Monday, December 22, 2014

I watched PK yesterday and I am not happy

Of late whenever I sit down to write something, I find myself at a loss for words. Maybe I am too busy to relax or too engrossed to think of something new but today I read few posts on FB that prompted me or rather irked me enough to scribble down my vague but strong feelings about this.

Yes, I too watched PK. I am no movie buff but I left the hall satisfied. In the first half of the movie I was not quite comfortable with the storyline. It seemed stupid and I was wondering why would a person like Rajkumar Hirani who I admire for making sensible movies would make a fantasy movie. However, by the end of the movie, when I had my share of tears and laughter, I jumped with joy- “Paisa Vasool” and that was it. I thought I would not give anymore thought to the movie but that was not the case. You must have figured it out that I am here to review PK. Well, you are wrong.

While browsing through the wedding photos of hundreds of unknown people on FB, I stumbled upon a post liked by one IIM grad friend. The post talked about how movies like PK spread anti-Hindu messages and mock our religion. Unable to understand the context, I had to read the post twice. The author was crossed with Aamir Khan because he selectively pointed out Hinduism. On scrolling down further, I came to know that the author of the post actually ran a pirated copy of the movie at 2X speed and still managed to get the gist of the movie so perfectly (sarcasm inside). However, by later half of the day my wall was full of similar updates and shares. This compelled me to think- Negative opinions travel at the speed of light whereas positive ones travel at the speed of sound.

Spoiler Alert!!! To the readers who have not watched PK and intend to do so, please do not read this post.

The movie is all about an alien’s take on the way society handles the concept of God and religions. Very clearly the protagonist makes a statement- There is only one God but people have set up companies in the name of religions and have become managers to protect their trademarked God. Now where is the mention of Hinduism here? Doesn’t it hold good for other religions too? Yes I agree there are a number of Hindu customs and rituals that were questioned or mocked at but is it because the makers want to hurt the sentiments of Hindus or any of the following:

a) It’s a proved formula- a film runs only on three things: Entertainment, Entertainment and Entertainment. Hirani’s movies are known for their comical portrayal of society. Munnabhai MBBS had scenes where Sanjay Dutt was mocking the system but did it mean that he was disrespecting the medical profession?

b) These customs/rituals are rather part of public behavior- well known among all the communities and regions of India. People can connect better.

c) Majority of Indian population is Hindu. Going by the statistics, larger part of audience is expected to be Hindus.

And no, the movie is not against idol worship. The movie is against using religion to instill fear and terror in fellow humans’ heart. The movie is against discrimination on basis of religion. If we dig deeper in our religious texts- Gita, Quran and Bible, each one of them asks the followers to love other humans irrespective of all differences. And for the satisfaction of all the PK-critics who think that the movie is biased, there is mention of poor Hindus forced to accept Christianity and a bomb attack planned by Islamist Fanatics.

While coming out of the movie hall, I had another movie on my mind- OMG. OMG too directly attacked the idea of idol worship and following the Godmen but it came and went without a hush. Was it because it was a low budget movie and not publicized enough or because it was an Akshay Kumar movie and not an Aamir Khan movie. For that matter, even PK is primarily Rajkumar Hirani’s movie.

About 15 years ago, once I was playing with some village kids and I touched a small boy accidentally. My grandma was furious and almost dragged me to the well for bathing. The kid was a Harijan, considered to be untouchable. I protested and questioned her logic and was appreciated by my uncles. However, had that question came from the Harijan kid, would it have made the same sense?

Reading these opinions make me sad to think that we still do not understand the meaning of secularism yet. We think it is just a constitutional term that the forefathers of our nation have imposed upon us as if by calling ourselves secular, we are doing some favor to the world. What we need to understand is that secularism is our way of life and not a rule that we are bound to follow. We don’t even realize how many things all the communities share with one another at various levels- language, cuisines, costumes, body features etc. Sadly, all we remember is Mahmud of Ghazni’s invasion of India.

We compare ourselves with Pakistan and Bangladesh where Hindus are always attacked. Before making such comparisons, we should realize that a house where brothers always quarrel would never be at peace.

And I believe I got the answer to my question- Why an alien movie? Perhaps only an alien can ask questions on religions. If a human asks such questions, the next question would be to him- “What’s your religion”.

Disclaimer: I am not an Aamir fan but yes by doing Satyamev Jayate, he earned respect from me and I am hurt to see the same person attacked by people for playing his part in the movie.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Book Review: God is a gamer

It seems that Blogadda is hell-bent on making me read thrillers but I can’t complain because I loved both the books. In contrast to Private India which focuses more on India, God is a gamer focuses on global affairs. Although both the books are very different in stories and plots, one thing is common- Brilliant showcase of turns and twists that glue your eyes to the pages.
Now something on the book:

Summary of the Book (From Flipkart)

Aditya is an entrepreneur, running his own gaming company. The arrival of a part-time drug dealer and full-time genius named Varun turns Aditya’s struggling company’s fortunes around. However, things are not as they seem. A banker slips from the rooftop of a high-rise building and falls to his death. A finance minister with his heart on his sleeve discovers that he has made some promises which will cost him far too much. An explosion in Washington D.C. leads the FBI to a chase in Mumbai. The investigators begin to plummet down a world where bitcoins are the only meaningful form of currency. Here, everything is governed by the Dark Net, a group of nefarious websites dealing with illegal transactions. In this world, God is a Gamer, martyrs are villains, the hunters become the hunted and the ancient Greeks teach the secrets of assassination. In this new novel, nothing is what it seems.

About Ravi Subramanian

Ravi Subramanian is an Indian banker turned financial-crime writer. His books If God was a Banker, The Bankster, Devil in Pinstripes and The Incredible Banker are all bestselling titles.

Mr. Subramanian is an alumnus of IIM Bangalore. He is currently the head of a leading financial institution. He has won the Economist Crossword Book Award twice for his previous books.

Now… My Thoughts

I have just learnt the power of three in communication which I am going to use here.

What I liked…..

a) Small Chapters
Chapters are very small which makes it very easy and convenient to read. For people like me who are scared of the volume of the book, the sense of achievement on completing a chapter within minutes is very rewarding. Story is well paced except at few points.

b) Well connected to recent events
Story is well connected to recent popular innovations and products candy crush. The mention of recent events help readers connect with the plot more and also compels them to ponder over them.

c) Informational
Apart from being interesting, concepts of bitcoins, onion routers etc were informational. For a layman who reads about bitcoins etc. in newspapers but never bothers to google, this novel is a good General Knowledge booster.

What I did not like…..

a) Character sketch not that strong
Too many cooks spoil the food. There were so many sub plots in the novel that there was not a single character that came out strong. While the reader gets familiar to a character, the chapter changes and the rhythm breaks.

b) End not very convincing
After 200+ pages of awesomeness, reader expects an ending equally suited but he’s disappointed. The motive behind all the crimes does not seem to be convincing enough.

c) Final chapter too abrupt
Compared to other chapters which are well paced and successful in keeping the readers engrossed, the last chapter is like a roller coaster ride that takes the reader to the highest point and drops him. It’s too abrupt as if the author just wanted to finish off the novel.

My verdict
Although bumpy, the journey of God is a Gamer was a cherishable one for me. I would give a four star to the first ever bitcoin thriller.