Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Compassion and Inclusion

Actress Shriya Saran is in the news as her new hindi film, a remake of the malayalam hit Dhrishyam is to hit the marquee this friday. I was pleasantly surprised to know she runs a spa named Spandan manned entirely by visually impaired therapists. What made her venture into such an enterprise? In the interview given to Pune Times of 29th July 2015 she says, 
" we all grow up sitting in a class room next to a child who is either better or equal to you. So you never grow up helping someone who may be better than you but just less abled.  So a part of you that is meant to show compassion is not developed as you only know how to show competition. As a result, we only know how to show pity instead of compassion. i feel community service needs to be introduced and made mandatory for kids in school."

Point to ponder for sure. Can't help recalling Karthik Subbaraj's short film 'Broken Gods' for Ability Foundation. Worth more than just a view. Click on the link below to watch.

Helping Hands at the Golden Hour

My post in the month of February titled 'யாருக்காக ' was based on a true story narrated to me by a friend. The inspector's in that story was no fictitious character and I came across this article in TOI of 29th July 2015 about a good Samaritan cop who chose to go beyond the call of duty for larger good. May his tribe increase!


Jul 29 2015 : The Times of India (Pune)
WINDS OF CHANGE - Golden hour help: Traffic cop dons director's cap to make 15-minute film for larger good

It was on his birthday that Sagar, a resident of Kothrud, met with an accident that left him bleeding on the road with severe head injuries. The accident could have taken a fatal turn, had it not been for a good samaritan, an aged passer-by , who rushed him to a hospital for medical treatment within the `golden hour'.This is the premise of `Helping Hands', a 15-minute film made by Mahesh Kumar Sartape, assistant police inspector with Warje traffic police, to spread awareness about the importance of tak ing accident victims to the nearest hospital within the first 60 minutes, or the `golden hour' to give them a better chance at survival and recovery . Bystanders and passersby , who cannot assist physically , can help by immediately informing the police (100) or the emergency medical service (108), Sartape says through the film.
The film, shot in Marathi over three days at multiple locations around the city , features five professional actors and even the traffic cop in a short role. Sartape has also written the story , screenplay and the voice-over narration, besides directing the film which is inspired by his own experiences in dealing with road accident victims and apathy of the passers-by and bystanders.
Sartape now plans to reach out to the citizens by screening the film in educational institutes and during the Ganapati festival. “The past one year, I have been deputed on the highway and have dealt with a lot of accident cases,“ says Sartape.“In most cases, we were not able to help the victims as the news reached us late. These victims could have been saved if they had gotten im mediate medical care. What's more disturbing was the in sensitivity of the bystanders who instead of taking the vic im to the hospital, chose to ust stand and watch, or worse, click photographs to upload on social networking sites. I would be happy even i one accident victim is saved because of this film,“ he says Sartape cited a Supreme Court order about the role o doctors in treating acciden victim, saying that every ac cident victim has a right to imely medical care.
Sartape is happy abou he response the film has gar nered so far. “We recently screened the film at a girls educational institute and al most every viewer was cry ng at the end of the screen ng. The actors in the film too did not take money as they connected with the socia message. I would be happy i t can be screened at Ganapat pandals this year,“ he says.
Sarang Awad, deputy commissioner of police (traf ic) says, “It is a fantastic film with a lovely message. It's un ortunate that people don' come forward to help acci dent victims. The golden hour can actually save lives and as has been shown in the ilm, the victim may be your own near or dear one.“


To Sir, With Love - Part 2

Being an ardent fan of writer Sujatha, I got to know that Dr Abdul Kalam and he were college mates in St Joseph’s college, Trichy and Madras Institute of Technology, Chromepet. At the latter named institute, the former pursued Aeronautical Engineering while the latter chose to master in Electronics.  They also secured first and second positions respectively for their projects. Their association was to continue well into their twilight years. President Kalam , ever the student-centric teacher at heart  that he was, wanted to write a book for children simplifying science and technology . He requested Sujatha, a scientist himself and  popular writer with mass readership, to co author the same. Sujatha is supposed to have remarked, “I’m ready anytime you are, Sir”. Had  that collaboration come through, it would’ve been a best seller translated into every language under  the sun!

There never was one before or after, who re defined the Presidency as he did. Here was a President who stuck to his oily hairstyle making quite many stylists  tear their hair in despair. If his thick grey locks shaped like inverted commas framing the forehead were not shocking enough, the disarming disregard for protocol surely was. He was far too distinguished (already a Bharat Ratna) , even before he became President a good five years later, which can’t be said about some of his predecessors or his successor. Every other First Citizen of the nation has maintained a distance from the common man he/she represents while Kalam reached out to them through the world wide web. A student had casually written to him , inviting him to his college. Prompt came the reply from the President’s office that His Excellency would consider the request anytime he visited the student’s town. Imagine the lad’s surprise a few months later when he actually received a call from Raisina Hill asking whether such and such a date would be fine for the college for his proposed visit! Sweet dreams are made of these…who am I to disagree…

Time was when skeletons were tumbling down the closets of several politicians, industrialists, bureaucrats, film stars, sports stars, spiritual gurus even. A thoroughly disillusioned 20 something of a PYT would tell me, “Aunty, the day I hear of a scam involving Abdul Kalam, I swear I’ll give up all hope on humanity!” Personal and professional integrity, simplicity, humility as character traits and eminence in the hallowed field of space science and defence technology made him an awe- inspiring icon way more than any rock star or movie star ever could.

How able was he as a President? I’ve heard of controversial decisions like declaring President’s rule in Bihar, sitting on mercy petitions indecisively and such. The jury is still out on those. What can you say when given a choice,  he would rather  teach than receive dignitaries,  confer awards or administer oaths?

He once wished to become a pilot in Indian Airforce. He didn’t quite make it and went on to become a scientist. Decades later by virtue of being the President, he would become the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces combining not just the air force, but army and navy as well. Yet he didn’t get to be the fighter  pilot he originally wished to be, you say….

Well he did, almost half a century later in 2006 when he flew as a co-pilot in a Sukhoi-30 from Pune’s Lohegaon Air Force Base. These are tales one loves to tell one’s children and grand children to ignite their minds to sour on wings of fire…Thank You Sir, for being the teacher who taught by example. Thank You Sir, for giving us pride! Thank You Sir, for giving us hope!

To Sir, With Love - Part 1

28th May 2003, IUCAA (Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics) Pune:
The auditorium was buzzing with college students wearing their ID cards like some badge of honour and why not, when the cards were their free passes to attending the 11th President of India’s address to the scientists’ community?  That summer morning,  the Power Point President as he had come to be called, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was sharing defining moments from his career.

He was the Project Director in ISRO for the SLV3 programme, to place satellite “Rohini” into orbit. The project had already overrun cost estimates and was carrying the aspirations of the entire sub continent into the exclusive space club. On the D Day of 1979, goaded by the assurances of the team members, Kalam bypassed the computer system that was warning of a glitch and manually launched the rocket which minutes later, plunged into the Bay of Bengal, turning the dream project into a monumental nightmare. Journalists from all over the world had arrived to report what would have been a historic event. One would think there would have been a witch hunt to fix the blame for the utter fiasco on the scientists involved. Prof. Satish Dhawan the then Chairman of ISRO gallantly stepped forward  throwing  himself to the wolves baying for blood (did he have a 56 inch chest?) and shouldered the responsibility himself for the disaster , re assuring the media and the nation that ISRO will soon succeed in the mission- which it did, the very next year. This time around though, he commanded Kalam to step forward and address the press conference. A leader owns failure himself, but credits success to his team- was the lesson in leadership the man who would be President three decades later, learnt that day.
Thunderous applause rent the air when he recounted this incident to an audience most of whom were not even born when the event happened. Such humility from the man who became the nation’s Missile Man!

“I shot an arrow into the air, it fell to earth I know not where” , my heart would swell with pride whenever I got to recite this poem in school.  What made the man who actually shot a rocket into the air feel proud? Not the satellite launch but a spin off from defence technology –his idea for  indigenous , cost effective cardiac stents and using  light weight carbon-carbon material used for making Agni to make composite material for calipers for polio patients, thereby reducing the weight of the calipers from 4 kgs to mere 400 grams! Polio patients who could barely walk, could now run!
This time it was not just the ovation but full throated whistles from the young audience that brought the roof down. It’s befitting that the central government has now named the Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan after him.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

அந்த நாள் ஞாபகம் -Part 1

இந்தக் கால தமிழ் சினிமா உலகில் பெரும்பாலும் பின்னணிப் பாட்டு என்கிற பெயரில் வலம் வரும் ஓசையைக் கேட்க கேட்க 
     எம் எஸ் வீயும் ராஜாவும் கொடி  கட்டிப் பறந்த 
     அந்த நாளும் வந்திடாதோ ..
என்று ஏக்கம் வருகிறது.

கொச்சைத் தமிழில் பாடல். அதற்கு பீட் மட்டுமே பிரதானமாய் காட்டுக் கூச்சலாய்  ஓசைக் கோர்வை. கவிதைத்துவம் இருந்தாலும், பாடலின் வரிகள் காலத்திற்கும் நினைவில் நிற்கும்படி ஜீவனுள்ள இசை அமைப்பு உண்டா என்றால் இல்லை என்றுதான் பெரும்பாலும் சொல்ல வேண்டும். பூக்கள் பூக்கும் தருணம் ( மதராசப் பட்டணம்), கண்கள் இரண்டால் (சுப்பிரமணியபுரம்), ஆனந்த யாழை மீட்டுகிறாய் ( தங்க மீன்கள்) போன்ற சில பாடல்கள் விதி விலக்கு .புல்லாங்குழலின் கானமோ, ஒரு பியானோவின் கம்பீரமோ, வீணையின் நாதமோ, கிடாரின் ஜாலமோ அந்த அந்த இசைக் கருவியின் தனித்துவத்துடன் பாடலுக்கு உயிரூட்டுவதாய்....ம்ஹூம்..எல்லாம் டிஜிட்டல் மயம் ! 

சின்னக் கண்ணன் அழைக்கிறான் ( கவிக்குயில்) பாடலின் ஆரம்பத்தில் வரும் புல்லாங்குழல் இசைக்கும், என்ன என்ன வார்த்தைகளோ  (வெண்ணிற ஆடை) பாடலில் இடம் பெரும் பியானோ ஒலிக்கும் இளைய நிலா பொழிகிறது (பயணங்கள் முடிவதில்லை) பாடலில் ஊடுருவி கலந்திருக்கும் கிடாரின் dynamicsஇற்கும் , கண் போன போக்கிலே கால் போகலாமா (பணம் படைத்தவன்) வில் அக்கார்டியன் தரும் grandiose feel ற்கும் தேவியர் இருவர் முருகனுக்கு ( கலைக் கோவில்) பாடலின் வீணை நாதத்திற்கும் , அன்றொரு நாள் இதே நிலவில் (நாடோடி) பாட்டில்  ஹார்மோனியமும்  ...ஆஹா..அக்கம் பக்கத்து வீட்டாரின் சொத்தையும் சேர்த்து எழுதிக் கொடுத்து விடலாம். அப்படி மயக்கும் இசை மழை பொழிந்த தமிழ் சினிமா உலகம் இப்போது வானம் பார்த்த பூமியாக ஆகிப்போனதாய் தோன்றுகிறது. யாரைச்  சொல்லி என்ன லாபம்..

Monday, July 20, 2015

Rule Reversal for Gen Y

Heard the saying " The mountain won't come to Mohammad, so Mohammad must go to the mountain" ?. Well, it's not so anymore .... just sample this!


"Jul 20 2015 : The Times of India (Pune)
App takes Bard to hip-hop generation

London: A new app that allows students to lip-sync favourite lines from Shakespeare and mix beatbox rhythms with the Bard's text can make it easier for them to study and experience the famous playwright's work.The app, called Re:Shakespeare, is aimed at young people aged 11 to 18 to let them study and experience William Shakespeare's play `Much Ado About Nothing'. The app, an initiative by UK's Royal Shakespeare Company , also allows students to take a HipHop Shakespeare quiz.
Students can get to grips with the `what, why and how' of Shakespeare's language, with a 360 degree performance of two sections of `Much Ado About Nothing'. Hosted by `Doctor Who' actor David Tennant, the app also features actor Tamsin Greig, voice coach Nia Lynn and director Iqbal Khan, offering tips and advice for understanding and performing Shakespeare. The app includes links to, and quotes from, 19 other Shakespeare plays. “The app sets Shakespeare alongside contemporary artists doing the most extraordinary things with language,“ said RSC's director of education Jacqui O'Hanlon.
“Language is power for hiphop artists and they use it to provoke, challenge and move people just like Shakespeare did,“ O'Hanlon said.
More than three million UK students study the works of Shakespeare every year but teachers are concerned that some pupils struggle to see the relevance of works in medieval dialogue from the 16th century .
The app will be offered as a support to schools from September."