Tuesday, 11 September 2018

The Kerala Nun, Bishop & Church : Blog # 336

The Kerala Nun, Bishop & Church

As a child growing up in Kerala, I went to a school run by the Christian Missionaries. One of the earliest memories I have from school is of a Sister (that’s what we call Nuns in Kerala) wearing a white dress looking after all of us like her own kids. Children used to LOVE her. We used to surround her, hug her, and loved to be around her. This story is not unique to me. Many who have spent their childhood in Kerala will relate to what I have described above.
Nuns in Kerala, like everywhere in the world are a respected community. There is a certain sense of revered deference in the way the public interacts with them.

Today, a nun has come out in the open seeking justice. Many more have come out in support of her. I strongly feel this is the time to rally behind that nun and reassure her with our love and support in her pursuit for justice.

The church has a great deal of power, influence and respect in the state of Kerala. Rather than taking the short-term vision of its image being maligned due to this case, the church should look at this moment as an opportunity to set right, all the wrongs that some of its members might have endured over the past. If the church does that, this moment in time will shine through when years later, someone looks back at its history and this moment will make its followers proud.

People of Kerala look up to the church and the catholic society for all the good work they do in areas of education, healthcare and other noble causes. If the church puts its might behind the nun and fights for her cause, the image of church will only become more pristine in the eyes of the people.

Also, why should church be ashamed of one person who might have gone way ward? The institution is larger than the person in all regards. This is not a cross that the church should carry over its shoulders. If at all there is any burden that the church should carry on its shoulders, it should be the burden of alleviating the pain and sorrow the nun had to go through in her journey of being a follower of the church.

  From the Bible,
“He said to them, "Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?" Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.”

The church, its people and their faith are far greater than one Bishop. It is only the men of little faith who will try to suppress the oppressed and cover up the crime. A true believer will embrace the Nun who is wronged and assuage her of her fears and will fight for her justice.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Kerala Floods ~ Positive Stories ~ Do For Kerala : Blog # 335

Kerala Floods ~ Positive Stories ~ Do For Kerala 

I am one of those unfortunate few who is not in Kerala to help my people in their hour of need. Far away from home, I am glued to news channels and social media channels to understand what is happening in my state which is affected by the devastating floods.

There are some people sharing stories on Social media which spreads hatred and negativity. In this time of distress, what we need is a bit of motivation to go the extra mile. 

Every once in a while, pops up a positive story that brings tears to my eyes and warms my heart. Those are stories where humanity shines through. Stories where people are at their best helping fellow humans and animals in need. 

Here is a compilation of all the stories I came across so far. Will keep updating this as and when I get new stories. Please let me know in comments the stories that you know of, so that they can be added too.

These tales of divine humanity will help us sail through these difficult times. I hope these stories will also help move some more hearts so that they would also contribute towards helping people.

But first things first, kindly contribute towards helping those affected by floods here: Kerala Chief Minister's Relief Fund

Let us spare a thought for those who are affected in Coorg (Kodagu) in Karnataka due to similar floods. Visit this link to donate and help: https://www.karnataka.com/coorg/kodagu-flood-donation-centers-and-helpline-numbers/

Here are the heart-warming stories:

Fishermen with a golden heart:

Nobody asked the fishermen in Kerala to aid in the rescue. Forgoing days of livelihood, they themselves came out to help people in need. A lady living in a high-rise apartment was rescued thus by the fishermen folk. As a gesture of gratefulness, she offered money to them. They said “It is OK, dear sister. We are not doing this for money”. Hearing this, she couldn’t stop tears that came gushing through. She said that she hadn’t cried so heartily in a long time. People of Kerala will forever be indebted to the fishermen community.

A young man becoming a foot board to the boat:

There were women who were struggling to get on to the boat. This young man didn’t even give it a second thought. He went on all fours and became a footboard so that the women can get on to the boat and reach the relief camp. In her heist, the old lady forgot to remove her foot ware and stepped on this person. But the young man told her “It is ok Umma. You step on!”

Hanan - the young girl’s donation of 1.5 Lakhs:

 Hanan is a young spirited girl. She funds her own education by doing small jobs and selling fish. She was in news recently across Kerala. Some anti- social elements made fun of her and trolled her on social media. Thankfully, better sense prevailed, and the state came together to help her. Multiple people from different walks of life helped her out monetarily and otherwise. This little girl contributed 150,000 INR towards the relief efforts. I do not know what to admire more  – her maturity or her goodness of heart.

When angels came in uniform:

The armed forces are doing their best as always to help the people in distress. There was a lady who was 9 months pregnant. The heroes from Navy rescued her and put her in a hospital. She has delivered. Both the mother and kid are fine. What could have become a grave tragedy for a family and a society has become a moment of happiness and triumph. I am sure there are many more such stories. The Navy spokesperson said that every naval cadet would have been in Kerala for a few months atleast during their formative years. He added that all of them have a special place in their hearts for the state of Kerala. I know I speak for many if not all from my state that from today, people of Kerala will cherish the armed forces just the way you hold us special.

Relief camp left spotless:

“This place was home for me for last four days. How can I leave it dirty? We keep our home clean right?” Said one of the inmates.
This is how the displaced people left behind one of the fourth-floor rooms where 1200 people stayed in the Kongorpilly Govt Higher Secondary school. I have often heard that cleanliness is next to Godliness. Today, I believe those words.

Hindu burial at the church:

A person called Subramniyan passed away at a relief camp in Thodupuzha, due to flood. Much to their distress, his kids couldn't find a place to bury him.  Father Shinto, the local priest came to know this when he visited the relief camp and provided support for Subramaniyan's family and burial took place at  St. Antony church cemetery. In Kerala, like in many other states in India, we all have friends from other communities/religions. Largely, there are no areas segregated based on religion. We all live with much love and affection for each other. I pray to Gods that this continues.

Calicut/Kozhikode collector tearing up:

The neighbouring district of Thrissur was cut off due to landslides on the National Highway. Due to this, the only access was through Calicut (Kozhikode). He put up a Facebook post asking for relief materials for Thrissur. He was expecting at best, one truck load of materials to be taken to Calicut. In a matter of hours, he could send 3 truckloads full of relief materials. It was not that Calicut was not suffering. That district was also affected much. When asked what would have contributed this, Collector couldn’t help but tear up and say “It is the goodness of people of Calicut”.

Tovino – the real-life hero:

Tovino is a Malayalam movie actor. He has been helping people on the ground right from day 1. He is helping in terms of getting relief materials to people, rescuing them from there and providing shelter. What particularly touched my heart was that he put up a post asking people to take shelter at his home if the need be. Many actors have been contributing in many ways towards relief efforts – contributing to the relief fund, gathering materials and in many more ways. All those efforts are commendable, and people are grateful and appreciative. What makes Tovino’s efforts special is him working shoulder to shoulder with the people in his town to help those in need, day in and day out. 

Srin Joy, the 4 year old's priceless donation:

This little fellow, Srin has been collecting pocket money for some time now. His collection was the left over change from his parents' shop visits and such. His idea was to buy a little cycle with this money. But for now, he is letting go of his dream toy and donating this to the flood victims. But what he doesn't know is that the day he goes back to school, there will be a brand new cycle waiting for him at the school - thanks to an old student from the same school, Mr. Bhaskar! 

Footballers who walked straight to the gallery:

After the successful match during Calcutta football league, 3 players from the East Bengal team walked up to the gallery. Joby Justin, Ubaid C.K. and Mirshad Kurian - players in the East Bengal team who are from Kerala walked up to the gallery to collect funds from the audience to contribute towards Kerala flood relief. The audience ofcourse were quite generous and touched. I am sure people of Kerala couldn't be more proud of these three young men. 

With Love, from Pakistan:

I have often heard stories from my cousins in the gulf - how wonderfully Indians and Pakistanis in the middle east get along with much love and friendship. These men from Pakistan decided to donate their one day's salary towards the cause of helping Kerala. May more such stories emerge across the border. 

When the people lined up with folded handsto thank their saviors:

By now, you all would have heard about how the fishermen in Kerala took it up on themselves to help the people in distress without anyone asking them to do this. Above picture shows how the people of a village (I think near by Chengannur town) lined up along the road and showed their respect with folded hands towards their heroes, their saviors. This image will stay on for a very very long time in the minds of people. If you look closely at the second picture., the person in white has removed his footwear. In Kerala, we usually do this when we fold our hands in front of Gods. These brave fishermen are nothing less than Gods to us. 

If you hear about any such stories, let me know in comments. I shall add them too. Let us keep spreading positivity and humanity.

A gentle reminder yet again. Kindly contribute here: http://www.cmdrf.kerala.gov.in/ 

Friday, 17 August 2018

Help Kerala flood victims~ Do For Kerala ~ CMDRF ~ #DoForKerala : Blog #334

Help Kerala flood victims~ Do For Kerala ~ #DoForKerala

A letter to World Leaders:

Your Excellencies,

Hope this letter finds you well.

There is a tiny state called Kerala in India. People of Kerala are a travelling lot. A large population of the state work in countries around the world. In all probability, there will be one person from Kerala whom you know as an Ambassador from India, a leading scientist, a top notch business leader , a professor, a nurse, a doctor , a construction worker ,a driver or any other hard working person.

Due to unprecedented rains, all of Kerala is affected by floods and landslides.There are 14 districts in this state which was all put on high alert due to fear of floods. Many dams had to be opened to contain the situation which resulted in flash floods and landslides. 

Animals, Children, women and men are suffering. Houses are flooded, food stock is getting depleted, roads are damaged – the suffering is heart wrenching. 300,000 people are in relief camps. 

People from Kerala would have contributed in many humble ways towards building your nation and will continue to do so. We love your country as much as ours.

We request you to direct the companies operating in your country to allow leaves and 1 month’s salary advance to the employees from Kerala.  This will go a long way in bringing the state of Kerala back to its vibrant self. Any sorts of donation (cash or kind) are also welcome.

Follow this link to donate: Kerala Chief Minister's Relief Fund

Please watch the below video to know the extent of suffering:

In anticipation & hope,
People of Kerala.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Save Kerala Flood Victims ~ Do for Kerala ~ CMDRF ~ #DoForKerala : Blog # 333

Save Kerala Flood Victims ~ Do for Kerala ~ Kerala relief funds

#DoForKerala ~ CMDRF

Many of you will have fond memories of Kerala. You would have spent a vacation or two in God’s own country. Today, the state is ravished by rains and floods. The state and its people need your help to get back on their feet. Half of the state is affected by floods. About 54,000 people are in relief centers.

The armed forces and the central government is helping the state government administration to expedite the relief efforts. A helping hand however small it is, will add to the relief efforts.

Kindly check the hashtag #DoForKerala for more avenues to help. Will be updating this blog from time to time. 

Below is how you may help:

You may contribute materials ~

·        Bedsheets, blankets, nighties
·        Rusk, Biscuits, Purifying tablets, water 20ltr can
·        Rice, sugar, mat, salt, dettol, anti septic, bleaching powder, napkins, candles, match box, Pampers, ORS
·        School Kit for kids: bag, notebooks, pencil

Kindly send the materials to below addresses:

Collection Centre: Regional Sports Center, Kadavanthra, Cochin, Kerala - 682020 (from August 11th onwards 9am to 9pm)
Contact Number: 9809700000 / 9895320567 / 9544811555


Iritty taluk office, Kannur District, Kerala – 670703(Ph: 9645216958)
Control Room, Collectorate, Kannur District, Kerala – 670002 (Ph: 04972700645)


District Collector, civil station, Kalpetta, Wayanad district, Kerala- - 673122


District Collector Idukki, Idukki Collectorate, Painavu PO, Kuyilimala, Idukki - 685603.

 You may donate money to the below mentioned account:

CM's Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF)
You may choose to mail cheque/DD. You may send them to:
The Principal Secretary (Finance) Treasurer,
Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund,
Secretariat, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala -1

If you choose to make the donation online, account details are as follows:

Account number: 67319948232
Bank: State Bank of India
Branch: City branch, Thiruvananthapuram
IFS Code: SBIN0070028
Name of Donee: CMDRF

You may donate online here: Kerala Chief Minister's Relief Fund

Koode, Malayalam movie ~ A movie review : Blog #332

Koode, Malayalam movie ~ A movie review

*No Spoilers

Have you seen movies which make your eyes moist, fill up a lump in your throat and before your eyelids give way to tears, make you smile? ‘Koode’ directed by Anjali Menon is one such movie. I feel the hall mark of a great movie is for the audience to fall in love with more than one character in the story. If one were to go with that benchmark, ‘Koode’ is way ahead in the greatness category. 

Prithviraj is earnestness personified when he portrays Joshua. One feels sympathy, empathy, happiness, sadness and helplessness towards the character of Joshua. I just can’t get over the scene where as a young teenager he had to go away from his family. How scared, vulnerable, lost a child would feel at that age to be away from his parents! The scene where his uncle and he stand at the train’s door is so powerful. How subtly, the message has been conveyed. Although, I felt that particular subject could have been explored a little more over the course of the story. The internal struggles of Joshua is so relatable and endearing. His parents, played by veterans, Parvathi T & Ranjith are characters with such depth. The pain that his father feels for having let his son go and his helplessness is so sincerely portrayed. I felt his mother’s emotional turmoil is greater. There are a couple of scenes where she steels the show. One where she tells her mother (Joshua’s grandmother) as to how she lived alone all her life. Another one where she is left speechless after the marriage proposal scene she tried to bring for Joshua. Joshua is not a yesteryear hero who is full of virtue. He is just a mere human like you and I who struggles with self pity towards one's own self and the love he has towards his family. Prithviraj's movies have almost never let down his viewers and nor does this one. The finesse of his craft and dedication shines thorough all along the movie. 

Nazriya, being away from the movies for a while hasn’t lost touch at all. If anything, she has only got better. She brings the much-needed charm and happiness to the movie through her character, Jenny. The character is in a way the anchor to the story. I loved how much care is taken to not make her character preachy. She eases in and out of emotions with her characteristic charm. There are some scenes where the window glass of the van is fogged up. One can’t clearly see her face. Even in those scenes, her emotions shine through. The scene where she asks if her family will forget her is heart wrenching.

Parvathy who plays Sophie lends a lot of dignity to her character. There are two scenes which stand out. One is where she feels unsafe in her own house on a particular night. The shock and disbelief she portrays is so vivid. The second one is my favourite where her family takes her away from Joshua from the old house where they used to play. I felt what she portrayed there was not fear or angst. It was the humiliation that she endured. The fact that her family thought they could decide whom she should meet and where she should be which rattled her. It was so well emoted.

Zubin, the boy who plays younger days of Prithviraj is such an apt casting. His performance is subtle and very endearing. He has the freshness and earnestness of a new comer and there is no awkwardness in his portrayal at all.

I have always been an Atul Kulkarni fan. The coach played by him are the kind of good people we need in our society in today’s age and time. His effortless, understated acting is worth a watch.

Krish, played by Roshan Mathew is so real. The scene where he says ‘he just left’ is so true. At that age, who knows what is the right thing to do? All one feels is fear. The few scenes he had are enacted so well. He is an actor to watch out for.

A special mention for the nurse, Kochuthresiamma played by Pouly Valsan. Her comic timing is to die for. With small, micro expressions and dialogues, she makes her presence hilarious. It is heartening to see that even small characters in a story are so well thought of and given the space that they rightfully deserve.

And about the talented story teller, Anjali Menon. To begin with, what visuals! I so loved the opening scenes of the movie where the camera zooms out of the bus and then does a top view of a round- about. Before you get over that, the bus moves in to the lush greenery of Joshua’s home town. I must say it is extremely brave to have the scene (where Prithviraj meets his Parents and other relatives for the first time in the movie) included in the first 10 minutes of the movie. The bravery has to be acknowledged. I absolutely admire her ability to nurture each and every single character in the story. I found the subtlety to be for lack of a better word, delicious! I so hoped in the last scene, they wouldn’t call the baby Jenny and they did not. Some things are not to be told. They are just to be left, unsaid. The emotional tussles between the characters are so real and life like. I couldn’t trace any artifice anywhere. Anjali menon must make movies more often is all one feels while walking away from the cinema hall.

Since we are talking about earnest relationships, here is a video that tells the story of a Mother and Son from Kerala who is so full of Love and affection. They went on road trips together!. These are the little stories today’s world needs to reaffirm its belief in goodness and Love.

Click here to read blogs on Dulquer Salman's filmography.
Arun babu

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Sorry Buzzfeed. Failing at School is not cool! : Blog # 331

Sorry Buzzfeed. Failing at School is not cool!

            Before I start, let me tell you that I was never a topper at school. I was an average student who struggled with some subjects, was moderately good at a few and may be was good at one or two. I happened to see the below video from Buzzfeed. I felt the video tries to misguide school/college goers a great deal. Below are the aspects I feel the video has got horribly wrong:

1.      The video tries to glorify being an under achiever at school: One of the parameters at doing well in school is getting good marks. Other parameters being good at arts, craft, sports and the works. Most of the people who are featured in the video have nothing to boast about regarding academic scores. They even sound a bit proud about it. What is the glory in getting bad scores?

2.      Getting good marks at school involves hard work: Anyone who has scored good marks in school will tell you that it did not come easy to them. There is a lot of work that goes in to scoring good grades. It is an indication of the consistency of hard work that a person can put in over a period of time. Come to think of it, it is this consistent hard work that helps people become achievers in life -  be it in the field of art, sports or corporate.

3.      Is the video promoting the culture of being dumb? In 100 meters race, the parameter that is used to judge the winner is time that is taken to cover the 100 meters. One can argue that it should be the poise with which a person runs which should be made the criteria. Similarly, marks indicate a person is bright. Marks alone doesn’t indicate intellect. But it is one of the parameters. The video tries to say that marks doesn’t matter at all. It is evident from the video that except Sonia (the lady in blue) no one else had good marks in school and they are quite proud about it!

4.      What have these people achieved in life? I don’t mean to be mean or judgemental. I am just asking an objective question. Other than making 5 minute videos that people watch and forget forever, what contribution have these people made to the real world? Also, these 5 minute videos are a fad which aren’t going to last forever. If these people are going to focus their energies on doing just this, how will they have a career? More importantly, if they don’t have the discipline to get decent marks in school, will they be able to consistently deliver good scripts for videos like these?

5.      Not everything is easy or enjoyable in life: Gaining knowledge, landing a job from tens of thousands of competitors, reading books, making money are all difficult aspects of life. The video somewhere sends out the message that the difficult things in life can be done away with. It hints at the fact that rigour is not needed.

I understand the fact that the video is trying to point out flaws in our education system (I hope so, at least). But this is not the way to go about it. This video is just being populist and lazily appealing to a bunch of people who don’t work to work hard in life at all. Then how do we show flaws in the education system? I do not know! Then why do I criticise them? Because I do not sit with multiple social media platforms with the sole aim of making videos and listicles. It is not my day job. But it is the day/night and full-time job of people at Buzzfeed! Hence the criticism.

So guys and girls at Buzzfeed, there are people who have given their blood and sweat to achieve the marks they got in school and college. There are people who work 9 hours a day in a corporate job trying to make meaningful contributions to the economy and the society that they live in. They are as cool as you guys who make fun videos. Do not dumb down life.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Blog on Dulquer Salman’s Filmography #7 : Blog # 330

Blog on Dulquer Salman’s Filmography #7


Mahanati / Nadigaiyar Thilagam is one of those movies that will be cherished and looked back at fondly when the history of Cinema is written. Dulquer has been receiving rave reviews for his portrayal of Gemini Ganesan in this movie. Infact, the whole cast and crew deserve a  good loud round of applause for the heart they have put in to create the magic that is Mahanati.

In Mahanati, Dulquer essays the role of Gemini Ganesan. What a treat it is to watch! The character is so well written. There is this unapologetic streak about his being. He know his flaws and he owns them. Depiction of Gemini Ganesan is a quintessential today's hero depiction - an image that is not white washed by the moralities of the society. 

There are beautiful moments between Gemini Ganesan and Savitri (played brilliantly well by Gayatri Suresh). Some that stand out in my memory is one when he tells her that he is already married and has 2 kids. Another one is when they get married. There are many scenes where the behavior of Gemini Ganesan is not something we expect. For instance, in the bar. He gets angry but he is gentle with Savitri. There is no negativity in that anger. What those scenes portray is that the anger that Ganesan feels is towards himself and he is careful to let Savitri know that it is not directed towards her. Such was their love.  Dulquer has enacted them with quite some panache. I am sure this movie will endear him towards the welcoming Telugu audience. It will be a crime if I don't acknowledge Gayatri Suresh's acting prowess. Not even for a moment could I see her on screen. All I saw was Savitri. How wonderfully she has essayed the role and with such sensitivity!

Dulquer has come a long way in a time span of just about 6 years. Think about this – 1.6 Million followers on Twitter, 5.1 Million on Facebook, 2.2 Million on Instagram, 72K subscribers on YouTube.  How more popular can you get? By now, his movies have garnered both commercial and critical acclaim across the states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh/Telangana as well. If OK Kanmani and Mahanati wasn’t enough, coming soon is the romcom, KKK (Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal)

One was thinking if he will ever make a Bollywood debut. That is when the announcements of Karwaan and Zoya factor came along!

            Apart from movies, he is making some meaningful interventions as well. There was a Facebook post about him meeting the inspiring lady called Dhanya who is a significant part of an NGO called www.amrithavarshini.org which creates awareness regarding Osteogenesis Imperfecta. It is good to see a movie star doing his bit to add to the goodness of society.

            He has endorsements raining left, right and center be it Otto, Malabar Developers, Club FM or many more. Would he have thought while doing the below Ad of Funskool, this was going to be a way of life for him? I don’t think so :) 

Once in a while, comes along some advertisements that stand apart from the crowd. His new ad for Malayala Manorama is one such. And the red Merc, the poetry of a car and the number board - astute move!

Earlier blogs on Dulquer’s Filmography:

Blog 1 : The rise of a new star