21st Century Laborers

If one talks to our generation including me, who are born in the late eighties in fairly educated middle class families, you would observe that most of them have pretty comfortable Lifestyles, high income jobs,  yet most would agree, there is something missing in our life, we can’t complain, it’s not that we are sad, it’s just that indescribable feeling of emptiness, it’s a state where we are having a lot of fun but don’t experience happiness.

When we wake up in the morning, there is nothing much we look forward to, (of course except for the morning Chai) we get through the week waiting for Friday to arrive and when it actually arrives, apart from relishing a Biryani or hanging out with friends we actually postpone our plans of doing something different, something productive to the next weekend and this vicious cycle of growing todo list, weekdays, making plans and splashing away time.

By the time, we come to know of our frustrations we realize we have already glossed through many years of life, never paused to think as to what is the Vision we have for ourselves, what’s the goal of our life, what’s the Passion that drives us to a feverish pitch. We never asked these questions to ourselves as we were busy trying to “Settle” in life. Yes, the single biggest mistake of our life has been this attempt at trying to settle, where as most successful people on this planet have never settled, in this strive to settle we rammed through our studies, gulped life, it’s like swallowing the tablet doctor gave you, although we all may have “settled” in life if you look back, we don’t have any real achievements. The 10th class mark sheet and the EAMCET rank which was supposed to change your life has no meaning.

In order to know what’s our passion, we need to spend time with ourselves in solitude, we need to brew ideas in our mind, we need to work at it, by trying different things. So, it’s never too late, I for myself have decided to work on it slowly, as I do not have the guts to dump my job and jump into the unknown future but rather do it step by step, post by post. Taking inspiration from the speech given by Meryl Streep, where she said to convert “Pain into art”, I have converted my frustration into this expression.

I don’t mean to generalize when I attributed this state of mind to many of them from my generation, but I strongly believe there are quite a few who would connect with me. All of us who are going through this struggle, I call them “21st century laborers” as usually labor is associated with struggle. No wonder USA gives us “Labor Visa”.

Manamantha

A rare film which showcases human deficiencies  in a thriller formant.

If you look a Chandrashekar Yeleti’s Filmography Aithe, Anukokunda oka roju, Prayanam, Sahasam, it’s no surprise he has always made path breaking films which have original ideas and  fresh treatment, hence when i heard his next outing Manamantha was with the great Mohanlal, the bar was set high for this film. Despite this high bar, yeleti manages to beat expectations.

Manamantha is a story about 4 characters, all of them regular middle class folks, there are no heroes or villains here, just regular people with simpleday-to-day problems whose life takes an unexpected turn. Thanks to some natural performances from Mohanlal, Gautama and the girl who plays Mahathi, we become invested in their world. The scenes between Gautami and Urvashi where they end up spending more while trying to get groceries at discount prices is especially funny and endearing, some of these scenes showcase the sharp observation prowess of  Chandrashekar Yeleti of the society around him. Although the film has a thin plot point it’s engaging through out and culminates in a thrilling finale where all these 4 stories converge thanks to a masterful screenplay. The only weak link in the film is the 4th story involving computer science student.

Manamantha is yet another ground breaking film from chandrashekar yeleti and his best after Aithe. As a telugu film buff i am proud we have a director like Chandrashekar Yeleti and hope this film becomes a hit.


Secular Intolerance ?

If there were any doubts whether the Mainstream media, so called “liberals” etc were loosing their objectivity and is heavily biased against the Modi regime and sensationalize any sporadic incidents of violence committed by few hindu fanatics then describe it as a consequence of the BJP rule but fail to show even half the vigor and intensity in reporting incidents of violence committed by fanatics of minority religion then my doubts have been laid to rest by the developments of last week.

From the last week or so, there have been 3 incidents of communalism involving fanatics of minority religion:

  1. The incident in Malda where there has been violent protests by muslims  in which 2 people survived bullet injuries and a police station was ransacked  against a local leader kamlesh tiwary alleged to make defamatory comments against Prophet.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/bengal-malda-tense-as-anti-tiwari-rally-turns-violent/

2.  Kazi Masum Akthar a headmaster in a Madrassa in Agra has been assaulted by few Maulanas. Whats his offense? he taught national anthem to few kids !

http://www.newindianexpress.com/thesundaystandard/National-Anthem-Sacrilege-for-Kolkata-Madrasa/2016/01/03/article3208487.ece

3. In Noida authorities uncovered a forcible conversion center where kids were torchered and converted to christianity.

One would expect that MSM to highlight these, express outrage and debate it but surprise surprise, it has been muted on these so far barring few exceptions, and the eminent personalities of the Award returning brigade have disappeared rather i would say they have been exposed, they are not outraging on these issues because it does not fit into their narrative of ‘rising intolerance because of modi’

compare this coverage of MSM to the that of the church attacks in delhi, news channels conducted endless debates on how people under modi felt emboldened and have resorted to communal violence by attacking churches, all these incidents were subsequently proved to be of non communal nature and each incident was un related to other, just to site the nature of these attacks, 2 of them were burglary, 1 was due to few drunken goons, 1 other was due to a group of kids while playing hit the widow pane with a ball.

http://www.firstpost.com/india/crying-wolf-the-narrative-of-the-delhi-church-attacks-flies-in-the-face-of-facts-2101105.html

for these incidents they cried wolf and branded them communal attacks on minority religions, and as a result even Obama bothered to give a small critique on religious freedom in India although without naming modi.

In view of this over zealous coverage of communal incidents i would like to ask the following questions to “seculars “ of our nation :

why no outrage over malda ?

why no awards are being returned for intolerance in West bengal ?

Why no one is calling Mamta  or TMC is being called Communal ?

Why the Top journalists are not asking PM Modi to respond and condemn such incidents ?

or

Are these incidents of intolerance Secular ?

Why this obsession with Vanity?

Why this obsession with Vanity ?

Why do we shop so much ? why do we strive to look good for parties and gatherings? why do women and nowadays even few men aid themselves with different cosmetics ?   why this obsession with vanity ! As i wonder about these things, i too am a participant in this practice may be i participate in these due to pressure and expectations from my dear ones or due to the pressure of the society in general but i am one of them nevertheless.

As one can see there is a heightened pressure amongst most of us, especially women to look in a certain way, wear newer clothes, not to commit the “sin” of repeating a dress she previously wore in another party and a lot of time is spent on discussing, searching, shopping, trying out different combinations just for the sake of vanity. my sincere question to all of us, is all these worth it ? After all if you google the word Vanity the second  meaning of it is “ the quality of being worthless or futile” .

To make things clear i am not confusing vanity with being fit, being clean and maintaining a decentness in our appearance. I am talking about the extra length we go to please others, try to seek approval of looking beautiful from others which should be avoided, and this culture of getting ready in formal shirts and suits ( esp seen in USA) when attending parties, the irony is in USA people come in shorts for a exec meetings which is very fine with me but get all dressed up to go and dance in a pub, a pub, the primary function of having a party is to relax, why should one dress up so much for relaxing ?

As i grapple with these questions, i am looking forward to a get to gather where every one can attend with casual jeans, un ironed t-shirts, loose hoodies , not so well combed hair and untrimmed beard.

Impressions of China

Impressions of China :

China, Beijing, Tiananmen Square, guard in front of chairmen Mao portrait


Just by chance : 

Even some 8 days before my trip to Beijing I had no idea that I will be traveling to China the coming week.
It was out of a blue that I got an email from my Manager asking if I was interested to go Beijing to attend a meeting on behalf of her as she had some other commitments, I was very excited and also the dates did not overlap with the Mexico trip I had planned so shot back an email saying I was in within 5 mins, of course my visa etc had to be processed. it so happened that my assignment was until Nov 21 st and had to fly back on 22 nd from Beijing and land on the same day morning in SFO at around 9 Am thanks to the earth being the way it is, and I had enough time to board my flight to Mexico at around noon.
Given this context where I had no clue that I will be visiting China any thing I see and did was exciting not to say that I was traveling on a business class ticket and staying in a 7 start hotel all on companies expenses. 
As it turned out my work schedule was not too busy and I had a chance to visit some important places in and around Beijing and eat at some authentic Chinese restaurants thanks to my Chinese colleagues, and during this short stint the following things I have observed about Beijing : 

Traffic : 
The traffic in Beijing is a pain, any distance which needs about 30 mins will easily take more than an hour, it's worse than Bay Area and seems worst than traffic in Delhi according to a colleague. Although the roads/ freeways structuring is similar to the states, Driving guidelines are not followed by public very similar to India but not as worse. 

Fog of Pollution :
Although Beijing or any other Chinese city is not ranked among the top 20 most polluted cities ( it is Delhi and few more indian cities indeed) you can see a thick fog of pollution all over the city forcing the people to hide behind creepy looking face masks, so don't be alarmed if you see scores of people walking down the roads wearing these masks. 

8032504


Navigating Beijing : 

May be because Beijing is a international destination, all directions and street names are also written in English and best way to navigate Beijing is its subway. It's also very cheap, for 2 yuan you can travel any destination. 

Caution with taxis : 

If you are planning to take a taxi, it's better to order it through the hotel as most of the taxi drivers have no clue of English. 
And if your on a street by yourself and trying to flag off a taxi always make sure you don't get in to a black taxis as they may rip you off and also not as safe as the other Authorizes ones which are in yellow color. 

taxi2
Spicy Food ! : 

I had always assumed that Indian cuisine is the spiciest one and if your are used to indian food you will not feel any other cuisine spicy but to my pleasant surprise food here is very spicy stuffed with lot of red chilli and black pepper, if you want test the spice buds try out schezwan cuisine they will put your tongue on fire. 


Menu with Pictures : 

One good thing about Chinese restaurants the menu comes with pictures of each dish making it easy to order for a foreigner. 

chinese-food-menu-design
No '4' please : 

If you get on to any lift in China you will notice that there is no 4th floor and also corresponding 14th, 24th, 34th etc, there are no streets numbered 4 either, as according to Chinese tradition number 4 represents death.

Shy and Warm people : 

One striking thing about people here in China is they are very warm and welcoming of foreigners and also feel shy and give a smile when you speak to them in English .


Some use full chinese words :

Hello : Ni hao
Thanks : Sheshame
Fork : Cha

Finding fanny : it’s a mad film but madness is fun

Set in a remote village somewhere in Goa, director Homi Adajania sets his story in a world which is far removed from the busy lives which most of India lives in, Angie played by deepika padukone introduces us to
5 characters in the village including herself. Finding fanny is about the equations between these characters and their unending quest for love to bring some cheer to their rather dull and incomplete life’s.

Ferdie played by Naseerudin shah is a lazy, lonely old man who is the post man of the village but hardly delivers any mail, his only friend and confidant in the village is Angie. Angie is a widow who’s husband played by Ranveer Singh in a guest appearance dies on the wedding day itself in a rather funny way and there is Mother in law of Angie “Mai ” played by Dimple kapadia who is also a widow , Pankaj kapoor plays don Pedro a painter who is obsessed with voloptrous woman and his latest obsession is Rosie (dimple kapadia) and finally there is savio played by Arjun kapoor heart broken as his childhood love Angie chose his only other close friend Ranveer over him .

The drama starts rolling as an unconsolable Ferdie starts weeping after he receives a love letter which he had posted 46 years ago to fanny, as he realizes it was never delivered in the first place and he has lived all his life thinking fanny has rejected him. Now Angie takes on herself to help Ferdie find fanny and for this she manages to bring all five of them to embark on a journey for finding fanny.

Finding fanny is not about any story neither is about finding fanny, it’s about these quircky characters their interactions with each other and their inherent deficiencies and how through this journey they try and resolve them. The director chooses a slow narration but it goes with setting and characters of the film but it never ceases to have funny moments as you will be laughing through out the film with most of the humor comes from the conversations between these unintentionally funny people, portrayed exceptionally by all the actors but it is the 3 veterans Pankaj kapoor, Naseerudin shah and Dimple kapadia are in full form as they dive in to their well etched characters with ease. Special kudos to Dimple kapadia who leaves behind inhibitions and plays her part with irreverence .

On the whole Homi Adajania delivers a refreshingly new and mad little film with a distinct style of his own.

Stand out ideas in the manifesto’s of BJP, Congress and APP

Stand out  ideas in the manifesto’s of BJP, Congress and APP

BJP Manifesto 

Focus on center- state relationship:

As  election after election we see newer regional parties increasingly gaining strength in there respective states, there are increasing conflicts involving issues of the Federal structure of India and it is important to recognize that there are 2 engines of Power structures one at the central level and other at the state level which need to run in coordination for India to move forward and there have been many policy decisions which have been stalled in the UPA government because of the lack of trust and coordination between the center and state governments, so BJP’s inclusion of this very crucial  problem in its Manifesto is a good sign and also this is a stands out feature of BJP  as the Congress and AAP have no mention about this very important problem in their manifestos.

2)  Digitization and E governance : There is a lot of focus on Digitization of all government records and ideas of National E-libraries for students is a very practical and significant one.

3) Judicial and Electoral reforms : 

BJP promises a Judicial commission for Appointment of Judges, this has been a long pending reform bill and will improve accountability of the judges if implemented

 State and National elections together :        

This will do a lot of good for the country if implemented as it not only reduces the election  expenses for both Political parties and Governments but also avoid situations where Governments  delay or post pone certain decisions in view of the elections ( state or center)  in the middle of there term as it is now.

4) Infrastructure :

BJP promises to build 100 new cities and many more Sataliite townships, this will transform india if implemented.

A lot of focus on Roads and connectivity for Northeast, Jammu and Kashmir stets.

5) Transport and Tourism :

The ideas of Bullet trains and Tourist/ Piligramage trains are truly new and fresh ideas.

AAP manifesto 

1) Jan Lokpal bill :

AAP as expected promises a more Empowered, independent and Accountable Ombudsman that the present existing one passed by the UPA , this bill if passed is expected to curb big ticket  corruption.

2) Decentralization of Power :

AAP promises a swaraj bill which will empower the gram sabhas / Municipal wards by providing them with funds directly to implement development activities in their locality according to their needs and priorities.

3) sweeping electoral reforms :

AAP promises radical changes in the way elections are conducted in the country which includes :

 a. Appointment of Election commission  by a multi member committee rather than Government

b. Political parties to be brought in under the purview of RTI to increase transparency in the way parties are funded and how parties spend their money.

c. The existing first past the post system to be replaced with Proportional representation.

If the above three can be successfully implemented then there can be paradigm shift in the politics of our country as this would help increase the winnability of good candidates who need not resort to money or muscle power, and also will curb corruption as the source of corruption today lies in the way political parties are funded today.

Congress manifesto :

Although the congress manifesto promises economic growth, inclusive development, tax, police, Judicial reforms, these all are policies which are also promised by the above two parties as well, unfortunately there are no stand out ideas or policies from the congress Manifesto.

 

Highway – An involving Journey

Highway – An involving Journey.

After watching Highway, I drove back home and all along the ride which is about 25 mins, I did not turn on my music or radio because my mind was preoccupied with the characters of this film, Highway is one such experience where you think about the film long after you have left the theater.

Highway is a film about two people who unexpectedly end up in a situation where they have to keep going on the road without a destination and in the process they start enjoying this timeless and endless journey as they heal each others sorrows of their past through this life transforming and a spiritual experience kind of a journey.

Veera played by Alia bhatt is a duaghter of a big shot businessman of delhi who is kidnapped by  Mahadip in an attempt to escape a shoot out from police;  and then  embarks on a never ending journey touching punjab; Rajasthan,Himachal, Kashmir captured beautifully by the veteran Anil Mehta and this visual dream is nicely complemented by AR Rahman’s calm Background score.

Veera although initially terrorized by this situation,slowly starts enjoying this journey of discovering the completely new India and also her new found freedom which she never had in her otherwise cosmetic life in Delhi;  She also realizes that mahadip although is a criminal is still very Human and feels a certain comfort and warmth with him as she understands that no matter what Mahadip is not going to hurt her.

Imtiaz ali the director of this film is in top form as he takes his affinity to travelling and story telling through journeys as evident in  his previous films, to a whole new level and makes a full fledged film on a Road journey where you completely fall in love with the characters whose interactions brings a big smile on your face in many scenes. the master stroke of Imtiaz is the casting of Alia as Veera where her innocent and charming looks will endear us but Alia not only charms us with her looks but her acting beats the thresholds especially in the finale. Although the film belongs to Alia, Randeep hooda too gives a solid performance.

Although Highway is a really good experience it falls short of being a great film because it fully does not convince why would Veera through out her journey never feels for her parents and also the dark secrets of her past looks a bit forced and contrived.

Highway requires some patience and also a connect with a different kind of cinema for you to enjoy.

 

 

 

Bullet Raja Review : When Tarantino meets Tigmanshu Dhulia

Bullet Raja – It’s crazy fun

If we have to choose a genre to describe Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Bullet Raja, then it has to be the genre of Quentin Tarantino, like in Tarantino films in Bullet Raja too grave situations are treated with irreverence and violence is mixed with funny interludes.

Bullet Raja simply put is a story of 2 best friends Raja misra and Rudra on the lines of Jai- Veeru (sholay) set in the Heartland of UP’s rouge  political climate. Raja meets up with Rudra accidenly when he gate crashes into a wedding of Rudra’s cousin sister to escape from some goons. Right from the word go two friends take off and also get involved in an encounter where our heroes successfully  eliminate a mob who have come to avenge the bride’s father and there by unintentionally getting into the gangster politics of UP and in this process Raja and Rudra start killing, kidnaping with ease and elan and become superstars among the youth of UP, Raja meets with Mithali (Sonakshi sinha) in one of these kidnap episode and she goes on to stay with them as she falls in love with him. Post interval the film deals mostly with revenge of Raja.

The high point and USP of the movie is not so much the story but Dhulia’s treatment of these violent situations with casualness and in a over the top manner with dialouge which is rooted and locale, with express peace. On the whole Bullet Raja is a fun masala film Tigmanshu style.

 

 

Possible Good is better than Impossible best

Possible Good is better than Impossible best

As part of the run up to India’s General elections 2014, we keep hearing from these “ Left Liberal Intellectuals” right from Ramchandra guha to Arundathi roy that the country needs some one better than either Rahul gandhi or Narendra modi, the question i would like to ask them is who is that other alternative they can suggest ? and if they do have one in mind do they think it is realistic for that alternative to win the elections? As long as they don’t give answers to these critical questions, the stance they take of neither modi nor RG is rather a lazy and easy stance to take.

As of today there are only two choices in front of the citizens of our country :

Its either Rahul Lead congress or Modi lead BJP, now lets asses these two on 3 key factors :

  1. Past governance record
  2. Leadership Qualities
  3. What are their policies to shape the future of India

As far as Governance record of Mr Rahul gandhi is considered there is nothing to asses as he has not taken up any key responsibilities like being a minister or chief minister and yet sadly blames the system and talks of changing the system forgetting it is the congress party which ruled for 65 years and more importantly the last 10 years where if he was willing to had all the power at his disposal to change things. Worst part is he is absent during most of the debates on important legislations in Parliament and missing in action when protests like Jan lokpal movement and Nirbhaya happened. The country does not know what he stands for.

If we consider the record of congress party it self, there is no need to remind every one of the kind of indecision and policy paralysis our country is suffering after the revelations of one after another monumental scams. The congress party talks about empowering the common man, they fail to realize the Prime Minister of our country first needs to be empowered. Sonia and Rahul Gandhi’s two power center strategy has not only diminished the office of PM but also made Manmohan Singh a scape goat while Sonia gandhi enjoys power without accountability. the congress party and UPA has not only failed at the national level but even if you look at any Congress ruled states, the same symptoms of indecisiveness, populist welfare schemes rather than good governance and improvent in infrastructure and short term measure for immediate electoral gains is the norm whether it is AP,Maharashtra or Rajasthan, in all these states too the office of Chief minster is reduced to being a loyalist of the Family rather than a competent leader.

Take the top 5 states which are fast progressing states of our country, you will see that all of them are non congress ruled Govts : namely Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Orissa, Chathisgarh.

Lets contrast this with Modi’s Governance record as Gujarat’s  CM and you will find there is a lot to chew about the things he managed to develop like  24 hr uninterrupted Electricity to whole of Gujarat, Tap Water supply to even far removed regions of Kutch, consistent GDP growth of more than 8 % for the last 10 years, many Infrastructure projects and massive Industrialization as attested by the top Industrialists of our Country and more importantly people of Gujarat giving the Mandate to Modi 3 times consecutively is a proof of his Government passing with flying colors. Now what is the biggest failure of Modi which these left liberals keep refering to, its the Riots of 2002, yes agreed one has to agree whatever the circumstances the handling of 2002 riots may be considered as a failure on his part. but you dont judge a leaders capability bsed on just one incident you have to judge it in a period of time and over the last 13  years when Modi was in power not a single riot took place in a state where there are many such places where riots and curfew would go on for months every single year prior to 2002.

Now consider BJP as party’s performance and in contrast congress we can see that the CM’s of BJP ruled states are leaders of their own making and highly competent and are empowered rather than running to high command for every decision to be taken and if take look at the BJP ruled states like : Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Chathisgarh, Gujarat, they are rated high on development and strong consistent leadership, with a exception of Karnataka, there too they got rid of Yeddyurappa knowing well that it is going to effect there victory.

Not only in terms of Leadership and Governance, Modi and BJP are better than RG and congress but even in terms of the policies for the future there is a fundamental difference, while the congress party is hell bent on distributing free bee schemes like Food security bill and Right to education bill which they themselves know will not be possible to implement but do it not just to sympathize with poor people but a blatant attempt to Glorify poverty and gain votes from it where as on the other hand Modi talks about improving countries Infrastructure, Industrialization which generates employment and make poor self reliant and independent rather than helpless beggars.

Having said this about Modi and BJP, i am no way saying Modi is perfect, no he may have many short comings, there are many factors on which Gujarat fares badly but important thing to realize is there is no Perfect option available, there is only a better option available in such circumstances important remember is

  “Possible Good is better than Impossible best”