Thursday, January 26, 2006

Ganashatru

What an excellent movie. No frills, no pretense, no exaggeration, thought-provoking and leaving decisions on the viewer, meaning taking the audience to be intelligent. Ganashatru (An Enemy of the People) by Satyajit Ray is a movie that portrays the lack of principles in those who are actually supposed to be conscious and responsible for the good of the people, especially people in the press and the administration i.e. the government machinery.
The story starts with Dr Ashok Gupta (played by Soumitra Chatterjee - Satyajit Ray's favourite) getting a series of patients suffering from a specific kind of jaundice, in Chandipur hospital, where he practices. On sending samples of the water to Calcutta labs, the doctor is able to ascertain the contamination of water, as the results suggest. He wants to publish the findings. His brother (played by Dhritiman Chatterjee) the municipal chairman is opposed to this, as he does not want to bring disrepute to Chandipur, and has helped in building its reputation as a tourist attraction and a progressive and developed town. In an argument with his brother he says that to locate the point in the pipe system where drinking water is getting mixed up with sewage water, will be a very difficult and costly affair. He starts to oppose him and the doctor also warns that the central source of the diseases spreading could be the local temple where holy waters (charan-amrita) are given to the thousands of devotees everyday; and this is used by his brother as the main weapon to instigate people against the doctor. A newspaper promises to publish the truth, along with the lab reports, but later the editor (Deepankar Dey) refuses to publish it once he sees references of the temple in the article and is also threatened. Also displayed in the movie is how certain personal and vested interests can not only hinder the benefit, but also harm the masses at large. He is not allowed to speak out the details of the report at a public conference he calls, as a part of a conspiracy by his brother. Both the doctor and his daughter (played by Mamata Shankar) lose their jobs as a result of public displeasure. How something beneficial is completely misconstrued as harmful and projected as anti-people with a game-plan set by a handful. Finally the sub-editor of the same newspaper who wants the truth to come out, resigns and informs the doctor that he would send the article as a freelance journalist to all Calcutta dailies and also a local group of young people decide to print pamphlets of the article and distribute it all over the town. Here the movie ends as the doctor is shown instilled with relief, that there is still hope that an epidemic will not happen. The unwavering commitment of the good and the challenge that they are ready to face to defend the truth is the central theme in the movie in my opinion. The acting is brilliant by all the actors, most of whom are prominent and talented bengali ones. The movie is an adaptation of the play 'An Enemy of the People' by Henrik Ibsen.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Some bengali reading ...

Currently reading the bengali novel 'Lajja' by Taslima Nasrin, that was banned by the Bangladesh government and a fatwa was issued against her . Set in Bangladesh, it speaks about the communal frenzy and retaliation against the Hindu community in Bangladesh, after the Babri Masjid was demolished in India, through the eyes of the members of a particular Hindu family. Some info on Nasrin here: [1], [2]



My speed of reading bengali has really come down, need to read more.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Imperialism Again

A new form of covert imperialism is being gradually unleashed by the USA. It is in the name of democracy, that the US government indiscriminately uses its military might to establish and dislodge governments, at will and is quite unrepentant about it. What is disgusting is that these open displays of human rights violations and use of force are easily ignored in India. Probably we are indeed doing the right thing by making use of their money and power to develop ourselves or is it ?

However we cannot be blind to the security concerns that are inherent. We need to guard ourselves against the betrayal that the US government is capable of. We are establishing joint military co-operation with that country, which may be dangerous if not totally foolish. Especially the ultra-liberal Manmohan Singh government may be playing like puppets in the hands of the US and other world bodies controlled by the US, such as the World Bank etc. The Prime Minister was immature enough to criticize Vajpayee on US soil; an unprecedented lapse on the united stand that India takes, whatever the differences may be within political parties. The nuclear deal for separation of civilian and military installations and opening up and feeding them with information of our nuclear capabilities seems to be openly calling for a security disaster.

The US multi national companies (MNCs) that enter India are not at the behest of the US government, but they could be doing so many things including making links and interfering with internal matters of our nation, under cover. Essentially they are coming here to reduce the cost of operations and make profits; also to make use of the immense talent available in our country. So it is not as if we are getting jobs, and the MNCs are doing a favour to us. I'd like to set the record straight as I work in an US MNC. It is only because we are able to provide them value for money, that they are coming here. Their entrepreneurial skills are appreciable, but clearly it is a two way street. It is simple business logic, not to be anyway construed and mixed up with emotions such as: they are our saviours, and without their help we would not have been able to become liberal and capable of modernizing ourselves, which seems to be the mentality with the majority of educated youth in India. Yes I would like to emphasize the word 'educated' as the educated seem to be under full sway of the Americana.

We have already faced immense cruelties, bondage, complete political and social slavery at the hands of the British; the freedom struggle was not very distant from now on the time scale and those valuable lessons cannot be forgotten so soon. The way they treat their own poor and powerless country men was visible after the Katrina hurricane, with relief not coming in, even after weeks. The capitalistic doctrine that renders any form of social justice impossible and at the mercy of huge corporations is indeed not the right way forward. Technology may not be the right way forward too. We cannot yet again become slaves to the western technology and socio-economic lifestyle. Or have we already become so ? Brace up for a future fraught with immense chaos and unthinkable political and national consequences if the current trends continue. A civilization falls when it reaches the height of moral and ethical decadence. That may be true for the American 'empire' too. Are we planning to duplicate the same ?