Thursday, March 19, 2015

NH10 - When Crime is Not Crime

                                                          Film review NH 10 

Let me start from the end. My favourite actress Deepti Naval does what a #khap matriarch will do.

When Meera (Anushka Sharma), finds the sarpanch’s (Deepti Naval) home in the dark night, she collapses into her arms. After all, she has been running through the night trying to find someone to report the murder of two people, a girl and a boy, she has seen only a few hours ago. Her husband, (Neil Bhoopalam), who is lying almost dead, needs help, but the police station will not have Meera’s Report. Totally exhausted, she faints in Deepti Naval’s arms and is kindly carried to the bed and is taken care of, only until she discloses that she has seen this grown up girl with her husband being beaten and killed and buried in the dark, by four men and she needs to report this in order to find help.

Within seconds the sarpanch turns foe and to Meera’s great surprise dashes out of the room and locks her in. Meera has intervened in something that is private and personal to the sarpanch and the people of that village. Meera is now a criminal in their eyes.

“She was our daughter; what we did is what we had to do.” The sarpanch, the khap matriarch’s judgment is final.

In a gruesome tale of violence that literally begins at the very start of the film, honour killing, a tradition followed by the khaps in India a couple is murdered because the boy and the girl had the guts to fall in love and marry outside the community, by none else but her brother, uncle and people from the family, with full consent of the women in the house, the oldest being, Deepti Naval.
Meera and Arjun are Corporate honchos who decide to go on a weekend visit outside Delhi where they are employed. Not that Meera does not face discrimination and sexist remarks on the corridors and conference halls of corporate houses, who see her success as something that has come to her easily because she is a woman, but when she is out with her husband she can see that her body is the target of many abuses like randi, written on the wall of the ladies rest room at the local dhaba, which means in slang language ‘prostitute’.

It is at this dhaba, that she and her husband encounter the four men dragging the screaming woman and her boyfriend/husband into a SUV and driving off. Arjun is anxious to follow, although Meera is not, but as fate would have it, they were destined to see, like the audience, the gruesome death of the couple, in the hands of her family.

The darkness of the night and the foggy weather in northern India, where the film was shot, makes for a difficult run, but finally, Arjun and Meera face as gruesome an end, or almost!

Meera, comes through as a powerful woman figure, fighting patriarchy, or maybe just fighting for her life and Arjun’s in the midst of moments of deep helplessness. Yet, will she be able to save Arjun’s life, who is now flirting with death himself, or if not, then will she join the criminals too, by doing unto them, what they have done to her own husband and the couple they killed beside the highway, NH 10?

If you can stomach violence, blood and gut wrenching screams without throwing up, then watch the movie.

If you can’t then, do so, because you must know what crime, which is not thought of as crime really means to the khaps. You will know, why there is no remorse for taking life, because, given individual(s) fails to follow the rules set by a highly patriarchal society, where norms must be followed and taboo is taboo which results in death if not followed, there is NO Crime bigger than disobedience to the rules.

And law is in the hands of the community not the state.

Does Meera, follow the same norms then, to kill without remorse or to kill for revenge.

Director Navdeep Singh, a masterpiece this! Three Cheers to you!

Anushka Sharma as Meera
Neil Bhoopalam as Arjun
Darshan Kumaar as Satbir
Deepti Naval
Tanya Purohit Dobhal as Satbir's wife

Saturday, March 07, 2015

India's Daughter - Watch the film

To Watch the film  Click Here

India’s Daughter, the BBC Nirbhaya documentary which has been widely acclaimed as one of the best documentary showcasing the rape and the aftermath of the 2012 December 16, act that shook the world and brought hundreds of thousands of women and men to the streets in India and abroad, was not given clearance from the Indian Censor Board to be released for viewing in India. Our Government’s objection was ignored by BBC and they uploaded the film on YouTube, which shortly was blocked out over the Indian skies. But lakhs of Indian had seen it already and a few more saw it on Vimeo. Friends and family living abroad, sent the film in mp4 version and we downloaded from Dropbox. A civil disobedience movement had begun on the internet space which would again take the shape of what happened in 2012 in Delhi.

Delhi, the capital of the country has a new title: Rape capital of India. And why not? Every 20 minutes there is a rape, disclosed or undisclosed in the city and its NCR area, covering Gurgaon, NOIDA and Faridabad.

Some philosophers have said, that it is the cumulative lack of social consciousness of this country which has caused this to happen.

Historically, India is enmeshed in the caste system and it is our tradition to keep the untouchables away from the mainstream of our society. This disparity has continued until today, when another split in our society which has been caused by globalization has created the divide between the rich and the poor to widen. If the untouchables of yesteryears have enormous anger towards the educated and the more privileged sections of our society, then it is not far from the hatred and anger that the poor have towards the rich.

We are a society living on the pretense of being humane, compassionate, loving and philanthropic. Indeed, the truth is, we are hoarders, anti-humane, non-compassionate and an utterly selfish country. All we think about is ourselves, our family and our near and dear ones.

Hence, not only among the Dalits, but the poorest of the poor in our society, the upper caste, class, is the one which is held with the most abhorrence. The unequal distribution of wealth and the divide between the haves and the have-nots have reached a critical mass.

There will be explosions and karmic holocaust throughout this country. Rape is not only a dastardly act of power, but as the film reiterates, it is an act of violence against women by men, who feel no remorse at all.

We must only blame ourselves for this. We have a history that goes down to many centuries which stops us from seeing our own faults.

How can anyone call India a safe country? It is not!

To read Ratna Kapur, Professor Jindal University, India Click Here

Monday, March 02, 2015

Book Review: War Room - The people, tactics and technology behind Narendra Modi’s 2014 win

There is no power in heaven and earth that can stop an idea whose time has come.

I say this because the idea of ‘Indianness’ – the deep feeling of belonging to a country which is our motherland, is one of the motivating thoughts that pushed many high-tech Indian professionals to take a break from their careers to support and ensure that Narendra Modi, who to them symbolised the Indianness they so much felt with, was for sure the candidate they wanted to see win in the 2014 elections in India.

Politics is a lot of serendipity. You are in the right place and the right time and you’ve got the right message, and it either connects for you, or it doesn’t.” – Jon Huntsman Jr, American politician.
Indeed, for a man saddled with the infamous Godhra Riots and wearing the saffron non-secular and often berated body of thoughts that are synonymous with bigots like RSS, it was hardly possible to inherit an India, with its multitude of peoples and diversities, unless there were many other factors that came into play, prior to the 2014 elections.

In his riveting book, War Room – The people, tactics and technology behind Narendra Modi’s 2014 win, Ullekh NP states that the campaign for Modi, followed the American – style Presidential Elections. More than two years ago, at the back end of the BJP Offices a war was already afoot, making Modi the most preferred candidate for the PMO, in India.

The figures were well known – the Digital cascade had already happened in India; it was known that 65% of the electorate were under 35 years of age and 35% of these were first time voters, in the age group of 18 – 21 years. The SmartPhone users were growing at an unprecedented number in India, than it had done in any other part of the world. And almost all of the 65% of the electorate were on mobile devices and certainly on the internet. They were young, hungry for change; they needed jobs and to get onto the fast track. They were tired of seeing men – and women, with grey heads and bulging paunches whom they could not identify with, and they were very tired of corruption. They had put all their eggs on a young Leader, Arvind Kejriwal who promised a corruption free society, in Delhi, but had been lead down by his resignation in 49 days, after being elected as CM in Delhi. They might have enjoyed an elite Rahul Gandhi, but he was too much of a Mamma’s boy and could hardly be considered a PM candidate, even if all his party people, to please his mother, Sonia Gandhi said so.  Moreover, after having one highly educated but nonvocal puppet – down – Sonia Gandhi’s – string, as PM, they certainly did not want another ‘Madam’s’ boy around. They wanted to make sure that their choice made the difference in India and they were the Change Leaders of India. Their voice resounded on Social Media, and even before the war was won on ground, the Modi Wave had swept the Digital space to a landslide victory.

It was strategy, excellent communications, use of technology to the hilt to reach far flung areas of India, with new ideas like ‘Chai par Chacha’ and Piyush Pandey’s ‘Abki bar Modi sarkar’, catch lines and deliverables, that caught the imagination of the youth which eventually saw a change maker who promises to take India on a growth path like never before. It is in this background that Narendra Modi, who once helped his father to sell tea at railway stations, came to power.

Ullekh NP, gives us a well researched, absorbing and gripping tale of the war room that finally caused Narendra Modi to win, not only the 2014 elections in India, but also a humongous number of die-hard fans from very educated and technology savvy communities across the world. In his book, he draws the readers to a fact that might change the way, elections are fought hereafter, by the path laid out by Modi in his war to win the most coveted thrown by any seasoned politician. Also, he brings to the fore, Narendra Modi’s resilience and his will to make a Vibrant India, just as he did Vibrant Gujarat. Needless to say, he is taking his ‘Make in India’ and Invest in India, very, very seriously, Ullekh NP tells us.    

“Years after War Room is published, people will refer to it as a book that told the story of India’s most spectacular elections in May 2014 in all its subtle and magnificent details.” – Chitra Subramaniam, Award winning Journalist and author.

For me, as a Digital Marketing professional, the book is a case study that will go down as a must-read for anyone interested in the fast-changing, technology driven, new media that is threatening to displace mainstream media, just like Narendra Modi did the fuddy-duddy, Congress. Which is best amplified by false pride of only a senile mind like Mani Shankar Iyer, Congress Leader who said on 16th January, 2014 at a high level party meet, “I promise you, in the 21st Century, Narendra Modi will never become the prime minister of the country ...But if he wants to distribute tea here, we will find a place for him.”

Alas! He has had to eat his own words and I hope he is selling idli-dosa on the streets of Chennai, by the now defunct, Amma’s grace.

About the Author: Ullekh NP was born in the family of politicians in Marxist hotbed, Kannur, Kerala. He is a journalist and a commentator based in Delhi. He has worked with Economic Times, DNA, India Today. Presently he is with Open Magazine. He writes on politics, public health and corporate affairs. He covered the 2014 elections from badlands UP to Orissa’s hinterland, from Modi’s hometown Vadnagar to the capitals power corridors. He witnessed firsthand, the ‘Modi Wave’ that started from the Ghats of Banaras and finally engulfed the entire nation.

: The Lotus Collection (An imprint of Roli Books), M-75, Greater Kailash II Market, New Delhi – 110048 Phone: 91-011-40682000 Email:, Website: 
Price: Rs 206