Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Kedarnath miracle - When a stone saved Mahadev!


As i was returning from office the other day, the hot gossip going on in the local train was how a rock had prevented the Kedarnath temple from getting washed away during the horrifying floods, when all but seemed lost. About how the almighty apparently saved  his temple and thus re-established the faith of his followers through this act. While a section of the crowd seemed to agree to this, there were some who didn’t. They argued on the fact that if there was indeed a god, this wouldn’t have happened in the first place. Thousands woudn’t have died at his doorstep. What was in discussion was the following event.
Kedarnath temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and situated near the Mandakini River in India in a valley of the Garhwal Himalayas, was constructed in the 8th century and folklore has it that Shree Adi Shankaracharya himself , oversaw the building of the shrine. Considered as one amongst the holiest temples in India, it is on the must-see list of every devout Hindu. For the trekkers, this place with its beautiful landscapes and challenges is nothing short of a paradise. What pains you today is the unfortunate turn of events that has led the temple to be nearly destroyed and thousands of life and livelihoods swept away overnight.
What initially started as a heavy shower on Saturday night on June 15th 2013 in the Garhwal region eventually became something beyond everyone’s imagination. Early Sunday, the tragedy began when a cloudburst happened upstream in the valley. What followed was incessant rains leading to huge floods that took everything along with them . A cloud burst happens when clouds come under huge pressure due to getting stuck in a valley. The result is them’ bursting’ thereby causing the entire water in them to drain down in an instant!
Due to this burst , huge rocks also broke away from the Kedar dome and started rolling in the valley. One of them apparently stopped just before the stone temple, thereby breaking the flow of the muddy water into two. This lead to shops, houses basically everything around the temple to be washed away in natures’ fury, but the temple survived!
While the table tennis has started on whom to blame, whether the govt for its corrupt policies that allow the builder-mafia nexus, who cause irreparable damage to the environment, to thrive. Or the rains, which have been recorded as the highest ever in this region in the last 43 years or so. Environmentalists state the  widespread and almost unregulated expansion of giant hydro-electric projects in the region, the incessant construction of roads to serve the burgeoning tourist population, the adverse effect on the fragile ecosystem in the region due to growing human presence and pollution as the major causes for the devastation that Uttarakhand has been subjected to. The administration is of the view that this is solely Nature’s fury.
 This debate seems to continue in our living rooms as thousands of lives hang on by a tight rope. As more and more stories come of how the stranded pilgrims spent three days without food, how they collected rainwater and used to distribute the precious water through bottle caps, with each individual consuming one cap of water twice daily, the magnitude of the tragedy just seems to grow!
However there is a debate of another kind that has reared its head once again admist all of this. To believe or not to believe. Is there a god or is religion just superstition.  Is there a God’s hand in the rock stopping just before the temple or was it pure coincidence. 

"Call it a miracle but the Nandi statue and the other idols in the temple are intact," said a Kedarnath temple committee official post the event."In fact, those pilgrims who were in the temple during the tragedy also survived. But the destruction all around the temple has been terrible," said the official
The atheists say, “If there was god in the first place, why would the tragedy happen. So much of destruction , pain and sorrow. Which god gives that. Now what’s idiotic is to assume that the rock that saved the temple from being washed away is an act of god. It is just coincidence.  Now these people will start worshipping the rock too. One should not visit such places only if there is so much danger lurking!”.
To this the sadhus have a counterargument ,“This was bound to happen. Just a day prior to the floods, the administration forcibly removed a Kali mata statue (who is the guardian deity of this region) for a hydro project. Look what unfolded in the guardian’s absence. Even in the past when such a move was made we have witnessed terrible tragedy. But sadly these patterns will never be noticed by non-believers”.
While we leave this debate for some other day, there is a very simple logic why things happen. If you disturb the ecosystem that you live- in, exploit her for your own selfish needs, she will get back like a woman scorned! If you introspect more ,what you will eventually realize that this just the universal law. The law of Karma. And it’s definitely not just for acts against humans. This spiritual law governs us all and the most definitely the environment around us because we impact it and vice-versa.
Hundreds have died and thousands are fear trapped in what remains a huge pile of debris. Every year the temple gets lakhs of devotees and a prompt disaster management system (Human Hand) is the least one can expect rather than leave that to Ram bharose( The God’s Hand). It is too much an ask from him i feel, even the lord would agree! The kumbh mela also is another annual event which sadly sees stampedes happen year after year. Mumbai itself becomes a huge disaster zone every year during monsoons, something which I personally experience and it just becomes frustrating year on year. Even today in the train there were lives hanging on to the doors, simply because in Mumbai you don’t commute, you get transported like chicken.
With such a huge population and strain on existing systems there will always be mishaps and tragedies waiting to happen. Having a system that prevents them from happening in the first place is still miles ahead for us to even imagine, develop and implement.  However instead of indulging in loose talk, let’s divert our energies to build a foolproof disaster management system so that the common man--believers and non believers included, can at least survive to tell the tale!
And yes we can then enjoy their debates over god too, on local trains , in print , on national television as to whether a stone indeed saved Mahadev…High time we saved Mankind first!


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

This Jawaani is indeed Deewani!--Movie review



Opposites attract. Well that’s why they also gel. Yeh Jawaani hai Deewani just re-emphasises this old adage of love but does so beautifully.Right from the first time when Bunny (Ranbir Kapoor) meets Naina ( Deepika Padukone), you can sense an underlying chemistry waiting to explode.  
He is the extrovert, chilled out ,self-centered guy who wants to explore the world. She on the other hand is the reserved, nerdy girl who is responsible but bored of her life. The common thing that unites them is his zeal to enjoy life and her underlying desire to break the monotonous ritual that she calls… her life!.
They kick off instantaneously on the trek, where they meet and soon love blossoms gradually. The fact that they understand and compliment each other just makes it real. The beautiful Manali landscapes obviously add their own charm to the chemistry. Just as she is about to speak her heart out to him, comes the twist of fate that drives them apart.
They do reunite 8 years later and the bottled passions open up.  How it impacts their individual lives forms the climax and the eventually hindi fillum happy ending! Guess it could have been more impactful had we had a real-life climax.
The main cast is aptly supported by Kalki (the tomboy of the group), Aditya kapoor (with a couple of good one-liners and again a whiskey role)..Hic! and Kunal Roy kapoor. His take on Oh-La –La from dirty picture will have you in splits. Playing the guy whom Kalki eventually settles down with, his comic timing and expressions just keep getting better and better with every movie. previous outing being Nautanki Saala.
Full marks to the director of the movie, Ayan Mukherjee who had dealt with a very different subject in Wake up Sid.He does a fantastic job in this one too. Even though the law of opposites is explored innumerable times, the treatment of this movie makes you feel he has tackled a different subject and that's where the direction scores. Certain scenes stay with you even after you leave the hall-
Bunny’s interaction with Naina  during the moonlit Bhairav point trek
Bunny’s scene with his dad before leaving India
The wonderfully shot sunset scene atop Udaipur , where Naina explains life’s basic fact to Bunny that how much ever you may want to rush and stay ahead of time, there is always something in the present that you will miss in doing so! It's just a matter of perspective.
But the best part is none of these scenes go overboard inspite being emotional and hence the feel good factor stays. Hence the screenplay deserves special mention here.
For Ranbir Kapoor, this is a performance in the league of Wakeup sid . However feel his performances in Rocket Singh and Rockstar..were better. He carries the character of Bunny well on his shoulders.  In the latter two movies, he lived them!
The songs in this movie have been very very well shot. Each song leaves its impression . Ghagra ho ya Dilliwali girlfriend hare ek gaana aapse battamezi zaroor karega! Infact the music should become more popular once more and more people watch the film.
Last but definitely not the least, this is Deepika’s best performance since Cocktail.  She looks cute playing the nerd in the first half .Hot and desirable in the second . Aakhir Naina khul hi gaye! Jokes apart, you will feel and live her transformation during the phases and that’s where I guess an actor plays his/her part to the T. She for me is the Hero of this film.
Go for it because this jawani is indeed dewaani and post the movie, Deepika’s list of deewanas will definitely  increase. Kya karein- opposites indeed attract!