23 April 2008

An Inconvenient Truth

I saw this American Academy Award-winner film(An Inconvenient Truth) yesterday on TV. This documentary on Al Gore's campaign to make the issue of global warming a recognized problem worldwide won him the Nobel Prize. Its amazing how he has connected various disasters around the globe to the common problem of global warming. The flood in Mumbai, hurricane in Florida, droughts in Africa, thinning ice in Tundra region of Alaska - all these are manifestations of the global warming effect.

Indeed, with the mercury soaring this summer and sudden changes in climate, the issue of global warming can no longer be ignored nor can it be resolved in the isolation of a lab. All the countries of the globe will need to make an united and determined attempt to overcome this hazard or we are all doomed.

The upbeat message toward the end where he says that it is better not to jump from acknowledgement of the problem to despair. There is a middle path of actually trying to do something about it. He mentions that humans have managed to overcome hurdles before - they have discovered vaccines for small pox, reached the moon, solved the Ozone layer problem. And with a few precautions, they can alleviate this one too.

Some of the quotes in the film are worth a mention -

Al Gore: [quoting Upton Sinclair] "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

Al Gore: Should we prepare for other threats besides terrorists?

Al Gore: I don't really consider this a political issue, I consider it to be a moral issue.

Al Gore: We have everything, save perhaps political will. But in America, I believe political will is a renewable resource.

Al Gore: Future generations may well have occasion to ask themselves, "What were our parents thinking? Why didn't they wake up when they had a chance?" We have to hear that question from them, now.

Al Gore: We have here a scale that balances two different things. On one side, we have *gold* bars! Mmmmmm, don't they look good? I'd just like to have some of those gold bars. Mmmmm. On the other side of the scales... um... THE ENTIRE PLANET! Hmmmm...
Al Gore: I think this is a false choice for two reasons: number one, if we don't *have* a planet...
Al Gore: The other reason is that, if we do the *right* thing, then we're gonna create a lot of wealth, and we're gonna create a lot of jobs, because doing the right thing moves us forward."

Al Gore: What we take for granted might not be here for our children.

05 April 2008

Jodha Akbar - a review

I had heard a lot about this movie ever since it was released. The reports were conflicting - some said it was sheer assassination of history, others loved it. Some said the director - Ashutosh Gowarikar, failed to impress whereas others swore that he would win the Best Director award for this year. I am not very keen about History and hence was not inclined to see this movie for many weeks after its release. However, my mother eventually managed to drag me to the theater and I can finally add my 2 cents regarding the movie.

To be precise, I loved every minute of this movie. I went inside with almost no hopes of enjoying it, but was pleasantly surprised. I could see that the director had taken some liberties with the portrayal of history. In the very first scene itself where Akbar's army takes on King Hemu's army, King Hemu is shown to be a tyrant who should be vanquished. On the contrary, I remember my history text books claiming Hemu to be a very popular Hindu ruler. But as they say, history is written by the victors :-)

The battle sequences at the beginning reminded me of "The Mummy Returns" and were quite impressive by Bollywood standard. At some places it was too bloody-gory for my taste, but I couldn't help noticing that they came across as genuine and realistic. After the introduction of Jodha, the movie was more of an historical romance than a documentary. The chemistry between the lead pair was palpable. Kudos to the director who skillfully weaved the history around creating the backdrop for the matrimonial alliance between the Mughal Emperor and the Rajput princess and their subsequent romance. No doubt, he used what is called "poetic licence" to twist the plot to make it credible and played havoc with history in the process. But, a director is a creative artist after all, and is therefore allowed to give free reign to his imagination and come up with his own interpretation of facts. The characters of Jodha and Akbar were well-etched and were portrayed with great sincerity by the lead pair, thus doing justice to the director's story-telling capability.

Each frame of the movie is a treat for the eyes. The minute attention given to the sets, costumes, language and even the songs for this movie, took my breath away. Even the supporting characters such as Jodha's brother and father and Akbar's daayi lent credibility to the story. Some of the scenes such as the sword fight between Akbar and Jodha, the fight between Akbar and Sharifuddin toward the end and Akbar's tryst while taming the elephant were excellent. The romantic moments between Hritik and Aishwarya were very tastefully directed. Anyone with a pinch of romance in his/her soul cannot fail to be moved by them. For me, it was like watching a historical romance instead of reading it in a novel!

Hritik has certainly evolved as an actor. I had my doubts about him doing justice to the role of Akbar, but he proved me wrong. Ashutosh Gowarikar is full of surprises. It is obvious that he has a vast repertoire of stories and a unique way of telling them that leaves quite an impact. No wonder his movies always manage to create controversies. As for the length of the movie, I was startled when the titles came at the end, so engrossed was I in the movie!

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