No Man's Land

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Last weekend I had a chance to watch the movie No Man's Land. The Hindi film Lagaan had lost the oscar for 'best foreign film' category to No Man's Land. Rightly so. No Man's Land deserved the oscar and other numerous awards that it had bagged.

A powerful movie showcasing brilliantly the futilty of war. The film brings out the hatredness among waring regions, the hypocrisy that prevails in the media, the uselessness of United Nations splendidly. The story is universal. Consider any war torn regions the film fits aptly everywhere. Appreciate the director's talent in narrating a sensitive story seriously and with great wit.

Do grab the DVD if you haven't watched No Man's Land yet.

FM Radio

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Many new FM Radio stations have come on air in Bangalore in recent past. I believe this is the case in many other metros in India. Radio listeners will have many choices now. But I have found them wanting. The talk of the radio jockeys leaves lot to be desired. To listen to a good song I will have to bear senseless chattering of the hosts, ads lacking in creativity and many songs of not my liking. The most irritating is the lack of sense in the talks of the hosts. This is more so if two or more are conducting the show. And I can’t understand why a radio jockey should repeat a catch line of the radio station a hundred times every minute. It’s painful to ears to listen to same wordings again and again. Add to this the listeners interacting with the hosts and sending SMS. The hosts will have to keep repeating the numbers to dial in and message. All this makes me to avoid the FM radios particularly when I am traveling and switch on my iPod which is loaded with songs and podcasts of my preferences. I do agree there are shows which are worth listening but those are few and far between. I can enjoy songs with my iPod sans all things that are boring with the FM radio stations. I hope the quality of shows improves, given the powerful media that it is, with people at all levels of society listening to it, imagine how effective the FM radios would be in bringing about a useful change.

Indian Cricket and Fighting Spirit

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Rohit Brijnath is one sports columnist whose writing I follow keenly. He writes for The Hindu regularly. Be it Cricket, Athletics, Tennis or any other sport, he writes with great élan. Read his comments on the recent slump of Indian Cricket here.

"Fighting is many things. It is the constant warding off of impatience. It is battling the waistline. It is the honest struggle to lift personal standards. It is the desperate hanging on to concentration…Part of the contest of sport is not with opponent, but with the self, the ability to find faith and courage when the hands quiver. Furthermore the great player separates himself from the pack because he asks more from himself than others do"
Indian Cricketers should learn from their mistakes and others else they could well forget about the World Cup.

Post Cards from Hong Kong

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more will be uploaded in flickr soon

Hong Kong!

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I was in Hong Kong last week on a work related assignment. Being on my first visit to any foreign land, it was quite an experience. The city is beautiful, densely populated with numerous high raise buildings. It surprises me on how a city could be so clean notwithstanding its dense population. The attitude of people does matter not just of the authorities, isn’t? I had no difficulty in moving around the city. The city is very well organized to give the visitor knowing English a pleasant stay. But I being a vegetarian who refrains from egg as well it was a tough time. I couldn’t find even a single Indian style restaurant in the commercial hub of the city where I stayed. Nor was I able to spot many Indians, residential or as visitors.

Hong Kong is methodical in contrast to the city in which I live. The Bangalore authorities are planning to establish a metro rail system in the city. It would be many years before Bangaloreans could see metro rail system as good as it is in Hong Kong. Having traveled in the Bangalore city buses regularly I found the metro rail system in Hong Kong too could to be true! The city is costly as well. And it’s a shopping paradise. If you have got the money then Hong Kong should be one city that you would love to be in. In the next post I shall publish some more of photos that was taken during my stay in Hong Kong.

Question

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Read the following question in the Last Word column of New Scientist :

Is it true that if the Earth's atmosphere extended all the way to the sun, then the noise the sun makes would deafen us all? How much sound energy does the sun create? And what other effects would manifest themselves?

Pat Morgan, Greenock, Renfrewshire, UK

Interesting question I felt. I think the answer is yes. The Sun sound would deafen us all.

Blogging

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It’s been a little more than a year since I started this blog. The frequencies of my posts over the last few months have been very minimal. Though my preoccupation with my work could be one reason, the fact that I didn’t have anything useful to say should also be factored in. I do not wish to continue in this fashion lest this blog should appear as inactive and lose it tiny readership base that it might have! I shall be updating this blog as often as possible, of course with information that would make sense to its readers. I should be posting regularly and with more verbose if the blog title Prabhu’s Literature should make any sense.

Cricket

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Only West Indies can lose a game like this!

Wake Up

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The day's begun, the sun has sprung,
My shingle on the door is hung.
So work I must, without disgust,
Lest my bank account should gather dust.

- By Bill Cameron

Busy with my work of late, hence my blog is gathering dust!

The Meaningless IIFA Awards

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Read here an article commenting on the hypocrisy of the Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards.

Excerpts from the article:

"Indian cinema is not just Bollywood, and Hindi is not the only language. Why should our films be called South Indian cinema instead of being under the banner of Indian films?" - Mammootty

…South Indians have won 14 out of 26 National Awards over that many years (Mammootty himself won it thrice, the Big B once, King Khan never) and that a significant number of Hindi films are remakes of successful South Indian films — Telugu, Tamil, and Malayalam. And these include all old record-breaking Telugu and Tamil remakes. Remember those Jeetendra starrers?

Whether it's Chachi 420 or the more recent Hulchul: the modus operandi is to take an intelligent, riotous comedy with well-knit plot and great dialogues, all blended lightly. Whip it up to a thin fizz, add lots of noise, more songs, often more heroines, give it a hit-over-head quality taking care to remove the intelligence, and presto! you have the Hindi version.

I completely agree with the author of the article.

President's Bus Ride

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As one of those who use the Bangalore metropolitan buses to commute to office and back home, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud seeing the cartoon in The Hindu edit page. Mr. President would find the bus ride much more adventurous than the Sukhoi and Submarine experience. Just see the smile on our President and plight of his security guard. Excellent cartoon.

The Beautiful Game

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The World Championship of the beautiful game kicks off today! Forget about the ongoing Test Cricket series between India and West Indies and get ready to enjoy the live actions from Germany. Except for the most prominent teams and few players I am not aware of the any thing else about the World Cup. But I don’t care. Watching the matches would no doubt be bliss. When I was in school not a day would pass without my class not having played the game. In fact I have rarely played Cricket in my school. But after joining college for lack of opportunities to play football I had to rest my legs. With this World Cup I am going to revive all those memories of school days.

Quote

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Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

- Samuel Beckett

I Seek A Ban On...

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Aamir Khan’s film Fanna is banned in Gujarat. The Da Vinci Code is banned in few states. Even I would like to seek a ban on the following things:

  • Mega Serials - These are highly reprehensible.
  • Tele-shopping shows - Nothing else can insult one’s intelligence as these shows.
  • 24x7 News channels - Can’t imagine how low they have stooped of late.
  • Shows on numerology, gemology and craps like that.


I have no opinions on the bans on Fanna and The Da Vinci Code but I strongly feel if all things that I have mentioned are banned, TV viewing can be much better.

The Da Vinci Code

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There are many movies that are made based on a book. The Da Vinci Code must be the first movie that I have watched after reading the book upon which the film is based. Having appreciated the book I was bit skeptical that the cinematic version would be a let down, particularly after reading the reviews in media. But it was not. Though not as gripping and riveting as the book, the movie as well can be appreciated. I feel that presenting a literature in a cinematic form has it own limitation. By that thought I give The Da Vinci Code thumps up.

"Avian bird flu" joke

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A bear, a lion and a chicken are talking about who is the hardest. The bear says, "When I roar the whole forest trembles." The lion says, "When I roar the whole jungle shakes with fear." The chicken says, "All I have to do is cough and the whole world runs for the hills."

Source: New Scientist

Short Stories

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Hot Days Long Nights is an anthology of African short stories. The book is a collection of twenty-six stories by African writers. This book having published by the National Book Trust is priced at a very less price. The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Africa, sadly, is its backwardness. So while buying this book I thought the most of the stories would be about the plight of the Africans, particularly its women. And I was right. Most of the stories that I have read so far have been poignant. I believe the other sories as well would be as as much touching.


Rajkumar

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Kannada matinee idol Rajkumar is no more. His death has left millions of his fans devastated.   More than as an actor I liked him as a singer. Rajkumar has sung number of memorable songs one of my favorites being the song 'Halu Jenu'. But the violence that occurred in Bangalore on the day of his funeral was most shocking. I would not accept those who were part of the violence as true fans of the thespian. It was some anti-social elements, which took advantage of the situation and caused trouble to people who cared for the actor. Other wise how can we explain the burning of buses and cars? Is it possible for people who are grief stricken to do such inhuman things? I don't think so. Ultimately it resulted in Rajkumar not receiving the kind of funeral he deserved. It was said that he would be provided a state funeral. But the scenes at his burial place said a different story. There were numerous fans at the funeral but I think he was buried like any other ordinary citizen. I truly felt very sad at the way the whole episode was carried out.
 
The other thing that I didn't like was the English news channels discussing why southern India is so much obsessed with film stars. I really don't appreciate the question. Idolizing someone is a characteristic that exists throughout the world in some form of the other.   It is the Bollywood stars that bring in major revenue to these news and the so-called lifestyle channels.  Salman Khan's arrest was breaking news, why? . While the English channels were covering the mob violence in Bangalore, the Hindi news channels were busy with Salman Khan's possible release from prison.   Were it not for people's interest in Bollywood, Salman Khan would not have occupied the front pages in newspapers and prime slots in electronic media. The difference is just that while the Bollywood stars endear themselves to people representing the elite class the southern stars endear themselves performing roles, which the common man who is not part of the elite can easily identify with. Nothing was more telling than the incident that occurred in a news channel. As the host was discussing the question of southern India's idol worship with a panel the news of Salman Khan reaching his home must have trickled in. The host immediately interrupted saying that Salman Khan has been released and has reached his home. "We bring you the live pictures from his residence…you can see the fans thronging his home."   It was thought that the news of Salman Khan reaching home was hot news and one should not miss it, anything else can wait. Oh, how I hated it!

Thandege Thakka Maga

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The new Kannada movie Thandege Thakka Maga starring Ambarish and Upendra is the remake of the Tamil film Devar Magan. Though I haven’t watched the entire movie, going by the few scenes seen on TV, I can assert that the remake falls way short of the original. Devar Magan starring the late Shivaji Ganesan and Kamalahasan was a neat movie. The two versatile actors had given a performance of great élan and Illayaraja very well backed the movie. Ambarish performs Shivaji Ganesan’s role, as that of the patriarch. The latter is peerless no doubt. S.A Rajkumar has rehashed the tunes of Illayaraja in the Devar Magan. Effort has been put to recreate a movie that is considered to have set a benchmark of sorts but not enough to match its quality.

Bird Flu Threat

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Bird Flu cases have been reported in few parts of India. There is global concern over the bird flu. New Scientist carries a special report on the bird flu threat in its January’s edition. The reason for the alarm that is being raised globally is based on the fear that the virus H5N1 once inside a human may mutate and become capable of using humans as the carriers. As of now, even though the bird flu kills a third of people, whom it infects, it cannot spread from person to person. A pandemic can occur if humans become the carriers, which would be devastating especially if it is in poorer countries. A vaccine can be developed only after finding the exact strain, which is causing the pandemic. Distributing it to the affected people would be a herculean task. Answering a myth, ‘It’s a 21st century, not dark age and death due to massive plague is not possible’, the article had this to say: “…. even though leaders know death and misery anywhere will have global consequences, we don’t have the capacity to produce antivirals or vaccine fast enough to protect everyone. We have 21st-century technology. But when it comes to getting it to people, we are still in the dark ages”. Very true. Its high time the rich countries get together and go all out in stopping the pandemic from occurring.

Thirukkural

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Finance Minister ,P Chidambaram while presenting the Union Budget, quotes Saint Tiruvalluvar . A beautiful kural .

“Karumam Sidhaiyamal Kannoda Vallarku
Urimai Udaithu Iv Ulagu”

“The world is his who does his job
With compassion”

Being a Tamilian , I feel ashamed for not having learnt the Thirukkural. The only kural that I know by heart is that which gets said in every Balachander’s film !

"Agara Muthala Yelluthellam Aadhi
Bhagawan Mudhatre Ullagu"

" 'A' leads letters; the Ancient Lord
Leads and lords the entire world"

Fascinating Read..

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Absolutely enjoyed reading the book ,Richard Dawkin's Selfish Gene about which I had a post here. It's a brilliant book and I highly recommend it. Each chapter was a revelation to me. I was impressed with the authors knack of explaining concepts with understandable analogies . Extended Phenotype is another book by Dawkins. I will hunt it down soon for Dawkin considers it to be , more than anything else in his professional life , his pride and joy.

Genes And Survival Machines

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I am currently reading Richard Dawkin's The Selfish Gene. The central theme of the book is that genes are the fundamental units of evolution,of natural selection.The altirusm or the selfishness of the individual life forms is the result of the gene and nothing else.Life forms, plants and animals are just the vehicles for them to survive. The author refers to the life forms as the survival machines.Once the survival machine have served their purpose they are cast aside but genes continue to survive through the next generations of the survival machines. Genes are the denizens of the geological time.Like diamonds genes are forever.

The book gets me riveted on it while I travel to my office in bus everyday.A excellent way to escape the traffic snarls in my city. Once I complete the book I hope to blog in detail about the genes, the immortal coils.

Comedy - Then & Now

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I watched the classic comedy of the late Thangavelu from the film Kalyana Parisu again. I think that the performance of Thangavelu along with his wife Saroja in Kalyana Parisu should find place in the list of all time great comedy in Tamil Cinema. Other equally brilliant performance should be that of Nagesh in the movie Kadhalika Neramillai. When I see such great comedy in old movies I can’t help but contrast them with the present and feel that the performances of Nagesh and Thangavelu are far more accomplished than those done by present breed of comedians like Vivek, Vadivelu and others.

ID Is Not Science

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Should Intellegent Design (ID) be taught in science class as a scientific theory challenging evolutionary theory? No. The arguments put forth by the exponents of the ID are naive. Their argument that it is impossible for a complex organism to evolve just by chance defeats itself cyclically.One who designs the complex organism should be much more complex and demands much more explanation. But ID supporters refute this arguments saying that the Intellegent Designer is simply immune to the normal demands of scientific explanation. In such a case ID should find no place in science class but instead be confined to theology studies.

I studied in a christian school where we had a separate classes taken to preach Bible. I had no issues and did study it for it carried weight in my overall performance in my exams. But I would not tolerate when some one suggests that let the Bible classes be part of my Biology curriculam.

Read here a very good article arguing against ID

Vijay's Political Ambitions ?

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The Tamil Film Star Vijay receives the first stamp album of the special postage stamp on ‘Pongal’. After reading the news in the newspaper I was wondering why was Vijay chosen for recieving the stamps . But if rumours are to be believed then what my friend says must be true.My friend who came from his hometown in Tamil Nadu after celebrating Pongal, says that according to news reports in dailies there, Vijay is all set to campaign for DMK for the upcoming elections. Why would Vijay do that ? After recent IT raids in the houses of the cine stars of Kollywood, he is in need of some political support to shield himself from the IT raid squads in future. Though one shouldn't jump to conclusions , the rumour does make some sense to me!