Monday, February 28, 2011

Goodbye Uncle Pai

Last week on Feb 24 2011, the world lost one of the best comic writers – Mr. Anant Pai – fondly known as Uncle Pai. He is most famous for being the father of Indian comics through series like “Amar Chitra Katha” (ACK) and “Tinkle”, which have been the food for thought for many Indian kids since the 1970’s. Indian kids valued Uncle Pai even before they were taught the mathematical value of Pai in their algebra class = 22/7!

The series of stories interwoven in ACK typically wove around mythology and gave people like me a good eye over the Indian mythological series of Krishna, Mahabharatha, Ramayana or some folk tales like Panchathanthra, which we would have otherwise never ever known. Though the “Ramayana” and “Mahabharatha” television series telecast by broadcasting company Doordarshan on Sunday mornings brought everything to life, ACK still holds the key to understanding the nuances of these epics. Though over the years – once I reached my teens, my ACK’s and Tinkle’s gave way to Archies, Asterix, Tintin – the Indian comics always held a special place in my heart.

Our family wealth of ACK’s and Tinkle digests have been preserved well by hard binding, when they were purchased about 30-35 years ago. This would be the only ancestral property we can offer for the future generations! The only reason why this is possible is only because of fathers patience, foresight, skill and principle to keep books carefully. After my sister had patiently finished all the ACK’s and Tinkle’s i went through those same books, characters, stories, crumpled pages like she had and re-lived the tale narrated by Uncle Pai. I distinctly also remember the first page of Tinkle, which always used to have a welcome note for the kids from Uncle Pai.This Diwali, when i was in India for vacation, i safely rescued this treasure of "The Chandrasekarans" during the annual spring cleaning and put it atop the loft for further preservation.

Tinkle was amazing with a blend of interesting characters and their simple and unique tales. Each issue had atleast 10-12 stories, each story with its own central character. Some of the central characters are Suppandi – the village simpleton who sincerely follws misunderstood instructions, Kapish - a clever monkey, Kaalia – the crow, Tantri the Mantri – tale of a scheming minister, Nasrudjin Hodja – a man with witty brain, Shikhar Shambhu – the hunter who is meek but potrays himself as the greatest hunter and many more. It wasn’t unusual to spot the Tinkle’s and ACK’s dangling on book stands in railway platforms and stations with their various colors and characters speaking out to kids like me. We used to get so excited watching them that the next 10 minutes used to be spent pestering our parents to part with that 10 Rupee note to buy a copy immediately for us or a journey full of our tantrums. Its another matter that the books used to be a fast read and ignored after reading front-back in less than 40 minutes.

Apart from ACK, Tinkle I used to follow the Diamond Comic series from Pran. Pran, like Uncle Pai created memorable characters like “Chacha Chaudhary”, “Billoo”, “Chacha Bhatija”, “Fauladi Singh”, “Chotu Lambu”, “Lambu Motu”, “Motu Patlu”, “Mama Bhanja”, “Pinki” and “Tauji”. Each character had a comic book series and interesting series. During the schooling years, the summer vacation between April and June used to be spent turning pages between Uncle Pai’s and Pran’s comics.I did dabble a bit on "Chandamama", "Champak" (thanks to the reminder on Champak from wifey!), and a south special children regular magazine called "Gokulam" but these were somewhere lacking the punch of Pran or Uncle Pai.

Hats off to Uncle Pai for inducing the folklores and mythology of India through his comics. Else, all we would have remembered were Veronica, Betty, Richie Rich, Superman and Tintin! Kids of this generation - take a break and get out of your Nintendo's, X-Boxes, Facebook profiles, TV channels and grab that ACK or Tinkle! It will do you a world of good.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hit the Writers Block

Phew…its almost sometime since I have been regular on this blog. I seem to have hit the “Writers Block” this time around. Pondering whether to complete the short stories series, add travelogues or write on personality development on this blog. Larger question is – do I still try to make that attempt to fulfill the dream of writing my own book? Looking a very uphill task at the moment!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Movie Reviews: Part 5

1.    A Passage to India
• This is a 1984 British/American drama film written and directed by David Lean. The screenplay is based on the 1924 novel of the same title by E.M. Forster and the 1960 play by Santha Rama Rau that was inspired by the novel.
• Amazing movie which takes out an incident from the times of the Britishers in India.
• The typical awkwardness between the native Indians and Britishers is well captured through incidents which bring them together or keep them away.
• Awesome performance by the Indian and British actors.
• A must see if you are from India.

2.    My beautiful Laundrette
•    My Beautiful Laundrette is a 1985 British comedy-drama film directed by Stephen Frears from a screenplay by Hanif Kureishi.
•    The movie tackles lot of issues like racism, homosexuality, hypocricy of Asian Communities and relationships between Asian and White communities

3.    Hairdressers Husband
•    A very nice French film (saw it reading the English Subtitles) about the fixation that the main character has with female hairdressers since his childhood.
•    The film uses flashbacks throughout and there are frequent parallels drawn with the past. Though Antoine tells Mathilde that 'the past is dead', his life is evidence that on some level the past repeats itself.
•     As a young boy he fantasised about a hairdresser who committed suicide and as a man in his 50s he begins an affair with a hairdresser which ends after ten years in her suicide. However there are differences, Mathilde commits suicide because she is so happy she is afraid of the happiness she has found with Antoine ending.
•    Antonie for some reason has a fixation to dance on some Arabic songs – which he does quiet funnily for 3-4 times in the movie, making u laugh like hell.
•    Would recommend this to anyone who would like to absorb a lot about what a normal life, people and surroundings  in France.

4.    Wendy and Lucy
•    The movie is about a young lady Wendy, who is broke with very little cash, has an old car and a dog called Lucy. She is set out to drive down from somewhere in Central USA to Alaska for a so called high paying summer job.
•    Along the way her car breaks down, she runs out of cash, is caught shop lifting and in the midst of this she loses her only possession in this world – Lucy.
•    With little money, the movie shows how she survives by sleeping inside her car, using the toilets attached to gas stations for having a quick wash. She also has no funds to fix her car.
•    She finally learns Lucy was taken to the local pound and adopted and decides that is better than anything she could offer the dog herself, so she gathers up her belongings and hops on a freight train headed north, leaving Lucy behind.
•    A nice movie on people who live on shoe string budgets, face hardships and at times find kind people who help them (like the guard in the movie, who is ok to share his cell phone with Wendy, when she is on the lookout for Lucy and also helps her with financial assistance)