Teaching Sanskrit Bollywood Ishtyle

Got this in an email today. Too deliciously hilarious not to post…


‘Bhavatah samipe kim asti?
Mam samipe mata asti…’

Ahmedabad: That’s the mother of all dialogues Bollywood has ever produced. And, if you still couldn’t get it, here is another clue — it’s Hindi cinema’s most explosive faceoff, the fight between the two top stars of the 70s — Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor — over the quintessential Mother.

That’s the famous ‘Tumhare pass kya hai? Mere pas ma hai …’ dialogue from ‘Deewar’, now part of a unique experiment at Ahmedabadbased Eklavya Sanskrit Academy to popularise Sanskrit. One of the steps is to translate popular Hindi film dialogues into Sanskrit to draw the youth to the ancient language.

‘‘There is a notion that Sanskrit neither has any future nor market value. But, the language has immense potential. Even the advertising world quotes Sanskrit shlokas and many manuscripts hold great knowledge.

‘‘We want to create awareness about Sanskrit and promote research,’’ says Mihir Upadhyay, founder member of Eklavya Sansakrit Academy.

The academy also runs a monthly magazine in Sanskrit with a circulation of 500 copies. The academy has 190 members who gather once in a month.

‘‘Films are extremely popular in India and have a wide reach among the masses. Catchy dialogues, which remain etched in people’s memories and also recited often, would help popularise the language as it would cause curiosity,’’ says Upadhyay.



Did you know?

Some pretty cool stats in here even though I don’t agree with all the predictions.
What caught my eye:
1 in 8 American couples who married in 2007 met online

And a new catchphrase: BG (Before Google)

And a refined version of the earlier video, with better graphics and a cooler audio remix IMHO…

Creativity and being a genius

Here’s a fabulous talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of the hugely successful Eat Pray Love on nurturing creativity. I loved her anecdotes about the poet Ruth Stone and the singer Tom Waits. I know exactly what they go through. Most of all, the new “attitude” (she explains it in her talk) that she has adopted in nurturing her own creativity is fabulous. Listen to the whole talk. It is worth it.

You can watch it on the TED website
Elizabeth Gilbert on Genius

or you can watch it here

Kaminey – My review

I’ll admit it. I did have high expectations going in to see Kaminey. And despite getting yet another dose of Mumbai gangsterism, my expectations for the next Vishal Bhardwaj movie remain high.

The Bombay mafia has been depicted in Bollywood as early as Awaara (“it was called Bombay then” just as Guddu articulates on our desperate behalf), and there’s been a steady dose since. The frequency ratcheted up after Nayagan came out in the 80s. Since then we’ve gotten Zanjeer, Don, Deewaar, Parinda, Satya, Company, Sarkaar, Munnabhai, Godmother, Waisa Bhi Hota Hai, Vaastav, and perhaps many more that I’ve never heard of. Do we really need another Mumbai gangster movie?

Obviously, Vishal Bhardwaj and his brothers in arms believe so. As a result, we’re treated to Mumbai slang, incessant rounds of firing, shootouts, crass dialogue, guts and glory, greed, family values among thieves – the usual smorgasbord that makes up this weary genre. But since this is Vishal, we get a movie that’s pretty damn good, with moments of brilliance, some great music and background scoring, and a couple of clever send-ups.

We could start with the satirical insertion of the twins genre twinned with the gangster genre. But it’s not brothers separated at birth. It’s brothers that have drifted apart because they are different. Each of them has frailties, physical and mental, that make them hero and anti-hero at the same time. Thus, the layers begin, and we get a movie enriched in its underpinnings.

There are send ups of Maharashtrian zealots, politicians, rogue police officers – all the usual suspects we have seen before. But the quality of the acting, the development of the characters, and the tightness in script differentiates this movie from its many predecessors. Amole Gupte is excellent as Bhau, Priyanka Chopra is almost unrecognizable when she actually acts, Shahid does a reasonably good job, and all of the supporting cast are very good.

What stands out is the attention to detail. All speech defects and accents are maintained, the story retains continuity even as it hops back and forth. Perhaps the only tenuous moment was when Bhau speaks English with an impeccable accent. Yet, In today’s India, that may be a possibility.

There are some brilliant scenes. The interrogation of Guddu is one of my favourites. To explain what happens would give away the scene, but it is extremely funny, sad and scary at the same time. The shoot outs are superbly executed. And the first song during the titles is Vishal Bhardwaj doing what he does best, composing and arranging music. It is an excellent rendition of a folksy tune with a superlative musical arrangement. As Sukhwinder sings the song with gusto, one feels that it resumes from where the title song of Omkaara left off.

There are hints of Reservoir Dogs, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Layer Cake, and a general whiff of Quentin Tarantino’s “influence” in many scenes. No copying however, or sincere flattery, just influence.

There are a couple of scenes though that really feel like run of the mill. It was Dil Chahta Hai Redux or Yuva II (the Fanaa song) during the nightclub song scene. Nightclub song sequences seem to have become a template, like the hero and heroine running towards each other in slow motion with a Kenyan runner’s stamina on open hillsides. The shoot out, although well done, is also a template. The ending is a bit of a cop out, but you have to wait to the end to see it. And while you’re waiting, it’s a rock and roll’r.

However, one hopes that this is the last Mumbai gangster film that Vishal Bhardwaj makes. It’s a waste of his calibre to add yet another nine pin in the bowling alley of gangster movies. It would have been interesting if he had made the Hyderabad or Bangalore underworld his subject rather than Mumbai. Whatever happened to his idea of creating a legacy of children’s movies? He’s only made two so far, Makdee and The Blue Umbrella. He could even take some other relevant topical story, whether it be the ineffective judicial system or the many million stories of success against the odds, and make a smashing film out of it. He is one of the few movie makers who can pull it off, and the movie industry would be all the better for it.

Water crisis and land degradation: India Environment report 2009

The ministry of environment & forests in India just published a “State of the Environment” report for 2009. The report was prepared in collaboration with a venerable NGO called Development Alternatives. It is a clear and honest reflection of where India stands, and what it needs to do. A few key points

  • Priority 1: A looming water crisis. NASA has recently determined that the water table in North India is falling by 4 cm per year.
  • India has 2.4% of the world’s land area but 16.4% of the world’s population. The population is expected to grow by 50% by 2050. You don’t need physics to understand the kind of pressure that’s going to put on resources.
  • Land degradation due to natural and man made processes (unsustainable practices) in increasing. Over 40% of land in India is degraded land.
  • Uncontrolled urbanization is contributing to water, air, noise, heat and dust pollution.
  • Even though India’s carbon footprint is 5% of the global footprint, it is very susceptible to the climate change crisis due to constrained adaptability to the crisis.
  • India many not have famines caused by food shortages any more, but the country still endures famines due to to famines in purchasing power a.k.a poverty

The report delves into each of the components of the environment – Land, Water, Air, Biodiversity – with a lot of details, charts, statistics, existing policies and measures, and suggestions. It is worth a read just to refresh or learn more about the environment of India, in general. For example

  • Despite having just 2.4% of the world’s land area, India has 7% – 8% of the world’s recorded species, including 45,500 species of plants and 91,000 species of animals.
  • India has 2 bio-diverse hot spots – the Eastern Himalayas and the Western Ghats

Full report: StateofEnvironmentReport_2009.pdf