Indu Sarkar.

With so much controversy about the film and the problems it had had from the censors and a section of the old INC brigade, I had very high expectations from the film. I expected much more than what the film shows on our Emergency and to that extent was disappointed. On the other hand, I had such an amazing experience watching an actor, Kirti Kulhari who I had never seen on screen before producing a super performance portraying a difficult character.

I had never seen a Madhur Bhandarkar movie before either and was pleasantly surprised at his direction.

My disappointment with the movie was because the emergency just provides a backdrop to a story about a woman. Yes, another woman centric picture and that made the viewing experience very special.

A picture worth seeing for bringing to life the darkest period of India’s post independence history and to see a remarkable performance by a very talented young lady.

Manjhi The Mountain Man.

Jim's Manjhi

On August 15, 2015, my blogger friend Jim posted this image on his facebook wall and we exchanged these comments

Jim: “Ramana, thought that you might like this story.”

I: “He is quite a hero here Jim. A biopic has been produced with a very popular film actor depicting his story.”

Jim: “Thought he might be inspiring. Have you written post on him?”

I: “No Jim. What I will do is to see the film and then write a review of the film.

And as promised to Jim, here is my review of the film which I saw yesterday.
Manjhi poster

Three highly talented people come together to produce a masterpiece of a film based on a true story but to make it appeal to the average Indian film goer adding some mirch masala. Incidentally, one of the three is Ketan Mehta who has actually directed a highly acclaimed film called Mirch Masala! The true story is embellished with some cruelty of the inter caste genre, atrocities against the poor and the marginal, corrupt politicians and babus, but all of these present a realistic background to a remarkable story of one individual’s remarkable achievement.

While Ketan Mehta has written and produced the film, Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Manjhi and Radhika Apte as his wife and inspiration have performed so well that I am yet to recover from their powerful impression on me. The tight editing and excellent photography brings rural Bihar alive and the use of the local dialect is charming and very effective. While I saw a Hindi version, I am told that a version with English subtitles has also been released.


Better research could have saved the producers some embarrassment. Indira Gandhi no doubt to add some comedy, is shown promoting her Hand Symbol for elections when during the period that this incident happens, the INC had not come up with the symbol. Actually, it would have been better comedy, if that was the intention, to show INC’s Emergency time symbol of the cow and calf which has always represented the INC from her time, first with her and Sanjay Gandhi as cow and calf and now with Sonia and Rahul depicting the same!


It is a moving film that leaves the viewer with awe and respect for the determined man and the two plus hours in the theater goes by in a flash.  I recommend it highly to discerning viewers with a full[rating=6] rating.

The Way Things Were.


A little background before I comment on the book.

We lived in Delhi on two stretches. The first time was in 1968/69 when we were newly married and enjoyed Delhi as a more or less honeymoon location. The second time was between 1980 and 1983 when we became residents and made a number of friends who till today remain friends. This book revolves around tumultuous periods that Delhi as well the rest of the country saw and to which I was an adult witness. I have personal knowledge of people who suffered because of the Punjab problem, the immediate aftermath of the Indira Gandhi assassination, now more or less acknowledged as a pogrom against the Sikhs, and the Babri Masjid destruction. The links will give you some idea of the problems, but I was part of the generation that was impacted one way or the other by all three instances of insanity in India.  I am among those convinced that the anti Sikh riots were orchestrated by the Indian National Congress and you don’t need go too far to justify it when you consider what Rajeev Gandhi said about it – “When a big tree falls, the ground shakes.”

My personal aversion to the Indian National Congress as a political party started with the State of Emergency declared by Indira Gandhi when I was personally exposed to the excesses of the times and this was only strengthened further during our second Delhi stint when I used to visit the Punjab and also had many Sikh friends and what the INC did to create the problem and how it tried to manage the aftermath.

Aatish Taseer, the author of this book comes with a cross cultural background. His mother, an Indian Sikh is a well known author/writer/columnist whose writings I follow religiously and his father a dashing Pakistani Muslim who was assassinated for defending Christians against the brutal anti blasphemy laws of Pakistan. Aatish is too young to have personally been able to experience the mood of the times that this book covers but he has obviously spent a lot of time interviewing people who had and what he brings out in this magnificently written book is something that I can fully relate to. That I am also a keen student of Sanskrit helps as quite a bit of Sanskrit features in the story.

The characters come alive and I personally know or know of people exactly like those portrayed in the book and so the characterisation is accurate and very identifiable with. The story grips one and at least for me, it was a not-put-downable reading experience.

As icing on the cake, while reading the book, I remembered some old Sikh friends in Delhi and contacted them using modern systems to locate and contact them, to our mutual delight with every intention of staying in touch in the future.

Two gems to arouse your curiosity. The first one slightly modified.

“She is a pragmatist nevertheless. What is right in her eyes – what is moral, even – is simply what is, not what should be.”

And the second, almost immediately following the above quote in the book, “…..stupidity, I’m sure you will agree, is not an absolute value, but a deficit.”

“A deficit?”

“Yes, the gap between what one is fit to be doing and what one, in fact, does.”

A book worth every rupee spent on it and one that I give[rating=6].



There is a great big debate now going on in India as to whether the new government in Delhi is deliberately underplaying / degrading the Nehru family legacy while hijacking another Indian National Congress icon Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

My readers know well that I have not been a fan of the INC since the sixties of the last century for some very personal reasons and the dislike for them grew just more when I suffered as a victim during the National Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi.

From among the old INC figures some figures however have always meant to be heroes for me like Rajaji, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad, Kamaraj etc, and so when my friend Ramesh J, not my partner in crime Ramesh T, recommended that I must see the film Sardar on Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, I sent for a DVD and have just seen it.

First things first.  This film was made and screened in 1993.  That is over two decades ago when the INC was firmly in power in most of the country unlike today.  So, it is not as though this film has suddenly been revived to showcase the Sardar.  Moreover, I was warned that it would be almost three hours long of viewing but I would enjoy the experience. When I had posted in my facebook wall that I had bought the DVD, many people commented that it would be a great experience.

It was. As a person who was born before India became independent and who had grown up with stories of how India won its independence and stories of its great leaders, revisiting many events from my boyhood was a riveting experience.  I only regret that I was unable to see the film when it was released.  I was really too involved with my career at that point of time to see movies and this was one such missed opportunity.  It is never too late and I am glad that Ramesh got me to see this marvellous film with a powerful story about a man who fully deserves all that he is now getting after years of neglect from the Nehru family and its sycophants.

The acting, direction, editing and dialogues/script all merit appreciation and the trouble taken to depict the period with appropriate dress, vehicles, furniture etc is commendable.

I personally believe, that this is a film that every Indian must see and preferably shown in schools to children when they study Indian history and the period of independence and the immediate aftermath.

I really have no choice in the matter.  The film gets [rating=6].

Will This Son Also Rise?

the Delhi High Court has declared the result of the DNA test conducted at the Hyderabad-based laboratory. The court said as per the report, “Tiwari is reported to be the biological father of Rohit Shekhar and Ujjwala Sharma.” The link given will give my readers sufficient background about the story.

India’s politics is firmly dynastic in many respects. Please read both the pages of the article given in the link to understand the situation. The report is not exhaustive but indicative of the situation. A more interesting take on the subject of who is illegitimate is given here! Other reports say that the son claimed that he is not the illegitimate son, but NDT is the illegitimate father!

If you want some fun out of the old man’s discomfiture, you will do no better than to read my older post.
The interesting aspect of the N D Tiwari decision is the Indian National Congress Party distancing itself from the old veteran Congressman.

Padmum rightly asks if the distancing is indicative of the party’s reluctance to have another son rising within the Congress landscape!

Cleric Put In Jail.

Maulana Noor-ul-Huda an Islamic Scholar who runs a Madrassa, was offloaded an international flight just before take off at Delhi, arrested and kept in jail for a night.

This was due to a misunderstanding in overhearing the Maulana’s cellphone conversation with his son who had come to see him off at the airport. The lady who overheard the conversation is a Non Resident Indian (NRI), euphemism for a person of Indian origin, normally residing outside India.

You can read all about the incident in most of Indian newspapers today and all the tones of the report convey indignation and anger at the incident. Naturally, many political actors wooing the Muslim vote bank, have got on to the band wagon and clamouring for someone’s head to roll. One reasonably balanced report from the Indian Express can be read here.

I am willing to grant that the police have over reached themselves in their action but would ask the Maulana to introspect on an important aspect of the action about which he said, “I had to spend a night in jail just because I have a long beard and I am from Deoband and I run a madrassa. More than the mobile phone conversation, it seems to me that my profile appeared suspicious to them,”

I believe that this is a typical victim mentality trying to appear as a martyr to the public and particularly to his constituency, the Indian Muslims. He would do well to ask himself why the profile appeared suspicious, and why an innocuous comment caused such an embarrassing situation for him. Any child should be able to answer those questions. The Maulana can do a great deal with his constituency to get Indian Muslims to relate to the atmosphere and environment in a country beset by Islamist terrorism and do something about it.

I also challenge some rating seeking TV channel to do a similar sting operation on any Indian Muslim, to what they did to one notorious Hindu extremist Muthalik yesterday. The man was shown up to be just an opportunistic hoodlum holding people to ransom be acts of hooliganism and goondaism. The Congress mentioned in the article is the political party to which our Prime Minister belongs as does the Minister for Home affairs and Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. When this man threatened to disrupt the last Valentine’s Day celebrations, Indian women expressed their protest in a very novel way and some others blackened his face.

This post is primarily to educate my readers about India’s “secularism” and has been written without any malice towards either Hindus or Muslims.