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As we draw to a close tomorrow, i.e the 15th of August marks a historic 75th year since we gained our freedom and birthright of Independence. Here are a list of my favorite movies that deal with human tenacity, love and patriotism. Keep the flame of brotherhood alive within you at all times. Movies that I’ve seen are mentioned below.
A taut recounting of the brutal attacks: Hotel Mumbai, a review
I'm not usually one for movies that showcase dramatized versions of real events, but boy howdy did this movie change my mind. I'm sure you all are quite aware of the dastardly and heinous attacks that took place in November of 2008. That fateful few days had with it a pall of gloom and utter darkness on everyone's heads. For the first time in probably a very long time, we Indians stood by in solidarity and unity. Mumbai was set ablaze but ultimately only the strength of the humans spirit triumphed. This movie captures the horrors of the terror attacks that took place in the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel specifically and how. It has it all. There are subtle undertones of suspense coupled with the palpable tension, owing to the plot and the sensitive subject matter, there is joy, there is heart and most importantly the showcasing of the collective sadness and broken souls who didn't just stand by and do nothing, they fought despite having all the odds stacked against them. The dialogue or the phrase from the movie -" Guest is god (Athithi Devo Bhava) is by far my favorite dialogue from the movie.
Intelligence agencies warn of terror attacks similar to 26/11 www.newsgram.com
One noteworthy advantage was its stellar star-studded cast who has all given sterling, inspired and moving performances in their respective roles. From an impoverished hotel clerk named Arjun played by British-Indian powerhouse Dev Patel to Bollywood's gem Anupam Kher as the head chef Oberoi to even the tall Armie Hammer as a foreign tourist named David and even our very own nefarious Harry Potter baddie Lucius Malfoy aka Jason Isaacs as an irate Russian. They have absolutely nailed it.
The near perfect movie however, has a few flaws. The character foibles are scattered throughout the movie. That part or that slice of life aspect wherein a few of the major characters lacked depth could have been improved. So the film is based on real life events wherein the city of Mumbai was untimely and very unexpectedly a target for attack at its 12 major hot-spots, the most prime of them being the Taj Hotel ,owing to its luxuriousness and opulence. 10 brainwashed terrorists who are barely out of their teens orchestrate a series of mind-numbingly violent and viscerally terrifying attacks of damage to public property and manslaughter seldom seen in any event in history. This prompted me to write a review as it was something that needed to be told, the pain to be exchanged, the sorrow of all those stranded people fighting for their lives to be shared.
Anthony Maras, an Australian-Greek director has really enlivened all our inner human emotions to come to the fore with this one. The carefully planned genocide within the hotel has also been accurately captured without bringing in any unnecessary, useless romantic angles. Its masterful directing and a superbly crafted story-line which is in its essence very simple yet so heartbreaking. It really puts into perspective the demons residing within every human and also angels like the underdog of the whole movie-Arjun.
Very gripping from the get-go, the aftermath of the 26/11 attacks led to a growing abhorrence and loggerheads between India and Pak relations. By the conclusion of the movie, tears were all that I could let out. But also a sense of calm and joy for the sheer fortitude and resilience of the people who did whatever it took to survive, by hook or by crook was something worth capturing on celluloid. Kudos the director for churning out a masterpiece of a movie. It is a lot of things; it will keep you on the edge of your seat, leave you in splits at a few key comic moments, leave you gob smacked by the bloodshed and gore but also make you ponder on the fragility and the inherent vulnerability in human nature. If nothing, it acts as a motivational work of art that will leave you squeamish and morbidly disturbed by what occurred, but at the end of the day that is the very brilliance of Maras and his work. The terrorists played by practically a bunch of non-existent nobodies really make you hate and despise them which are just a mark of their excellent acting. Full props to them and also to the whole cast and crew for doing ample justice to a very gloomy event that practically stripped away all our faith in humanity. It makes you think and act. Sheer grace by Maras.
Ever since I dusted off my newfound blog which was lying in a corner dormant, I decided to write just about anything that caught my fancy. So gritty political issues and lengthy contemporary issues aside, here goes my movie review of Lakshya. I give you ladies and gentlemen Farhan Akhtar.
A multi-talented singer, actor and a director par excellence is all of just 47 years and has displayed brilliance in all his works and especially with this gut wrenching flick. After all, it’s not every day that you get to see Hrithik Roshan on the big screen wielding guns and in a slick, army uniform. It chronicles a really important message actually and that is:" Life is short, so make the best of it. You are the architect of your dreams, is what I feel and nothing is going to stop you from achieving it. Hrithik Roshan quite convincingly pulls off a never-do gooder slacker who is completely blasé about his life and has no clue what to do despite being in his 20's. We get to see the contrast in that his girlfriend is a firebrand journalist and a career-oriented person and that aspect is impressed upon throughout the movie. Boman Irani as the successful yet grounded father tries to impart the value of education but all it does is fall on deaf ears. There are ample hilarious sequences throughout the movie but that is not the takeaway. The casting choice could not be more perfect and thus makes this already benevolent film a must watch. Representation of oneself at the LOC and in the battlefield was something that became mainstream only after Lakshya, Border and various other Hindi movies that depict the heinousness that war offers, albeit in a gritty and realistic manner. Another asset to the riveting story line is the addition of The Quintessential Angry Young Man of the Hindi film industry as the vociferous Sergeant. Lakshya, in my not-so-humble opinion is a groundbreaking and the shift in his personality from a lazy good-for-nothing next door boy to a go getter is something that opened my eyes to the bombs that life drops on us and we gracefully accept because its life, plain and simple.
When he finds himself in a whirlwind to prove himself, he indeed does so by not just tempting fate but also the foes (the terrorists) that his regiment is pitted against. What follows is a cascading series of emotions that just break through like a dam overflowing with water. Perhaps all his character needed was a little impetus or a push to propel him to find some meaning in life. Inspiring and taut from the get-go, this movie proves that you don't really require the male protagonist running around trees and trying to woo his lady love in a very clichéd manner, but just an essence of a good story is enough to shake even the hardest of hearts. This flick will always remain a personal favorite of mine, although the cake goes to Hrithik's splendid acting, Farhan's direction is a marvel too. Kudos for this landmark movie, Farhan. Although the pace of the movie meanders like a river, nothing can stop the edge of the seat momentum that it makes up for in the second half.
URI: THE SURGICAL STRIKE
Uri-invoke the josh in you:a movie review
Simply put, this flick is flawless. Be it capturing the trauma and bloodbath that occurred in Uri, an army cantonment base ensconced in Kashmir where a terror strike was done on the hapless Indians within that very camp. Turns out, a group of Pak militants scurried inside the army base, only to kill off a couple of our Indian brave hearts. Luckily, the martyrs that day were honored. Major Vihaan Shergill (Vicky Kaushal) aims to give the Pak militants a taste of their own medicine. He brings together a team of tenacious and resolute individuals willing to lay their lives down for their motherland and launches a preemptive attack on the rest of the Pak terrorists. This movie stood as an indictment of what the deaths of countless Indian army Jawans face daily on the LOC (Line of control). Truly heartbreaking. Not for the faint of heart, it is raw, gritty and bloodcurdling.
The direction is deft and on-point. The characters woven out are central to the plot of the story. Countless moments lead to surprise and awe. Vicky Kaushal aces it as an officer worthy of commanding a troop of thousands. He really has gotten to the skin of the character. His hawk-eye precision with his tools of the trade (grenades and weaponry), his very musculature alone that befits the role of an Army officer or also the mere mention that he emerges as a topper in the military academy makes your chest swell with pride. A very accurate war film that doesn't stray away from the very intangible aspect of human lives and human emotions is laudable.
Amazing clinchers are interspersed throughout the duration of the film that will leave the viewers wanting for more. Elements of humor to take away from the ominous tone were a noteworthy move by the director. Vicky's acting needs no introduction whatsoever. He impresses throughout with his never seen before avatar of a heavily bearded, fierce and agile Indian Army officer. With lilting background scores and lush picturesque locales, this is all just icing on top of a wonderfully baked cake.
Laden with great moments of action and redemption against an army that has wronged the Indian landscape for eons and eons, this blockbuster garnered huge critical acclaim for its inspiring yet powerful performances, superb dialogue delivery, and marvelous nuances of Army life that is portrayed.
Highly recommended. Do give this a watch and prepare to be star struck. Apt, divine and serendipitous- the journey of a Surgical Strike is something that needs to transcend the mentality of jingoistic fervor.
This movie surely did create history. How's the josh?
Tenali Ramakrishna, or Tenali Raman as he is more popularly known is Birbal's equivalent in South India. A court jester and a scholar exuding great wisdom, Tenali Raman was known as one of the greatest courtiers in King Krishnadevaraya's court.
The Vijayanagar Empire ruled a large part of South India between 1336 and 1646. In the 16th century, the kingdom rose to prominence under the eminent leadership of King Krishnadevaraya. His continuous victories against his enemies ensured a successful and peaceful reign for his subjects. As a patron of art and literature, many crafts and cultural assets thrived in the empire.
Krishnadevaraya's beloved courtier, Tenali Raman is the finest example of the splendour of the Vijayanagar empire. He was born in Tenali, a town in Andhra Pradesh. He lived here until he lost his father, after which his mother brought him to Vijayanagar. He was discovered for his excellent wit and wisdom, and appointed in the court. He was one of the king's ashtadiggajas (collective name for the eight poets and scholars).
A statue of Tenali Ramakrishna near a Municipal Office in Andhra Pradesh Image source: wikimedia commons
Tenali Raman as a scholar, published great texts of wisdom, which have now become artefacts of the Kingdom of Vijayanagara. But his fame does not lie in these achievements. He is known for the mischievous jester that mythical folklore portrays him to be. Through stories, many writers have used jokes to impart wisdom and morals to many generations of people. The stories of Tenali Raman are almost legendary in the Southern peninsula.
Textbooks have been written with his moral stories in mind, and these days, many self-help book are also incorporating his wisdom. His most popular stories are, 'Mother Tongue', 'Cursed Face', 'Saluting the Donkeys' and many more. Through these stories, Tenali Raman, in some way, brought about social justice. Perhaps this is why he is most beloved by many people even today.
Keywords: Tenali Raman, Vijayanagar empire, Krishnadevaraya, Jester, Wisdom
It must be noted that different religions and societies in Southeast Asia have alternative narratives of Ramayana, one of the greatest epic.
Here are some of the versions of Ramayana!
Dasaratha Jakarta: The Buddhist Version
Interestingly, this version of Ramayana does not mention Ravana at all and in fact, there’s no mention of Sita’s abduction, too. In this version, Dasaratha is the king of Benaras and not Ayodhya. Also, Rama and Sita leaves kingdom and go to the Himalayas and not forests. Then, after twelve years, Rama and Sita return back to Benaras and get married.
Paumachariya: The Jaina Version
In this version, Lakshamana is the killer of Ravana and not Rama. Here, Rama is an ardent follower of Jainism, and so he cannot be the killer of Ravana. Also, this version states an army of warrior and not monkeys, as stated in Valmiki’s Ramayana. Another interesting feature of this version is that Ramayana is not shown as a villain, rather a magnanimous king and follower of Jainism.
Gond Ramayani: The Gond Version
Gond is an adivasi clan belonging from Madhya Pradesh in India. Interestingly, in this version, the story begins from where Valmiki’s Ramayana ended; when Sita is rescued from captivity. Also, Bhima, one of the Pandavas from the epic of Mahabharata, is mentioned in this version. Unlike Valmiki’s Ramayana, Rama is not the protagonist in this version.
Ramakien: The Thai Version
This is considered as Thailand's national epic, and is still taught in some schools in the country. In this version, Ravana is shown as a learned scholar and a noble king in this version. Also, Ravana’s pursuit for Sita is depicted as true love. There are a lot of similarities between this version of Ramayana and Valmiki’s version, but this version lays a lot of emphasis on Hanuman.
When a baby is born in an Indian household-they invite hijra to shower the newborn with their blessings for their blessings confer fertility, prosperity, and long life on the child. But when that child grows up we teach them to avert their eyes when a group of hijras passes by, we pass on the behaviour of treating hijras as lesser humans to our children. Whenever a child raises a question related to gender identity or sexuality they are shushed down. We're taught to believe that anything "deviant" and outside of traditional cis-heteronormativity is something to be ashamed of. This mentality raises anxious, scared queer adults who're ashamed of their own identity, and adults who bully people for "queer behaviour".
Hijras are a community of people who include eunuchs, intersex, and transgender people. They worship the Hindu goddess of chastity and fertility, Bahuchara Mata. Most hijras, but not all, choose to undergo a castration ceremony known as "nirvana" in which they remove their male genitalia as an offering to their goddess. The whole community is vibrant with hundreds of people with hundreds of ways of expression, the true identity of a hijra is complex and unique to each individual. In India, hijras prefer to refer to themselves as Kinner/Kinnar as it means the mythological beings who excel at singing and dancing.
Hijras worship the Hindu goddess of chastity and fertility, Bahuchara Mata.homegrown.co.in
The hijra community works systematically, the community separates itself from the outside world and teaches lessons to the young ones in secret. Each community has a guru and the other hijras are their disciples or chela. The "hijra ways of life" are taught to the disciples in a secluded environment where they leave their families and live with other hijras in the community. More often than not hijras are thought of as nothing different from transgender and often referred to as transgender; however, scientifically these two terms denote a different class of people. Hijras are a part of the whole community of people with various identities and of spiritual and cultural values meanwhile, transgender merely refers to those people whose gender identity differs from the sex assigned to them at birth, they are a part of the community and do not represent the whole community.
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Historically and culturally the community has existed in the Indian subcontinent as long as the civilization has existed. There are mentions of hijra in The Mahabharata, a holy book of Hindus. Shikhandi who was neither male nor female is a mythological legend. In another version of Mahabharata Arjuna, one of the Pandavas was cursed to be the third gender by Urvashi, when he refused to be sexually involved with her. In a story by Padma Purana, it is seen that Arjuna transforms into a woman to take part in Krishna's mystical dance which only women can take part in. The Hijra figures are prominent in Indian Mughal History as well, referred to as Khwaja Siras and known for their loyalty to the ruler, they worked as the sexless watchdogs of the Mughal harems. They held important positions in court and various facets of administration during Mughal-era India, from the 16th to 19th century. The Hijra community is a testament to the sexual diversity that is integral yet often forgotten in Indian culture.
If the whole hijra community was looked upon with enamor and respect in our history, what happened that when we come across the community we look at them with contempt and are filled with a mixture of negative, fear, laughter, and odd emotions. It's owing to the fact that under British Raj, the Criminal tribes Act 1871 hijras were criminalized and the law was made to eradicate the whole community. However, these acts were abolished by the Indian government after independence, and by 2014, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh all had officially recognized third gender people as citizens deserving of equal rights where the third gender means individuals categorizing themselves as neither male nor female. Even though the progress is slow but in 2015 Madhu Kinnar became the first hijra mayor in India was elected in the city of Raigarh.
ALSO READ: India's first Residential Transgender
Although the hijra community was revered by society and is invited to births and weddings for religious and spiritual ceremonies, they still become victims of abuse and discrimination. Violence and hate crimes against the community have become common. They are deprived of education, job opportunities, seating in restaurants, etc. leading them to live in poor conditions barely surviving. They often have to resort to begging and prostitution to earn a daily living. The government has tried to address this issue by introducing bills for the protection of the hijra community, with prison terms and other punishments for those offending them, but there is little to no less effect on the social stigma against the community.
In India, the hijra community comes under the umbrella term LGBTQ+ and we notice that they lack voice and representation when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights. We need to understand that when we fight for LGBTQ+ rights we fight for the whole community, we fight for hijras who have been victims of violence, hate crimes, and disrespect from none other than the people of our society. And although hijras are a part of the LGBTQ+ community as a whole, they have an independent subculture of their own. It is worth every effort to know about them, to study about them, to befriend them, and to smile at them for they are every bit of human as we are and they have nothing but blessings in their heart.