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Chappa Kurish- A review

‘Chappa Kurish’ puts the scanner on the strangeness of reality in a busy city in Kerala, that reeks with life. The title means Heads or tails in local dialects here in Cochin. This wrenching and powerful testament on the politics of power that govern human lives, deals with issues that are real, contemporary and quite complex.

Arjun (Fahadh Fazil) is a dashing young businessman on his way to become a corporate magnate. Living in a swank apartment in Cochin, he likes to see the city move beneath his feet. He is engaged to be married to Ann (Roma), and has an affair on the sly with his secretary Sonia (Remya Nambeeshan). One of their clandestine encounters is recorded on Arjun’s mobile phone as he loves watching replays of his own acts and when Sonia threatens to wreck his marriage, he loses the phone in a scuffle. Where it does land, is before Ansari (Vineeth Sreenivasan), a cleaner boy at a local super market, who quickly grabs it and disappears into the crowd.

Arjun is the kind of man who believes that money has earned him everything possible in the world. His gait is self-assured, perhaps a bit too much at that, and he has selectively ousted lesser individuals from his purview. He is used to having people hop around his fingertips, and is a strategic planner who devises his booming career with as much craftiness and care as his life.

Ansari on the other hand is fast getting used to being jostled at, and has learned that it’s a man-eat-man world out there. He engages in a silent battle every day, with him on one side and the affluent world at the other, where he merely puts up a feeble guard and tries to meekly get away. He never gets to sit on a vacant sit on the bus, is shoved around by the bulky supervisor at the workplace, and gets insulted by all and sundry.

Money is thus the last thing on Anasri’s mind, when he hears Arjun at the other end imploring him to hand him back the phone. For the first time, perhaps in his long and miserable life, he listens to someone talk to him with respect. He is neither aware of the possibilities of a blackmail nor interested in striking up a profitable deal. He is merely fascinated by the voice of a human being, who for a change is eager to take his orders.

It’s a long winding chase that Arjun embarks on, since Ansari soon gets intoxicated by the  contentment that he derives from being in charge. The climatic showdown between the two is all the more vicious and bloody, as they literally tear themselves apart, before finally settling down and resignedly going their separate ways.

Thahir’s film has a deliberate thoughtfulness that is evident throughout. The pace is unhurried hence, and Arjun’s breakdown over the given time frame is complete. There are no jerks and jumps in the narrative, and the buildup is terrific. And yet it remains that perhaps ‘Chappa Kurish’ could have made a crisper film with a shorter running time.

There seem to be ideational similarities between Chappa Kurish and the Korean film Handphone (2009) directed by Kim Han-Min. But the director has pumped in some fresh blood into his characters, and planting them meticulously in the local milieu. Despite all the dark shades of life that the film basks itself in, I found the optimism in it absolutely endearing. People in it do not live in their mistakes for their entire lives; they courageously decide to move on.

The riveting performances of the three lead actors in the film see to it that the blows and bangs that it delivers are right on place. We have seen actors reinventing themselves, but Fahadh literally stuns us with a compelling feat that is easily one of the best leading performances that I have seen in recent times.

Vineeth is a perfect foil, and if you feel he lets himself be outshined by Fahadh, you should realize what an amazing actor he is. And of course, there is the gorgeous Remya for whom I hope there is no looking back hereafter. Three brilliant actors of the new generation, who are here to stay. This review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning two other names as well; the awesome background score composed by Rex Vijayan and Jomon T John, the man who has workded wonders with his camera. The songs and background scores are in sync with the movie and fits perfectly.

‘Chappa Kurish’ is a simple film that is deeply moving, persistent, and eye-opening that tells a story that is undeniably grim. It’s a brave and genuinely heartfelt directorial effort from a young director, who has clearly won the toss this time around.

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Monsoon Memories

“The first sounds I ever heard were that of the falling rain.”
Thus  begins Alexander  Frater’s memorable paen to the rains in India, “Chasing the Monsoon.”  A  delightful book that traces the path of the monsoons in India as it first crash lands in the southern tip of Kerala, and then slowly makes its way up through the Indian sub-continent. Frater travels along with the rains, proceeding  through the verdant Konkan coast, making his way into the dry, arid  hinterland of Western and Northern India  before ending his journey in the wettest place on the planet, Chirrapunji, in Meghalaya.A great read any time of the year, And particularly worth a re-read  during the monsoon season !

Most of us  too, I guess, cherish our earliest memories  of  the pitter patter of the falling rain. For, the monsoons are such an integral part of our lives that  the rhythms of  the rain have become an element of our life and existence. Something that is almost embedded into our genetic code and  transmitted through the generations. The rains arouse deep primordial instincts and awaken our senses as the monsoon  plays  its  coy, dating game with us every June. After  the baking and oppressive heat of  summer, we eagerly await its arrival. Soon, the earth is drenched by  the cascading rains, and the parched  soil once again turns  dark  green with dense grass and freshly sprouting shoots.  Even as  the sky is streaked with dangerous flashes of lightning, and the majestic rumbling of thunder  fills our hearts with fear and apprehension,   we are comforted by the  familiar croaking of  bull frogs mating under dripping eaves.  The air is suffused  with the promise of new life. And the occasional year, when the monsoon is delayed, or God forbid,  even delinquent, there is utter panic and despair as  our lives are thrown hopelessly out of gear.

Truly, the  monsoon is inseparable from India and her moods, her arts and her culture. Indians believe the monsoon to be a powerful force that is a gift from the Gods. It is central to our life; it is central to our commerce; it is central to our very being. And most importantly, it has become an inalienable part of our cultural lives. This season of thunder and lightning, swollen rivers, emerald green fields and dark, ominous  clouds  is integral  to our social and cultural ethos. It is a time when  peacocks dance amorously, lovers meet in secret trysts and the senses are over powered by the intoxicating smells of wet, damp earth. It is a unique season; one that creates life, and resuscitates life.

And In Kerala, it  is also a  season for  the traditional rejuvenation of the body. It is a time when  the circadian rhythms of life are suspended and  the pace of life slows down, as the mind and the body are subjected to the centuries old traditions of ayurveda. It is  the  time to revitalize our bodies through oil massages and rest;  a time for  drinking karkidaka kanji and  having thaalu curry. A month  for re-reading the wisdom contained in the pages of the Ramayanam. A time of introspection and contemplation when we renew our bond with nature, as our forebears have done through the ages.

The rainy mornings, the sound of rain right outside the window,the colourful umbrellas and raincoats, the splashing sound that shoes make when children jump on puddles, vehicles that splash water on pedestrians and light vehicles, parents carrying children on their shoulders so that the uniform does not get spoilt, the hot teas and idli’s, the varieties of ‘kanji’, the greenery all around, water everywhere. All these are memories that every mallu man and woman will share wherever they are in the world.

Kerala’s beloved “poet of beauty” the late Vyloppili Sreedhara Menon, wrote in his pastoral idyll,   Varshagamam,

“Like a cooling unguent caressing  the eyes,
Like a melodious symphony soothing  the ears,
Like a fragrant balm nourishing  the body
Comes along a new season of rain………..”

Bellissimo……

It’s time to  celebrate yet another monsoon season.


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>Take Care…ReallY??

>Are we listening or jus mentally attending to quotidian chores.Today she called and before I could even exchange pleasantries, she began on her grievances (again!). “I am at my wits end, trying to manage work, home, unwanted calls and guests, relatives and if that were not enough, I am on the wrong side of the month too!”

And as she poured out on how hard life was, my mind was reeling. The strain in her voice was apparent, her anger was justified and I agreed with her reasoning too, but I could not (at least not substantially) feel ‘sorry for her’. The predominant thought ringing emphatically in my ears was, ‘there she goes again’.

“Why should everything be my responsibility, it is so unfair!” She screamed in utter frustration. Thank god, phones do not have eyes; for right then, I was looking at my watch and trying to gauge how further delayed I would be in getting on with my day. A part of my mind was also scrutinising the conversation for an opportune moment to excuse myself and be off the hook, as politely as I could. Well she is a good friend and this sounds mean and cold but I am stating facts here.

As I observed myself observing her, it hit me! No one really feels or truly cares, because we can’t (unless it is really tragic like a disease or a death or a huge failure)! That we just pretend we are listening while we mentally tune out and attend to quotidian chores- what to wear for the day, should supper be rice or roti, how to handle the customer, what to focus on the meeting, was he lying to me… Or maybe, we listen with customary validations of ‘mmmm’ but in our minds think, ‘I am dealing with my shit, so?’ Or maybe our lips curl up at edges for, ‘at least today I am dealing with less than her!’ But we ‘do not’ or perhaps it would be fair to say that most of us ‘cannot’ truly give a damn!

I remember another time with another friend. We were playing a card game that she loved more than we did, but she had to prepare dinner(after an eight-hour gruelling work day). Though I could understand that she deserved to play the game and enjoy without having to strain her ears for that 3rd whistle of the cooker and perhaps for a few fleeting moments even sympathised with her unending list of chores, but I confess, that I felt better about me enjoying the game than feeling bad that she was not! And hearing us chuckle (in the game) if she did mouth ‘ the unfair mantra’ we all went ‘uff’ (in our minds at least). This is our reality, or least it is mine!

And it struck me yet again that we all have our ‘to do’s’ and that is what we care about.

That brings me then to a subsequent question. What are the benefits of venting out for oneself (because clearly there are no pros of it in regards to the others’… not even genuine sympathy)! Perhaps we do so because of two reasons, it is relieving and secondly it is a validation of our personal account sheet in another’s eye. To have another know the extent of my (extra) efforts vis-à-vis others kind of makes it little worthwhile. For what is the point of working more when no one acknowledges that I am doing so?

Though venting may feel cathartic, it eventually adds more than it takes away! A verbal listing, point by point of every issue that subsequently tips the scale to the ‘unfair’ side is like reliving not just the tipping but the issues all over again! The unfairness stares at your face!

My friend, in narrating how much more she had to do, felt even more wronged than while she was doing them! I saw her indignation rise, making her even more miserable, hurting and frustrated. Did it seem unfair to me? Yes, it did, but so do a hundred other things everyday — the dog on the street with its ribs jutting out, the merciless heat in the month of NMarch, the little children begging barefoot on busy crossings, the buses emitting black clouds of smoke despite all our regulations, my domestic help sweating next to the kitchen fires while I lounge in the balcony! Aah! But I am deviating here. Let me get back to my story…

I remember being where my friend was, narrating with meticulous details of how ‘unfair’ life had been to me to many an unwilling ears, yet most of the times, those outlets only took away more of my energy, tempting me to hate and rage more, wallow in self pity as I flashed my balance sheet to the other uncaring eyes and ears.

I am not saying we don’t care… I am saying perhaps we can’t care… or maybe don’t care enough to commiserate the negative chain it gets us into

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>All at Once

>She hugged me tight
And I knew it was real affection

She saw green
At my success
And that was genuine too…

She shared her skeletons
Still alive and jumping
Trusting me…taking huge risks

And yet she silently cheered
Others’ bitching of me
Even as she loved me in parts…

This is our reality…

To love and hate in succession
Or
Even at once…

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>Scar(r)ed for life

>Everyday someone somewhere argues about things being predictable. Nobody like anything being predictable coz its considered boring. But i feel it would have been a little better if some things could be predicted.
Someone i knew got up yesterday morning, did his usual chores in the morning, had a tiff with his wife and left for work after giving her a smile and a kiss. He stepped out into the sun and found it like just another day, so predictable. He got on his bike and leftt to work,cursing everyone on the road for being reckless drivers. Got to work at the usual time,took breaks for fags and work went on as usual.
The same evening his wife got a call on her phone and life was never the same again. A fire in one of the office buildings had taken a toll of 9 lives and he was one of them.
Everything else that day could be predicted then why couldnt this be predicted. One sign, just a single sign would have saved their lives. And people talk about predictablity being boring.

Earlier,our ancestors could leave peaceful and happy lives and be happy and not complain. These days everyone lives unpredictable lives and are unhapppy. I don’t know about the rest of the world but I feel scared when I step out of my house every morning. Don’t know which building might collapse or catch fire, which place might be bombed, which vehicle may hit and so much more. I really wish I could predict the misfortunes.

People die everyday I know. Everyone takes their lives for granted thinking all this cannot happen to their dear and near ones. And then one day reality strikes,but by then its too late…..

Until next time lets just pray for all the unfortunate souls and pray that we get the strength to move on…

Will miss you.

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>Crossing the line

>To those who have ever felt lost.
To those who have ever felt unwanted.
To those who have ever felt used.
To those who have ever felt hopeless.
To those who have ever felt bullied.
To those who have ever felt different.
To those who have ever felt misunderstood.
To those who have ever felt confused.
To those who have ever felt alone.
To those who have ever felt crazy.
To those who have ever felt scared.
——————————————————————————-
To those who have ever felt Found.
To those who have ever felt Wanted.
To those who have ever felt Worthy.
To those who have ever felt Determined.
To those who have ever felt Liked.
To those who have ever felt Equal.
To those who have ever felt Understood.
To those who have ever felt Knowing.
To those who have ever felt Loved.
To those who have ever felt Sane.
To those who have ever felt Safe.

Sometimes all it takes is to cross the line is to remember what it was like on the other side.

P.S- I know its a serious post and a bit philosophical and al that but I just couldnt help putting this picture.

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>The Happiness Quotient

>It seems that a lot of people are talking about HQ these days..After the popularity with IQ and EQ, this one too is bound to become a hit in awhile. But this is something that has set me thinking. Why would a person require a test to measure his/her emotionality or happiness!I can understand the need for Inteligence tests but EQ and HQ. People say EQ determines how u fare at work and all that.But come on everyone goes thru a phase of instabilty at some point of their lives no matter how emotional or unemotional they are. So how can an EQ predict the performance of an individual at all times?! Hmmm that brings me to my present interest- Happiness Quotient. Really y wud a person want to take a test to determine their level of happiness?! If you are feelin really happy ur really happy and vice versa. Why need a test to prove it to yourself?!

Sometimes I have felt that happiness is surreal but then again I have also felt that watching a child’s smile is one of the most happiest things in a person’s life.Need not be one’s own child, any child for that matter!So is happines surreal?!

There are a lot of aspects to happiness..For one thing,what might give you happiness changes as time passes and changes as a person grows up and starts accepting reality.

Its quite an interesting pattern if we look at it. As children wwe seem to find hapiness in simple things..a new dress,a new toy,a nice kiss from mom and being carries on dad’s shoulders, playing with siblings especially older ones, going to the park etc

Then comes another phase where we grow a lil and we find happiness in things like getting a star from our teachers at school, getting a pat on the back coz we scored marks or jus going to play on the ground( for boys) and playing with barbies (for girls) or going out with family, vacations etc!!

As we get into college happiness becomes a lil difficult to achieve..coz it depends on other people to give us that! Sometimes its in getting into a nice college, sometimes in finding you friends from school in the same class as yours, in becoming a little famous in college, in winning a prize in some competition, when that boy/ girl you have had a crush on comes and talks to you or shopping with friends, eating out etc..

When we pass out of college and begin to work.It gets a little tougher coz as we grow up the things that give us happiness also grows along with us. Just like they say people perform at their peak during their working lives, the things that give us hapiness also reaches an all time high right then! The simple things in life no longer gives us a satisfaction or it just ceases to give us the happiness it used to give us. Hapiness for us then is derived from BIG things like getting to the top fast, geting promoted, being offered raises, “that” nice appartment with all the luxuries, “that” car, get married to “that” person, have a stable income, save for the future, have kids, put them in nice schools, give them good education…basically lead a peaceful life with no obstructions and without having to work too hard.

Then comes the later stages of life. I haven’t been through tha stage but i sure have seen the people in their later stages of life and watched them for long. Those are people who have lived a full life and are slowly ageing. They are the ones who have chased hapiness around the world, some who have worked hard and some who have hardly worked, some who have lost a lot and some who have found a lot of happiness in their lives. Those are the same people who now find happiness in the simple things of life…a nice walk, their grand children, a chat with family and ol friends, a cup of got tea or a glass of their favourite brand, jus holding hands, a visit to their religious abodes..etc…