Saturday, May 19, 2012

Mallu Singh: Mass appeal & entertainment make it a winner, Unni Mukundan's a rising star

'Mallu Singh' directed by Vysakh (who is known for 'Seniors' and 'Pokkiriraja' fame) was 'housefull' and tickets were difficult to get in Ernakulam for the second show. But what interested me is that families seemed to flock to watch this colorful entertainer. The movie's mass appeal is its recipe for box office success. Kids seemed to enjoy every minute of this movie and the same goes for most families who had come to be entertained. Set in rural Punjab, the story of  'Mallu Singh' begins well but it lacks strong characterization, and that is the one thing that it needed most! There is no consistency to any of the characters given in this plot. All seem to run in different directions and for the same reason, the story is not as gripping as one would expect.






Mallu Singh Story is Weak, Inconsistent & Lacks Substance
Ani (who is played by Kunchacko Boban) goes to Punjab in search of a long lost cousin Hari (Unni Mukundan) only to discover that the Hari he knew has been replaced by a man called Hareender Singh who has Punjabi parents and four sisters he is extremely protective about. Confused by this, Ani makes friends with two other guys (Biju Menon and Manoj K Jayan) to find out if Hareender is indeed Hari in a disguise. Together, they get into 'investigative mode' that paves the way for several sticky, hilarious scenes that make viewers smile and laugh throughout the movie. Kunchacko Boban is getting better with handling comedy. He is coming out of the 'chocolate hero' mould and that itself is a refreshing sign.


Mallu Singh's four sisters roles are played by Aparna Nair, Meera Nandan, Rupa Manjari & Shawlin. But the story could have been better and could have given these fine actors some more 'meat' to make their characters more memorable.


Mallu Singh fails to tap talent of its actors
The film has a talented pool of some of Malayalam cinema's most versatile and fine actors. However, the director has not tapped their talent efficiently. Even for the sake of mass appeal, there is so much more that could have been done to improve the characterization. Actress Geetha, for instance, is an artist with tremendous untapped potential. Think of the movies that she has done in Malayalam and you will know what I am talking about. The same applies to Sai Kumar, Manoj K Jayan and Biju Menon, who are fantastic actors. The characterization and dialogues is funny but predictable and forgettable. Something 'extra' was missing when it comes to strengthening the plot with strong characters.


Mallu Singh Songs
Loud picturisation may be natural for this film but the songs are disappointing, forgettable and excessively loud.

Mallu Singh Verdict
It seems to be heading strongly as a box office hit. Families and kids are enjoying the film. There are no obscenities, vulgar jokes and so on that have recently become more loud in Malayalam films. The movie is meant to entertain families and it does that senselessly. There's fun, there's love, there's action and there's the promise of a refreshing new hero who can do better and better: Unni Mukundan is worth watching out for.



A Book Review: One and a Half Wife by Meghna Pant

When I picked up Meghna Pant's One and a Half Wife, it is the title that evoked a curiosity in me more than the blurb that explains the story of a young Indian Immigrant girl whose Big American dream turns to ashes. To be honest, I’d say that there didn't seem to be a 'new-ness' to the way the blurb explained the story. In fact, if given a second chance, I’d suggest to the author to completely rewrite the blurb because it is plain dull and doesn't do justice to the subtle, exquisite nuances that underlines this deeply touching, well written story. 

Talking about nuances, I like the introduction of the story beginning with a parrot who picks up cards to predict the little girl Amara’s destiny as a ‘one and a half wife.’ The description is deeply touching and will evoke interesting memories with a distinct Indianess that all of us can relate to. The author adds a dash of subtle humor too, poking fun at the silliness of some outdated beliefs that Indian parents cling to.

One fakir studied the moles on Amara’s face and declared her unlucky. Another poked her ears with a steel pin and after comparing the wax inside her left ear to the one in her right, warned Biji of the presence of an evil eye. A holy man determined the strength of the breath exhaled from Amara’s nostrils and charted her husbandless future in accordance.

Guess you know now why I’m recommending this book. It’s well-crafted, warm, full of social relevance, identity crises that we all go through in life and it’s got many moments that can evoke memories lying within ourselves. Don’t miss reading this book.


One and a Half Wife: The Story
Amara is a good Indian girl who is groomed right from birth for the most important moment in a girl’s life. Typically, you'd have guessed what that is: the Big American Dream that would pave the way for finding the Prince. Indeed, all her struggles in life are for that. Like most Indian girls who grow up in orthodox families, Amara is taught not to argue with her parents or question their decisions about her life and especially about her marriage.

With the help of Dua Uncle who is Amara’s maternal uncle, Amara’s parents finally get the Green Card and go to America. This seems to signal the culimination of all their dreams for Amara’s marriage. But this doesn’t bring them the ‘social equality’ they dream of having. For instance, Amara’s cousins, Tina and Riya, are cold, aloof and distant to her. They treat her like a stray pet that has been picked up from the street. In school too, they show no recognition they are related to her. When she makes attempts to visit them or to talk to them, they shut the door in her face. While this may have stories within itself, it also conveys how several Indians, wherever they are, carry their social biases and unique identity traits with them.

Thus, Amara learns:
“It was consequently fitting for an immigrant to blend in with America like sugar with water or better still, to avoid a diabetic relationship, to blend in like air with water.”
“Everything fits together in America except the immigrant’s identity.”

The Twist in Amara’s Story
The turning point in Amara’s otherwise dull existence is that when Amara gets married to the millionaire Prashant Roy. The twists, the turns and the social nuances of pretending that a marriage is fine despite the long cold, silences between a husband and wife are well punctuated within the story itself. So, what makes Meghna Pant’s treatment of ‘divorce’ different?

Let me clarify. Acclaimed Indian authors such as Anita Desai, Anita Nair, Kavery Nambisan and Manju Kapur have explored multi faceted dimensions that map incredibly well to the conflicts and tensions that resonate in an Indian marriage. So, the question that inevitably pops up is this: ‘what has Meghna Pant done differently with this novel?”

Meghna Pant has treated Amara’s divorce as an opportunity than as a tragedy or the breakdown of a marriage that could have been made to work somehow. She portrays the social stigma associated with divorce in the Indian community but does not cease to showcase Amara’s divorce as a transition into a happier, better future. This approach is solution-oriented and practical. This contemporary accuracy and the level of detailing is what makes this book worth more than just one read.

On hearing about her divorce, for instance, Amara’s strong willed mother Biji tells her, “You, stupid, stupid girl, a daughter is a reflection of her mother. Now I will have to carry my ‘die-force’ shame on my head.”

But some months later, the same mother urges her to consider proposals from suitable men who are keen to marry her despite the divorce. That’s what I mean by saying Meghna Pant’s approach to all the problems Amara faces are “practical and solution-oriented.”

The more Amara tries to break out of her former mold, the more difficulties she faces. But one by one, she finds her way towards getting what she desires instead of what others desire. This begins Amara’s journey into the discovery of her self.

One and a Half Wife: Does Amara find love?

Read the book to find out. It’s worth reading. I can vouch for that. It won’t change your life or transform your unhappiness into instant joy. It offers no miracles but it gives you inner courage, the hope to move on despite the odds and the realization that every time we cross a difficult hurdle and fall, we grow new ways and methods to cross it without falling again.

One and a Half Wife: What does Amara learn?

  • Get in touch with what you desire. Then go out and do that.
  • You are only as weak as you allow yourself to be.
  • Your mind can be as strong as it can be delicate. It can be both a flower and a rock. So learn to define yourself.
♥♥  I thank you with all my heart for reading my post. I dedicate this post with love and gratitude to all those who enjoy reading books by Indian writers. REQUEST: Please SHARE this article on your favorite social networks. Every share, like or tweet makes me reach out to more people who love reading books by Indian writers. I am grateful and I appreciate you for doing so. ♥♥


Sunday, May 13, 2012

In Kerala, Gold is God

Gold prices are sky high but if you step into any of the gold jewelry shops, you will find them as crammed as a vegetable market, if not more. People from all walks of life flock to gold jewelry shops to buy whatever little/more gold they can. The system in Kerala is such that for every occasion, gold matters. Irrespective of financial stability, social standing, religious or caste denomination or even political affiliation, Gold is a uniting factor among Keralites. It's like God.


Gold Ads will chase you
In fact, gold ads compete for your attention to such a point that it leaves you confused where to buy from. Some gold jewelry shops offer you cars, high technology accessories and so on if you buy X amount of gold. In other places, you are given the welcome that one accords to a King but by the time you've made your purchase, you are left a pauper. 


Buy Gold Smartly, Do Cross Checking Locally
Be careful to check the quality of gold that you purchase. Several highly reputed jewelry shops in Kochi are rumored to be selling gold that is not 'pure.' Therefore, don't go by the glossy ads or by the fact that a film star you admire is the brand ambassador of the jewelry brand. Do your homework locally. Ask people who invest in gold coins or jewelry who their favorite jeweler is. Don't stop there. Ask questions like what differentiates one gold provider from the other in terms of rates, designs and so on.


Moral of the story: Gold frenzy leaves people with less money and more worry. But it's real and it's here to stay. No social reform in Kerala will reduce or change it. Meanwhile, businesses will continue to flourish as they cash in on people's hard earned savings and their dreams of stepping higher and higher on the social ladder.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Whatever you offer God reflects your love

A gift is a memory that you create for your loved one. 

When you offer a rose to the love of your life, wouldn't you carefully pick the most beautiful rose that has bloomed? Or, when you gift the love of your life with chocolates, wouldn't you take great care to make sure it is perfect in taste and presentation? 

So, when we gift God with flowers or fruits or any form of prasad, do we dedicate it to God with the same degree of perfection, commitment and love? Or, do we do it as a mechanical chore that needs to be quickly done.

To his earliest devotees, Bhagawan Sri Sai Baba said, "When you offer something to God, it should be with purity of thought, word and deed. Your heart is the temple of God. Therefore anything that you offer God externally should reflect the same detailing, the same purity. Never offer a flower that has slipped to the floor or a wick thread that fell out. Never offer to God something that has fallen down. God needs only love. Whatever you offer God reflects your love. So, never offer God something that is remotely unclean or dirty."

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Gayatri Mantra: Why chant it?

Gayatri mantra's mythological description is that it is the Mother of the Vedas and the source of infinite wisdom. We are familiar with it but do we know its spiritual significance? I'd say we don't really know. If we don't know the meaning of what we are chanting, why chant it at all? 

Gayatri Mantra is 'Vedasara'
Many times, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Baba has said, "The Gayatri is considered as Vedasara, 'the essence of the Vedas.'" For the same reason, Bhagawan says that the Gayatri mantra should be practised with utmost care and discipline. 

The reason I wanted to share it here is because the Gayatri is extolled universally but we do not approach its practice with the discipline that is required in order for us to explore its full and absolute potential to harness our own spiritual growth. 

But first, it is important to understand the nature of the Gayatri mantra itself. Most of us chant the Gayatri without knowing its real significance. That is of little use. When one understands the meaning, the experience itself takes a different and more significant dimension. 

The following information is based on Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's various talks with His earliest devotees:

Gayatri Mantra & its 3 Parts

The Gayatri has three parts: 1) Praise 2)Meditation 3) Prayer

In the first aspect, the Divine aspect is praised, then it is meditated upon and then an appeal is made to the Divine to awaken, strengthen and illumine the intellect and discriminating faculty that is present in every human being.

Gayatri is Not Merely a Goddess 

Gayatri is not a goddess. Gayatri is the mother of the Vedas. Gayatri, however, has three names: Gayatri, Savitri and Saraswati. These three are present in every one. Gayatri represents the master of the senses, Savitri is the master of Prana (life force) and Saraswati is the presiding deity of speech. The three represent purity in thought, word and deed, also known as 'thrikarana shuddhi." 

Power of the Gayatri mantra 

The power of the Gayatri mantra is tremendous. It will protect you from harm wherever you are. When chanted regularly, the Gayatri mantra protects your body, illumines your intellect and improves your power of concentration, speech and memory. That is why the Gayatri mantra is most important for children to chant. 

Gayatri Mantra: When to Chant it
One should chant it at least thrice daily and the ideal time is at 6 am, twelve o clock noon and 6 pm. Bhagawan says that when having a bath, it is ideal to chant the Gayatri mantra as it becomes equivalent to the holy abhisheka. Bhagawan also says that chanting the Gayatri mantra before eating food will sanctify the food and destroy all negative karma that is associated with its preparation as well. The evening recitation of the Gayatri will destroy all negative karma and sins that you may have incurred during the day.

Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba says, "One who chants the Gayatri mantra with discipline and dedication need not chant any other mantra."

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Say a Prayer for a Child

This passage I read interested me deeply and it is from Swami Vivekananda's lecture on "The Ideal of Womanhood." It reads as follows:

"The ideal of womanhood in India is that of motherhood...Says our great law giver Manu, giving the definition of an Aryan, 'He is the Aryan who is born through prayer.' Every child who is not born through prayer is illegitimate according to the great law giver. The child must always be prayed for."

I wondered, "Why? So many children are born into this world without being prayed for? What's the spiritual significance?"

Swami Vivekananda explains:
"A child is the manifestation of the greatest prayer between a man and wife, the prayer that is going to bring into this world another soul fraught with tremendous power to do good or evil, to make a difference or to worsen the state of the world. Therefore, parents should pray for every child before it is born."

It is a good idea to let others know the importance of prayer especially with regard to praying for a child. The prayer is a protection, an offering of sincerity and surrender to God as much as it is a plea for goodness to be routed into yourself as an extension of all that you yourselves are as a couple.

As Swami Vivekananda said, we bring into this world a soul that has the power to make a great difference to the world. 

Other Popular Posts

Thursday, May 3, 2012

To Cook is to Pray, to Love, to Serve

In Cathy Kelly's novel, "Homecoming," there is a lovely quote about cooking and here it is:


"There is magic in cooking. It's like prayer. All those heads bent, hearts joined together. That's why it works. It's because of people coming together."


What do you say? How do you experience cooking? What does it mean to you?

Followers

FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed

India is my Country & my Pride