Friday, March 21, 2008

My New College: JanakiParvathyShakuntalaDamayanthi College of Education

Links courtesy HawkEye

Looking at how popular colleges like these are, I have decided to begin my own college in Chennai: Shree JanakiParvathyShakuntalaDamayanthi College of Exemplary Education. This will of course be a 'mixed' college, but also be a carefully 'controlled' environment so as to extol the finest virtues of discipline and self-control amongst students.

As Chairman, Counselor and Principal, my rules will be these:

a. All college buses will have two entrances - one for boys and the other for girls.

b. The buses will have a central partition, so that not even a carrot can be shared between the two sexes.

c. All girls should obligatorily carry an umbrella with them at all times (black in color).

d. When climbing up/down on stairs, girls should have their umbrellas open, so as to deter all eyes.

e. Furthermore, all girls should have their dupattas fastened with no less than 50 safety-pins at all times. This will be subject to random inspections, and anybody found with a number of pins lesser than the minimum will have to undergo punishment.

f. All HODs will be provided special mopeds /TVS Scooties so that they can roam around campus during 'free periods', and look around for offenders. Offenders will be punished harshly, and repeat-offenders will be dismissed.

g. Within the classroom, girls and boys will be separated using a one-way mirror partition on both sides. Each classroom will also have different entrances.

h. Girls (and boys) are forbidden from wearing makeup. At the most, kajal can be used.

i. No 'western' cultural programs will be allowed. Western Dance, Light Music, Skits etc are not allowed during cultural festivals. The only items / competitions permitted are classical dance, Bhajan competition, and skits from the Ramayana or Mahabharata.

j. No skit should have girls and boys participating at the same time. The dupatta rule applies during skits as well.

k. During competitions, cheering, catcalls, whistling etc are not allowed. At the end of every event, the event coordinator will lift his/her hand signalling permission to clap. The audience has to clap then, and only then.

l. Attendance for all competitions are mandatory.

m. Girls are not allowed to participate in sports events.

n. Girls are not allowed to view sports' events held for boys.

o. In the girls' hostel, the dupatta rule must be followed whenever there are any visitors.

p. In the visitors room of both the girls' and boys' hostels, all occupants must have both legs on the ground at all times.

q. All hostels will have speakers on the ceilings, which will start playing bhajans at 4:00 AM, and 6:00 PM. All lights in the rooms will be automatically switched on at this time as well. If any speaker is damaged, all occupants of the floor will be suspended.

r. All hostels will have a TV room. The TV will be locked in a glass case, and the hostel warden will decide what channel is to be place. The TV remote would be in the custody of the hostel warden at all times.

s. College tours are not permitted.

t. Hostel residents should be within the college campus by 6:00 PM.

Can't think of any more, going off to sleep !!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Apocalypto: Film Review

As directors, there's more than one similarity between Mel Gibson and Kamal Hassan; both of them are talented and ambitious story-tellers with unique visions, both of them have a penchant for violence (of the gory kind, where blood sprays from the throat, and spears jut through flesh with the sickening sound of metal meeting flesh), both of them are comfortable tackling risky and controversial topics - so on and so forth. Oh, and neither of them shy away from making the odd sexual innuendo even in the most serious of movies. But neither of them are completely there as great directors, though both of them certainly having the making of great directors. Their respective directorial ventures, though certainly different from (and mostly a notch above) the run-of-the-mill stuff, and often featuring breathtaking moments / scenes, often fail to reach the heights that you'd expect they would. 'Apocalypto' is no different in this regard.

At its heart, 'Apocaypto' is a 'chase' movie. Of course, the director's conceit is that it is set amongst Mayan tribes, and hence offers a fresh (and rather interesting, one has to admit) look at an age-old cinematic concept. The film's hero, Jaguar Paw, who is probably an ancient ancestor of John Rambo, is snatched away from a joyous existence with his tribe, and hauled away to a 'modern' city where he is to be sacrificed before the sun-god, with a witchdoctor and a crowd-baying-for-blood in tow. This pretty much makes up the first half of the film, and the rest is about Jaguar Paw making his way home to his pregnant wife and son, who are stuck in a well.

It is entirely to Gibson's credit that he almost makes this work. The entire portion of the movie leading up to the siege of the village is the Mayan version of what a Sathyan Anthikkad, or a Bharathiraja regularly portray. Of course, the whole sequence about the aphrodisiac is more like from a '90s David Dhawan flick, but the bit about the young wife washing her mouth totally cracked me up. The invasion of the village, the killing of Jaguar Paw's father, and the whole sequence with the women is pretty brutal (especially the one with the woman who resists). The violence is unflinching, and the grueling journey from the village to the great city is beautifully picturized.

Unfortunately, the move lets you down in the second half. After the awesome escape sequence, and the breathtaking sequence with the jaguar, the move heads steadily downhill and never recovers. To somebody fresh from the horrors of watching Rambo muttachan (grandpa) gunning down people yet again, the hide 'n' seek in the jungle holds no new aspects. The insertion of gruesome violence yet again does not help the cause either. The only bit of suspense is about the wife stuck in the well, but by then you are beyond caring - there have been too many heads rolling down the steps, throats slit, people bitten by snakes, veins cut, heads get the picture.

Like I had said earlier, the Gibson-Kamal connection is something that I have felt earlier too (though I think Kamal fancies himself more as a desi Quentin Tarantino). A lot of the imagery here reminded me of Virumandi - the haunting image of a woman stuck in a well while there's a massacre going on around her being the most pointed image, of course. Another point, IMHO, was the unnecessary use of gruesome and at times sadistic violence - as the best movies so often remind you, what's left unsaid and unseen often has the most impact, and its never more true than in this movie.

The Special Features section of the movie is a virtual feast. The amount of research they have put into the movie is staggering, and that would be an understatement. The tattoos, jewelery, clothes, hairdos, architecture, religious beliefs and the weapons - oh yeah, definitely the weapons - have been painstakingly researched. The technical team is so good that they just suck you up into the ambiance of the movie. The rain-forests look awesome, and the camera work is unobtrusive, yet fantastic.

In short: A great watch, but not for the faint-hearted.