Wednesday, 23 April 2014

1 by Two-A review

Some films keep you at the edge of your seat while some others challenge your grey cells. Seldom has one come across a film that does both.1 by two is such a film. A well-crafted thriller it requires effort on the part of the viewer to make sense of what is unfolding in front of you. Twin brothers HariNarayanan & Ravinarayanan played by Murali Gopy   share an intimate relationship.Harinarayanan meets with a fatal accident & dies while rushing to attend a patient .His twin brother tries to commit suicide overwhelmed by the news of Hari’s death. Things go haywire when Ravi claims that he is Hari & starts behaving like him. Even their businessman father (Azhagar Perumal) claims that it is Hari who survived . Inspector Yusuf Marikar (Fahad Fazil) who chanced upon Hari’s body at the accident site suspects foul play. Yusuf is certain that it is Ravi who has survived & letting him loose will lead to chaos. He sets out to unravel the mystery with a missionary zeal. Which of the brother is dead? Why is Yusuf obsessed with this case? The rest of the movie tries to answer these questions. The fine thriller examines the effect of certain incidents on one’s psyche. The films has some memorable sequences  of  how emotions can  get the better of one’s judgement.Jeyamohan’s fine script is backed by power packed performances by the lead actors, deft editing & stunning cinematography by Jomon Thomas.Gopi Sunder’s background score compliments the storyline. Murali Gopy breathes life to the twin characters he plays. He is at his best during the climax of the movie .Fahad Fazil does justice to his role & brings out the vulnerabilities of the character he essays. Honey Rose gets a meaty role but fails to rise up to the challenge.Shyamaprasad effortlessly plays the role of the Psychiatrist DrCherian.However the film is not without its share of  flaws. The film tries to pack too much for its running time of 2.5 hours.  It drifts through issues ranging from illegal drug testing to transference to the effect of a traumatic incident during childhood on one’s personality.  And Fahad Fazil’s character is inspired by Aamir Khan’s role in Talash.Atleast a couple of Fahad’s sequences are heavily inspired if not rip offs from Talash.1 by Two is definitely worth a try .Some of us might feel  overwhelmed like the characters in the movie. Nevertheless, this film will make you sit back & reflect long after you leave the theater.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

The unviability of a Third Front

As BJP’s chance of coming back to power is getting brighter & brighter the prospects of a Third Front government has gone like a puff of smoke. If opinion polls are to be believed, BJP & its allies are going to get anywhere between 200 to 220 seats & with this kind of numbers finding allies would not be a problem at all. Therefore, the question in one’s mind is why a strong third front has not emerged even though there is ample space for it in Indian politics.After all people are tried of voting congress & BJP whose policies are more or less the same. First & foremost, there has never been a genuine Third Front in Indian politics. The so called Third Front governments which  had  brief stints earlier came to power  either with support of congress or the BJP.The  Janata Party which came to power in 1977 was a grand coalition of disgruntled elements in the congress at that time ,Jan Sangh  & others. Charan Singh  toppled the government with the support of the congress&succeeded it. Charan Singh could not prove his majority in the parliament & headed one of the most short-lived governments in the history of the country. In 1989, V.P.Singh government came to power with support of BJP & the Left .It fell after 11 months when BJP pulled its plug. Chandra Shekhar who missed the chance of becoming the Prime Minister a couple of times  earlier & whose only ambition in life was to sit at the PM’s chair even it was  for a day  formed the government with congress support. The government fell within 40 days when Congress withdrew its support on a lame excuse that Rajiv Gandhi was being spied on by the CID. The Third front got another shot in power when the 13-day Vajpayee government fell in 1996.The then Karnataka Chief Minister Deve Gowda headed the government after V.P.Singh refused & CPI(M) denied Jyoti Basu the chance to head the government. Soon Sitaram Kesri the then Congress who got tired of Gowda showed him the door & replaced him with I.K.Gujral.Gujral government met the same fate once congress felt that it had outlived its utility. The Third front is a substitute front popped either by the BJP or by Congress to keep the other out of power. The constituents of the Third front with the exception of left parties do not present an alternative vision for the country. The other constituent members of the Third front have in the past aligned with either of the two national parties for their own self-serving reasons. Therefore, the chances of them ditching Left to join either of the two alliances is a possibility no one can rule out. Moreover, with the Left’s chances expanding its base from its strongholds remains weak the chances of a Third alternative remains a pipe dream.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

An ode to AMMA

It is often said that not all successful people were outstanding in school & not all outstanding students go on to do well in life. However, there are a lucky few who have done both. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa is one such person. Though she has never gone to college she was a brilliant student who excelled both in academics & in extracurricular activities while studying at Sacred Hearts girls’ school in Chennai. And her life has been one that most people can only dream about. A glamorous & wildly successful film star in her prime she has the distinction of starring the maximum number of films with her mentor MGR. Her political career is no less outstanding. She has the rare distinction of being the First woman Leader of Opposition in Tamil Nadu Assembly & the first elected woman Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu besides being youngest person to occupy the post. A three time Chief Minister, she has set her eyes for the top job in Delhi. Regardless of whether she becomes the reigning queen or kingmaker in Delhi there is no doubt that she has in her to become a good Prime Minister. Unlike Sonia Gandhi whose surname helped her to gain mileage or Mayawati whose mentor Kanshi Ram was instrumental in shaping her career, Jaya had to fight it out from the beginning. Though MGR her political Godfather helped her to get a Rajya Sabha seat & appointed her as the propaganda Secretary of the party his ill health during his last years made him inaccessible to her. After MGR’s death in 1987 senior leaders in the party expelled her & installed MGR’S widow Janaki Ramachandran as the Chief Minister. This lead to a split in the party into two factions one supporting MGR’s widow & the other favouring Jayalalithha.  Jaya finally emerged as the undisputed leader of AIADMK after the 1989 assembly elections when the two factions merged. As the Leader of Opposition, she was physically assaulted inside the assembly she vowed that she would enter the assembly only as the Chief Minister .The DMK was defeated in the next assembly elections & did not win a single seat in the General elections held in the same year. Though her first term is best remembered for multiple scams & her excesses she did introduce some good schemes like the cradle baby scheme as a response to the killing of the girl child at birth, all women police stations & 30% reservation for women in police jobs. Though she was defeated in the next assembly elections, she even lost her seat she made a stunning comeback in 2001.With time Jayalalithaa has matured, as a politician for the first time there has not been a big scam or controversy in her term. She has even managed to keep the voters in her side with a slew of welfare schemes like  Amma canteen which serves hugely subsidized meals, twenty kilos of rice for each BPL family, free mixie-grinders & fans, bicycles for school kids, full scholarships for students who do well in schools, sari and a taali (mangalsutra) for girls getting married.She has become even more shrewder in her calculations she courted the left by backing their candidates for the Rajya Sabha before showing  the door when she was convinced  about their lack of utility. One politician she resembles is Indira Gandhi both had to fight with senior leaders to gain control of their parties, both made comebacks after losing elections badly & both are manifestly dictatorial. Moreover, like Indira Gandhi whose core constituency was the economically poor Jaya is wooing the downtrodden with an effective PDS system & a slew of other welfare measures. A regional satrap at the top of her form she is hoping to do to DMK what she did to them in 1991 & what it did to her in 2004.But it won’t be a smooth ride for her, BJP has cobbled up a coalition consisting of Vijayakant’s DMDK, PMK & Vaiko’s MDMK which between them won 22% of votes in the last elections. This rainbow coalition could be a spoiler for her Prime Ministerial ambitions. But her political career is marked by contradictions she is woman in the males den of Tamil Nadu politics that too a Brahmin who heads a party which is an offshoot of the anti-Brahmin movement. Whether she finally wears the crown or not she is here to stay.

Monday, 10 March 2014

The state of the Nation: A status quo report of the country as it heads for polls

As India heads for the 16th Loksabha elections, it resembles a boat adrift. This has been the state of the nation ever since UPA began its second innings. In five years, UPA has managed to squander the favourable mandate it got in 2009 & has emerged as the most chided government in the history of the republic. Whatever good work it did in the first five years has been undone thanks to the rampant corruption, high inflation & falling investments. Just take a look at these numbers GDP growth that was at 8.5% in 2003-04, has come down to 4.5% in the last financial year. The fiscal deficit after a roller coaster ride over the years remains where it was ten years back at 4.8% .FDI that increased ten times during the period of 2004-09 has halved over the past five years. If opinion polls are to be believed, Congress is heading for its worst performance ever. The scion of the ruling family comes across as a well-meaning amateur who does not have any clue about how to turn around his party’s fortunes. To be fair Mr. Gandhi is paying the price for the lapses of the Manmohan Singh government. However, it is worth to note that he did not take much of an effort to evolve as a leader in his decade long stint as a politician. A mere look at his performance in the parliament proves how seriously he takes politics  absent for more than half of the time during the last Loksabha he just participated in two debates & never raised a single question. On the other hand, BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has successfully projected himself as a no-nonsense development man who could deliver. The taint of his involvement in postgodhra riots that haunted him all these days seems to disappear slowly. Thanks to the UPA government’s disastrous performance & his over hyped record of accomplishment in Gujarat Modi has finally managed to strike a chord with the electorate especially the younger voters. He is the fickle minded Indian middle class’s new messiah; a certain Manmohan Singh occupied that position five years back. However even the most optimistic poll projection does not predict BJP to get a majority of its own. To capture power in Delhi one needs the support of regional parties. That is not hard to come by if one manages to cross the 200mark .For regional parties are ready to cohabit anyone who comes closer to capturing power ask Mr.Paswasn if you have any doubts. One thing is certain a congressman is not going to succeed Manmohan Singh as the next Prime Minister. However, elections are still a month away & a month is a longtime in politics. Picture abhi baki hai, mere dost.

Monday, 27 January 2014

The Rahul Gandhi interview –First Impression Report

It was quite brave of Rahul Gandhi to grant an interview when things are not propitious for either him or his party. More so, when the interviewer is a man called Arnab Gowswami who attacks everyone (Raj Thackeray excluded) with the ferocity of a bloodhound.  It started on a somewhat promising note with Rahul Gandhi’s defense of the PM candidate issue. He was successful in articulating the achievements of both of his party & himself. For all the opprobrium it deserves the UPA government has done some good for the country by enacting legislations like MNREGS , RTI & the way it managed the economy during  the Global Financial crisis .Though other factors have played a role in the aforesaid achievements some credit should go to the the government of the day. Moreover, democratizing the Youth Congress & NSUI, which Mr. Gandhi initiated by holding elections to these bodies was a well-intentioned move. Moreover, one cannot forget the fact that youngsters made a beeline to join Youth Congress before UPA’s image was deluded in a slew of corruption scandals &  AAM AADMI PARTY, the hottest startup in Indian politics was founded. His diagnosis of the problems & the solutions he offered made sense. He was at his best when he defended his stand of limiting primaries to 15 seats when he said that a drastic change by holding such an exercise in all the constituencies would explode the system. His mild reproach to Arnab for not asking a single question regarding the real issues was also a good one. However, on the flip side he couldn’t defend his party on issues of corruption & the Sikh riots.  Those are indefensible issues & it is worth to note that Narendra Modi is yet to come up with a convincing defense of his role Vis-a Vis post godhra riots. The Rahul Gandhi who emerges out of this interview is a man who is aware of & uncomfortable with the deeply flawed system that he is a beneficiary of  but genuine in his desire to change it & honest enough to admit that such a thing cannot be done in a jiffy.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

To read or not to read

A passionate lament on Facebook by a friend of mine on the lack of reading habit amongst youngsters left me amused. Amused because the person (my friend) himself is in his mid-twenties, and then whom did he refer to as youngsters? No idea. It also made me think about books, what they have given me & my revulsion towards it nowadays. Though I’m not a well-read person I enjoy reading.My reading is erratic & the books I have left unread outnumber those which I have actually read. Reading has given me joy in fact loads of it .But why did I suddenly start to loathe it.Perhaps it has to do with my irritation with some well-read people with intellectual pretensions. They come in various shapes & sizes but have some common characteristics.
1) Regardless of their socioeconomic status they had access to good books right from their childhood.
2) Their reading pattern somewhat goes like this  Enid Blyton at five ,Dickens at 10 &  the likes of Shakespeare ,Shaw, Marx &Gramsci  as  they grew up.
3) They look down upon people with “impoverished” English &” low” intellectual quality.
4) They consider 90% of Indians as fools.
5) They are lament about the falling quality of Indian writing in English with the advent of the likes of ChetanBhagat, Ravinder Singh &Amish Tripathi
6) They have a “deep “understanding &” opinion” on everything under the sun
7) They don’t miss an opportunity to show off their erudition. Once I asked about Machiavelli to a friend the conversation went like this
Me-“who is Machiavelli?”
My Friend-“which Machiavelli?”
Me-“some thinker I suppose I’m not sure”
Friend-“the Machiavelli who wrote “The Prince”
Me-“I think so “
Friend- "I have read" The Prince" “
.Then she chose to give me a guided tour of her evolution as an intellectual & I was busy cursing myself. Another  instance, I was sitting with a group of friends we were talking about Anna Hazare’s fast  out of the blue someone recited “yedha yedha hi dharmasya” from Gita & everyone except me & another friend joined the chorus.
8) Finally almost all of them are big showoffs & even bigger bores
These people make such a big fool out of themselves that my revulsion towards them spills over to books too. What irks me the most about these self-proclaimed intellectuals is that never show the maturity one expects from a learned person. Reading gives you knowledge not wisdom. Wisdom comes only when you supplement your knowledge with experience. It is always better to take the advice of an experienced man than a well-read man,because the former knows what reality is. If  one had access to books quite early in life & if you are well read it just means one thing .You are blessed  to have got such an opportunity &  hats off to you for utilizing that to the maximum.  If you start believing & act like a wise man simply by reading a whole lot of books you are just a fool with loads of facts in your head. A man showing off his erudition is no different from another one who shows off his latest gadget or swanky new car. This is not to say that reading is a futile activity.On the contrary it has many benefits. Reading gives you information that will come in handy at some time or the other. It gives you a huge vocabulary that will help you to articulate your thoughts well. It helps you to maintain your sanity when life becomes tough. But limiting one to reading gives you severe limitations one has to travel, meet people & experience life to move to the next level. And the best reader is one who reads for the joy of it.And this is my free advice to those “youngsters” about whom my friend lamented, read if you enjoy doing it.If you don’t read you might be missing one of the biggest joys of life but that’s not the end of the world. And if you encounter any intellectual show off, just ignore them.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Encounters-a review

Diplomats & army officers have one thing in common; both will have a treasure –chest containing anecdotes by the time they retire. One of the many perks of the job of a diplomat is that they get a chance to interact with who’s who of the world. While most of them regale their near &dear with their anecdotes, Ambassador T.P.Sreenivasan went one step further & recorded them in a popular column for book under review is a compilation essays the author wrote for rediff .From one of the most charismatic & longest serving head of a communist state to a god woman from his home state, the book profiles an impressive cast of characters. Many of the anecdotes on the well know personalities are amusing. Once Leonid Brezhnev addressed Indira Gandhi as Mrs. Thatcher on being told that it was Mrs Gandhi  he said “I know that, but my script says it is Mrs Thatcher”.Khrushchev  was struck  by the violence depicted in a kathakali performance of  “dussasana vadham “,he  turned to K.P.S.Menon  in horror & said ‘Mr Ambassador ,you still call yourself a non-violent nation”. Whether it is A.M. Nair renaming his Japanese wife as Janaki Amma or his desperate attempts to find a malayalee bride for his sons or author’s observation in an apparent reference to the king’s weight that everything in Tonga except king is in miniature there are many moments to laugh out aloud. The book also gives rare insights of the personalities profiled whether it is the usually indecisive Narasimha Rao’s firm stand on not allowing Burma’s return to NAM or virtually broken Mani Dixit’s side comment on the atrocious Sanskrit pronunciation of the priest performing his son’s last rites. But the best essays are on Ratu Mara & Sitiveni Rabuka whom the author had the privilege of working closely as India’s High Commissioner to Fiji .In these two essays he gives a glimpse of Fiji’s descend to chaos. Altogether it is a joy ride of anecdotes, insights & vignettes of diplomatic life.