January 20, 2021

#Tribhanga - a film review

Renuka Shahane’s directorial film ‘Tribhanga’ is a film that spans across three generations, with a conflicted mother-daughter relationship at its core and an insight into people and their coping mechanisms. 

The story line: 

Nayan Joshi is a talented writer trapped between domestic responsibilities and her true calling. And somewhere down the line has to choose between the two. Being the free spirit that she is, she chooses to go with her dreams, uprooting the lives of her two children, Anu and Ravi, who she takes along with her. 

Anu and Ravi, however, can never forgive her for the consequences of her decisions, for which they believe they had to pay the price.

Until there is a confrontation in the most unfortunate circumstances...

The cast/performance: 

In the movie, there is a dialogue where Anuradha Apte talks about her relationship with the two women in her life, where she describes her mother, daughter, and herself with the help of three poses in traditional dance form —-Abhanga, Samabhanga, and Tribhanga respectively. 

‘Abhang’ (slightly off-centre) — Tanvi Azmi plays the role of a genius writer who, like most geniuses, is not spared of idiosyncrasies. She is cerebral but sometimes fails to see what is in front of her. She hates monotony. Azmi has played her part to perfection with her ageing face revealing just the right amount of regret and pride. 

‘Samabhang’ (well balanced) - played by Mithila Palkar who is Anuradha’s seemingly balanced daughter ‘Masha’. I felt her performance was forced in parts. But that could also be because she hardly had any lines to spout. She could have done better. 

However, the entire responsibility of the film lies on, you guessed it, ‘Tribhanga’ (a standing body position,in which the body is bent at three points, namely the knees, the hips, and the shoulders-neck, each part pointing in different directions) Kajol’s shoulders and she handles it like a boss! She plays a loud, swearing, cussing, perennially annoyed, extremely forthright, and super snarky character, a performance that seems to come to her so easily that we cannot help but love her for it. She is clearly the star of this show. 

The other motley of characters include a loyalist brother who has embraced spirituality, an estranged father with a failing memory, and an accepting lover whose patience is tested at every step.

It is a pleasure to watch Kanwaljeet on screen after all this time. I recall watching his TV series ‘Saans ’ as a child and instantly warming up to his puppy dog eyes and kind expression (that too when he was portraying a philandering spouse). 

This film shows him in a different light though. The brief snatches of onscreen chemistry between him and Azmi are reminiscent of their ‘Family no 1’ days, and I couldn’t help wishing he’d appear in more frames. 

Kunaal Roy Kapur has an onscreen presence that grows on you, and although he has very few lines as well, his expressions and body language say it all. The man definitely has potential. 

The takeaway:

With a touching story line and cast in tow, Tribhanga dives into the nuances of human relationship that until now had barely been explored. We have all witnessed the constrained father-son chemistry of a KKKG (‘Kabhie khushi  kabhie gham’) or YJHD (‘Ye jawaani hai  deewani’) but this is the first when it comes to depicting the convoluted silence of a mother-daughter bond...an underrated bond that is so easily take for granted. 

‘Tribhanga’ also passes on alert intent message on forgiveness. On forgiving ourselves, on forgiving our parents. On accepting that they are just as human as we are. And so just as flawed. 

The mistakes made by Nayan and then by Anu reveal that ‘perfect’ parenting can never exist. No matter how you raise your child, there is always space for complaint. 

Anu’s character, although slightly askew, brings to the fore a shade of feminism that is much needed in India. It displays unabashedly a vibe that is a contradiction, a bold contrast to the dutiful daughter, the subservient wife, the doting mother cutouts that society expects us to fit in all the time. 

It tells us it is okay to speak up, to speak loud, and speak for ourselves, because nobody else is going to do that for us. Giving this so-called ‘idealistic’ society the middle finger salute, this movie challenges us to accept the ‘tedhi, medhi, crazy’ in every woman, in every mother, in every daughter. And the ‘Tribhanga’ that comes along with them.

I rate this movie a 4 out of 5.

January 05, 2021

#WorldBrailleDay: a collective insight

"The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision” - Hellen Keller. 

A sighted person may not always understand the perils of those who are not as lucky and may often tend to take his gift for granted. The sightless, on the other hand, have to fight their own hurdles and face their own challenges. To add insult to injury the society is not always supportive, making it rather difficult for a differently abled person to live a productive life. 

In 1809, Louis Braille, a French educator, who had himself lost his eyesight in a childhood accident, devised a tactile reading and writing system. This system consisted of raised dots and was sadly accepted and taught in schools in the U.S only by 1916 by which time Louis was dead. Decades later, in November 2018, the UN chose the fourth of January  to be commemorated as #WorldBrailleDay in his memory in order to increase awareness and sensitivity among people world over.

Over time, advances in science and technology has led to constant improvisations of techniques and ideas of innovation. We now have audio books, Google assistants, and technologically driven lifestyle aids that are voice sensitive. However, one cannot undermine the role that Braille played in lighting the flame of hope and passing on the baton for an equal world. 

So here is a list of Braille friendly endeavours that are touching hearts and paving ways towards an inclusive society. 

In India

  • ITC Savlon along with NAB (National Association for the Blind) initiated a design change for its antiseptic liquid pack and made it available to several NAB centres, select blind schools and educative workshops. 

  • Taco Bell Mumbai, in two of its outlets, one at Rcity, Ghatkopar and the other at Viviana Mall, Thane, set an example by introducing the first Braille Menu for blind consumers. The menu was/is in print as well as in Braille-and audio-enabled in order to be accessible to all. A very sensitive and all-inclusive gesture.

  • Nawabs Wajid Ali Shah Zoological gardens in Lucknow has Braille educational boards for the convenience of visually impaired visitors. This is done in order to promote inclusivity, spread awareness, education, and conservation of the wild life and ecosystem among all alike, abled and differently abled individuals. 

Inspiration from the rest of the world: 

  • Argentina has Tiflolibros and digital libraries started by the WIPPO (world intellectual properties protection organisation). These help in making a vast collection of books and reading material accessible to the visually impaired. 

  • L’Occitane, a French beauty company, has done a fantastic job in successfully incorporating Braille into its packaging of almost 70% of its products. 
  • There are several other more economical and simpler ways to improve packaging and make it all inclusive. Square packaging instead of round bottles when it comes to bath products will ensure the product won't roll off and will be in easy reach even if it slips. A tactile code system like a raised strip on a shampoo bottle and dot on conditioner will make it easy for the visually impaired to identify. These have been employed in other countries and should be considered in India as well. 
  • Medical prescriptions can get real tedious to follow if one is visually impaired, especially when it comes to following the instructions written in tiny print on the cover of medicine bottles. So the U.S has come up with a perfect solution to the problem. CVS pharmacy, in the United States, has collaborated with the American Council for the Blind and created a new and particularly helpful feature on the CVS Pharmacy phone app, known as the SpokenRx. SpokenRx is an in-app prescription reader and is specially designed to read out all the information on prescription bottles, thus making it a lot more convenient for those unable to read the tiny font themselves. CVS pharmacy plans to equip all pharmacies in the U.S with this feature by 2021 end.
We can only hope India will work towards taking similar steps. Living with dignity is a basic human right and it is our duty as people living in the society to promote an all-inclusive behavior to each and every one of its members. To ensure equal rights to education, freedom of expression and financial safety to all its members. Compared to the West, India still has a long way to go. But hope springs eternal. And if a general sense of humanity persists, we will get there...

Speaking of which, one voluntary organisation that deserves to be mentioned for its commendable efforts to spreading hope and positivity is We4You. I came across their page on Facebook a couple of years ago and volunteered to donate my voice for their audio books...a feature that promises to help visually impaired children to visualize the world in a better way. To spark their power of imagination. To impart education through academic textbooks. To engage and inspire with story telling. I hope my recordings were able to do justice. 
We4You helps visually impaired children to find their footing in the world, through audio books, vocational training, and education. They encourage, empower, hone skills, provide accessible information, and employment assistance. 
Do check out their page and become a volunteer if you wish. We need to support such efforts in whichever way we can.

Ending here on a pensive note, with a poignant quote for you to reflect upon...

"There is no better way to thank God for your sight than by giving a helping hand to someone in the dark."  ~ Helen Keller

January 01, 2021

#GlobalFamilyDay: it's all in the family!

Today, I was reminded of an ad that I had come across a long time ago, on the power of eating together...

...in which all the residents of a building who are otherwise barely acquainted set table and dine together and get to know each other better...an act of bonding in a disconnected world. 

And that brings me smoothly to #Global FamilyDay, a day that is observed mainly in the U.S on the first of January of every year.  A feeling of unity that needs to be celebrated by everyone around the world. 

Now imagine the residents of the building to be inhabitants of the world instead; people of different religions, different nationalities. Now what if we all decided to sit down and eat together, share a meal, and get to know each other along the way. 

It would probably take us this kind of interaction to realise a much neglected truth...we as people around the world,  with all our differences in colour, age, sex, upbringing, culture, customs, traditions, habit, political affiliations, are not that different after all.

Speaking of which, 2020, in its own super-sadistic way, taught us exactly that. It made us realise how similar we all are, mainly in our responses to an unseen threat or danger that we have little role in causing. 

When a crisis of such global proportion, like Covid ;han strikes, everybody from the richest man in the most powerful country to the poorest man in the country of least power becomes vulnerable. 

The past year taught us how alike we are in our reactions, to our fears, and how in times like these, the entire human race should forget all their differences and stand up for each other. Have each other’s back. 

Global family day was traditionally celebrated by rising a bell or beating a drum on the first day of the year...a loud resounding promise to be there for each other. 

However, down the ages, this has been customised. This year especially, maintaining safety precautions is imperative in the midst of this pandemic. 

But given the situation, here are three ways we can all observe WorldFamilyDay in 2021 and feel like a part of this colossal unit of trust and togetherness. Let’s all try and make that positive dent in the world.

Because no matter how much the circumstances limit us, humanity should always come first! 

Here are five ways to celebrate the vibe of #GlobalFamilyDay in 2021: 

  • Start small. Call that neighbour to ask him how he is doing. Connect with one friend you haven’t been in touch with. 
  • Start at home. Cook a special meal for your own family.
  • Make a small donation to trusted funds or contribute to your favorite NGO. 
  • Change your attitude - promise to practice tolerance and mutual respect. Try not to judge people even if you don’t know them...especially if you don’t know them. 
  • Last but not least, spread social positivity - Social networks are increasingly being abused for all the wrong reasons. Stop making the hate go viral. All arguments need not be fueled. It’s best to know when to argue and whom to ignore. It just helps keep the peace maintained. Don’t hold on to the resentment though. Every family has a few cracked eggs anyway. It takes all kinds to make this world. 

The world is at its vulnerable best right now and literally nobody wants to feel alone. So take that step. Extend that hand. Call up one friend everyday. Celebrate connections. Small gestures like these make a positive impact, no matter how tiny or far fetched they may seem.

And although we are still engaging virtually at the moment, know that the bonds we are forming are real. 

So if you are reading this, take this as a sign from the universe. Not just for today but for all the coming days. Lets pledge to encourage love and peace the best way we can. 

Because in times of crisis, it is our family we turn to. 

Because the world is one big family and someone somewhere is always there for you. So you be there for someone too. 

Because it’s true we don’t need one particular day to start making this difference. But ‘now’ is always a good time. 

So here’s wishing my extended global family a very happy, safe, and fulfilling 2021. 

May our ‘now’ be forever blessed!