Monday, August 31, 2015

Movie Critics
Vasu Reddy from Chicago

You pay a few bucks and see a movie in air-conditioned comfort for a couple hours.  You probably buy a bag of popcorn and a soda for a couple of more bucks and enjoy the solitude of time and the experience, either by yourself or with someone else with you in the theater, and leave with the experience of watching someone else’s point of view on big screen.  Just for a few bucks we escape the reality of life and watch people, locations that we probably will never see and situations that most times defy normal logic for any person; that’s what we expect and get from movies.  There is no language or actor/actress, story or a fib, history or mythology, mystery or magic and anything else we can think of has been made as a movie.  In about a hundred years of making movie magic, directors and producers have just about thought of story-telling that continues to draw us to the theaters.  Language and logic are not criteria for people who make the movies and people who watch the movies.  Until the time we started to see the term realistic cinema, which joined the movie terminology to tell us that the movies are true to real life, movies simply provided a couple hours of escapism to the viewers.  Movies are a great source of escapism to the viewers.  For a couple of hours they are a source of world far away from reality, engrossing the human emotions and locations and plots from the imagination of writers, actors and directors, making things up.  They are very far away from reality.  Movies and celluloid continue to provide to our imagination and state of relaxation, all while escaping to the world that is only on film.

With TV and internet becoming a staple in feeding 24/7/365 updates to people (in just about every language there is) the business of reviews on everything imaginable and comments on everything has become a routine for people to look at before they do anything.  Buying something or going somewhere or watching a movie; everything has a lot of reviewers who offer their opinions online.  Movies have really become punching bags for just about everyone who might have watched a movie.  No question that the professional movie reviewers have been around for a long time, and they do have a pattern of like/dislike on a certain type of movie.  But these days everyone who has a computer has become a critic.

Most of the men and women involved in various aspects of movie making do it for a living.  Almost all of them are professionals and work with large teams of people to bring a movie to becoming a product to get it to the theaters.  It is true that the movie makers cater to movie going audience preferences o bring them to the theaters.  The melodrama, story, action. Locations, men and women, drama, song and dance, editing. Screen play. Direction and logic; and whatever is involved with movie making takes into the consideration into drawing as many people to come to the theaters to watch the movie.  It’s a business that spends money and most times has a hard time recovering the money.  Just like a startup businesses, movie makers invest and hope to recover their investment and also make a profit.  The product they put out is typically tailored to what people are willing to pay to watch.  Men and women are equally displayed, and cinematic liberties are taken to extremes.  That’s what movies and movie making is.

To be critical of a specific movie or a specific person in the movie is entirely valid as they simply can’t satisfy everyone who watches the movie.  No one can simply satisfy the views of all people.  But to criticize a director or actor/actress, and how they were presented in a movie, and how they look and how they behave, is really not being a movie critic.  It’s venting frustration on one’s own idiosyncrasies.  Movie makers, actors and actresses, technicians and directors are all simply executing to their celluloid vision.  They hope that people will go and watch the movie, and enjoy the escapism for a couple of hours by spending a couple of bucks.  Beyond that the choice of the viewers is what make a profitable movie venture.  Taking a person and chastising him or her, taking a situation that represents a small portion of a movie, attaching a race or bias to a person, being critical of a comment or an instance, or a person’s behavior outside of the movie; the part-time critics are often abusive and analytical.  While venting out personal opinion might sound good to the person who is doing it, it is often offensive and degrading to the reader/viewer.  It doesn’t achieve the objective of being a movie critic, rather someone who sounds angry and frustrated, and has a lot of time to put out personal opinions on individuals who are no way connected, and events that are unrelated.

Unfortunately simply googling on the internet brings out all kinds of references to a particular movie, and you end up seeing people venting out their opinions, behaving as movie critics.  Far from being true to the movie, they are simply being angry and opinionated.  No stopping people using their internet and expressing opinions, but the least we can do is make them happy endings.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Territorial Integrity

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

Having hostile neighbors takes away a lot of resources from a nation; defending itself and defending its territorial integrity.  If you have a large geographical territory to protect and have limited protection against insurgency, especially when there is constant strife with the neighbors. It really sucks up the resources and energy of any nation.  India since its independence and division in 1947 has struggled to be at peace because of the issues with its neighbors.  To start with the division on lines of religion and leaving India as a secular nation was an idea which has not been successful for India, and has caused grief every day for Indians.  Western European nations simply have geographical boundaries on the map and very little need for protecting their boundaries.  The respect the countries have for each other and their neighbors is well represented in the conduct of each of the nations.  For some reason, ill-conceived by the nations with limited or no resources (don’t want to use the term third world, or poor in defining countries) seem to have difficulties with each other, barring the insurgencies in the middle east which do have great resources but have difficulties within the region.

Sharing a land boundary and not having the well to do and working population, and also having different political and religious ideologies create most of the world’s territorial conflicts these days.  All ill-conceived ass it is to fight with the neighbors, instead of focus on the internal issues of a country, it constantly and continuous happening in the world today.  While the wealthy nations focus on wealth creation the poor cousins fight with each other.

Even if the Indians assume that the INC since 1947, did not have the back bone to standup and put a stop to the aggression of its neighbors (ignoring the 1965 and 1971 wars, and some more intermittent skirmishes did not put the neighbor in its place) what is wrong with the government in 2015?  The talk of protecting the nation and the constant talk of defense spending and defense expansion, and the whole lot of talk on national security, but nothing to show that there is seriousness in protecting the nation and defending it.  India gets fired at every day, and people simple cross the border and attack the nation well within the boundaries of the nation, and the insurgents get caught, but still no action.  Is it a nation incapable of protecting its borders, and is it run by big talking politicians who are not really interested in its integrity and its people?

There are so many questions that come to mind with respect to the country and its ability to defend and protect its boundaries and its people.

Why should India speak to anyone about its internal and territorial issues?
Why should India entertain discussions on its own land?
Why does India have different status for a region of the nation?
Why doesn’t India reclaim and reoccupy the land that has been occupied since 1947 by its neighbors?
Why do politicians from India even engage in continued discussions on its own territorial integrity?
Why does India simply brush off terror attacks on its citizens and within its territories?
Why doesn’t India apply the same logic to protecting its people and its territory as does every other nation on earth?

Indians probably look at their daily news and ask a million questions of its leaders.  No other democratic country on earth would entertain such acts against its people as India does and its politicians simply mouth off but do nothing.

The most absurd explanation from the politicians and nations leaders has always been that we need to deal with this situation with caution.  For sure, it has been going on every day since 1947, and caution is not a 100 year old thing to follow.  The politicians in power should have some spine and take tough action on anyone attacking the country and its people.  It’s about time that the talking part ends and the action part to begin to show that the nation is and will be a nation of laws and a nation that can protect itself and its people. Jai Hind.

Monday, August 17, 2015

APJ Abdul Kalam

Only In India 1 0f 10
Vasu Reddy From Chicago

When President Kalam passed away on 25th July 2015, I felt that I lost an uncle.  He suffered a stroke in Shillong, Assam, doing what he loved to do.  Speaking to a gathering of students.  He loved to speak, write, teach, outside having been India’s 11th president.  Before that he was the missile man.  A man of science who spearheaded India’s missile program.

He was a perfect uncle for all of us, a man who was always smiling, always had the time to impart love and wisdom, he was intelligent and brilliant, he worked hard from the days of having a newspaper route as a child to the retired president of India, a writer, public speaker, and everything else you can imagine.  He was a bachelor.  No wonder he would be the best uncle for the nation.  If Bapu was the father of the nation president Kalam was the perfect maternal uncle for Indians.  Here is a man with a suitcase and nothing much else, but love for people.

One of the telling things you notice with the Indians is a pen in their front pocket.  It is a sort of a part of the ward robe with just all politicians and bureaucrats, as is it was with president Kalam.  It means the pen.  It so suited the gentleman.  He wrote a number of books, all of them very simple to read and understand, but extraordinary in content.  He wrote about science, future, experiences, change management, future, spiritual experiences and books for kids.  He was simply full of life and energy and wanted to be available for every one and give to the society his experience and knowledge, above all love for people.

What can only happen in India, Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen "A. P. J." Abdul Kalam, was born in a holy city of Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu.  Much has been written about him before and after his death, and his accomplishments and his teachings.  His beginnings are as they are with much of our vastly populated and vastly under privileged nation.  Personally I love the story of his paper route as a child to help with some money to help his family.  I share the story of my own paper circulation as an hour a week job at Roosevelt University Torch, when I first came to the USA.  It’s no fun not to have money, and it is fun to do something to earn even a little bit to help folks around you.  The effect of employment at any age, and at any wage is something that has been a part of India’s fabric and culture, although the environmental conditions force the child and women labor.  But a child doing his bit to help mom or dad, is something which is a global fabric.  Kalam was noted for his integrity and his simple lifestyle.  He never owned a television, and was in the habit of rising at 6:30 or 7 AM and sleeping by 2 AM. His few personal possessions included his books, his musical instrument Veen, a few articles of clothing, a CD player and a laptop; at his death, he left no will, and his possessions went to his eldest brother, who survived him.  Here was a man of almost all love and very little needs.  Long before we NRI talk of living on a small budget and working for a living, here was our national leader who practiced it from birth to death, and never worried about what he had, he only worried about what he can give, and give.  The glory of India and its finest is that they do make a whole lot of many things in their life with very little to start with.

The term only India here is not loosely referred to.  Many instances in India's history and achievement lies in the Indian spirit.  We have a history of facing adversity, and history of achievement and a history of giving.  President Kalam is a great example of the only in India, and a great one that will inspire us all for time to come.  RIP President Kalam.

Monday, August 10, 2015


Vasu Reddy From Chicago

Just over a year into being the prime minister of India. Modi’s stance on openness has taken a modification.  We have a self-made and disciplined man, with humble beginnings who made it to the highest elected office of the largest democracy on earth, and the first year in office, and he did present himself and his agenda with the ease of a multinational company’s CEO.  All of a sudden he seems quiet, almost silent and at a loss for words on responding to allegations against his cabinet and chief ministers.  He has lost steam on his words, agenda and public persona.  All within just about a year into the office.

One single man, who no longer is in India, who is a fugitive at this point, who was once close to a central minister and a state chief minister to do things that were humane, but politically imprudent and perhaps illegal.  The state CM was certainly a personal and a longtime family friend, and was also involved in business dealings prior to the Cricket man got into trouble with the law in India and fled to the UK.  The lady chief minister could have simply disclosed what she did to help Lalit Modi and how she was at his wife’s bedside while she was being treated abroad.  By simply giving complete account of the relationship and what was done, would have avoided any embarrassment to the center.  For sure this relationship would have been headlines for a couple of days, but as the relationship was long standing.  Modi at the center would not have had much of effect because of the history and past of the parties involved.  He could have simply referred to the long standing family relationship and association and also a state level issue that his government did not have a direct role with.  But when his central cabinet minister got involved after coming into power at the center, to refer to the UK authorities about Lalit Modi getting travel documents, that too without informing the PMO and the rest of the cabinet, it directly becomes an issue for Modi directly and his ability to govern.

The entire irony of Lalit Modi and his travel documents from the UK could have been easily avoided.  A simple tabling of this matter with the parliament to act upon would have avoided a lot grief to the government and to governance.  For whatever reason appropriate actions were never taken, considering that Lalit Modi is not a law abiding citizen and Sushma Swaraj is not just an ordinary Indian citizen, who can simply defer her actions based on humanitarian grounds.

After weeks of public displeasure and political brickbats, the government still has not acted on what we refer to now as lalitgate.  One of the minister’s recently (after all the commotion) calls Sushma Swaraj a national treasure.  Modi himself has not said a word on the entire episode, nor taken any steps to diffuse the situation.  What is unbecoming of Modi is that he allowing the visa episode to disrupt nations business, and the current parliament simply not doing anything but fight on the particular issue.  It is really uncharacteristic for him to remain silent on any issue, let along his own cabinet minister’s actions.

The entire parliament session has done nothing because of the visa papers issued on behalf of Lalit Modi, who is no longer lives in India.

The more troubling issue is why is Modi silent?  What is behind a single member of the cabinet holding up the entire government’s agenda in the parliament?  Why doesn’t the government release the complete set of documents and communications on Lalit Modi visa paperwork, and put it out in the open?  Would it not be prudent to support the minister if the whole file was out in the open?

With each passing day we get more questions on the episode rather than closure.  The government continues to be in standstill and dysfunctional.  The worst part of the ordeal is no people’s business is being conducted.

No one can blame the opposition as they have a straw to hang onto after the past election debacle, and now they can raise their voice against the government.  Weather the opposition’s outcry is legitimate or not, what was done was simply misguided and needs to be dealt with, and the file should come to closure.  But Modi’s modified persona, his style of communications, and his issue management all of these are far from his regular style of functioning of what we have seen from him.  For the country which voted him and his party to power based on his public persona, the change in his style of communications, decision making and management style is a major modification from what we are used to seeing from him.  This certainly modifies the expectations on openness and leadership from Modi to India.

Past Perfect

Vasu Reddy from Chicago It has already happened. Past is already on the books, recorded, and can’t be changed.   It ...