I am back in India, and this time, my photoseries (daily diary) will concentrate on monsoons. Monsoons are an amazing force of nature with no parallel that carries the power to break the scorching heat spell during the summer in the Indian subcontinent, and rejuvenates all life forms.
The most haunting frame of Ramchand Pakistani may be its first. Over a black screen, the words appear: adapted from actual events. The world is full of mad facts, but among the maddest is that in 2002, as Indian and Pakistani troops massed against each other on the countries' border, an eight-year-old boy named Ramchand wandered over the invisible line separating his own side of the desert from that of India's and was taken prisoner. Going in search of Ramchand, his father followed him across and was captured as well. They were held in an overcrowded Indian jail for five years. In her first feature film, Mehreen Jabbar lays out the political contexts of Ramchand's situation with exceptional fluidity. Titles at the top establish the geopolitics, and the more localized issues are threaded through early scenes. Most salient of all is the fact that Ramchand's family is part of a Hindu tribe of untouchables, making them both suspect and powerless in Pakistan. Bollywood star Nandita Das thus proves doubly brave .......
On December, 18th evening, I am standing at the immigration line at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India. More well lit and lines moving faster than 2006, I am fairly pleased. I move to the red line to waiting for the immigration officer to call me, and suddenly, a family of four zips past me with an airport employee bypassing the line, and get their passports checked before me. I laugh, and turn around in befuddlement for breaking the line. The guy standing behind me says, “Welcome, Home”. I just smile. What else can I do?
With India bursting to its seams with consumerism in swanky malls, in the process being turned upside down with the second largest growth rate in the world, an emerging MTV-like generation in India, and still being beset with an extremely fragile infrastructure*, the divide between rich and poor ever widening, and the general chaos that comes with being an extremely crowded country – I will present you in the coming weeks of pictures and short movies through my blog, flickr, and facebook account, I took here in my two week stay here (12/18-01/01), through my eyes.
Pictures will always speak more than pedantic words. One thing these pictures will show the sense of optimism that seams to be infectious in India, inspite of all the hiccups, poverty, dust, power cuts, and the open trash. Also, maybe, somebody should get me introduced to Amrita Rao. I can only dream – millions on the footpath in India do that. My name is Anthony Gonsalves.
*My home in Roorkee, inspite of fast internet connection was completely down for nearly a week. The neighborhood where my parents live does have a wireless connection but the service provider could not provide a modem for wireless for months when we had requested.
I am starting a new section, recommendations. Very minimalist in approach - not reviews but a preview to pique your interest, and then you are on your own.
General Allenby: I'm promoting you Major.
T.E. Lawrence: I don't think that's a very good idea.
Sherif Ali: What is your name?
T.E. Lawrence: My name is for my friends. None of my friends is a murderer!
Colonel Brighton: Damn it, Lawrence! Who do you take your orders from?
Quotes from the movie "Lawrence of Arabia"
Providence Gangster #1: Come on Babu, I can't do any more. I can't go off, please don't make me go back empty handed. Please don't do this. I wanna help you.
Pakistani Proprietor: Come to my store next Friday. I'll give you the money...
Providence Gangster #1: This is Friday Babu, how many times I gotta tell you?
Pakistani Proprietor: You keep calling me Babu, it's 'Singh' motherfucker!
Providence Gangster #1: I'm trying to help you. Don't you understand?
Pakistani Proprietor: You keep on telling me 'I'm your friend'.
Providence Gangster #1: Yeah.
Pakistani Proprietor: You don't even know my fucking name!
[Watching Costigan beat up the Providence gangsters, destroying his store in the process]
Pakistani Proprietor: What's wrong with this fucking country? Everybody hates everybody!
From the Movie "The Departed" (2006). Probably, the "Singh" guy is not a Pakistani Proprietor, but possibly an Indian-orgin Sikh or Rajput or Jat. Same thing.
Happy New Year
From the classic movie "The Battle of Algiers"
Few fictional films look more like documentary than Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers, and very few indeed which have this kind of socio-political structure and recount old, half-forgotten conflicts have achieved such lasting fame. Pontecorvo never managed to repeat the trick, though Queimada!, for which he hired Marlon Brando to play a British agent sent to the Caribbean to stir up rebellion against the Portuguese, was at least a partial success three years later.
The Battle of Algiers, however, remains the basis of Pontecorvo's fame - a model of how, without prejudice or compromise, a film-maker can illuminate history and tell us how we repeat the same mistakes. In fact, this study of the Algerian guerrilla struggle against the French colonialists in the 50s ought to be looked at not just as pure cinema but as a warning to those who seek by force to crush independence movements
Post in honor of "Gillo Pontecorvo, the Italian filmmaker who explored terrorism and torture in colonial Algeria in the powerful and influential 1965 classic, “The Battle of Algiers,” died here on Thursday. He was 86. [Link]"
On Sepia Mutiny News Tab, KXB has posted a haunting article from The Independent about a documentary movie "Floating Lamp of the Shadow Valley" that is about a nine year old boy Arif who supports his entire family as a boatman in a strife-ridden Kashmir. It is not only a heart-warming story made by a film maker who himself has felt the burnt of the tragedy of Kashmir but a tale of courage for a kid too young for such kind of things. Please read the article, and some excerpts for introduction:
"I have my roots," he says. "My heart belongs to Kashmir. I don't hold every Kashmiri Muslim responsible for the violence there. They too are suffering. I wanted to do something to show the world that the people are suffering. I first saw Arif in 2004. I had gone back to Kashmir on a shoot for another documentary. I saw this kid baling out his boat." [Link]
In Mr Jala's words, he is "facing challenges that have adults on their knees".
The film shows the two sides to Arif's life. At one moment, he is playing rough and tumble with his brothers, fighting over a toy gun, and crying when his mother scolds him. At the next, he is staring thoughtfully out at the lake and weighing up the family's problems like a grown man, trying to shut out the sound of his brothers playing. "I will educate my brothers and sister," he says. "We will get my sister married. I will fulfil my mother's dreams." [Link]
It is story of triumph both for Arif and Rajesh Jala. There is always hope.
If you get a chance, please see the movie, Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion. It is their story. The first five minutes will shake you. For someone not versed in Tibetan history, it is also an excellent primer.
It will make you think. Make up your own mind, but do think about. I rented the movie through netflix. Also, click on the figure for the movie's website and for more information.
Otto: You know your problem? You don't like winners.
Otto: Yeah. Winners.
Archie: Winners, like North Vietnam?
Otto: Shut up. We didn't lose Vietnam. It was a tie.
Archie: [going into a cowboy-like drawl] I'm tellin' ya baby, they kicked your little ass there. Boy, they whooped yer hide REAL GOOD.
Quote From: A Fish Called Wanda
[Strangelove's plan for post-nuclear war survival involves living underground with a 10:1 female-to-male ratio]
General "Buck" Turgidson: Doctor, you mentioned the ratio of ten women to each man. Now, wouldn't that necessitate the abandonment of the so-called monogamous sexual relationship, I mean, as far as men were concerned?
Dr. Strangelove: Regrettably, yes. But it is, you know, a sacrifice required for the future of the human race. I hasten to add that since each man will be required to do prodigious... service along these lines, the women will have to be selected for their sexual characteristics which will have to be of a highly stimulating nature.
Ambassador de Sadesky: I must confess, you have an astonishingly good idea there, Doctor.
Spike Lee's Inside Man has a remixed version of Bollywood song "Chaiya Chaiya" from Dil Se. Hey, check out the original version too. I like both of them. They are slightly different. Interesting excerpt from TimesDispatch.com: The end credits and the opening titles, incidentally, are enlivened by the peppy Bollywood hit song "Chal Chaiyya Chaiyya" from the movie "Dil Se." The song does not seem to have anything to do with this movie -- no one dances on top of a train --but it is a hip way to reassure the audience that nothing too bad is going to happen.