Monday, May 29, 2006

Once upon a time there was a country...

... on the banks of Danube called Yugoslavia, a leader called Marshal Tito who showed the world how to remain non-aligned at the height of cold war, and a director called Emir Kusturica who gave us a wonderful movie called "Underground" - winner Palm D'Or, Cannes 95.

Collective Chaos promised to bring Cannes to Bangalore last weekend, showing five of the previous Cannes winners. For an annual subscription fee of just Rs 400 (they promise to screen atleast 100 movies a year), it can't come any cheaper than this. But with cranky seats atop Sona Towers (off Cunningham Road) and (although they promise to promptly throw out anybody found using a mobile inside the hall) with some female patrons hell-bent on "checking" time on their flashy mobiles every other minute, it wasn't such an enjoyable experience watching movies. I watched three out of the five shown. And while Kagemusha and Taste of Cherry were descent, it was Underground which really made my weekend.

Underground spans the entire life-span of Yugoslavia. Starting from the Nazi bombing of Belgrade, to the comrades fighting from underground, through the days of Tito and finally the break-up and bloodshed of 1990's. Story of two friends and their passion for one woman, story of a group of people who are put in a cellar underground to avoid Nazi bomb's, and who even 20 years after the war was over, were still made to believe that there was a war happening outside and the Germans were still in power, and weren't allowed to come out. Exhilarating comedy and satire, a brilliant sound track, passionate and sexually explicit at times... this is one gem of a movie you can't miss.

Just last week, the last remains of the erstwhile Yugoslavia decided to split again. After the worst blood-bath that Europe had seen since WW2, there are now seven different chunks, one for each ethnic group. And like the chunks from the erstwhile Soviet Union, they are all queuing up infront of the NATO HQ in Brussels. All that will remain will be memories of Tito and NAM and ofcourse, the movies of great men like Emir Kusturica.

Friday, May 12, 2006


So many beautiful things happened in this election Murali and "DICK" getting wiped out, opportunists like Pilla and Jacob being blown away, BJP's dreams remaining "unfulfilled".... but for the most beautiful moment of this entire election festival we should thank one man ... KT Jaleel.

Did anyone think our dear "puli" could lose in Kuttipuram? . Remember the posters at the height of the sex-scandal, "Jana manasukkalil ninnu ee "puliye" purathakkan oru shakthikkum kazhiyilla"... phew!. This is a double whammy for Kunjali, he has probably spent a considerable amount of the fortune he amassed in this election.

Jaleel made the impossible possible. He proved that no amount of money and power can alter people's desire. He has probably changed the election pattern of Malappuram forever. Victory... and that too with a margin of more than 8000 votes, in a constitueny which hasn't elected anyone other than a League candidate from its inception! un-thinkable...

League probably can only go down from here. They have only themselves to blame. Jaleel and Muneer was the future onto which it should have grown. Instead, they sacrificed Muneer, threw out Jaleel and provided CPM with a golden "ladder" into the Muslim heartland.

I guess, this is probably "the moment" that CPM was waiting all these years. A significant reason why CPM couldn't assert itself as much in Kerala as compared to Bengal is the lack of support it has among the religious minorities. In Bengal, minorities vote en-masse to left. But with the Jaleel -factor (and Raheem factor, and yes the PDP -factor too) this can change and the magic number of 50% vote share is not so far. Then we will have a very different coalition landscape in Kerala. The CPM then can, and will try to do away with all the "eerkil" parties (they tried to some extent this time too).

May be I am dreaming so far... the next time UDF and League will storm back to power like it happens every time here. But that doesn't take the shine out of Jaleel. Atleast for now, three cheers for a job well done!. Ivanaanu PuPuli!!.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Home Is Everything!.
If tomorrow someone comes up to you and tells you that the home you are living, where your parents lived and their parents lived, was (supposed to be )promised to him and his fellow followers some ten centuries ago. And that he has the support of the entire "international community". Will you just pack up and leave?. I won't. I will fight till my death, I'll kill if need be... because home is everything.

Finally Munich got released in Bangalore. I gave Mr. Balram the ditch, but since I couldn't ditch Schumi and the European GP, morning show was the only option. So early morning wake-up (on a sunday morning!), empty stomach, three long hours... if this was Aviator I would have happily slept through. But this was Spielberg not Scorcese, the master in keeping one's interest alive all through the movie.

It was debated whether this was a pro-Jewish or a pro-Palestinian movie. I found it being neither. Although the entire narration is through a set of Jewish eyes, Avner (Eric Bana) is not one of those radical Jews. He is more concerned about his wife, her imminent delivery and then the child, than the job at hand of eliminating the eleven Palestinians which the Mossad think were related to the Munich massacre. And again it is the Palestinian view which rings out more loudly when Ali says, "Home is everything" and that "My father didn't gas any Jews".

I won't divulge any further into the story. Eric Bana is superb as the confused and distressed Avner. After Hector of Troy another memorable tragic hero role. The movie has some awesome scenes. Like the shot were blood slowly spreads over milk spilled on the floor. And the flashback shots of Munich massacre through Avner's eyes. Those will rank among some of Spielberg's finest... remember the tank gun slowly going up aiming the tower in Saving Private Ryan, or Richard Attenborough being timed making "hinges" in a Nazi work-shop in Schindler's List.

There is no climax as such. It ends with the confused state that Avner finds himself in. From the hunter to the one being hunted. To find that, in places of all the seemingly liberal Palestinians he assassinated the more radical replacements taking charge. To some extent it is the same predicament as that of Israel. From having to deal with someone like Arafat and PLO, they now have to deal with a Hamas. Today's Hindu(May 8) had a news piece on the eviction of illegal Jewish settlers from Hebron. It says, "Hebron, a city holy to Jews and Muslims, is home to about 160,000 Palestinians and some 500 ultranationalist Jewish settlers who live in heavily fortified enclaves". How much security can save 500 from 160,000?. How far can a policy of confrontation and brutal assassinations take a country?.