The Rise of Sivagami Review: Anand Neelakantan’s big bang book expands the universe of Mahishmati

Disclaimer: I am a self declared citizen of Mahishmati Kingdom, which translates to being obsessed with anything connected to Mahishmati Samrajyam. I sometimes find myself day-dreaming about ghost-walking the long corridors of Mahishmati Durbars. I can’t possibly look at this book as a standalone creative work but can only perceive it as a part of a larger creative whole.

                                   Firstly, did the book stand up to the quality of the movies? It certainly did live up to the expectations and achieved its purpose of expanding the Baahubali universe in a very organic manner. However I dare criticize some aspects of the book in the post.

Continue reading The Rise of Sivagami Review: Anand Neelakantan’s big bang book expands the universe of Mahishmati

Thoughts on Kabali teaser

I couldn’t resist any more, I have been behaving like an addict for a week now, I need to get it out of my system…

…by writing about it.

These are my thoughts on Kabali teaser which I must have watched about 50 times!

I wondered, why, out of all the previous teasers and trailers of Rajinikanth, Kabali has caught the fascination of Rajini fans like none other. The answer is pretty simple- it is the longingness and nostalgia for millions of fans, to their past “Rajani memories”. Rajini memories  are those awesome childhood memories that give you an instant high. They range from memorizing  Rajini’s pet dialogues,  imitating his every move-from a flick of his fingers to his climbing down the steps, to immersing oneself in the latest Rajini songs.

Though Rajini has done movies later in his career, any true Rajini fan would acknowledge that the years from 1991 to 1999 is Rajini’s golden era. From Baasha to Narasimha he set box office records afire, set benchmarks for an ultimate masala cinema and imprinted his name as a living legend of Indian cinema.

By offering these humongous number of ‘views’, ‘likes’, ‘tweets’, the fans of Rajini are collectively saying: “Welcome back Thalaiva, We missed you…”

Now lets go in to what the teaser has offered and what are some of the Easter eggs hidden in it.

firstlook_Kabali.png

 

This is clearly a Malaysian Jail, with prisoners in the background and jail officials in the foreground. Rajni is in the centre of the frame, and the police personnel stand as though they are welcoming him, I think here Rajini is walking out of the jail after serving some time. Interestingly he has the same costume here as he does when he is bashing goons later in the teaser. May be Rajini the mob boss in his twilight years after a long hiatus, has come back to town to reclaim his city-Bangkok. This is parallel to how Rajini has re-entered the arena of south Indian mass films to show who the Big Daddy is, the other stars standby as Thalaiva takes the centre stage!

title_Kabali.png

I haven’t watched any previous movies of Pa.Ranjith but those who did claim that he has a great humane perspective on films and is one huge talent to watch out for. This title card in the teaser hints about the undertone political philosophy of the film. For a movie about a don, it surprisingly depicts poor and working class people in the background of the title card. The same is done inside the words “Kabali”(written in Tamil) in which the picture  of Rajini and Petronas towers are also embedded. Probably this hints that Kabali’s motivation  to became a don is to protect “his people” who probably are the poor working class Tamil migrants to Malaysia.

jail_Kabali.png

They say, that a setting sun(Rajini) shines the most brightest. Is it what this shot depicts?

conference_Kabali

 

This frame is beautiful, kudos to G. Murali the cinematographer. It shows Rajini looking stylish as ever addressing a conference of sort, in the background of a sun setting(rising?) over Bangkok skyline. Looks like, apart from being a Don, Rajini does charity work through his “Free life foundation”. The name suggests that the foundation would be working for “freedom” of his people. But what’s most fascinating here is the poster of Charlie Chaplin on the right wall. What is this supposed to mean?-not able to decipher, we need more hints Ranjit!

 

One of my favourite mannerisms of Rajini is how utter-devastatingly he mocks people and here we a great example of it.

 

shoes_Kabali.png

See the brute force in his expression. This is the badass-muthafukin-Rajini we have missed all these days.

young_Kabali.png

This scene seems to be Rajini’s take on Al-Pacino’s Godfather-1 assasination scene, which also takes place in a restaurant. The young Kabali seems to be walking out of a restaurant in the most badass way possible, holding a gun. The surprised expression on the man behind him says that a non-planned assassination must have taken moments ago. This might be the beginning of Kabali’s rise as the don-Bahubali, the beginning beware of your records, Kabali is coming with all his swag!

I am holding my breath for the trailer release of Kabali, till then…

cheers_Kabali.png

P.S: According to some online analysts, the Youtube teaser with its 15 million+ views must have already generated Rs 25 Lakhs for the producers!

 

 

A short story. A Screenplay.

With a lot of free time at hand, I decided to pursue screenplay writing as a hobby. For the last one week I have been studying the Syd Field’s Screenplay-the foundations of screenwriting which is considered as the bible of screen writingto learn the basics of this craft. If I can give you its most important take away from it, it would be this: screen writing is about giving words to ‘your’ pictures. These words will then be used to create their ‘own’ pictures by film directors. Never mention the inner emotions and feelings of the characters and other things which cannot be seen, instead try to show them through the character’s behaviour.

Armed with these basics, I decided to give myself an assignment. I downloaded a bunch of best Telugu short stories(old ones) and decided to write screenplay for one of them.

One of the best collection of short stories in Telugu, named “Amaravati Kathalu“(The stories of/from Amaravati) was written by Shri Satyam Sankaramanchi. Sankaramanchi is one of the pioneers of modern Telugu short story literature and his style of writing is simple yet profound.

The first story from that collection that I read was ‘Varada'(The Flood), and instantly loved it, and decided to try screen writing it. The story starts with beautifully describing the geography of the Amaravati town in just one paragraph. Then the author rues how the once glorious Amaravati(the capital of Satavahanas the emperors who started the Salivahana Saka/era), has lost all its riches, culture and values, through providing many illustrations. Then suddenly the story plunges us in to a devastating flood which destroys much of the town. In the midst of this chaos, a Brahmin(the highest caste) casts away his caste rules momentarily and asks an untouchable to serve him food, saying “Sanga! I am hungry…so are you, if others serve it , it is Ghee and if you serve it does not become not Ghee….so serve me”.

A Brahmin explaining this simple yet unrecognized logic to a untouchable is profoundly ironic. The readers might think that may be, after all there hope to eradicate caste boundaries between humans. But the author having seen the evils of caste system for far too long stays cynic and ends the story by saying that no number of floods is able to clean off the ‘dirt’ from the hearts of people.

Like many other Indian writers, Sankaramanchi anthropomorphizes the great river Krishna which flows through Amaravati. The author implies that having seen the past glorious days of Amaravati, Krishna is furious at the current state of sad affairs and so she shows her anger by flooding Amaravati(in a way to wash it off).  This shows the author’s desire for destruction so that Amaravati can start from the beginning. But by the end he realizes that no amount of destruction can bring lasting change to people’ minds. The change of attitude in people brought about by the people themselves is the ultimate solution, which the author is sceptical of ever happening. In this story the author took castism as a representative of all things bad about Amaravati.

After understanding the story at a more deeper level, I concluded that I will not be able to do justice to the story through my present screen writing skills. The story is too visually dynamic, to show the contrasts between the past and present state of Amaravati, the geography of the town and the flood destroying it, is very challenging. Also the story had very few dialogues which makes it very difficult to express the inner feelings and the hundreds of years of caste dynamics through pictures.

Hypothetically speaking, even if I was able to write it, it would be too high budgeted to make a short film out of it.

So I decided to write some thing of my own as a continuation to this story, sort of a prologue to ‘Varada’. This screenplay consists of three pages and can be made with minimal resources and takes. Also I changed the destructive element from a flood(varada) to a cyclone(toophanu).


The Cyclone

by

M V Teja Chilamakuri

Int. Under the Gopuram(of a small temple) – Night

 

An ancient looking, dark and damp room under a small temple’s ‘Gopuram’. Outside of it, the retreating cyclone’s rain is lashing at the tarpaulin/cloth that is being tied up by SUBBAIAH to keep out the rain.

 

The young wife of Subbhaiah, LAKSHMAMMA– a short and thin women, who has a slight bend in her spine because of constantly bowing down to the ‘masters'(upper castes) who visit the temple, is sitting on a dirty rug on the floor inside the small Gopuram hall. She is trying to soothe her child who is terrified and crying incessantly. The rain is lashing heavily with ghoulish fervour, with frequent thunders.

In the background, Subbhaiah is covering the side of ‘Gopurm’ hall that opens in to the main temple, with a cloth. The other side is closed by temple doors. The rain & wind are making it hard to tie it. Subbaiah’s face looks calm even as his wet hands are working hard.

Lakshmamma
Pilladu edupu aapatledu, em seyyalu teliyatledu(Eng: The Child is crying uncontrollably, I do not know what to do)

 

Lakshmamma’s voice gets drowned in a thunder, Subbhaiah does not reply as he is busy providing the child and its mother a protective shield against the rain.

 

Lakshamamma presses the child in to her bossom to keep it warm and rocks it gently.

 

Lakshmamma
Pantulu garu nee chetha nayyi veyinchukunnarantaga…andharu dani gurinche matladukuntunnaru(Is it true that Pantulu master had asked you to serve him ‘Ghee’ with your own hands? Every one is talking about it)

SUBBHAIAH
Avune, Pantulu garu entha manchoro. Nacheta veyinchukoni, emannarante, Nenu vesina gani, inkevaro vesina gani nayyi nayye kada ani annaru. Mahanubhavudu.(Yes, Panthulu master is a very good person. He said that it doesn’t matter if its me or any other person who serves, the Ghee remains the same. Such a great person).

 

LAKSHMAMMA
Entha manchi mata chepparo! (His words are full of wisdom!

 

Lakshmamma’s face looks more hopeful

 

LAKSHMAMMA
Mari mari maava, manam kuda garba gudi lopala padukuntamani adagochu kada?(Dear, then why don’t you ask him if we could also sleep inside the main temple area(more protected)?

 

SUBBHAIAH
Nenu bhayapaduthu adi adiganu Pantulu garni. Adi aacharam ki vyatirekam, thana chetullo emi ledu, avvadu ani anesaru(With fear, I asked about this with the Panthulu master. He said that it goes against the ‘tradition’ and the matter is not in his hands and so he said no)

 

Lakshmamma
Kanisam pillodinaina?(Atleast the child?)

 

Subbhaiah
Aacharam ee adhi, ee thoofanu lage aacharalu kuda devudi chetilo vuntai. Vatiki anugunnamga naduchukovali-velaithe vatinunchi kapadukovali, anthe gani vatini edurinchakudadu.(This is the ‘tradition’. Just like this cyclone, traditions are created by God, we should only adapt to them and sometimes try protecting ourselves from their harshness but one should never go against them.

 

Subbhaaiah by saying that, finishes tying up the protective cloth and sits beside Lakshmamma and looks at his Child’s face, while holding Lakshmamma’s hand.

 

Lakshmamma looks at her now calm child’s face and asks

 

LAKSHMAMMA
(sarrowful voice)
Ee “thoofanu” baadha eppudu teerudhi mama?(When does this suffering from the cyclone end for us dear?)

 

Subbhaiah reaches for the Kerosne lamp and increases the intensity of its light and warms his hands over the heat. The glow illuminates the Child’s face. Looking at it, he says:

 

Subbhaiah
Aa painunnodike teliyali! (Only God Knows!)

 

The protective cloth’s fluttering increases, the knot of the tied cloth looks shaky and it is about to undo

 

Fade out to black:

 

The End

 

Credits roll(sound: ROAR OF A THUNDER FOLLOWED BY A CHILD CRYING)

In Sankaramanchi’s ‘Varada’ the flood shows the author’s anger towards castism and other ills in the society. In “The Cyclone”, the raging cyclone symbolises the castism itself, where the dalits try their best to protect themselves and their families from its effects but not actually revolting against it. They have full faith in their God in whose name they are being discriminated against.

Factors that would shape US-India ties in the next five years

PM Modi and President Obama had visited each other’s country in a gap of just six months reiterating their shared vision of ‘Forward together we go‘. The relationship is poised to reach its potential of becoming the defining partnership of the 21st century.

The long term prospects of Indo-US ties are quite promising with the confluence of strategic, economic and geo-political interests and values of each other. In short term, factors that would shape and drive forward the ties needs to be identified and focused upon in the next five years.

Continue reading Factors that would shape US-India ties in the next five years

A great viral media campaign, but what is it alluding to…

If you spend a decent amount of your average day on twitter, you must have come accross this campaign called ‘Ek Nayi League’. In the past few years, sports in India has seen a transformation brought in by various leagues. You name a sport, we have a league attached to it- IPL, ISL, Hockey league etc They have all been super successful in capturing the attention of millions of Indians. Now, along comes a campaign announcing an ‘Ek Nayi League'(a new league in Hindi), naturally it spiked curiosity among netizens in India. It soon went viral and since been a trending topic on ‘twitter India’ for many days. Apart from that, with the great Indian cricket legend Kapil Dev being its brand ambassador and seemed to be attached to the ‘league’ in a significant way, the curiosity about what this new league is alluding to, only spiked more.

Continue reading A great viral media campaign, but what is it alluding to…

Another Month, Another Blogger-Athiest Killed in Bangladesh

Earlier in February, blogger and intellectual Avijit Roy was hacked to death in Dhaka. He was killed by religious extremists who could not tolerate Avijit’s probing questions about their religion from an atheistic point of view. On March 30th, another blogger Washiqur Rahman was murdered for similar reasons. This is the third such murder of progressive bloggers in Bangladesh in the past two years.

Continue reading Another Month, Another Blogger-Athiest Killed in Bangladesh