By: Keyur Seta
There is a huge amount of buzz around the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL), but for the wrong reasons. When the state of Maharashtra is reeling under extreme drought, the chaps running the IPL are eager to spend lakhs of liters of water in the three venues in the state – Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur – for the celebrated cricket tournament.
There have been debates and arguments regarding the same on TV news shows and among the general public. However, I feel the fact that we have debates around this is in itself an unfortunate situation. As far as I am concerned, the matter is simple – you don’t even need to be semi-intelligent or semi-literate to understand that spending such unthinkable amount of water when lakhs in the state have no water for utterly basic use is madness, to say the least.
I have a simple question for those who are taking a shocking stand of supporting IPL matches in Maharashtra – Can you live without water even for a day without using it even for your very basic needs? Well, people from Marathwada, Vidharbha and other regions have been doing that since months.
To support spending lakhs of liters of water for enjoyment in such a scenario, you either need to be utterly dumb or inhuman; maybe both.
The Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, too has disappointed as far as this issue is concerned. Being the most powerful person in the state, one would at least expect him to take a tough stand and stop the madness. However, this doesn’t come as a surprise. Last year, Maharashtra Government released (read wasted) thousands of liters of water during Nashik’s Maha Kumbh for shahi snaan when people just some distance away were reeling under drought.
The entire situation also brings to light the double standards and fearlessness of the legendary ex-cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar. Few years back, he used to appear in BMC’s Save Water campaign urging people to save water. The ad also showed him stopping a waiter from filling his glass of water to the brim because he needed just half. Sachin has also been supporting rain water harvesting since, as he had said, he is concerned about the issue.
Well, so where is your concern and support when the state needs it the most? You are literally worshipped by the people of India (including Maharashtra). So, when they are facing such enormous crisis, the least you could do is offer some verbal support. But leave alone that, Sachin has not even tweeted about the issue.
On the other hand, he has all the time in the world to wish Geeta Basra (Harbhajan Singh’s then girlfriend and now wife) on Twitter for her B-grade film, Second Hand Husband.
If you are in favour of IPL being played in the three venues across Maharashtra, it automatically means you are against humanity.
The terrible floods in Tamil Nadu, especially Chennai, have taken everyone by a rude surprise. The floods were expected in the region but nobody thought they would be so devastating. So far, close to 300 people are head and lakhs are homeless or stranded.
While there is no harm in praying for the victims and dedicating numerous social media posts to them, what they practically need it help... and lots of it!
So this is how you can help them:
1) Spiritual leader Sadhguru's Isha Foundation has organized a donation drive. To donate in kind or doctors who can support the disaster relief work can contact: +918300011111, +918300051000, +918300052000
Helpline for donation via bank transfers: +919442139000
Online donations: http://www.ishafoundation.org/Donate
2) Donate via APP:
Click HERE to download an app to donate clothes, food and other items.
3) Check available shelter:
To know about places where shelter is available, click HERE.
4) Donate via AISC Flood Relief by clicking HERE.
5) People form 60 NGOs have come together to help Chennai flood victims. Those willing to contribute contact Prasanna: 96777-00081 or Ganesh 99442-77721.
6) Willing to accomodate?
If you are in Chennai and willing to accommodate people who are stranded, click HERE.
7) To donate food items, see the image below (click to enlarge):-
8) Chennai flood relief HELPLINE numbers:
OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION:
People who are stuck near Valasaravakkam, Megamart area, pls contact Vignesh Mailappan at +918122829693.
People who are stuck near Camp Road areas can contact Bala- +918056096733.
People who are stuck near Keezhkattalai area can contact Santha- +919042122271.
People who are stuck near Tambaram area can contact
Prasanna - 9994816896
People who are stuck near Mogapair areas can contact aswin - 7299518047
People who are stuck near Pallikaranai, Narayanapuram areas can contact Gayathri - 8220738092
Message from a kind-hearted person:
Anyone stuck in Annanagar, Arumbakkam, Aminjikarai, MMDA Colony, Choolaimadu or any other area are welcome to my house, please be my guest. Can pick up people from nungambakkan station, arumbakkam metro station or anna arch. No restriction on no as i have lots of Mats to sleep, power for essential and enough food, brijesh - 9962400760
SRM University is accommodating people in their buildings. Whoever stranded in GST, please go there.
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.
Photographer & Author: Ashok Mahindra
Presented By: Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and Oxford Publishers
Rating: * * * *
Review By: Keyur Seta
The main aim of Wildlife Photographers is to make the reader experience a wild safari inside a jungle while sitting miles away. Their task is difficult than video shooters due to the reliance only on still pictures. Ashok Mahindra’s e-book ‘Capturing Wildlife Moments In India’ achieves this aim hands down. This is not the only achievement of the book though.
‘Capturing Wildlife Moments In India’ is a collection of wildlife images, which includes animals, birds, reptiles and also nature, clicked by Mahindra over a period of time at different national parks of India.
The book is a treat not only for wildlife lovers but also for city dwellers trapped in concrete jungles. The well-shot and well thought pictures transport you to the raw interiors of forests. But, as mentioned by Mahindra, wildlife is not only about wild animals. Therefore, he has also given importance to other aspects of jungles. Other impressive feature is the trivia about some species and the back story behind the capturing of a number of pictures.
- Images of the Royal Bengal Tiger
- Asiatic Elephants spraying mud over their bodies to combat heat.
- Sal Trees at Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh.
- A spider trying hard to trap a butterfly
- A crocodile, deer and a bird appearing together.
- The picturesque Jogi Mahal below Ranthambhore Fort, Rajasthan.
- A mother elephant trying to convince her kid to get inside a lake.
- A Spotted Deer ready for mating.
But apart from presenting wildlife pictures, the deeper intent here is to encourage sustainability of wildlife habitats that are diminishing rapidly. It is like a wakeup call to the people of today’s times. The photographer-cum-author has also provided a list of solutions for the same.
Coming to the minor negative points, the written matter on some occasions needs to be short since it is a pictorial book. This becomes more problematic due to the very small font as one is required to zoom in and out regularly.
Overall: ‘Capturing Wildlife Moments In India’ is a pleasurable jungle safari.
More pictures from the book:-
(Click to enlarge)
By: Keyur Seta
The deaths and casualties in the Nepal Earthquake are continuing to go high. According to latest reports, the death toll has now surpassed 4000 with many thousands injured. So, naturally, the help needed should be directly proportional to the magnanimity of the tragedy.
The Indian Army and a whole lot of social groups and independent volunteers are selflessly fighting day in and day out to repair the damage and help out those who are injured and stranded. The Government of India too is taking special care to make sure all the help is provided during Nepal’s hour of crisis.
But when the intensity of the crisis is so high, no help is enough. Hence, it becomes our moral responsibility to make whatever little effort to restore the situation in Nepal. If we can’t visit the affected areas personally, we can surely be there in spirit by donating as much amount as we can.
You can make a contribution to Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund in the following ways:-
The headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission at Belur Math in West Bengal are collecting funds for the Nepal Earthquake.
Phone: (91-33-) 2654-1144/1180/5391/8494/9581/9681
Save The Children, an NGO, is providing help to the many children affected by the earthquake.
Phone: (Toll Free) 1.800.728.3843 (8:00am-5:00pm EST, M-F)
Online Donation: Click HERE
International Association for Human Values (IAHV) is also collecting funds for the tragedy.
Online Donation: http://www.iahv.org/in-en/nepal-earthquake-relief/
Friends Service Council Nepal is an organization situated in Kathmandu, Nepal which is working with respect to the tragedy.
Contact Online: http://www.fscnepal.org/contact-us/
Goonj, an Indian NGO, too is working for the rehabilitation of the victims.
Contact online: http://goonj.org/
Phone: 011 – 41611244 & 9810032527
Facebook is also doing its bit in collection fund for the tragedy.
Visit FB’s Nepal tragedy page here - https://www.facebook.com/nepalearthquakesupport
But what about the long run?
But an ideal way to help in the long run will be by making sure such devastating tragedies never take place ever. This might sound outrageous to some but I feel it is futile to blame Mother Nature for this because such tragedies are an outcome of our own greed. We have destroyed forest after forest and many other aspects of nature in the name of development and progress. Towers after towers are created without paying heed to nature.
Any development at the cost of nature or ecology is not development. It is downright destruction or violence. And since every action has a reaction, incidents like Nepal earthquake, Kashmir and Uttarakhand floods and other such incidents keep happening and, unfortunately, will continue so, if we don’t do anything in this regard.
But, you might ask, what can we do? Well, there is plenty we can do to, at least, make sure the condition of our planet isn’t worsened further.
Here are some ideas:
- Plant trees or saplings anywhere and everywhere you can.
- Avoid Firecrackers as they violently pollute the environment at an enormous level. Parents themselves should sensitize their kids about it.
- Minimize the use of cars. If you are young and fit, use as much of public transport as possible. Many of you might label me crazy but there is no other alternative to reduce traffic and pollution or to, at least, make sure it doesn’t increase further. The traffic and pollution has already crossed insane levels. Use carpooling to the maximum. Metro Rail is a major boon in this regard.
- But the above option is possible only if our government and authorities improve the condition and efficiency of our public transport systems. There should be more local trains with more bogies. Some years ago, a very lengthy B.E.S.T bus used to run on Mumbai roads. But they have stopped it for reasons best known to them. Such buses will prove to be a major boost.
- Ban deforestation or cutting trees completely. We have destroyed forests and trees enough. We should follow the policy of not a single tree being allowed to cut down.
- Make laws to minimize creation of new industries. Preserving nature is more important than making new products and inventions.
- Make sure the industrial waste is properly decomposed and not dumped carelessly into the sea or rivers.
- Ban polluting or littering into rivers even at a micro level.
Only resorting to the above and many other options will help in sustaining Mother Nature. If we ignore these measures, we should be ready for more massive earthquakes, floods, etc. The equation is simple – If we destroy nature, we can’t expect nature to bear it lying down. This is Nature’s Law and not the man-made judicial laws, so it can’t be tweaked as per our whims and fancies.
I recently read on Facebook – Nature doesn’t need us. We need nature.
By: 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).”
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.
By: Keyur Seta
Rating: * * * * ½
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.
Although 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.
Coming 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.
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)
By: Keyur Seta
There is a huge difference between living life and merely surviving through it. So in the midst of a hectic professional life, it is necessary to have people, things and situations that add Zest to your life by making it worth living. I am fortunate to have many sources of Zest in my life.
Here’s listing five of them:-
Nature: Whenever you are stressed out, disturbed, tensed or angry over something, just surrender yourself to nature – be it mountains, shade of a huge tree, landscape, river, lake or sea – and see the difference within minutes. I can say this from many personal experiences. I can stay in the company of nature for hours alone as if I am having a conversation with the surroundings. Needless to say, something that provides you with immense peace has to be labeled as a Zest! It can also be described as 'Nature Therapy'.
Roadside food: If I am given a choice between a luxurious five star restaurant and a roadside rekdi, I will choose the latter 10 out of 10 times. I personally feel that the taste of roadside food (be it any cuisine) is unmatchable to any of those big sophisticated restaurants. Just think about it – Can you ever compare the experience of eating a spicy Vada Pav during heavy rains to that of eating mannerly in those luxurious air-conditioned restaurants?
Cinema: This is the biggest passion in my life. Although I watch many films, each of my movie experience is special as it takes me to a different world altogether thereby making it more like a spiritual activity, irrespective of its quality or genre. Hence, I address it as ‘cinema’ instead of just ‘movies’. Over the years, I have realized there is a big difference between both. The term ‘movies’ refers to those who watch films just for fun while munching tubs of popcorn. On the other hand, ‘cinema’ refers to people like me who just don’t need anything as we are completely focused on our spiritual exercise.
Company of a cinema buff: When I am in the company of someone who considers watching films a spiritual exercise, I can literally speak with him or her for hours without a moment’s pause. Hence, such a cinema buff is also a Zest for me. And speaking about films doesn’t necessarily mean a serious discussion on great films. It also includes making fun of a lot of bad films and the various ham scenes in it. If you are lucky, you might even witness me acting out some ham scenes.
Company of a Common Man: Just like the company of a cinema buff, having a down-to-earth chat with a simple Common Man (ideally with a cutting chai) provides me with immense peace, irrespective on what topic the discussion is, ranging from movies, politics, cricket to even laughing at a silly PJ. Through my personal experience, I have wholeheartedly started believing that simple joys of life are the most pleasurable and long lasting.