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. https://tv.apple.com/in

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 amazon.in 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 Amazon.in 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.

Thappad – Movie Review

As the Thappad (Slap) scene approaches in the movie, the story builds itself up perfectly for a fall out, relationship wise.

Point number one, there are lots of wifery to begin with. Starts with; not letting the morning wake up alarm ring even for a second lest it wakes the husband. The alarm is strictly for wife, for her to start her wifely stuffs. Collecting milk and newspapers from the doorsteps, chopping few leaves of lemongrass and grating ginger to make tea and finally see the husband off to his work while holding his wallet and tupperware of drink. Why the husband can’t keep his wallet in his pocket escapes me.

Point number two, there is husband. But he doesn’t indulge in husbandry. He is probably some mid level corporate PPT pusher wanting to make it bigger than what he is now. He is pampered at home until his doorsteps and thereafter he alights his saloon car for office. His angst with the world begins at his doorsteps when he sees his neighbour; a beautiful working women driving a large SUV. Nothing perturbs a promotionwallah more than to see others driving a bigger whatever. If he has a car, he now desires a car-a-lago.

Lastly, there are the two families on each side. They are shown to be pretty sedate. They don’t seem to matter much in the actual scheme of things. They are the support staff, supporting their individual wards.

At the eve of Thappad (slap incident) the husband is perturbed about some office politics undermining his promotion and is confronting his boss at a party in his house. When Thappad occurs, it wipes out point number one as enumerated above. Wife withdraws from wifery. Husband now turns to husbandry. The manly variety. No remorse. Has taken for granted that her doormat wife should always be slap-ready. Quite astonishingly, and pretty appropriately in a masculine world, the husband’s promotion is reinstated despite his boss and number of his colleagues saw the husband’s Thappad first hand. No repercussions for egregious behaviour.

Post Thappad, arrives the vakils, lawyers. The director has toned down the rhetoric which lawyers in Indian movies are shown to unleash. This is refreshing. Both sides are civil to begin with, civil to end with. Even threats are civil. No shouts and harangues. Just conversation.

But why is the movie so interesting. Screenplay and Taapsee! She is in a pivotal role. She portrays and projects the various emotions skillfully before and after Thappad. Credit also goes to the director who is able to get the right measure of effects in near low tone of the movie.

It’s pretty fashionable these days to cut melodrama in Indian movies, but cutting melodrama and still able to convey the emotion needs good direction and good actors. The movie did have great scope for various types of melodrama, starting with husband worship, then Thappad, then vakil (lawyers), then two families, sas-bahu (mother-in-law and wife), then Bachcha (pregnancy); yet the movie is restrained in all these and is topped with equally restrained performances.

Gulabo Sitabo – Movie Review

I googled “Gulabo Sitabo” and this fetched a site of “World Encyclopedia of Puppetry Arts” where it says that “Gulabo Sitabo” is a “traditional glove puppet theatre from Uttar Pradesh in north India. These puppets made of papier-mâché, dressed in colourful, shiny clothes and trinkets, are named after the two heroines who are represented in the show: Sitabo, the worn out, overworked spouse; and Gulabo, the scintillating mistress of the same man.

Amitabh Bachchan’s character is called Mirza Sheikh and and it is hard to tell what his motivations are. Anyway, he sells of his grand chandelier of great value for a pittance. He begs and collects money off a puppet artist while young girls dance to the puppet show. He steals light bulbs and bicycle ringers from his tenants and sells them for small change. The character is doing or showing a lot but nothing is been conveyed. In the end, whatever needed to be conveyed by showing it on screen is narrated via a rambling letter.

One thing did become clear thankfully by the end of the movie, that Mirza Sheikh has no sense of value or he makes no attempt to derive value out of whatever he possesses. He is just for small time sake. But why is he doing it? Greed for what? Why is he collecting money? And doing what with it? Is he spending it? Is he hoarding it?

The story never lets the audience entry into the predicaments of the characters. In Ayushmann Khurrana’s case, he does show some depth. His living in a joint family with three unmarried sisters, his affair with a women who has clear goals in life in contrast to his muddled life. And finally his confrontation with Mirza which is where most of the good acting happens.

The movie is a thinking man’s nightmare. I expected Shoojit Sirkar’s “Piku” like movie. That movie too is written by Juhi Chaturvedi. I expected at least a good structure albeit some design fault. In the wikipedia, it’s revealed by film director Shoojit Sirkar….”As soon as I read the script, I shared it with Mr Bachchan and Ayushmann at the same time. I thought it would take some time to develop and take it forward, but everyone was so enthusiastic to work on this script, they figured out their dates and here we are…” Well, here we are with a half baked story and screenplay. If Shoojit and Juhi intended to develop it why not go on with it. Did you expect Bachchan and Khurrana to do that for you?

The movie is held on by performances. Amitabh Bachchan as Mirza Sheikh is simply amazing. I have grown up seeing Bachchan as romantic action hero through 1970’s and 1980’s and now I see him as a wizened old man. I mean, this man will go down as the most prolific and versatile actor of all times.

Against him is Ayushmann Khurrana as Baankey Rastogi. He is a good competent actor but after seeing him through Dum Laga ke.., Bala, etc., etc., his performance is predictable and repetitive. Nevertheless he held it against Bachchan but it’s not like Bachchan vs Rajesh Khanna a la Anand.

One find of this movie is Srishti Shrivastava as Guddo. Right from the first scene onwards she exudes the quality of an accomplished actress. In the story there were several occasions and potential to develop this character. I felt she might usher a turning point and will be key at denouement and resolution. Alas, that was no to be. But good luck to you.

A Name is the beginning.

Name is important. Naming ceremony (naamkaran) has its own sanctity in india taken seriously. There are still some old fashioned people who, when you tell your name, will ask the meaning of your name and will be glad to know its significance. Every culture and religion has a naming ceremony. How something is named also portrays history and culture. A wrong name or misplaced name has its own negative feelings. Most probably, in India no one names their sons or daughters, Duryodhan or Draupadi. In western world, I have not come across someone named Judas. Muslim’s don’t name their child Allah. And there will be many such examples.

If names were not that important then why when people convert they have to change name.

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is a play, where Juliet is troubled by Romeo’s surname- Montague. In a scene she says:

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Readers should know, this is just part of the dialogue in play “Romeo and Juliet” which is noted as Tragedy. The complete play – Romeo & Juliet is a blood feud between two families – Montague and Capulet. Romeo is House Montague and Juliet is House Capulet. The entire play is a feud between NAMES – rather SURNAMES, as Indian would identify with. Why should we use two lines of weeping and bereft Juliet’s dialogue against the whole play where Romeo and Juliet die in the end because of names. These two lines are a part of a long monologue by Juliet where she is trying to rationalise her thoughts and feelings against the reality of the situations she is actually facing. This rationalisation leads to a sad ending of their love story.

The oft repeated words, “What’s in a name?” is used to scoff and undermine the necessity to go deeper and find truth of a name.

If you want to name something, observe the way your thoughts go. You will see its a very personal thing. Further, if you are the parents of a Child or a say, Company, you would love to name it yourself. You feel the need to possess the name.

Changing names by invading culture has been a part of cultural trampling. Also foreigners changes names because they couldn’t pronounce our names of cities and town’s etc. They could change names of places because for them that was just passing a law. Because they made the law. But the invading forces couldn’t interfere with our culture at a personal level. And so we still continue to name the way we have always done.