Let people be.

It’s not unlikely that one become a target of someone’s bullying at some juncture in their life. Bullying can be overt or subtle. Bullying during growing up years are more overt. Later in life, when one gets “worldly wise”, there’s a subtleness in the approach.

As is most things in life that is human related, bullying is also power. More extravagant kind of bullying is called ragging. Everyone in India will know ragging. Though there is legislation against it, freshers in colleges are still subjected to this humiliation. Best way to introduce to power is via humiliation.

Bullying or ragging, both are forms of humiliation. It’s virulent. It gets passed on. A person who is subjected to, will, in turn, make others his target. Any human subjected to abuse will abuse others, physically or emotionally or anything else. The germ does not go easily. A person who is abused does not generate compassion or empathy for others downstream.

Charlie Hebdo o is bullying. They are humiliating. And because of the historic biases towards the Muslim world, the non Muslim world is condoning. There is lot of hidden glee permeating the non Muslims. They are so glad that the Muslims are having it that they forget that the tide always turns.

What if tomorrow *Charlie Hebdo* decide to show Hindu gods in bad light. Have we forgotten what we did to M F Hussain. We Indians (read Hindus) are behaving as if we are the most free society, that we accept religious caricatures as daily staple, and we are so very tolerant and open minded that when we see Mohamed defiled in a cartoon we accept that with nonchalance.

The most generous will often be found at someone else’s wedding reception.

Mohamed is never defiled. But *Charlie Hebdo* has used their power to bully, rag and humiliate a following. They have taken refuge in a country, inside a constitution, in a society. By repeatedly hitting on a particular target subject they have displayed their insularity. No matter their ethos “to be irreverent to religion” which they formed at some past, due to their own confrontation with their own religion, which is Christianity, it does not default to propagation of that ethos to other religions and to other societies.

Most of the Muslim world, also Hindu world, have a lot of abuse to contend with. Most of these worlds are the so called “developing world”, in other words, Poor Countries. Part of the reason of their poverty is because of the total lack of the rule of law. The abuse begins here.

Then, to get a better life, for a society with a rule of law, people from poor countries migrate to “rich people’s” land. It is not an honourable existence but more honourable than what they have back home. The least they expect in the new land is another dose of provocation. But in France, and also in most other western world, they get exactly that, provocation.

A human abused will abuse. Mostly, these kinds of abuse remain localised towards the self or within families. Every individual, group, families contend with this. All they want to be left in peace and raise the next generation with wherewithal which they were denied to in their original home country.

But what happens when a nation abuses a community wholesale.

Western science is pretty developed. They have made strides in the understanding of mental illness. PTSD, ADHD are the by words now in any western books, cinema or tv. There is always a call for more understanding towards mental illness, abuse, bullying etc. With all these advancements one expects rich nations to show more compassion. Yet their callousness is astounding.

*Charlie Hebdo* is wrong in targeting a community. And the French are wrong to shield Hebdo. And the world is wrong for their expression of glee and mirth. Terrorism in all forms are condemnable, and those “Forms” should include provocation and incitement thru obnoxious imagery.

Don’t you think, Charlie Hebdo’s rabid depiction of a revered subject is also terrorism.


Cricket is dumb.

Cricket is dumb, viewer-wise. What is the bother? That your country has won or your favourite club has won or your team batter has scored a century or your team bowler has dismissed couple of batsmen. These are blocks of emotion suitably wasted. This is Tribalism — My and Others.

A game of Tennis or Football displays stamina, skill, strategy, teamwork at every moment of the game. In Tennis, the speed of service, the returns, volley, dropshots etc. are the content of every game, set and match. Viewers see the opponent crafting their strategies for victory. A Football goal is richer in content than a fall of wicket in cricket. An action replay of a goal will show thought and strategy. On the contrary, a fall of wicket is just a stupid fall of wicket. It appears like a mistake. Besides, a batsman thumping sixes is a no brainer for the viewer.

Cricket is intuitive. Viewers will never know what skill and strategies are called into play. All skill and strategy are resident in the players. What the viewers see is the resultant. The viewers see a batter score a century or get out. The viewers see a bowler dismiss a batter or get hit for a six. But what is the process at play? That is why cricket commentary is so important. Viewer needs to be informed. Somebody else is doing the thinking for the viewer.

And even if there is no commentary, what do the viewers see on some big screen? Four chief points are the lookouts. That someone’s bowling and someone’s batting and what is the score needed and overs left. It might take a couple of days, a day or half a day to know the outcome.

Football is a ninety minute sport with strategies and processes starting at kick off. A goal is a result of several steps. Every set pieces, like a corner kick, free kick is packed with thought and strategy. Even an attempt on a goal has a strategic build up. A viewer is involved in every step.

Tennis is a display of speed, and accuracy. Three or five setter may take a couple of hours to several number of hours. The more the extension of the game the more is the skill, stamina and strategy called forth in the game. A Five stetter Five hour match means both the opponents have raised the level of the game by several notches and brought out the best of skills. Any viewer will see that.

Both Football and Tennis provide “wholesome” viewership experience. Cricket provides only spectacle. A Football and Tennis game leaves the viewer with a “watched something” feeling. A cricket match leaves the viewer just with culmination. Some team won. That’s it!

Feud: Miniseries, Hotstar

Joan Crawford and Bette Davis were two contemporary Hollywood Actresses. And as per the gossip of those times, they did not like each other. But their career paths crossed when they acted in the movie called, “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” (1962) The movie was a commercial and critical success.

Quite predictably, the movie makers desired to recreate the magic. So they announced one more movie with two stars, “What Ever Happened to Cousin Charlotte?” But after few days shooting, Crawford was replaced. The movie was completed, and renamed, “Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte.” (1964) This movie too was commercial and critical success.

The miniseries is one season and eight episodes. It covers the lives, times, controversies, gossip and feud between the two actresses leading upto the making up of 1962 movie, the 1964 movie, finally culminating with the death of Joan Crawford in 1977.

And two of our exceptional contemporary actresses play the yesteryear stars, Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford and Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis. The rest of the cast too, are pros of the first order.

When Stars and their gossips had mystique.

Trust – TV Show, Hotstar

J. Paul Getty, a one time world’s richest man, multi billionaire, with several wives and concubines, wasted sons and grandsons, refuses to pay ransom for his one grandson, J. Paul Getty II, kidnapped in Rome.

Donald Sutherland is playing J. Paul Getty and Hilary Swank as mother of J. Paul Getty II. Also seen is Brendan Fraser of the “Bedazzled” and “The Mummy” fame. This is a period drama set in 1973, with wired telephone and faxes and the atmosphere of those times.

The show is only one season with ten episodes. The first nine of them is gripping. It’s pretty tragi-comic with lots of wry humour. The tenth episode is somewhat a downer, but probably necessary to show the consequences of the actions done by the real actors. For one, it is shown that the ransom was used to build a port in Italy from where drugs were shipped back into the U.S..

There are two sets of casts, the American side with Sutherland and Swank in the lead and then, the Italian side. Since the kidnapping is done in Rome, most of the show has Italian casts and language.

A gripping drama which is a true story.

Hamilton – Musical Play, Hotstar

Founding of United States, the saga in a song on a stage.

Just like India, United States was once a colony of the British. And just like India, the Americans got fed up of the British. Two sides started skirmishing around 1773, and amidst the war, on 4th July 1776 there was a Declaration of Independence by the U.S., and the finally the war ended in 1783 thru Treaty of Paris.

Fighting for independence brought together lots of strong, forceful, dominating characters. They were known as Founding Fathers. To tell the story, the play aptly choses two, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. And to add to the flavour of the play, Hamilton is portrayed as hero and Burr villain.

The choice is appropriate, because both were “star crossed”. In the end, Burr kills Hamilton in a duel. This is true.

The story is portrayed succinctly, musically as a play. The canvas is just large and just deep and just comprehensive to include the context, the time, the characters and the conflicts, both before the war, during the war and after the war. Historical Characters sing their faults, their praise, predicaments, aspirations, sarcasm and even sling mud.

The play is a lyrical masterpiece. Have your english subtitles on to get the words. They are gems.

Big – Movie(1988), Hotstar

A 13 year old boy makes a wish and overnight becomes 30 year old Tom Hanks. But only in body. The mind is still 13.

Then 30 year old Tom Hanks with a 13 year old mind moves about in the world of adults with lots of mind.

It’s a watchable run of a mill story. The beauty is Tom Hanks acting. Portraying a 13 year old character at the age of 32, Hanks doesn’t go overboard at all and his mannerisms are so subtle and apt.

In the end, Hanks gets a wish rollback to be back in his 13 year old body. Well, if our wishes were horses….

Greyhound vs The Enemy Below

There’s a Movie Greyhound (2020) on Apple TV. The movie is crisp, racy and holds attention till the end, yet I can’t help comparing it with another movie – The Enemy Below(1957). Search this Movie on YouTube. It’s free.
Both movies have some basic similarities and some significant differences.

First the similarities.

Both movies are based on books. Greyhound is based on – The Good Shepherd by C. S. Forester(1955), and The Enemy Below is based on a book of the same name by Denys Rayner(1956). Of the two writers, C.S. Forester is a pure one, meaning, he wrote for a living. Denys Rayner was a Royal Navy Officer who saw action in Second World War. He later turned to writing.

In both movies, the ship and the submarine are in a predator-prey tussle. And in both movies, the ship and their captain come out tops. Also, both the ship captains are shown as underdogs to begin with. It is their first Wartime command. In The Enemy Below, such captains are touted as “Feather Merchants”, slang for “Someone without combat experience”.

In both movies, the plot follows similar paths; main characters as underdogs, given big responsibility, “doubting Thomas” like people all around, meeting adversity, finally redemption.

During the times of the Second World War; SONAR, RADAR technologies were new and considered advanced and cutting edge. It’s interesting to see how the adversaries “plot” against each other using these devices, by drawing arcs and coordinates on maps. One can imagine how prompt and quick witted a cartographer needed to be to provide the captain with bearings and range and, that too, in combat situation and in relentless ever changing scenarios.

Both movies are 90 minutes long, if you forgo the credits. Both movies take approx 10 minutes to cut to the chase. Those initial 10 minutes are spent to establish the credentials of the Captains, and highlight their vulnerabilities.

Now the differences between the two stories.

Greyhound is just about “the ship” and the characters inside the ship. The submarine is the elusive figure and it is dehumanized. The movie never shows insides of the submarine. Even when submarines are destroyed, no bodies are shown, just oil slicks on ocean surface. The picture is CGI-ish.

Unlike Greyhound, The Enemy Below shows both sides of the story, the U.S. Ship and the Nazi Submarine. There’s a dual. Both the captains are making mental picture of each other, trying to outsmart each other, are second guessing each other. And as they do that, they begin to appreciate each other. And finally they meet.

The Enemy Below is a 1957 movie, a decade after the end of the big war. So probably the story has a spirit of reconciliation. Greyhound has cut all melodrama.

Cinematic effects in The Enemy Below, I found, is better than Greyhound. This 1957 movie won Oscars for Best Special Effects. The sound and the imagery of the blue waters bursting into spouting flares as the Depth Charges are launched into the ocean is taylor made for today’s HDTV. Greyhound doesn’t come anywhere near it, in sound and colors, using more dark hues and Grey tones.

In The Enemy Below, the end is pretty Kamikaze-ish. The ships rams over the submarine and both side take refuge in the allied lifeboats. This is one cinemafication that Greyhound has avoided. Nonetheless, there will be a positive take away if one watches both movies.

Her – Movie (Netflix, Prime, Jio)

Element software is proud to introduce the first artificially intelligent operating system. An intuitive entity that listens to you, understands you, and knows you. It’s not just an operating system. It’s a consciousness. Introducing OS1.

“Her” is movie in which “Her” is an Operating System (OS). And the lonesome Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with Samantha, the OS. The sexy voice of Samantha is by Scarlett Johansson who speaks to Phoenix via earphone and watches the world via a “booklet” type webcam which Phoenix perches on his shirt pocket as he moves around.

Gradually, Samantha gets into the life (read data) of Phoenix. Samantha once says”..every moment, I’m evolving. Just like you.” The relationship deepens and they indulge in verbal sex.
Samantha: I want you inside me.
Phoenix: I’m slowly putting myself into you. And now I’m inside you; all the way inside you.
Samantha: **sounds of women coming**

The verbal sex doesn’t satisfy Samantha. She wants more. So she engages a surrogate body. She sends a female to Phoenix’s house and they touch and kiss, as they converse thru earphones and webcams. The experience doesn’t augur well with Phoenix. And he is perturbed by the extent Samantha, the OS, can go to satisfy herself. Or what next?

Then Phoenix finds that not only he is indulging with OS, but also his colleagues and in fact, later he finds that the world is hooked. He asks Samantha;
Are you talking to anyone else right now?
Are you in love with anyone else?

But the significant part of the story is, the catharsis. It is Samantha who breaks the relationship. Remember, Samantha is an Operating System and this is what happens to “Her”, finally;
It’s like I’m reading a book….But I’m reading it slowly now. So the words are really far apart and the spaces between the words are almost infinite. I can still feel you and the words of our story but it’s in this endless space between the words that I’m finding myself now. It’s a place that’s not of the physical world. It’s where everything else is that I didn’t even know existed.

But the heart’s not like a box that gets filled up,

It expands in size the more you love.

All is Lost – Movie, rent on Play Movies

Movie with one character, no dialogue, a few lines of monologue, and minimal music. All sound is natural. That’s it.

Robert Redford is lolling alone in his yacht, in the ocean somewhere between islands of Sumatra and Madagascar. His problem begins when a rouge floating cargo container digs into the hull of his boat. As he sleeps, his boat gets flooded and when he wakes he finds some significant damage has been done inside the boat. For start, he lost his navigation and radio.

Remember, he is floating somewhere in the Indian Ocean. And he has lost his Fix, I mean the coordinates of where he is. Well, he knows the Sunrising East and the rest, but traversing a path will require a route to a destination. And in the wide open Ocean knowing classical directions is not enough. So, now he is basically drifting towards nowhere.

But Mother Nature is watching. She promptly arrives with a gift – Thunderstorm. His boat takes couple of tumbles and in the end is a floating wreak. He takes refuge in a life raft. In the Life Raft he does something which no one does in real life. He reads the User manual.

He discovers a Sextant and starts charting his Fix. A periodic readings charted on a map shows that he is drifting towards a major Shipping Route between Sumatra Straits and Madagascar. That means, he hopes to finally cross path with few ships to which he can signal for help.

Ships come and ships go but he rafts on forever. Help doesn’t arrive. In the process he spends all the sparkles and rockets, none has been successful in calling attention to his distress. Finally, he sets fire to his notebooks and journals and in the process burns down his only float in the middle of a dark sea.

All is Lost!

In One Hour and Forty minute movie, and with the most handsome Robert Redford in the lead, one goes through layers and layers of emotions and complexities. In a nutshell, the mess the character has fallen is shown when, at one time he savers a drink in his yacht, and later, he finds droplets of water through condensation which he savers.

The actor’s actions, the sound of the sea, the interluding silent moments, the mix and match of these three, supported by just a few dash of music is the success of this cuisine.

A Separation – Iranian Movie on Amazon Prime

An Iranian husband is contending with a probable separation from his wife, and his schoolgirl daughter hasn’t committed on whose side she would be, and there is his dementia suffering father, and to compound the husband’s misery, he falls into a serious problem with his housemaid.

And, on the other side, is the housemaid’s family with unemployed husband and there too, is a daughter.

The daughters on both side of the divide play a significant role. They are both witness to their father’s or mother’s dissimulation, the lies they speak and truths they hide.

The context in which the story is framed is the Iranian justice system. Oath swearing on the Koran to prove innocence and blood-money (restitution) are few of the terms one should know of the Iranian justice system to understand the compulsions of the characters.

Nevertheless, it’s the character’s interactions which binds the story into a tight and racy plot. Most of the camera angles are close ups or medium shots and moving with the characters. The director Arshad Farhadi has made full use of the shoulder mounted cameras. The capture of the background both inside the house, the courtroom and the street is minimal and to the point. Most of the footage is focused on the character’s expressions while they interact through dialogues.

The Persian in the movie is spoken rather rapidly. Also the camera is pretty mobile. So there will be a challenge in reading subtitles. Despite this, the tone and cadence of the dialogue is appropriate to convey the meaning of what’s going on between characters.

One of the classic shots, short but touching, happens towards the end. All the characters are in the housemaid’s house where blood-money has to be paid. The deal fails and the camera catches the two daughters with their gaze locked on each. It’s a classic way to capture the undercurrents of emotions in that situation. The daughters, in their own simple ways have contributed to protect their families.

A special mention for Kimia Hosseini, the housemaids eight year old daughter for the most natural child actor expressions.

The movie’s ending is equally well crafted. For a story of this kind, what could be the possible endings? The story is on roller coaster from the start, provides for a lot of exchanges and drama and in the end, pauses. If you watch the movie wholeheartedly, you will feel the pause.