Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Gandhi - Film Review

I was channel surfing on the Republic Day and noticed some DD channel telecasting the movie Gandhi. I eagerly selected the channel but alas, it was the Hindi dubbing version. I was disappointed as my proficiency in the language is limited to comprehending Amitabh Bachan’s dialogues in Zanjeer. My disappointment has not come from not being able to watch the movie. I have watched it more than a dozen times. The movie is such a top of the charts one, not only in production excellence but also in brilliantly portraying one of the greatest leaders this World has ever seen, that you do not want to miss any opportunity to watch it again and again. So I have settled for the DVD and my home theatre, watching the movie yet again. Even on the Nth time, the movie does not fail to move me emotionally and mesmerize me for its production brilliance.

The movie is a biography of Gandhi, compressing half-a-century into a three hour powerful, dramatic and quite authentic epic. In his screen debut, Ben Kingsley is incredible as Gandhi. He actually resembles Gandhi with make-up and he portrays the character with great sensitivity. The film essentially highlights Gandhi's work in South Africa in the early part of the 20th Century in which he effectively frustrated and thwarted the British in many of their discriminatory policies of governance, and then his long non-violent crusade for independence in India.

There are several scenes that are brilliantly filmed. The Dandi march is one of them. The amazement of the British at Gandhi’s plans to march to Dandi to make mere salt and the way the march infuses a fervour among people are excellently filmed. The Jallianwala bagh massacre is another. General Dyer’s casual remorseless remarks to the inquiry committee infuriate every Indian and portray the ruthlessness of the British in brutally suppressing even peaceful demonstrations. The episode of Gandhi in Hunger Strike ( Satyagraha) to bring some sanity to the frenzied mobs killing each others on religious basis during the post Independence riots in Calcutta and the city coming to senses after a week brings tears to our eyes. The greatness of the man in influencing millions of blood-thirsty frenzied people just by his hunger strike comes out starkly.

The director Richard Attenborough has not deviated from history to make any character lively and yet he has made the film into one of the most acclaimed films. It will be hard for anyone to surpass Kingsley's performance as the incarnation of a famous person. He deservedly won an Oscar for his performance as did the picture as best picture.

On this day January 30th , when this greatest man was assassinated by a religious fanatic let us all recommit ourselves to nurturing religious harmony and respect to diversity in our children.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Cousins' Cruise

The cousins get-together for the boat cruise went off well. On December 30th noon, a 35 seater bus started in Dakaram with 10 of us, including Mallakka boarding there. Since Monica had to be in school till the previous evening, she and Kumari came in by flight from Hyd on 30th morning and boarded the bus in Eluru along with Sailu’s family and Pedda Attamma. Sankara Rao mamayya could not join as he has unavoidable work at the Farm. However, he came up to the bus to see us off. In Gudivada, Naveen and family along with Amarendra mamayya, Leela attamma, Raja babai and Savitri boarded. Madhavi could not join as she had some pooja at home on that day. Padma did not join as she was shifting house. Devi took a train to Rajahmundry and Haritha and her sons came from Kakinada. Both of them with their children joined us at the hotel.

We reached the hotel, River Bay in Rajahmundry by evening but missed the Sun set by a whisker. The ambience of the hotel as well as rooms was excellent. We all had dinner at the hotel. The dinner was a fiasco with the waiters milling around and not able to serve properly, with different orders flying thick and fast.

We started off early morn to Patti Seema , 30 kms from Rajahmundry which is the boarding point for boats to Paapi Kondalu. The two-deck boat was excellent. We started off at 8.30 am. Breakfast was served in the boat. Several games were played out by children and every one of them won loads of gifts. There were fun games for elders too. A game for all – finding the one missing number among the jumbled numbers from 1 to 99 was won by - hold your breath- not by any elders but by Manisha in flat 3 minutes. Sunny was adjudged King of the day for winning maximum prizes. The games were organized by Kumari and Devi. After sumptuous lunch in the boat we started back. At 5 pm we got into the bus and got dropped off at our respective places.

It was a memorable day.