The Common Man Speaks


Swades: 10 Years of Simplicity (Memorable Scenes Included)

By: Keyur Seta with valuable inputs from Padmanabh Subramanian

swades-srkWhenever a list of most memorable films from a particular country or film industry is made, it is obvious that it will only contain names of box office successes. However, there are quite a few films, at least in Hindi cinema, which have become cult classics over the years despite the fact that they didn’t succeed at the ticket window when they released.

Films like Jane Bhi Do Yaaro and Andaz Apna Apna are classic examples of such films. But they slowly started gaining huge appreciation in the following years after they were screened on television and cable channels, so much so that now they are labeled as ‘classics’. Over the last decade or so, yet another Hindi film has achieved this status in spite of its box office fate.

Ashutosh Gowariker’s Shah Rukh Khan starrer, Swades found a lot of takers when it released in December 2004, especially the lovers of meaningful cinema, despite its strictly average box office performance. Like the aforementioned two films, its appreciators kept on increasing over the last decade at a rapid pace and the film gained a respectful status of Gowariker and Shah Rukh’s one of the best works.

Today, Swades completes exactly 10 years of its release. The film is known for striking an emotional chord with the viewer without or hardly saying much. It is this simple visual narration that is largely responsible for the film gaining such applause.

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So let’s have a look at the film’s most memorable scenes, which say a lot without saying much:

- The first one that comes to our mind is the one where Mohan Bhargav buys a glass of water from a child vendor. In fact, this can even go down as one of the most memorable scenes from Bollywood. By just showing the character purchase and consume the water, the writer and director have portrayed Mohan’s massive change of heart, or hriday parivartan, since, before this scene, he strictly drank only packaged water. Of course, SRK’s brilliant expressions also say it all.

- The climax sees Mohan returning to Charanpur, India forever after quitting his lucrative job at NASA. But such major story development is shown without any rona dhona and by just a sweet Kushti scene. In spite of this, it succeeds in moving you.

- The village of Charanpur strictly followed caste system, wherein the members of the ‘upper caste’ stay away from the ones of a ‘lower caste’. In the song ‘Yeh Tara Woh Tara’, the protagonist gives an overwhelming message against this division by making the kids, sitting at the area reserved for ‘lower castes’, pass over and sit in the area reserved for ‘upper castes’. Once again, a strong message without dramebazi.


- The film also speaks about Indian culture. This was seen the most in the pre-climax as Geeta (Gayatri Joshi) gives a teary farewell to Mohan. But as per the intelligent narration in the rest of the film, there is no gyan giving on Bharatiya Sanskriti. Geeta makes her point about the same by just presenting a box to Mohan with few items that would enable him recall India.

From the Facebook page: 21 Fools

From the Facebook page: 21 Fools

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- In this particular scene, Melaram wants to point it out to Mohan that there is no point going away from our near and dear ones in our country and serving some other country. But all he says is, “Apni chaukhat ka diya and giving light to neighbor’s house.” It says all!

- Kaveri Amma hands over Mohan the task of recovering money from Haridas, who stays far away from Charanpur. Mohan is deeply hurt to see the abject poverty Haridas is facing. However, he hardly expresses this and lets his expressions speak. Even while he is returning, he keeps the same expression throughout the journey.


Patient Solidarity Day: Demand for healthcare access to all

By: Keyur Seta

The ever-increasing medical cost is fast becoming a big reason for increasing number of deaths currently in India. Sundari Raju lost her husband due to the same reason. After being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, his troubles started increasing and with that, his medical bills too. “There came a time when he was required to take four injections per month and each cost Rs 8,000. So it was impossible for us to afford it. I wish I could have afforded. He would have been alive then,” she said.

Sundari Raju

Sundari Raju

She was speaking on the occasion of Patient Solidarity Day in Mumbai, where doctors, patients, members of patient groups, pharmacists, bloggers and laymen had assembled for a round table discussion on how to provide proper access to healthcare for all patients across India. The event was organized through the efforts of Dr Bejon Misra, Partnerships for Safe Medicines (PSM) India, Consumer Online Foundation and International Alliance of Patients’ Organization (IAPO).

When it comes to the high cost of medicines and treatment, the mention of multinational companies, which manufactures medicines, shouldn’t come as a surprise. “MNCs are here to make money. Philanthropy is not their goal; it will never be. Government wants to do something about this. But they won’t unless we and various NGOs keep pushing. They also have to listen to courts so we should use that option too. Medical Council of India can also help,” said Dr Salunke.

Another doctor present at the discussion raised the point of new doctors forced to recover the enormous amount they spent to study medicine. “People spend around Rs 1 crore in private medical colleges. So obviously they won’t do any social service. Government also keeps spending more on private colleges rather than government run colleges. The ratio of both types of colleges is very high in favor of private colleges.” He also stressed on the need for qualified nurses, who can take away half of the headache of the doctor.

India has also become home to diseases like Fibromyalgia. Anuradha Khanna Pentapalli, who is suffering from it, expressed the need to spread awareness about it as hardly anyone in India knows about it. Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculo-skeletal pain, stiffness and tenderness of muscles and joints and also psychological issues. “Today I am at this event. So tomorrow or day after I might have to take bed rest. There are cases where parents ask their daughters to be active despite being diagnosed with the disease and not disclose it to their prospective grooms. But the daughters don't wish to lie. There is an urgent need to include study of Fibromyalgia in medical curriculum,” said Anuradha and her demand was agreed upon by Dr Misra.

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Dr Ketan Parekh

Dr Ketan Parekh

Since recent times, there has been a constant demand of making generic medicines available to patients as their cost is much lower. “Generic medicines are available in Tamil Nadu. So if they can be made available in TN, why not in Maharashtra? Our ex-Health Minister Suresh Shetty also didn’t do anything for this in 10 years,” continued Salunke. Dr Jahangir also echoed his sentiments and expressed bewilderment at some doctors criticizing it. “I can’t believe a doctor criticizing generic medicines. Rather than letting a patient die, let him get treatment.”

The situation in rural areas was also described. Said Dr Ketan Parekh, “Twenty percent districts in Maharashtra don’t have a pediatric surgeon, whereas 2% of all new born babies require immediate surgery. A list of 80 doctors, who were willing to volunteer, was given to the government. But there was no response.” Salunke also added an incident he witnessed at a village. “A doctor was giving just 1 cc injection dose to patients. When I asked him the reason for giving such a tiny dose, he said they have just one bottle of dose and the number of patients is 35.”

This wasn’t one of those events where people would discuss and then just disperse. Dr Bejon Misra announced and assured that the discussion will be followed by action. “We will collect evidences and each one present in this room (for discussion) will come together to make sure our voice reaches to the people in power. If they don’t listen, we will be compelled to go to courts. Universal healthcare should become a reality and not just remain a dream.

More pictures from the discussion:

Dr Bejon Misra

Dr Bejon Misra

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patient-solidarity day

All pictures courtesy: Partnership for Safe Medicines India

All pictures courtesy: Partnership for Safe Medicines India


No Big Deal (Short Story)

I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda. This post is for the same.

By: Keyur Seta

Mumbai’s Versova locality is a residence for the rich and the super-rich of the city. As the price of a single apartment is easily over Rs 2 crore, it is impossible for the middle-class to reside in this suburban vicinity. This is solely the reason for the area to be home for a large number of film and television artists. Hence, owning a big apartment in this part of the city is proof enough of a family or a person’s healthy financial condition.

The same is the case with Dubey’s, who lived on the 10th floor of a typical posh Versova tower, overlooking a famous multiplex. With Mr Dubey striking gold in his garment business since more than a decade, his house is blessed with all the luxuries Mrs Dubey could ask for. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that the family has maids and servants for every household chore. This ensures that Mrs Dubey can spend her day mostly watching television and socializing while their only child, Rajiv, juggles between school and coaching classes.

On one morning at around 11 am, Devi, their maid, returned with a stock of vegetables for the family. Like her normal routine, she stored them in the fridge. It was like an age old exercise except for the fact that the plastic bag carrying potatoes was torn, which the maid didn’t notice before storing. So the main bag, in which Devi carried all vegetables, had few potatoes left.

Around three hours later, Mrs Dubey ventured into the kitchen for her post-lunch fruit session when she noticed few potatoes lying in the bag. Cursing the maid, she decided to put them with the main stock.

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A tower in Versova (Picture: Mid-Day)

A tower in Versova (Picture: Mid-Day)

Not so far away from Versova falls the locality called Oshivara. There isn’t much difference between Versova and Oshivara but for the presence of some shanties in the latter. In one such namesake of a home stayed Shanta with her seven-year-old son Ramesh. Her husband and Ramesh’s father passed away few years back after falling prey to alcoholism. Considering their situation and the place they call home, it is needless to say that they literally lived from hand-to-mouth. Plus, Shanta’s self-respect doesn’t allow her to ask or beg for food from anyone.

Shanta, off late, has been in a dilemma as to whether she should continue sending Ramesh to the government school as her income as a sweeper and through some odd jobs is clearly not sufficient to support the two in today’s price-rise era. She is toying with the idea of getting Ramesh employed as a worker in a nearby plywood store. Her idea has created a bad blood between the mother and son as the latter wishes to study.

The tussle between the two reached a new level today. There were literally no vegetables left and there was still time before she got her next payment. On top of that, the vegetable vendor had plainly refused credit any more. This was enough for Shanta to force Ramesh in giving up studies so that he can earn. Although deep inside she didn’t like this at all, the thought of starving was too scary for her to ignore.

After a lot of conflict, Shanta announced, “Okay. If we get some food by today evening through some miracle, I will let you continue your school. If God really wants you to study, he will arrange something for our stomach by evening. If not, you should join that store from tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, while feasting her eyes on the sunset at Versova beach from Dubey’s apartment and at the same time speaking with someone over the phone, the chief maid was waiting for the woman who brings groceries for the family from the market. When the woman arrived, the chief maid signaled her to take the main bag and the money kept in the kitchen, which was the normal practice since months.

When Shanta picked up the main bag, she felt some heaviness. When she peered in she realized there were a few potatoes. She was highly surprised. But soon a wide smile emerged on her face. She recalled how Mrs Dubey had long back handed over few extra vegetables to her. She was sure she had done the same again. Now, she didn’t need to drop Ramesh from school.

“God wants Ramesh to continue studying,” she happily thought while leaving the house. How would she know that a phone ring had stopped Mrs Dubey for storing those potatoes after which she forgot about it? Few potatoes were no big deal for Mrs Dubey. But for Shanta, they were not only a big deal but a new lease of life.

When an unintentional distribution of food can bring more than a ray of hope, just imagine the positive effect of a small amount of intentional donation by those with surplus wealth. Considering India has 100 billionaires (out of the 2325 worldwide) and many rich and super-rich, it is surely not a big deal for them.

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“High time we clean up our country” – Prasoon Joshi during Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

Keyur Seta

We are well aware that well-known lyricist and script writer Prasoon Joshi has penned a heartwarming song/ slogan for the ongoing Swachha Bharat Abhiyan by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Sung by Kailash Kher, the song is called ‘Swachh Bharat Ka Irada’.

But he didn’t want his contribution to be limited to this. He was keen to contribute physically too by literally cleaning up a locality. So he took up the task of cleaning the garbage laden compound of Sofi Mahal Building in Mumbai’s Lalbaug. He was joined by bloggers - myself and Heena Shah Dedhi and few volunteers. This particular event was called Clean Sweep and it was in association with IndiBlogger.

Children in Lalbaug’s Sofi Mahal building were unable to play cricket in their compound since long due to the presence of huge amount of garbage being dumped there. But after Joshi’s initiative, the kids were finally able to resume play much to their joy. The occasion was celebrated with a professional cricket match between the two teams of the locality.



“This initiative has induced consciousness in the country regarding cleanliness. It’s not that people didn’t know what cleanliness is. But in spite of that, there was this inertia regarding this issue. Even in this locality, it wasn’t that people were unaware about keeping their surroundings clean, which would also enable these kids to play. But I am glad that our PM’s initiative has spread awareness about this,” says Joshi.

An interesting thing about the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is that the celebrity, who cleans up a locality, should nominate 9 people for the same task. “I was nominated by Anil Ambani. I have nominated Kiran Rao (producer and Aamir Khan’s wife), Venu Srinivasan (CMD of TVS Motors), Mr Birla, Shankar Mahadevan (composer and singer), Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev (spiritual guru), Irrfan Khan (actor), Jeev Milkha Singh (golfer), Nitish Kapoor (CEO Reckitt Benckiser [Dettol]) and Aman and Ayan Ali (music composers).”

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There is always a section of the public that is cynical for every social movement. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is no different. Joshi has a message for people with such a mindset. “To those who keep saying that we will gain nothing from this, I would like to assert that if I am asked to choose between doing something and not doing anything, I will always choose the former. Of course, there won’t be change overnight. But there will definitely be some difference. In our culture, we are asked to keep our hearts clean. But now it is high time we clean up our country too.”

Obviously, the success of this initiative largely depends on whether the masses would stop littering the roads. Like many others, Joshi too feels they should be penalized. “There is a need for a law. If there is fear of getting caught and fined, people will stop doing it. Plus, they also need to be taught the difference between dry and wet waste and how to separate it.”

Even the most humongous task starts with a single step. Here’s hoping that this single step is followed by million more.


Feed a Child campaign: Small acts transform the world

By: Keyur Seta

I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda.

According to Business Standard, 100 of the 2325 billionaires are from India. In this way, our country ranks sixth in the list of most number of billionaires in a country. This sounds as an achievement, doesn’t it? Not for me though because daily millions of people in India face starvation; of which many are children.

Hence, I have no qualms in saying that there is nothing delightful in the fact that India has 100 billionaires when millions of kids are struggling to overcome a necessity as basic as food. As per 2014, India ranks 55th in Global Hunger Index.

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Picture: Reuters

Picture: Reuters

So obviously, these kids are forced to skip education in order to make ways to feed their stomachs. Looking at such a tragic scenario, the question that lurks in our hearts is whether it is possible for these kids to get proper education and at the same time feed their stomachs at least two square meals per day. The answer to this, according to me, is a big YES!

In fact, I am sure that India has enough wealth to completely wipe out poverty. This might sound too fairytale-ish. But this is possible if all the rich, super-rich and few above them contribute few percentage of their income towards eliminating poverty. Considering the number of such people we have, this contribution will count to a humongous amount. In this way, I am also trying to indicate that poverty is just a consequence of unequal distribution of national income.

When eliminating poverty is a reality, making sure that every child in India gets access to both education and food isn’t a big deal. There are various ways to achieve this goal. These are few of them:-

Government: Both State and Central Governments have enough funds to make sure no child needs to skip education to feed himself. They can start various schemes or plans for the same. The best idea is to start a free canteen in government run schools that would enable kids to have a proper lunch. Of course, getting them to do something so useful is very difficult. So it is necessary for various NGOs and social organizations to keep pressurizing them.

Surplus: This idea is inspired from Amole Gupte’s movie Stanley Ka Dabba. There are hundreds of buffet restaurants in all Indian cities. Naturally, they face a situation of surplus food almost daily. Most of the times, this food is simply wasted. Instead, this food can easily be used to feed a large number of underprivileged kids. The same can be done by normal restaurants and wedding venues. The latter always has a large amount of surplus. Last year, some social organization had started a similar campaign from the surplus food from tiffins supplied by Mumbai’s dabbawalas.

Special Caterers: Government or NGOs can start a catering service with the sole motto of feeding underprivileged kids. People like us can sponsor meal or foodstuffs online or by visiting them. This is how it works – You visit their website and select the number of meals you wish to sponsor with one meal costing as low as Rs 20. So even if we sponsor one or two meals daily, it will help feed lakhs of children.

Recently, The Mind Unleashed shared a message on Facebook – Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. Let us all believe in it.




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Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain Review – Can’t get more realistic!

By: Keyur Seta

Rating: * * * * ½

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The biggest challenge while portraying a tragedy is to make it look as realistic as possible. And when the disaster is as magnanimous as the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, it becomes all the more testing, not just for the filmmaker but for everyone involved. The same challenge awaited director Ravi Kumar and his team for Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain, which is based on the said tragedy in 1984.

To say that they have overcome the challenge will be an understatement. What they have achieved is nothing short of a benchmark for realistic cinema because it just can’t get more realistic than this. But the reason why the film on the whole can be labeled as excellent is the fact that it scores high in every department.

The movie is English with partly Hindi. The story takes place in Bhopal in 1984. Dilip (Rajpal Yadav) is a rickshaw driver staying in a slum in the central area of the city with his wife (Tannishtha Chatterjee) and younger sister (Fagun Ivy Thakrar). His family struggles to live from hand-to-mouth from his earnings. Dilip gets a new lease of life when he lands a job at the newly-arrived Union Carbide’s pesticide plant.

bhopal-a-prayer-for-rainAlthough Dilip is happy to have found a source of earning despite uneasy conditions, he is worried to know that the safety standards at the plant are being ignored. Soon, this leads to a fatal leakage of the poisonous Methyl Isocyanide that kills thousands in a single night making it the worst man-made industrial disaster ever. Even 30 years after the incident, thousands continue to suffer from its consequences.

The base of all great films is writing and that is exactly the case here with a watertight screenplay and real yet dramatic dialogues. To top it up, Kumar has handled the subject with utmost precision. The manner in which he has added realism to such utterly difficult scenes, especially the tragic ones, is to be seen to be believed. As stated earlier, it can’t get more realistic! To carry out such a task in just your second film is no mean achievement.

Naturally, this gives rise to a number of scenes that stay etched in your memory. From these, Dr Chandra (Manoj Joshi) trying to select one person from many whom he can administer an antidote deserves special mention.

Another reason why the film scores high marks is that it doesn’t get depressing despite it being based on one of the greatest tragedies ever. This indicates that its motto is not to bring back terrible memories but to highlight the importance of human safety over profits.

It is difficult to choose a negative point here. Probably the number of characters could have been reduced and the life of the people of Bhopal, especially the slums, could have been portrayed more. This could have been possible as the film’s length isn’t much.

bhopal-martin-sheenComing to the technicalities, the VFX team should be lauded as they had their task cut out. Cinematographers Charlie Wuppermann and Anil Chandel have succeeded in displaying their skills. The background score is apt for the proceedings. The fast-paced classical tunes used at the start help a lot in generating interest instantly.

The performances are a top-draw too! Rajpal Yadav gives his best performance till date as far as his serious roles are concerned. Veteran Martin Sheen is excellent as the CEO of Union Carbide. Kal Penn is brilliant too in the role of the cunning journalist. Mischa Barton plays the journalist from US with perfection.

Tannishtha Chatterjee once again proves she is one of the most talented actors in the country. In the role of the doctor, Manoj Joshi is flawless! Akhil Mishra and Joy Sengupta also deserve praise. Satish Kaushik creates an impact in a cameo while Fagun Ivy Thakrar too provides good support.

Overall: Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain is an excellent piece of realistic cinema that shouldn’t be missed. The film requires good word-of-mouth to succeed at the box office when it releases in India on December 5.

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Director: Ravi Kumar

Producers: Sahara Movie Studios and Rising Star Entertainment

Writers: David Brooks and Ravi Kumar

Cast: Rajpal Yadav, Martin Sheen, Mischa Barton, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Manoj Joshi, Akhil Mishra, Fagun Ivy Thakrar

Music: Benjamin Wallfisch

Genre: Period Drama

Duration: 96 minutes

Release Date: December 5, 2014 (India)


Maharashtra State Elections 2014: Analysis and Prediction


By: Keyur Seta

Roughly a fortnight ago, the upcoming Maharashtra State Assembly Elections 2014 (that will take place on October 15) appeared like a cricket match between Australia (Shiv Sena + BJP) and Bangladesh (others): the winner was obvious and it needed a miracle of sorts for any other results. But with the alliances between Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janta Party and Congress-NCP broken, the situation has now become like the upcoming 2015 Cricket World Cup: it is just not possible to predict any clear winner.

The following is the analysis and prediction of each major party in the Maharashtra Assembly Elections. Honestly, I am far from an expert in politics so don’t expect any detailed analysis. This is more of how a layman looks at the elections and the major parties participating in it. Here it is:-




Shiv Sena:
Plusses: Their stronghold in the state, especially among the locals, is everybody’s knowledge. Despite the demise of its supremo Balasaheb Thackeray, his name alone motivates lakhs of their supporters. And with bigger responsibilities given to Aditya Thackeray, the youth of Maharashtra is expected to pour their support.
Minuses: With Balasaheb’s absence, it looks as if something is missing. But the biggest minus point for the party is the fact that they had to do away with their 25-year old alliance with the BJP.
Chances: Due to its popularity, it stands a good chance.

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Plusses: The popularity of Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister, will work well for them. Due to this, the party has roped in Modi to address a number of election rallies in India. Plus, its resounding victory in this year’s Lok Sabha polls, which is still fresh in people’s minds, will also work in its favor and so will Modi’s heroic U.S visit.
Minuses: Its bad performance in the recent Uttar Pradesh by-polls came as a surprise. According to some experts, this happened due to some of its leaders who kept pushing the Hindutva card instead of good governance and development, which was their agenda going into LS Polls. But, like the Shiv Sena, its biggest disadvantage is clearly the break-up with Shiv Sena.
Chances: The plusses ensure it stands a good chance.

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS):
Plusses: The popularity and aura of its chief Raj Thackeray and his popularity among the youth are its biggest plus points.
Minuses: There has been a decline in its popularity in recent years. This was seen the most in this year’s Lok Sabha Elections, where the party failed to win even a single seat. The Modi wave is also responsible for this.
Chances: But because of the two break-ups and their past record, it might spring a surprise.

Congress and NCP:
(Despite the breaking of their alliance, I am giving a combined analysis because their situation is the same.)
Pluses: I don’t wish to sound rude but I just can’t find a single plus point for any of the two parties due to their terrible alliance run in the currently concluding term. Perhaps the only silver lining for them is the break-up between Sena-BJP.
Minuses: This will be a long list. As listed above, it is bad governance in every form that will hurt them dearly.
Chances: No chance unless one of them performs decently and joins hands with the first winner, which looks unlikely.

So all in all, the contest is really between Sena and BJP. This sounds unusual considering their united fight since last 25 years. However, as one shouldn’t rule out a post-result alliance, there is a big chance of the two parties joining hands after the 19th provided MNS doesn’t play spoilsport and they have enough seats.

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Here’s why Jadavpur University stuents need your support ASAP!

Right now, India is witnessing one of the strongest student movements ever. It is been carried out by the students of Jadavpur University in Kolkata. But despite the magnanimity of the movement, a large number of people in the non-Eastern parts of the country are completely unaware about it thereby also not knowing its importance. This is largely due to the lukewarm coverage of the protest by the national media.

So here’s the summary of the incident and the resulting consequence that turned into a movement: - (Read the complete story HERE and HERE.)

On August 28, a group of rowdy students allegedly beat up a guy and dragged her girlfriend into one of the rooms inside men’s hostel. She was tortured by a group of drunken men. However, she managed to escape. Next day, she notified the college about it and also registered a complaint with the police but no arrests were made though. In fact, there has been no action taken by the Vice Chancellor of the university, Abhijit Chakrabarti citing a lot of excuses. Although there were committees set up, it turned out to be like crores of other committees that amount to nothing.

Plus, on September 5, two women from the university’s Anti-Sexual Harassment Cell visited her place without any notice and asked her questions regarding the clothes she was wearing and whether she was drunk. What they said further would shock anyone. The girl was told by them that the incident has brought great shame to the college and if there are stricter laws imposed on outsiders, it is the victim who should be blamed.


Students protesting in huge numbers

This was enough for the students to be vocal about their displeasure at the disgraceful turn of events. They demanded rebuilding the Anti-Sexual Harassment Cell. Since nothing was being done by the college authorities, the students were left with no option but to hold a series of protests. The VC then asked the students to wait till the September 16 meeting of the Executive Councils. But as shocking as it may sound, the result of the meeting was a latter, which, instead of the grave issue at hand, spoke about students’ code of conduct. In other words, they rubbed salt on wound.

This forced the students to gherao the VC and other university officials. However, the VC didn’t even speak with the students and the demonstration went into the night. At around 8 pm, as per VC’s orders, the cops visited the scene. As the talks with the cops amounted to nothing, the protests continued through the night and at 2 am (September 17), the lights were turned off and the students were lathicharged. Students also went on to say that members of Trinamool Congress accompanied the police.

The lathicharge ensured that the VC was escorted out of the campus. But the students carried a roadblock, which ensured more lathicharge. There are also reports about female students being sexually assaulted in the ruckus.

Watch the police brutality against the students

This ensured that people not only from other institutions but from all walks of life joined the protests from September 20 onwards. Needless to say, support poured in for the students on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

The ruling party TMC, however, staged a rally against students on September 22. It was reported that a number of people were forced to attend the rally. But if this wasn’t enough, there came a bomb from Abhishek Banerjee, nephew of the Chief Minister of Bengal Mamata Banerjee. He questioned as to whether the protests are a result of the recent ban on illicit liquor or drugs on the campus.

This statement had an opposite effect as it helped picking up the moments. It triggered more enrage not only for the VC but also the ruling party and needless to say, Abhishek Banerjee.

Till today (September 24), the situation is the same. The students and the people of Kolkata are fighting with all their might against the wrong doers, who are showing no signs of budge.

So here is an appeal to the people of India to join the protest in various ways, the best could be visiting Kolkata for the same. The movement is not just against the VC but against gender violence in India. At a time when there is a huge demand for stricter laws against safety of women, we have a VC who is just not ready to make sure justice is done to the victim of the molestation. The authorities have also fallen as low as allegedly threatening students individually!

The movement is also about the voice, right and freedom of the movement... Education is being politicised by vested interests, who cannot even ensure students' security.

If this is not enough to enrage you enough to join the protest, I don’t know what is.

Facebook page of the Jadavpur University protests –

Twitter page of the same –

The hashtag for the movement is #Hokkolorob


Review: Mardaani

Keyur Seta

Director: Pradeep Sarkar

Producers: Aditya Chopra for Yash Raj Films

Writers: Pradeep Sarkar, Gopi Puthran and S Hussain Zaidi

Cast: Rani Mukerji, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Anil George, Jisshu Sengupta

Music: Salim-Sulaiman

Genre: Thriller

Rating: * * * ½

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Story Outline: The name of the ruthless Crime Branch officer Shivani Shivaji Roy (Rani Mukerji) sends shivers down the spine of criminals. She stays in Mumbai with her husband (Jisshu Sengupta) and niece. She also shares a motherly bond with a teenage orphan Pyari (Priyanka Sharma). Shivani’s strength and dedication are tested when Pyari is kidnapped by a gang of a sex traffickers headed by the monstrous Walt (Tahir Raj Bhasin).

Review: Action films on the theme of good versus evil are done to death in Hindi cinema. But despite Pradeep Sarkar’s Mardaani also being based on the same idea, it is surely not as ordinary as plenty of films made on this genre. The reasons for this are that it follows an uncompromising narrative, gives a heart-touching message and, most importantly, makes way for a women-centric action thrillers; something that is so lacking in Indian cinema.

Sarkar had all the resources and budget (considering it’s a YRF film) to add a number of commercial factors to increase the film’s reach. So it is commendable that he steered clear from any such temptation by being honest to the subject, even if it means showing disturbing visuals of the working style of sex traffickers. This results in a gripping tale that doesn’t lose focus or goes off track even a bit. There is always a scope for item numbers in such subjects but, fortunately, he doesn’t give into that too.

Picture Source: Mardaani FB Page

Picture Source: Mardaani FB Page

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There is no denying that the film treads on predictive lines for most of the duration. But the above mentioned point and a powerfully moving climax make sure you won’t mind that. In fact, you get goose pimples during the ending moments through the message given without being preachy, just through visuals and symbolism.

The only big problem here is that neither Shivani nor any of her team members ever tries to trace the numerous calls Walt made to her. Come on! You guys are Crime Branch officers! Coming to Shivani’s relation with Pyari, we are only made to assume about that as there is not a single scene between both of them. Due to this, the actor playing Pyari, Priyanka Sharma, gets hardly any scope.

As it is not a music-oriented film, there is just one song, Mardaani Anthem, and rightly so. Its Sanskrit Mantras (Ya Devi Sarvabhuteshu) and powerful lyrics create a thundering effect when it is played during the ending moments. Artur Zurawski’s camerawork is skillful. It plays its part in adding intensity.

By completely getting into the character of a lethal cop, Rani Mukerji gives an applaud-worthy performance. It is a pleasure to see her perform those fight scenes. With this performance, she becomes the frontrunner for women-oriented action thrillers in Hindi cinema. Hopefully, this should encourage more filmmakers and producers to try such experiments.

But there is Tahir Raj Bhasin too who is super-impressive as the bad guy and that too in his very first film. He surely deserves to be seen more. Anil George plays his part well as another bad guy. Mona Ambegaonkar is terrific in a supporting role. Jisshu Sengupta and Priyanka Sharma are decent. The latter deserved more footage.

Overall: Mardaani succeeds in being a bold and hard-hitting crime thriller that also throws light on a timely issue. It deserves rapid positive word-of-mouth to succeed at the box office due to a lack of hype and low-key promotions.

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Lessons from Mahabharata – Episode 1: Will Lord Krishna ever return to earth to destroy evil?

(This is the first episode of the series 'Lessons from Mahabharata'. The sole aim of this series is to highlight that the many messages given in the greatest epic are completely relevant even today and will be forever... For Episode 2 click HERE.)

By: Keyur Seta

Yada Yada Hi Dharmasya,
Glanir Bhavati Bhaavat,
Abhyutthanam Adharmasya,
Tadatmanam Srujamy Aham

Through the above Sanskrit Mantra, Lord Krishna has assured that whenever and wherever evil or adharma will threaten to take over good or dharma, he will manifest or arrive on earth to ensure that evil is destroyed.

Although this is one of the most scared mantras, it is also making people ask this question again and again – If the mantra is true, why hasn’t God arrived on earth considering the numerous ghastly evils on earth? I too have asked this innumerable times. However, I have stopped asking it in recent times. In fact, I have also started believing that it is futile to ask such a question.

Before I explain the reason for this, I would like to clearly state that this is just my way of looking at an episode of Mahabharata and I don’t possess any concrete proof to support my theory.

krishna-and-arjunIt is well-known that Lord Krishna helped Arjuna and other Pandava brothers to win the great war of Kurukshetra against the evil Kauravas. Looking at this incident, one would ask then why isn’t he helping the world right now to fight these many evils. But the analogy is not as simple as it appears. A deeper perception is required.

Just before the start of the war, Arjuna straightaway refused to fight as he wasn’t ready to kill his own kinsmen, grandfather Bheeshma and his teacher Dronacharya. So Krishna encouraged him to fight through a long conversation, which later came to be known as the Bhagavad Gita. It is only after he agrees to fight that Krishna helps him by his various tactics.

So if Krishna is God, why he didn’t use his powers to eliminate the Kauravas right at the start of the war? He had the power to end the war in a matter of seconds so why didn’t he do that? Well, this incident gives a clear message that God helps us in our fight against any evil only if we are ready to fight against it with all our might. Until and unless we, in huge numbers, are determined to put in all our efforts in battling against various evils, God is not going to help us.

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We humans have enough power and strength to wage a war against adharma. By fearing and underestimating ourselves and overestimating the evil forces, we are falling prey to negativity. And where there is negativity, there is no God. History is full of examples of ordinary human beings fearlessly battling against oppressors. So it is not right to blame Him of not doing anything to alleviate us if we are not willing to determine ourselves to wage a war against evil forces.

So, according to me, as a large majority of us (including me) aren’t doing anything to wipe out the corrupt and wicked forces, God isn’t using his powers to free us from various evils. Until and unless we don’t pull up our socks (mind you, in huge numbers) for the task, we shouldn’t expect God to perform any miracles.

No doubt, there are a lot of people selflessly working for the upliftment of the downtrodden but the number isn’t enough. We can expect some miracle only if a large majority of us enter the battlefield of the various Kurukshetras of the world.

Maybe the Lord is already present on earth just waiting for us to unanimously enter the battlefield. Maybe he is present in small quantities in many of us and just wants us to unite ourselves and Him. Either ways, the need is the same – stand up and fight!

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