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Purple Sky

The blue, pink & purple of everything under the sky

Don’t lock the Manichithrathazhu

Yesterday, yet again I saw manichithrathazhu… Probably for the 105th time? And I never seem to tire of it. It’s influence on me was phenomenal. All during my adolescent years I was saying that either I will be a psychiatrist or a psychologist. I became neither and that is another long story worthy of a 3-part blog post. But that movie made me fascinated about the human mind it’s depths, it’s intricacies -like a glacier where only 10% is known and the rest remains an enigma. 

And movies that impact me, triggers a craving to know more about it. And I end up googling like crazy for the next one hour, for any tidbit, some scrap of trivia that can assuage my fevered curiosity. (Such a kind of a search last night led me to a blog which hypothesised that Ganga was a lesbian… 🤐) This happened also right after I watched Kammattipadam. I wanted to know more about it. What were the difficulties they faced in recreating the Ernakulam of the 60s. How did they over come those obstacles. Where did these people (the story writers – Madhu Muttam or P. Balachandran) get the inspiration to write such amazing stories? 

U know Hollywood has spawned an entire industry of collectibles and Blu rays long after a cult movie is released – extended version, director’s cut, remade, digitised and re-released version (eg Star Wars)… Hmmm, how would it be if Manichithrathazhu was re-released in theatres, just like how My Dear Kuttichathan was? I for one would be delighted. And going by the IMDb ratings and so many people gushing over it, I am sure there would be many takers for it. Or atleast a DVD re release with the full movie (the ones that you get now are shortened versions, many scenes were cut for the sake of brevity) with the story writers or directors commentary. Or a “making of the movie”, movie? Oh, the possibilities !!! Come on New generation and Malayalam film industry – you are not short on ideas like before. Give us fans something to chew on… Don’t lock up the Manichithrathazhu!

Where are the Malayalam books?

The DC book fair at Kochi was advertised to be the largest book fair in South India… really? Have the organisers never visited the Chennai book fair? It is supposedly the second largest book fair in India… I was able to go only once – in 2013. And there were at least a 100 stalls there compared to the thirty odd stalls here. Sheri, athu potte… 

Having lived outside Kerala all my life, my Malayalam education was taken care of my grandmother, balarama and vanitha. My grandmother taught me the alphabets and I learned to string them together reading Balarama and Vanitha. It started with a few sentences and finally I have now graduated to reading entire articles. Still my reading is comparable to a junior schooler’s reading… 😯

Now my children are also growing up far away from their roots. And I realised today at Fort Kochi, that the foreigners were able to understand what my son was speaking more than me. So this holiday, one of the high priorities in my book lists for this India trip was to buy as many Malayalam books for my preschool children. (Not that speaking English with an accent is a bad thing. But I elt knowing the mother tongue well is also very essential. That is such a simple thing, right? But apparently, no. I must have been up and down at least some 5-6 bookshops, but except for H&C books, none of them had any aksharamalas, Malayalam rhymes etc. 

So I was quite excited today when we finally decided to go to the DC book fair. Surprise, surprise! The so called “largest book fair in South India”, did not even have a single aksharamala with them! (Whereas there was no dearth for books for toddlers and preschoolers in English) 

Now this was an eventuality that I had not expected. And it bothers me, raising a multitude of questions in my head. Where are the Malayalam books? (Again I have to clarify – there were quite a number of Malayalam books for more advanced readers. My grouse is that there were NO books for preschool and primary çhildren). Am i alone in thinking that our language should not fade out with a generation? When kalikudukka and the like is selling like hot cakes every week, really, is there no market for primary level Malayalam books for reading and writing? Or is this vacuum the reason that the former is doing well? If saleability is the problem, won’t  bilingual books work? (for eg the book on fruits will have both Malayalam and English names) and last but not the least, am I ALONE in asking – where are the Malayalam books?

Harry Potter and the Cursed child -Review

The Hindu had an article about Pottermani when the book was released this Sunday, and I realised that one of the statements held true for me also. In 2007 when the seventh book was released it was my parents who bought it for me, but now for the first time I am able to buy a Potter book on my own… 😎 I was waiting for the book  on tenterhooks will be an understatement. Everytime I heard the gate open, I would rush to see whether it is the Amazon delivery man. Finally it arrived and my entire family very understandingly – left me alone. 😍😍 So after seven hours of receiving the book, here I am with my thoughts about the book. 

As advertised, this is not a book per se, but the script for the play that J.K. Rowling wrote along with John Tiffany and Jack Throne. It reads like a screen play of a movie and this is highly unsatisfying for me. The beauty of JK’s books were in the details, where she paints vivid images of the wizarding world with her words. I remember the countless times I have immersed myself in that world. I had always found new connections and meanings with every reading and it never ceases to amaze me what an intricately webbed and complex world she had created through her seven books. That complexity is obviously missing here, since this book is like an afterthought, a continuation made for the sake of continuing. (Not that I am not grateful for it – something is better than nothing, after all). And it does not seem to seamlessly continue from where it was left. Frankly, Lord Voldemort falling for a basic instinct of human kind is something that i am finding hard to digest. And since there was no indication for it in the previous books,  (the genesis for the plot began from there), it is yet again an unsatisfactory justification. Maybe you can take it as artistic liberty, but coming from JK who always left no loose threads lying in her books, the explanations given seemed… off. (once, I realised that the reason for Dumbledore’s fleeting look of triumph while listening to Harry’s recounting of Lord Voldemort’s resurrection in the forth book had its explanation in the seventh book) 

The book begins with the last chapter of the seventh book. So this sets the stage for the book – it is about the children of the wizards and witches who fought in the Battle of Hogwarts and how a chance to change the past is thwarted. 

It is an interesting storyline with the usual father-son, friendhip,  dynamics coming into play. They have brought many of the well loved characters into the story line. But I am sure that all Potter fans like me would have liked to know what happened to the other supporting characters – the Weasley brothers (why is Ron running the Weasley Wizarding Wheezes and not George?), Hagrid and the like.

And the book tries to cover the emotions and events of four years in small montages in a matter of 300 and odd pages. The book managed to well me up in all the right places, but the angst, suffering, loneliness which I had experienced intensely along with Harry Potter is missing here. And herein lies my biggest concern about the book and I couldn’t help wondering as I finished, could having used the basis for the screen play to make a full fledged book have made a better impact?

Kabali – review

I had always wanted to write a movie review. I’ve been quite inspired by the blog of Mr. Baradwaj Rangan, and I love the way he writes about movies, the passion, the sarcasm and the discussion thread. But since I am living in the cinematically barren land of Burundi, I have no hope of reviewing movies first hand and by the time I watch anything, another thirty movies would have already been released. So I was thrilled that Kabali was releasing during my trip home and super excited like every other super star fan… Finally I got to watch it today, and here goes my two cents along with a million other reviews of it.

First of all, I feel the biggest mistake of the movie was, the team had not managed the expectations of the movie well. This is not a Rajini movie or a P. Ranjith movie. This is a gangster movie. Period. Hence it follows that THIS movie should not have got U certificate. If like Billa, they had gone for the proper certification, and managed expectations, families would not have thronged the cinema halls expecting a “masala padam” and thereafter left the theater sorely disappointed. Basically it is a pure marketing failure. And also a mistake from the team trying to make it look like a mass movie. Which it is not. But having read the reviews, I was not expecting… basically I kept my expectations at zero level and because of that, I was not disappointed. 

Frankly, I was thrilled by the fact that this movie does not have the superstar shaking his leg in duets and running around trees. Finally! And sincerely, he doesn’t have to. Also this is one movie which does not try to teach women their place. Or women waiting to be rescued. Instead this movie has a tomboyish daughter who is no lesser than any man in her job and does not need to be rescued… I know her characterisation was not really appreciated. But I was enthralled by her super cool look and badass attitude. And this coming in a Superstar movie, has given me goosebumps. (I am so used to seeing determined women shown as headstrong and arrogant, eg. Mannan and Padayappa, women who have to be tamed. But here, his daughter is a gangster, but there is no condescension instead there is acceptance – acceptance of who she is and her judgement)

I know the superstar does not use Botox for his off screen public appearances. But have they used it for the movie? Is that the reason why, some of his dialogue delivery does not seem smooth? Frankly, I liked the bearded look more than the clean shaven look. (By the way, what is up with all the fake tattoos and the bling? Is this a true depiction of the people there or just the imagination of the stylist let to go berserk?)

Another thing that I appreciate was that there are no song and dance breaks for the movie and the songs were seamlessly integrated with the story. This is a welcome trend in current movies, especially Malayalam movies and I am glad that the director has taken some bold decisions to do away with many such unnecessary interruptions to the story. But having said that, I cannot help wondering if the movie could have been a better viewing experience, had the flashback scenes been tauter and the movie slightly  shorter. (What was the need to show an elongated chase scene for Dinesh, which only unnecessarily adds to the lengthy and goriness of the movie? And also show the “moment” between him and Dhansika, if they didn’t plan to elaborate on it?)

But how well these decisions to do away with the clichés – one SPB intro song, one romantic song, parallel comedy scenes, advise on how women should behave, punchlines on how manly a man is, mother-father-sister sentiment, are received by the non multiplex viewers, only time can tell.

Ransomware Alert

That morning was just like any other morning. Got up late, hurriedly sent my children to school, took a “kakka – kuli” myself and landed up in the office huffing and puffing. My colleague had already fired the laptop and was checking his mails. When i took it over from him to print out a document, I was unable to open it. I tried restarting my laptop (a novice’s quick fix for all computer problems). But that didn’t work too… I realised that strangely the extension of the file was modified to something else that i havent seen before. I think it was docxV or something. I tried changing that. That also didnt help. That was when i realised that all my files in that folder had mutated to that strange extension.

And with increasing trepidity, I realised that ALL the files in the laptop had mutated. Pictures, documents, PDF, PPTs…. EVERYTHING. And NONE of them were opening.

I felt like I was stuck in some kind of horribly made Sci-Fi movie and the only thought that was running in my mind was – “What the Hell is wrong! what is happening?”

And suddenly, as if some telepathic person had read my mind, the browser popped opened automatically (on its own) to a site. It explained a process by which they had transformed the contents of my laptop to some unreadable form (they had explained it, but me being the technically challenged person I am, it just went right over my head). And that NOTHING or NOBODY except themselves, can rectify the problem. Then it said if i wanted the problem to be rectified, go to the link below.

Afraid, I didn’t click the link. But I called my All-Knowing cousin. I explained everything and he replied in one word – Ransomware. They lock your computer like this and then take ransom from you for unlocking the computer. I had never heard about this before. Antivirus could not detect it. Antivirus cannot solve it. Nobody can solve it. In fact he said in 4 simple words – Nothing can be done. If he of all people said that, then I knew nothing could be done. That was when I truly started panicking and the water works started. I mean, all my customer details, proposals, anything and everything that i had worked on in the past years were all gone!

Early in the morning, my colleague had received an  e-mail with the subject “Invoice” and he had opened it thinking it was from some client. He had also opened a zip file that came attached with the mail. We suspect that was what triggered this attack on the laptop.

So what did we finally do? We had no other choice but to format the laptop. Everything was gone. I had backup with me, but I had not updated for the past 4 months. So I started combing all my e-mails to retrieve them. I have not gotten back all my documents, but I am able to manage now. What if this had happened in the accounts laptop!

So lessons learnt from this humbling experience

– ransomware attacks cannot be resolved. It can only be prevented

– ransomware attacks are not detected by antivirus. I had run a scan after the attacks but I got the result “no threats found”. (Cannot help myself from  grudgingly admire the genius behind this)

-DO NOT open any attachment from a mail you do not trust especially containing a zip file. Even today I keep receiving  e-mails under a hundred varied subjects (some very creative) like – invoice, payment pending, fine pending, your car has been caught in a traffic violation, Amazon order status (Amazon has never sent attachments), receipt of payment made etc.

– Always have a backup – this is not new advise. Nevertheless, repetition does not diminish it’s importance.

– and CONSTANT VIGILANCE!!!

6 Animated movies that children should watch

Stories have the power to convey subtle messages to people. Isn’t that why stories have always been the means of preachers to easily send a message across. Jesus conveyed his message through parables, Buddhist monks preached “Dhamma” to the people through the Jataka tales, the humorous Mulla Nasruddin stories embodies Sufi teachings and Vishnu Sharma sought to impart the principles of “Niti” to the 3 ignorant Princes through the Panchatantra tales.

But now movies have overtaken orally narrated stories as the primary source of entertainment for children. So why not make the best of the situation and use what we have to convey some good messages across to our children.

So this is a list of 6 movies which in my opinion has a good value to teach to children, and of course they are quite entertaining. No, i have not watched all the animated movies in the world, so I may have left some good ones out. (Please leave in the comments any other movie which you think worthwhile) Nevertheless here goes, 5 movies that children should watch, in no particular order.

1. Cars

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This 2006 animated movie is about a world filled with anthropomorphic cars and other vehicles. It is about a race car trying to win a race. Problem is, he knows only to win a race and nothing else. Sounds familiar, right? I mean, who in this social media age is not running a race? And many of us may not be lucky enough to get an intervention like Lightning Mc Queen. His encounters with Doctor Hudson, Sally and Mater, makes him understand the finer, better things in life. Which leads to the climax, the true culmination point of his learnings. I might have watched the movie at least a dozen times. But every time, it never fails to draw tears.

2. Iron Giant

iron giant

Hogarth Hughes: [to the Giant, in battle mode] It’s bad to kill. Guns kill. And you don’t have to be a gun. You are what you choose to be. You choose. Choose.

A little known movie from 1999, this movie is about the friendship between a boy and an alien iron giant. Moral conflict has always been a core issue in most animated movies where the protagonist finally does the right thing. This is movie is no different. When a robot built to be a weapon, is faced with mortal threat, what will it choose to do – to behave as it is programmed to do or do what it feels it should do? This message can be interpreted with multiple layers of complexity and hence a good movie to show children and adults.

Considering that my children are seeing guns everyday, it is specially enheartening to hear them mouth the words above in their play time.

3. The Lion King

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Mufasa: Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope.

Young Simba: But, Dad, don’t we eat the antelope?

Mufasa: Yes, Simba, but let me explain. When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. And so we are all connected in the great Circle of Life.

As a young child, I loved The Lion King and I still do. The Circle of Life is the reason why I put it in the list. But there are so many impactful scenes. In fact one of my most favourite scene of all times is the segment where Mufasa reprimands Simba after rescuing him from the elephant grave. It is a perfect Masala movie with laughter, sadness, love, family, betrayal etc.

4. Frozen

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Finally Disney has started rectifying the wrong that they had perpetuated though the decades from their first movie – Snow white and the seven dwarfs. Finally they have started making movies echoing contemporary thoughts and not just building on the fantasy and illusions spun around “Love”. Finally they made a movie, where “love at first sight” is not glorified, but actually teased at.

Anna: Oh well, it was all my fault. I got engaged, but then she freaked out because I’d only just met him, you know that day. She said she wouldn’t bless the marriage and…

Kristoff: [Interrupts] Wait, you got engaged to someone you just met that day?

Anna: Yes, pay attention, but the thing is she wore the gloves all the time, so I just thought, maybe she has a thing about dirt…

Kristoff: [Interrupts] Didn’t your parents ever warn you about strangers?

And they also gave a new twist to the phrase “Act of true love”. Frankly one shouldn’t have been surprised by the twist. But the fact that movie makers have started considering other “acts of love” worth making movies about, is actually giving me goose bumps.

5. How to Train Your Dragon

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Animated movies have always been about the underdog, how David wins over Goliath. How good triumphs over evil. But recently there has been a slight shift in the portrayal of underdogs. For e.g., Despicable me was about a villain, Wreck it Ralph was about the “bad” game character, How to train your dragon was about the evil dragons. Just that once you get to know the motive behind their actions, it does not feel so evil anymore, and in fact you start sympathizing with them. I have always felt that this is the truth about our world. Nobody is particularly evil. Just that their lifestyle is different, it may sometimes clash with ours and that a little understanding and an open mind can do wonders in bringing peace.

6. Lorax

Dr. Seuss imaginative characters and alliterating rhymes have brought pleasure to many a young reader for many decades. His Seuss-isms are indeed a treasure chest full of fantastical rhymes and immeasurable meaning.

Like all good books which gets a movie adaptation, Lorax is one such movie based on the book of the same name. It tells the story of the Once-ler who had a great idea and built a whole new industry around it. But along the way, he forgot to – care. And what happens when finally someone does care… it is a fun movie with catchy songs and introduces children to the concept of pollution, deforestation etc.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

These are the 6 animated movies in English that children should watch (for their good message). I will follow this post soon with 5 live action movies in English on the same subject. Please feel free to name other movies in the comments section.

The Forgotten Friend

Boys and their toys. As if spending some 8 hours on the phone is not enough, my husband decided to go for some good earphones, coz he is not able to “enjoy” his movies with all the “noise” around. So he buys a Sennheisser. And he is not been able to stop extolling it’s greatness. While I was trying to get a decision from him on who is going to a meeting tomorrow – but, who was I talking to… He was tone deaf to the outside world. Seeing my irritated face, (coz, I put a lot of energy into my conversations. I don’t know understated.) He said, “here, try this”. And he places the earpieces into my ears. Few seconds into the song and I was stunned. No, it’s not the Sennheisser. I mean, it was awesome as always, but that was not the reason I was stunned. Nor was it because my tresses got static haired listening to the thumping OST of Mad Max. I actually like rock music, as long as it does not involve screeching or people like Gene Simmons (this crazy rockstar has insured his tongue for a million dollars… Ugh)

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The thing that stunned me was a sense of loss that I felt while listening to the music. Like I had serendipitously chanced upon a long lost and sadly forgotten friend. My friend, my love – for music. Books and music were my steadfast and sometimes only companions during my growing up years. How many hours I have spent – working on boring assignments, walking from hostel to college and back or just lying down, staring up at the ceiling and trying to drown my loneliness in the ocean of music…

When my children were born, I had taken a conscious decision not to use the earphones, lest I do not hear my children. Its not like I have given up listening to music completely. But when I listen to it through earphones… It’s like I have cut off everybody else from the world, wrapped a cocoon around me and now it is just me and the music.  Sometimes i get a high listening to music, that i have often wondered whether this is how it actually feeIs… To be intoxicated?

So yeah, that is the reason, for it was in that stunning moment that I had realised that I had missed my friend, so much and the sad part is… I never realised it at all….

In search of a song

Sometimes inspiration or a memory hits us at an unexpected time and in an unexpected place. (Not unlike writing this blog post at 11.30 in the night)

A few days back, around the same time (looks like my inspiration clock is set at a weird time), while I was half asleep, I heard a few rusty cogwheels in some forgotten part of my brain creaking – ta-ta-ta-robot, ta-ta-ta-robot robot… I immediately sit up straight, like some electric current had passed through me, smiling broadly.

Now, I think is the time for a lengthier explanation. Two months back, my husband asked me, “Do you know the name of this music ?”, and he beat boxed it. Yes, I knew it. This was something I had heard a loooo..oot of times at the theatres some twenty years back. The single screen theatres during their hey days, used to open the screen for the first show with much pomp and fanfare – this electronic music, lights, the works… But what was the name of the song? No idea…

We had searched through YouTube, video by video, trying different combination of keywords – best electronic music, old electronic music, dance music etc. We tried googling, Yahoo answers, but no luck. (Apparently, my husband had spent 12 years and a lot of money buying music records, just to get that song!)

Coming back to the story, I started laughing, feeling exhilarated (I guess this is how Archimedes felt when he jumped out of the tub and shouted “Eureka”), that I at last cracked the ‘Mystery of the  elusive song’. I googled ‘robot electronic music’ and viola!!! 👇

Robots – Kraftwerk

kraftwerk

I just played the song loudly on YouTube (he was already asleep), and he sat bolt upright, wide awake and excited, ” How did you find that song?!?”. I was so happy and the best part was to see my husband’s boyish enthusiasm and his goofy grin… Ah! Small, small things can bring so much joy in life.

<< End of Story >>

Epilogue: First thing my husband did was to share this info with his brother, and guess what? He had known all along the name of this song. Talk about communication gap. 😤

Remembering, on Mother’s day 👪

Happy Mother’s day!

I didn’t know it was mother’s day today. It was Amazon, Flipkart and Hopscotch that reminded me about this day. And also a cute little card that my daughter brought from school.

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(Of course, the words were written by the teacher; my daughter’s current handwriting looks like this 😉👇)

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I still remember the days soon after my son was born. Questioning my every move, bombarded with suggestions, sometimes conflicting, sleep deprived and totally stressed (just like every other new mother) I had a totally confusing start. Finally I decided, the only thing that I am going to listen to, is this –

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I used to feverishly pore through the pages of the book for every sneeze and every cough. What if I did something wrong. My husband was even worse – why is his leg crooked? why has he not turned? Why has he not gained weight? Why… Why… Why? By the time our daughter arrived, things were much more relaxed.

(At this point, have to acknowledge the sleepless nights, the confusions and the back breaking work, my mother and my father went through with me. My father was a like a surrogate mother to my son during my second pregnancy. So I think I am not much mistaken in wishing both of you today. Happy Mother’s Day. 😊)

But all this was not my biggest concern. I knew somehow we will scrap through. The biggest concern, problem, confusion, tension was – to work or not to work. I had reached a point where finally, things were looking up and I may or not may not have been considered for the next rung in the corporate ladder. And I loved my job and my company – Colgate Palmolive. Also, despite working in the male dominated FMCG sector, I have never ever been mistreated in any way (oh, I’ve had my fair share of month end rebukes, outbursts and fights 😁, but you know what I mean). My company was very supportive during my whole pregnancy period and they were ready to make some allowances to help me dive into my new designation of a working mother. So the thought of leaving everything behind was a torture to me. How many sleepless nights I had spent trying to make up my mind! Do I aspire to be a woman who has it all or do I take one thing at a time? Will I be doing an injustice to myself, my work and my education or will leaving, for now, be the right thing for everyone? How could I just leave behind everything I knew, what about my identity? Ah, Identity! It is such a powerful emotion. While I was working, I was not Suresh’s daughter, Murali’s wife or Adarsh’s mother. I was Jyoti and I was recognised as such.

Finally, my back pain literally became the last straw on my back, and I quit. Though I still feel a pang of sadness whenever I remember quitting my job, looking back, I have no regrets. I am gainfully employed again, in a job that constantly challenges me and everything has fallen in place much better than I had imagined.

This is how I began my journey of motherhood and there are miles to go before I sleep. So… what is your story?

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