From Seven Samurai to SALAAR: Ethical Combat Dramas

SALAAR is available on Netflix now. Before writing about Salaar, let me tell you: My all-time favourite Ethical Combat Dramas are Seven Samurai and ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ (2000). By the way, it’s a new genre that I’ve discovered. 😃 Allow me to explain.

SALAAR poster from Netflix
Salaar on Netflix

What Are Ethical Combat Dramas

These kinds of movies explore complex ethical and moral questions, often set within a historical or cultural context. They dive into themes of honour, justice, and the human conditions.

Central to these movies is the element of combat, whether it’s the swordplay of samurai films or the martial arts in movies like ‘Crouching Tiger,’ or even the Gatling gun action seen in post-‘Kaithi’ Indian cinema. Each film employs intense drama to explore its themes and develop its characters.

The drama often unfolds in historical or fantastical settings, adding depth and a sense of grandeur. Another common feature is their epic scope, evident in their narrative scale, the depth of their themes, or their visual magnificence.

Now, SALAAR, knowingly or unknowingly, belongs to this category of Ethical Combat Drama.

Why Seven Samurai Is a Perfect Ethical Combat Drama

Before diving into SALAAR, let me share why Seven Samurai and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon are my favourites in the Ethical Combat Drama genre.

Seven Samurai Title Card
Seven Samurai Title Card

I’ll focus on Seven Samurai, as it’s more widely recognised compared to Crouching Tiger. The portrayal of protagonists in this film goes beyond them being merely skilled warriors; they are depicted as complex characters, each with their own moral compass and emotional struggles. This depth elevates the film above a typical action drama.

Contrast and Juxtaposition

Akira Kurosawa, the director, masterfully uses contrast to highlight the heroes’ qualities. For example, the samurai’s skills and moral codes are often juxtaposed against the bandits’ brutality or the villagers’ fear and helplessness. This stark contrast not only showcases the samurai as protectors but also as warriors of virtue.

A Scene from Seven Samurai
A Scene from Seven Samurai

Dynamic Action Sequences

Kurosawa’s dynamic and innovative action sequences, particularly in fight scenes, effectively showcase the samurai’s skills and bravery. The choreography, camera work, and pacing all contribute to portraying these characters as larger than life.

Heroic Actions in Introduction Scenes

A powerful narrative technique Kurosawa employs is introducing a character in a moment of heroism. This approach establishes their role and capabilities within the story efficiently, without relying heavily on dialogue or extensive backstory.

It leverages the psychological ‘halo effect,’ where our impression of a person in one aspect (like heroism) influences our overall perception of them.

Recall the memorable introduction of the first Samurai, heroically saving a child from a kidnapper. If you don’t check the scene here at 19:46

A Scene from Seven Samurai
A Scene from Seven Samurai

Use of Close-ups to Convey Emotion and Tension

A close-up shot from Seven Samurai

Kurosawa’s frequent use of close-up shots is pivotal in capturing and conveying characters’ emotions. By focusing on their expressions, especially in moments of fear or awe, he magnifies the impact of the situation and the presence of the heroes. For instance, scenes where villagers express fear or reverence towards the samurai are made more poignant through tight shots. This technique effectively transmits the characters’ fear, awe, or respect to the audience.

Symbolic Imagery and Metaphors

Kurosawa also masterfully employed symbolism to deepen his storytelling. He used elements of nature, like rain or wind, to mirror the mood or internal state of the characters. This adds a rich layer to their portrayal.

A Rain Shot from Seven Samurai
A Rain Shot from Seven Samurai

Consider the scenes with gusty winds, which set a tone of unrest and turmoil. The natural landscape is another vital element. In Seven Samurai, the rugged, rural setting underscores the themes of the film: the harshness of life for the villagers and the simplicity and purity of their existence. This starkly contrasts with the life of the samurai, caught between their code of honour and the reality of a changing world.

Oh! Wait! Why am I writing all this while I intend to talk about SALAAR?

Because SALAAR tried all the elements that I have shared in a mediocre way without much conviction.

SALAAR falls short as an extraordinary Ethical Combat Drama, even though it had the potential to be one. As I said, it’s not extraordinary, but it’s still a decent film in this genre, albeit lacking a convincing central character.

The World of Khansaar in ‘SALAAR’

A Poster from Salaar
A Poster from Salaar

Director Prashanth Neel’s strength is world-building. With Khansaar, he transports you to a new world and keeps you engaged with multiple storylines. However, for those who have seen Ugram, there may not be any surprises. They might not enjoy this ‘old Khansaar in a new bottle,’ apart from some grandiose action sequences and a lacklustre actor.

Prabhas With A Hangover & Neel With A Template

Prashanth Neel’s protagonists typically embody a machismo figure who abides by his mother’s words. However, in this film, the mother sentiment is overshadowed by the theme of friendship. I commend Neel for not overusing Prabhas in terms of dialogue or action.

Prithviraj & Prabhas from Salaar
Prithviraj & Prabhas from Salaar

Personally, I feel Prabhas hasn’t given his 100% in his recent movies, seemingly relying on his stardom and compromising his skills and effort. To be blunt, his performance appears as if he is acting with a hangover.

Prithviraj’s Mastery vs Neel’s Directorial Gambit

I want to recognise Neel again as a potential director because his efforts to make Salaar a comeback film for Prabhas are evident, even though Prabhas remains the same. Neel manages to extract the best from Prabhas with his slow-motion walking shots, dialogue delivery, and action sequences.

Prashant Neel
Prashant Neel

In every single frame, Prithviraj, as Varadha, excels, highlighting the contrast with Prabhas’ lacklustre performance. The difference is stark and makes it easy to understand why Neel shouldn’t have cast such a strong performer opposite Prabhas.

Prithviraj’s Game of Thrones Analogy and the Reality of SALAAR

It was Prithviraj’s words that initially drew me to watch SALAAR. Known for films like Lucifer, Ayaalum Njanum Thammil, and Ayyappanum Koshiyum, Prithviraj compared SALAAR to the American epic fantasy series Game of Thrones.

Trailer from Lucifer

However, let me clarify: SALAAR mainly revolves around Deva and Varadha, with other characters playing minor or just fancy roles in the screenplay. This fact alone challenges Prithviraj’s comparison.

When it comes to Ethical and Moral Dilemmas, Combat and Strategy, Cultural and Historical Elements, and especially intricate character dynamics – all hallmarks of Game of Thrones – SALAAR doesn’t quite measure up, except in visual grandeur.

In my opinion, PS-1 & PS-2 would be far more appropriate comparisons to Game of Thrones.

Last But Not Least

In summary, SALAAR presents a mediocre attempt at Ethical Combat Dramas because of its shallow characters and massy star obsessions. But I admit that it treads a fine line between potential greatness and missed opportunities.

While it may not fully live up to the towering expectations set by comparisons to epics like Game of Thrones, it still carves out its niche in a genre rich with few moral complexities and thrilling action.

For those who want to try Ethical Combat Dramas and are looking to explore further, I recommend trying classics like ‘Seven Samurai’ and ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ which are masterclasses in this genre.

Why Only One Pandava Reached Heaven

The saga of the Pandava brothers and Draupadi, their final journey to heaven, unfolds the curtain of sin, love, compassion, and unwavering adherence to Dharma.Here we are looking at why the righteous Pandavas suffered.

The Pandavas anointed Parikshit as the crown prince of Hastinapura. They appointed Yuyutsu as the guardian of the young prince. Yuyutsu, born to Dhritarashtra and a Shudra woman, was a beloved figure among the Pandava brothers. He had shown courage to stand with them on the path of Dharma and was considered a son-like to them.

From Hastinapura, Pandava brothers and Draupadi set out walking in the northern direction. In one word, ‘Vanaprastham’

Pandava’s Maha Vanaprastham

Draupadi: The First Loss

On their journey, the first to surrender to mortality was Draupadi. Bhima saw this first, and he couldn’t bear that. His love for Draupadi was profound; he was the one who loved her most.

He fiercely avenged her dishonour in the Kaurava court with blood. During their exile in the forest, Bhima diligently ensures Draupadi’s safety and comfort. How could we forget the Kichaka chapter from Mahabharatha? Even when Arjuna was hesitant, Bhima prioritised Draupadi. Even Bhima encountered Hanuman to fulfil Draupadi’s desire for a flower.

Bhima washing Draupadi's hair with blood (Image credit: insta/saptasarka)
Bhim washing Draupadi’s hair with blood (Image credit: insta/saptasarka)

Bhima collapsed, seeing Draupadi lying motionless on the earth. But the Pandava brothers knew they had to keep going. When others were walking, Bhima asked Yudhishthira, the wisest among all, ‘Why did Draupadi die? She did nothing wrong.’

Yudhishthira said, ‘Our journey is about more than just living and dying. We shouldn’t think too much about it. Draupadi was good, but she was only meant to come with us until here.’ Bhima said, ‘But she was our wife! She should always be with us!’ Yudhishthira calmly said, ‘It’s not up to us. What happened to Draupadi was because of what she did in her life.

Draupadi: Where Love meets Sin

Draupadi loved all five of us, but deep in her heart, she had a special place for Arjuna, the first one to win her heart. This natural inclination of her heart highlights the nuanced psychology of love and attachment in women. A woman, even if she is with many men, can deeply love only one. Maybe he was her first love, or maybe he was the one who made her wet for the first time or who offered her a shoulder in her darkest hours.

Yudishitra, Wisest among the Pandava Brothers
Draupadi with Pandava brothers (Image credit: Hotstar)
Draupadi with Pandava brothers (Image credit: Hotstar)

Bhima, Draupad’s sin was her lust towards Arjuna, but remember, she was noble and righteous, and that’s why she could travel with us this far. I understand your deep feelings for her. You have always protected her. Only Arjuna could truly win her heart, beyond her physical being. And for the four of us who came after, she never denied us fairness and love. She never showed dislike or boredom for our sake. Draupadi was like a goddess! let’s move on, Bhima.’ 

The Downfall of Sahadeva, Nakula, and Arjuna

During their ongoing journey, Sahadeva was the next to die, followed by Nakula. Yudhishthira explained to Bhima that Sahadeva’s pride in his wisdom and Nakula’s pride in his beauty were their downfalls.

Then, it was Arjuna’s turn. He also surrendered to Yama, the god of death. Bhima again asked Yudhishthira why. Yudhishthira said, ‘Arjuna once vowed to defeat all enemies by himself. This boastfulness and wrath, along with his envy, were his sins. That’s why he couldn’t continue the journey.‘ Then they continued walking

Losses Along the Way: Fall of a Gentle Giant

When Bhima was about to fall, he asked Yudhishthira, ‘Elder brother, I am about to fall. What’s my fault?’ Yudhishthira replied, ‘Bhima, you are dear to me. But your pride in your strength and your love for food (gluttony) were your downfalls.‘ Yudhishthira continued his journey alone, as his brothers’ deaths did not stop him.

Bhima Fighting against Asur
Bhima Fighting against Asur

At Heaven’s Gate: Righteous Among Pandavas

From the day they left Hastinapura, a dog had been following the Pandavas. Even as others fell during the long journey, the dog stayed with Yudhishthira. When Yudhishthira reached his destination, the gates of heaven were ready to welcome him. Indra arrived in his chariot and said to Yudhishthira, ‘Climb into the chariot! There is no one in heaven more worthy than you to join us. Don’t hesitate, Yudhishthira, come with me!

Yudishtira and Indra
Yudishtira and Indra

Yudhishthira told Indra, ‘I’m not completely happy with this blessing you’ve given me.’ ‘What? You don’t want to go to heaven?’ asked Indra. Yudhishthira replied, ‘No, Lord! The Pandavas and Draupadi started this journey together. They all died on the way, and I don’t even know what happened to them. Going to heaven alone will bring me more pain than joy. My brothers are my life, and Draupadi is part of our soul. Please tell me where they are now.’Indra smiled and said, ‘Yudhishthira, the world has never seen a brother as loving as you. You often seemed weak because of your love for your family. Is this really commendable? Is it that hard to let go?‘ Yudhishthira, with a lifeless smile, replied, A person without love for his dependents doesn’t deserve to live on earth. My love for my brothers and Draupadi is beyond my senses. Please help me!

Indra told Yudhishthira, ‘Your brothers and Draupadi were good people. They have already reached heaven after leaving their bodies behind. But they did not have the greatness you have, so you are allowed to enter heaven while still alive. Climb into the chariot. You can trust my words.’ Yudhishthira responded, ‘I have one more request.’ Indra looked at Yudhishthira sceptically.

Yudhishthira’s Conflict of Heart and Duty

Yudhishthira said, ‘I cannot abandon this dog that has been with me until the end of my journey. Please let it come with me on the chariot.’ Indra laughed a little and said, ‘You know that dogs cannot enter heaven. Yet, you insist on this worthless animal.’

‘No! Lord Indra, go ahead without me. This dog will always be with me. If I leave this dog behind, all my good deeds for heaven will be worthless. I will never abandon those who depend on me!

Indra said, ‘You left your brothers and Draupadi on the way. Do you care more for this insignificant dog?’ Yudhishthira replied, ‘My brothers and Draupadi died along the way, and I couldn’t bring them back to life. But this poor animal is still alive and has been with me through this long journey. I cannot abandon it.’ As Indra looked at Yudhishthira with compassion, the dog transformed. It was Dharma Deva, the god of death, who had followed him in the form of a dog. He said, ‘Son, your compassion has filled me with pride. You have passed a test beyond ordinary trials. The world will praise you as Yudhishthira, a name synonymous with dharma. Your words and actions have always been rooted in righteousness, and you have never strayed from this path. Go with Indra.’

Yudhishthira boarded Indra’s chariot, and they soared through the sky, eventually reaching heaven.

The Celestial Reunion of Pandavas

He entered heaven and saw Krishna sitting on a majestic throne, with Arjuna beside him. They stood up and joyfully welcomed Yudhishthira. He found Karna among the twelve Adityas and bowed to him. Karna smiled and welcomed his brother. Bhima was among the Maruts, Nakula and Sahadeva were near the Ashwini Kumaras, and they all greeted Yudhishthira with respect. Draupadi, shining like a bright star, was there with their five sons. They all bowed to Yudhishthira. He saw Drona blessed by Brihaspati and Bhishma seated among the Vasus, to whom he bowed. Duryodhana, smiling on a special throne, stood up to honour Yudhishthira. In heaven, there is no enmity. Duryodhana, having died a heroic death and fulfilled his duties well, had earned a special place in heaven. (Even Yudishtira did a minor sin and he faced some challenges at Heaven, but we skipped that part since it’s too long for this)

Bhavachakra describing the cycle of saṃsāra
Bhavachakra describing the cycle of saṃsāra

Beyond Myths: Love, Loss, and Life’s Eternal Lessons

The reunion with his brothers, Draupadi and Duryodhana, each radiant in their own right, symbolised the eternal cycle of life, death, and redemption. So, this story might be more than just a myth because it reveals a timeless truth: Draupadi’s quiet love for Arjuna, even as Bhima loves her deeply, shows us how complex our hearts can be. It tells us that even wise and strong people like Yudhishthira struggle with letting go of those they love. Finally, it tells us that, in the heart of forgiveness and empathy, lies the true path to liberation, the Moksha.

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The Secret Of Happiness: Mitchell Marsh & World Cup

What’s the secret of happiness? Let’s learn from Mitchell Marsh and his super cool World Cup celebration.

If I were to choose a single image that encapsulates the essence of this World Cup, my finger would point unhesitatingly to this particular scene. It’s the picture of the young Mitchell Marsh, his foot triumphantly planted atop the World Cup trophy. The fact that it was Pat Cummins who shared this moment with the world is far from coincidental 😉

Mitchell Marsh with the world cup trophy
Mitchell Marsh with the World Cup trophy

For many, it might be arrogance or direspect, but in my perspective, Mitchell brought a philosophy echoing the very thoughts and actions of Buddha himself. This philosophy, known in English as ‘Detachment’, embodies ideas of dispassion, disillusionment, and liberation from entanglements. The epitome of this concept, in its most tangible form, was achieved by Buddha in the name of Nirvana & Hindu saints and Jaina aints in the name of Moksha‘.

The Zen of Victory: Mitchell Marsh’s World Cup Philosophy

Osho Rajneesh, Ramana Maharshi, and various Jain saints have extensively spoken about this philosophy. However, Mitchell Marsh, through a single act, illuminated this principle in its most tangible form. Every achievement, whether it’s winning the World Cup or an election victory, is transient.

The essence here is the concept of detachment and the transient nature of events and achievements. Mitchell Marsh’s act is a powerful embodiment of this, showcasing that even significant victories like the World Cup are just fleeting moments in the grand scheme of life. I remember a Zen Buddhist story that may connect this better.

The Tale of Two Monks: A Lesson in Non-Attachment

Two monks, one older and one younger, are travelling together. At one point, they come to a river with a strong current. As they prepare to cross, they meet a young woman who is unable to cross by herself. The older monk offers to carry her across on his back, and she gratefully accepts. After he safely delivers her to the other side, they part ways.

Image from a textbook

After some time, the younger monk questions the elder: ‘Was it right for you to carry that young woman on your shoulders?‘ To this, The older monk replies, “I put her down on the other side of the river. Why are you still carrying her?”.

Cultural Misinterpretations: Respect vs. Detachment

On Sunday, Mitchell Marsh was in the role of this older monk. By declaring the World Cup trophy merely a cup after the victory, he precisely and subtly communicated to us the impermanence of both triumph and defeat. It’s a profound lesson in how fleeting both success and failure are.

Image of Mitchell Marsh shared by cybersanskaris
Image of Mitchell Marsh shared by cybersanskaris

There are those who criticise this scene. They see placing a foot on the World Cup as disrespectful. These are the same people who do not hesitate to remain silent in the face of blatant injustices. They forget that respect is a feudal value, heavily overshadowed by hierarchy. In their view, certain actions, even symbolic, are unacceptable breaches of decorum, ignoring the deeper symbolic messages such actions might convey.

Practising Detachment: Insights from Mitchell Marsh

You might be thinking that this sounds like actor Vijay fans decoding the brilliance behind the popular Tamil movie Leo. Let me tell you, the base of this interpretation is an interview from Mitchell Marsh.

Mitchell Marsh Interview

In it, Mitchell mentions that he has been training with a psychologist to navigate life, focusing on how to become detached from outcomes. ‘Detachment’ is the key concept Mitchell emphasises. This concept echoes Lord Krishna’s teachings in the Bhagavad Gita about acting without attachment to the results. I cannot recall another recent instance where the profound teachings of Buddha or lord Krsihna have been so effectively put into practise.

Feudal Mindset & The Philosophy of Detachment

Our leaders, superstars, and celebrities should all take a leaf out of Mitchell’s book. His approach is a guiding finger to those who revel in the shadows of egoism. Let’s take a closer look at Kerala.

Here, politicians act like royalty, with only the VIPs having access to the Chief Minister and ministers. Bureaucrats often wield their power for personal ego and vendetta, rooted in their attachment to power.

Kerala Chief Minister in a public outreach programme
Kerala Chief Minister in a public outreach programme

Look at our hon.PM Narendra Modi, If he goes to great lengths to maintain his power, it’s not surprising. He has been in power since 2000, and detachment from such a long-held position is no easy feat.

Reflecting on ourselves, can we detach from our past, from our achievements? If it were a yes, we wouldn’t have celebrated Arjun Reddy or Kabir Singh, and we wouldn’t have played so many Lofi songs. Letting Go is a skill that we all should gain.

Most of us bask in the glory of our past successes or failures, but true happiness and growth lie in moving on. Growth happens when you let go. This is especially relevant in a society where maintaining status and power often becomes an end in itself. If we can learn to detach, to let go of these attachments, we can find not just individual contentment but also create a more balanced and equitable society.

Live Love learn liberate
Live Love Learn Liberate

Detachment: Here lies the secret of happiness.
As I always say: Live to Love, Love to Learn, Learn to Liberate. This mission makes your life content.

Read more: Rohit Sharma: A Fiery Chapter in the Saga of Indian Cricket

Rohit Sharma: An Emotional Chapter of Indian Cricket

What makes someone a great leader? That’s the story of Rohit Sharma. How did he ace against the odds? Rohit’s journey is more than just about playing cricket.

It’s about never giving up and leading a team with heart. He was not a part of a winning team in 2011, from there to becoming a captain everyone looks up to, his story is full of feelings and hope. 

Rohit Sharma: (Quote: Dead Poet Society)

The Legacy

In the legacy of Indian cricket, two names have been etched in golden letters for their remarkable leadership in clinching the World Cup – Kapil Dev and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. 

Kapil Dev, leading the charge in 1983, heralded the rise of the Indian cricket team on the world stage, marking a historic victory that was nothing short of a fairy tale. 

Kapil Dev

Then, the long wait for glory ended in 2011 under the cool captaincy of MS Dhoni, a man from Ranchi who redefined leadership and brought a new era of dominance in Indian cricket. It was a moment that completed the journey of a legend, the God of cricket- Sachin Tendulkar, fulfilling his lifelong dream of winning the World Cup.

Sachin Tendulkar
Sachin Tendulkar from 2011 World Cup Final

Setbacks to Stepping Stones

In 2011, Rohit had a burning desire to be part of the World Cup team, but fate had other plans. Despite his eagerness and potential, he was left out of India’s squad for the World Cup. How he endured that night as a 23-year-old, filled with dreams yet faced with rejection, is something only he knows.

At the peak of his disappointment, Rohit might have penned down his feelings, possibly as a way to process and overcome the deep sense of letdown.

“Forward, Always Forward, Forward with More Strength”

Rohit Sharma didn’t just stop there. His experience was not merely about deep sorrow from loss. It was also a declaration that he refused to accept himself as a loser. His comeback was as stunning as his performances on the cricket field. It was as if he had donned the armour of a warrior when he stepped back onto the field. His approach to the game changed entirely.

Beyond Boundaries: Rohit Sharma’s Hitman Saga

Once he was set on the crease, there was no one as dangerous as him.
Rohit Sharma’s playing style always brings back memories of Virender Sehwag, especially his fearless approach. Like Sehwag, who would boldly go for a six even on 99, Rohit doesn’t seem to play it safe.

In today’s ICC World Cup Final 2023, Rohit’s innings of 47 runs echoed the same daring spirit as Sehwag’s. He plays like a selfless captain, focused on setting a strong foundation for the team rather than just chasing personal milestones. It’s this quality that sets him apart and reminds us of the fearless cricket that Viru played in the past.

Virendar Sehwag
Virendar Sehwag

But this doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have any milestones in his career, he rained records, including three double centuries, reshaping not just his career but also the history of cricket.

These years were not just significant for India but brought a change to the entire cricket world. Even in this World Cup, he set a record of sixes. He became the batter to hit the most sixes in ODI World Cups (54).

Leadership in Action: Rohit Sharma’s Defining Moments

In the 2019 World Cup, Rohit Sharma led the team with unparalleled valour, notching up five centuries. His leadership extended beyond the national team to the Mumbai Indians in the IPL, where he lifted the trophy multiple times. Rohit Sharma continued to rewrite history with each of these achievements.

Finally, his journey led him to captain the Indian team in all three formats of the game, a remarkable feat that speaks volumes of his leadership and skill. This story of determination and success found its latest chapter in the 2023 World Cup, showcasing Rohit Sharma as a figure of inspiration and resilience in the world of cricket.

Leading by Example: Rohit Sharma’s Captaincy Masterclass

In the 2023 World Cup, Rohit Sharma led from the front. From the very first ball, his strategy was clear: play aggressively. He ensured that the team got off to a strong start in the powerplay, setting up a good score early on.

Rohit’s leadership was evident in many matches, where his powerful beginnings energised the Indian team. What Rohit started, players like Kohli, Iyer, and Rahul completed, creating a spectacle of teamwork and skill.

Rohit Sharma aka Hitman
Rohit Sharma aka Hitman

But Rohit’s contribution was not limited to his batting prowess. As a captain, he demonstrated remarkable decision-making skills. He skillfully rotated the bowlers, giving the team crucial breakthroughs.

His tactical fielding changes at critical moments were instrumental in swinging the momentum of the game. The 2023 World Cup was a testament to Rohit‘s deep understanding and effective leadership as the captain of the Indian cricket team.

Captaincy Beyond Batting: Inspirational Roots from Dhoni

The last time India reached the final before this was in 2011, a team Rohit Sharma couldn’t be a part of. That team, led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, created history. Dhoni’s leadership fulfilled the hopes and dreams of a nation waiting for 28 years. Under Dhoni, India won its second World Cup. The final match against Sri Lanka is unforgettable for Indian fans.

The Winning Moment from 2011 World Cup Final

The iconic moment was in the 49th over, bowled by Nuwan Kulasekara. Dhoni’s six over the bowler’s head sealed the victory, a moment celebrated like no other in Indian sports history.

Gautam Gambhir &  M S Dhoni
Gautam Gambhir & M S Dhoni

At one point, the team faced a tough situation, but it was Gambhir and Dhoni who rescued India. Dhoni was not only the captain but also the star of the match. His leadership and performance under pressure were instrumental in bringing the World Cup home, creating an unforgettable chapter in Indian cricket history.

Gautam Gambhir Innings

Even though Dhoni wasn’t in top form throughout the tournament, he made crucial decisions in the final and other key matches that saved the team. It’s always been like that with him. His reputation as one of India’s greatest captains isn’t unwarranted. Dhoni’s achievements are not limited to leading India to victory in the 2007 T20 World Cup and the 2011 ODI World Cup. He also led the team to win the 2013 Champions Trophy.

DaDa’s Legacy & The Unforgotten Dream

Before Dhoni, it was DaDa who paved a new path for Indian cricket. In 2000, when Indian cricket was shaken by betting scandals, Ganguly took up the challenge of leading the team. It was a time when even God of Cricket- Sachin Tendulkar, hesitated to take on the captaincy. The Prince of Kolkata stepped up to revive the Indian team, leading fearlessly and bringing back the lost faith of Indian cricket fans. For Ganguly, the team was always more important than individual achievements. He trained his players to fight for a common goal, giving them the necessary support and confidence.

Sourav Ganguly & M S Dhoni
Sourav Ganguly & M S Dhoni

Under his leadership, the team he built reached the final of the 2003 World Cup. However, fate had it that they would lose to Australia. But the journey to that final and the spirit Ganguly instilled in the team remain unforgettable. His legacy is marked by his ability to unite and inspire a group of players towards a collective dream.

Beyond the Trophy: Rohit Sharma, Beloved Captain

The latest hero of this destiny is Rohit Sharma. After the semi-final match against New Zealand, which witnessed Virat Kohli’s fiftieth century and Shami’s seven-wicket haul, former England cricketer Nasser Hussain commented on the game.

Rohit Sharma after 2023 ICC World Cup Finale
Rohit Sharma after 2023 ICC World Cup Finale

Tomorrow’s headlines will probably be about Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, and Shami. But the real hero of this Indian lineup, the man who has transformed the Indian style, is Rohit Sharma.‘’ –

Nasser Hussain (Former England Captain)

At this moment, watching Rohit Sharma, a line from the ‘Dead Poets Society’ resonates deeply within me: ‘O Captain! My Captain!’

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Hostar’s Masterpeace: Symmetry and Satire

Sreejith N’s Malayalam web series ‘Masterpeace’ on Hotstar looks like a homage to Wes Anderson.

In the cinematic world, few directors have mastered the art of visual storytelling quite like Wes Anderson. With every frame crafted like a painted canvas and a color palette that capture your eyes.

Anderson’s films are a feast for the eyes and the heart. Don’t you remember ‘Amen’ by LJP filled with quirks, emotions, and political undertones. That’s another example of Wes Anderson style for those who are not aware of this brilliant maker.

This rich element of Wes Anderson’s visuals and narrative brilliance is the highlight in director Sreejith’s latest Malayalam web series, Masterpeace. Compared to Sreejith’s previous flick, ‘Oru Thekkan Thallu CaseMasterpeace is a different experiment inspired by Wes Anderson style of storytelling.

Brief About the ‘Materpiece’

‘Masterpeace’ is a story about a young married couple, Riya and Binoy. They live in Kochi and have problems in their marriage. When they fight, their parents come to their home to help. But, the parents have their own ideas and want to be in charge. The show is satirical sprinkled with some serious moments. Most of the story happens in one day, inside Riya and Binoy’s flat.

Masterpeace Trailer

Religion, feminism, Liberalism, Dowry, Gender Neutrality, Male chauvanism, Intolerance, LGBTQ+, stereotyping of people & even Nityananda swami 😉 . The list is long and never ending, I believe, you will find at least one one-liner from all these topics in a satirical way.

Why You Should Watch This:

A Masterpeace ‘Visual Treat’

As I said in the beginning, that Wes Anderson style is the biggest plus here. Masterpeace is beautiful to watch. The homes, the colours, and the objects in the series are chosen carefully. They make every scene look like a painting, and every artist on the screen looks like a caricature in that canvas.

The series has a special style, you can find a symmetry in every frame just like the way writer Praveen crafted ultra-dramatic characters and Understated or muted characters in every events.

A Unique Story

The series gives a close look at Indian families and how they deal with problems. It’s not just about a couple’s fight, but about how older family members try to solve things their way. This drama gave you some high hopes and entertainment value in the first three episodes.

Humour and Drama

There are many funny moments in the series. These moments feel like they are taken from real-life situations in many typical Mallu families. It will remind you of some family gatherings and personally I felt like it’s laughing riot especially for those who have some ultra orthodox family members.

Director Sreejith made a great comeback with this quirky satirical experiment.

What Could Have Been Better?

Length: While the series starts off exciting, it becomes long. There are five episodes, and each episode is more than 30 minutes. Some parts of the story feel repeated and could have been shorter or edited.

Repetitive Themes: The series with some frsh approaches on how older people behave and how their orthodox views contradict with the neo-liberals. But, after some time, it feels like the same things are shown again and again.

Narration Gaps: Sometimes the voice-over in the series was confusing and slow down the narration. I wondered why it was even there.

A Masterpeace Performance From Ashokan

The series centering around six characters and my biggest entertainment was Ashokan, he will makes you laugh a lot. He hasn’t acted in big roles for some time, but he made a comeback similar to what lalu Alex did in Bro Daddy. 

Maala Parvathi also acts very well as a mother who likes to be in control. These two artists make sure that you won’t abandon this show in midway.

Shanthi Krihna’s & Renji Panicker’s muted characters were overshadowed by the other ultra-dramataic characters in the movie.

The music and camera work in the series are also very good. The director, Sreejith, has made the series look beautiful and quriky. But, it would have been better if the episodes were shorter.

Read more movie reviews and stories here.

Human Interactions: Understanding the Lonely Wolf and the Social Butterfly

Today, I want to share a conversation I had with my good friend Venkat. He looked confused and asked me, “Akhil, how do you manage both networking and productivity together?” He made a good point: the most productive people—I call them “Lonely Wolves”—among us often work alone, while people who like to socialise a lot, “the social butterflies,” often focus more on taking breaks. Let’s understand the nuances behind human interactions here.

The Evolutionary Tale of the ‘Lonely Wolf’

Imagine the ‘Lonely Wolf’ as someone who’s skilled at their tasks, but deep down, there’s a fear that holds them back from social interactions. Think of it like being hesitant to jump into a pool. Most people want to try that, but they are scared of the consequences. Maybe they are scared of an accident.

Similarly, here the reason for this social distancing isn’t just that they’re shy or prefer being alone; it’s rooted in our ancient history.
In the old days, if you were excluded or rejected by your tribe or group, it was like being left out in the cold without a jacket. You were vulnerable to the elements and wild animals, making survival really tough.

So, being pushed out or ostracised was, in many ways, a death sentence. Our brains are always trying to protect us. Hence, our brain developed a mechanism that made social rejection hurt, almost as if it were physical pain.

Neurologically, when they think about initiating a conversation, their brain’s anterior cingulate cortex (responsible for detecting physical pain) activates, making the mere idea of a possible rejection daunting. This isn’t mere shyness; it’s a protective mechanism that’s years old.
Yet, once they establish a connection, their brain’s reward system gets activated intensely. The hormone oxytocin, responsible for bonding, is released in higher doses. It’s nature’s way of ensuring that once a connection is made, it’s deeply valued. Hence, they often form deeper attachments, valuing quality over quantity.

Historical Roots of the Social Butterflies

Throughout history, individuals who could quickly build rapport, create alliances, and foster relationships had advantages. They were the diplomats, the traders, and the village storytellers. Their strength wasn’t just in the number of their interactions but in the richness of the tales they carried and shared.

Neurologically, every interaction stimulates the release of oxytocin, promoting bonding, and serotonin, enhancing mood and self-esteem. But it’s not just about these chemicals. Their brains are wired to seek variety. Just as our tongue craves different flavours, their neural pathways relish diverse interactions.

Genes of: Social butterflies vs Lonely Wolves

For social butterflies, their brains have likely evolved to prioritise social feedback. The release of oxytocin and dopamine in response to social interactions is more pronounced, reinforcing their social behaviours. Just as some people have a sweet tooth and relish desserts due to evolutionary reasons (sweet usually meant nutritious and calorie-rich), the Social Butterflies have, metaphorically speaking, a ‘social tooth’. Their ancestors were likely those who thrived and survived due to their social adeptness, passing down these traits.

For Lonely Wolves: Their brain prioritises deep work and introspection. This might be due to a heightened activation of regions associated with focus and task-oriented behaviours. Their ancestors were likely the ones whose survival was ensured not by vast social networks but by their individual skills, deep thinking, or problem-solving prowess.

Nature vs. Nurture

While evolutionary and neurological factors play a significant role, one’s upbringing, personal experiences, and the environment can’t be ignored. A naturally sociable child, if repeatedly exposed to negative social feedback, might withdraw and exhibit ‘Lonely Wolf’ tendencies. Conversely, a naturally introverted child, when encouraged and provided positive social experiences, might develop more extroverted tendencies.

In essence, the disparity between ‘Social Butterflies’ and ‘Lonely Wolves’ can be viewed as nature’s way of ensuring that a tribe had both: individuals who could form quick social bonds and those who could delve deep into problem-solving. Both these traits had their unique evolutionary advantages, ensuring the survival and thriving of the group.

How do we bridge the gap?

For the Social Butterfly

  • The Art of Deep Conversations: Social Butterflies often flit from one topic to another. To add depth, they can practice active listening. It involves not just hearing words but understanding and interpreting them. Instead of preparing the next thing to say, truly listen. This leads to meaningful conversations that leave a lasting impact.
  • Scheduling ‘Me’ Time: A day, or even a few hours, reserved for self-reflection can work wonders. During this time, indulge in activities that promote inner growth – reading, journaling, or even a solitary walk. Embracing moments of silence and solitude can offer profound insights and a renewed sense of purpose.
  • Read: Books can be wonderful companions. They can offer the ‘Social Butterfly’ a world of knowledge while also teaching them the joy of solitude.

For the Lonely Wolf

  • Baby Steps: Social interactions don’t need to be grand gestures. Start small. Maybe a hello to a colleague, a smile to a stranger, or a compliment to a friend. Remember, every long journey begins with a single step.
  • Find Your Tribe: The ‘Lonely Wolf’ doesn’t need to fit in everywhere. They need to find their tribe – a group of like-minded individuals who share their passions, hobbies, or beliefs. When you share a common interest, initiating conversations becomes easier.
  • Seek Mentorship: One way to learn about the nuances of social interactions is to learn from someone who excels at it. A mentor can guide, providing insights into the art of communication and relationship-building.

In conclusion, the digital age, though complex, offers myriad opportunities for both the ‘Lonely Wolf’ and the ‘Social Butterfly’ to grow, learn, and bridge the chasm between them. While their innate natures are different, they can certainly borrow pages from each other’s books, creating a balanced narrative for their lives.

For more perspectives and thoughts, click here.

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OTT Releases This Week: June 9

Are you curious on what are the latest OTT releases this week? From Mollywood’s biggest blockbuster 2018 (Sony Liv) to Jio Cinema exclusive Bloody daddy, the list is long.

OTT Releases this week.
OTT Releases this week.

2018 – Everyone is a Hero (SonyLiv)

Release Date: May 5, 2023
Directed by: Jude Anthany Joseph
Language: Malayalam / Telugu / Tamil
Cast: Tovino Thomas, Kunchacko Boban, Asif Ali, Vineeth Sreenivasan, Lal, Narain

Detailed Review of 2018 is here.

Plot Synopsis

Set against the backdrop of the Kerala floods of 2018, “2018 – Everyone is a Hero” is a heart-rending tale of resilience and unity that emerges in times of adversity.

It recounts the story of ordinary individuals rising to become everyday heroes, driven by the collective will to survive and rebuild. It’s the highest grosser in Malayalam film industry.

Why You Should Try

The gripping narrative, interspersed with authentic performances by Kunchacko Boban, Asif Ali, Tovino Thomas, brings forth a rare portrayal of human spirit and unity. The film’s exploration of ordinary individuals’ heroism in extraordinary circumstances serves as an inspiring watch.

Why You Should Skip

If clichéd melodramas are not to your liking, you might find certain aspects of the movie predictable & cringe. A slower pace in the first half, along with some unexplored political and social aspects, could hinder your viewing experience.

Custody: A Venkat Prabhu Chase (Amazon Prime)

Release Date: May 12, 2023
Directed by: Venkat Prabhu
Language: Tamil / Telugu
Cast: Naga Chaithanya, Kriti Shetty, Sharat Kumar, Aravind Samy, Priya Mani

Detailed Review of Custody is here.

Plot Synopsis

Custody is a thrilling action narrative set in the 90s. The story revolves around Shiva (Naga Chaitanya), an upright police constable caught in a web of duty and dilemmas. His mission to escort a dangerous criminal, Raju (Arvind Swami), to court while dodging the corrupt police officer IG Nataraj (Sharat Kumar) and the entire state police force forms the core of the plot. Adding a twist to his life is his love interest, Revathi (Krithi Shetty), whom he plans to elope with.

Why You Should Try

Director Venkat Prabhu skillfully blends humor, thrills, and unexpected plot twists to craft an engaging cinematic ride. Strong performances by the lead cast, particularly Arvind Swami, bring depth to their characters, and the film’s ability to portray unexpected elements of humor even in tense moments makes it worth watching. The surprise star-studded cameos further add to the excitement.

Why You Should Skip

Despite its intriguing plot, the film struggles with pacing issues and a certain predictability. The attempts at exploring emotional backstories feel clichéd, and some performances, while good, lack depth. If you’re expecting a nail-biting thriller, you might be disappointed with the film’s slower pace and underwhelming action sequences.

Kudimahaan (Amazon Prime)

Release Date: Mar 17, 2023
Directed by: N Prakash
Language: Tamil
Cast: Vijay Sivan, Chandini Tamilarasan, Suresh Chakravarthi

Detailed Review of Kudimahaan is here.

Plot Synopsis

Set against the backdrop of a typical Indian middle-class life, Kudimahaan is an intriguing and hilarious tale of a teetotaller turning into an alcoholic due to a rare medical condition. The movie focuses on the ensuing chaos and hilarity, as well as the man’s attempts to deal with this unpredictable twist in his life.

Why You Should Try

The movie offers an engaging blend of humor and genuine human emotions, brought to life by standout performances from Vijay Sivan, Chandini Tamilarasan, and Suresh Chakravarthy. It’s a light-hearted portrayal of ordinary people dealing with extraordinary circumstances. The narrative’s absurd humor and strong emotional undercurrent make it an entertaining watch. Director Prakash N manages to keep the audience engaged throughout with clever storytelling techniques and witty dialogues.

Why You Should Skip

If you are not a fan of situational comedies or prefer intense, action-packed dramas, Kudimahaan might not be your cup of tea. The film’s focus on humor, sometimes at the cost of a coherent plot, might come across as uneven for some viewers. Also, the sudden influx of new characters in the second half, and the seeming disconnect from the first half, may cause a disruption in the narrative flow.

Adai Mazhai Kaalam (Netflix)

Release Date: Jan 26, 2023
Directed by: Karthik Shamalan
Language: Tamil, Malaysia
Cast: Evarani, Jaykishen, Thia Lakshana

Adai Mazhai Kalam Trailer

Plot Synopsis

“Adai Mazhai Kaalam” traces the journey of Suriyan, a young man navigating the tumultuous terrain of love and relationships. The story unfolds as he embarks on a quest for unrequited love, with Chandra illuminating his path with her wisdom.

Why You Should Try

This emotional saga comes to life with noteworthy performances from Loga Varman and Thia Lakshana. The movie blends comical and emotional sequences adeptly, presenting an engaging narrative. It explores the complexities of love, self-discovery, and relationships, offering a thought-provoking perspective.

Why You Should Skip

The film might feel overwhelming if you’re not in the mood for an emotional rollercoaster. The intricate exploration of themes might require your full attention, and if you’re looking for light-hearted entertainment, this might not be your go-to choice.

UP 65 (Jio Cinema)

Release Date: Jun 8, 2023
Directed by: Gaganjeet Singh
Language: Hindi
Cast: Shine Pandey, Pritam Jaiswal, Rishabh Jaiswal

UP 65 Trailer

Plot Synopsis

“UP 65” is a series based on Nikhil Sachan’s hit novel, presenting a vibrant and heartwarming picture of college life at IIT Varanasi. The series follows a group of friends and their exploits during their college years, filled with friendship, romance, and the ups and downs of student life.

Why You Should Try

The series promises to take you back to the golden days of college, as the protagonists navigate through the excitement and challenges of student life. It’s a relatable and entertaining narrative, aimed at sparking nostalgia and making viewers relive their own experiences. With its setting in the lively city of Banaras, viewers will have the chance to experience a unique cultural backdrop and the local charm of the city.

Why You Should Skip

Those who do not resonate with college-themed dramas or who are looking for a more mature or serious narrative may not find this series appealing. The series seems to focus more on showcasing the lighter and fun aspects of college life, and may not delve deeper into the more emotional aspects of the transition to adulthood.

Bloody Daddy (Jio Cinema)

Release Date: Jun 8, 2023
Directed by: Ali Abbas Zafar
Language: Hindi
Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Amy Aela, Ankur Bhatia

Bloody Daddy Trailer

Plot Synopsis

“Bloody Daddy,” directed by Ali Abbas Zafar and starring Shahid Kapoor, follows the thrilling story of an NCB officer on a mission to save his son from a drug lord. This intense drama unfolds with unexpected turns as the officer finds himself in the midst of a web of complications.

Why You Should Try

“Bloody Daddy” promises high-stakes action and an engaging narrative as the protagonist battles against all odds to protect his son. Shahid Kapoor’s performance is highly anticipated, with a portrayal that seems to showcase his versatility as an actor. Fans of intense action thrillers, especially those with a heart-wrenching personal narrative, may find this movie particularly exciting.

Why You Should Skip

If you’re not a fan of violent action sequences or intense crime dramas, “Bloody Daddy” might not be your cup of tea. The film seems to center heavily around a cat-and-mouse chase, which could be seen as repetitive or less appealing to those seeking a more varied or intricate plot.

It’s a remake of the French film “Sleepless Nights”, which was previously made into the Tamil film Thoongaa Vanam, starring Kamal Haasan. Original is always original, try that instead.

#Mentoo (Aha)

Release Date: May 26, 2023
Directed by: Srikanth G Reddy
Language: Telugu
Cast: Riya Suman, Brahmaji, Naresh Agastya

#Mentoo Aha Trailer

Plot Synopsis

“Men Too”, with stars like Naresh Agastya, Kaushik Ghantasala, and Brahmaji, spins a compelling narrative about the rarely-addressed struggles men face. Aditya (Naresh Agastya), Sanju (Kaushik Ghantasala), and Munna (Mourya Siddavaram) are friends seen frequenting the ‘Stags Only’ pub. Their routine takes a turn when they encounter Rahul (Harsha Chemudu), an IT professional ousted over accusations of sexual misconduct. Rahul’s subsequent decisions shock everyone. Did Rahul really commit what he’s accused of? What unfolds next? The movie unravels these questions.

Why You Might Want to Watch

Naresh Agastya, once again, proves his versatility with his commendable portrayal of Aditya. Mourya’s portrayal of Munna, a mechanic with strong opinions about women, adds a humorous flavour. Harsha Chemudu leaves a mark with a significant role, despite limited screen time. The film’s humor, compelling dialogues, and notable visuals and music, particularly in the first half, make for an engaging watch.

Why You Might Want to Skip

If one expects an exploration of serious issues with light-hearted humor, the movie might disappoint. The director, Srikanth G Reddy, falls short of effectively showcasing men’s struggles through the lens of humour. The characters’ backstories are not particularly engaging and the motives for some actions, like the reason for Aditya and Tara’s break, appear trivial. The movie’s key theme isn’t adequately addressed in the second half and the music falls flat. Female characters seem underutilized, and some characters, like those of Brahmaji and Sudarshan, could have been fleshed out better.

For more movie reviews and sugegstions, click here.

Decoding South Cinema: Ideologies and Hinduism

How South Film Industries are different in their ideologies?
Are they Promoting Anti-Hindu elements? Why are Brahmins often targeted in Tamil films? Why is Tamil Movies are anti-Hindu or anti-God 😀 ? Is it a threat for Hinduism?

In recent times, there has been a prevailing notion among certain fanatic cyber warriors that Tamil and Malayalam movies are anti-Hindu, while Telugu movies are considered more pro-Hindu.

However, if you look closer, you will get a different narrative altogether. In this article, we will try to see a different shade of Tamil cinema (Kollywood) and explore how it is different from other industries.

If you don’t have much time, this is a short and sweet answer.

Neo Wave Tamil Cinema: Breaking the Shackles of Casteism & Oppression.

Tamil Movie Posters
Movie Posters

The Neo Wave Tamil cinema movement, led by directors like Vetri Maaran, Ram, and Mari Selvaraj, directly addresses the issue of casteism. These films aim to break down caste barriers and raise awareness about the oppressive nature of the power.

Dravidian Identity: A Counterbalance to Hindu Nationalism

Tamil cinema has a strong connection with promoting the Dravidian identity. Filmmakers like Karunanidhi and Pa. Ranjith have used their films to support the Dravidian movement, which challenges the dominance of Hindu nationalism promoted by right-wing ideologies. Regional parties in Tamil Nadu actively support and endorse this expression as it is closely tied to their existence.

Now, let’s see other industries, in south, and let’s understand, how they are diversified in their core.

Kannada Cinema: Celebrating Linguistic Pride and Ethnic Minorities

In Kannada cinema, there is a strong emphasis on celebrating the language and Kannadiga pride, especially in popular mainstream films featuring superstars.

Furthermore, the emerging neo-wave Kannada films (Shetty gang) embrace and highlight the cultural heritage of the region, including its ethnic minorities.

These films explore the conservative perspectives from the past, emphasising the significance of preserving one’s roots and heritage.

Malayalam Cinema: A Diversified Motives in Narratives

The Malayalam film industry can be categorized into three distinct genres.

Firstly, there are films that promote communism and align with left-liberal ideologies. These movies often reflect progressive and socially conscious narratives but heavily biased with communism.

Secondly, there are films that explore stories related to the Islamic faith, particularly centered around the Malabar region. These movies shed light on the unique cultural aspects and experiences of the Muslim community.

Lastly, there is a group of creators who address a range of social issues, including casteism, oppression, bureaucratic atrocities, conservative mindsets and body shaming.

They challenge prevailing neo-wave thoughts and contribute to a diverse cinematic landscape in Malayalam. Notable creators in this realm include Jithin Issac Thomas, Krishaand, Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval, Don Palathara, Lijo Jose Pellissery, Shyama Prasad and Arun Kumar Aravind.

One distinct feature of Mollywood compared to all other industries is, Mollywood won’t promote linguistic pride, rather it talks against regionalism.

Telugu Cinema: Multiple Shades of Saviours, United by a Common Goal: Profit

Telugu cinema presents a diverse range of narratives and ideologies but with a common root: Conservatism.

Tollywood’s inclination towards conservatism can be attributed to a significant diaspora audience residing abroad. Telugu movies often evoke a sense of nostalgia and cultural pride among this diaspora community, creating a strong connection and a feeling of pride in their heritage.

The Sukumar school of filmmaking strongly promotes native culture and conservative values rooted in the past. In contrast, the Balakrishna and NTR schools perpetuate the aura of royal lineage and uphold brahmanical racial purity.

Another significant aspect of Telugu cinema is its dedication to portraying Hindu mythology and its symbols. Directors like Trivikram, Rajamouli, Koratala Siva, and Boyapati Srinu lead the way in bringing these mythological narratives or symbols to life on the big screen.

Additionally, emerging talents in Telugu cinema are increasingly busy with promoting Telangana dialect and celebrating linguistic pride.

However, it is worth noting that Telugu films often do not explicitly address the social issues mentioned in other industries. Films like Viduthalai, Taramani, Kadaisi Vivasayi may be rare in the Telugu film industry.

Why Tollywood Is Not Getting A Renaissance

The Telugu film industry is largely governed by a few influential figures, and all of them belong to any of the 2-3 castes, either Kamma (NTR Family, ANR Family, Nani & Mahesh Babu) or Kapu (Mega Family) or Kshatriyas (Prabhas, Ravi Teja & Sunil).

Even the writers or lyricists belong to the same group, be it great lyricists or writers, like Aathreya, Aarudra, Sri Sri, Veturi, Sirivennela, Ramajogayya Sastry, Jonnavithula, Tanikella Bharani, Avasarala Srinivas, K Viswanath, or Trivikram (all are Brahmins, if I am not wrong, but that’s not the point; the point is representation and diversities of identities)…

Secondly, neo-producers often characterized as oligarchs, whose primary focus is on business profitability. Consequently, aspects beyond commercial considerations are often given secondary importance.

This can be observed in recent examples like Dasara, where initial expectations were high, but the final outcome turned out to be a mediocre mass film.

Where is Anti-Hinduism in South Films?

It is crucial to understand that Tamil cinema, alongside other regional film industries, is not anti-Hindu. On the contrary, it actively promotes social equality, addresses casteism, and incorporates Hindu philosophy in its unique way.

Do you remember the film “Arangetram” where a purohit’s daughter turns to prostitution to uplift her family’s fortunes?

picture of K Balachander, Kamal Hassan in Arangetram
K Balachander, Kamal Hassan in Arangetram

It’s been exactly fifty years since its release in 1973, directed by K. Balachander, a Tamil Iyer filmmaker often seen with holy ash on his forehead.

Being pro-Hindu or pro-any religion goes beyond blindly following orders or ideologies. It also entails the ability to criticize and refine, which is what makes Hinduism a liberal religion.

From Shankaracharya to K. Balachander, they all engaged in critiquing and fixing the system instead of blindly adhering to ancient manuscripts and commandments.

“Anti-Hindu” is a lens, if one holds extremely pro – Hindutva views, you will find any critic as a threat.

Now let me tell you a secret, that rarely people understands: It’s not only Telugu Films, Tamil Films are also great at promoting Hinduism. But both are not same.

How does Tamil cinema incorporate and promote Hindu philosophy?

For those interested in delving deeper, it’s worth noting that Tamil cinema is actually at the forefront of promoting Hinduism.

To learn more about how Tamil cinema promotes Hinduism, you can explore further details here.

Anti-Hindu or Pro-Hindu? Decoding Tamil Films’ Portrayal of Hinduism

This post is the continuation of “South Films & Hinduism”, if you haven’t read the first part, please read it here.

Understanding Ambiguity

The term “anti-Hindu” is an ambiguous word, leaving us wondering what truly constitutes a film as anti-Hindu. Does it require explicit portrayal of Hinduism or Hindutva or its symbols to be considered pro-Hindu?

And who has the authority to determine these categorizations?

Before answering these questions and understanding the anti-Hindu or pro-Hindu elements in the Tamil film industry, let’s talk about Hinduism and its nuances.

Exploring the Nuances

Through conversations with a diverse range of individuals, including liberals and ultra right-wing fanatics, I’ve discovered that the true depth and adaptability of Hinduism often go unnoticed.

When compared to Abrahamic religions, Hinduism stands out with its tolerance and flexibility, offering a unique perspective. Hindusim doesn’t believe in Supremacy of one god and it help the followers to be tolerant to other religions & beliefs.

Now, let us see the essence of Hindusim, through the lens of a liberalist.

Hinduism: Beyond Religion

Hinduism transcends conventional religious boundaries and encompasses a way of life and a rich cultural framework. It move into profound existential questions, explores the purpose of life, and intricately examines the relationship between humanity and the divine.

At its core, Hinduism is way of life (just like Democracy), shaping a holistic worldview (Loka samstha sukhino bhavanathu).

Fundamental Philosphies

To understand how South movies, especially Tamil films, promote Hinduism, it is essential to explore some of the unique philosophies within the religion.

These philosophies form the very foundation of many Tamil films, resonating with audiences and communicating profound messages.

The Cycle of Rebirth

Reincarnation, a central belief in Hinduism, explores the concept of the soul’s successive rebirth in new bodies after death.This aligns with the idea of a cyclic theory of time, where the divine takes multiple incarnations to restore cosmic harmony.

Sambhavami Yuge Yuge.. He incarnates again and again.

Yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati Bharata, abhyutthanam adharmasya tadatmanam srjamyaham.” (Chapter 4, Verse 7, Bhagavat Gita)

Translation: “Whenever there is a decline in righteousness and an increase in unrighteousness, O Arjuna, I manifest Myself on earth.”

Awe, Nenjam Marapathilley, Maanadu, 24 Movie posters
Awe, Nenjam Marapathilley, Maanadu, 24 Movie posters

From 1963 film “Nenjam Marappathillai” to Films like “Maanaadu,” or the bilingual film “Awe” directed by Prashanth Varma, or Suriya’s “24,” and Vishnu Vishal’s “Indru Netru Naalai” beautifully showcase this philosophy of reincarnation or cyclic theory of time.

Atman and Brahman

Hinduism introduces the concept of Atman, which refers to the individual self or soul. Hinduism believes that Atman is eternal and intricately connected to the god or divine power known as Brahman. Unlike the Abrahamic religions that view the soul as a distinct, separate entity created by God, Hinduism emphasizes the inseparability of the individual self (soul) from the divine.

The self is never born nor does it ever die; nor having come to be will it ever cease to be. The self is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying, and primeval.” (Chapter 2, Verse 20)

“Ayamatma Brahma” or “Aham Brahmasmi” are some vedic texts which supports this.

This fundamental philosphy is different from the idea of resurrection.

While Abrahamic religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism believe in the resurrection of the physical body in a transformed state, Hinduism presents a different perspective.

Tamil Films Promoting this Core Philosophies are many. Let’s explore a few remarkable examples:

Image credits: Amazon prime, anbe sivam quotes
Image credits: Amazon prime

Kamal Hassan’s “Anbe Sivam” (2003)

This thought-provoking film revolves around the concept of “Ayam Atma Brahma,” highlighting the belief that the divine essence resides within each of us. It celebrates the profound connection between individuals and the divine, fostering empathy, compassion, and spiritual growth.

Image credits: Amazon prime, Anbe sivam quotes
Image credits: Amazon prime

Bala’s “Naan Kadavul” (2009)

Directed by Bala, “Naan Kadavul” embodies the essence of Hindu philosophies with its exploration of divine intervention, the paths of karma, and the transformative power of devotion. It delves into the complexities of human existence, while emphasizing the cosmic interconnectedness between mortals and the divine.

Naan Kadavul Poster with "Aham Brahmasmi" tagline.
Naan Kadavul Poster with “Aham Brahmasmi” tagline.

“Karnan” by Mari Selvaraj

“Karnan” weaves a powerful narrative rooted in social justice and equality, drawing inspiration from ancient Hindu epics. It highlights the struggles of the marginalized and champions the notion of dharma (righteousness) against oppression, the hero is supported by the soul of his sister.

This list won’t ends here, it’s long.

Diverse Paths to Salvation

In Hinduism, individuals have the freedom to choose from multiple paths to attain spiritual liberation.This is in contrast to Abrahamic religions, which often advocate a more singular path to salvation

Karma Yoga

Karma Yoga advocates selfless service as a means to spiritual growth. It emphasizes performing actions with a sense of duty, without seeking personal gain. Tamil heroes often deliver dialogues that reflect this philosophy, inspiring audiences with the importance of altruistic heroism.

Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana, Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani.” (Chapter 2, Verse 47)

Krishna advises Arjuna to focus on his duty without being attached to the outcomes or being driven by personal desires. He emphasizes the importance of selfless action.

Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti Yoga focuses on devotion and love for the divine. It involves cultivating a deep and personal relationship with a chosen deity or form of the divine. While this philosophy was more prominent in the 80s and 90s, its representation has become relatively rare in contemporary Tamil cinema.

Jnana Yoga

Jnana Yoga centers around knowledge and wisdom. It emphasizes the pursuit of self-realization and understanding the true nature of oneself and the universe. Modern Tamil heroes and heroines often embody this philosophy, celebrating personal freedom and intellectual introspections.

Tamil Films Showcasing Diverse Paths & Moksha

Films like “Oh My Kadavule” (2020), Thiagaraja Kumaraja’s “Super Deluxe,” Vikram’s “Anniyan,” Manikandan’s “Kadaisi Vivasayi” and Suriya’s “7 am Arivu” serve as noteworthy examples that showcase the philosophy of diverse paths to salvation and talks about Moksha. These films explore different aspects of the paths to liberation, offering audiences thought-provoking narratives that inspire introspection and self-discovery.

A quote from the movie Kadaisi Vyavasai
A quote from the movie Kadaisi Vivasayi

Karma vs. Divine Judgment

Hinduism introduces the profound concept of Karma, where the consequences of one’s actions and intentions shape their future experiences and circumstances. Even God can’t escape Karma.

In contrast, Abrahamic religions emphasize the concept of divine judgment, where individuals are held accountable for their actions and face rewards or punishments in an afterlife.

In simpler terms, irrespective of prayers, good deeds, or repentance, Karma remains as a nasty b**ch which follows individuals throughout their lives. Tamil cinema frequently explores these themes, offering thought-provoking narratives that showcase this nasty face of Karma.

Prominent Examples which explore Karma in Tamil Cinema

Tamil films have explored the depths of Karma, presenting captivating stories that reflect the consequences of one’s actions.

Let’s explore some noteworthy examples:

Nalan Kumarasamy’s “Andavan Kattalai” examines the struggles of two individuals as they face the repercussions of their choices, illustrating the complex workings of Karma.

Kamal Hassan’s iconic film “Nayagan” portrays the journey of a gangster grappling with the Karmic consequences of his actions, ultimately seeking redemption.

Manikandan’s “Kutrame Thandanai” delves into the life of a man caught in a web of events driven by Karma, highlighting the impact of past actions on the present.

Two scenes from Thiagaraja Kumaraja’s Super Deluxe

Films like “Dashavatharam,” “Super Deluxe,” and “Katradhu Tamizh” also explore the themes of Karma, inviting audiences to contemplate the interconnectedness of actions and their consequences.

Dharma: Morality and Ethical Duties

Hinduism embraces the concept of Dharma, encompassing moral and ethical duties. It recognizes that moral standards can vary based on circumstances, life stages, and social roles.

Abrahamic religions often adhere to a divine commandments and sins, where moral standards are considered fixed and rooted in the commands of God. In Hinduism it’s not black and white, rather it’s grey.

The conversation between Arjuna and Krishna during at Kuruskhetra is the proof for this.

Better is one’s own dharma, though imperfectly performed, than the dharma of another well-performed. Better is death in one’s own dharma; the dharma of another is fraught with fear.” (Chapter 3, Verse 35)

Filmmaker Thiagaraja Kumaraja aptly captures this philosophy in his own words, “Yethu Thevaio Athu Dharamam” (What we need is Dharma).

Films like “Aaranya Kaandam” and “Super Deluxe” illustrate this philosophy, where the concepts of right and wrong become blurred. These works challenge viewers to navigate through the shades of gray, exploring the complexities of morality and the multifaceted nature of human actions.

A Scene from Super Deluxe

There is nothing absolute right or wrong; it’s all depending upon the lenses and the needs. Essentially, It’s about you and your survival.

Maya: The Illusion of the Material World:

Hinduism introduces the concept of Maya, acknowledging that the phenomenal world is an illusion, and true reality lies beyond the perceptions of the senses.

In contrast, Abrahamic religions generally consider the physical world as real, created by god and not inherently illusory.

The wise mourn neither for the living nor for the dead.” (Chapter 2, Verse 11)

Once again, director Thiagaraja Kumaraja delves into the concept of maya in his recent film “Ninaivo Oru Paravai,” questioning the boundaries between reality and imagination.

To read more about Ninaivo Oru Paravai click here.

Even Thiagaraja Kumaraja’s “Super Deluxe” talks about the same in the end with the characters alien and Gajji.

Vijay Sethupathi's disappearing scene from Kadaisi Vivasayi
Vijay Sethupathi’s disappearing scene from Kadaisi Vivasayi

Films like “Bogan” by Lakshman, “Awe” by Prashanth Verma, “Kadaisi Vivasayi” (Vijay Sethupathi track) by Manikandan, “Diary” by Arulnithi, “Eeram” by Arivazhagan, “Karnan” by Mari Selvaraj, and “Deja Vu” by Arvind Srinivasan also touch upon the theme of Maya. One personal favorite is Nalan Kumarasami’s “Soodhu Kavvum.

These films challenge our perception of reality, inviting us to contemplate the illusory nature of the material world and the deeper truths that lie beyond.

Panentheism: Divine Presence in Nature

One striking aspect of Hinduism is its belief in panentheism, acknowledging the divine presence within all aspects of the natural world.

This one is my personal favourite philosophy considering Hinduism as a way of life. All the ancient civilisations followed this.

This sets it apart from the monotheistic beliefs of Abrahamic religions, which emphasize the existence of a singular God or Supreme God.

Hinduism perceives the divine as immanent within nature and all living beings.

I remember when I was a child, I was scared of a centipede and tried to kill it. Then my grandma shouted at me, “Lakshmi Devi” will curse me if I kill a centipede. Because the centipede is Lakshmi Devi’s chariot. This might sound ridiculous, but there is a strong impact on nature. After that incident I never intentionally hurt any animals or reptiles, be they a snake, a spider, a lizard, or a dog. It’s a fear, for a good cause.

Everything in nature is related to God. From Ganges, Himalayas, Rats, Snakes to even Ashes.

This pantheistic approach fosters a deep sense of interconnectedness, reverence, and responsibility towards the nature..

Environmental Conservation and Sustainability

Hinduism’s panentheistic perspective aligns harmoniously with efforts towards environmental conservation and sustainability. By recognizing the divinity in nature, Hinduism instills a profound respect for and protection of the environment. It promotes the idea that humans have a sacred duty (dharma) to preserve and care for the natural world, perceiving it as an integral part of their spiritual journey.

The film “Kadaisi Vivasayi” directed by Manikandan, serves as a remarkable example that exemplifies these themes.

Kadaisi Vivasayi’s title card is shown with a shot of a peakcock on the rock and a song in the background, which translates to “Whether you are a figment of imaginations or an idol made by humans, Muruga, you have a boundless devotion.”

In the movie, later, the farmer asks the court, “How can I kill Murugan’s peacocks?” Will write another post on this soon.

Through the portrayal of peacocks, paddy fields, trees, and stones as divine entities, the movie beautifully captures the interconnectedness between humans and the natural world.

Farmer talking about his paddy fields

It emphasizes the significance of living in harmony with nature, showcasing the traditional practices of elderly farmers who deeply respect and protect the environment.

Personal Freedom and Fanaticism

It is essential to note that the philosophies discussed here aim to empower individuals rather than impose religious dogmas or the authority of a godman.

That is why I said, Hinduism is a way of life.

Unfortunately, some fanatics distort these philosophies in the name of culture and heritage, thereby disrupting the true essence of this “way of life” nature of Hinduism.

I have heard stories from my friends about the challenges they face when it comes to inter-religious marriages. They often share the consequences they encounter from church communities and religious dogmas.

In many cases, if they marry someone from another religion, the expectation is that the non-islamic partner must convert, or else the community may resort to ostracizing the family.

It’s disheartening to witness the impact of such rigid beliefs on personal choices and the potential for social exclusion.

Thankfully, as a Hindu, I have the freedom to marry a girl from any community without interference from temples or pandits. However, I am concerned that these fanatics may soon infringe upon this freedom of choice in the name of religion and culture.

In my opinion, those who attempt to confine this vast philosophy within rigid structures and commandments are the ones who are anti-Hindu.

On the other hand, those who promote the philosophy and question or criticise the evils in beliefs can be considered pro-Hindu.

Comment your thoughts.