change, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the worse. Well fortunately the only change it influenced in me is related to my TV viewing habits - I don't watch TV anymore.

Ah! What a nice and relaxing change that really is. No TV. A luxury I don't want no more. In the past two years I must have watched no more 50 hours of TV. And that mostly includes the History Channel, VH1 , NDTV and a sprinkling of the sports channels. The reasons for such a radical change aren't too hard to find. I hate all the sick saas-bahu serials, I hate the sensationalized news by Aajtak, I hate the westernized degenerate nonsense of MTV, I hate all the silly stage-managed 'reality shows' and I hate all the stupid untalented 'celebrities' of TVdom. I can't pause or move forward or even rewind to watch my favourite scenes again. And damn I have to watch every one of those filthy advertisements. The end result - I can't stand TV anymore. I am finished with tolerating that box of mediocrity.

If I have to watch movies or listen to music, I have my laptop and ipod for that purpose. And of course reading, blogging, surfing, and hanging out with friends provide a much better alternative to watching that shitty TV. And yes, I love reading the newspaper.

Monday, 13 July 2009

A Maoist Morning

Woke up at my usual timings, about 9:30 (and that too when threatened menacingly by mom). Brushed and gazed upon the newspaper. Damn! Those Maoists slayed some 30 policemen (including an SP!). Now this is too much. All the stupid state governments seems absolutely helpless against the hit-and-run tactics of these (severely misguided) guerrillas. So much so that the Islamic terrorists nowadays seem puny to these Chinese wannabes (with the Central government actually corroborating the fact).

I remember a few days ago, when this Lalgarh operation was at it's height, I happened to be at a mobile shop buying a recharge voucher. At that moment an extremely lean and thin man, with dense shoulder length hair, draped in clothes that might give even Mahatma Gandhi a run for his money, entered the shop. The guy was surely a tribal, that was quite evident. With a sort of stupid smiling grin eked on his face he slowly made his way over to the counter. He wanted to buy a mobile. He looked around a little and thereafter engaged in a lengthy discussion with the saleswoman (who was extremely fat, I might add). And there was I standing in a corner, looking rather suspiciously at this newcomer. All this tribal-maoist-lalgarh thing had made an impact. All tribals or even tribal looking people could now be branded as Maoists.

Two days later I saw (again) two rather tribal looking people on a motorbike near the aforementioned mobile shop. The first thought again in my mind was - 'Maoists'.

I really hate myself for that. This is like branding a whole community with the guilt of one. This is what war and hate makes us do. This is the same thing as saying that every Muslim is a terrorist, and that every damn Assamese belongs to the ULFA. This is what happened to the Irish during 'The Troubles' when every Irishman was thought to be the IRA, and this is what's happening now in this 'Global War on Terror' - whole communities are being branded for life.

And nobody's feeling sorry.

Just a bad day

You know when you have one of those really bad days, when nothing seems to go your way, today was exactly like that. A damn BAD day. Now let me list all the bad things that happened today for posterity.

1. An extremely boring morning.
2. Got into a huge tiff with mom.
3. Learnt that friends change.
4. Got to know that I still don't know a lot of things about the only girl I care about.

Excuse my language, but this day was indeed fucking bad. And it's end finds me a little depressed and with an attitude that doesn't really revel in looking forward to the next day.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Lilja 4-ever: A Review

Now what is this? It's a Swedish film (though mostly in Russian and not very famous). And how I came to know about it is a little story in itself.
I am a fan of the Bourne film series, and just out of curiousity (I simply love to read about my favourite films) I was researching about the whole series. While going about it I came across Oksana Akinshina who had a small role in the second Bourne film, The Bourne Supremacy. Reading further about her, I found that she was in a highly acclaimed film 'Lilja 4-ever' by a Swedish director, Lukas Moodysson a few years earlier (in 2002). From the inrefutable Sir Wikipedia I came to know that this film was about poverty and human trafficking in Europe. Hmmm... for a person like me sitting in India, it is sometimes a little tough to visualize such evils (usually associated with third world countries) amongst the picturesque slopes of Europe. The user comments in IMDb further tempted me, and at last I decided, "Yes! It must be viewed." And indeed it was.

Shot in a partly documentary manner and set in some former USSR republic, it is an extremely bleak drama about a girl named Lilja (pronounced Lilya). It's the story of her downward spiral as her life goes from bad to absolute hell. The starting scene with the Rammstein song 'My Heart Burns' sets the harsh tone of the film as it tries to highlight the dual issues of human trafficking and sexual slavery. The sex montages are successful in juxtaposing the ugliness of the world and of the men who take advantage of another's distress and the innocence of Lilja. Volodja's character is also quite touching, especially the rooftop scene with Lilja. The story and the charcterisation both score well, and speak volumes about the talent of Lukas Moodysson. The movies is sad, but it's sad for a reason.

Plus factors: Realistic direction, strong story, good characterisation, good acting.
Minus factors: Poor editing, poor sound mixing.
Overall: It's good, but could have been really better.
My IMDb score: 7/10

Thursday, 2 July 2009

The Great Question of Article 377

The whole country at the present moment seems to be in the throes of a second sexual revolution, with the spotlight on the 'criminality' of homosexuality. The government's favourable approach to decriminisation of homosexuality has almost light up a thousand candles for the homosexuality community. The almost daily rallies and gay pride parades are a testimonial to this fact. Intellectuals are having a field day espousing the cause, while the conservative circles are expectantly demonizing the move.

Well, as for taking sides, let me declare that I severely denounce Article 377. I vehemently believe that the government nor the police should have any right to censor or regulate own's sexuality, unless and until it is physically injurious to others. And if two consenting adults choose do something a little differently, and nobody's getting hurt, and nobody's complaining, what damn case can the police possibly have? Terrorists, militants, robberies, rapes, murders, scams, the police have already enough shite on their hands rather than bothering about this.

As for the Article 377 itself, I am presently not clear on its physical implications conviction-wise it had on the society till now because, frankly speaking, I never heard a person being 'convicted' of being a homosexual. So its only evident effect is the suppression of homosexuals, and disabling them from being open about their sexual status. And this is bad enough. Living a life with a major part of your personality suppressed is certainly not my idea of a life worth living.

Down with 377!!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin