Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Nonostante la nebbia (Despite the Fog Opening Film at IFFI 2019


Nonostante la nebbia (Despite the Fog)

Golden Jubilee version of IFFI 2019 kicks off in Goa with the Italian Film Nonostante la nebbia (Despite the Fog), a film by Goran Paskalejevic that veers around the life of a refugee, Ali Musa Sarhan who loses his parents when their boat capsizes near the Italian Coast.  Ali is accepted by a couple who has lost their child.  The psychological travails and the solace in accommodating the arab in place of their son.  Donatella Finokjaro (Valeria) and Giorgio Tirabasi (Paolo) face the challenges and confrontations within and outside their family in such an acceptance.

In a real world when hundreds of refugees scourge the streets in hope of a better life in other and seemingly better parts of the world, children and often minors are left destitute waiting to be accepted or left to decay without parental care on the streets which accentuates the issue of refugees especially minors and depicts the xenophobic fog the world is sinking into with passage of time.

[Born in Belgrade, Goran Paskaljević is a Film director, screen writer and producer who belongs to a group of Yugoslav filmmakers who studied abroad and graduated from the Film and Television Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. He has made about 30 documentaries and 16 feature films.  His film Powder Keg has won the FIPRESCI prize at the Venice Film Festival and was also highly acclaimed at European Film Awards.  Goran Paskaljevic shares his time between Belgrade and Paris and holds Serbian and French Citizenship].

The film is good at story telling, however some eminent Indian film makers say that the film falls short at many places and could have touched higher levels in respect of cinematography and techniques.

Awards and recognition:

Berlin Golden Bear for Best Film
Nominated 1978 The Dog Who Loved Trains
Cannes Palme d'Or
Nominated 1985 Special Treatment
Venice Golden Lion for Best Film
Nominated 2001 How Harry Became a Tree
Festróia Golden Dolphin for Best Film
Nominated 2002 How Harry Became a Tree
San Sebastián Golden Shell for Best Film
Nominated 2004 
Midwinter Night's Dream
Valladolid Golden Spike for Best Film
1995 Someone Else's America
2006 The Optimists
Pula Golden Arena for Best Director
1976 Beach Guard in Winter
1980 Special Treatment

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Free Rides in Delhi

Free rides in Delhi

[Pink slips handed out to employees during recession or hard times has often been abhorred by employees workers unions but from 29th of October, 2019, women in Delhi would be handed out pink slips in city transport buses to avail a free bus travel in the city of New Delhi.This novel project embarked upon by the Delhi Government has an added buffer. 13000 marshals are being deployed across the city to oversee that the plan goes without hitch. Marshals will not only hand over the pink slips to lady passengers they would also ensure their safety during the journey.]

Delhi has been growing over the years but it has not been able to absorb the huge rise in passenger traffic owing to multifarious reasons. While first two decades of post independence era brought about white collared workers into the government sector into the capital post seventies threw open infrastructural sectors, small scale industries and tertiary operations drawing millions into the city.  While structured construction was limited to government buildings, Corporations, Banking and Corporate enterprises a large segment of population spread like wild shrubs into shanties and JJ (Juggi Jhopri) clusters.
Delhi Transport Corporation that came into existence in 1948 later came under operated under Municipal Corporation of Delhi till 1971 and later transferred and put under the administrative control of government of NCT of Delhi.  It has a current fleet of 3900 buses apart from a fleet of 1634 DIMTS buses which takes the total fleet to 5578 buses which include AC, Non-AC and cluster bus fleet.

Over the years with rising population pressure travel in DTC buses has been a nightmare. With Choc-a-block traffic outside, scenario inside buses turned inhuman too.  People needed to pack themselves like sardines in sweaty summer heat inside transport buses and the uncouth behaviour of conductors besides reckless driving made travel in Delhi city buses a nightmare.  City buses during 80s and 90s faced immense pressure and to make matters worse cartels operated infamous Blue line buses which accounted for large number of traffic accidents in the city.  Rising number of eve teasing and sexual perversion cases inside transport buses besides erratic bus services led many middle class women to a switch over to their own private cars during the 90s and thereafter which can be attributed as the primary reason for spurt in city traffic over the years.

Hallmark of a developed city is its extensive use of public transportation which went missing in Delhi. While Delhi Metro Rail Services began its services in 2002, in the absence of last mile connectivity, many traditional commuters in city buses switched over to their own private vehicles including two wheelers and currently more than a crore of vehicles ply on Delhi roads despite a criss-cross of metro and public transport service.  Today Delhi witness a bumper-to-bumper on most days of the year with frequent traffic snarls leading to loss of precious time as well as fuel owing to such hold-ups.

Would a change happen? I believe unless majority of a city population switches over the public transport situation on ground would not change.  Perhaps an important step in this direction has been made. Today marks a deviation in the course of Delhi Transport. Perhaps it is a red letter day for Delhi as travel of women in Delhi city buses has been made free.  5558 buses operating in Delhi in which nearly 12 lakh passengers travel would witness free  ride for women. With an added fleet strength of 1000 CNG and 300 electric buses, the overall fleet strength of DTC is expected to touch 7000. Perhaps this could prove to be the game changer for improving the fleet utilization and weaning away people from taking their private vehicles on road and switching back to Delhi transport buses for travel.  I believe if Government of Delhi embarks on the plan to provide free city ride not just to women but to anyone switching back to buses a big leap will be made in managing traffic, pollution and congestion in Delhi.  Perhaps a plan to provide free and unrestricted space to Delhi Transport buses on Delhi roads (as done during Commonwealth games) would be a big thrust in promoting city buses which could see bang on timings and larger use.

     [DTC Air conditioned  Bus]

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Kerala Floods: Whose land is it anyway?

                      God’s own country, in deluge

While the month of August 2018 brought out images of flooding caused by opening up of dams due to heavy rains in Kerala, while preparing to mark the first anniversary of floods this year, God's own country is yet again, deluged in rains that is far exceeding  the normal patterns of rainfall in the state.   This year, however, it is unprecedented landslides in hilly regions and washing away of huge tracks of soil that is taking its toll on people of this beautiful state in South India.

I translate and reproduce here, a portion of a write up, I came across in  Vadakancherry online, which reflects the reality on ground zero and exemplifies public reaction to natural calamities in the state reinforcing my faith in this land and its people.

“Henceforth no one should call it God’s own country!

What kind of land is this?

What kind of people live in this land?

Shopkeepers up the shutters of their shops and pack away entire goods for it to be distributed among the flood affected people of this land.

An infant who has lost his mother in floods is being breastfed by many mothers in the relief camp.

A mother, having lost all her belongings, cries inconsolably as she fears that her daughter’s wedding may get cancelled is promised 80 grams of gold by Feroz Kunnumbparabil and before Feroze could reach the camp, one Shan hands over required Gold to the hapless mother. A person named Bava Hameed sponsors the entire wedding expenses, Franko Sabaestian undertakes to cover wedding photography, some others help out in hosting wedding!

Mayor Bro connects North and South with his 50 loads of relief material.  Trucks carrying relief material are stopped on waysides and  drivers given tea and snacks by village folk.

Collector and district administration find it hard to contain the sea of youth volunteering to clean houses and provide human support to flood affected people.

What kind of land is this?

Do not call it God’s own country

This is land of Gods”

I have been following the pattern of rainfall and changes in geo spaces in Kerala for the past more than 3 decades.  While unnatural weather changes are being felt for the past one decade, it is since 2018 that Kerala is facing the brunt of natural calamities which it was fairly saved from for past several decades.

What is the reason for such an alarming situation?

I feel, five factors have broadly impacted Kerala, which now faces an imminent task of moving forward on the face of adverse human and natural intervention to its environment.

1.      Effects of global warming, al-nino factors leading to change in climatic and rainfall patterns
2.      Massive stone quarrying, tree cutting and sand mining leading to change in terrain patterns.
3.      Mammoth construction activities for commercial and residential use.
4.      Reduction of forest cover or covert activities like cash crop plantations, massive tree cutting in forest regions for commercial gains.
5.      Non implantation of recommendations of committees like the Gadgil report.
While Governments can help assuage sufferings of masses by official intervention and providing relief to those affected by natural calamities, it is the people, who bring about a difference to the way the calamities determine the course of public reactions to short term and long term measures in handling such contingencies.

Whose land is it anyway?  

If we believe, it is ours, time has come for us to rise above narrow political and commercial interests to see to it that challenges arising out of  natural calamities occurring out of man-made and natural factors are seriously assessed and measures taken to plug disasters or reduce the sufferings caused by such occurrences.

Photo Courtesy: Google online

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Dark Chocolate

When you are restless, distraught or depressed don't go in for that piece of dark chocolate….read this:

We are shaped and fashioned by what we love:

            The first look, the first touch of something created by nature is enough to shape our present and our future.  It has been scientifically proven that a new born baby has the capacity to differentiate between individuals.  As we grow up our needs and desires centre around things that we love: materially or emotionally tangible or intangible.  We work towards reaching our goals no matter how trivial they seem to be but we generally end up doing what we love to remain happy lest we struggle with our frustrations and miseries and attribute them to our misfortune and fate.

Target setting and your life notes

To be happy in life, to reach our targets we need to set out with objectives that should reflect positively in Life notes (A folder containing your personal targets).  To be happy and to be able to touch the rainbow of life that one aspires for, one should keep in mind the following:

1.         Have a clear vision of your efforts and results expected
2.         Creatively energizing and inspirational targets
3.         Self limiting and time controlled parameters
4.         Self synchronizing and time barred limits

Sections of your life notes should clearly demarcate your needs in relation to:

1.         Private and personal enhancement goals
2.         Economically and financially viable goals
3.         Psychological and bodily empowering goals
4.         Interpersonal and socially enriching goals
5.         Godly and spiritually uplifting goals

Eleven steps to rejuvenating Life can be practiced to reach your goals in a smooth and satisfying manner:

1.         Justified Silence
2.         Physical calm
3.         Knowledge integration
4.         Abundant freedom
5.         Latent personal reflection
6.         Lenitive morning awakening
7          Infinite Musical experience
8.         Kindling the Spoken word
9.         Keeping a congruent character
10.       Ample Simplicity
11.       Learning the art of self-empowerment

It's always fun to be in school, where the essence of life is innocence.  Whether as a teacher or a student….  Remember the time you left school and were in college, perhaps you wished, 'You could be in school again'….Amen….so you are back to school !

But when you left College did you miss it?.... We miss what slips out of our hands, like time….we fail to be happy with what we have in our hands…..like Life!

Love Life while Living it!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

70th Republic Day Celebrations 2019 at Rajpath

India celebrates its 70th Republic Day on 26th January, 2019. The year commemorates the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi which shall be set going with a tribute on this day.  H.E. Matemela Cyril Ramaphosa, the fifth and current President of South Africa is expected to be Chief Guest at the Celebrations this year.  The delegates for the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas which shall be held in Varanasi between 21st and 23rd January, 2019 shall also witness the grand parade at Rajpath.  As per tradition Prime Minister shall pay tribute to honour the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country since independence.  National War Memorial near India Gate shall also be inaugurated by the PM.

Contingents of the Indian Armed Forces including the para-military forces, Delhi Police and Service bands shall form the backdrop for a marvellous show of military strength as part of the parade.  An all women contingent from the Assam Rifles, which is one of the oldest paramilitary forces of India is expected to add sparkle to the parade this year.  This year shall see inclusion of self propelled gun, K9 Vajra and M777 Howietzer during the parade.  The IAF marching contingent shall be let by Flt Lt Srikant Sharma.

Children from various schools numbering around 600 are expected to show case the talents of Indian youth in front of the distinguished audience.  Another high point of this year is roll out of tableaux from 17 states/union territories which shall depict achievements and cultural diversity through live models and performances atop the moving tableaux with the theme ‘Gandhi’.   The tableaux shall also include ones from IAF which shall showcase scaled down version of Light combat Aircraft, Sukho-30 and low level light weight Radar which have been indigenously designed and manufactured.  It would be the first time when a woman officer would be leading the Army Services Corps during the Parade.  The scintillating performance of the daredevils Motorcycle team, performance of which is eagerly awaited each year, shall also include woman officer in the team.  

As in the past, the fly past by Indian Air-force shall be a reason for rejoicing.  A high point this year is the inclusion of ‘vic’ formation of AN-32 aircrafts which will be lead by an aircraft fuelled using a mix of traditional and bio fuel (10%) extracted from Jatropha plant seeds developed by CSIR and Indian Institute of Petroleum, Dehradun.  The vic formation is expected to be lead by Sqn Ldr. Gautam Bajaj and Wg. Cdr. Arun Chandan.  The flypast which shall be in two phases shall see 18 fighters, eight transport aircraft and 11 helicopters.  A 144 strong Indian Air Force contingent with IAF band shall also form part of the celebrations.  The main flypast shall comprise of 33 aircrafts from IAF and 4 helicopters from the Army’s aviation arm.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Olu (She) - Malayalam Movie - Shaji N Karun

                                                         Olu (She) by Shaji N Karun

                                                 A review by Jaya Prakash Kallikkal

Olu (She) is a film that veers between fantasy and reality. Brilliant Cinematography stringing together varied shades of love, layered at different levels of human mind  creatively translated into a visual treat is the hallmark of this beautiful film.   109mts of pure fantasy unfolds through an intriguing story telling style splashing out onto the screen under the masterly directorial venture of acclaimed Malayalam Film Director Shaji N. Karun .

Titled ‘Olu’, a local slang for She/her, used in northern parts of Kerala is a fantasy drama that rivets around the central theme of love as seen from a male and female perspective.  Shot mostly in the backdrop of turquoise blue backwaters, the story is set in a mystery island in the Arabian sea where a nun turned bodhisattva is believed to have set foot and disappeared under water.  Ester Anil plays the role of Olu (she), a local girl who is raped and immersed under water near the mysterious hanuman island which is believed to be infested with spirits and lost souls.  The protagonist and central character of the film Vasu played by Shane Nigam is a local artist belonging to the island who seems to be a witness to the entire sequence of events that changes his notion and understanding of love.  

Belonging to a Panikkar family that owns some of the oldest surviving structures in the island, Vasu struggles to make a living out of painting.  His paintings are often cheap copies that do not earn him much money or respect.  He however finds his life transformed in one of the full moon nights when he ventures alone in his boat near one of the eerie spots in the backwaters.  He hears a melodious voice of a girl who beckons him awakening love in his heart.  Vasu visualizes the girl to be beautiful however his efforts at catching a glimpse of the girl.  While his family consisting of his grand mother, who is a witch craft practitioner herself warns him against his advances professing dire consequences.  Enthralled Vasu despite warning visits the spot on full moon nights and is mesmerized in love and thereafter seeks redemption in his paintings that stand transformed into pieces of art that is widely acclaimed. 

Vasu is invited to Mumbai where he is sucked up into the vortex of art world and he falls for his PR agent and secretary and gets physically engaged to her.  He is unable to concentrate in his new paintings as the voice from the backwaters cling to him and beckons him to return.  Vasu visits his hometown to be at the spot on full moon night to communicate with his platonic love.  However he finds that Olu (she) is disturbed and in know of his love and intimacy to another woman.  Changing hues and shades of shimmering backwaters turn gray and Vasu turns into a mental wreck.

Through Olu Shaji tries makes real the essence of love in varying dimensions of human mind platonic, Physical, Real, Esoteric.  Juxtaposition of visual effects in a melange of shades of sea, sky and nature, wizardry of Shaji is immensely felt in the translations he provides through non -verbal means in the film.  Extremely complex psychic situations are anchored in the para-normal shots whereas simple human responses are reflected in characters like Vasu and people surrounding him in real life.

An interesting tryst of Vasu with a group of Buddhist historians who visit the monkey island and their request to him to paint a masterpiece for their monastery is an event that tries to dig a leaf out of the past history of the place and connecting some missing links from the past.
Though some visuals especially fleeting view of blue waters reminds one of Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, Olu is a visual treat as well a movie that sets a mind thinking as to the true essence and meaning of Love. Distinct handling of human psyche and translation of the theme of Love in its vivid proportions through individual and a macro level representation makes Olu a visual treat.

Shaji N Karun is a Malayalam Director of international repute. He is an alumini of FTII (1971) and many of his films including Piravi, Vanaprastham and Kutty Srank have been critically acclaimed.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Indian Panorama Film Festival 2019

Indian Panorama Film Festival 2019
(Indian Panorama Section Films of 2018)

Directorate of Film Festivals, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India is holding public screenings of Indian Panorama section of 2018 films at Siri Fort Auditorium between 4th and 13th January, 2019 at Siri Fort Auditorum, New Delhi.

Inaugural ceremony shall be held on Friday 4th January, 2019 at 5.30 pm at Siri Fort Auditorium which shall have screening of Aditya Suhas Jambhale directed Non-feature film Kharvasi (Marathi 38 mts.) and Shaji N Karun directed Feature Film Olu (Malayalam 109 mts.).

Tentative Schedule

4 January, 2019 (Friday): Day: 01

Opening Film at Indian Panorama: Shaji N Karun's Olu (ഓള് )

5 January 2019 (Saturday): Day 02

11:00 am Padmaavat (Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Hindi: Duration:165 mts.),
2.30 pm: Pamphlet/Poomaram (Abid Shine)(Malayalam: 106 mts.) , 
5.30 pm:Aai Shappath/Walking with the wind

6 January 2019 (Saturday): Day 03

11:00 am : Monitor/Raazi (Meghna Gulzar: 140 mts.),
2.30 pm: Burning/Makkana (Raheem Khader)(Malayalam), 
5.30 pm: Na Bole Woh Haram/To Let (Tamil):99 mts.

7 January, 2019: Day 04

111:00 am:: Nani Teri Morni/October (S. Sarkar) (Hindi),
2.30 pm::, Pariyerum Perumal BA, BL (Mari Selvaraj)(Tamil), 
5.30 pm:: Malai/Bhayanakam (Jairaj) (Malayalam): 123 mts.

8 January, 2019 (Day 05)

11.00am: Bhar Dupari/Aamhi Doghi (Pratima Joshi/Marathi),
2.30pm (Silent Scream/Sinjar (Pampilly/Jasari: 11 mts.),
5.30 (Gyamo Queen of the Mountains/Baaram (K. Priya/Tamil)

9 January, 2019 (Day 06)

11:00 am: Sword of Liberty/Bunkar the last of varanasi weavers,
2.30 pm (Decoding Shankar/Paddayi)
5.30 pm: The world's most famous Tiger/Uronchondi

10 January, 2019 (Day 07)

11:00 am: Naach Bhikari Naach/Bhor,
2.30 pm: Sudani From Nigeria (Malayalam)
5.30 pm: Yes I am Mauli /Nagarkirtan

11 January, 2019 (Day 08)

11:00am: Midnight Run/Perambu (Tamil: 148 mts.)
2.30 pm: Sampurak/SA
5.30 pm: Laasyam/Dhappa

12 January, 2019 (Day 09)

11:00 am: Happy Birthday/Ee Maa Yove (Malayalam: 120 mts.)
2.30pm: Abyakto ((Bengali: 86 mts.)
5.30 pm: Mahanati (Telugu: 176 mts.)

13 January, 2019 (Day 10)

11:00 am: Uma (Bengali: 148 mts.)
2.30 pm: Tiger Zinda Hei ((Hindi: 161 mts.)

Walk O City

[A writeup by Jaya Prakash Kallikkal on a new concept that can be used by urban planners for building people friendly cities by adoption of technologies aimed at pedestrian traffic, cyclists and alternative mode of passenger and goods movement across cities]

Rapidly shrinking cities owing to rising population and increasing vehicular traffic is a cause of huge concern for individuals and communities in terms of deteriorating health and pollution.  We are today witnessing a massive push for construction of roads and metros especially in the cities.

While roads are re-laid over existing tracks, traditional highways are being expanded wider into four and six-lane driveways with varying speed limits.  A big causality of urbanization is safe walk ways for pedestrians and cycle tracks for cyclists.  

Most cities in India, including Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai were proud inheritors of wide green turfs and open lawns.  However pressure of urbanization and dwindling land packets due to construction activities and scarcity of spaces has pushed pedestrian traffic out of gear.  We are now moving in a direction where less and less space is earmarked for walkers and cyclists, while more and more spaces are being made out for vehicular traffic.

It is a matter of great concern that cities are decaying owing to outright neglect of pedestrians and cyclists who in reality the biggest segment of representing population of a said place.  This naturally leads to a question why is this segment being neglected? Is it the phenomenal money power of the automobile industry that is propelling an un-relenting demand for motor vehicles leading to constriction of spaces on roads and cutting into the spaces meant for pedestrians and cyclists?

Though no solution has come to the rescue of this group, it can be noted that the very technology that is pushing growth in terms of adding up of Metro rail in cities can now be used to completely transform the urban landscape.

Current scenario can be radically reformed by design and construction of a network of walkways, subways and inter-segments in the belly of a city that would be revolutionary in not just reducing vehicular clutter in the city but also prove to be the next level of urban landscape.  Technology for such activity is already available and can be used for construction of vast passages across the city that could be exclusively used by walkers and cyclists.   
Currently multiple types of construction possibilities exist main among them are the Cut-and-cover tunnels which are constructed in a shallow trench and then covered over, another method is Bored tunnels which is constructed on site without removing the ground above.  Another method is sinking of pre-fabricated steel or concrete tubes inside trenches where sub soil is immersed in water especially under riverbeds or ocean floors where these tubes are immersed and connected thereby helping in pumping away of water before construction.
Another technology known as Bertha widens the construction options for underground walkways.  Bertha is a Japanese technology designed and manufactured by Hitachi Zosen Sakai Works of Osaka is perhaps the world's largest earth pressure balance tunnel boring machine, with a cutter head diameter of 57.5 feet (17.5 m) across. The machine can be as long as 326 feet (99 m) and weighs nearly 6,700 short tons (6,100 t).  Another Austrian Technology known as NATM (New Austrian Tunnelling Method) uses conventional tunnel excavation/sequential excavation involves tunnelling through Mechanical excavation and controlled blasting wherein initially the earth is excavated and a primary lining of concrete, steel and lattice girders, wire mesh and rock bolts are applied for stabilizing soil as per geological strata which is reinforced by use of M-25 concrete.

Unless the option of movement and support for environment is not given, cities risk the chances of decay.  Underground walkways and cycle tracks are the next generation of planning options that should be part of urban town planners vision.  Lack of resources and technology are excuses that administrators and politicians use to divert core issues of development and future vision aimed at benefiting urban masses.  It is time Metros and cities in India rise up to the occasion and build up a fascinating underground landscape for movement of people and goods that besides saving fuel and cutting pollution shall go a long way in fostering universal health paving way to a better future for mankind.

                                                                       REUNION   The other day my wife broached upon the subject of scho...