The Last Airbender

July 8, 2010


Having seen it today , my review is it sucks . Everything is the problem with it right from the cast , pacing , dialogues , acting , animation  and story .

The cartoon on Nick was very good and created a niche for Avatar: the last airbender . One hoped Night Shyamalan directing it would help it reach to the wider theatre going audience .

One of the major problem  was casting . Fans who has seen the original cartoon were brought up with asian characters and setting  . In the movie except for Dev Patel who played Zuko , rest of them were white . This struck a jarring note for the fans .

Costumes were another problem. The cartoon had great colorful  costumes with some generic costume for each tribe / nation .  The movies cast except for the fire nation had grey  furs everywhere not helping the viewer see that there are 4 nations . In the cartoon you could almost know which nation a character belonged to from his dressing and hair styles . Not so in the movie.

Next is the pacing . Aang went fast from the boy in the iceberg to the avatar . There was no character developement . Gran gran ‘s decision to send Katara and Sokka to rescue the Aang appeared forced . Katara’s and Sokka’s expressions doesn’t reflect that they are actually going on a flying bison to rescue the avatar who was not seen for a 100 years . It appeared as if they were doing this daily from the time they were born .

To fit a tv show to a film requires certain liberties with the script . You can’t fit in everything . However the story strayed too much . From the avatar who was the master of the 4 elements and a spirit of the planet it went into avatar being able to speak to spirits being his unique quality . His going into meditation everytime to talk to a dragon for advice was too ludicrous .

Aang’s reason for running  away from home was changed as well. In the cartoon Aang runs away as he was to be seperated from his teacher/guru for further training . In the movie he runs away as monks tell him avatar can’t have any family .

Almost all firebenders in the movie can bend only when near a source of fire . Thats a major change in the story element .  In the cartoon firebenders advantage was they could produce fire anywhere in contrast to water benders/earth benders who need a source of their material next to them .

Zuko’s characterization was way too different . It was only in part 2 and 3 you get Zuko’s theme of a good guy on a bad path . However in this movie Shyamalan takes every opportunity to remind viewers of that .

The graphics of bending appear weird . The moves made by the characters for the bending look great . Hopefully in the 2nd and 3rd movies when bending becomes more advanced the animation will  look better .

Ultimately the last airbender’s ultimate failure was it tried too hard to convert what was a fun cartoon with the goofy Aang into a serious dark realistic movie thereby losing all the  fun factor that endeared it to its audience.

Bandhs and India

July 6, 2010


Bandhs , they evoke terror in any working household . Bandh means no transport to go to office . Often the office itself is closed wasting a leave for the employee .  Necessities have to be stocked in the house as shops remain closed during bandh time

Education suffers as schools and colleges shut down fearing the any destruction of property by the bandh enforcers .

Business men suffer as they have no business for the day . Worse even if they do close  shop,  they could still suffer damage/loss of property  from the mobs which patrol the roads during the bandh day .  Retailers can’t get fresh stock or sell their old stock as the transport is shut down for the day .

Travelers suffer as there is no transport for them to go to their destination . They have to stay put which results in a loss of money and time . Often they find difficulty even with money in finding a place to stay or some food to eat.

So why do we have these bandhs which evoke hardship in all sections of society and cause loss to the nation as a whole . Main culprits behind bandh are political parties .

Political parties call bandh mainly to assert their power to the government and blackmail it . This is usually to pressure the government to withdraw a perceived unpopular policy decision or to implement some populist measure.  In this game of political oneupmanship people suffer .

The recent bharat bandh on 5th July , 2010 is a case in example . The opposition parties united to call a bandh against price rise in petroleum products . Petroleum prices rise all over the world and a result has to rise in India as well. But logic and facts do not come in the way for politicians.

The same opposition parties would have implemented the same measure if it was in power . The present ruling party would have called a bandh then if it was in opposition .  Hypocrisy thy name is politics .

Sometimes bandhs start for absurd reasons . The death of veteran actor Rajkumar on April 12 , 2006 caused  a shutdown in the whole state . Mobs went around vandalizing and stealing from businesses . More than 100 vehicles were burnt and 12 people killed in Banglore .

Bandhs occur in only 2 countries in the world . India and Nepal share this dishonorable distinction  together . Hopefully the countries see sense and ban this useless and loss making form of protest . In fact , the Supreme court tried to ban bandhs way back in 1998 .

In West Bengal 40-50 days each year is lost due to bandhs . One hopes either the people or courts find a way to counter this economy bleeding activity. When we are trying to become a major power in the world , bandhs and shutdowns are the least thing we need .

Celebrity obsession

July 4, 2010


Sania mirza

So its the time of year again. Reportedly Mahendra Singh Dhoni , the captain of Indian cricket team is getting  married .  You can’t turn on a television set or read a newspaper without images of the couple staring at you with an ‘exclusive report ‘ to follow .

We had  the same thing when Sania Mirza was married a while ago . Media started publishing daily status reports on the countdown of her wedding .  We got articles of Sania spotted, Malik spotted , comments from various personalities about the marriage , which brands will no longer endorse her , reports from Pakistan , comments from Pakistani politicians  , debates whether Sania should have married an Indian instead, where the couple will live after marriage , whether Sania will support India or Pakistan in a cricket match  and so on . In short an information surfeit .

This is not just an Indian phenomenon . Remember the Diana death and the commentary that followed in practically every media outlet in the world. Conspiracy theories , comments from every person connected or not connected to the royal family .  We get a news report even now every time a son of Diana sneezes .

This obsession with celebrity detail does not extend to just news various memorabilia  of the celebrities from their clothes , written letters , used napkins to virtually anything the marketers can think , fetch exorbitant prices .

Why does the media do this . Do we really need details of every minor thing a person has done or said . The precious  time could be used to cover something useful and worth to bring  to the attention of the public . There are no dearth of issues worth reporting about .

Take for example the Bhopal tragedy . If the media actually gave the issue focus it is giving today in the past  we would not have been in the sorry state today . None of the main accused are punished , nor sufficient compensation received nor did we have  for cleaning up the contaminated site .

This is not the media’s fault alone . The media  shows what the people want . The truth is people are obsessed about celebrity gossip , news , trivia . So we have magazines which make a living solely  by publishing real or made up celebrity news .

We have thousands of fan clubs sprouting across every corner of the world . In India temples being constructed for celebrities . One word from a celebrity galvanizes an entire fan base into whatever avenue he/she wants .  Some celebrities actually do funnel this  into an useful channel  like social work . But mostly celebrities use this fan worship / following to successfully launch a political career or a business .

The media/ people needs to grow up and stop this obsessing over minute details of public figures . If you do need to read about something ,there is a vast ocean of knowledge easily available .


July 3, 2010

Stone Pelters in Kashmir

The government of India accuses a ISI – LAKSHAR plan  behind the stone pelting of security forces in Kashmir .

Doesn’t this sound like a convenient claim to wish away the poor human rights condition in the state . It is just raising a convenient bogey man to divert attention from the real problem .   This is eerily the  same phraseology used  by Pakistan . Pakistan regularly sees a MOSSAD-CIA-RAW hand in every disturbance in the country. Poor governance and atrocities committed by security forces in the name of keeping peace have alienated kashmiris from the India .

There is some justification to the point of  security forces .  They face a lot of threat from the stone pelters and militants and are in a ever present state of danger . This makes them prone  to react in a heavy handed manner to any threat .

On the other hand for a freedom struggle,  police and the military are fair game . Howver this is only as long as  it doesn’t take the form of killing or driving away the minorities/ hindus in the valley as happened during the previous Amarnath yatras or the persecution of Kashmiri pandits during the last decade.

The militancy would have got more support if it didn’t  attack  civilian targets and if its members were   of predominantly kashmiri stock . The security forces would have got more sympathy if they didn’t commit so many atrocities against the native kashmiris .

There have been faults on both sides and it is the peace loving kashmiri who suffers . The solution to this eternal war appears no where in sight  due to the trust deficit between India Pakistan . Recent parleys between the two nations have concentrated more on terrorism rather than the fate of kashmiris .

An ideal solution satisfying both Indian and kashmiri aspirations would be el a the Ireland situation . The foreign affairs , defense could be managed by India while all other issues remain in the control of kashmir . They could have separate kashmiri teams as well for international sporting events .

Hopefully cooler heads would prevail and both the stone pelters as well as security forces stop provacating the other side and stop the cascading violence .

Consensual sex is rape!

July 2, 2010
Girl friend of a cop alleges rape after he refused to marry her
The girl was having relationship with the person for 4 years . However when he does not marry her , she alleges rape from 4 years
This air hostess was in a live in relationship from 2008-2010 . However things turned sour and she alleges repeated rape .
So whats common in all these cases. The so called ‘rape’ was actually consensual sex. After relationships break , this is being used to harass the men in the relationship . A case of cheating might be more appropriate in all the above cases .
I sympathize with real rape victims . What happens here is an insult to actual victims of the horrific crime. These were educated women who knowingly entered into a physical relationship for many years . That is not rape by any measure of the definition .
The problem here is the law which actually takes statement of women as de facto true  without enquiring into the specifics of the particular case .
Women friendly laws were introduced to make it easier for them to report sexual crimes and dowry cases . However this should not imply that on the allegation of the women an individual or entire family(in the case of dowry)  be arrested .
Proper enquiry needs to be made and arrests be made only afterwards . The law makers instead of better implementation of existing laws choose the easy path out and made ridiculous laws which are liable to abuse .
So the lesson . If you are in India  and male better not go into pre-martial sex unless you are sure you both will end up together . Otherwise you might be facing rape charges even though sex is consensual .