20 August 2017

'ಮಾರಿಕೊಂಡವರು' ('Maarikondavaru') Review

Review of 'ಮಾರಿಕೊಂಡವರು':

The Patel (zamindar) of a riverside village is engaged in illegal sand mining. He wants to get a road built along the river to facilitate his operations. But this will lead to several poor farmers losing their lands. An educated young Dalit of the village takes up the farmers' cause and fights against the Patel. The Patel responds by using his money, power and also the caste divisions in the village.

Director K Shivarudrayya has seamlessly combined writer Devanur Mahadev's three short stories into a simple but realistic depiction of a village. With its cocktail of corruption and casteism, the village is also a microcosm of India.

Maarikondavaru won the second prize for Best Picture last year (the first prize went to Tithi).

12 August 2017

'ಹಿಂದು' ಎಂದರೆ ಯಾರು?

ಭಾರತ ಜನಿಸಿದ್ದು ಸಿಂಧು ನದಿಯ ದಡದಲ್ಲಿ. ಪ್ರಾಚೀನ ಭಾರತದಲ್ಲಿ ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತ ಜ್ಞಾನದ ಭಾಷೆಯಾಗಿತ್ತು. ದಿನಬಳಕೆಗೆ ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತದ ಸರಳ ರೂಪವಾದ ಪ್ರಾಕೃತವನ್ನು ಬಳಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು. ಪ್ರಾಕೃತ ಶಬ್ದಗಳು ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತ ಶಬ್ದಗಳ ಸರಳ ರೂಪಗಳಾಗಿದ್ದವು (ಇಂದು ಹೇಗೆ ಕನ್ನಡ ಶಬ್ದಗಳು ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತ ಶಬ್ದಗಳ ಸರಳ ರೂಪಗಳೋ ಹಾಗೆಯೇ). ಅಂತೆಯೆ ಪ್ರಾಕೃತದಲ್ಲಿ ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತದ 'ಸಿಂಧು' ಶಬ್ದ 'ಹಿಂದು' ಎಂದು ಬದಲಾಯಿತು. 'ಹಿಂದು' ಶಬ್ದದ ಮೂಲ ಅರ್ಥ ಸಿಂಧು ನದಿ ಎಂದು. ನಂತರ ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ಇನ್ನೊಂದು ಅರ್ಥ ಬಂತು: ಯಾವ ಜನರ ನಾಗರಿಕತೆ ಸಿಂಧು ನದಿಯ ದಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಹುಟ್ಟಿತೋ, ಅವರು ಎಂದು.

ಈ ಹಿಂದುಗಳು ಹಿಮಾಲಯ ಮತ್ತು ಮಹಾಸಾಗರದ ಮಧ್ಯ ಇರುವ ಭೂಭಾಗದಲ್ಲಿ ವಾಸವಾದರು. ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ಈ ಭೂಭಾಗ 'ಹಿಂದುಸ್ಥಾನ' ಆಯಿತು. ಈ ದೇಶದಲ್ಲಿ 'ಭರತ' ಎಂಬ ಮಹಾರಾಜ ಇದ್ದ. ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ಈ ದೇಶಕ್ಕೆ 'ಭಾರತ' ಎಂಬ ಹೆಸರೂ ಬಂದಿತು. ಆದ್ದರಿಂದ 'ಹಿಂದು' ಮತ್ತು 'ಭಾರತೀಯ' (ಹಾಗೂ 'ಹಿಂದುಸ್ಥಾನ' ಮತ್ತು 'ಭಾರತ') - ಇವು ಸಮಾನಾರ್ಥಕ ಶಬ್ದಗಳು.

ಈ ಹಿಂದುಗಳು ಒಂದು ಜೀವನ ವಿಧಾನ ಅಥವಾ ಧರ್ಮವನ್ನು (ನಂಬಿಕೆಗಳು ಮತ್ತು ಆಚಾರಗಳು) ರಚಿಸಿದರು. ಅದು ಹಿಂದುಗಳ ಧರ್ಮವಾದ್ದರಿಂದ ಅದು 'ಹಿಂದು ಧರ್ಮ' ಆಯಿತು. ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ಇನ್ನೊಂದು ಹೆಸರು 'ಸನಾತನ ಧರ್ಮ' ಎಂದು. ಜತೆಗೆ, ಈ ಹಿಂದುಗಳು ಅನೇಕ ಮತಗಳನ್ನು (ದೇವರ ಪೂಜಾ ಪದ್ಧತಿ) ರಚಿಸಿದರು: ಶೈವ, ವೈಷ್ಣವ, ಶಾಕ್ತ, ಬೌದ್ಧ, ಜೈನ ಮತ್ತು ಸಿಖ್ ಎಂಬ ಮತಗಳು.

ಇದು 'ಹಿಂದು' ಶಬ್ದದ ನಿಜವಾದ ಅರ್ಥ. ಅದು ಒಂದು ಜನಾಂಗದ ಹೆಸರು. ಅದಕ್ಕೂ ಮತಕ್ಕೂ ಯಾವ ಸಂಬಂಧವೂ ಇಲ್ಲ. ಆದ್ದರಿಂದ: "ನಾವು ಹಿಂದು ಧರ್ಮವನ್ನು ಪಾಲಿಸುತ್ತೇವೆ, ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ನಾವು ಹಿಂದುಗಳು" - ಇದು ತಪ್ಪು. ಸತ್ಯ ಬೇರೆ: ನಾವು ಹಿಂದುಗಳು, ನಮ್ಮದೊಂದು ಧರ್ಮ ಇದೆ, ಅದು ಹಿಂದುಗಳ ಧರ್ಮವಾದ್ದರಿಂದ ಅದಕ್ಕೆ 'ಹಿಂದು ಧರ್ಮ' ಎಂದು ಹೆಸರು.

'Toilet: Ek Prem Katha' - Review

Review of 'Toilet: Ek Prem Katha':

Keshav (Akshay Kumar) runs a cycle shop in a village. His horoscope says he is cursed and that the curse can be removed only by marrying a girl with 3 thumbs. His father, an orthodox pandit, believes this strongly. So Keshav is 36 years old and single. Then he meets a girl called Jaya (Bhumi Pednekar) and they fall in love. But she has only 2 thumbs (like most of us). Through some innovative bio-engineering, Keshav manages to fool his father and marry Jaya. The next day, she comes to know that there is no toilet in the house. An educated girl from a middle class family, she is shocked and disgusted. But the pandit is dead against having a toilet in the house (due to a medieval degraded version of Hinduism). Jaya somehow manages for some time, but finally her patience snaps and she goes away to her parents' house. Keshav then starts fighting against his father, his village and the government to get a toilet in his house.

Shree Narayan Singh's Toilet: Ek Prem Katha may sound like a documentary at some points. But it is first and foremost a heartfelt story of a man/husband and woman/wife who love each other - but have to struggle against the society they live in. Toilet is both a hilarious comedy and a sensitive love story. It is also an angry protest against feudalism and a passionate cry for common sense, decency and dignity of women.

The English-language media (ELM) has given Toilet mostly negative reviews. So ELM's movie critics are as biased as its political news reporters/anchors/editors.

05 August 2017

'Raag Desh' - Review

A review of 'Raag Desh':

In 1937, Japan started World War 2 by invading China. In 1939, Germany started the war in Europe by invading Poland. Britain declared war on Germany on behalf of the entire British Empire, including India – without the consent of Indians. In 1941, Japan attacked America and invaded South East Asia. Again Britain declared war on Japan on behalf of the entire British Empire, including India – without the consent of Indians.

Accordingly, the British Indian Army fought against the Japanese Army in South East Asia. Though it fought bravely, it lost and had to surrender in 1942. Then Subhash Chandra Bose came and told the Indian soldiers that their real duty was to fight against the British – and free India. Around 50,000 soldiers answered his call – and the Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj) was born.

INA fought bravely against the British under the leadership of Bose. But finally in 1945, America defeated Japan – and INA had to surrender to the British. The British denounced all INA soldiers as traitors and decided to court-martial all INA officers for treason. They started by court-martialling 3 officers (Prem Kumar Sehgal, Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon, Shah Nawaz Khan) in Red Fort in November 1945. The Indian National Congress decided to defend the 3 officers. It chose the eminent lawyer Bhulabhai Desai for the job.

The court-martial was just a formality. The verdict was a foregone conclusion. But Bhulabhai Desai fought the case like a tiger – using all his legal expertise. Finally in December the trial ended as expected: all the 3 officers were found guilty.

Meanwhile with the end of the war, Indians gradually came to know about the heroism of Bose and his INA. The whole country was filled with respect and admiration for their patriotism and courage. The court-martial only served to ignite the already burning hearts of Indians. The British came to know this and wisely decided not to punish the 3 officers – they simply dismissed them from the Army.

How did Britain rule India for 200 years? A country can rule another country only by force – ie, by its army. But an army needs men. So how could a small country like Britain have an army big enough to control a big country like India (which was 25 times bigger)? The simple answer is that it did not. The 'British Army' in India was actually a British Indian Army. That is, only its officers were British – all the soldiers were Indians. So how did Britain control India with this British Indian Army? Simple: The Indian soldiers were loyal to the British. Thus the central fact about British rule in India was that it depended completely on one factor: the loyalty of Indian soldiers to the British. As long as this factor existed, the British Raj was unshakable.

The heroics of INA in the war and the court-martial of its officers ignited the flame of patriotism in not just ordinary Indians – but more importantly, among Indian soldiers. Just a month after the court-martial (in February 1946) 10,000 sailors of the Indian Navy revolted against the British. The revolt was somehow put down, but the British realised what was happening. The foundation of their rule – the loyalty of Indian soldiers – had disappeared. The writing was on the wall – their rule in India was over. A year later (in February 1947) Britain's Prime Minister Clement Attlee announced that the British would leave India.

Tigmanshu Dhulia's Raag Desh tells the story of this important chapter in India's history. Our Leftist historians have completely erased Subhash Chandra Bose and INA from the story of our freedom struggle. Raag Desh provides a much-needed corrective to this gross distortion. Mohit Marwah, Amit Sadh and Kunal Kapoor play the 3 officers and Kenny Basumatary plays Subhash Chandra Bose. The movie features the famous INA marching song 'Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja'.

31 July 2017

'Indu Sarkar' - Review

Review:

There are two types of historical movies:
1. Non-fictional
2. Fictional
A non-fictional historical movie tells the story of actual historical events and actual historical persons. Example: Richard Attenborough's Gandhi tells the story of Gandhiji's life and India's freedom struggle. A fictional historical movie tells the fictional story of fictional characters against the backdrop of historical events. Example: Leo Tolstoy's novel War and Peace (made into several movie versions) tells the story of three characters against the backdrop of Napoleon's invasion of Russia. Non-fictional historical movies focus on the decisions and actions of rulers and leaders. Fictional historical movies focus on the lives of ordinary people and how they are impacted by historical events.

These were the two models in front of Madhur Bhandarkar when he decided to make a movie on the Emergency (1975–77). Which one did he choose? Strangely, both. His Indu Sarkar is a hybrid movie: 50% non-fiction and 50% fiction. The non-fictional part shows Sanjay Gandhi and his gang of thugs implementing the Emergency. The fictional part tells the story of a girl called Indu Sarkar (?!) whose life is impacted by the Emergency.

Madhur Bhandarkar has made two blunders here. Firstly, he should have junked the non-fictional part and kept the movie completely fictional. Secondly, the Emergency was a complex event with many different features:
1) Forced sterilisation campaign
2) Demolition of slums
3) Imprisonment of political workers
4) Censorship of press
5) Underground resistance movement
To give a complete picture of the Emergency, a movie about it must show all these different developments. But this is impossible if you tell the story of just one character – because it is impossible for one person to experience all these different developments. The solution is to have several different characters, with each character experiencing one of these different developments, and to tell the story of each of those characters. And together, those several different stories would make up the movie.

Madhur Bhandarkar is a good director who has made good movies like Chandni Bar and Page 3. He has missed a golden opportunity to make a powerful movie about the darkest chapter in post-1947 India's history . . .

29 July 2017

Hindus and Hinduism

India was born on the banks of the river Indus. The Sanskrit name of Indus is 'Sindhu'. Sanskrit was the language of knowledge in ancient India. The language of the common people was Prakrit. It used simplified Sanskrit words (just like today's regional languages Hindi, Kannada, etc). One such simplification/modification was that the 'S' sound in Sanskrit changed to the 'H' sound in Prakrit. So 'Sindhu' became 'Hindu' in Prakrit. It meant the river Sindhu. It also meant something else: the people whose civilisation was born on the banks of the river Sindhu.

'Sindhu' became 'Indus' in Greek. From 'Indus' came the English words 'India' (the land beyond the Indus) and 'Indians' (the people of that land). Thus the words 'Hindu' and 'Indian' are synonyms. The Hindus developed a Dharma or way of life (system of beliefs and practices). It was called 'Hindu Dharma' (or 'Sanatana Dharma' - 'the ancient way of life'). When the British came to India, they coined the English word 'Hinduism' for Hindu Dharma.

This is the real meaning of the word 'Hindu'. It is nothing but the synonym of the word 'Indian' (actually 'Indian' is the synonym of 'Hindu' - since the latter word came first). It is the name of a people (which comes from a river). Over time, the Hindus/Indians developed many religions (way/system of worshipping God) - like Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Shaktism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

Thus 'Hindu' refers to a people/nationality. It has nothing to do with religion whatsoever. Also, the people are not called 'Hindus' because they have a way of life called 'Hinduism'. It is the other way around. The way of life is called 'Hinduism' because it is the way of life of the Hindus.

22 July 2017

'Dunkirk': Review

Review of 'Dunkirk':

Q: What is war?
A) Heroism, bravery, courage, nobility, sacrifice
B) Violence, chaos, madness, insanity, meaninglessness

So there are 2 types of war movies:
1. Movies that say A
Example: Saving Private Ryan, Enemy At The Gates, Letters From Iwo Jima, etc
2. Movies that say B
Example: Apocalypse Now, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, etc

The answer to question Q depends on the war. If the war is good/just/righteous (like World War 2) then the answer is A. If the war is bad/unjust/unrighteous (like Vietnam War) then the answer is B. It is not a coincidence that most World War 2 movies are type-A movies and most Vietnam War movies are type-B movies.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, Thin Red Line is a type-B movie about World War 2 and We Were Soldiers is a type-A movie about Vietnam War. Even more fundamentally, there are exceptions to this crude classification itself. Black Hawk Down (Somalian War) is a type-AB movie that brilliantly combines both answers A and B. Hurt Locker (Iraq War) is a type-O movie that says neither A nor B, but simply shows war in a clinical, documentary-like style.

All this brings us to Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk. Which type of movie is it? It is a World War 2 movie – so we would expect it to be a type-A movie. But Nolan made the Dark Knight trilogy – so it could be a type-B movie. However, Nolan never plays by the rules of the game. He plays by his own rules. So to the question Q, he gives another answer:
C) Death, fear, pain, desperation, hopelessness

In 1940 the German Army rolled through Europe, crushing all the European countries one by one. By May, the British Army was trapped on the coast of France. 4 lakh soldiers were pinned between the sea and the German Army in a town called Dunkirk, facing certain annihilation. Then the British Navy – with the help of civilians – carried out a massive rescue operation. Over 10 days, around 1000 boats and ships took 3.5 lakh soldiers to Britain and safety.

Nolan tells the story with his trademark clockwork precision. Like a chess player arranging pieces on a chessboard, he shows us all the 3 scenes of the war: land, sea and air. His script combines seamlessly with Hoyte van Hoytema's camerawork and Hans Zimmer's background music. Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy and the other actors play their roles competently.

Dunkirk is not a conventional war movie. Firstly, (as explained above) it is neither a type-A nor type-B movie – but a type-C movie. Secondly, it is not a 'battle movie'. It is a 'retreat movie'. So there are no 'battle scenes' as such. Anyway, critics have gone gaga over it: "Nolan's greatest movie", "greatest war movie", etc. Don't listen to them. Just watch Dunkirk with an open mind – and form your own opinion about it.

PS: 2000 Indian soldiers were involved in Dunkirk. 1500 of them were rescued. The remaining 500 were captured by the Germans and died in the POW camps.

07 July 2017

Ten Greatest Economists

Ten greatest economists:

1. Adam Smith
* Wealth of Nations (1776)

2. David Ricardo
* Principles of Political Economy and Taxation (1817)

3. John Stuart Mill
* Principles of Political Economy (1848)

4. Karl Marx
* The Capital (1867)

5. Carl Menger
* Principles of Economics (1871)

6. Leon Walras
* Elements of Pure Economics (1874)

7. William Jevons
* Theory of Political Economy (1871)

8. Alfred Marshall
* Principles of Economics (1890)

9. John Maynard Keynes
* General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936)

10. Paul Samuelson
* Economics (1948)