Maudie – Movie Netflix

Maud Lewis was a Canadian painter, who painted Birds and Trees and all that she saw in Nova Scotia, Canada. She was born with defects and suffered from Rheumatoid Arthritis, which made her working difficult. Her paintings sold initially for pittance but later got her some more. She was famous enough to have her paintings asked for by U.S. President Richard Nixon. But most of her successes are posthumous.

Sally Hawkins plays the character of Maud in the movie Maudie. Her portrayal of the character, the physical and the mental, is touching. The story brings out Maud’s innate desire to be independent, to paint, despite her afflictions and abuses. Sally Hawkins has moulded into the character, a life of an Arthritic struggling with life and to paint.

Some anonymous lives become significant when they are portrayed by great actors. And on this Maud Lewis is lucky. Maud may have lived and painted in relative obscurity but after Sally Hawkins played her in the movie, Maud is now a well known figure. Her little house where she lived and painted is now pilgrimage. But one pilgrimage one can readily afford is to watch this heartwarming movie.

Some anonymous lives become significant when they are portrayed by great actors.



The Most Un-U.S President

A U.S President is supposed to do certain things in a certain way. For one, they have to go to war. For two, they have to “talk” peace. For three, they have to talk nice.

Trump has done none of these. He hasn’t gone to war. He hasn’t “talked” peace. He hasn’t talked nice.

Let’s talk about war first. For a US president not going to war is the most Un-US thing to do. How can one be a US president if he (not yet she) has not bombed some Middle East countries or sent “boots on ground” into some obscure god forsaken land?

All pre-Trump presidents loved to show off their war credentials. And if they had none, they angled for it. Pre-Trump U.S. folks loved this. They accepted presidential candidates based on how “good” they looked in uniform or rejected candidates on how unimpressively they rode the armed Tank.

Alas, Trump has done none of it. Instead he has passed snide remarks on US war heros. Trump got half a chance to bomb Iran but he chickened out.

Every pre-Trump U.S. presidential campaigns had some of these highlighting words: Iran, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan. Every presidential candidate needed to have an opinion on what he would do to those countries after he is sworn in. In all debates, “International” questions where the most important ones. There was one US Presidential candidate who was laughed out of campaign because he did not know where Aleppo was. But Un-U.S. Trump had shown no aptitude for geography or geopolitics but still he won the presidency.

Trump has only domestic concerns. He is more concerned about Alabama than Aleppo or Afghanistan.

On the other hand, Trump wants US troops to come home. He is reducing Troops from Afghanistan and Iraq and asking Afghans and Iraqis to do the fighting instead. He is asking his allies to pay for the U.S. troops in NATO otherwise he will reduce troops to the minimum.

What is happening? It seems Trump is reducing costs and liabilities from elsewhere in the world and reallocating to create assets inside the U.S.. He is giving Jobs to the people of the United States. In the U.S. the wages are rising. Trump’s import tariffs and retaliatory tariffs is making imported goods expensive in the U.S. Subsequently, the only cheaper way is to produce goods in the U.S. Outsourcing no longer makes business sense. Insourcing is the new Mantra.

He had built walls to keep people out and tariffed the world to drive Industries back into the U.S.

China has been fleecing the U.S. since Nixon opened its doors in 1972. This is a complement to the Chinese. Chinese studied the US mechanism and made duplicates. And it’s not bad. There is a popular saying in Hindi, “नकल को भी अक्ल चाहिए”, (Copycats also require Capability). And Chinese have proven to be the best. All the pre-Trump presidents must have known this but none did anything about it.

Trump reversed the Nixon policy. Nixon went to China to seek market. But China gained by entering US market. All the pre Trump Presidents thought that Trade with China will bring Democracy to China. 1989 and Tiananmen solved all delusions. Trump doesn’t seem deluded.

Further, Trump is Un-U.S. because he doesn’t have “presidential etiquette”, which other Presidents before him exuded. The previous incumbents portrayed a suave exterior. Pre-Trump presidents first charmed the world and then bombed them. Trump has neither charmed or bombed. Trump is a rough Redneck who isn’t interested in you if you have nothing to give back. And if you’re bombed you’ll hardly can give back anything.

Trump has achieved what no other US presidents has achieved. He shook hands with elusive dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un. The anti Trump U.S. press underplayed this. Besides, why a Trader like Trump care about a tiny country with no business. But the fact that he reached out without an agenda or planning is the most Un-U.S. thing to do.

Trump didn’t “talk“ peace. He made it.

Recently Trump did the unthinkable Un-U.S. like thing. Trump made Middle East friends of Israel. Israel commercial flights are now flying over Saudi Arabia. The anti Trump U.S. media has underplayed it, ignored it.

Trump made Middle East friends of Israel.

So, what’s the endgame? I wish Trump another four years. India’s geopolitics will be served best with Trump by India’s side. This is despite the fact that he kicked India out of the free sops we Indians had gotten used to. But Trump is a Trader – A trader influenced by what profits others get him on the table. And India has much to offer. India has a market and population, two cards which is second only to China.

China will remain an antagonist to India. Most of the powers surrounding India has fallen prey or are tacitly influence by China. If one focuses on India on the globe and zooms out, one will find India geopolitically alone in this part of the world. India needs an ally. U.S. under Trump is our best bet, Modiwise. Any other US president will exploit India’s vulnerabilities, to play nice to the world, to China. Trump is good for India. Anti Trumpers has called this a myth. Realities of last four years has proved otherwise.

My Octopus Teacher-Netflix

An extraordinary nature documentary.

In the underwater forest of seaweeds, known as Kelp, near the tip of South Africa, Craig Foster does free diving, that is, going into the sea without oxygen and staying there till his breath permits.

There he bonds with an Octopus.

Then starts his one and half hours show of tracking the Octopus and Octopus tracking him, and sharks tracking the octopus and Octopus tracking the shark.

The filming carried on for one year, which is the lifespan of an octopus. Finally the Octopus dies, eaten by the same shark which it had dodged for a lifetime.

There are only two stars in this documentary. Craig Foster and the Octopus. Also, the documentary is narrated in a mellifluous voice of Craig Foster. In fact, the voice is so soothing it put me to sleep and I completed the full show in 3 or 4 sorties.

In nature documentaries, David Attenborough is considered as Gold Standards, and this show “My Octopus Teacher”, will make the cut.

India’s Covid Problem

It’s always said, “India is testing”. Is it really testing? Or, we should say, people of India are getting themselves tested. Because, testing is not free accept in government hospitals, and that too, the free government centres are few and far between. Mostly, people call for testing and it costs Rs. 2800 per testing plus additional charges for masks and gloves and sanitisers which the test technician visiting you will use.

I said in one of my earlier blogs that the entire world, except China, is just managing the Covid crisis to handle hospital and testing capacity. If there is no lockdown, hospitals and diagnostic centres will get overwhelmed.

Britain may again opt for another lockdown because they have to manage the hospital capacity and news is ripe that people have to travel 100s of miles to get themselves tested. British have NHS system, which actually means uniform medical attention for all. Covid has overwhelmed the top healthcare system of the first world country.

What does that say for India? Every day India competes and beats itself and the world in covid positive numbers. Now, technically, “India” is not testing. No ones going out collecting nasal and throat swabs on any Indian roads. In fact, the “people” are paying for the Covid tests or standing in line at some free Covid testing centres to get tested.

Again, people are not going to spend money or stand in a long queue for free tests just for the heck of it. They are testing because they are desperate. They may be suffering from Covid symptoms, and then they have reached a point where they just can’t do without urgent medical attention. They have to go and get tested because unless they’re not certified Covid positive they will not be accepted for isolation and subsequent medical attention.

People are not going to spend or stand in a long queue to test just for the heck of it. They are testing because they are desperate.

So, when you see a number, like say, “India’s figure reaches 100,000”, these are desperate people who cannot do without urgent medical attention. Hence, there will be equal number who are asymptomatic and silent spreaders. And equal number more who will get affected in days to come. One can “safely” say, India is in 300,000 club, cumulatively, Covidwise.

So what does one foresee with these kinds to information. That India has surrendered to “live and let die” scenario. That every Indian has to brace themselves for one Covid in their life. That Your immunity is your only friend against Covid. That a vaccine will be your only saviour.

India has surrendered to “live and let die” scenario. Every Indian will get Covid once in their life. Your immunity is your only friend against Covid. A vaccine will be your only saviour.

One should know, Common Cold is one sort of coronavirus. There has been no vaccine or medicine for common cold. All what you take over the counter medical stores like ColdX etc., is to manage the symptoms. It would be interesting to see how the coming vaccine against corona “SARS-COV-2” will turn out.

If the Russians have made it, then, at the moment, one can say, the safest person on earth is Putin’s Daughter.

Challenger:Final Flight.Netflix

There are many events in our life, when remembered now, one can say, “I knew where I was…when that happened”.

Like, when Indira Gandhi was killed I know where I was exactly. I remembered my walk all the way from School to home, a distance of some 6 kms. Because when some big people die in India, the second casualty is transport. On the way, I saw my friend “Jassi” and I called out. He quickened his steps and sauntered away. Little did I know, his community was the third casualty.

Just the same, I remember 29th January 1986. The space shuttle Challenger had exploded during launch, and next day I had switched on the TV and saw the event again and again on Doordarshan on my black and white TV.

This Space Shuttle launch was different. It was the first time a “non-astronaut”, a teacher, was chosen by U.S. through a nationwide selection. The hype had got massive media attention and was topped by a huge explosion in the sky. My eyes always seems to follow one lone rocket which seems to “survive” the explosion and run away from the crime scene.

I had never been so glued to the set before. The next time I happen to do the same, glued to Internet, was Sep 11, 2001, another of those, “I knew where I was…” moment.

A new show, Challenger: The Final Flight, is on Netflix. Miniseries are my favourite, and this has just 4 hours of binge worthy episodes.

7 crew members died. The show takes us into the lives of few of them and their families. Also are those engineers and administrators of NASA, who made a fateful decision to launch and the callousness which accompanied the day of the launch. The ominousness is highlighted by a glitch just minutes before launch.

Also in play are the other Human sides. Second people to show up (always) are the coverup guys, the third people to show up are the people who want to tell the truth.

And all while, the First People, they knew: “It was going to explode”.

Unorthodox – Miniseries Netflix

There is a crowd of channels and jungle of shows streaming on internet. Out of all, sometimes one clicks a jackpot. The T.V. miniseries –Unorthodox– has only 4 but power packed episodes.

Hasidim is ultra-orthodox Jewish faith and the language is Yiddish. All the characters of this T.V. show has these attributes. The settings are New York and Berlin. The story is told in FlashBack – FlashForward method. The dialogues are in Yiddish and you need to turn on the subtitles. 

A married young girl of 19, Etsy (Shira Haas) escapes her husband and family and rigid religious life in New York and flies to Berlin to freedom and to be with her biological mother. The Husband and his sidekick pursues her to Berlin and the husband is able to finally catch her at the least expected place.

Looks like a usual plot, but it is the journey, the screenplay, the several events which takes the story forward that makes the show worth the watch.

Most importantly, you will watch this show for Shira Haas. She has owned this miniseries with her extraordinary portrayal of Etsy.

Besides, one gets to look and see some of the Hasidim Culture; male actors with two hair Curls known as Payot, sometimes wearing extra large fur hats called Shtreimel, married women with wigs over shaved heads. The pre-marriage, marriage and post marriage ceremonies are shown with depth and awe and shock.

You will watch this show for Shira Haas.

Greyhound – Movie Apple TV Plus

Movies are not necessarily free on Apple TV Plus. But one latest movie, Greyhound, is free. Like the TV serial, The Morning Show, which is pretty racy and gripping, and also short ( just one season with 10 episodes), this movie is also short too, just 90 minutes of racy and gripping saga, of the naval battle of the Second World War. Screenplay is by Tom Hanks who also shuffles from one side of the ship to the other, shouting commands and dodging torpedoes of German Submarines. He and his ship survive but not without providing wholesome entertainment.

To watch FREE, register here and try Apple TV Plus free for 7 Days.

If you have an apple device, like an iPad or iPhone, you will have an apple store account. Well, Apple TV Plus is free till 31st October of this Year of the Lord 2020. So you can watch it on your iDevice or log into apple tv link as above.

If you have TV with an HDMI port, you can make it SMART by investing in Amazon Fire TV Stick. Also you need a good WiFi Internet, minimum 6mbps. But before you do this, first check, that whatever orifice you see behind your TV is indeed HDMI and also check if your TV is SMARTable. (Refer left hand corner “Learn more about compatible devices“)

If you do have Smart TV, then check your TV App Store for Apple TV Plus Channel. I stress on Amazon Fire TV because Apple TV plus is only on Amazon Fire Stick for most smart TVs.

In the amazon fire stick, it may show some basic channels like Amazon Prime movies, Netflix etc. But if you need more channels, you need to sign into and type in search: “Apple TV plus on Amazon Fire TV stick”. Don’t forget to append every channel you search with “Amazon Fire TV Stick”.

What you download on your account will sync and show on Amazon Fire TV, provided the registered email is same on Amazon web as well as the fire stick. All channels you purchase is free. But in-app subscriptions may be not. Such is life.

Titli – Movie Amazon Prime

Surfing lists of movies on Amazon Prime, I came across the movie named “Titli”, innumerable times. And innumerable times, I gave it a skip. “Titli” sounded like a children’s movie.

But one day I watched it. And I watched it several times thereafter.

Any “good” movie definitely has good performances from actors. But what wins my day is screenplay and dialogue. The script written by Sharat Katariya and Kanu Behl took me over from the start. It has a crisp storytelling with no lag in the plot. As far as acting is concerned, everyone has hit the nail in the head. Shashank Arora as Titli is a find. But I am sincerely surprised by Ranvir Shorey.