By: Keyur Seta
It’s the season of festivals in India. But along with festivals like Diwali, the citizens of Mumbai’s Ulhasnagar locality are celebrating a one-of-its-kind carnival. It’s called Ulhasnagar Potholes Festival (UPF). Yes, you read it right. It’s a festival ‘celebrating’ the menace of potholes in Ulhasnagar in a sarcastic manner.
The movement is started by two residents of Ulhasnagar, Bhavna Chhabria Nainani and Professor Rekha Thakur as, like numerous others, they too are fed up with the problems faced due to the potholes and the innumerable false promises by the Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation (UMC). The movement is initiated under Manch TV, a local TV channel.
The whole idea is to ask people to send photographs of potholes in Ulhasnagar, which would be posted on the Facebook page – Ulhasnagar Potholes Festival (visit it here). Following this, a team from Manch TV will worship the pothole and give it a name. This will, obviously, put the authorities to shame and they will be compelled to fill them.
The residents have instantly started sending in pictures of the potholes they came across and things have gone as per planned. In fact, the UMC has already started the temporary repairing of potholes on Bhatia Chowk Road, Nataji Road, Ulhas Flyover and Hira Ghat Road (as seen in the pictures below).
Says Rekha, who is also the local corporator, “The roads of our city are in pathetic condition and in spite of the numerous complaints sent to the concerned authorities, nothing was being done to resolve the issue. Fed up of all this, we decided to do something unusual to get the attention of media, authorities and citizens and it has really worked!”
Bhavna adds, “Frequent major accidents took place in Ulhasnagar due to the worst condition of roads. As nothing worked, we finally decided to do a mockery of system through our Ulhasnagar Potholes Festival and within few days maximum roads of the city were repaired.”
Although the movement has already started achieving favorable results, it is certainly not the end. Change, after all, is a never-ending process.
Pictures after the roads were repaired:
All pictures sourced from Ulhasnagar Potholes Festival Facebook page.
Directors: Rajen Kothari and Dayal Nihalani
Producers: Mukti Entertainment
Cast: Yashpal Sharma, Pratibha Sharma
Music: Amod Bhat
Release Date: TBA
Rating: * * * ½
Review By: Keyur Seta
Corruption has had a long standing relationship with Hindi cinema. But most of these films are about a ‘hero’ taking on a mighty corrupt politician. This is where directors Rajen Kothari and Dayal Nihalni’s Das Capital: Gulamo Ki Rajdhani differs. Although the film centers around the common theme of corruption, it provides a mature and realistic take on the issue in an honest manner and leaves behind few serious questions.
The film is based in the early 1980s in the interiors of Bihar. Purshottam Ram (Yashpal Sharma) is an Accountant working in a government office. He lives with his wife (Pratibha Sharma) and two kids. In Ram’s office, like other government offices, corruption is a way of life. Wanting to lead a proper life with his family, Ram has no other choice but to merge in the system. However, the system itself haunts him later on.
Normally, a Hindi film of this subject focuses on the corrupt practices by politicians. But Das Capital brings to light the corruption practiced at the most micro level in government offices. It gives you a mild shock when you realize that corruption is not only accepted but is also an unwritten rule.
But the film isn’t a serious affair despite such a theme. It maintains a light-hearted mode for a majority of its duration. There is constant use of situational and dark humor, which gets you in splits on few occasions. In spite of this, you easily get involved in the world of the protagonist and feel sympathy for him.
The only issue here is the change of mood. As a lot of humor is served to the audience, the drastic change to tragedy later on generates inconsistency. Thankfully, the honesty through which the story is narrated keeps disappointment at bay.
Despite the low cost of production, the technical aspects appear sound. Chandan Goswami’s camerawork and Mangesh Dhakde’s background score succeed in generating the desired effect. Amod Bhat composed songs go well with the region in question.
In such performance-oriented films, it is vital that the actors rise to the occasion and this is exactly what happens here. As expected from an artist like him, Yashpal Sharma perfectly molds himself as Purshottam Ram. In the role of Yashpal’s wife, Pratibha Sharma is praiseworthy too, especially when it comes to displaying pain.
Jameel Khan, as Ram’s boss, is fully believable. K K Raina and Ravi Jhankal also show their goodness. In a cameo, Pratik Kothari is superb while playing a difficult character of a psychotic youngster. Rajpal Yadav leaves behind a solid impression despite a one-scene role.
Overall: Das Capital: Gulamo Ki Rajdhani is a well-made realistic saga that does justice to its subject.
By: Keyur Seta
I became aware about the existence of various pro-Hindu groups around a decade ago. Interestingly, I got enlightened about them only because of their opposition to certain Hindi films, which, according to them, hurt their religious sentiments. In fact, if you look back closely, you will realize that almost all their protests have only been against films and, at times, books.
Now, let us focus on a harsh and disturbing reality regarding one of the most important Hindu festivals. People staying in Mumbai even since few years would know how the Hindu festival of Ganeshotsav is grossly insulted each year. A single experience at Mumbai’s Ganesh Visarjan is also enough to realize this.
The following scenes are witnessed each year during the festival:-
- Liquor consumption during Visarjan is not new in Mumbai. You will find a lot of these over-enthusiastic ‘devotees’ dancing during Visarjan high on daaru.
- Eve-teasing of girls/ women during Visarjan with vulgar terms or slogans is also on display while bringing the idol and also during immersion. I have heard harrowing experiences of my own friends.
- There has been uproar against playing of sleazy item numbers during the festival; sometimes right beside the Ganesh idol. But this has had no effect on the organizers. Songs like ‘Sheila Ki Jawani’, ‘Munni Badnaam’, ‘Fevicol Se’, ‘Baby Doll’, and some even worse continue making rounds each year.
- Firecrackers worth thousands are burst during Visarjan, which hugely increases the level of air pollution. Roads always appear hazy during some big Visarjan. This also has numerous health hazards.
- Noise pollution is the major turn off for residents of Mumbai. In fact, the term ‘noise pollution’ is too mild to describe the menace caused. Plus, the commotion with super loud DJ music moves at a snail’s pace, which adds to the agony. Torture caused towards infants, aged, ill, heart patients, students and animals is ignored by these so-called devotees of the Lord.
The above-mentioned activities take place right in the open. So, it is impossible for the members of these pro-Hindu groups to not know about it. This brings a lot of uncomfortable questions for them.
Why there hasn’t been a single agitation against the shameful insult of the Hindu festival? Leave alone protest, why nobody from your ‘religious’ groups has not even spoken against this ever? Have you ever thought about the real intention of Lokmanya Tilak behind starting this festival? On the other hand, ardent members and followers of your groups literally go up in arms while demanding bans on harmless films, sometimes even resorting to violence.
Are your religious sentiments only limited to objecting Hindi films? The fact that you are not coming out against these shoddy practices in the name of a Hindu festival defeats the very purpose of your existence.
By: Keyur Seta
After studying History in school, me, and many others, believed that the highest credit for India’s freedom should go to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. But as I grew up and read various books on revolutionaries like Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, etc., doubts started cropping up in my mind on whether we were taught real history in school.
Later on, with the advent of the internet, I found more information on these uncelebrated great figures. Naturally, this further increased my doubts. Why a man who succeeded in the mammoth task of creating a huge army, called Azad Hind Fauj, and frightening the British was given such minor footage in History books? Why was there just a small paragraph about Bhagat Singh and his group’s activities and that too with false information, which made them look like criminals?
But yesterday, on September 18, 2015, all doubts were put to rest after Mamata Bannerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, declassified 64 secret files related to Subhash Chandra Bose. Now, it is clear that the entire nation in the post-independence era is been fed with false and fabricated version of Indian History.
Read more about the files HERE.
The secret documents/ letters strongly indicate that Netaji didn’t die in the plane crash in 1945. But the most infuriating revelation was how Netaji was snooped by our own government. I have read some theories that Nehru was certain Netaji is alive. Hence, if he had returned, Nehru’s popularity would have seriously declined. After yesterday’s revelation, this theory appears true to me. It has helped us join the dots.
It is utterly disgraceful that one of the greatest freedom fighters and his family members were snooped upon by their own government, as if they are wanted criminals. This also explains that all these decades, we have been taught only what the Gandhis and Nehru wanted us to learn – the shamefully fabricated version of History.
So, first and the foremost, we should revamp our school and college History text books ASAP! Injustice has been done the likes of Netaji, Bhagat Singh and other such revolutionaries. The least we could do now is to give them the rightful place they deserve in our History. It is never too late to repay their humongous debts over us.
Mamata’s act has also put pressure on the Central Government to declassify more files on Netaji. Let’s hope they do it soon.
And yes, we should also stop celebrating November 14 as Children’s Day. We don’t want our children to follow people with such mindsets.
Here is the summary of the declassified Netaji files: (Click to enlarge the image)
Nana Patekar has turned out to be a Godsend angel for Indian farmers, who are forced to end their lives due to rising debts and draught. This year alone has seen more than 600 farmer suicides. He started off his mission by paying Rs 15 thousand each to families of around 60 farmers.
Now, he has started a full-fledged mission to help the poor and needy farmers through his foundation called Naam. He has been ably supported by fellow actor Makarand Anaspure and recently Akshay Kumar, who has donated Rs 90 lakh for the farmers’ families.
While this also proves the amazing humanistic quality of these actors, it also points out the terrible attitude of those ruling us. It is the responsibility of our governments to be there for our farmers during such dire circumstances. It is not possible to believe that they lack funds. They are spending thousands of crores on statues but not ready to spend even half the amount on those who are providing us with food.
There is also no lack of water as we all saw how the government of Maharashtra released 1000 cubic meters of water for Kumbh Mela’s Shahi Snan. If you feel making statues and pleasing religious fanatics is more important than dying farmers, you don’t even qualify for an admission in IIN.
This whole issue also brings to light the selfishness of the super-rich and wealthy of India. We have been witnessing mindless spending of money for personal enjoyment, which lasts just for few moments. This is a new benchmark of selfishness, which doesn’t let you feel even a bit for the dying farmers.
With the situation as it is, it is absolutely clear that we, the common citizens of India, must come forward to serve our annadatas. Nana and Anaspure have shown us the way. Let us follow it by contributing whatever possible towards this super noble cause.
You can contribute in the following way:-
Send in your amount to “NAM Foundation”
SBI Current account no. 35226127148
IFSC Code no. SBIN0006319
SWIFT Code no. SBININBB238
Inputs: Payal Kapadia
Compilation: Keyur Seta
As we all know, the students of the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII) are on a strike since over two months in opposition to the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the Chairman of the institute. His close links with the BJP is considered the reason of his appointment.
An RTI query has also revealed that only Chauhan was approached for the role and there was no proper selection as mentioned by the government earlier. Read about it HERE.
But, along with Chauhan, few others are appointed as Society Members of FTII. Just like Chauhan, all of them are staunch supporters or close aides of BJP.
But what is alarming is that their record and past work is, in simple terms, highly questionable to say the least. Have a look at their work:-
His only claim to fame is his role as Yudhishthir in the timeless classic TV series, Mahabharat. He is slightly known as a part of few well-known TV serials. Apart from this, his filmography shows a series of B-grade films. Of course, he has acted in prominent, hit films, but his contribution in them has been inconsequential. For example, his one-scene appearance in Baghban. See his full filmography HERE. He is a member of the BJP and has worked for the party.
FTII Society Members:
She has no body of work to show in feature films or TV. But what is more shocking is that she has made a documentary titled Ram Mandir Adalat Aur Aastha, where she has not only hailed the Babri Masjid Demolition but also described it as the ‘biggest independence battle’. See the short film here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_MSXoWBiMs
But this is not her only ‘achievement’. There is also a court order against her for not paying remuneration to Nandan Kudhiyadi for a documentary he was asked to direct.
He is said to be a writer. But he has no notable work in films or TV. He is the ex-president of the ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad), which is linked to BJP. The members of this group had beaten up FTII students in 2013 for showing Anand Patwardhan's film Jai Bhim Comrade. ABVP has a long history of violence.
He has played supporting roles in well-known films, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and Balgandharva. He was in contention for a ticket from BJP for last year’s Lok Sabha Elections. No other information is available about him.
He is a cinematographer credited with ‘Additional Photography’ in Aamir Khan’s classic, Sarfarosh. However, barring this, he has only served as ‘Assistant Cinematographer’ in well-known films like Ishq and Vaastav. But here comes the most interesting part. He has made a film on India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi titled Shapath Modi Ki. The shocker is not the subject but the content. It is an unintentionally hilarious film, which can even offend Modi supporters.
How can it be a co-incidence that all of them are associated with BJP? How come Gajendra is selected for such a position despite his record when legends like Gulzar, Saeed Akhtar Mirza, Shyam Benegal and Adoor Gopalakrishnan are available for the job?
Ask yourself and decide whether Chauhan and his aides deserve to run India’s most prestigious filmmaking institute. Since earlier this year, the government appointed its close aides as Censor Board Members. We are already witnessing its terrible consequences.
By: Keyur Seta
The controversy regarding the presence of high amount of lead and Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) in India’s loved snack Maggi Noodles and its subsequent ban in various states (Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Assam soon all over India) has come as a rude shock to many, including me, for two reasons.
Let’s face it, there are many around us who not just love Maggi but are also dependent on it. I know a lot of people (mostly men) who can cook just one dish – Maggi. The snack is also a messiah for people living in remote areas of Himalayas. Secondly, the controversy is completely out of the blue. Seriously, how many of us had expected something of this magnitude to happen with Maggi? None, actually!
As things stand out, we can’t ignore the serious health hazards posed by the snack due to the enormous level of lead and MSG being found in it; lead is around 17 times more than permissible limit. And when the risk is as high as being attacked by Cancer, you really can’t ignore it. Hence, ban on Maggi is the only way to deal with the situation, no matter how painful it is for many of us.
But the issue doesn’t end here, at least for me. In fact, it starts here. The whole controversy surrounding Maggi has opened a can of worms as it has given rise to some very serious questions or pointers:-
1) Was FDA sleeping?: The presence of such high amounts of lead was found unknowingly or randomly by a person who got the noodles tested for something else. If he hadn’t tested, we wouldn’t have realized this incredibly serious issue with the snack. So, this completely exposes the functioning of Food & Drug Administration (FDA) with regards to clearing foodstuffs.
How did they allow such a big scam to ever take place right under their nose? What is the point of having FDA if they are unable to detect such enormously dangerous substances in a snack that is consumed by all, including children? Is their responsibility only limited to testing an item during license renewal that happens just once in 6 months or more?
Therefore, if there is anyone in the firing line due to the controversy it is the FDA. With the presence of lead in such high amounts in Maggi, their failure is proved, which calls for some stringent action against the officers responsible.
2) Celebrities’ Responsibility: Celebrities (Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit and Preity Zinta) endorsing Maggi shouldn’t be held responsible for promoting such a product. All they need to do is check whether the product is legal and has approval from FDA or any such government body. You can’t expect them to check the ingredients themselves in a laboratory when our authorities themselves have easily cleared the product.
However, this doesn’t give a Clean Chit to our celebrities, at least from me, as they are still guilty of promoting lies in return for crores of rupees. For example, the packet of Maggi says it is high on Vitamins and Proteins. This is a blatant lie as it is junk food. This whole issue should be a wake-up call for our celebs when it comes to endorsing any product and everything that the makers claim.
3) What about other products?: Most importantly, this makes me doubt as to how safe are the thousands of other products that the masses are consuming, right from the time they wake up. As mentioned above, the entire Maggi fiasco came to the surface by fluke after a man got it tested for something else. Who knows? We might be consuming such or similar seriously hazardous products unknowingly.
The need of the hour for our authorities is to check as many products as possible for such dangerous contents and follow it up with regular surprise checks to ensure their safety. Considering the enormous number of products we consume, there is no doubt that this is an almost impossible task. But nothing is more important than the well-being of the citizens.
By: Keyur Seta
The sane citizens of India are furious and frustrated after the Bombay High Court verdict that granted bail to Salman Khan yesterday (the rest are surely insane). This is completely obvious considering Salman’s crime, his shameful twisting of facts and, worse, the manner in which he got Constable Ravindra Patil killed by physically and mentally torturing him through his influence.
Just a couple of days ago, large number of people posted the message ‘Faith in judiciary restored’ across social media. But soon, that faith turned out to be a false alarm. In fact, it has nullified whatever little faith people had with our law system with regards to the conviction of the rich and famous. It has once again reinforced the belief that such category of people are above the law.
But I would like to explore another angle on this issue. While the public outrage is completely justified and necessary, it would be wrong to think that all is well for Salman now. The actor has lost more than he has gained with every bail that he has mastered till now through his influence, power and shoddy tactics.
His life would have been much more pleasant and peaceful had he owned up to the crime at the initial stage itself in 2002. In other words, he would have gained a lot despite getting jailed then.
This is how:-
Uncertainty: Although Salman is a free, the serious charges on him still exist. Hence, his life is completely uncertain. He doesn’t know what would happen to the case and subsequently to him. He will always think about the case before signing a new film. The same would be the case with the filmmakers. Of course, it is easy to bribe your way out but what if the judge is honest like the one in the Sessions Court? In other words, the sword will continue to hang above him.
Lack of Peace: Even if you have the most luxurious materials at your disposal, your life will be far from peaceful if your mind is in complete turmoil. The same is the case with Salman right now. He might appear happy to the outside world but a person who has committed such a crime and later, to save himself, had an eye-witness tortured to death can never have a peaceful sleep. Self-created jail can be more troublesome than real jail.
Golden Opportunity: Salman failed to grab the golden opportunity of becoming a real-life hero by confessing to the crime. Had he done that in 2002 itself, he would have been completely free by 2007 (if he was given a five-year sentence) and the ghosts of uncertainty would have vanished. He would have been free to take any decision regarding his future without a bother about the case and would have won many a hearts, including mine.
Personal Life: It is not right to comment on anybody’s personal life but this is purely from the point of view of what could have happened had Salman confessed. Quite a few times Salman has said that he hasn’t married till date because of the sword of the case hanging above him. So, naturally, had he confessed his crime soon enough, he would have been free long back to get married and started his own family.
Stress: Anybody who has visited court even for a minor issue would agree that court visits are truly stressful. So, it would be all the more stressful in Salman’s case not only because of the fact that it is a serious issue but also due to the chaos considering his celebrity status. He would have been saved from this circus too had he listened to his conscience.
Salim sir’s Plight: This is the most important point. The sorry plight of Salman’s father Salim Khan due to this mess is anybody’s guess. It is clearly visible from his expressions and body language during this whole episode. By not owning up to the crime, Salman has provided great pain to his father in his old age. Had he done that, Salim sir wouldn’t be going through such turmoil in this age.
Although it is clearly a crime to drink-and-drive, Salman can argue that he wasn’t in his senses when the accident happened or things weren’t in his control. However, he was completely in control in what happened after that, as in the manner in which the whole issue shaped up.
Had Salman showed some character and responsibility, his life would have been pleasant and peaceful rightnow. But he resorted to Being Coward than Being Human.
By: Keyur Seta
So the D Day in Salman Khan's 13 year old hit-and-run case has turned the tables for the superstar after he was proved guilty and sentenced to five years imprisonment. Although this was expected, we all had our doubts considering how our judiciary has been biased towards the famous and powerful.
However, with Salman being convicted for the crime, the faith in Indian judiciary is restored for a lot of Indians like me. This was a bloody important verdict not because Salman was involved in the crime but simply because it is a big assurance for the Common Man that the Law is equal for all.
The problem we have is that the Law has proved to be equal for all in this case but the huge number of so-called fans of Salman think otherwise. Else, why would their be many prayer events for the actor's release? Ironically, these are the same people who always crib and complain that our Law system or Judiciary is biased in favor of the powerful.
But apart from the point of view of equality of Law, there is another reason why it was absolutely necessary for Salman to be proved guilty. People have forgotten or rather aren't aware how Salman used his influence in torturing honest Constable Ravindra Patil, who had stood by the truth. Read about him by clicking HERE.
Patil's story is heart-wrenching. He refused to budge under the pressure of power and change his statement that Salman was indeed driving the car. Just Google 'Constable Patil Salman Khan' and your heart will break.
The media is hardly giving any importance to the story of Patil for obvious reasons. Worse, a blogger who had fearlessly written about it was pressurized to remove his post. Plus, we all remember the shameless lie of Salman's driver driving the car. One surely deserves the strictest of punishments when he uses such devilishly corrupt tactics to hide the truth.
One could really hope and pray that our Judiciary continues to show such strictness in all such cases. I personally dedicate this verdict to Constable Ravindra Patil. Now, his soul will Rest In Peace.
And to those who are feeling Salman is undone, just try and answer this - Suppose a complete nobody like me had committed the crime and had later tortured the Constable to death, would you have still felt for me the same way you did for Salman? Try answering this.