Desaadanam – movie review

This film can’t be made in Tamil. Thank you Mollywood for producing such a poignant movie on a subject that has never been spoken about in the south indian movie scene. ‘Desaadanam’, the poignant movie that doesn’t shout yet delivers the cornucopia of human emotions in a non-intrusive manner, is a delight to watch.

Panchu, a namboodiri brahmin boy of 8 years or so, is so gifted that he is well versed in the dharmic school. His excellence attracts the attention of a religious order of the Advaidic thought and the pontiff of the Mutt asks for Panchu’s ordainment as the next Acharya.

The trials and tribulations of a loving family that consists of an octogenarian grandfather, a caring father and a doting mother are depicted in a most elegant manner in the movie.

Scenes where the child performs the annual remembrance rituals for this family members who are alive and to himself (Atma Shradham) when he moves from joyous childhood to a sudden monk-hood would move viewers to tears. Just in case you understand the Sanskrit mantras recited in those scenes, the effect would multiply manifold.

While parental emotions are to be expected, the portrayal of innocent friendship that Panchu has with Devikutti, a girl of his age, is authentic. While the children fight for some nuts earlier on in the movie and try to snatch from each other, once Panchu becomes a monk, she accepts a sweet from him as a holy prasad. Metaphors such as this galore.

Music is soothing to the ears, with the background scores non existent in most places where deep human emotions are adequately sufficient to carry forward the scenes. In such frames the music director makes his presence felt by the absence of his music. Well judged.

The movie doesn’t preach, fight for perceived injustices and abuse the viewer’s senses but is a treat to watch. The movie has won a national award, and rightfully so.

Don’t miss it, at any cost. Available on Amazon Prime.

Once you watch, write a line in this site about your experience.

Dayananda School contd’

I had been to Dayananda School yesterday as I had wanted to know things first hand.

Located in the foothills of Yelagiri hills ( near the Vainu Pappu Observatory), Kurusilampattu is a writer’s paradise. While clouds kissed the hilltops and created a permanent shield of pleasantness, the school stood majestically at the same time painting a sordid melancholy hue.

The school has Singapore curriculum based teaching for classes upto 8 and later shifts to TN State Matric Board. Special books sourced from a publisher in Mumbai are used to train the children. The school buses, numbering 7, are not operational due to Covid and hence would need Rs 50,000 per bus to become operational once schools are allowed to reopen after COVID.

I don’t want to write anything more on the school except publish some pictures and a short video of my interview with the founder Shri.Saravanan. I leave it to your conscience to help the 927 students realise their dreams.

To sum it up: The school needs a sponsorship of Rs 10,000 per student per year. This would help the school tide over the current salary payment crisis enforced due to COVID. Once schools reopen, parents would start remitting fees and that would help stabilise the situation.

A reader-friend, who had accompanied me , was so taken in by the situation and the works on the ground that he has taken it upon himself to support as many students as possible through his friends’ and office network.

If you know of any other school that provides Singapore curriculum based education upto class 8 in this fee range, I would like to visit that. It is a challenge.

Dayananda School needs help

Pujya Shri Swami Dayanand Saraswati had expressed shock at the lack of good dharmic schools in Tirupattur / Vaniyambadi region and had asked one of his devotees, Shri.Saravanan, to start a school that provided Dharmic values.

Saravanan (42), a bachelor committed to HH Swamiji’s teachings, started the Dayananda Vidyalya at Kurusilampattu, selling off his land holdings and pledging his uncle’s properties. A couple of investors also had advanced Rs 50 lakhs towards this effort.

In addition to  matriculation education, the school also provides regular spiritual classes to the underprivileged children.

The school has 900 students and 27 full time teachers. Due to the current corona issue, Saravanan has run into financial difficulties and needs help. Sensing his difficulties, he is being approached by non-dharmic schools with vested interests to sell the school to them. 

Incidentally, during the approval process for the school, when Saravanan had faced bureaucratic difficulties, Shri. Gurumurthy, Editor – Thuglak, had used his good offices to get approval from the government, without any out of turn payment to the authorities.

Saravanan has a financial plan prepared earlier with the help of Shri. Badri Seshadri ( Kizakku Publishers) who is also in the academic advisory board of the school.  The other donors and well-wishers, who had backed Saravanan’s effort when HH Swamiji was around, are seen to be backing off after HH entered maha samadhi.

Saravanan also provides scholarships to children who can’t afford the meagre fees. 30% of the students either don’t pay any fees due to poverty or are on scholarship that Saravanan provides.

I am coordinating with some friends to help this school now as the COVID situation has worsened the financial situation of Saravanan’s Manam Malarattum Trust that runs the school.

While long term help is being secured, the immediate need is to support the school financially to pay the salaries to the teachers who are conducting online classes to the children. Also note that Saravanan had to downsize the teacher count from 57 to 27 to reduce the cost of operations and it takes Rs 4 lakhs per month for teachers’ salaries alone.

Hence most urgent ask is for emergency funding to pay salaries to the teachers. Bank details are as below. 80G benefit exists for donations.

Name: Manam Malarattum

A/C Number: 902907151

A/C Type: Current

IFSC: IDIB000M184

Bank : Indian Bank,

Branch : Mittur

Please send a mail to manam(.)malarattum(@)gmail(.)com with reference number / screen shot and your name to get your receipts.

The school is here.

Some pictures of the school:

Queries on a star migration

Smt.Khushbu Sundar, yesteryear movie star and a well known face in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, has switched parties. This time she has moved to the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that runs the country. Nothing wrong in a person joining a political party nor is it uncommon for a movie star to join a party in the movie obsessed state of Tamil Nadu where popular politicians were film stars of yore.

The fact that Khushbu has moved to the supposedly hindu-majority-seeking national party is not what this article is about. It is about the history that needs some clarification and answers from the former actor.

Prior to her political career, Khushbu had commented on the pre-marital sexual status of Tamil girls, was hounded by ultra-secessionist fringe outfits with physical violence, rushed into the embracing arms of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) to find safety, later felt sidelined by the party, shifted places to the nationalist and supposedly ‘secular’ Congress Party, was appointed the national spokesperson, was sidelined by the multitude of factions, a characteristic of the party, and has now moved on to the diametrically opposite BJP.

Does an actor’s migration from politics of one color to the other merit a detailed article, one might ask. In the case of Khushbu, it does.

Khushbu’s utterances since she joined the BJP clearly show that she has joined the party not due to ideological enlightenment but due to lack of a political future in the Congress party that has seen a series of high profile exits after the lackluster performances of the party and its leaders in the last two general elections. With the leadership ensconced in ivory towers that provide little view of the ground situation, and a failed leader who wants to have power without responsibility, the Congress Party, that was founded by an European Allan Octavian Hume is being dragged hastily into its grave by yet another European – Smt.Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi. Thus, seeing no future, in the party, Khushbu has jumped boats.

Abandoning ship for ones’ own survival is normal. But in the case of Khushbu, her joining the very party that she has opposed virulently for the last 6 years, is a case for questioning in depth. For this, we would need to look at what she has said in the last 6 years about Prime Minister Modi in particular and the BJP in general.

Has none joined a party that they had opposed so violently? There are plethora of evidence that shows many had done. But the the kind of politics and statements that Khushbu had indulged in, even in the guise of being the national spokesperson for the Congress Party, do call for her to answer.

As late as October 6, 2020, Khushu had called out PM Modi’s act of rearing peacocks at his official residence and had said that the PM who could feed peacocks in his house, could not feed the citizens.After this, on October 11, 2020, she joined the PM’s party, the BJP.

When the BJP formed government in Madhya Pradesh, Khushbu had tweeted thus, saying the Madhya Pradesh cabinet would be constituted by these half clad sadhus, referring to the presence of holy men in the party and government.

On October 1, 2019, Khushbu famously said the that the Prime Minister would not be welcome to Tamil Nadu and one year later, joined the party.

Without having any basic knowledge of the current pandemic induced economic situation and consequent job losses, Khushbu had tweeted thus, accusing the BJP of causing such an unemployment situation of gargantuan proportions. And this was as late as October 4, 2020, six days prior to joining the same party. Even Singapore, the country that Khushbu often vacations in, declared that it was entering into a recession due to the pandemic.

Here is she using derogatory and potentially un-usable language on the BJP Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath on October 4, 2020.

While Khushbu would have to come clean on all the above, she has to make her stand clear on E.V.Ramasamy Naicker, the late rabble-rouser who never missed any opportunity to deride the hindu gods and the hindu pantheon, for she has recently claimed that ‘I am a Periarist in the BJP’ – whatever that might mean.

The BJP in Tamil Nadu needs such star power to get into power in the movie crazy state. But the erstwhile stars who join the party have the responsibility to either disown their earlier statements or offer a public apology for these past sins.

Whether Khushbu offers apology or not, I would be backing the BJP to come to power in the state. I would even vote for her in case the party fields her as a candidate in my constituency ( like I supported any PAP candidate in Singapore). However, the her sins of the past cannot be white washed.

Cab Driver Stories – an introduction

We keep running all the time that we don’t even know we are running or what we are after. But Sudhakar Kasthuri doesn’t do that. He runs, for sure, but stops as he runs and listens to what others have to say and do, especially the hire cab drivers. While travelling long distances on work, he listens to the stories of the cab drivers and thus is born this book, ‘Cab driver stories ‘.

41mzv2zpy7l‘ Cab driver stories’ is such a book that would bring to the fore, the hidden world of cab drivers.

Sudhakar Kasthuri treats us to a repertoire of experiences of the drivers that produce myriad feelings that would leave one wondering ‘How did we miss this, thus far ?’

Sudhakar’s drivers speak multitude of languages ranging from Tamil to Marathi to Punjabi to Hindi and we are treated to drops of worldly wisdom, vendantic thoughts, radical extremist views that have a purpose, thoughts on repression in ordinary households et al.

Two stories that would bring the reader to tears are ‘Amme’ and ‘Lakshmanan’. There is a shortened version of the Gita as well, in the short story, ‘Manjit Singh’.

Sudhakar Kasthuri sparkles in his own right with his unpretentious writing that touches the reader in every story. Another Sujatha in the making, given the unexpected twist at the end of every story – classic definition of a short story.

Originally published in Tamil as ‘Valavan Kathaikal’ ( I had read that then and had derived great pleasure), this is the English translation of that pleasurable treasure. Jayanthi Sankar, a bilingual author herself, has translated into English without losing out on the essence and feel.

A fast read that would make you look at the often accosted common man, the cab driver,  in an entirely different light, from your next taxi ride.

Available in Amazon Kindle here.

Dangling Gandhi – a review

While travelling through an arid region, when you suddenly get under the shade of an improbable mango tree and at that very instant an unexpected cool breeze descends on you from a suddenly appearing ocean, you call that a miracle, a blessing, a fortune. The book , ’Dangling Gandhi’ lands on us, thus.

A non-intrusive and non-preachy book of short stories, ‘Dangling Gandhi’ arrives on the table with such unsuspecting gentleness and refreshing warmth that you begin to feel like a calf let out of captivity. With so much moribund and melancholic literature all around, ‘Dangling Gandhi’ liberates you from the ever present sordidness of thought.

Dangling GandhiThe collection is multi-ethnic, has multi-lingual characters and is a multi-national one – multi-national literally. Author Jayanthi Sankar doesn’t treat the reader as a child that needs constant and repetitive chiding or instruction. She doesn’t tell stories, but shows the events in their kaleidoscopic splendour. 

Among the many stories that adorn this collection, here are some that made me read them again to devour the details in their entirety. 

‘Dangling Gandhi’, the story, is a fine juxtaposition of the different age groups. The means of communication serves as an indicator of the generation gap between the participants in the conversation. The intelligent use of ‘WhatsApp’, the messaging platform, is a pointer to the author’s sense of attention to detail.

The Gandhi icon, used as a metaphor, when dangling, presents the dilemma of the current generation – whether to use the icon or not, while showing, at the same time, that the previous generation too had other icons of the Indian liberation movement. And that is why Gandhi is shown to be dangling. That a character in the story uses Gandhi as an auspicious object, a lucky charm, is slightly reminiscent of the the situation in India where the different political parties have been using Gandhi for their own political purposes – either by way of supporting his policies, or by way of demonising his ideas. Either way, a lucky charm. The character that uses Gandhi icon in the story is Chinese by ethnicity. This also delivers a subtle message that Indians, at present, probably have no use for the icon.

‘Mobile Dictionary’, another story, also uses this intelligent interplay of two different modes of communication ( as in Dangling Gandhi) – verbal and written. While the verbal one happens in Singapore, the written communication happens in India. With no reference to the ‘From’ and ‘To’ in the India part, the plot, while easy to decipher, presents an imaginative way to convey a different line in the story. Ingenuity at its best. 

‘Punkah Wallah’ is a judicious mixture of human kindness and selfishness that occur simultaneously.  

“Read Singapore’ brought in fond memories of the Ang Mo Kio library while presenting the reality of an honestly practical Singapore education system. While the government promotes mother language learning, the takers are few. Nevertheless the effort is noble.

‘Beyond Borders’ presents the contemporary reality of s Singapore bus ride while at the same time projecting the pleasant innocence of a nerdy little boy. A compilation of contrasting human traits. 

’The Peasant Girl’ depicts the often-heard-of employer-maid relationship amidst a soft romance background.

‘Am I a jar’ brings forth the not-so-often spoken about LGBT and queer matters. An eyeopener especially on the specific lingo. 

Most of the stories deliver a sense of history in a non-intrusive manner where history stands a mute testimony to the happenings. Some startling historical aspects, like the Rickshaw Strike in Singapore, are pointers to the paths that countries have trodden in their journeys towards modernity. 

Author Jayanthi Sankar deserves all praise for bringing this veritable read that spans across the South East Asian and Asian landscapes while dwelling on both contemporary and historical matters.  

New age writing with non-interfering history in the background.

Singapore Diary – Book Release

Dear Readers,

‘Singapore Diary’, my 4th book, on an Indian expats’ experiences in Singapore, is set for online release on 7-April, 2020. It is ready for pre-order now. The book is a light read and contains my experiences mostly with the taxi drivers of Singapore from whom I had learnt a lot. It also contains some other aspects that complete the Singapore milieu.

My son drew the cover art when he was 10 years old. He is 14 now.

Do read the Kindle version and provide a review. More importantly, please spread word.

Thanks

Amaruvi.

Dangling Gandhi – Author book reading session

Singaporean author Jayanthi Sankar read a part from her book ‘Dangling Gandhi’ at the Madras Literary Society under the auspices of the Chennai Bloggers Group. A group of 20 readers, some of whom had read the book beforehand, had assembled at the century old hall.

Many reader reviews also took place with interesting perspectives thrown in from different aspects that had appealed to them.

The reader interaction session was bountiful. While the readers had spoken about the stories in the book, I spoke on the author as I had known her for the last 10 years while I was in Singapore. She is one of the few bilingual authors from Singapore who is well-read.

The audience had some Ph.D scholars as well and the interaction was a learning experience for all.

More of such English Literary activities, attended by enthusiastic and well-read readers, would enrich the English Literary Scene in Chennai. For once, there was a literary meet that spoke about human compassion, longing, craft of writing, nuances of translation and the vivid imagery that occurs in the writer’s brain that proves to be the trigger for a story. For once, there was a literary meet that didn’t talk politics or take sides. For once, there was this literary meet that discussed literature, and only literature, in English, in Chennai.

I will post a review of the book in the near future.

My participation in Jayanthi Sankar’s book release function earlier in Singapore Writer’s Festival.

Dangling Gandhi

Note on TN

‘They are Poshlustists. Poshlism is not only the obviously trashy but mainly the falsely important, the falsely beautiful, the falsely clever, the falsely attractive..’

This is what Russian writer Vladimir Nobakov had to say about Russians.

Looking at the happenings in TN, statements and behaviour of the ‘protesters’, their ‘leaders’, the shepherds and their willing sheep, I am reminded of Nobokov.

TN is doing its kamikaze-ish spiral thanks to the worthies that masquerade as leaders, the semi-literates that spin gibberish in mainstream media and the gullible students who consume this poison thanks to the lacklustre education they have been administered for far too long.

The same student community has been led astray regarding the Neutrino Observatory programme. Ditto for nuclear programme and other development plans. The intellect vacuum in the student community is so overwhelming that it looks like another 50 years of complete re-eduction needs to be in place to eradicate this lacunae.

The then erudite state is marching triumphantly backwards towards intellectual obliteration.

My late English teacher T.K.Ramanujam (Bahu) would’ve admonished me for the rather longish beating around the bush and would’ve described the above, with brevity, using a single word – decadence.

Bank frauds galore

‘Hello Am I speaking to Amaruvi Devanathan?’

‘Yes, who is this?’

‘Sir, I am calling from SBI. Need to check some details.’

‘Go ahead’

‘Sir, regarding some card detail, I want to check’

‘Yes please’

‘You have an SBI Credit card?’

‘No, I don’t.’

‘So you have a debit card, right?’

‘Oh yes. I do. What do you want to check?’

‘Actually we are issuing a new debit card. Can you tell me your card number?’

‘May I know your name and address?’

‘Raman Mehta, SBI Branch, Gandhi Nagar, Borivalli, Mumbai’

‘Why do you want my card number?’

‘Sir, I told you know. I want to check the number with what I see in the screen’

‘Ok. Here it is: 4765 1729  5456 1117’

‘Sir, only the last 4 digits are matching. Could you say again?’

‘4765 1729  5456 1117’

‘Again not matching. Can you check your card?’

‘See, I told you the number I have. Now, you tell me the number you see on the screen.’

‘No. I can’t do that. Can you check another card that you might have?’

‘No. Could you tell me my account number that you see on the screen?’

No. That is not shown. Only card number is shown. Can you please check another card?’

‘I can do that later. Now you get lost’

I have been a banker with an international bank for more than a decade. I know how scams happen and how to be safe. Hence I played along and continued the conversation. It was an obvious give away when the caller said that the last 4 digits matched. The 16 digit number was a figment of my imagination and I uttered what came to mind.

The scamster called from +91-8193-861369.  Please be cautious in your calls. Never disclose personal and bank details. And never answer calls from number that are not familiar to you. In case of a genuine call, the caller would call again. Hence no worries.

P.S.: I don’t have any account with SBI – State Bank of India.2c912f0200000578-3242466-image-m-3_1442783439052-1