Heath Ledger and Four Feathers, a beautiful letter

Dear Shekhar–
I’m only 20 years old( though I often feel older) and I’ve recently begun to understand that reality really is an illusion. I’ve taken a break from school in order to get know myself & the world better. So far it’s been the most eye-opening year of my life. I have a better appreciation for life and see beauty in nearly everything. Everything is becoming so synchronized. This weekend I was working on some drawings and decided to put a movie in. It was a copy of The Four Feathers that my roommate had left with me. Sometimes I just put movies in for the background noise while I work. But I actually set down my sketchbook and watched the whole movie. I was hooked and couldn’t believe that it hadn’t received more recognition. It was one of the most powerful movies I’ve seen in a long time. Afterwards I watched the interviews with you and the screenwriter–it was like watching you affirm thoughts that have been swimming around my mind for the past year! I was so grateful and touched that I couldn’t stop crying. But it felt amazing. The next day I looked you up, and found this wonderful site where you continue to share insight with all of us. As well as many of the other posts and articles I’ve read on the site so far, this piece for your daughter is just what I need right now. I just wanted to say thank you for all that you share, and I’m looking forward to exploring your films!
Much love,
Grace

Pune Bomb Attack :Indian Government openly capitulates to terrorists

Subsequent to the Bomb attack in Pune, the Home Minister of India virtually accepted his Governments inability to protect it’s citizens from carefully planned and targeted bomb attacks. His stunning words of acceptance of defeat :
“Their has been no Intelligence failure, or any failure on part of the Police or the State Government. We cannot protect soft targets against ‘insidious’ bomb attacks. The establishments must install their own security”.
I am not sure what the Home Minister is suggesting. It is this kind of statement that will give credence to self appointed ‘protection’ groups that become thugs and goons in the name of nationalism. I understand that protecting against unexpected attacks is difficult for the greatest intelligence agencies in the world. But this was an area that a major terrorists suspect called Headley (who is in prison in the US) had openly surveyed. And every politician has admitted that was common knowledge in both the Central and the State Intelligence, as well as the Police.
The other surprising thing that emerged in the press statements was a representative of the Home Ministry consistently telling the Press that “we had informed the State Government and the Police of the possibility of this attack in October 2010”. I am sure he meant 2009. But he was trying ( under instructions I presume) to absolve the Central Government of the responsibility and putting the blame squarely on the State Government. These Politics, merely two hours after Indian Citizens have been killed in yet another Terrorist attack actually are very very sickening. Especially as they are becoming a pattern and India is fast turning into the softest terror target outside a conflict zone.
Our Home Minister is right. This was not a failure of our Intelligence. It was a failure of the Indian Political system that consistently plays chess games with lives of it’s people. It is the games that are played for power jockeying between the Centre and the State Government that do not allow for Intelligence to be of any value.
The citizens of India that have died are Martyred by Terrorists, but just as much by the personal interests of a few Individuals that will stop at nothing to retain their Political Power.

Shiva’s Night

where is my place
in this night
of your sky
existing as I am
in my own head ?
if you are
the God of all
that is,
and is not
can you not
embrace me
in your folds of
darkness
existing as I am
in my own head ?

My Name is Khan fiasco. How far is the Media responsible ?

I want to see the film. I saw the trailers and sensed that I was watching a very mature performance from Sharrukh Khan. I sensed that after Monsoon Wedding this may be another film that actually crosses over internationally. But I want to see the film and I cannot.
The political chess game that the film has got embroiled into is so unfortunate. I watched for a while last night as the melodrama was being played out on one TV channel after another, and I wondered. How far is a frenetic Media responsible for forcing people to take stands publicly to a point where the threat of violence looms large over the common people ?
Don’t get me wrong. I would rather have frenetic, melodramatic, TRP driven Media than no Media at all. Those of us that remember how our Media completely capitulated under the Emergency declared by Indira Gandhi, leading to a nation driven by whispered rumors and fears of saying the wrong thing at the wrong place, learned to respect the value of free Media as the bedrock of Democracy. But free Media is ‘free’ to do what ?
I watched last night as responsible ( i thought) presenters tried to out shout the screaming participants, completely subverting the real or potential issues. Should the Media become the ‘moral police’ of the country themselves ? While I, and most of the country will support Mr khan on this issue , I am afraid of a Media that garners huge TRP’s and then present themselves as the Moral police without a commitment to anything but their own market capitalization.
I know that political parties, and in this case the Shiv Sena (though the others are playing their own game) play the Media for their own political purpose. But why is the Media becoming a willing participant and a player in that game ?
I asked my driver, who is Maharashtrian and a once active member of the Shiv Sena what he thought of the whole issue as he watched the drama being unfolded, glued to the TV. His answer ?
“It’s all about jobs, Sir. There are so many people without Jobs in the slums of Mumbai that this is bound to happen” Simple.
To 90% of Mumbai’s population that cannot afford to go to a Multiplex in any case, the real issue is not whether Rahul Gandhi’s traveling a suburban train in Mumbai was pre-planned or not, nor whether the film releases today or not. The real issue is still ‘Roti, Kapada aur Makaan’.

For Heath Ledger, again

Dear Shekhar,
it’s always a pleasure read the beautiful words you dedicate to Heath…they make me feel better and I’m happy that every year you write something to remember Heath on this bad day. I discovered your blog after that tragic 22 January. Now I don’t know how to express, but my feelings are confused…sometimes it seems to me that just yesterday Heath was with us, like as the time stopped and it’s still too early to understand, sometimes instead I feel like if the time moves on and every day with all the chaos around us I have not the time to think about him regularly like I did before. I don’t like this sensation!!!!
It’s the first time I’m writing on your blog, I’m just a cinema’s lover and I loved follow every movies and every project of Heath, he was so unique, so different from any other, so special. I never had thought his life was so early interrupted. He was so full of energy. It’s hard to express all the emotions I feel. After his passing, I promised to myself to try to get what I want,without regrets, without fear, the life is so unique and unpredictable to waste time, it’s time to face the life.
Heath will be alive forever ’till we are here to remember, speak and love his films and his life.
Rest in peace, young cowboy.
Thanks Shekhar
Un abbraccio
Martina

The concern about Commonwealth Games in Delhi

After China stunned the world with the incredible show they put up for the opening of the Beijing Olympics. I do hope we in India have something at least more spectacular than our ever dependable star acts on stage. Actually they are very good and most of them (and the best really is A R Rahman’s concert act) have developed very professional acts on stage. But we need to go beyond that now.
What is of concern are the constant news items that keep appearing of the lack of preparation for the commonwealth games, even though I know that in India we are all used to somehow pulling everything off at the last minute. But of far far greater concern is this article that appeared in an Australian paper about child labor being used to accelerate the preparations. Of course the Western (and I guess now the Australian) press loves to put down accelerating economies like ours, but the following article is pretty disturbing :
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/delhis-commonwealth-games-slave-labour-shame/story-e6frf7jo-1225826064514

View of Bangkok from my hotel room

View of Bangkok from my hotel room
If you look carefully, that’s the river in the center that runs through the City. The photograph does not represents the true nature of the city (unlike my photo of New York), but when I saw this, I could not resist clicking it

Cisco partners conference in Bangkok

Have set up this blog as a discussion piece for participants who had many questions but there was no time to take them up.

The Incredible new Ipad – Steve Jobs dreams of world domination

So tell me Mr Jobs – why did you make me spend $ 2000 on a upscale Macbook Pro just two weeks ago ? I am stupid I guess. I should have waited for the Ipad.
Been looking at live feeds of Steve Job’s launch of the new Apple tablet – the Ipad. It is amazing looking and has amazing apps. There seems to be nothing that it cannot do. It is your one interface with the rest of the world, whether through broadband or through 3G. The applications will allow you to do all your work, reading, browsing, play, creativity in whatever field you are – all through the Ipad. And all priced between $ 500 an $ 900
So here’s the rub. Why do I need the Ipad when I can have most of what it offers on my new ($ 2000) Macbook pro laptop. And if I cannot – why ? And if the reason is that there are more Apps available on the Iphone or the Ipad – then why are they not available on my much more expensive Macbook laptop ? In Steve Job’s view is the laptop dead ?
Hmm.. my laptop has memory of 350 GB’s while the Ipad maxes out at 65 GB’s. But that seems to be more a marketing decision than a technological one. Remember the first Ipods that had less than 1 GB memory ? The Ipad has a USB port but no firewire port. But when was the last time I used my firewire port in any case. Date transfer is getting better on the USB port.
OK, you cannot run DVD’s on the Ipad, but I suspect that soon the Ipad will have such a large memory that you will just download a DVD at the soon to come fast compression technologies that will allow you to download a whole film in seconds. And the DVD is dying as a technology in any case as increasingly sophisticated pen drives take over – delivering many films or other interactive data through your USB port. Plus the Ipad has a beautiful keyboard as a accessory and am sure they will be connectable to external hard drives that are getting smaller and more portable. Waiting for Apple to increase memory in the Ipad
Why do I think Mr Jobs is going for World Domination ? He has once again made a deal with At&T for connection through 3 G – why does he do that ? Because he see’s Apple being your one portal to connectivity, right from service provider to user interface.
And don’t be surprised if Apple buys out AT&T soon – and the only one that can stop him is The Trade Monopolies Commission – or the ingenuity of the Indian kerbside computer engineer that will break all his codes in a jiffy !

What is the World Economic Forum at Davos about ?

As the most important annual networking weekend between business, economic policy makers, bankers and politics ? Yes, Davos is unbeatable. But to be touted as the place where people get together to solve the economic problems of the World is a little silly. Most of the people attending caused the ecomonic problems of the world.
The people attending the forum are much more interested in solving their own economic problems, their own balance sheets, their own positions of political power. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s how the world exists and business is done. However the assumptions that in solving their own problems effectively provides solutions to the problems of the rest of the planet is completely false. 90% of the people of the World are irrelevant to Davos, except as perhaps potential markets.
There’s is a wrong view of the world economy. We can no longer live in isolated oasis of economic prosperity dotted around the planet in an overpowering sea of poverty. Globalization has made sure that social strife too is an exportable commodity much more than it was a decade ago. The movers and shakers at Davos should think about that as they clink their Champagne glasses over their deals.
They should also know that all the economists, bankers, political and business leaders concentrated in that little village this weekend have consistently got it wrong. That is because that the harsh truth is – that creating the economic reforms that the world really needs will erode the power and business base of the very people making the decisions at Davos. Highly unlikely they will do that.