Showing posts from March, 2011

Movie Review: The Great Indian Butterfly

The Great Indian Butterfly is a typical arthouse film in Indian English which is far removed from the standard Bollywood fare. Though it doesn't have any of the usual exotic dance, drama or action, yet the evocatively titled film possibly has more relevance than most of the other films today. The Great Indian Butterfly tracks the turbulent married relationship of a young, upwardly mobile couple as they battle the usual problems most urban couples would identify with. The film is well-paced, the acting is realistic and the debutant director Sarthak Dasgupta keeps the screenplay flowing briskly, with the story jumping back and forth smoothly. Sandhya Mridul and Aamir Bashir are a DINK couple who work in corporate jobs, own a fancy car and an apartment but have lots of stress. To take a break and resolve their problems, they decide to take a vacation. Except that Aamir messes up again and they miss their flight, which immediately leads to scrap. Thus, in this foul mood, they end up d…

Angry Cabbies

Mumbaikars would vouch for the fact that the city's landscape is incomplete without the taxis. More so because it is a known fact that Mumbai cabbies are an institution by themselves. Mumbaikars would be lying if they say they don't prefer the city's new taxis over the battle-weary yellow-and-black Fiat taxis.

Recently, my friend ran into a cabbie of one such Fiat who looked on bemusedly after a bevy of beauties rejected his taxi in favour of an Alto. The rejected cabbie spoke with apparent hurt about the "phoren taxi" craze. He mentioned a man with two children and wife preferred to wait at the Marine Drive promenade at around 1 am on a December night than hail the only two Fiat taxis at the stand. As an hour ticked by, the man ventured into the angry cabbie saying he wanted to go to Bandra and the cabbie flatly refused by citing that he had a prior booking.

To cut the long story short, the cabbie said his passengers, who trooped out at around 2:30 a.m., offered …

The Sins Catch Up

The Hindu Business Line

Given its size and diversity, not to mention the complicated nature of its federal arrangements which make coalitions unavoidable, India surely is not an easy country to govern. Even in the more mature democracies, apart from the technical requirements laid down in the Constitution, two intangible ingredients play a major role. One is credibility and the other is moral authority. Unfortunately, the UPA-II Congress government appears to have lost both. The credibility disappeared when it was repeatedly caught being "economical with the truth".

Now, after the WikiLeaks expose in The Hindu of a cable sent by a US Diplomat describing how some MPs were bribed when the Indo-US Nuclear Deal came up for a vote on July 22nd 2008, the moral authority has also gone. As a result, the Government is ruling only because of the technicality that it has a majority in the Lok Sabha. Indeed, in that sense it is not unlike Mr. P.J. Thomas, who was recently removed…

Umrao Jaan: A Poetic Portrayal of Pain

The presence of courtesans which are deeply entrenched in popular culture has been time and again fascinated Bollywood filmmakers and it has been reflected in the movies as well. "Umrao Jaan" is a stunning piece of art which beautifully captures the time period of the 19th century Lucknow. The story of Umrao Jaan is adapted from the Urdu novel "Umrao Jaan Ada" written by Mirza Hadi Ruswa which was first published in 1899.

The Hindi/Urdu film "Umrao Jaan" tells the story of a courtesan set in Lucknow of the early 19th century. The film begins as a young girl known by the name as Amiran in 1840 when she is kidnapped and sold to a brothel in Lucknow. Amiran is brought to Madam Khanum Jaan's brothel in Lucknow, where her name is changed to Umrao Jaan. Umrao Jaan (Rekha) now grows up to be a very talented singer, an exceptional dancer and a brilliant poet. She becomes a much sought-after tawaif (courtesan) known purely for her dancing skills and poetry.


The "Wrong" To Die

Anil Dharker

The case of Aruna Shanbaug in the Supreme Court, which has brought the subject of euthanasia into public debate, is in one way typical of such cases and in another way, not typical at all. It's not typical because her family is not involved in any decision-making process on her behalf; apparently members of her family (sister; niece and so on) stopped visiting her four years after she was admitted to hospital in a vegetative state; since then none of them have been to see her any time. In a sense, therefore, she has been dead to them for the past 33 years.

Who can blame them? Her closest relative seems to be an older sister who ekes out a meagre living her for herself. Would she be in a position to pay for Aruna's hospitalization? The answer is no. So if KEM Hospital--and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation--weren't willing to foot the bill, how would Aruna be kept alive? The particular circumstances of her tragedy--she was a nurse at the hospital, t…

A Time to Live, A Time To Die

Harmala Gupta,
Founder President, CanSupport

In the wake of the Supreme Court's judgment in the Aruna Shanbaug case, the arguments have moved from the "potential to be misused" argument to that of "I-have-the-right-to-choose-when-and-how-I-wish-to-die". So it's no surprise that euthanasia is being viewed as a pre-emptive strike that it will prevent the "loss-of-control" or becoming a "burden" on care-givers.

The World Health Organization (WHO) maintains that "governments should not consider the legalization of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia until they have demonstrated the full availability and practice of palliative care for all citizens" (WHO Recommendations, Cancer Pain Relief and Palliative Care, 1990). This is a position that has been reiterated by practitioners of palliative medicine worldwide. They have argued that countries which have legalized (or have sought to legalize) euthanasia and/or physician-assisted su…

Aruna Shanbaug: A Life In Hell

On Monday, the 07th of March 2011, the Supreme Court of India struck down a verdict against active euthanasia referring to the case of Mumbai nurse Aruna Shanbaug filed by writer-activist Pinky Virani. Dismissing the euthanasia plea for Aruna Shanbaug, the Supreme Court spelt out the guidelines distinguishing between active euthanasia and passive euthanasia thereby revealing its ambivalence on the issue.

Aruna Shanbaug, a former nurse at Mumbai's KEM Hospital, Parel, Mumbai who was sexually assaulted by Sohanlal Valmiki, a ward boy at the hospital on 27 November 1973. He choked her with a dog chain and sodomized her. The asphyxiation cut off oxygen supply to her brain resulting in a brain stem contusion injury and a cervical cord injury apart from leaving her cortically blind which in turn led her to lead life in a vegetative state for the past 37 years.

Aruna's case opens up the floodgates for a healthy discussion on euthanasia or mercy killing. The euthanasia debate is an ex…

Movie Review: The President Is Coming

The world shall eternally be thankful to the former American President George W. Bush. Not for his botched up policies, ideas and ideologies, but for opting to don the role of the First Joker rather than the First Citizen of the United States. Never mind, we have laughed enough so much on the crazy antics he has performed during his tenure as the President, he was certainly one of those few world leaders who chose to be goofy even in America's bleakest hours. Remember 9/11 and how he held the children's story book "My Pet Goat" upside down, while the airplanes pounded history?

George Bush may no longer be the President of the United States but there was no other way to bid him farewell than celebrate his Bushisms with a dash of Indianism. The President Is Coming directed by Kunaal Roy Kapur is a shameless, amateurish and funny satirical comedy that not only lampoons Bush, but also takes a rib-tickling dekko at the stereotype of the Indian youth.

Set against the forme…

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation

The Brihanmumbai Mahanagar Palika or the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) or the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are the few of the names that the civic body that governs the city of Mumbai is known by. It is India's richest municipal corporation which also has the distinction of being the largest organization. It's annual budget is more than the annual budget of the small states in India. 

The main motto of the BMC is the Sanskrit sentence is "यतो धर्मोस्तुतो जय" which roughly translates to "Where there is righteous, there shall be victory". The motto is inscribed in the Coat of Arms. The Coat of Arms is a four panel shield supported by an intertwining floral border in gold. A lotus in bloom, an emblem of purity and beauty is at the bottom and a lion surmounts it. The panels inscribed as the Gateway of India which signifies the position of Mumbai as a gateway to India, a symbolic factory inscribed in a cog wheel which signifies the in…