Wednesday, October 31, 2007

'Suvarna Karnataka' ends on a wimpy note!

Suvarna Karnataka celebrations were started with a bang last year. But the celebrations are ending on a wimpy note this year! It's been a year since the declaration of 'Suvarna Karnataka' programmes which aspired to showcase the history and legacy of the state at national and international level as part of the states 50 years of unification. But with the power politics assuming the centre stage, the issue of land and its legacy seem to have been pushed to backseat as many works which were planned as part of Suvarna Karnataka are yet to see the day light even when the state gears up for 51 anniversary of its linguistic unification.
On November 1, 2006, the then Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, flagging off the glorious celebrations of the state at Chinnaswamy Stadium, announced that the government would conduct kannada programmes across karnataka as part of 50th anniversary and various schemes will be launched to make the celebration more meaningful. The philanthropic assurance by the CM then, were applauded at its best. Nevertheless, as we look back on the threshold of 51 anniversary, it is ironic that the state is not been given its due and in fact the bygone year was more chaotic than any other years in the history of the state.
As part of the Suvarna Karnataka celebrations, more than 20 cultural and literary programmes were announced and more than Rs 50 crores of grant was set aside in the state budget for implementing these projects throughout the year. However, many of the projects, excluding a countable number, have not even crossed their first stage and still limping on the completion track. The half-done projects across the state would clearly befit and testimonial to the sorry state of affairs happening in the state.
The department of Kannada and Culture envisaged to bring out a documentary on various luminaries who played a pivotal role in the unification of the state. A sum of Rs 29.86 lakhs was also allotted for the purpose. But nobody knows whether they have really come out or not! A commemorative postal stamp was also planned as part of the celebration. A work shop under the guidance of noted artist S G Vasudev was also conducted and images of Dr Rajkumar, Piteelu Chowdaiah, Vidhana Soudha were approved and sent to the union ministry for consideration. Owing to the reluctance of our MPs and state ministers the plan is still at the draft stage.
A sum of Rs 30 lakhs was released to produce documentaries and short films showcasing the culture and heritage of the state. But so far no films have come out on the cultural history of the state. Another Rs 50 lakhs were released for conducting programmes in neighbouring states. As of now not many such programmes have been reported. Rs 87.50 lakhs were marked for conducting programmes at taluk and district centres.

Nothing special on this years' Rajyotsava!
Unlike last years' splendid celebration, this year there are hardly any preparations for celebrating 51 anniversary of the state unification. This year celebration will have only two official programmes. The department of education has arranged for the Rajyotsava celebrations at 9 am in Kanteerava Stadium. Except for cultural programmes by school children, there is no clue about other programmes. Another programme has been organised by the department of Kannada and Culture at 6:30 pm to honour the Rajyotsava awardees.

When will these programmes take off?

Thee 'Suvarna Samputa' Editions on various facets of development of the state from 1956 to 2006.
'Suvarna Karnataka' Editions- chronicling the development of the state in all front.
'Bruhat Karnataka' editions depicting the evolution of state from ancient times to till 1799.
Department of Rural Development, Education Department too planned many programmes.
Audio-Visual documentaries depicting the cultural legacy and development at the cost of Rs 10 lakh.
Telefilms on the achievements of the state in the last 50 years to be telecasted through electronic media.
Popularising Suvarna Karnataka theme through Meghdoot postal cards at the cost of Rs 2 lakhs.
Setting up of Sri Ranga Information and Research Centre for theatre activities at Rangayana, Mysore.
Official notification on singing and time duration of the State Anthem
Documentation of the art work of veteran artists at the cost of 6.60 lakhs.
Construction of Suvarna Kannada Bhavan in five major border areas at the cost of 37.20 lakhs.
Opening of Kannada book stalls at all district headquarters

Monday, October 29, 2007

Rendezvous with the creator of Common Man

Bangalore had an unusual, yet much loved guest last Friday. A highly talented, witty and prolific octogenarian, known to the masses over the years as the creator of the `Common Man' who embodies the Indian middle class.
Clad in a simple T-shirt covered by a snuff over-coat, 83-year-old Rassipuram Krishnaswamy Laxman, the grand old man of Indian cartooning, was escorted into the corporate office of Bangalore Mirror, Vijay Karnataka and Times of India (Kannada) at VV Puram on Friday. Having been in the field for the last two years, the coverage of the event was one of the glorious moments for me as a reporter.
His witticisms, wry humour and sharp mind only added to his charm. The visit to the city on his way to Mysore seem to have made him nostalgic even as he took in his surroundings at the office. As a student, Laxman began his career by contributing to Kannada monthly 'Koravanji' which was published from this part of Bangalore in the 1960's. Laxman unfolded his memories of the city and its life in his typical style and enquired about the ongoing political crisis in the state.

The doyen of the Indian cartooning found it difficult to pen a few lines down in Kannada but was a good sport and asked for a pen. "It's been 40-years since I wrote in Kannada. Now I am finding it difficult. I will write in English." When requested to draw a cartoon he was in two minds on what to draw, Laxman settled for his humblest creation- common man. Starting with a doodle, his hand went on effortlessly shaping the man with raised hands and wishing the reader his best.
Not satisifed with his drawing, Laxman remarked "I wish I had done it better," a testimonial commitment to perfection. "I need at least six hours to draw a cartoon and I could do only this much in a minute," he said. Huddled over a cuppa of `Bangalore Coffee' which he thought was unlike Mysore coffee, he chose to be reticent about his further itinerary, except for a few remarks about his alma-mater- Maharaja College in Mysore. "I leave everything to my wife to decide on my engagements," the octogenarian quipped.
Satisfied over the short stint spanning an hour at VV Puram, Laxman ended his conversation by signalling to his attender in Tamil... "Polamma."

Friday, October 19, 2007

Gang war without bloodshed!

Aa Dinagalu
Cast: Chetan, Archana Shastri, Atul Kulkarni, Sharat Lohitashwa, Ashish Vidyarthi
Direction: Chaitanya

Since the days of ‘Om’ by Upendra, blood and abuses are synonymous with the movies shot around the theme of rowdyism. But here is a movie on rowdyism sans continuous bloodshed, volley of abuses and bawdy business! During times when there is no dearth for movies based on rowdyism or underworld stories, 'Aa Dinagalu', directorial debut of Chaitanya stands out with gripping narration (not all through the movie), beautiful cinematography and some memorable performances.
The movie based on Agni Shridhar's celebrated work 'Dadagiriya Dinagalu' centered around the goonda activities dating back to 1986, provides an insight into the bloody history of otherwise peace city. Focussing on the two major gangs of Bangalore, Aa Dinagalu is a best example for movie makers on how can one make a movie without shedding liters of blood! With the release of underworld don Jairaj (Ashish Vidyarthi) from prison, the ambience is set for supremacy over the city between Jairaj and Kotwal Ramachandra (Sharat Lohitashwa) who hatches many futile plans to end the supremacy of Jairaj.
Fight in underworld either happens due to money or girl. Here too, Chaitanya meticulously brings in the limping love story between a business magnet's son Chetan and a dance teacher Mallika (Archana Shastri) to kick off the rivalry between both gangs. But the story line up interspersed with sudden twists, gripping narration and carefully presented suspense holds you till the end without colouring the screen with gallons of blood. The narration whips up your rationale when you are ready to settle down with the story and unfolds another side of the same character.
Verisimilitude, blunt dialogues and screenplay free from vulgarity highlights the joint work of Agni Sridhar and Girish Karnad. Both Karnad and Atul Kulkarni who portray Agni Shridhar on movie have done excellent job. Atul's mannerisms offers treat to spectators. But more than anybody Sharat Lohitashwa steals the show with his splendid performance. His imitation of Kotwal reconstructs the horror for present generation which had gripped the city with considerable fear. Even though narration attempting to fail at places, director suddenly picks up with unexpected twists and corrects his error. What begins as a balance between the horrors of underworld and soothing love story, concludes as a celebratory piece of underworld by eclipsing the theme of love. Chetan has done full justice to his role of lover turned gangster and Archana Shastri impresses with here innocent beauty and portrayal of traumatic personality.

The hard work of the director in catching up with the minute details of dons and their appearance, activities of gangs deserves appreciation when many have considerable failed to convert a book into cinema. Ilayaraja's masterly skills and classic style colours the fearsome story line up with emotional attributes. Two songs testimonial to his reputation as a master musician be it a romantic flick or rowdyism movie. Title track written by Sumana Kittur and sung by Vijay Yesudas and Nanditha lingers for long and makes you hum.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

"Let's Kill Gandhi!"

Unmoved by friends' enticements on Gandhi Jayanthi day (a general holiday), I chose to sit at home till evening and read Tarun Gandhi's book "Let's Kill Gandhi!". Having read the book, I thought of expressing my views with you all and here is my opinion about the book.
The history of humans reveal that no human was spared from controversy, especially the great personalities who appear to be interlaced with a few controversies either in their life time or after the death. Unfortunately, not many biographies or autobiographies would venture to comment on those issues and opt to be reticent. In that context, even the life of our father of nation is no exception. Even though a lot has been written and discussed about the life and works of Baapu, the last days of Mahatma, which culminated in his assassination, are still shrouded in controversy. In fact a couple of attempts were made earlier to depict his last days such as Kamal Hassan's 'Hey Ram' and few plays and books in a few vernacular languages. But none of them convinced readers and in fact took the raging debate over the assassination episode of Baapu to an all time high.
I think, the publication 'Let's kill Gandhi!' by Tushar A Gandhi, Baapu's great grandson, addresses the issue in detail which was hitherto unsung or less discussed in earlier biographies. The 900 plus pages book centered around Baapu's last days, the conspiracy, assassination, investigation and trial, is a compilation of vivid records shedding light on the assassination episode. Judging by the content of the work, 'Let's kill Gandhi' is quite well-timed as all of us are debating over the issue with no adequate documents to support any of our assumptions. Since independence, Gandhiji's role in the making of Modern India has always been questioned and issues like his assassination and the conspiracy by the members of Sangh Pariwar have indeed become a fuel to the debate over him. Despite a few works, much of the witnesses were either in the print form of some archived files or the things that have remained with his associates' family. With the absence of an official record which had both of these details, debates were often led to many controversies of various intensity.
Despite the intriguing controversies, many fundamental questions were undermined either with no answer or with biased answers. Was Gandhi responsible for the partition? Gandhi sheltered Muslims and abandoned Hindus, Was the assassination only way to save India? — are some of the questions diffused by many who are critical about Gandhi. The young generation, having brought up under the shadow of these issues may take different turn and none of the official biographies affirmed these facts with greater credibility. But Tushar's work intends to put the facts straight as they were recorded in the government files. It is almost certain that, a subject as narrow as this, one may run short of resources and end up with an abrupt stand. But Tushar's meticulous preparation spread over around four-and-a-half years has gathered much astute facts and witnesses gleaned from a number of verbal sources. Besides these, the usual archival materials and records penned by the trial commissions and excerpts from different newspapers have coloured the work with great punctuality.
With an intentionally chosen subject, Tushar tries to deconstruct some of the established myths and theories by the rightwing groups around Baapu's assassination. It is indeed shocking to know that the plan was hatched with great care and nurtured and executed with utmost veneration to their ideologies. The fabrication of the topic through three different books (Parts) juxtapose the incidents as and when they occurred without taking any stand either from the victims' or accused side.
It is common to all of us to boast off very well about Baapu without knowing enough details. But one goes clue less about the aftermath of the killing-the communal violence, trial of the assassins and the arguments put forward by defence lawyers at the court and much before the Kapur Commission which was set up by the union government to look into the conspiracy part of Baapu's assassination. But the book supplants reader with exhaustive details and side references in the forms of quote jotted by Baapu's associates like Pyarelal Nayyar, Aba ben and many others. Backed with agreeable records, Tarun questions the role of Police and the way they bungled the entire issue, callousness of Baapu's political associates in resolving tensed moments.
It could well be recorded that nowhere in the history of political assassinations either in India or abroad has such a sequence of human errors and apathy conspired to let a bunch of perpetrators to succeed so easily. As it has been said, the book is a splendid chronicle of conspiracy that goes beyond Nathuram Godse, Baapu's assassin.