Thursday, September 26, 2013

A separation - Asghar Farhadi

Quite liked it.

It begins with a couple in family court, while the woman says, unless the family can move abroad, and utilise the visa obtained with great difficulty, she wants to separate. The husband brings up his ailing Alzheimer's stricken father , who cannot be left alone.

And so begins a separation as the wife moves out to her mom's place. Many things happen in the drama, as the husband and teenage daughter try to manage the house and the father. A help is hired, and things begin to get complicated the truth begins to get harder to get at.

At one level the movie turns almost into a whodunit. At another its still a commentary on family dynamics, on the role of women, of men, of children, of religion.. I like the ending also.. there are no easy answers..

Definitely worth a watch.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Butler - Lee Daniels

Good movie overall.

Starting out as a slave from the south, a man finds his way to Washington, and eventually becomes a butler at the white house. Over the years, various presidents come and go, and various laws and mindsets change.

I specially liked the parallel track of the butlers son, as he approaches the struggle with his own rebellions. The problem with a discriminated and battered minority trying to fight back, can never be an easy single story. And change can never come with a straight and narrow paths, there are curves and bends. Where does a non-violent group turn violent? Every little thing chips away. Sometimes you have to highlight your difference , and dig in. Sometimes you change and conform. And its never easy to just say that something is wrong and something is right. Perhaps the sons rebellion could never have come without the fathers conforming, and perhaps the fathers own battles got bolstered with the changes that came about with the sons efforts.

Definitely worth a watch, specially for the good acting. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

अवन्ती में अनाम

क्या इससे कुछ फ़र्क पड़ेगा
अगर मैं कहूँ
मैं मगध का नहीं
अवन्ती का हूँ?
अवश्य पड़ेगा
तुम अवन्ती के मान लिए जाओगे
मगध को भुलाना पड़ेगा
और तुम
मगध को भुला नहीं पाओगे
जीवन अवन्ती में बिताओगे
तब भी तुम
अवन्ती को जान नहीं पाओगे
तब तुम दुहराओगे
मैं अवन्ती का नहीं
मगध का हूँ
और कोई नहीं मानेगा
बिलबिलाओगे –
‘मैं सच कहता हूँ
मगध का हूँ
मैं अवन्ती का नहीं’
और कोई फ़र्क नहीं पड़ेगा
मगध के
माने नहीं जाओगे
अवन्ती में
पहचाने नहीं जाओगे

Will it make any difference if I say
I am not from Magadh
I belong to Avanti

Of course it will
You will be taken to belong to Avanti
You will have to forget Magadh

You will not be able to forget Magadh
You will spend a lifetime in Avanti
and still won't be able
to get acquainted with Avanti

Then over and over again
you will say
I don't belong to Avanti
I belong to Magadh
and no one will believe you
You'll whine
I'm telling the truth
I belong to Magadh
I don't belong to Avanti

and it won't make a difference
No one will believe
that you belong to Magadh
and you won't be recognised
in Avanti

-Shrikant Verma

Dabang 2


My sisters keeper - Jodi Picault

Pretty interesting overall.

A child is asked to donate her kidney to her sister. She refuses. Is she justified in that? Are those facts enough to decide? At what age can a child make their own medical decisions? How far can we hold on to life? Can you will a child into existence just to use their umbilical cord? Is there a measure of love?

It raised a lot of fascinating questions, and was overall rather a good read. Barring perhaps an extra love angle, which read to me almost like a badly written mills and boon ( i know, oxymoron there! ). But that was a very small part, and it can be ignored.

Most of all, I liked the ending. Maybe because it evokes the feeling that you could have had 5 different endings, and invalidated all your carefully thought out stands. Life is like that.

Definitely worth a read. 


I tried not to write this. I tried for many hours , many days, many decades. But perhaps it eats away at you, the not writing.

Why are we so up in arms about the death penalty for the rapists? Why isn't it about the death penalty for a brutal murder involving ripping out someones innards with rods and bare hands, and biting chunks of flesh off their torso and face? Isn't that what this is about? If a cellphone robber pins you down, slashes your stomach, rips your guts, batters your face, breaks your legs, stuffs an iron rod down your throat, would you then ask for 'death for cellphone robber'? Why would someone do that at all, wouldn't you ask? And if someone had done that, obviously the death penalty wasn't going to deter them.. They were determined to kill you, and there's already a death penalty for that. Why did they feel justified in punishing you so brutally then.. for having the cellphone? Or using it? Or just for existing?

Rape. That is such a blanket term. What has happened to half my friends as they grew up, done by family members, wasn't that rape? Would you like the death penalty for your uncles, your cousin, your brother? How about for your son? For every rape? The ones which go on for weeks, months, in our homes? No lets not get uncomfortable and change the topic. I know that over the last 30 years, almost every girl I know has had a few stories, a good few of them, of things that happened to them. Mostly friends and family members. Often for extended periods of time. Most never told anyone, except perhaps their 'best friend'. Sometimes, telling your mom was still an option. But if the perpetrator was a relative, telling your often powerless mom, was quite useless. Here we are not talking about police, or retributive justice for that cousin.. here we were often talking simply about preventing the ( common) recurrence. And yet there was a cocoon of silence.

Its almost as if by shouting death to rapists and exulting over the murder of these 4 torturers and murderers, we can dissociate that rape from the others. Rape, then becomes only this visceral, rage filled, blood bath, not the gentle emotional blackmail by the neighbor, who your father seemed such good friends with. Those 'victims' don't end up in the hospital, they look like the rest of us, outside the hospitals and the police stations. Those of us, who get together and justify the various reasons why we can't ever tell anyone. There is no point. We have moved on. Nothing can really be done. Those people have changed.

Those of us who have been abused, can feel vindication with someone else's hanging. Those of us who have perpetrated the abuse, can dissociate with the word rape. After all its only the outliers who actually act out the punishment fantasies, the rest of us can only make symbolic speeches about burning daughters for roaming around with a boy at night.

And everyone can be happy again.

ps - for those inclined to think in bullet points, here are 2 points to think about.

1. Dissociate the act of rape from the brutality. The brutality itself warrants almost any retributive/preventive punishment you want. The law already covers that.

2. Isolate the act of rape, and think about possibility that at least a few people you know, and who seem perfectly normal, are rapists. ( statistically almost inevitable). What causes that ? Does the headline 'death penalty for rapists' now worry you a bit more than it did? 

Friday, September 13, 2013

1Q84 - Haruki Murakami

Okish read, begins well, but gets rather boring midway onwards.

Its sort of a fantasy novel, and has far too much of 'magical power of love' as its central theme. Too much for me at any rate, I get easily irritated by lowy dovyness. The first part builds up like a rather tautly written murder mystery, which was what had got me hooked. Unfortunately, the second and third parts don't close out all that neatly, some random fantasy, magic realism, a few murders, and an interminable love story later, I was glad the book was over.

So much for the book, even though I do like Murakami's writing ( or at least its translation)