Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Britney Spears

Britney Spears – The queen of Scandal
From the time she burst on to the pop scene with her "...Baby One More Time" in 1998, Britney Spears has been in the limelight, usually accompanied by some sort of scandal or the other. It is amazing how this member of the ‘Mickey Mouse Club’ capitulated into one controversy after another. Her personal life, which has always been in the focus of media and paparazzi, is so messed that she is in rehab for the third time now.

Even her first video, "...Baby One More Time", had her clad in a provocatively modified Roman Catholic school girl uniform. Maybe we should have seen the signs then itself that this girl is here to sell her sexy image as much as her singing talent. And it was an instant hit the world over too, both her music and her image.

She followed it up with the international hit Oops!... I Did It Again". Although she was nominated for a couple of Grammy for both these songs she didn’t win anything at the time. She featured on the cover of Rolling Stone round the same time which triggered speculation that the still seventeen-year-old had had breast implants.

After her big Pepsi deal in 2001, she shocked everyone with a scantily clad outfit along with a python act for a performance at the MTV Video Music Awards. She got into trouble with the animal rights organization PETA in addition to criticism about her outfit.

She then had highly publicized relationship with Justin Timberlake which resulted in an equally high profile breakup. To add fuel to all this were their public bickering and counter claims on whether they has sex or not. Also her debut movie “Crossroads” didn’t do too well either.This was followed by he infamous kiss with Madonna on stage at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2003.This even gave rise to rumors that she might be even gay. In the meanwhile Britney picked up her first Grammy in the Best Dance Recording category for her song “Toxic”

She started off 2004 by getting married to childhood friend Jason Allen Alexander after they both had allegedly gotten drunk. Spears wore jeans and a baseball cap and the bellhop walked her down the aisle. This marriage lasted a whole of 55 hours before an annulment was quickly arranged.

She eventually got married to dancer Kevin Federline in 2004 and subsequently took a hiatus from her career. In 2005 she gave birth to her first child Sean Preston Federline. This was the inspiration behind a statue by Daniel Edwards, Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston, which was unveiled in March 2006. The statue features an idealized Spears giving birth in a provocative pose while hunched on all fours and clutching a bearskin rug. Although in no way recognized by her, it did create a lot of controversy at the time.
Britney next appeared nude for the cover Harper’s Bazar while being pregnant with her second child. The birth of her second child was followed by a high profile split with her husband. Then came the scandal about a leaked sex tape which the couple had made. This has been recently followed by subsequent capitulation into drugs, partying and rehab. Lately it’s been rumored that she is on the brink of a nervous breakdown and has already tried committing suicide once.
Lately Britney has been in the news for her frequent trips to rehab, her shaved head and her tattoos. She is showing all the signs of a classic Hollywood depression. She is paying the price of fame and her overtly sexy image. Even though most of the controversies and scandals are largely her own fault, let’s hope she doesn’t become another Anna Nicole Smith.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Capital Punishment and Justice

Why do we need the death penalty?

Mohammed Afzal, a man convicted for the terror attack on the Indian parliament in 2001, was sentenced to death in 2004 by the supreme court of India. After several appeals the court set the date for carrying out the execution to be on 20 October 2006. However the sentence has been stayed following a clemency petition filed by his family. The issue has raked up a huge public debate on whether Afzal should be hanged or not. Some say that since he was only a conspirator and not the actual perpetrator he should not be hanged. As an offshoot of this debate another one has cropped up on the necessity of the punishment itself.

Most of the western countries have already abolished the death penalty barring a few states in the USA. The reasons are many. Those who oppose death penalty say that the death penalty violates human rights, that it is not a good enough deterrent and that it has no place in a civilized human society. Other countries like India, Singapore and China still retain it.

There is a universal acceptance that any crime committed against any other member of the society should be punished. The punishment should be such that it serves both as a deterrent and to prevent recidivism. In any society a punishment is mainly intended to serve as an example for what would happen to those who commit that crime.

Now the biggest argument put forth by those who oppose death penalty is that it is not a deterrent enough to prevent crime. If we accept that this is not deterrent enough to prevent crime, then nothing other than the most barbaric of punishments will be sufficient. Would that be civilized then?

Coming to the point that a civilized society should not be resorting to capital punishment, I would agree completely. However what other punishment would you give to a person whose crime is against the same civilized society itself? The recent Noida serial killings are a case in point. Here, apparently the killers lured more than 40 kids to their house, murdered them, mutilated their body into pieces and then dumped them into a nearby drain. What would be punishment enough for these killers? What would be justice enough for the poor parents of these children? Are we to give these killers the same human rights for which they have shown utter contempt?

The main intention of any punishment should be to prevent the offender from committing the crime again. In India a life sentence means that the person can get out after 14 years. Imagine a serial killer, who has violated somebody else’s right to live, roaming around freely. What is the guarantee that he would not commit the crime again? Would you call that justice?

I agree that capital punishment shouldn’t be dished out to anything other than the most heinous and barbaric of crimes. But I am against the total abolishment of the capital punishment also. It should be dished out for such crimes like a heinous and brutal murder. I also feel that somebody convicted of a terrorist activity or who is proven to be a co-conspirator in a terrorist activity that amounted to large loss of life should also be given the death sentence. A prison sentence would only serve as a catalyst for further crimes to get these guys released. Remember the Kandahar hijacking episode? What happens when this guy goes and does something that kills 1000 more people? The next time we get this person are we still going to say that since we are a civilized society we wouldn’t execute this guy?

Tell me something, how is what the Allied forces did in Iraq and Afghanistan different from an execution? If you ask me, the current war on terrorism is a collective death sentence to the terrorists being executed by the same countries which have abolished capital punishment. The punishment is suitable enough in the eyes of the country that suffered their ravages. But the intellectuals would argue that it’s a war, and in war everything is just.

Some say that the arguments put forth by the supporters of capital punishment is more emotional than intellectual. My answer is that the crimes which deserve capital punishment itself are emotional. Obviously in such cases emotion would come into the picture. What would you do when you see a person butchering someone you love? Stand there and give him a sermon from the bible or rip his heart out? Wouldn’t this lead to a chaotic society if everyone started taking the law into their own hands? To avoid this we need to have a punishment that at least gives a feeling of justice having done to the victims. Sometime that’s the only source of closure for them.

Monday, February 26, 2007

And the Oscar Goes To…..

79th Annual Academy Awards

The academy awards this year somehow felt devoid of the drama that usually accompanies it. It is hard to be excited about it when you almost know for sure the winners for most of the categories. The only thing that kept me interested was to see if Scorsese would win the awards this year or not. We had a new host too, Ellen Degeneress, this year and she was a bit toned down compared to Chris Rock last year. The most memorable of her lines was “If there weren't blacks, Jews and gays, there would no Oscars. Or anyone named Oscar, if you think about that”.

Having said that, the awards did throw up some surprises along the way. The biggest of them all must surely be Alan Arkin, winner for best supporting actor for ‘Little Miss Sunshine’. He beat out everyone’s favorite Eddie Murphy who had won most of the awards leading up to the Oscars for his portrayal of James “Thunder” Early in ‘Dreamgirls’.

In another surprise the German movie ‘The Lives of Others’ won over Mexico’s ‘Pan's Labyrinth’, which was widely favored to win the award. Nevertheless Pan’s Labyrinth won 3 awards including cinematography, makeup and art direction.

The major categories all went according to plan. Hellen Mirren for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in “The Queen” must have been the surest nominee ever to win the best actress award. It was a foregone conclusion that she would pick up the award and which she duly did.

Forrest Whitaker, who started off as a favorite early on faced some sentimental competition from the veteran Peter O’Toole. However Whitaker’s role of Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland” prevailed over Toole’s portrayal of an elderly actor in love with a young girl in ‘Venus’ . “Little Miss Sunshine” a popular road comedy about a dysfunctional family won 2 awards for the night including best original screenplay to add to its supporting actor win.

Jennifer Hudson, the favorite to win the supporting actress category, brought in the only Oscar for “Dreamgilrs”. The American Idol reject was visibly overcome with emotion during her speech after receiving the award. But it was a surprise to see “Dreamgirls ” lose out to Melissa Etheridge’s song “I Need to Wake Up” from “An Inconvenient Truth”, despite having 3 of its songs nominated.

Babel picked up its only Oscar of original score for Gustavo Santaolalla, despite having several other nominations including best picture. Gustavo said during his acceptance speech that his goal was to write a score that doesn't sound like a National Geographic soundtrack.

Among the other notable awards, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award was given to ex-Paramount chief Sherry Lansing. While a special Oscar was given to Italian composer Ennio Morricone. Best remembered for the The Good, The Bad and The Ugly's haunting theme song.

But the biggest winner of the night was undoubtedly Martin Scorsese. His crime drama ‘Departed’ not only won him his first Oscar in six attempts, it also went on to take the most awards (4) of the night including best picture. It won in the best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay and best editing categories. It was a long time coming and the Academy didn’t let go of the chance to make it special either. The moment three his greatest contemporaries came on the stage to give the best director award we were sure it had to be Scorsese’s night. He received the award from Coppola, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Oscar definitely has corrected its past injustices towards him.

Creative ways to commit suicide

No. No beating aroud the side or middle bushes this time. We are going straight to the core of matter at hand. And the matter at hand happens to be the one size fits all sure shot solution to any and all of your problems. No matter which race/ creed/nationality/gender/sexual orientation you belong to, you can always resort to this beautiful solution to all problems, the last remaining crumb of the manna from heaven.

And here are some pretty cool ways to do it in a fashion that will place you firmly either in famedom or in weirddom.

Do try these at home.

Creative way no:1/ The angelisa minerat way.

Contrary to what you have guessed, angelisa minerat is neither the name of a Rastafarian celebrity born to a Jewish father and a Muslim mother nor is it the name the students of Hogwarts have given to Hagrid’s private. Angelisa(beaut name, isn’t it?) is actually a leech like..thing that is rarely found in the humid Andes and never on the rest of the earth. Inorder to commit suicide in the first way, first of all u will have to travel to the Andes, wait around for an angelis to show up and then try to capture it. If you are still alive by then , come back home, and do as prescribed below.

Lower your pants and underpants. Shove the angelis inside your anus. The angelis is a natural born cent percent flesh eater. It will find its way through your liver to lungs and more all the while you will feel extreme physical pain the kind of which even a truckload of LSD wouldn’t do for you. Another advantage is the amount of blood that the angelis manages to squeeze out of your body. You can be dead sure that whoever comes to clean after you is gonna really really clean and remember u for the rest of their lives.

Warning: If you fail to shove the angelis up your lower opening and instead put it inside your mouth, there is a more than fair chance that the angelis would eat your tongue off and then come off since angelis loves our tongues and hates our words. If u do that all u would lose would be your words and not your soul. So, careful while doing this,ok?

Creative way no:2/ The spouse method

This is for those who are married. The rest can either skip this one or keep this for future reference.

Married people eventually get bored with each other. The only question is how long they get along with each other before it starts to get ‘so’. The figures vary. Some last two months and u may not believe me, but some couple do get by well without boring each other up to three whole months! Can u believe it! I’ve seen ‘em man. Yeah, it’s a strange world. I mean three who;e months…!

So as I said, this one is for those who are bored with their respective spouses and are trying to find a way out of this wed/warlock(as every married person is). All u have to do is kill ur spouse, then marry the next one. Eventually u will get bord with the new one and u then kill that one and marry the next one. Do this in a cyclic kinda hang and sure as cindy crawford’s big breasts, u will get bored with this process itself and due do sheer boredom u are gonna find some cute way to end your life, far more creative than anything I can come up with, ‘cause hey, its your life.

I did intend to write in a coupla more creative ways out of around 4000 I have thought up for u guys(straight from my heart with love), but I am having reservations about it now. I am gonna try my luck with the producers of the ‘Saw’ movie franchise. Maybe they will get interested in some of my ‘ways of death’. If that happens, u can catch the rest of the ideas on screen and if it doesn’t, well…if it doesn’t, all I can say is that this blogspot is gonna get weirder and weirder.

Peace! Happy suicide!

Radiohead-rise rise ears!

Screw the encyclopedias! There do exist such things as musicbuds, just like tastebuds reside on the tongue, the musicbuds are found inside those beautiful human organs called the ears through which we perceive slothing from guns n’ roses and super slothing from our bosses at work.

What I am driving at is that the musicbuds do need refreshments just as tastebuds need be stimulated using chick food. As any self respecting rock n’ roll fan would be my witness rock musicians of late have neglected the musicbuds of their dearly beloved audience.’Of late’, for some began right after the glam rock era and for others after the ascension to heaven of kurt Cobain in a bikini. Whatever be the precise time, the rock lover’s musicbuds have long since gone to a not by any means sweet slumber.

As we plead for someone or something to come and rise our dearly departed musicbuds, we can instead do the right thing by listening to ‘radiohead’. Arguably the greatest contemporary rock band. Listening to Radiohead is part fun and part superfun. And for those who likes ‘serious’ music, I would say this much-good luck boss!

Though shot to super rockstardom by their album ‘ok computer’ which also won them a coupla awards(read grammy) my favourite radiohead album is ‘kid a’ closely followed by ‘hail to the thief ’. ‘the bends’ , ‘ok computer’, ‘ amnesiac’ , those are all more than neat albums to own as well. Each radiohead song offers u a portal into another world which is much more real than this maya ridden world in which we reside in, though I do like the maya of root beer, and in the radiohead world root beer is free. What I mean to say is, their music is cool.

In India at least, radiohead is a terribly underrated and under listened band though they are popular elsewhere. Instead of ruining ur sensibilities and time listening to the girl with spears protruding out of her breasts or to the shack-era, both of whom actually offers far more to the eyes than to the ears, forget musicbuds dude!, just lay back and enter radiohead and see for urself how the simple sound of ‘bleep bleep blaap’ can reveal to you everything you ever wanted to know about your dearly beloved spouse.

And oh, I recently attented a funeral. That’s why the ‘dearly beloved..’ bit.


India Budget

Indian Agriculture, Farmer and The Budget 2007

India and its farmers

2007 Budget is almost ready and undergoing final touches on the FM’s anvil, the following are some untraditional ideas about a budget that will make the profession of agriculture viable and beneficial to all who are engaged in the job as well as all who consume the products out of agriculture. As we all know Indian farmers are not doing well and for a steady income however small it will be he will quit the farming and go leaving the land which so far gave him only cups of woes and marginalized him far from the developed world.

Farmer v/s consumer

The interest of a farmer should not be against the interest of the end user and the prosperity of the end user should never stand against the welfare of the farmer. At present the governments in the greed for caching votes is in search of quick-fix solutions by disbursing more and more bank loans to farmers. Loans are no solutions to the problems as they only push the poor farmer in to more and more debts – he is already immersed in debt. Writing off of loans is a bad precedent only to be a drain of public wealth.

A rotten machinery

There are a lot of government officials employed for the welfare of the farmers and the output of all these machineries are virtual nothing. They are good only for expending the allocations made for agriculture. The farmers are emotionally attached to their land however in-fertile it is, hence asking them to part with the ownership of this land for better style of living is not practical in the Indian background.

The facts, problems and solutions.


The ownership being left to them why the management of the farms to be left to some efficient corporates, let us think of the pros and cons of such a radical action.

Money, money and more money

Good agricultural practices involving latest technologies require a lot of money and Indian farmers do not have that kind of money at their disposal neither are they equipped to deal that much cash. The best thing they know to spend money is to see their daughters married off in grandeur, buy some consumer items like TV, fridge, car etc or building a palace like residence.


Managing farms (machineries, fertilizing, using of pesticides, engaging laborers etc) require cutting edge skills. Expecting poor illiterate Indian farmers doing all these with panache is nothing but wish full thinking.

Value addition and storage

Our farmer’s knowledge about value addition is a big zero, hence they sell it as harvested

And get the least value for their produce. Inventory control of machineries and scientific storage of produce require good knowledge and large amount of capital, which Indian farmers have never had it enough.


Marketing of products is a high-skilled activity which calls for technical knowledge, marketing skills, and bargaining power, in this point how many Indian farmers score pass-mark? The bank managers knocking their doors for repayment, force them for distress sales.

Ownership v/s Management

Suppose on a trial basis government select the worst affected agricultural area (Vidarbha in Maharashtra for example where farmer-suicide is a common event) and invite tenders from good Indian corporates for managing farms in Vidarbha and a model agreement is reached with the entity which offers the best conditions for the farmers who own the lands (The ownership in no way is transferred to the company).

A transparent agreement.

When the complete process is transparent there will be no loop-hole for false accusations and as the company which offers the best to the farmers for the lowest rate wins, why should there be any complaints from any corner, if necessary changes have to be made in the laws, why can’t that be done? If not for the people why should be there a law making body and so many members who waste a lot of money?

No labor outsourcing!!!

All the laborers required must be met from local people as per the agreement, this will generate jobs and steady income to the farmers and through best agricultural practices the company also will stand to gain. If farming can be done in developed nations, it can be done here with one tenth of the cost and our farmers will not have to commit suicide and will not be forced to leave the profession leaving their land barren as it is done in Kerala.

Subsidy if any? No compensated.

In case any subsidy has to be paid to lure the companies? Most probably it will not have to pay for as modern farming is a profitable proposition and corporates will compete for the entry in to the new vista that has opened before them. Even if some subsidy has to be paid it will be compensated by the great savings in keeping a large army of agricultural officers without much use.

Walk out or stay

Suppose this experiment succeeds, the entire India will undergo a change and the idea will close the chapter of debt-ridden farmers from this land for ever, they will be getting double benefits one lease of the land and two the monthly wages for doing work for a reputed firm which pay them regularly. After the experiment for limited period the farmer gets back his land and he can lease it out to any firm for the terms and condition he can agree for his good.

Government only a facilitator

No permanent officials are required as government is only a facilitator, initial directions framing of laws and deputation of a top local officer as a mediator alone is required and farmers associations also can be a party for the transparency of the deal and better and efficient implementation, that is all for the government, it being not a good thing to be entrusted with day to day affairs of anything as corrupt officials will jump in to make a quick buck out of the sweat of the farmers.

Starving on a mine of gold

Illiteracy and ignorance of the farmers on the one side, a government-machinery devoid of any sympathy or ingenuity on the other side has so far left our farmers sleep with empty stomach on the treasure trove that their land actually is as the Arabs starved and toiled on the oil-treasure a century back. There must be someone to show them the actual value of the land they possess.

60 years went waste!!!

India got independence sixty years back but our farmers live in the chains of debt and tyranny of money lenders, what a shame to the government that rules! Discovering a new slogan for an election was what the politicians did so far.

An idea of the time

But Indian President and even Prime minister are not professional politicians for the fortune of the nation. It is hoped at least they may think about a radical change in the Indian farming. Shouting slogans like “Garibi Hatao” (ward off poverty) from roof-top was what the previous ones did. Industrializing agriculture is an idea the time of which has come. If the face of Indian industry has been changed by our entrepreneurs they can change the face of our farming also.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

52nd Annual Filmfare Awards

And The Award Goes To...

Best film – Rang De Basanti

Best Director – Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra (Rang De Basanti)

Best Actor – Hrithik Roshan (Dhoom 2)

Best Actress – Kajol (Fanaa)

Best Supporting Actor – Abhishek Bachan (Kabhi Alvida Na Kahna)

Best Supporting Actress – Konkona Sen (Omkara)

Best Actor in a Comic Role – Arshad Warsi(Lage Raho Munnabhai)

Best Actor in a Negative Role – Saif Ali Khan (Omkara)

Best Music - A.R.Rahman (Rang De Basanti)

Best Story – Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Rajkumar Hirani (Lage Raho Munnabhai)

Critics Award Best Actor – Aamir Khan (Rang De Basanti)

Critics Award Best Actress – Kareena Kapoor (Omkara)

Lifetime Achievement Awards – Javed Akhtar

World Cup Unforgettables – India v Pakistan 1996

Countdown to ICC Cricket World Cup 2007
There was seldom a world cup match as eagerly anticipated, watched and rejoiced by every Indian as this encounter. For me even our world cup winning 1983 final will have to take a second place to this one. There are a couple of reasons for this. For one I was too young to even care about cricket in 1983. For another, it was the first time Pakistan was coming to play in India in 7 years. This was an aftermath of the frosty political relationship between the two nations spilling over on to the arena of sports.

The world cup of 1996 was held once again in the subcontinent and is remembered for a lot of things. It was in this world cup that a certain gentleman called Sanath Jayasurya announced his arrival as an explosive batsman at the top of the order. He started the trend of pinch hitting in ODI cricket. This aided by the shrewd and astute captaincy of Arjuna Ranatunga ensured that Sri Lanka upset the form book and odds, and went on to win the world cup. It was a world cup where the minnows Kenya scored an upset victory on the West Indies. However nothing matched the drama, the emotion and the sheer intensity of this match.

1996 was the first and only world cup to have had the group matches followed by knockout matches leading up to the final. Thus India and Pakistan (the reigning world champions) came to meet each other in a quarter final at Bangalore. The stage was set and the ingredients could not have been spicier. Pakistan’s long absence from Indian soil, the tensions between the nations, the traditional history and rivalry between the two nations all contributed to the hype surrounding the match. But none of these reasons were more important than the fact that the two teams were meeting each other for the first time in a winner takes all stage at the world cup.

Pakistan suffered a major blow on the morning of the match when their captain and best bowler, Wasim Akram, declared himself unfit for the match due to a ruptured side muscle. So it was Amir Sohail who led Pakistan with Mohammed Azharuddin being his Indian counterpart. Azhar won the toss and elected to bat.

India started off with Tendulkar, so far one of the stars of the tournament, being strangely off color. However Siddhu was in his elements in this game and played a marvelous innings of 93 and took the Indian score to 168 for 2 before he departed, Even though the score sounded impressive India was meandering on at a rate of barely 4.5 runs per over.

By the time Ajay Jadeja came in India were running along to a respectable and competitive total. But Jadeja changed all that and plundered 96 runs from the last 10 overs off which 51 came of the last 3. Waqar Younis, Pakistan’s main weapon was left without a clue as to what hit him when Jadeja along with the tail hit 24 runs off his 48th over and 18 off his 50th. Jadeja hit younis for 3 fours and a six in the 48th over. It was among the most brilliant exhibition of hitting ever seen and Ajay Jadeja turned into superstar in that match. He propelled the Indian score to 287 for 8.

Pakistan was docked one over for slow over rater and had to reach the target in 49 overs. They started off in an explosive manner with Sohail and Saeed Anwar scoring at around 8 an over. Even after Anwar left for 48 off 32 balls, Sohail continued in the same vein and took the score to 113.

Then came the pivotal moment in the match, which is now part of world cup folklore. Venkatesh Prasad, an unknown bowler at the time, was hit for a four by Sohail. For some reason Sohail decided to indulge in some arrogant gamesmanship. Sohail after hitting the shot pointed his bat at the area where the bowl had disappeared and then towards Prasad apparently gesturing where he will send the next one. It was irresponsible from a captain and maybe even caused him to lose his focus.

There was a hush in the stadium and I, watching that on TV, was seething. It was a feeling shared by the millions of other Indians watching that match. Prasad bowled the next ball slightly wide. Sohail attempted the same shot again with utmost contempt. But his feet were not moving and he only managed to drag it back to his stumps. The entire country must have erupted at that second, and I was screaming my head off at the TV and pumping my fits at it. What made the moment even sweeter was Prasad returning the favor by showing the way to the pavilion to Sohail accompanied with a slew of profanities.

The entire mood of the Indian team changed after that. They were revitalized and had a spring in their step. They went on to apply pressure and wickets kept tumbling at regular intervals. But despite some late charge by Rashid Latif, the match was as good as over when Miandad was run out with the score at 239.

The celebrations that occurred later on were unbelievable. The entire country seemed to have gone bonkers and there was spontaneous revelry all around. Perhaps we should have grasped their true feelings when a banner was shown in the stadium stating ‘This is the World Cup final’. And it really was for every Indian cricket fan.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Truth about Rashomon

The Truth about Rashomon

Akira Kurosawa’s movies are some of the best works in cinema that I have ever seen. From the first movie that I have seen of him, I realized why people regard him with such reverence. The first movie that I saw was Seven Samurai. One couldn’t help but be awed by that movie when you consider the fact that it was made in 1954. After that I became unwavering fan of his work and saw a few more of his movies. But none of these movies were as great as Rashomon to me. To me it is the crown jewel in the master’s work. In psychology there is even a phenomenon named after it; The Rashomon Effect.

When you watch any of Kurosawa’s movies the phrase that comes to your mind is that it’s far ahead of its time. The greatest quality of all is that his movies retain a kind of freshness even today, so much so that somebody like me, who is generations apart from the time of his greatest movies, is also able to appreciate it so much. That more than anything is the hallmark of a true genius; his legacy is immortal.

Rashomon’s appeal is its plot and its narrative. The story starts off with recounting of a crime and the accounts of the people involved by a woodcutter and a priest to a vagabond commoner. The crime is the murder of a Samurai and the rape of his wife by a bandit. The narrative style is that of a flashback within a flashback as the priest and woodcutter retell the testimony of each of the witness to the vagabond.

The testimonies of the witnesses are all self serving and vastly different form one another. The bandit claims to have captured the husband and then tries to rape her. He however claims that she submitted to him of her own wishes rather than him raping her. He also claims that to absolve herself of her subsequent guilt and shame she goaded both men to duel one another. According to the bandit both men proceed to duel each other skillfully and fiercely until he kills the Samurai with his sword. On seeing this, the lady runs away. On questioning about the wife’s expensive dagger, which is missing, he claims to have forgotten completely about it in the confusion.

According to the lady’s version she claims that the bandit captured her husband, raped her and left her there with her husband. Her pleas for forgiveness were returned with nothing more than a cold stare by her husband. After she freed him she tries to give him the dagger and begged him to kill her. She claims to have overcome with stress at this moment and fainted. When she awakes she finds her husband dead with the dagger in his chest implying that she killed him accidentally while falling over unconscious. She even claims to have tried to drown herself later on.

The husband’s tale is told through a medium. He claims that after raping his wife the bandit asked her to join him. The wife agreed and asks the bandit to kill the samurai. Even the bandit is shocked by this and asks the samurai whether or not to kill the woman. At this the wife fled and the bandit freed the man. The samurai then claim that he committed suicide with the dagger. He added on that he had the feeling that someone removed the dagger from his body after he had died.

At this the woodcutter claims that the Samurai must have lied as he was killed by a sword. He then goes on to say that he witnessed the whole affair and begins to tell his version of the tale. He says that the bandit raped the woman and later begged her to marry him. At this point the woman demanded that the men duel each other for her. This enraged the Samurai and he refused to do so and only comply when called a coward by the woman. The woodcutter describes that their fight was more of a comical struggle than anything else. He contradicts the earlier version of the bandit where they had fought with valor and skill. The bandit won the duel, plunging his sword into the chest of the Samurai as he was attempting to scamper away in the bushes. The wife fled on seeing this with the bandit hot on her pursuit.

However on hearing this story the vagabond accuses the woodcutter of having stolen the dagger and hence completely inventing the new story to cover up its existence. The woodcutter’s look of guilt makes us convinced that he might have stolen the dagger.

The priest’s faith in human goodness is shaken by this turn of events and his lamenting is interrupted by the cry of an abandoned child. The woodcutter takes the child from the priest saying that he already has six children and that the addition of one more is not going to make any difference.

The story is a powerful pointer to how perception sometimes clouds the truth. Each of the character tells their own version to justify their actions and to cast them in a better light. It shows the selfishness of men. We are no closer to unraveling the mystery after hearing all the accounts than when we started off.

The bandit’s version cannot be believed because he is a thief and his moral values have already proven to be suspect. Also he wants to show himself as a great warrior when he implies that the Samurai was a great swordsman and he was able to defeat even him.

The wife’s tale shows her guilt when she says that her husband gave her a cold stare after she was raped. Her account cannot be believed because of her desire to defend her virtue and seems more concerned with how others would think of her character.

The Samurai’s tale should have been the truth. But even here we suspect it because it would be far honorable for him to claim that he committed suicide than to admit that he was defeated in a duel by a bandit. Also his account that the bandit did not have any qualm for rape but is averse to murder too defies logic.

When I first saw the movie I was sure the woodcutter’s version is the correct one. But when his thievery was brought to life then his entire narration seemed made up or at least lacking in details. The missing dagger is the critical piece of the entire narrative. If we accept that then the woodcutter’s version is not believable.

Kurosawa does not spoon feed the audience with the answer but rather leaves it to their intellect and understanding. He leaves it to the audience to draw their own conclusion. Remember that this was done in 1950 probably for the first time, and there in lies his genius.

Reviews of Akira Kurosawa's Major works

Akira Kurosawa

Rashomon (1950)

Ikiru (1952)

Seven Samurai (1954)

Hidden Fortress (1958)

Yojimbo (1961)

High And Low (1963)

Red Beard (1965)

Kagemusha (1980)

Ran (1985)

Rhapsody In August (1991)

Friday, February 23, 2007


Osteoporosis – The diminishing Bones

The very fact that one out of every three women and one of every twelve men are prone to this disease, illustrates how wide spread and serious osteoporosis is. In fact osteoporosis is not an illness it is just a mal-adjustment of two body functions, creation and absorption (resorption to be precise) of bone mass. It may look strange that destruction (resorption) of the bones is also is a normal function of the body. But to restrict the shape of the bones in correct shape and size absorption of bones is as essential a role as the creation of the bones.

This process of absorption turns a villain when it turns over smart and over acts its assigned duties. There are two types of cells engaged in the creation and “destruction” of the bones. The formation of the bones is the duty of the “osteoblast” cells where as the “osteoclast” cells are engaged in the resorption (re absorbing to the body) or rather as we called the destruction of the bones.

All set in the genes

Our body is so designed that in the beginning the osteoblast cells are smarter and the form bones for the growth of the body, as the person reaches middle age the clast and blast rivals are generally almost equal in smartness (in normal cases both should be equal in speed). With advancing age the quantity of sex-hormones diminishes in human body this is the main reasons of middle aged people getting affected by it. Especially women after menopause.

Construction and destruction

For the misfortune of the mankind at times they (the blast and the clast) are not equal in every individuals, the clast gains upper hand (it absorbs the non-collagenous proteins of the bones) due to various reasons and as a result the bone mass of the person starts depletion. This mal-function generally goes un-noticed and gets noticed only when the person has a fall from only standing heights and approaches a doctor with a fracture.


Duel-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA, formally called DEXA). The bone mineral density is measured and compared with the gold standard and expressed T-score. T-score-.1 or above is normal, where as that of -1 to -2.5 considered low bone-mass and -2.5 is diagnosed as a case of osteoporosis.


Power of the body to absorb calcium and vitamin-d from normal food being cited as a reason it would be better for middle aged persons to supplement their food with these contents. It is the genetic reason which is cited as the main culprit. Smoking and consumption of soft drinks even though not directly responsible are accused as reasons which speed up the ailment.

Life style

Smoking affects the physiological activities and secretions of hormones like testosterones in males and estrogen in females. Soft drinks are said to replace the vitamin-d and calcium (both essential for bone formation). Lead and cadmium which enter the body by contaminated food and water are also considered to be causative factors for osteoporosis. Sedentary life styles over exertions and every thing related with modern life are blamed. If that is so let us think what can be done to get some relief from this malady.

Waiting for a fall!!!

First stopping of smoking and consumption of soft drinks seems an easier steps, supplementing food with some calcium and vitamin-d contents (para-calcitrol etc) also is not a very difficult proposition. The stopping of sedentary life style is a bit tall order for the couch-potatoes! The genetic factors are something unavoidable, but there is some relief as only precursors are inherited so that proper care and good life style can keep the disease at bay for almost as long as one wish. Just do not wait for a fall and fracture of the bones to see a good physician.

Be a good boy!

If you have a family history of osteoporosis and 30 years of age just consult a doctor before a fall and act (live) as per his directions (life styles, food habits postures everything).

Don’t worry be merry!

Do not bother much if devoid of such problems and live as leisurely as your peer groups. Needn’t worry even if you are born with a genetic history because you are not alone, just one among billions and with a slight change of lifestyle you can be much better off than them. Even if the worst happens there are surgeons and physicians to correct it. Act before a fall and be better off. Let osteoporosis go away! There are treatments to ward it off till your death, after that osteoporosis does not matter at all!

World Cup Unforgettables – India v Australia 1992

Countdown to ICC Cricket World Cup 2007

The world cup of 1992 was one of the most memorable ever. It was the first world cup to be played under artificial lights, colored clothing and the white ball. However this was also a world cup marred by a stupid rain rule. In an effort to make the calculation of the target simpler, in case of the match being shortened due to rain interruptions, the organizers really botched it up with the most ridiculous rule ever. The absurdity of this rule was not realized until after the matches began and the rules actually implemented. We are featuring one such match now. It was also the first and only World Cup where the teams were not split into group and hence was conducted in a round robin fashion.

India came into the world cup on the back of an abysmal tour of Australia. They had lost the test series 4-0 and were comprehensively beaten in the final of a triangular tournament by the host, with West Indies being the other team. The world cup was being conducted at the fag end of that tour and the Indian team seemed to be devoid of motivation. Before meeting the Australians, India had already lost to England and their match against Sri Lanka was rained out.

Australia on the other hand came into the world cup as the firm favorites to lift the tournament in their own backyard. However they started poorly and came into the match against India having lost both their opening matches to New Zealand and South Africa.

Allan Border won the toss and elected to bat. They started really badly. They were at 2 for 38 at one stage when Dean Jones joined David Boon and began the recovery. The two took the score to 102 with some breath taking running between the wickets. After Boon fell for 43, Jones continued to take the Australian cause forward with partnerships first with Steve Waugh and then with Tom Moody. However the Australian innings fell apart after the dismissal of Jones, setting India a target of 238 runs.

To say that the Indian chase started off disastrously would be an understatement. Srikkanth got out for a duck when the team total was only six. The way Ravi Shastri batted then defied logic. When he got out he had taken up 75 balls for his 25 runs and the Indian total at that time was a paltry 58 with almost half the overs already gone. Tendulkar came next and was dismissed for 11 trying to up the tempo. Kapil Dev came in next and scored a rapid fire 21 off 26 balls thereby providing some much needed impetus to the innings. When he left India still was in a precarious position of 4 for128.

Then came the superb partnership between Azharuddin and Sanjay Manjrekar. The two took the score to 194 before Azharuddin departed for a well made 93. The partnership was broken in the only way it seemed possible, through a run out. Then the rain started playing its part in the match. 3 overs were reduced from the Indian innings while only 2 runs were reduced from the target. After the rain interval India kept losing wickets while inching towards the target.

Off the last ball India needed 4 runs to win with 1 wicket in hand. Javagal Srinath was facing the bowler with Venkatapathy Raju at the other end. To this day I remember vividly the commentary of that last ball by Bill Lawry while watching it on TV. Tom Moody bowls the last delivery. Srinath takes an almighty swing at the ball and hits it high towards long on. Bill Lawry screams “It’s a SIX!!!”. I start jumping up and down like crazy (I was 14 at the time). But I froze suddenly as both myself and Lawry realize that it’s not going for six but infact going into the hands of Steve Waugh. Incredibly Waugh drops the catch. Elation again!!! Waugh recovers quickly and throws the ball to the wicket keeper’s end. Raju sets off for the 3rd run which would make the match a tie. Lawry momentarily forgets that he is an Australian and yells “RUN!!! RUN!!! RUN!!!” The throw is wide and everyone including myself is praying that Raju does a superman. But the keeper recovers quickly enough to run him out and I was left with the biggest heartbreak of my life. That was the first and only time I had tears in my eyes after watching a cricket match. Just couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed!!!