September 28, 2016

Pink – Film Review

Posted in Film Reviews at 4:48 pm by వసుంధర


link to the poster

Minal is a working woman living independently in a rented house with two other working women. She lost her virginity at the age of nineteen out of love to her boyfriend. Later she had occasional affairs with some acquaintances.  She goes to parties and does not mind drinks or exchanging sex jokes even in the company of male friends. Can she be branded as a prostitute or taken for granted for sexual advances? Does she not a have a right to say no to the sexual desire of an advancing male? Is it a crime if she attacks a predator-like male with all her might?

This is the question, for which the male chauvinistic society has innumerable answers, all heavily loaded against the women. They suggest a dress code, behavioral pattern and many restrictive measures to keep the predator in males away. All for the hunted and none for the predator.

However, Deepak Sehgal, a lawyer, gives a befitting and the most relevant reply to this question. A woman may be a domestic help, drunkard, prostitute, or even a spouse – she has every right to say no to man’s sexual advances.  The man has to honour her feelings; if he fails to honour, he be branded a criminal and booked. It may sound feministic to some, but it is nothing but a fight against inequality.

The essence of the recently released (September 16) movie Pink is just this. The plot as presented in the Wikipedia is reproduced below:

Three girls – Minal Arora (Taapsee Pannu), Falak Ali (Kirti Kulhari) and Andrea (Andrea Tariang) are staying together as tenants in a posh South Delhi locality and are normal working professionals in their respective fields. One night, after a rock concert they accept a dinner invitation from Rajveer (Angad Bedi), who is the nephew of a powerful politician from South Delhi, and two others to a resort in Surajkund, Faridabad district, Haryana. Rajveer is known to Minal through a common friend. Rajveer and his friends get drunk, and so do Minal and her friends. Finding the opportunity, the three men separate the three girls from each other. Rajveer gets close and tries to molest Minal (Taapsee Pannu) and her two roommates,despite they saying NO to them. Minal picks up a bottle and smashes it on Rajveer’s eye, leaving him bleeding.

To avenge the same, Rajveer and his friends try to vacate the girls from their houses and threaten them over the phone. Minal is forced to approach the police with the intention to file an FIR against Rajveer and his friends. However, knowing Rajveer and his family, the lady police officer on duty does not register the complaint. Upon realisation Rajveer lodges a false FIR against the girls, labelling them as prostitutes, using his powerful contacts. Minal is then charged for ‘Attempt to murder’ and for soliciting, where she could face imprisonment for more than 10 years, if convicted. The other girls are labelled as co-accused.

Deepak Sehgall (Amitabh Bachchan) is a retired lawyer suffering from bipolar disorder who experiences frequent mood swings and has an ailing wife (Mamata Shankar). He is also a neighbour of the 3 girls (Minal, Falak and Andrea). He witnesses their troubles and after consultation with his wife, takes it upon himself to represent the girls in the court. The film revolves around how Deepak fights the girls’ case against these influential boys.

The film begins as it should. The scenes appear as per relevance. The actors are just natural. There may be songs but they were so interspersed in the movie that the audience may not notice them to give a separate identity. The incident at the rock concert forms the crux of the plot but was shown after the film ended. Ingenious!

Amitab Bachchan played the pivotal role with all the majesty and for a change all the actors in the movie matched him in expression as well as dialogue delivery.

There was no over dramatisation anywhere in the film. Yet the audience get so involved that they smile, laugh, cry and struggle empathising with the three girls throughout.

eroThe movie has a message for the parents who are casual about their sons. The movie has a message for the police, our system and for those who are supposed to administer justice to the needy. It has a message even for the independent working women while also creating awareness in them of certain provisions in the law made exclusively for women. Zero FIR is an example.

Sure, the audience, irrespective of their gender and status, would give a pink slip to male chauvinism and male ego of our society. For that, they should not give a slip to the Pink. All, please watch the movie!

Kudos to the director, actors, technicians and the entire team for making such an introspective movie. Kudos to the audience for making the movie a big hit!

To be on the lighter side, here is a link for a scene in the 1980 movie Dostana: a police inspector preaches the heroine to wear decent dress to avoid eve-teasing. Interestingly, the police inspector’s role was played by none other than Amitab Bachchan.

review  video review

August 29, 2016

Anataomy of Rape

Posted in Chit Chat, Ponderer's Box at 8:29 pm by వసుంధర


Aug 29 2016 : The Times of India (Hyderabad)

The Banality Of A Rape

    Jonathan Freundlich

It’s a myth that perpetrators are psychopaths, not `normal’ guys.
That a rape always consists in the brutal assault of a young innocent virgin by a strong heavily-armed psychopath is a widespread myth. This myth is not only false, but harmful. The very large majority of rapes are indeed perpetrated by someone with whom the victim has already got acquainted, and don’t occur in a dark alley as we could expect.Rapes are not as exceptional as this myth implies. Actually , this misconception often prevents us from identifying a situation as a rape and from helping the victim accordingly.That night, my girlfriend E went to a nightclub with some of her friends, mostly foreigners as herself. It was a fun evening; dancing, laughing, being exhilarated by the music and the atmosphere, talking to new people. There was this guy , F. He pretended to be a model from Turkey , something that later turned out to be false. He was very flirtatious, but nice. E made it clear from the beginning that she was committed in a relationship and not interested in anything else but friendship. He seemed to accept it, and E couldn’t imagine that he wouldn’t respect her and her desires.

E and one of her friends got in a taxi with F while her two other friends were in a different car with F’s friends. After a long ride, the cars stopped in front of a house instead of a bar. While entering the apartment, E asked her friends not to leave her alone with him. But they didn’t react when F dragged her inside a bedroom pretending it was “just to talk“, and discreetly locked the door behind him.

Our society paradoxically considers rape as a horrible crime but often labels it as “normal“ when it happens for real. When they are told about rape, most people minimise the story and say that it doesn’t count, that it was not really a rape.

When E told her friends about what had just happened, one of them answered that it was “normal“ when people get drunk. But no, it’s not! It is not because the night was enshrouded in a cloud of glitter, laughs and alcohol that it is not a rape. It is not because E had been enthusiastically dancing in the nightclub that it was not a rape. It is not because she may have been inconsequentially flirting that it was not a rape. Sex without consent is always a rape.

Another friend of hers told her that is was her fault, that anyone could have stopped it. A rape is not the victim’s fault, it is the deliberate action of a criminal. Blaming the victim is an easy way to feel safe: by believing that E was responsible for the rape, her friend felt more confident that she wouldn’t put herself in a similar situation. But although reassuring, this thought is a lie: a rape can happen to anyone, and in the most unexpected circumstances. In the case of E’s friends, minimising the event and putting the blame on her was probably also a way to avoid their own responsibility and their own guilt: they were there, and they didn’t do anything.

A rape is not just a bad experience, it is a criminal offence. No rape should go unreported. As long as rapes are not reported and not fairly dealt with by the authorities, rapists will have a sense of impunity. I suggested E to report the rape to the police. Reporting the rape was a painful process in itself. Beyond narrating the events again and again and going through various medical check-ups, E had to confront with her memories: going back to the apartment was particularly painful, as it crudely reminded her of some of the appalling details of the rape. Nevertheless, having reported the rape will surely make her stronger to cope with its insidious consequences on her self-image.

In front of her determination, her friends had to realise that what had happened was indeed a rape, and they stopped being in denial. Reporting the rape thus also changed their attitude and they became more supportive.Through the police, the whole society had to give some credit to her testimony .The care and understanding that she got at the police station surely helped her a lot. The police was indeed exemplary, which was a much welcomed relief.

When they learnt that E was going to report the rape to the police, F’s male acquaintances seemed to think that F didn’t deserve to be punished by law. At times, it even seemed that it was F who was the victim for them. The victim of E’s determination to obtain justice.

F probably thinks that it wasn’t a rape because he is a normal guy, a nice guy even, not a psychopath. This might be the most destabilising thing about rapes: most of them are not perpetrated by psychopaths. They are perpetrated by “normal“ guys.

E’s rapist is out on bail awaiting the court’s decision, which will take months or even years. He doesn’t seem to understand the wrong he did, and neither do his friends and family . While E has been affected forever by his deeds and might be unable to move on until justice is done, he might just be lightheartedly dancing with other girls at the moment. As long as society doesn’t fully acknowledge what rapes are and doesn’t abandon the comforting and blinding myths associated to them, such events will continue to happen and rapists will continue to have a feeling of impunity.E’s rape was just a banal rape, as many others: the problem is far from being solved. Let’s hope the Indian justice system will show the way .

The writer is an astrophysicist

August 28, 2016

The Biological and the Surrogant

Posted in Ponderer's Box at 8:48 pm by వసుంధర

Times of India

Aug 28 2016 : The Times of India (Hyderabad)

`When I said yes to a hired womb, and no to a fake belly’

Gita Aravamudan

The government intends to ban commercial surrogacy but this tale of an NRI who rented a womb shows how complex the issue is
Meena was having the first real conversation with her surrogate. Until now, she had felt too embarrassed to even talk to the girl. Almost apologetic. She was hesitant even now. Alice (the surrogate) looked distant…She sat cross-legged on her bed in the surrogate home with her little daughter Mini next to her.`How are you feeling, Alice?’ Meena asked. ` Are they taking care of you well?’… The surrogate shrugged. `I am fine. What’s there to take care of ?
In the beginning, I had several bouts of morning sickness. But now that’s over.’ Morning sickness? Meena hadn’t thought of that. Somehow, she had not imagined a surrogate would have morning sickness.

She had brainwashed herself so much into thinking of the woman’s womb as just a container. Alice. Alice. She was a person. Not just a womb. Suddenly she felt guilty . Alice would have had to take hormone treatment. And all the shots. She was enduring all the physical pain and discomfort for Meena. And, at the end of it, she was going to give Meena her most coveted possession -the baby.How could she even begin to repay her for what she was doing?
Alice,’ she said suddenly ` , on an impulse. `I can never forget what you are doing for me.’ She held her hand. `Let me do something for you in return. Let me take care of Mini’s education.’ The younger woman looked at Meena squarely in the eye for the first time. She gave her a tiny smile.`The memsahib in the house, where my father worked as a driver for twenty years, made sure I got an education,’ she said. `School.College. Of what use is that to me now? My womb earns more for me than my education did.’ Meena’s eyes filled with tears.There it was again, the importance of a functional womb. All her education, all the gold medals she had won for her academic prowess … everything had come to naught because of her inability to reproduce. A woman who couldn’t have a child was nothing as far as society was concerned.

Back home, she rummaged through her suitcase and pulled out some brochures on prosthetic bellies. She had to decide very soon whether she wanted to use a fake belly or not.

As soon as she got back to the UK, after hiring her surrogate, she had started looking for prosthetic bellies. She hadn’t decided whether to tell her in-laws about the surrogate or not. What if they totally freaked out?
The bellies marketed by an online UK store looked quite solid and life-like. The skin colour could also be matched if required. Their website had an exhaustive and enlightening FAQs section.

She found the part about belly maintenance quite entertaining.

The silicone tummy is too shiny.What can I do?

A small amount of talcum powder can be applied to the surface of the belly to dull the shine a bit. This will also prevent fluff from sticking to the silicone surface…

Should I wear underwear beneath my fake-pregnant belly costume prosthetic?

Yes. This is for personal hy giene and health and safety reasons, as well as for the wearer’s comfort.

How do I go to the toilet if I have the fake belly on?

The silicone fake tummies have poppers or hooks at the gusset that can be opened to allow for ease of access and wearability .

But the bellies from abroad were quite expensive. Radha (the doctor) told her about Hema Inamdar, a soft toymaker in Ahmedabad, who had now switched over to making artificial bellies. They cost only Rs 1000 for a set of three bellies simulating three, five and sevenmonth pregnancies or five, seven and nine month pregnancies. This was nothing compared to the more than 100 to 200 pounds she would have to pay , per belly, if she were to get them from London… So maybe she should also look at locally made bellies. Even while she was trying to decide what to do, Meena came across a Youtube clip of what the media had dubbed `Beyonce’s BumpGate’.

When singer Beyonce announced that she was pregnant, rumours began doing the rounds that she had actually hired a surrogate to have her baby . However, she appeared a couple of times on stage sporting a small bump. Was she pregnant or was she faking it?
And then, BumpGate happened. Beyonce appeared on an Australian TV talk show sporting her baby bump. But, as she sat down in front of the talk-show host, suddenly , the bump appeared to fold in on itself.

Meena shuddered at the thought of that incident. Imagine what would happen if she had a fake belly which failed her at a crucial moment… Until she was able to figure out what to do, she decided she would remain non-committal. She wore oversized cardigans and heavy coats during the winter anyway , and even if she had a bump it wouldn’t show.

But Chennai was different. Her mother-in-law had an eagle eye.The first thing she would do is check out her bump. She would have to decide by then whether to tell her about the surrogate or not.

Radha had also given her a few tips on how she should alter her body language to make her pregnancy look genuine. She made her sit in her clinic and observe pregnant women.

“See how they arch their backs and bend their knees when they stand up…Also notice how the pregnant mothers place soothing hands on their bellies to calm down a kicking or hiccupping baby. These are small instinctive motions. But you are faking it, so you have to watch and learn like an actress preparing for her part.“

But she was not an actress. She had never acted in her life! Not even in a school play . She pulled out the Indian fake belly that had arrived by courier the day before.She looked at it for a moment and then flung it on the bed.

She had arrived at a decision.She would tell her in-laws about the surrogate. Anyway , what was the worst that could happen? They would reject their own grandchildren. The babies were still genetically hers and Ram’s. And, in the final analysis, that’s all they needed to think about.

Edited excerpts from Aravamudan’s book `Baby Makers’

August 22, 2016

It’s a Rosy World Comrade!

Posted in Ponderer's Box at 12:31 pm by వసుంధర

Let us not notice bad events which are often reported to attract attention. Actually, majority of people around us are very good. They keep on helping others just by instinct.  And most of the times they were greeted with gratitude. If we begin noticing such events, it’s always a rosy world comrade!


Waiter tipped $500 for act of kindness

Grateful woman leaves $500 tip to kind waiter

Story highlights

  • Waiter Kasey Simmons paid for a woman’s groceries
  • The woman’s daughter later left him a $500 tip

(CNN)Kasey Simmons loves to make people smile. But Tuesday, the 32-year-old waiter was the one beaming.

A customer at the Dallas-area Applebee’s restaurant where he works left him an unforgettable tip.
“They ordered the cheapest thing on the menu,” Simmons said. “Flavored water.”
The total bill was $0.37. The tip was $500. A note, written on a napkin explained why.

A day earlier, Simmons was shopping at his local grocery store. In the checkout line, he noticed another shopper, an older woman who was clearly despondent.
Other shoppers passed right by her. Simmons did not.
He spoke to the woman. She didn’t explain why she was sad, but Simmons lifted her spirits and even paid for her groceries.
“It was only $17, but it’s not about the money,” he said. “It’s about showing someone you care.”
The tip at the restaurant apparently came from the woman’s grateful daughter. The note on the napkin described the mother’s anguish as she tried to go about her normal activities on what was the third anniversary of her husband’s death.
Simmons choked up as he read the message out loud.
“On one of the most depressing days of the year … you made my mother’s day wonderful,” the note said. “You insisted on paying. Told her she is a very beautiful woman. I have not seen this woman smile this much since dad died.”
Simmons’ kindness made a difference, and the daughter wanted to let him know. But she did not let him know the woman’s name. For now, he can only wonder and keep smiling, knowing that his simple gesture made a priceless impact.

July 17, 2016

The Conjuring 2- An Enduring one

Posted in Film Reviews at 5:35 pm by వసుంధర

link to the picture

A haunted house. An evil force. Some exploited innocents. Some holy minds. These are the common constituents of a routine horror movie – be it Western or Indian.

The Conjuring 2 (released in June this year) is made of such common constituents but presented in an uncommon way. Nor the movie can be branded routine.

The story began with mass murders in Amityville house. The vision of Ms. Lorrain, a paranormal investigator, recognized an evil force behind the murders. Those who believed in logic brushed aside her words as pure imagination or some cheap tricks to attract public attention for popularity. Lorrain did not object as her vision suggested  grave danger for her husband Ed, if she continued pursuit. She wanted to lead a peaceful life not knowing that fate had other plans.

The story then jumped to the next year and to a school premises where a teenage girl Janet was caught smoking by her Principal. Janet tried to convince, the Principal and later her mother, that she was only holding a cigarette of her friend and indeed she was not smoking. None believed her. Then came an evil force in her house and kept on scaring her. Naturally, no one believed her. However, after experiencing themselves a series of horrifying incidents – her mother, elder sister and younger brother all had to believe her. Even the police, who came to investigate, had to believe the presence of an evil force in the house. Finally, Lorrain and Ed had to involve themselves in the case. They established the presence of the soul of an old man, who was the former owner of the house and wanted the present occupants to evacuate. However, some rationalists suspected foul play and could record a video establishing Janet as a prankster. They attributed the prank to the poverty of Janet’s family. In their opinion, all the family members resorted to this prank to plead the Government to help them acquire a better house than the present one. Convinced, the Lorrain couple left the place in despair.

And then followed the breathtaking climax.

It is interesting that there were no dull moments in its entire length (134 minutes) as this is a horror movie with its narration in the classical mould. There were no artificial attempts to scare the audience. On the other hand, the story presents the Lorrains in the mould of a happy Indian family. Janet and her family members remind the Indian audience of a typical middle class Indian family with all the ingredients of bonding, sacrifice, love, affection, concern and even frustration. It is a very pleasant experience to watch these characters interspersed with some nerve-racking incidents. All the scenes were well-planned and contributed to the theme in a significant manner. Some of them eg., Janet trying to convince her mother that she was never a liar, Ed singing a song to entertain the kids, the romantic feelings of Ed couple while sleeping on separate beds – are just a few touching beauties among many to mention.

The movie might have been placed in the horror category bus is a complete family movie. Even children below 18, can enjoy the movie if they are a little brave. The horror was not as intensive as that of a Harry Potter movie. Sub-titles in English is an additional facility for the Indian audience. Hope more Hollywood movies follow this trend.

Clean entertainment, while propagating family values makes the Conjuring 2 an enduring experience. . Kudos to the producer, director and all his team mates.

Next page