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)


Book Review: The Sceptical Patriot by Sidin Vadukut

(Posted here from Goodreads. Just in case. Although it seems more likely that the review will stay on Goodreads and vanish from here than vice versa. For posterity, perhaps. I also need to get much better at writing book reviews. I’m working on it!)

The Sceptical Patriot: Exploring the Truths Behind the Zero and Other Indian GloriesThe Sceptical Patriot: Exploring the Truths Behind the Zero and Other Indian Glories by Sidin Vadukut

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve read Sidin Vadukut’s Dork books and his column in Mint, the newspaper. I don’t think he writes there and more or less jokes around. Those are fun to read. With The Sceptical Patriot, I think Sidin’s writing reaches the narrative style that shines through in some of his blog posts. The versatility of that narration has never ceased to amaze me.

I think this book of myth busting comes around at the right time. After a decade where India was lauded for many things – its achievements, people are slowly sobering up to the fact that India is just another country with its share of issues and strengths. It is during the previous decade that people suddenly started sharing wild assertions of the greatness of India. Some true. Some false.

Sidin does a good job of picking up a few of these assertions and applying rational thinking, researching on the Internet and reading from libraries (I love this!) and illustrating how one could apply the same technique to other facts that one reads everyday on Facebook and Whatsapp (notice how this is absent on Twitter?) if only one spent a little time. Skepticism is what India needs a little more of.

I don’t think Sidin was trying to or reaches the superb awesomeness of Mythbusters or Phil Plait or even Bill Bryson. I hope he doesn’t. I wish he’d go off a bit and explore more genres and doesn’t stick to one. I like this wandering interest that he shows in his work.

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My favourite quote from the book?

(It is truly remarkable how NASA has become the ‘India fact’certifying agency of choice.)

This was said in reference to a 1985 paper written by a Rick Briggs who considered Sanskrit to be one of the few languages worth considering for use in computer programming. He was working with a company that worked as a contractor with NASA. This probably was the start of Indians looking at NASA for bolstering various ‘India facts’.

Dam 999

This article originally appeared on my blog I recovered the post using Wayback Machine.

I wanted to write this before I became biased by any opinion and I doubted if my writing was coloured by said biased opinions. I watched Dam 999 today at FAME, Bharuch. I quite loved the film.

The story is dedicated to the 250,000 people who died in the Banqio Dam Disaster in 1975. The story apparently took 15 years before it came out from behind the Great Wall. I would thin that one incident would be sufficient to rethink dams and the way dry lands can be irrigated. It also is a story in anticipation on what politics between the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala and political gains could potentially be disastorous for 3.5 million people living downstream of the Mullaperiyar Damin Kerala (note that the Wikipedia article seems more about the controversy than the Dam itself!).

I am not much of a film critic beyond saying whether saying I enjoyed the film or not.