The Mars Orbiter Mission story

Imran Khan has directed a short movie on the Mars Orbiter Mission and is now available on YouTube (trailer).

The video helped me relive September 24, 2014 again. On that day, I watched Mars Orbit Insertion from Mumbai while my fiance (and now my wife) watched with her sister in Kerala. On that day, she didn’t understand the importance of the crucial Mars Orbit Mission maneuver. But, she got it only today after watching the video with me today.

Must watch whether you follow space and definitely if you have a partner with whom you want to communicate the enthusiasm for space exploration.

Vikram-Vedha (2017)

(This is not meant as a review of the movie. There may be spoilers.)

Vikram-Vedha found mention in today’s Indian Express which reminded me that I also meant to write about it here. Better late than never.

This is how Shubhra Gupta writing in the Indian Express summarizes the movie. The article also mentions Angamaly Diaries, another movie I loved but didn’t get to writing about and other regional language movies.

…the Tamil language Vikram-Vedha directed by Pushpa-Gayatri: it’s gangsta-and-cops-and-robbers aesthetic is shot through tactics that immediately make you sit up and take notice. R Madhavan plays the cop-who-thinks-he-is-always-right with a swagger. Vijay Sethupathi’s bad guy out-swaggers the policeman.

I loved Vijay Sethupati in this movie. His entry scene in the movie received a lot of whistles from the audience and reminded me of Reddington entry scene in The Blacklist. The movie moves from the black and white chor-police narrative to one which goes into the grey shades. Intertwined in this is the classic Vikram-Vetaal of my childhood (whose introduction theme scared me) of question and answers, which leads the investigation forward and introduces the grey element. The connection is brought by Sethupati asking Madhavan “Oru Katha Sollutta?” (Tamil: Shall I tell you a story?), which is how Vikram-Vetaal stories also move forward.

The movie ends with a question that is not answered. Only Tamil movies have this realistic element. It leaves the answer to the question open to the movie-goer. It says not all questions have an easy solution. It is the grey that we have in Society today. Not everyone is purely white nor purely black. Everyone is a shade of grey. We can’t make out how dark these shades of grey are. All we can do is do the best in the given in situation and know that we have no control on the outcome.

I watched the movie at Cinepolis in Chembur, Mumbai on July 28, 2017.

Sakhavu (2017)

SakhavuPossible spoilers alert.

Example, is a great way to teach others how to live. Nivin Pauly’s character is a student politician steeped in the ways of modern politics. His image is a façade of good while he indulges in political manoeuvring using unfair means. His plans for subterfuge of a fellow comrade who seems to be in his way towards higher posts in the Party. His plans come to naught when he is asked to donate blood to a Comrade in ICU.

The Comrade’s friend begins the story of the Comrade’s life who launches agitations against the tyrant tea factory owners in Peerumedu. Once this agitation is a success, agrarian workers of the zamindar approach him. The Comrade agitates by working on the fields. Success leads him to further agitation. The Comrade teaches by example to his comrades in the Party by leading from the front, showing how to lead agitations and how to organise workers. Later, as we learn of The Comrade’s home life, we learn he teaches his daughter by example as well. The movie shows us of a time when idealism and a certain political philosophy was needed to end oppression.

Cut to the present, the tea factory is not working due to various issues including labour issues and profitability. The Comrade, urges a wealthy friend to purchase and run the tea factory to help the people who could not migrate from Peerumedu and forced by hunger into prostitution. There he faces the hoteliers who have illegally built on Company land. It is while fighting these land sharks that the Comrade is stabbed and in hospital.

The Company wins a case in court, with the news that the land sharks have been cleared and will become operational again. The movie asks, rhetorically, if the political philosophy that ended oppression in Peerumedu would work in this new world? Is that idealism, rekindled, the need of today?

Communism was a tool that was once used to transform a highly stratified society into one of the better states in India. It addresses only one part of the equation, though. It works only when there is an oppressed and an oppressor. The lines between these two has blurred and one wonders if, as the movie asks, it is the right tool for a polarised society we live in today.

(Watched on 15/04/2017 at the 8 pm show in Inox Cinemas, R City Mall, Ghatkopar, Mumbai)

 

Kammattipaadam

Kammattipaadam is a Malayalam movie starring Dulquer Salman that looks at the story of urban development and the communities it marginalises. The story runs through the life of the lead character, Krishnan, played by Dulquer Salman and how Kammattipaadam where he grew up also grows or is developed.

Kammattipaadam_poster
Poster of the movie, Kammattipaadam. Image Source: Wikipedia

 

Kammattipaadam is a place outside the Kochi-Ernakulam twin cities. Krishnan’s childhood is spent in village surroundings with his parents and the generation engaged in farming. As Krishnan grows farming sees a decline and they become part of the outskirts of Ernakulam. Here, in his teenage years, Krishnan takes on criminal activities like others from his community and income group as farming is no longer seen as a viable means to make a livelihood. He stabs a police officer and is sent to jail. When he returns as an adult, he sees that his Kammattipaadam has changed.

Kammattipaadam is now a suburb with small houses replacing farm land. Builders buying old hutments in bulk and building buildings to house the burgeoning population now coming to Ernakulam and Kochi. The crime moves up from petty crimes and spirit business to extortion in communities who stand up to builder lobby that seek to clear people without adequate compensation for the land. The same criminals seem to learn the folly of their ways too late and lose their own land are themselves displaced. The compensation makes up for the price of land but does not make up for the loss of livelihoods.

Moving from farming, many of the people displaced take up plying vehicles, running small businesses and somehow surviving while others take to even more serious crimes like murder. Some who learn the folly of their ways are also not allowed to move out as the past comes back to haunt them.

The movie itself is a rare crime-drama film in Malayalam with realistic portrayals from various actors. The film does not seek to answer how to fix the issues that it raises but rather holds up a mirror to the urban community to show that this is probably how the buildings that you live in was built up – on the blood and toil of communities and people who were extorted and murdered to fulfil the whims of early developers who were driven by the greed of money.

It could be that this was not the case, but the movie makes you curious about how your urban sprawl grew, what was there before and the people who once called that land home.