Sunday, August 25, 2013

Review of Madras Cafe

Immediately after writing a detail article( Lanka Dahanam ) on the Sri Lankan conflict, I find it very difficult to write something far less important, which is a movie review.
But I owe this movie a bit. It was while watching it that I was convinced that I should write about the genocide and now that I am finally through it I should just write the review.

The movie revolves around the basic plots surrounding the civil war in Sri Lanka and how India got entangled into it. Being the 4th largest military in the world and propelling towards being a regional power, India in those days was proactively monitoring and involved in the dynamics of Sri Lankan politics.

Through the eyes of an ex-RAW agent and paratrooper(never mentioned, but supposed to be so from the Red Beret), played by John Abraham, the story unfolds of how things went from bad to worse for India and Sri Lanka. Scripted as a commercial movie with some action scenes, suspense and romance this movie doesn't seem to hold back on the depth of research done on the topic. I was personally interested in the political involvements that were depicted.

The role played by Nargis seemed too cliche and badly written, and felt like forcibly added to keep the charm of beautiful models who speak British English in a war torn country of Tamils and Sinhalese and get prompt responses in .. Hindi! Speaking of which, the language was a major disappointment with the movie. Probably to keep the majority of Hindi speaking community in mind, the use of subtitles and local language has been limited and almost all characters speak Hindi, though broken. And the goof-ups showing the poster of Aashiqui-2 in a theatre scene which was supposed to happen in the 80s, and the shoots in Kochi where the modern container terminal too appears on frame shows that the camera department didn't do much homework to recreate the times when the story unfolded.

 Even John's attire and looks were largely metro-sexual, which wasn't the norm in those days. It looked like and old story remodeled to suit the sensibilities of the new crowd. But to give credit where it is due, the equipments used and some of the guns too were taken care to be those that were really available in those days.

Though there were some goof-ups and inaccurate facts, the story moves at a good pace through the solid lines keeping the balance between the story of the individual and the larger political and social aspect of the conflict.

Overall a entertaining political thriller that makes you think. 7.4/10

Lanka Dahanam

Yes, I did watch the movie Madras Cafe, but this is not the first movie that talks about the problems in our neighbouring country. And this post isn't about any movie either. I just felt compelled to write this article while I was watching the movie.

The history of Srilanka was always intermixed with that of India from ancient times. The arrival and the subsequent colonization of the island nation by the imperialist nations in the Imperial Age wasn't different either, except by the factor that a large Tamil population was now present on the island to work on the increasingly profitable plantations and other areas of work.

The strife between the two communities had begun during the British times itself and it naturally percolated down to modern times. After winning its independence in 1948, it didn't take much time for communal tensions to reach a point where the LTTE came into existence(1976) with Vellupillai Prabhakaran leading from the front. The rest is history.

The conflict continued for more than a quarter of a century and ended in a bloody, very bloody showdown.

Living through those days
The developments of  the struggle was a popular subject in the subcontinent, at least in the southern parts. We used to hear the adults talk about it every other day, and the news channels and papers used to carry news of the distant struggle almost every week or so. But apart from that, the one thing that stood out was the name of the notorious leader of the outfit, Prabhakaran,commonly known as Puli Prabhakaran. He was regarded both as a hero and a villain, kind of akin to the fame that the forest brigand Veerappan enjoyed among the common folks.

The 'general' knowledge was all there about how India was involved, and that Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by the LTTE for it. But what didn't percolate down to the kids at that time was the intricate politics of power,ethnic cleansing and economic strength. For me, the Srilankan struggle was a by default something perennial and didn't change through the busy days of school and college. I saw it as two sides opposing each other's communities and had taken up arms for it. Seemed too ridiculous a reason at that time, given the way Indians live with all communities in relative peace. The names of Puli Prabhakaran and Veerappan were held at same regard until curtains fell on them soon enough(each killing carrying its own clouds of controversy with it).

But it took me many more years to understand and fully denounce the horror of the conflict in the tiny island, which was supposed to be a beach paradise and cricketing power. A few books and mostly lots of reading on the internet after watching movies like Kannathil Mutthamital and Mission 90 days helped. But the real eye openers were the articles I read after the bloody showdown in which the tiger of the Tamils was silenced in deceit. The swiftness and the aggression showed by the Government naturally hinted that all stops were off and killing was relentless. There were no rules on the ground. And the thousands of international reports, leaked picture,stories and footages, international appeals and studies; everything pointed in the same direction. A grotesque genocide in the neighbourhood under the watchful eyes of all the international big brothers and the perpetrators walk scot-free!!

I think both sides were responsible for illegal and inhuman methods of targetting civilians for their own military needs, but with the wipeout of the LTTE(which could have been avoided by the Government if it had not gone back on the unconditional surrender), it is now only the Government officials who are supposed to be tried in the international court for rampant war crimes. Horrifyingly, all international appeals and reports were simply rejected or oppressed by the Sri Lankan Government.

Watch the video below titled Sri Lanka's Killing Fields by Channel 4. Viewer discretion is advised as the footages shown are raw, violent and often grotesque. You need a very tight gut and brave heart to sit  through the terrible scenes that have been caught on camera. The accounts of systematic brutal attacks on hospitals and civilian settlements makes one feel like the so called "tyrants" of the Middle East that the Security council is happily declaring war on are Messiahs. Even the UN officials who were forced to leave express their views that it was a deliberate move by the govt to have no international witnesses on the ground for what was to come.

It makes me wonder, how a proactive organization like the Security Council can crackdown on minor ethnic oppression in the middle east countries while turning a blind eye to the almost Nazi-style ethnic cleansing in Lanka. Well, the way I see it, the dynamics of oil rich countries is different from that of an island nation whose support can help countries gain footholds, both economic and military over the entire Indian Ocean. And that is not a small factor at all. Shipping line supremacy is a very very big factor for every economical  power and having military presence is absolutely necessary to balance power against the rising dragon.

But unfortunately, all this happens at the cost of millions of innocent civilians and the Indian political and bureaucratic paraphernalia got entangled with this conflict in all wrong manners. The Tamil population has bled itself and is at logger heads with the centre over this issue. Also the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi added so much masala into the landscape of Indian politics that essentially took away the ruling class from the common man. Traditionally, being slow at making right judgements, the Indian bureaucracy presents sitting ducks for the hostilities this quarter century long episode has generated within and around its national borders. 

The issue is very complex and I am no expert on the topic to write any further. Refer the follow links for substantial reports, books, articles by international news desks,supporters for both sides and so on..
Genocide Watch
Reports without Borders
Wiki: War Crimes in Sri Lanka
War without Witness
Official website of the LTTE
South Asia Terrorism Portal(SATP)
Human Rights Watch - Sri Lanka

Pray for peace...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

time to write is now

there is a time to write and that is now..

procrastination,laziness and the pursuit of that ideal idle moment to exercise vocabulary to write things in the head never seems to materialize..

Jiwatra! :)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

flame wars everywhere

News is all around us, and many of us devour upon it. I am a mild consumer of news.
News itself might be ranging trivial or funny stuff for leisure reading for people with specific interests to really breaking and important ones which everyone reads.

I occasionally get to read many articles from various news channels on interesting topics. I read quite less, as in I click on news articles in FB timeline,twitter timeline or in some news websites, only if I really get attracted to the headlines.

First I read the article, think upon it, and see if I agree with the author and his/her viewpoints depending upon my expertise on the topic. Then the mind seeks to know what other people or friends think about it if I feel it is something others might be interested in. So, I head over to the comments section to see the public perception.

The responses are interesting topic to study for data statistics and understanding the mindset of the readers. Comparing the responses to the same news topic in multiple media gives a good idea of the coverage of the media and the nature of their readers.

But there are also lots of news of high importance, for which the amount of public response seems strangely insufficient. I often feel short of content after reading some articles and wish to know what the general public reading it thinks about it. But almost all articles of interest to me garners no interest from the public that 'freely shares opinions'.

But among the few that do, I have seen such little useful and sensible comments that I subconsciously don't scroll down to the comments section for good articles. Take a news that even remotely relates to politics, war, religion etc and you get to the other extreme. There are lots of points, data and perceptions to read, but what spoils the apple cart is the flame wars.

Flame wars are fun to read upto some point, if the opposing sides have enough valid ammunition. But I have observed that most of the comments in the Indian media are very immature or sounds like plain propaganda message. I can immediately imagine a furious fanatic typing away on his keyboard trying to block the points made by the other side. The shit hits the fan when the topic covers sensational topics for no reason.

For this reason, sometimes I stick to respectable news media like The Hindu or some other foreign media for news that is of interest to me. Also I trust the category specific news feeds more as they don't tend to deviate from topic..

Saturday, August 03, 2013

sounds good..

background scores, i feel were the most underestimated elements of  entertainment media. be it movies, games or tv shows. I mean there was lots of effort put into it, but the recognition and experimentation with it didn't begin until recently.

but even the old ones if you check, there is a certain old world charm to them. consider the Indian movies of a certain era like the 80s where a common theme existed over all regional movies copied and adapted from the English and American movie industry. But the bgm and music were quite original for many movies. We had a rich culture of bgms with good taste. Probably the work of many skilled people behind it. But in those days, people never used to recognize brilliance in that section.

Nowadays people comment on BGM if not about the movie when movies tend to suck and BGMs rock. The composers of BGMs get much popularity and support these days. Remakes, remixes, covers and so much more gets involved with BGMs. They have a unique way of marking out the movies, scenes or themes. Hollywood examples of Matrix, Mission Impossible,  and many more are successful examples of good BGM becoming a brand artifact for the movie.

Likewise for video games, those with intense and captivating background scores tend to keep the players engaged and leaves them with a satisfied feeling afterwards. Gaming for long hours is a physical and emotional tasks of gargantuan proportions. So BGM that suits the playing mood greatly helps the player attach to the game, its theme, the adrenaline rush and the time he/she had playing it. Even today I feel almost at ease listening to the complex themes of Age of Empires, Age of Mythology or Prince of Persia as while playing the game itself.

then there are these BGMs that become cult..  :)

not limiting myself to the small window of the movie, game or whatever media content for which the BGM was designed, BGMs also serve as reminders of many many things.. for example a well made oriental theme can take your mind to many a zen classes, many kendo classes, dojos, rice balls, japanese rains, battle scenes etc. Middle east does same. Sound has a way of triggering multiple nerve points in the brain and simulating lots of weird stuff that would have remained hidden in our memories. This quality I have observed doesn't exist for pictures, as they always give more detail and a concise picture. There is no scope for ambiguity or further interpretation in those cases. I have had many experiences with music wherein I would love a track a lot and listen to it in extensive loops, but the moment I see the video of it, I say WTF and soon the song drops out.

Sound is everywhere and for everyone, but still its personal and it can be enchanting to enraging depending upon the filter that you apply :)