dhan ki jai

 dhananjoy.jpg

If you are monied and influential enough you go scot-free in spite of committing the most heinous crime. In India, we have got used to these kind of incidents. What is worse is – if, you are poor you may get convicted for someone else’s crime.

You have to be a strong believer of karma and rebirth to feel OK with the social injustice meted out on a poor fellow by the combined forces of the state and the media after watching the movie Dhananjoy, which is based on the real life trial and conviction  of Dhananjay Chatterjee.

Dhananjay Chatterji was held guilty and and hanged for raping and murdering Hetal Parekh – a fourteeen year old school girl – on 05 Mar 1990 at  her flat in  the apartment complex where Dhananjay was a security guard.

The media went on a frenzy to brand Dhananjay a rapist and murderer even before the trial began. As Dhananjay’s family could not pay the fees, his lawyer lost all interest in the case. Based only on circumstantial evidences Dhananjay was held guilty by the trial court. The verdict was upheld by the High Court and the Supreme Court. The pressure of vote bank from the influential Gujrati Community was so much that the wife of the then West Bengal CM Budhadeba Bhattacharya held public rallies demanding death penalty for the accused. Public opinion to paint Dhananjoy a monster was kept up through out the trial and his consideration of mercy plea by the president of India till he was finally hanged to death on 14.08. 2004.

Later on many inconsistencies in the so called circumstantial evidences surfaced. Three professors of the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata did extensive research and published the details of the inconsistencies and a probable sequence of events based on their collection of evidences in a book. The movie- Dhananjoy- is based on this book.

If the inconsistencies mentioned in the book ( as I learn from the movie) are true, the probability of Dhananjay being innocent is very high.  Certain facts which were not taken into account while pronouncing the verdict are as follows:

  1. All the twenty one or so injury mark are only on the upper part of the body. If it was a rape some injury marks were expected in the lower parts as well.
  2. There was proof of sexual intercourse, but there was no conclusive proof of rape. Even the forensic report said so.
  3. When Hetal’s mother discovers her injured (already dead)  body, in stead of seeking medical help  as a first thought, the first thing she does is she shouts to know the whereabouts of Dhananjay.

There are so many inconsistencies in the statements of witnesses that even a layman (provided he is totally unbiased) would award Dhananajy at least a benefit of doubt. But, forget about a benefit of doubt, this poor security guard who could not afford a costly lawyer, was held guilty and hanged to death. (Contrast this with the recent case of a film director who hired a costly lawyer, Kapil Sibal in this case and got exonerated of rape charges from the High Court. This director is also well connected in the left liberal circle of Lyuten’s Delhi)

Even the communist government in power, that prides itself for standing for the poorest of the poor and social justice, sided with the moneyed Gujarti Community in this case and went overboard in demanding death penalty for the accused. Dhananjay’s karma was so poor that, the then president of India, who rejected his mercy petition,  himself hailed from a poor family.

Coincidentally, the previous day I had watched the  English movie – Jack Reacher. The base plot line of the movie thinly resembles Dhananjoy, except that in this Hollywood movie the innocent convict is saved by a powerful duo of an attorney and an ex-Army officer from Military Police. Another difference is that the movie Jack Reacher is not based on real life incidents.

Justice and fair play for the poor and the innocent happen after all. Of course, in the land of fiction.

jack reacher

 

 

 

subtitles for a sanskari audience

agoodman

“Hope you **** already know the **** target.”

“Ye. We have to get that ****  **** **** out of the **** hole.”

“*** those intel *** . Everything completely **** up, man”

“Ye. If I meet those ***** , I will **** the **** out of those *****”

“You. **** come with me with your *****. Do not forget to **** or else we all get ****”

“Now now, do you **** see those *** *** **”

“let me go and **** **** **** right through their **** ****”

“No, you are such an ****. you stay here and *****”

“Oh ***, Oh ***”

(First published in one of my earlier blogs)

P.S: No prizes for guessing the stars 😀

 

A Gripping Tale

 

School reopened after the summer vacation. Now I was in standard VII and a large number of of books had been added to the school library. Prominent among them were translated versions of abridged editions of all time western classics like Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, The Three Musketeers, Time Machine, Animal Farm, Treasure Island and many more.  Each book was a page turner. There being no provision for a librarian, our class teacher doubled up as the librarian.  Sometime, he became irritated and sometimes happy that every day I finished one book and asked for another.

However, among all those un-put-down-able books,  what stood out were the series on Sherlockc Holmes.

In fact when it comes to un-put-down-able, what comes to my mind first are the genre of thriller or detective books.

But, other than Sherlock Holmes, I hardly read any book of suspense or detective genre. Written by  Arthur Connan Doyle, the stories of Sherlock Holmes have been an evergreen fascination. I have read the stories, seen the movies and TV serials over and over again.

However, the book that I have found the most griping is  ‘Silence of the Lambs’ by Thomas Harris.

silence-of-the-lambsI came across the book in our office library way back in 199o. After reading the first chapter, there was no way I was going to stop there. Standing there in front of of the  book rack I  must have finished five or six chapters till the librarian called to say that  it was closing time.

I borrowed the book. As far as I remember other than essential breaks for bodily needs I did not sleep till I finished the book.

I do not wish to divulge anything about the contents of the book so as to spare the prospective reader of any preconceived idea. That is how one enjoys a thriller the best. Like I did. Had I read any review, any gist or any thing about the book , or even the fact that it has  been a best seller, it would have definite affected  my reading experience. (Once you read a book knowing that it is a best seller your expectations would be high)

However I would like to say this much that even though the story and its characters are interesting, what makes the  book unputdowanable is perhaps the way  the author has  arranged the contents and divided the chapters whereby one is naturally drawn to the next chapter just to find out what happens next. I am yet to find such a gripping thriller.

Subsequently, when in 1991 the novel was made into a movie, it bagged a number of Oscars and became a huge commercial success like the book. I watched the movie and enjoyed it. But, the thrilling and gripping experience that I got when I first read the book has remained unmatchable so far.

(In response to Indispire#157 at Indiblogger)

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Sunday Musings and Random Notes #7

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The Great Indian Escape

“Which movie are you going to watch today, elder brother?” I would ask quite often in a routine manner to one of my senior fellow boarders. He  was a great movie buff. Or, so I thought that time. I am talking of those  glorious decades of 70s and 80s for the Indian Cinema.   His answer was equally routine, “I do not know. Let me see. Any way I will tell you once I come back.”

It would be in one of those Telugu movies that he would land up most of the time. My home town which has a large Telugu population lies near Andhra border. Odiya movies were few and far between and Bollywood reels of new releases took six months to arrive. So, if you made up your mind that you must see at least twenty movies a month, it had to include a fair dose of Telugu movies, irrespective of whether you understood Telugu or not.

My senior boarder was not alone in such adventures. There were many. Every now and then, we would hear of stories of  so and so who failed for the fourth time in the final year exams. Then, we would hear the town loudmouth’s foregone conclusion: If you substitute the cinema hall for the class room round the year, what better results can you expect?

 If somebody was found in the cinema hall to bunk torturous classes, some one might be there to escape a sadist boss. Or, maybe a father. Or, wife. Or, real life in general.

The majority of the middle class of those days was not moneyed enough to afford escapes of these days like weekend getaways, dinner in a fancy restaurant, day out in an amusement park or such things. Television was not in vogue. Twenty twenty was not conceived of yet.  Nor was an evening in a mall just for the sake of window shopping. Whatever little surplus a lower middle class had, after his roti kapda aur makaan needs, went into buying a few second or third class seats in a movie hall that did not have the basic amenities like  ac, cooler and sometime a toilet. And to cater to the fantasies of this middle class, Indian movies with angry young men or, different types of other larger than life characters became the hallmark of block busters.

Coming to the present times, before I had the opportunity of watching a movie in one of the multiplexes in a posh mall, I had thought, it must be the serious movie buffs who went to watch a movie paying such hefty sums. (And not to speak of the cost of the snacks and cold drinks that remind you of an international airport). But I was proved wrong the very first time I saw a movie in one of those multiplexes. It was some Hollywood block buster 3D movie that I  was watching in an Imax. Even a  slight disturbances in the form of somebody moving in front or lighting up his cellphone caused great annoyance. But my neighbour was not bothered by any of these annoyances. Nor was he aware about the annoyances he  himself was bent upon perpetrating by being engrossed in his whastapp chat through out the length and the breath of the movie.

“So, he has come to the theater because he thought it the best place on earth to carry on an engrossing whatsapp conversation”, I concluded.

Not being born and brought up in an English speaking country, I  strain hard to listen and make out the whispering dialogues of the Hero. It is a crucial moment of the movie. So I strain harder. And how fervently do I wish the  crackle crackle cuddre cuddre, chap chap, ha ha ha, he he he coming from my back seat stopped. But finally I resign it to my fate of the day. As if the whole universe was conspiring to see that I did not enjoy the movie smoothly, in spite of buying the the city’s most expensive cinema ticket of the day.  The sounds have been there, as if these were part of the soundtrack of the movie, intermittently from the first reel to the last reel, with a little respite during the interval when the gobblers went  for replenishment. And to top it all,  a hearty laugh at the most melodramatic moment of the movie.

Maybe, some come here just to eat, drink and make merry and to laugh at yesterday’s jokes remembered and understood in the typical ambiance of a cinema hall and that to at the most melodramatic moment and in spite of the pricing of snacks reminding one of air travel.

And some say, a large number of flop movies are made so that unofficial romantic couples could have some private space and time for themselves.

My conclusion is that, whatever money the movie made, only fifty percent of it came from people who really wanted to see the movie and enjoy it. That should give a realistic assessment of the popularity of the movie, for the sake of the movie.

Producers, directors and actors please take note.

But there is something one cannot escape from, alive

Of course I am talking of life, from which you cannot escape alive. It was after a long time that I was watching a quality Bollywood movie. That the movie was educative, or rather refreshed my understanding about certain basic fundas of life was an added bonus. At the same time the movie was not preachy.

Never expected such mature acting from Alia Bhatt. Shahrukh is at his as usual best. It seems Gauri Shinde put her heart and soul to make such a wonderful movie- Dear Zindagi. 

You may also read : A few good movies

Previous week, ended up with the Fantastic Beasts, just to accompany my son, whom I had promised to take for this movie long time back. (Actually it was he who made me promise, and it was he who brought my attention to the the movie). I am not much of a Harry Potter fan. But, nevertheless I have watched all the parts. And read maybe, half of one of the books. All the movies had appealed to the child in me. This one was no different. I enjoyed it, if not more, at least as much as my son did. It is a fantastic movie.

Towards the end of the movie,  there is a kind of reversal of time. It is a strange coincidence that this reversal of time occurred towards the end of ‘Dr. Strange‘ as well . Well, this was the movie that I had watched the previous to previous weekend. A strange hotchpotch of Indian concepts of outer body travel, relativity of time, immortality and modern concepts like multiverse. Of course the stunning visuals, and the stray humours thrown in here and there ensured that you were not bored while thinking of the complex scientific (or, seemingly scientific) themes explored in the movie. It was a thoroughly enjoyable movie. Because of the large number of Indian mystic concepts used in the movie, if your are an Indian chauvinist,  you are definitely going to like it man. There may be a slight disappointment because the Hero goes to Nepal and not India to learn all those mystic theories.

So three movies over three consecutive weekends. Each of the movies was great in its own way. Four point nine out of five to each.

And, what better weekends could you ask for.

Sunday Musings and Random Notes #5

The name is Bond | From Sean Connery to Daniel Craig

It was in 1982 that I watched my first Bond Movie  – the Spy who loved me – in a small town dilapidated Cinema Hall, where it was even difficult to make out the Hindi dialogues blaring out from the theater loudspeakers. I ignored the sounds (or, sometimes the lack of it) and enjoyed the visuals. In those days, my acquaintance with English spoken by the English was such that even if I had seen it in a sophisticated multiplex, I would not have made out anything. Nevertheless I enjoyed the movie for its stunts and the stunning visuals of exotic locations.

Since then, Bond has continued to be a fascination, off and on. Hardly have I missed a bond movie. It is only when I watched Bond movies on TV with subtitles that I could fully understand the subtle humour, the puns and the double  entendres . Then,  it is not my fault that I need subtitles. The sound systems in our cinema halls and TVs do not do justice to English movies. (Frankly speaking, even now my ability to make out when the English speak English through a cinema hall loudspeaker is such that even if I see the movie in a super sophisticated multiplex, I would not understand 100%. Maybe taking a compassionate attitude towards viewers like me now a days they release Hollywood movies with subtitles – even in multiplexes.)

Starting from Sean Connery in Dr. No released five years before my birth, there have been six actors who have signed the ‘Bond’ till date. Among all those who ‘Bonded’,  Pierce Brosnan has been my most favourite, because he accentuated the humour element the best, with Roger Moore coming a close second. Of course from the point of view of close encounters with girls and villains and the use of sophisticated cars and gadgets, (to use the bond 3G analogy – Girls, Guns and Gadgets) no ‘Bond’ is stronger than any other.

With Daniel Craig, the latest to ‘Bond’,  ‘Bonding’ has taken a higly serious turn. It has become less puny and less funny. Of course it has continued to earn the franchise more and more money. It has also brought the ‘Spectre’ of death on some of its own people. Bond’s immediate boss and the most trusted supporter ‘M’ dies in Skyfall (of course not out of a sky fall). Ironically, the Old Q who never won a Nobel in spite of making gadgets hundreds of years ahead of his time, himself looked like a relic from the past.  Now we have a  young Q, bespectacled and a digital geek. Maybe to keep up with the times.

And Bond movies have kept up with the times. In the cold war era, if Russia was the dominant theme, now it is terrorism.

For the next movie in the series, who will play the next Bond? Speculations are on. Some say, the next Bond should be a black, to black out the racial bias. While some ask why not someone from the fairer sex  so as to fair out the gender bias.

Now imagine a lady Bond. When someone inquires about her name will she say, “Bond, James Bond”  or,  James will be replaced with  a feminine name?  Will there be a change in Bond’ s favourite drink, or will she continue to order – Vodka Martini, shaken not stirred – letting the audience wonder whether this too was some sort of a double entendre . And how many men will she be allowed to Bond with in a single movie, that is, if she is heterosexual. And if, she is heterosexual what will happen to the legacy of 3Gs? Or, she will prefer to continue with the legacy of 3Gs even at the cost of being branded a lesbian? (And to make a political statement).

With so many ifs and buts to take care of, will they really give a lady the license to kill? Let us wait and watch.

———–

 #SanskariBond

The Indian connection of Bond goes back to the days of Octopussy. Major portions of the film were shot in India. There are also two Indians in memorable roles – Kabir Bedi and Vijay Amritraj. One cannot help laughing, when in a chase scene, a person from the villain’s entourage falls on on a bed of nails prepared by an Indian sadhu for his penance. The sadhu shouts,  “Uthja mere bistar se” (Get out of my bed).

When the sansakri sensor board chief Pahlaj Nihalini recommended so many cuts for the India release of Spectre, it created a lot of media buzz. People also took to the social media to vent their protests, many of which were quite creative.

Here is a favourite:

sanskari-bond-2

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Lessons from the Movie – The Bridge on the River Kwai

bridge-on-the-river-kwai-1957

It was only accidentally that I got to watch the movie. In a friend’s  house once I came across dozens of movie CDs gathering dust. I asked him whether I could borrow those and see if those contain anything worth watching. On a listless Sunday when I had nothing else to do, I started checking the quality of the video of those CDs. After two or three movies, came the turn of this movie-the Bridge on the River Kwai. I could not simply stop watching the movie and kept on watching till the end. It was only later that I learnt I had watched one of the all time great movies. Here are the basics of the movie: (Source: wikipedia)

The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 Second World War film directed by David Lean, based on the eponymous French novel (1952) by Pierre Boulle. The film is a work of fiction but borrows the construction of the Burma Railway in 1942–43 for its historical setting. It stars William Holden, Jack Hawkins, Alec Guinness and Sessue Hayakawa. The movie was filmed in Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka). The bridge in the film was located near Kitulgala.


The film was widely praised, winning seven Academy Awards (including Best Picture) at the 30th Academy Awards; in 1997 this film was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected for preservation in the United States Library of Congress National Film Registry. It is widely considered to be one of the greatest films of all time.”

Lessons from the movie:

1. Quite often, the passion for creative activity/inventions/discovery coupled with the urge to display professional competence overrides ethical considerations. That’s why, knowing full well that the bridge would strengthen the enemy, Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson went ahead to construct the bridge. Or else, we would not have people like Einstein inventing the Bomb. That may be one of the reasons why many bright people, who do not find a positive channel to utilize their talent, join destructive movements like the Naxal movement or insurgency outfits.

2. Whatever you do, sooner or later everything returns to dust. That does not mean we should stop creating anything. The sand artist is a great inspiration. Knowing full well that sometimes, the creative work will be washed away even before its completion, he/she does not loose enthusiasm or stop creating.

3. The movie ends with the words of Clipton – “madness.. madness”. Madness is a subjective view of the observer and there is hardly anything in life that’s not madness. If we took out the madness from life, may be, we would loose the charm of living. This also reminds us not to be too much attached to anything. For the enlightened, the crowd is insane; in the eyes of the crowd the enlightened is mad. There is a spiritual sect in West Bengal called the Bouls – the mad people.

4. Leaders, who show courage and stand by their people even in the face of adversity, are respected.

5. Adversity makes strange bed fellows. Even enemies develop cordiality depending upon the situation.

6. The British take pride in engineering marvels compared to their eastern counterparts to the point of showing disdain for the Japanese Engineers in the movie. I think, they deserve to do so. Many of the bridges they constructed in India still survive even though some are more than 100 years old. Sometimes in India we come across news where a bridge collapses even before its completion.

A few Good Movies

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A few good men

a few good men

Finally, last week,  I could catch up with a few good movies that had been on my watch list for a very long time. One of them is –‘A few Good Men’. People with some military background would appreciate certain nuances of ‘military ego’ better. The movie is superbly acted and  crafted.  The film is directed by Rob Reiner and the lead characters are played by Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson and Demi Moore.

The movie is about a Military Court martial, it brings out certain universal truths. If there are a few good men in a given set up, there could in fact be fewer bad people. The problem with the vast majority who are in between is that they would wish to be good but cannot,  due to lack of courage or because they choose the path of least resistance. I was reminded of the Mahabharata where many good people like Bhisma, Drona, Karna etc. sided with the Kauravas.

Then there is also the ethical dilemma. In military, one is bound to follow the orders of the superior. However, what to do in a situation when the superior gives an order and you  know that it has a malafide intention. If you do not follow the order there could be immediate danger to your career and even to your life in certain situations. If you follow, sooner or later you are bound to regret or even fall into self-deprecation for not being able to stand to resist the evil.

Lunch Box

lunchbox

Then there was this ‘Lunch Box’. The story idea and  screen play seems to be original. It was after a longtime, perhaps, that I was watching an Indian movie which had not been inspired or adapted from an English one, in parts or full. The lead actors – Irfan Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Nimrat Kaur have acted superbly and brought out the subtleties of the characters, may be the way the director wanted. It is Art for Art’s sake. It probes a little deeper into human psychology and is an example of cinematic art at its best.

The movie is also a tribute the Mumbai Dabbawalas who run one of the most efficient supply chain systems of the world even though many of those who run it may not even have completed school education.

The Lord Of The Rings

RingstrilogyposterI was able to watch the series of movies in bits and parts. Each part of the series is so lengthy, in fact lengthier than our old Bollywood movies. Of course it is justified as the series is a kind of an epic. So everything that an epic would demand is there – war, faith, courage, magic, the struggle of good versus evil, strange living beings and of course the message behind all these symbolism. Sometimes the message is symbolic. However, often the message is clear like when Gandalf – a character in the movie says,

“So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”