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...