Monthly Archives: September 2008

A piece on Malayalam Cinema

It was a pleasant surprise to see an article in Economic Times-Ahmedabad edition which amassed certain forgotten facts about Malayalam cinema. Though I still wonder why did they chose to publish it now..

Article points out how Malayalam cinema in 80s cleverly transformed into a single stream by marrying both ‘art’ and ‘popular’ cinemas into one form, even while Bollywood industry continued to distinguish them in terms of ‘intelligence’ and popularity’.

Few excerpts:

In the decade beginning 1986, Malayalam cinema gave the debate between ‘intelligent’ and ‘popular’ cinema a decent burial by cleverly marrying the two. Credit for this, of course, goes to directors like P Padmarajan, Bharathan, Sathyan Anthikad, Priyadarshan and Sibi Malayil who, in the company of writers like Sreenivasan and Lohithadas, helmed a series of movies that bridged the gap between intelligent and popular. By the end of the 80s, there was hardly any talk of art cinema — even among college students with Leftist leanings and high-brow aspirations.

Being an ardent movie buff and having watched numerous movies in Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam, I can confidently say that malayalam movies from 1980 – 1995 were the all time best of Indian cinema. There was a unique concoction of intelligent, sensible, witty, satiric and emotional film making. But lack of new talent and experimentation is deteriorating the quality of malayalam cinema nowadays. Now, its the tamil and telugu cinemas which are taking the lead. Hindi cinemas are still stuck in ‘mediocre’ movies, but occasionally comes up few sparkling gems.

Coming back to ET article, it gives a very good narration of best malayalam cinemas..

In Anthikad’s Gandhinagar 2nd Street, Mohanlal plays a jobless Malayali youth who masquerades as a Nepali watchman in a posh neighbourhood. In Sanmanasullavarkku Samadhanam, he’s again an everyday Joe who desperately wants his ancestral house rid of stubborn tenants. And in Varavelpu, Mohanlal plays a Gulf returnee whose dream of settling in Kerala and running a private bus service turns sour in the face of trade union problems — a stark indictment of the state’s callous attitude towards entrepreneurship. In Malayil’s Thaniyavartanam, Mammooty is a school teacher who progressively goes mad — under the social glare of having inherited his uncle’s madness. And in Bharathan’s Amaram, Mammooty is a common fisherman — though there’s not a pretence anywhere in the movie at being ‘arty’.

Sreenivasan’s Vadakku Nooki Yanthram and Paavam Paavam Rajkumaran stood out in the marquee, Jayaram’s Mazhavil Kaavadi ran to packed houses. Political satires like Panchavadi Palam and Sandesham went on to become big hits. 

The biggest proof of how Malayalam cinema successfully married the two opposite and opposing forces is the commercial success of Sibi Malayil’s Bharatham: the movie won Mohanlal a National Film Award for Best Actor; it won Yesudas a National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer; and it won a string of Kerala State Film awards as well.

May be when more and more malayalam movies are subtitled, it would definitely have a much bigger audience who enjoys and appreciate ‘Good Cinemas’. Let’s hope for the same, and until then be satisfied with these occasional memoirs.

Meeting Arvind Kejriwal: a memorable incident

I never expected in my wildest imagination that I would bump into a Magsaysay award winner during a conference lunch and have an informal discussion. Well, that’s exactly what happened yesterday during MoVACon’08 and which made my day a memorable one. I got a chance to meet with Mr. Arvind Kejriwal.

Arvind_Kejriwal Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, an IIT grad who resigned his lucrative Indian Revenue Service job to eliminate corruption in India. He spearheaded the Right to Information Movement in India along with Aruna Roy. Due to his commentable efforts finally Indian govt. passed the Right to Information Act in 2005. This movement literally empowered ‘common man’ to get his legitimate work done without paying bribes. Mr. Kejriwal was awarded Magsaysay award in ’emerging leadership’ category in 2006. He was also selected as the CNN-IBN Indian of the year in 2007.

Earlier the day, he gave an enlightening speech during the session ‘ How to create Road Traffic Awareness ?’ in which he explained how he got media to support his RTI movement in India. Few excerpts:

In 2006, there was a huge campaign to create awareness regarding RTI. It included 8 media channels, 700 NGO’s, 1500 volunteers, 15000 help centers in 55 cities. The campaign was named ‘Drive Against Bribes’ and it really paid off. The interesting part of the the campaign was that the money spent by RTI initiators on the campaign was a meagre Rs. 80,000, while the entire expenses for the campaign was around Rs. 15 crores. Now how did they get this done ? Simple. The campaign was dubbed as ‘Common Man’s campaign. No single person was allowed to take the credit for the entire campaign. Each media house projected it as their campaign and finally this compounded effort paid off. Being a Not-for-profit initiative and no one taking credit for the same, tons and tons of common men got involved in the campaign and this really made it a huge success.

Now coming back to the lunch session, it was sheer luck for me to get few minutes from him. I couldn’t control my excitement and ended up asking too many questions for which he humbly answered. He told me about his early days and how he ended up doing this. Hailing from Haryana(a north indian state), after completing his electrical engineering from one of India’s premier institute, he took up a job in a govt. organization. After seeing the level of corruption prevailing there, he resigned the job and took up this cause. He explained this entire story in just one sentence.

‘It was a call. I believe everyone gets a call to do something which you are destined for. This was mine’

To be honest, I was delighted to hear each and every word from him. He was so down to earth (it is visible from his style of dressing too) and even introduced the unknown me to some other notable speakers. I just wish world gets more and more ‘human beings’ like Mr. Kejriwal. My faith in humanity gets reinforced, when I meet personalities like him.

For people interested in knowing more about his activities, visit PARIVARTAN

Road accidents in India : certain facts

Am attending a 3 day International conference on Road Accidents (MoVACon) at Ahmedabad, India. A very well organized conference with an amazing participation from across the globe. Conference is very much informative and interactive as well. Certain insightful facts which I heard from the same, am quoting below.

Quoted Speakers: K.S Money (NHAI), Dr. Nanda (Gujarat Govt.), Dr. Gururaj (NIMHANS), Dr. Mathew Varghese (St. Stephen’s Delhi)

  • On an average 1 accident per minute in India and 290 deaths per day.
  • 130,000 deaths in India due to road accidents in 2007
  • Around 40% of all Road accident death occured in highways
  • 50% of Emergency room cases accounted to Road accidents
  • 3% of Indian GDP is lost annually due to Road accidents
  • 80% of the road accidents victims are either pedestrians or two-wheelers. Yet the entire road system in India is designed for four or more wheelers.
  • 30% of road accident victims die at crash site, 14% in ambulance and rest in hospital
  • Care at hospital is as important as Pre-hospital care
  • If you stop a drunken driver in India, the system allows you to only penalize him. He can still continue driving with the same state. This happens mostly coz there is no system to transport his co-travellers back to destination and arrest driver.

Another very interesting session was by Ravi Krishna (an international lawyer and the founder of 1298 ambulance system in Maharashtra). He pointed out few potholes in Indian Motor Vehicles act which is hindering the pre-hospital care.

  • According to Drugs and Cosmetics act of 1940 (which India still follows), Schedule H refers to ‘certain drugs which are to be only prescribed by medical professionals’ (this includes many emergency medicines)
  • Medical professionals are defined in Schedule K. As it was made in 1940, they don’t include Paramedical professionals.
  • This essentially mean that Paramedical professionals in India are legally not permitted to administer emergency medicine to victims.
  • So the main issue lies with the policy and law.

There were also few other interesting sessions but mostly they were just informative but few digressed from the focus. For eg: One ‘famous’ doc from US talked in length about Hurricane Katrina and Ike, where the conference was specific on road accidents.

But overall it was a great experience in meeting many ‘who’s who’ of the industry. Looking forward to more actions tomorrow as the sessions are going to be focused on Pre-hospital care (which is my topic of interest).

A quote from Steve Pavlina


" We’re all cells in the larger body of humanity and no one is truly separate from anyone else.

— Steve

99% of world’s gruelling problems are due to Patriotism and Religion. If you could really lead a life realizing the meaning of above quote, I think the world will be a much better place to live in.

A beautiful quote


coelho_10 When I’m eating, that’s all I think about. If I’m on the march, I just concentrate on marching. If I have to fight, it will be just as good a day to die as any other. Because I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man.

Paulo Coelho

A Wednesday: Must watch thriller


Saturday night is not the best choice to watch a movie in Ahmedabad. Mostly because it is always overcrowded at all cinemas. Still we went to watch the new thriller ‘A Wednesday’ at a near by Drive-In Theater. I never expected it to be such a sumptuous treat from a debut director. What a movie !!. Beautiful narration, spine-chilling thrill, Awesome acting, Solid screenplay, Intriguing climax. What else you need from a movie ?

A wednesday is not just wedanother movie about terrorists. It deals the entire issue from a much different perspective, which unfortunately most often forgets to notice. It was a pleasure watching Jimmy Shergill act as a police officer. Not only did he justified the role, but he delivered a performance which he would not forget in his life.

When Anupam Kher and Naseerudin Shah shared the screen space after a gap of 10 years, they brought an amazing feel to the entire script. But most notably, the star of the movie is the director/scriptwriter Neeraj Pandey. He has given a solid script with an apt cast and a flawless direction. A lot to expect from a debut.

Experiments like ‘A Wednesday’ revives my confidence in Bollywood movies. Looking forward to see more from this director.