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“With great power comes great responsibility,” goes the famous line from the 2002 Marvel comics film Spiderman. But power corrupts too, doesn’t it? Where then is the thin line between taking responsibility and bragging rights?

Picture the responsibility that director Joss Whedon has on his shoulders as he brings to the big screen not one but seven Marvel comic superheroes in his latest offering ­­- The Avengers.

The star-studded line up of the film which was seen as a sure-shot way of drawing crowds doesn’t disappoint. Almost all the stars deliver sooner than later. There is Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) with all his swagger and witty one-liners intact and Captain America (Chris Evans) in his darkest outing yet. Then we have Dr Bruce Banner aka Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), the ‘Puny God’ basher, who perhaps steals the show more than anyone. Giving him company is Asgard Prince Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Thor’s evil half-brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), master archer Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and the spy Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson).

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The film is a masterful work of cinematic engineering, primarily led by director Whedon who displays his deft understanding of the Marvel universe by seamlessly blending the cocktail of superheroes as they not only flush out the demons within themselves and learn to fight as a team but also address world-domination concerns.

The war of the worlds, in this case, is ignited by the Asgardian outcast, Loki, who incidentally played a much smaller role in his earlier outing in Thor. He encounters the Other, the leader of an alien race, Chitauri, who promises Loki a Chitauri army with which he can conquer Earth in exchange for retrieving the Tesseract – a dominant energy source of unknown potential.

Enter pirate-faced Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), director of the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D., who reactivates ‘Avengers Initiative’ to assemble the earth’s mightiest for their toughest opponent yet. One by one, all superheroes are contacted and are brought onboard to help stop Loki but they have their own differences to settle first – the logical angle to the film that could have easily been overlooked given the action-driven script and barrage of superheroes. But this is where Whedon’s film holds its ground.

Sure, they are a bunch of superheroes and sure they have been saving Earth (mostly USA, actually) in their solo attempts, but can they join forces especially when they are so badly overwhelmed by a ‘Puny God’? And the answer, though expected, is played out masterfully. Adversity brings them all closer and they find their identity as heroes all over again because they are able to set their differences aside and fight out the bad guy. What happens next forms the climax of the film.

With such a powerhouse of actors and the grand premise, Avengers sets the expectation bar really high before a single frame has been played. And while the action scenes in the film are breathtaking, at times one can easily find a predictable pattern in the linear narrative and script of the film.

The film has already entered the $1 billion club and has broken opening and collection records of the monster hits – The Dark Knight and Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows – Part 2.

Till the end, the film maintains a crackling pace transitioning artistically between stunning action sequences to witty banters among the characters. Case in point: “I’m a huge fan of the way you lose control and turn into an enormous green rage monster,” says Iron Man to Dr Bruce Banner aka the Hulk during their first encounter.

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Abhay Deol’s doppelganger Mark Ruffalo deserves a special mention for playing the Hulk with such restrained finesse. His portrayal of Dr Banner, who’s dealing with his alter-ego, brings out plenty of artless laughter besides raw action.

The Avengers isn’t just a Marvel comic fan spectacle but a witty and crisp packaged film, which is sprinkled with generous dozes of action and laughs.

After all, Team Avengers have been given more dimension than those linear to beating the villains to pulp, especially since some of them are actually human and get hungry read Shwarma-hungry.

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Besides raises the bar for comic-book adaptations, the film elevates itself to another orbit as a smart and well crafted film for any audience.

We’re waiting for the sequel with bated breath.

FOOTNOTE

Though I liked how the film ended, especially how Hulk CPR’s Iron Man in his own unique way, but this alternate ending is equally hilarious.

Watch out for

  • “Someone died.”
  • “I’m not jealous. I’m Batman”
  • “Hey, I’m Batman! Wanna know my secret identity?”
  • “Why do I have to sit on his lap?”
  • “Puny God”
  • “This place serves food?”

As I begin writing this at least a 100 kids would have been born, and it is safe to assume that about half of them will be christened Sachin simply because they were born on a great day. Yes, Sachin has finally got the missing jewel in his crown, or has he?

As for any other avid cricket fan it was heartening for me to witness the Little Master get the elusive ton (it took a year and four days coming). Like always I watched you bat with a hope in my heart, a prayer on my lips and just enough oxygen in my lungs so I don’t need to move. And though you managed to do the unthinkable, (patience is not a virtue that comes easy to us Indians!) today seemed more a struggle than a victory, today you seemed bigger than the game…

Today I was not fighting but pleading to God that you cross the finish line so you and the team can breathe easy.

I know you were probably too occupied to notice but a youngster (relatively speaking) like Suresh Raina looked more under pressure to give you the strike rather than play his natural game. Today it was too visible to ignore.

As an ardent fan of the game and your religious devotee it was never difficult for me to rubbish those friends who kept saying that we have to ask Afghanistan and Kenya to tour our country so you could score your 100th ton. As a person who’s grown up watching you it was easy for me to ignore when you were compared to your own teammates, or when you were going through a long rough patch. Some even said that your best was behind us, but I didn’t agree.

Today you’ve scaled the summit some statistician came up that the rest of world was happily oblivious to till it was. (Ignorance was indeed bliss!)

Don’t get me wrong, even you’re worst critics couldn’t argue that you were as close to knighthood/immortality when you were on 99, but what none of us could figure out was why were you so overawed by it.

But unfortunately there is a question I can’t suppress, especially right after I’ve seen the Wall take a bow a few days back – what’s next?

Surprisingly though, now that you are there, that’s the question on everyone else’s lips too.

You see, we can and will never be able to have enough of you. You can score a 100 more tons, a few centuries in T20’s, get to 200 50’s (currently on 160) and we will still be static on our couches like frozen potatos.

So the question that needs to be asked is what is your goal?

I ask that not just as a fan but a mortal baffled by your hunger rather insatiable appetite.

Last year, when the Asian subcontinent was to hold the World Cup the entire nation prayed that we win it for you, not just win it but win it for YOU. And when we did, some of us thought that that this would be your swan song. Of course, we would miss you, but after that sensational achievement I guess we were ‘ready’ to miss you, to see you go out with the biggest high any cricketer could fathom. But you weren’t.

You recused yourself from the ODI format to focus on Tests, and slowly but surely that wave of you playing for your 100th ton gathered mass. Your performance was below par by any standards, let alone the ones you’ve set over the decades (saying ‘years’ doesn’t cut it for someone like you!)

When India got buried Down Under, and the Wall decided to call it a day, many called for your head too, especially after the drought that continued from tests to ODI’s, but I could see that you had a point to prove, not sure what the point was, but a point nonetheless.

When Sehwag was ‘rested’ for the Asia Cup, no one could see you making it to the ODI team after the dismal show in Australia. Perhaps you needed time to focus on that one format you ‘cherish’ the most, but that was not to be.

You proved everyone wrong yet again. However, I wonder if they were wrong after all when they said that this series would see you get to your ton ‘on a platter’ with teams like Bangladesh playing on subcontinent pitches.

Never mind the irony that your ton came against that very team, today I can sadly say you failed to entertain. The name ‘Sachin’ became synonymous with entertainment when you were as young as 19, and now another 19 years apart your stay at the crease seems more like a broken sabbatical, a struggle rather than the innings that took 19 years in the making.

I’m your fan but I root for Team India to win first when it takes guard against any team and the worried look on Coach Duncan Fletcher’s face and the tense dressing room language said it all as you buffered your way from 90 to 100.

I really have no one I could compare you to sheerly on longevity basis and the high benchmark you’ve set for yourself. As an ardent sport fan, however, I do know of the beauty of calling it a day while one is still cherished – Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Kareem Abdul Jabbar right upto Rahul Dravid being good examples.

Jammy you see was prudent enough to see that he wanted to die a hero rather than be dropped from the sole format of the game he was playing not because he couldn’t fix the chinks in his armour but because he just knew that it was time. Fortunately, no one (selectors included) can even so much as ask you to follow his lead (Kapil Dev notwithstanding), cause in many ways you are bigger than the game itself.

I know we will never admit it, and Team India will rally behind you either way, but I wish you remember what the original master Don Bradman stood for – the man who left the game at 99, the man who left it even as he scored a duck in his last innings.

From a fan to an idol, I hope you find your fairy-tale ending, whenever and wherever it may be.

Moreso, may you you continue to play freely before someone somewhere comes up with another statistic or record you’re yet to scale. May you continue to be Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.

As the famous line from The Dark Knight goes, You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain. In case of Dravid, it was a bit of both; though there is no doubts about that fact that Rahul Sharad Dravid will always be remembered as a hero, till his last stroke of knowing when to hang up his boots.

Against one's own forgive

Jammy as he may have been for many, he was India’s Mr Dependable especially in tests, a knight who was always there in India’s darkest hours – not because he had any super powers or gifted strokeplay but because of his unflinching focus and unyielding dedication for mastering his craft.

As a batsman he was a picture of grace, poise and calm – a true copybook cricketer with a mind of his own. From the historic Lord’s test where he shared a great partnership with Ganguly right upto the 2003-04 series in Australia where he scored 233, his encore with Laxman; to even his IPL exploits, the great thing with him was that he was efforting to become better rather than trusting his record and laurels to speak for him.

Though many will argue on the timing of his retirement following the disastrous tour of Australia, what he did manage to do even with this decision is to go out with his dignity intact, pretty much akin to how he ended his ODI career – on his own terms. And if one looks beyond the disaster Down Under, record books show Dravid hit as many as five centuries in the 10 tests he played in the second half of 2011.

And in many ways it shows the expectations Dravid had from himself (he scored just one half-century in the series and was bowled six times of the eight innings he played).

In any other era of the past maybe he could have seen this off as a phase and fought one last round like Rocky Balboa, but ever since India won the World Cup last year and the dismal show since then, the public’s penchance for blood has taken centerstage, of course, age doesn’t help matters in Dravid’s case.

The big irony in this is that despite having a reasonable series against England and a poor one in Australia (by his standards) he is the only Indian batsman to have scored 600 or more runs in two overseas series against the two teams. Add to that that The Wall was a building of consistency – he scored four back-to-back hundreds in tests (2002-03) and you know that he perhaps had enough to draw inspiration from within.

THE WRITING’S ON THE WALL Read the rest of this entry »

During my school days, a classmate wouldn’t go home after school, like we all itched to. I could but only wonder why. Few months later, after we graduated I came to know of his stern and abusive-molester father being the reason. Having no wife, his father would welcome him at home with a cane in hand, and thus he would shiver at the very thought of spending time at his home.

We lost touch with the passage of time and I forgot all about him till I watched Udaan. His face has loomed large since. Udaan does that to you, taking something from everyone’s life. And that’s what makes it appealing.

Give yourself wings, don't become vikings.

It’s not difficult to expect the sky from a film that begins with the lines ‘From the director of Black Friday, Dev.D and Gulaal — you see, expectations are set right there.

But here’s not a subject that is commercial or period, nor does it have any political undertone to it. The dysfunctional-middle income group-small town family setup with a father and son relationship (with NO twists), straight, upfront, in-Your-face realism hasn’t really been explored.

There are stereotypes, sure, but not the cinematic ones. HMM.

And that is exactly where Udaan takes its flight as a film experience while becoming a story that is as much about you and me.

STORY: Rohan and his friends are expelled from their Shimla boarding school for watching an adult film. And if that’s not all, after eight long years in the boarding, he now returns to his humble roots, industrial town of Jamshedpur where his father and his son — his younger half-brother await him. A brother he doesn’t know exists and a dad whose face he hasn’t seen in eight years. A father who is proud to be called ‘sir’ and a younger brother, who is an abject reflection of his own self.

What father-son chemistry and what sibling revelry can evolve from this? I sat and wondered through the first half…

While Rohan aspires to be a writer his obdurate father slaps his steel factory (literally!) onto him, and enrolls him into an engineering college.

The cracks widen and keep widening but there are no black and whites.
If the father is an alcoholic smoker, the son is no teetotaler — the difference is just in their ambitions and expectations from self and domination of the other.

Will he ever live according to his father’s demands or will he follow his dreams is what the story pursues.

Rajat Barmecha plays a suppressed teenager who fights to break free from within and without.

In this newcomer fest, Rohan (Rajat Barmecha), leads the troupe and only grows in his role and as the suppressed teenager who fights to break free. A teenage son to a maniacal father, who is not only curious about sex or freedom but has other equally compelling existential issues to contend with.
(Yes, No American Pie, this)

His performance is matched for silence as much for expression by his not-just-cute brother, Arjun (Aayan Boradia), the little kid steals the show and how soulfully at that. He has some of the best scenes in the movie. His expressions and silence convey his helplessness and aspirations better than any dialogues would have and kudos to the script and screenplay for giving him silence when they could easily have loaded him with dialogues making this about him, making it a tear-jerker.

Veterans Ronit Roy and Ram Kapoor too, as their father and uncle deserve a mention here for giving astounding performances, very restrained yet very poignant.

The movie also deftly explores the relationship between the two 'estranged' brothers.

Riveting and yet thought-provoking, Udaan is a brilliant take on the adolescent boy who steps into his teens and how he faces a tyrant father, a step brother he never knew existed and how he eventually breaks the shackles and frees himself from a world that’s slowly suffocating him.

The story is jointly written by Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap and beautifully at that. Udaan’s USP is in its simplicity — a painful yet relatable story, but one that only gives out hope. While comparisons to Taare Zameen Par are expected, Udaan scores with its no-Bollywood-fairytale solution approach. No superficial celebrations or overnight conscience bouts, not even a ‘happy’ ending.

Subah ki kirno ko rokein jo salaakhein hai kahan... Jo khayalon pe pehre daale woh aankhein hai kahan... Par khulne ki deri hai parinde udh ke choomenge... Aasman aasman aasman

Still, it’s an endearing tale about hope; dreams, aspirations, and role play of relationships and the power of that one emotion — love, led by hope as much as by exhaustion of hopelessness.

Some scenes from the movie stand out for beautifully capturing varied emotions. Laughter comes sprinkling in between like a fresh breeze and is superbly blended in.

In one of the memorable scenes filmed at the hospital, you find an old man angrily living out his last days cajoled and humbled by storytelling abilities of Rohan and sheer presence of Arjun, who in turn gives them hope, and through DOORS — Break on through to the other side!

EPIC#

There is just so much to read in the movie, the undercurrents — a father who enjoys outrunning his son, beating up his kids, to being as dog-tired and frustrated as to not have a kind word for them. The love of a helpless uncle, the seniors who rag hope in Rohan, to the love that brings him closer to his brother but not his father.

The simplest stories are the hardest to narrate and the producer-director remain faithful to the script and tone of the movie displaying incredible sincerity, understanding and maturity in their storytelling.

Udaan also showcased India at Cannes this year and won a lot of applause. And debutant director Motwane’s film lives up to it.

A word about the music — Amit Trivedi surpasses his neo-noir self while Amitabh Bhattacharya and Anurag Kashyap’s lyrics knit the poetry in the movie with an uproar taking it up by a few notches. While some of the songs have an anthemic feel to it, the joker in the pack is Motumaster that deserves a special mention; hear it to know what I mean.

Courage forms the backbone that gives Rohan a hope to set himself free.

A little peak:

Har baal ki khaal ki yeh chaal bhi kha jaaye
Iske haath padh jaaye toh mahiney saal bhi kha jaaye
Kisi behal ka bacha jo haal bhi haal kha jaaye
Bemaut marte mann ka yeh malaal kha jaaye
Lalu kalaal kha jaaye
Naxal baari ki naal kha jaaye
Bachpan ka dhamaal kha jaaye
Budhape ki shaal kha jaye
Haya toh chodo baheya ki chaal bhi kha jaaye
Agar parosa ja sake toh khayal bhi kha jaaye

Naav and Aazadiyaan are the other two that will be on the playlists for time to come.

All in all, Udaan bites and in its bittersweet aftertaste leaves a motif if not a message. The movie, at its emotional core leaves a lingering taste — that of India’s neo wave cinema.

No, life ain’t dewdrops and sunshine, and families that wine and dine together don’t always stay together. There’s a lot otherwise swept under the carpet but this one manicures the surface to bring out real drama, actually.

This one is NOT for popcorn-movie goers, this is serious cinema which is neither pastiche nor sugar-coated.

Experience some discomfort and wrestle with some problems, and you’ll come out feeling some more of yourself.
The Udaan is as inherent as it is visible.
The name says it all really.

MIND IT: Limitations live only in our minds. If we use our imaginations, our possibilities would become limitless.

Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.

said American writer, William Burroughs. How true! or How true? I wonder.

DREAM

How many times have I woken up feeling that I live inside an enormous novel. A delusion of grandeur, the life of a character that is more evolving than it is defined, perhaps defiled to arouse reader’s interest.

But I want to be the writer, and not the written. I want to sketch the panorama of my purview and glide on the wings of my life from the depths of impossibilities that cage my imagination. Isn’t that what freedom is?

It is now less and less necessary for the writer to invent the fictional content of his novel. The fiction is already there. The writer’s task is to invent reality.

REALITY

People had been working for years to make the world a safe, organized place. Nobody realized how boring it will become. Filed and prim, scheduled and planned, no downtime now or anytime.

With the whole world property-lined and speed-limited and zoned and taxed and regulated, with everyone tested and registered and addressed and recorded or even tagged. Nobody had left much room for adventure, except maybe the kind you could buy but not afford, certainly not indulge into. A feeling of being happy from within, a whirlwind, a joyful moment of childhood that you still remember, a long forgotten melody you could still revel in — a feeling to match this kinda feeling.

Where can we buy that? No, actually the question should be what can make you truly experience and sustain that feeling?

At a movie, nowadays, maybe. Still, it would always be that kind of faux pas excitement. You know the dinosaurs are not going to eat the kids, the aliens will be friends somewhere, the goblins and jokers will die eventually, and no matter what you can’t become invisible or fly.

The test audiences have outvoted any chance of even a major faux disaster. And because there’s no possibility of any real disaster, real risk, we’re left with no chance of experiencing real lasting salvation. Real elation, real excitement. Joy. Discovery. Invention. Emotion- buzz -aberration. Nothing -just realization of the same emotion over and over again.

The laws that keep us safe, are same ones that condemn us to boredom. Is it true that without access to true chaos, we’ll never have true peace? Isn’t it true that shadow has no entity without the light, or night no meaning without the day?

I can’t but help quote Heath Ledger as Joker from The Dark Knight when he says,

Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It’s fair!

Some soul searching required? Maybe but not really. It’s simple maybe as the Joker says, unless everything can get worse, it won’t get any better.

The only frontier you have left otherwise is the world of intangibles. Everything else is sewn up too tight. Coordinated and streamlined, time-lined or calendered, working hours, working days, minutes, seconds — time of taking break, time of getting up to eat, time to make presentations, time to go home…
time to be yourself?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not pro-violence or anti-religion. Yes, I’m agnostic to anything ritualistic but only to the extent that it confines the understanding. Anything that stops us from asking questions — opinions, beliefs, trends, conventions, but the worst of all — ‘Let it be‘ syndrome.

The feeling of nothing will change and nothing can change and there is just so little that you or anyone else can do about it.

Too perverse or rigid, obtuse to confusions and recluse to conclusions – politically correct – but myopic psychobabble really!

What is the truth? How much of it should we believe to be true anyway? And why it is really important to be right even more than being truthful?

Those are the questions I struggle with most sometimes. The truth as we we know it may not set us free. In fact it may be the only thing standing between knowing what we do and knowing what we should.

What is it like being tangible in this world of intangibles?

Caged inside too many laws lingering over varying proportions. Intangibles, BTW here mean the internet, movies, music, stories, art, rumors, computer programs, thoughts anything that isn’t real.
Virtual realities. Make-believe stuff. The culture. Ethics. Reality or the lack of it.

Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?

says Morpheus to Neo in the Matrix.

I wish we knew better!

Come to think of it, the unreal actually is somewhere much more powerful than the real. It makes us believe, it makes us think and it makes us wonder over what possibilities there are to life.

Is it more liberating, more powerful and captivating like a return from prolonged illness to convalescence?

But nothing is as powerful as your imagination. Everything that you did today was once what you imagined you could or should do. ‘Once did imagine’ but now achieved — since it is now achievable it is no longer imagination-worthy. Because it’s only intangibles that last — ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies.

Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die.

But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on.

If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. If you do that, you can change the way people live their lives. And that’s the only lasting, the only non-thing that you can create.

Your memories, your stories and adventures, will be the only thing you’ll have left.

My goal is to be an engine of excitement in people’s lives.
Our purpose is to give people glorious stories to tell.
BUT, we are raising a generation of slaves.

We are teaching the children to be hopeless and are becoming a glorified example for them to role-model upon.

The more said, the less understood so surmise it to say, Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.

Raw-One — Why?

Posted: June 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

RAAVAN: He's ugly, he's rowdy, but he's the hero!

We all get swept up in the hype machine. Nobody is immune to that.

You may be awed by the hype that movies generate these days, but then so would you be aware that the more the hype the greater the disappointment you experience, especially when you fall for the hype. But it would be unfair to say you were or you could be driven by hype when you go to watch a Mani Ratnam movie. Take Anjali, Roja, Bombay, Dil se — each movie with a soul, a story, an experience — again not necessarily a commercial success but much more than mere critical acclaim.

Anyway, it’s Raavan‘s day out today and what a bad outing!

Before the Madras Talkies logo has set in, you can hear pastiche Rahman in the background and see a silhouette of AB’s baby on the edge of a cliff. He jumps — good camera work — and takes the movie with him.

If Raavan was to have a USP, it’d have to be beyond its chart buster music, and a few stellar sequences read cinematography, locales, that can give everyone from Vittorio Storaro to Ravi Chandran a few sleepless nights, but then that’s all it has to offer, sadly.

Big B can lament Mani Ratnam for editing Abhishek’s character Beera all he wants, but I’d say that he still did a very bad job, he could have kept him out altogether.

From the beginning right up to the end if there is anything that will stay of Beera’s character with you (beyond the character assassination of the original Ravan) it’s his chik chik chik — like a deadbeat ad mascot of brand Chiclets. Makes me wonder if he is aping some south Indian villain.

Anyway, coming to the story, Raavan is a modern-day depiction of the mythological epic Ramayana. Director Mani Ratnam lip-glosses the character of Raavana from Ramayana and tries ambitiously to portray his personality from a different angle. Through Beera (Abhishek Bachchan) he depicts Raavan who is the expected villain in the story.
While hubby Abhishek plays Raavan, Aishwarya plays (the so-not-beautiful-with-expressions or hair-extensions) Sita with South actor Chiyaan Vikram debuting as the good soul Ram.

BUT, for those who have seen the movie might go back confused over who is the real hero and who’s the villain!

Beera is a village bandit who hides in the thick forests of Lal Maati from where he runs his sarkar raaj. He is a menace to the police (but we don’t know why exactly), has a sister who he can’t protect for all his bravado and he has thorough knowledge of the jungle with super-hunting skills. While he is a dacoit for some, he is a ‘Robinhood’ for some too.

Ambiguity begins.

While Raavan’s sisters bears the brunt of the goons oops policemen trying to usurp and avenge his reign by stamping their own, he sits and mourns with a scratched neck. Then he goes and kidnaps SP’s wife and slowly but surely falls in love with her only to let her go for who she loves. Surely, MR you could do better than that! Bravado for the cliche but been there seen that.

Still Ramayan anyone?

Also adding his pounds to this jungle diary comes Tarzan sorry ape-skilled Govinda as Hanuman. While Beera kidnaps SP’s wife Ragini to avenge his vendetta with SP and to settle his enmity, forest guard (Govinda) helps him in his search for Beera.
Once again, Govinda fails miserably in his depiction of a modern-day Hanumaan and the blame for that rests as much with him for sheer sense of misplaced comic-timing coming from a veteran like him as with the script for providing him with no depth of character. He had great potential to his character like that of Beera but almost seems to have been ‘edited’ painfully from the script.

So, Dev hunts and loses men while trying to find his beloved only to realize that she can’t be trusted post abduction by Raavan and so demands an Agni-pariksha of Ragini in the form of a polygraph test. There comes the twist in the plot ending the Ramayana connection. Ragini, as a modern woman is outraged by the accusation as stops the train by pulling the chain and runs back to Raavan of all the people to denounce her innocence.

Ambiguity in full flow.

The first hour of the movie tests not patience but sensibilities of the audience. If only there was one good performance in this sub-standard melodrama to grant reprieve, but that humble ask seems to have been steamrolled in the directors book.

Mani Ratnam has tactfully humanized Raavan, Read the rest of this entry »

Getting ready for work just the other day I felt a round object in my pocket. Thinking of it as a coin I took it out and flung it into the change box in my room. The next day as I picked up a handful of coins for my commute and settled it in my pocket I realized that a silent and unattractive pair of 50 paise coins slipped in with the stalwart 5 rupee coin. As the bus conductor approached for fare I handed him the pair bundled with other coins only to see him discover it in dismay. Needless to say they made their way back towards me and have jingled away in my pocket since.

Or take an auto ride and if your autowallah is kind enough to charge by the meter and you get a bill of some 79.50 then it’s a given that you will be dishing out Rs 80 and not 79 or 79.50.

And just as unsettled as the coins in my pocket was the thought in my mind- ‘is 50 paise on its way to the oblivion?’

50 paise. What was its value anyway one would say? Jogging our 21st century memory might help us recall at best that it could and can in some places still get us a full glass of cool water on any city street. Fine, it quenches thirst for water but a 100 of them cannot displace the chic thin of the green note.

But where did it all go? Is RBI buying it all back?

Stats show that while the 50 paisa coin remains in steady parlance of the rural section it is fast becoming a leash vernacular for the upbeat section of the metros.

So while the 50 paise may still be a legal tender, but like Maruti 800 they are soon becoming a thing of the past with very little takers. Retailers, auto drivers, bus conductors, grocers or anyone and everyone seems to be jamming its circulation.

One can argue and furnish the rule book to state for the record that the coin by no means defunct but can one ague on its utility. Ask your grandparents and they’d tell you what a catch a 50 paise coin was – It could get you your favorite lick, it could get you a tonga ride and a snack, get you movie tickets and even a meal for two at a point in time! Staggeringly strange but all true.

Cut to the present and flash comes an online community with the drive – no-50-paise-please campaign. Recently a group of youngsters launched a Facebook community titled “I hate when somebody gives me 50 paise as change!” ‘Waiting on the world to change?’

These coins in their own time devotedly had served the purpose for which they were cast. But beyond that, they still retain their worth and substantiality.

Walking down history lane throws us some memorable facts. India was one of the pioneers in terms of issuers of coins (6th Century BC), and as a result it has seen a wide range of monetary units throughout its history.

With little historical evidence to suggest the introduction between 2500 and 1750 BC, the first documented coins date from between the 7th/6th century BC to the 1st century AD.

The next few centuries, as traditions developed and empires rose and fell, the country’s coinage designs reflected its progression and often depicted dynasties, socio-political events, deities, and nature.

Come 712 AD, the Arabs conquered the Indian province of Sindh and brought their influence and coverage with them. By the 12th Century, Turkish Sultans of Delhi replaced the longstanding Arab designs and replaced them with Islamic calligraphy. In 1526, the Mughal period commenced, bringing forth a unified and consolidated monetary system for the entire Empire.

This was largely due to by the Afghan Sher Shah Suri who introduced the silver Rupayya or Rupee coin. While the princely states of pre-colonial India minted their own coins, resembling the silver Rupee, they held regional distinctions depending on the varied geography.

It was as late as in 1858 when the British Crown gained control of the 100 Princely states, that subsequently ended the Mughal Empire, that the coin’s native images were replaced by portraits of the Monarch of Great Britain to indicate British Supremacy. And after gaining independence in 1947 and becoming a republic in 1950, India’s modern Rupee reverted back to the design of the signature Rupee coin.

Some much of history in our hands, and yet so little value!

Think economics and it catapults into the difference between break even and profit for some – 50 paise doesn’t matter to the rich to whom it doesn’t cater. They really don’t mind paying 50 paise extra and all that is extra adds to something extraordinary right?

And it seems that they have a point in this age of skyrocketing prices as a 50 paise coin would get you only so much, barring perhaps some low-priced candies.

While RBI counters continue to accept the 50 paise coins in lieu of currencies, it blames customers and shopkeepers for blocking the supply.

“They purposefully want to curtail the supply of 50 paise so as to increase their profit and give you candies in turn.”
So, 50 paisa now is barter money.

To ask for the exact change maybe your right; but how many of us exercise it?

The Government Mint has so far not received the annual indent from the minting of 50 paise coins this year, indicating the declining demand for the coin.

In Buddha’s words then – ”Everything changes, nothing remains without change.”

Makes me wonder if five rupees is the new 50 paisa?