There was an error in this gadget

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Mohenjo Daro Trailer: My Thoughts

I am a history nerd. I have loved history ever since I can remember back to my earliest existence. And because I’m also a movie buff, it is only natural that I love historical films or period dramas. My tryst with such films from the stables of Bollywood has not been good. Most of them are plainly stupid to be honest, both in terms of their execution and authenticity. Filmmakers in Bollywood have perhaps the worst track record when it comes to making period films.

When it comes to various aspects of such films, the portrayal of the era concerned through the medium of costumes, sets and events depicted, clearly shows that Bollywood has little regards for such things. This is why a horrendous film like Asoka exists which is nothing but a direct insult to perhaps the greatest ruler India has ever produced.

The reason I’m even writing this piece is because I had several thoughts after watching the new trailer for the upcoming film, Mohenjo Daro. The announcement of this project a couple of years back had gotten me really excited. As a history nerd, the Indus Valley Civilisation is one of my favourite eras of Indian history. Very little is known about that era, the people, their lifestyle and culture, their language, etc. All this because their script still remains undeciphered. But there is still enough archaeological findings and other evidences that paint a rough picture as to what kind of people they were. Even with such findings, a filmmaker can make a rather decent movie about that era backed up with a solid script and research.

First came in the film’s motion poster. I really liked it. They used actual scripts from the Indus Valley era into the motion poster as they conjured up to reveal the film’s name in English. That was clever, I thought. So I waited for further reveals from the makers.

And then came the posters featuring the hero and heroine of the movie. Hrithik Roshan looked decent in the poster, though it was rather hard for my mind to digest that he looked like a guy from that era. Most historians have imagined Indus Valley people to be darker skinned and even having a mixed population of various races such as negritos, proto australoids and mongoloids. And Roshan here looked like a Greek god in every single frame. Well Bollywood, I give up on this one! 

But the poster featuring the heroine dashed all my hopes of the movie being historically authentic. Pooja Hegde is dressed in a designer gown with a deep cut cleavage and even a cut in the lower gown from below to reveal her left leg. Clearly, this dress looks more like one of those outlandish gowns that you end up seeing in a fashion week parade. The decoration of bird feathers on her head gear further convinced me that the makers have taken too much of a liberty while depicting things in this film. There is a very thin line that differentiates between authenticity and stupidity. This film may cross that barrier on several occasions, it seems.

Now let me say that I like Ashutosh Gowariker as a filmmaker. He and Sanjay Leela Bhansali are still better directors to handle period dramas compared to other directors in today’s Bollywood. Also, the way he has tackled the concerned eras in films like Lagaan and Jodhaa Akbar clearly show that he is better equipped in handling such topics. But the new trailer for Mohenjo Daro clearly shows that perhaps this is out of even Gowariker’s league.

The Indus Valley Civilisation is India’s first civilisation and is one of the world’s oldest. It was a contemporary culture to the Mesopotamian Civilisation of Iraq and the Egyptian Civilisation. This civilisation predates India’s recorded history and is a precursor to the Hindu civilisation that was brought in by the Aryans after its decline in about 1700 B.C. Whatever we know of this era is from the archaeological findings that include pottery, toys, jewellery, seals, metal and stone equipments, and other such artifacts. The biggest hurdle to uncovering the mysteries of this civilisation has been that the script still remains undeciphered. It was an urban civilisation and had some of the world's largest cities from that era.

Watching the trailer was quite interesting for me. It didn’t blow me away obviously, but it left me wondering as to why a filmmaker like Gowariker gave in to so many historical anomalies while making this film. I’m only judging from what I saw in the trailer. We’re yet to see the movie. Perhaps I’ll be blown away then. Or maybe it will turn into another comedy show for me just like other period films from Bollywood.

My first gripe with this film is that throughout the film, the city is referred to as Mohenjo Daro. Mohenjo Daro is a Sindhi word which means ‘mound of the dead.’ This was the name given by the locals to the excavation site when archaeologists first dug up the ruins there. Why would anyone name their city as ‘mound of the dead’ in the Indus Valley era? It simply shows that Gowariker didn’t do his research well. Compared to this, Amish did a better job. The novelist has used the Indus Valley Civilisation as a backdrop in his Shiva Trilogy novels and there he uses the word Meluha to depict the entire Indus civilisation as a country. Why is it authentic? Because ancient Mesopotamian records referred to the Indus country as Meluha. In my opinion this would have made much sense then taking recourse to the modern era Sindhi name for the city. They could have chosen any name that would have seemed relevant to that era. Since the language and script of the Indus people are still unknown, it is a world open to interpretation. But sticking to the modern name does not make sense to me.

The recreation of the city has been done well, as per me. Most of it is all just visual effects, and though they look fake in many shots, the arrangements and depiction of the city has been done well. Gowariker has taken note that most structures of the city of Mohenjo Daro did not have more than two storeys, and this is seen clearly in the long shots of the city that are shown in the trailer. But the effects are not done right. The problem is that after watching a film like Baahubali, we cannot accept any substandard visual effects in our movies anymore. Special mention must be made of the one shot where the crocodile jumps out of the water and plunges at Hrithik in the river. That looked hilarious and fake as fuck! Since when did crocodiles start imitating dolphins while preying? Even the river dolphins don’t make such high jumps out of the water for any reason.

The costumes too look quite poor. Most of the costumes that the peasants have been shown to wear look like recycled items from the sets of Lagaan. They look more like what a peasant would wear during the Mughal or British era. I had a facepalm moment when a certain shot revealed a character who was walking behind Hrithik in a shot as wearing a lower garment which appeared more like a half pant and not even a proper dhoti. Ugh!!!!! If we go by the dresses depicted in the seals and statues excavated from the Indus Valley sites, the dressing sense of that era was quite minimalistic. Both men and women used to wear one piece cloths and not stitched items. More emphasis was put on jewellery for body decoration, which was made largely from carnelian beads and other precious stones. Gold was largely unknown to these people and hence it was not much in use. The men have been depicted as wearing turbans in the movie, which I am not very comfortable with since the turban as a headgear is more associated with the later Aryans than with this era.

The trailer also revealed that the film has a few more historical errors, which may not go much into the eyes of the general public, but for a history nerd like me, those are glaring defects. Firstly, horses are shown in the city. Let me make it clear that horses were largely unknown to the Indus people. They domesticated the bull and used it extensively for various purposes. But showing horses is a major error in my eyes. Horses did not make their appearance on the Indian subcontinent before the Aryans came and they brought them in from the Central Asian steppes.

Another gripe I have is that the river Indus has been referred in the movie as ‘Sindhu Mata’ or a river mother. This is funny because the Indus has always been called a male river just like the Brahmaputra and Nile. Now one can argue that nobody knows as to how the Indus Valley people referred to the river Indus as. So that makes it open for interpretation. But it still becomes rather uneasy for me to digest.

I must say though that apart from the depiction of the city, another thing that the film gets right through the trailer atleast is that it acknowledges there was no proper currency system in the Indus Valley era. I was quite thrilled when Hrithik’s character Sarman makes a reference to Lapis Lazuli as a means of financial transaction. The ancient Indus Valley people largely practiced the barter system and used semi-precious stones like lapis lazuli and carnelian beads as means of transactions. Cattle were also used as a means of transaction here. So I’m glad that the film will get atleast some aspects of the Indus Valley era right, if not all of them.

I will not rant about the regular song and dance routine of Bollywood in the film. This is something that is expected of Bollywood and nothing can be done about it. The costumes look stupid and hence the songs will also be awkward to watch. I just hope the music and choreography don’t degenerate to the level of those from Asoka. But again, someone like A.R. Rahman has given the music, so I’m sure we will have a few good songs to say the least.

But I must state here that the person who edited the trailer is a complete idiot. He literally gave away the entire plot and during my first viewing I felt as if I had seen a gist of the entire movie in less than three minutes. We literally know here that Hrithik comes in as part of a prophecy to save the city, falls in love with the girl, gets into trouble with the evil king and his henchmen and eventually leads a revolt against the city’s rulers. In my opinion, a trailer should reveal less about the film’s plot and intrigue the audience more with clever visuals. This was not the case here. In fact, half of my excitement for this film vanished as soon as I saw the trailer.

Do I still want to go and watch the movie when it comes out? Hell yeah! This is the first time that the Indus Valley Civlisation would be depicted on the big screen and I would not pass up the chance to see it for anything. I may end up liking the movie as I have done with Gowariker’s earlier period dramas. Or maybe it will give me heartache and headache as it happened with Asoka. But anyways, I’m willing to give this film a chance and I shall enter the theatre with low expectations from the movie. I advise you do the same as well.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A Bird Lover’s Paradise

Watching birds is something I have enjoyed a lot ever since I was child. Around the year, quite a variety of birds land in our house’s compound and hence I had a good time watching and observing them throughout my childhood. When I grew older and got into photography, I started capturing their images and hence this hobby took me to various places in search of different types of birds. But one place that is perhaps my favourite birds watching spot of all is the Deepor Beel.

The Deepor Beel has been a treat for bird lovers at Guwahati and has been a getaway for people like me who prefer for some isolation from the noise and daily humdrum of the busy city life. It is the perfect setting where you have a huge lake, hills on one side, farming fields on the far distance and lots of birds to satiate your curiosity.

Situated in the south western side of Guwahati, the Beel is located on the NH 31 and lies between Garchuk and Jalukbari. The area is quite huge and a broad gauge railway also skirts on one side of the lake. The Beel was first made a bird’s sanctuary in 1989 and then a protected wetland in 2002.

I’m not the only one who enjoys holding a camera in hand and scouring the lakeside looking for exotic birds. While you can visit the Beel area any time of the year, it is advisable to go there during the winters. That is the time when several species of migratory birds come in for their annual breeding. It becomes quite a sight to behold and clearly the observers can watch these birds from a safe distance and learn first-hand information about them.

Ornithologists have recorded about 219 species of birds that can be seen in the Deepor Beel area. This includes over 70 species of migratory birds that come in during the winters.  During the rest of the year, you shall find several birds species like the egrets, pond herons, storks, cormorants and even pelicans. These are the birds that you will see roam among the water as they prey for fishes. Off the water, you will find several other species such as the red-vented bulbul, sparrows, drongos, hoopoes, woodpeckers and many more. Among the migratory birds that I have found to be frequent to spot are the Siberian crane, barn swallows, Asian open-billed storks, pied wagtails, yellow wagtails and several varieties of ducks and other birds. Because of its closeness to the Rani and Garbhanga reserve forests on the south, the Beel is also frequented by herds of elephants that come for an occasional drink and a bath. I, though, have never witnessed a single elephant during my visits there. Apart from elephants, other animals that can be found around the Beel area are leopards, wild cats, porcupines, barking deer and spotted deer.

The Beel is a source of livelihood for several of the villages around it whose fishermen depend on it. Boats moving around the lake are a common sight here as the fishermen throw their net into the water hoping for a good catch of freshwater fish. What is heartening is that overfishing is never the case here and the local people are also well aware of the need to preserve this rich piece of wetland to sustain the ecosystem of the area. There have been serious cases of land cutting, waste water disposal and land grabbing in the vicinity that has raised serious concerns regarding the dangers faced by the Beel’s ecosystem. Hunting and trapping of birds happens occasionally and more manpower is needed for the authorities to look into these matters. Thankfully, the local people realise it and have been active with several groups and NGOs to counter these maladies and keep the Beel fit for all purposes.


The Deepor Beel is very important for Guwahati and its surrounding ecosystem in the sense that it provides for a natural heritage to exist within easy reach for the citizens of Guwahati to enjoy. Bird lovers like me enjoy hours roaming along the Beel area and it is an easy way to connect ourselves with nature in its unadulterated form and experience its beauty and majesty right in front of our eyes. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Exploring the Cole Park

I love Tezpur. I have always called it the cleanest city in Assam, and recently the WHO gave it the distinction of being the cleanest city in India. Having my paternal roots to the city and its nearby areas, I have loved this city ever since I was a child during our visits there. It is a beautiful city that has so much to offer in terms of sightseeing. Though the options are many here, my favourite among the lot is definitely the Cole Park.

Located in the central portion of the city, Cole Park is a basically a park built around an archaeological site. Recently, after undergoing renovation, it was renamed as the Chitralekha Udyan. But old timers like us still refer to it as the Cole Park.

Once you enter the place, it takes you into a surreal world of bygone era where Assam’s ancient history comes out alive. The archeological remains here affirm that it was originally built during 9th or 10th century A.D. The prime attraction of the park is the two majestic pillar constructions in stone with exceptional carvings that is believed to be the remains of Bamuni hills built during the 9th century.

Some of the most exquisite statues and structures that one can ever think of seeing out in the open and not inside a museum can be found here. There are statues that show dancers in exquisite poses, nymphs in groups on certain stone panels and also rock structures that have been kept in the exact same positions when they were found out. They point out to the majestic structures that once stood on the spot ages ago. Most obviously, the highlight among these stone structures is the main panel of pillars that is the central attraction of the place and houses a rock panel with engravings of several gods on it. This was the main portion of the temple that used to exist on the spot.

Another attraction is the famous Bhomoraguri inscription that explains the ancient strategy of building bridges across the river Brahmaputra. At present, the Kolia Bhomora Setu or the bridge that is built with concrete exists across the river. The ancient Bhomoraguri inscription is kept in the park for public view. This ancient strategic inscription describes the intellectual approach to the construction or engineering strategy of bridges that is relevant even today. The Kolia Bhomora Setu is named after one of the greatest Ahom generals that Assam ever saw in its history.

Another attraction of the park is the horseshoe shaped lake where paddling and rowing are allowed. Several exhibitions are also conducted in the park. It is a great picnic spot for students and school children as the place serves the purpose of recollection of historical importance and recreational activities. Limited yet exciting amusements are the major attractions for children. The display of jet fighter model MIG 21 of Indian Air Force and concrete made map of India never fails to get the attention of children and adults alike. Over the years, the place has added other attractions as well such as bumping cars, restaurants and others. But the main attraction remains the archaeological remains that mesmerise everyone who visits the place.

The Cole Park is also located close to other worthy sightseeing spots of Tezpur such as Agnigarh Hill and Padum Lake. Though one can visit the park at any time of the year, I highly recommend you to go there during the winters. If by luck there is a mild fog in the area, the archaeological remains among the mist gives out a surreal feel of other worldliness. It is a feeling which can only be experienced, but never described properly. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Experiencing Shiva in the midst of Nature

Guwahati is home to some very holy sites of Hinduism. Everyone is familiar with Kamakhya Temple. And now more and more people are visiting the other temples of Guwahati such as Umananda and Navagraha. But one temple that is still not many people’s knowledge is the Bhimashankar Templee that is situated at Pamohi on the outskirts of Guwahati.

Nestled within the surroundings of trees and flowing streams, the Bhimashankar Temple is perhaps the most unique spot that devotees will find to worship Lord Shiva. This temple is situated on the Dakini hill at Pamohi and situated near to the famed Deepor Beel birds sanctuary. You can take the Pamohi road from Garchuk on NH 37 to reach the temple.

The unique thing about this site is there is no proper temple structure. It is basically an open air temple surrounded by trees and the Jyotirlinga resides among the rocks that has a stream flowing around it that comes up from the nearby hills. Devotees consider this to be the 6th Dwadash Jyotirlinga and is one of the twelve Jyotirlinga temples situated all over India. References to this temple can be found in religious texts like Shiva Purana and Koti Rudra Samhita, where it is stated that the Bhimashankar Jyotirlingam is situated in Dakini.

Legend has it that this temple is situated on the spot where Lord Shiva killed a demon named Bhimasura to save his devotee Kamrupeshwara, the then king of Kamrup. Bhimasura has been refered to as the son of Kumbhakarna, Ravana’s brother from Ramayana, and Karkati, the daughter of the king of the underworld. At the requests of the gods, Shiva transformed himself into a Jyotirlinga at that very spot and made that place his abode. It is said that sweat from Shiva’s body that fell down to the ground formed the Bhimarathi river that flows down through the Jyotirlinga and the surrounding rocks today in the form of the stream.

Apart from the main Jyotirlinga, there are sites for the worship of other gods and goddesses in the area as well. Before you reach the temple site, you reach a Ganesh temple on the hilly road. At the temple site, there are also monolithic manifestations of various gods and goddesses such as Parvati, Ganesh, Durga and others. The river stream which flows from among the Jyotirlinga and its surrounding rocks flows in five different directions and is known as Panchadhara.

It is advisable to visit the temple during the winter months and avoid going there during the rainy season as continuous landslides make it unsafe. Most of the people living around the area of the temple belong to the Karbi and Bodo tribes. Even the main priest is a Karbi and other members of the temple trust are Karbis and Bodos and not strictly Brahmins as is seen mostly with other Hindu temples.

It is a most unique temple that any devotee of Shiva will visit as it makes a beautiful site of religious surrounded by the radiance of nature. The flowing stream and the sounds of its gushing waters make the experience surreal as you sit in front of the Jyotirlinga and pray. Even people who are not very religious will find this place interesting because of its beautiful natural setting. This place is worth paying a visit for anybody who wants to experience peace of mind while sitting on a road amid gushing waters of a stream. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Meet the Rhinos!

The rhino is the pride of Assam. We here have the most sizeable population of the one-horned rhinoceros on the planet. We have a reason to feel pride over this magnificent beast. While we know that rhinos are found in Africa as well, there is a misconception among many of us that rhinos are found nowhere else but Africa and Assam. This is not so. We are hosts to one of the species of the greater Rhinocerotidae family that hold five species in total.

Many of us also think that rhinos are found only in Assam and nowhere else in India. This again is wrong. The Indian one-horned rhino is distributed in the states of Assam, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. In Bengal, the rhino is found in the reserved forests of Gorumara and Jaldapara in the Dooar region and in Uttar Pradesh, they are in the Dudhwa and Katarniaghat reserved forests. But yes, without doubt, Assam takes away the prize in having the highest population of rhinos in India. But again the Indian rhino is not found in India alone and there is a presence of around 645 individuals in the reserved forests of neighbouring Nepal, with the highest number being in the Chitwan National Park. 

Out of India, we are well familiar with the two-horned rhinos of Africa. These beasts are marginally larger than the Indian rhino and often have massive horns in comparison to the smaller ones of the Indian variety, which give them the most majestic look in the rhino family. African rhinos are divided into two species of the white rhinoceros and the black rhinoceros. These two types of rhinos dominate the African landscape and the white variety has the largest population of a rhino species in the world. The white rhino is divided into the northern variety and the southern variety depending on their distribution throughout the African continent. The black rhino is spread all over the continent.

Out of Africa, the continent of Asia houses three species of rhinos. Apart from the Indian rhino, the other two are the Javan rhino and the Sumatran rhino. The Javan rhino is very similar in appearance to the Indian rhino but is smaller in size. It is found on the island of Java in Indonesia and is on the verge of extinction. According to an estimate only about 60 remain, all in the wild. They are single horned and are considered to be a sub species of the Indian rhino, but their smaller size and exclusive availability on the Javan island has given them the distinction of being a separate species.

The last remaining species in the global rhino family is the Sumatran rhino which is found in the jungles of the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. This is a unique rhino and has a seemingly different appearance from the rest of the rhinos in the world. It is two-horned but they are not as big as those of their African cousins. This is the smallest rhino species in the world and does not possess an armoured covering but a hide like that of a boar. Also it is the only rhino species that has body hair on it. Also, it beak like mouth gives it a distinct look from the rest of the rhinos in the world. This is also a critically endangered species and about 275 of them remain today.

Rhinos are a fascinating species. They are a force of brute strength and are perhaps one of the most well armoured animals created by nature. Though they may appear peaceful, they are known for being short tempered and are very protective about themselves and their territories. Even predators like lions and tigers do not dare to go up against them. The Sumatran rhino is considered to be the most docile among them and is not very aggressive in nature.

Rhinos have always fascinated me. I have always been awed by the presence of these magnificent creatures during my visits to Kaziranga and Pobitora. They are one of the oldest surviving species on the planet. Having descended from the woolly rhinoceroses of the bygone Ice Ages in the prehistoric era, the rhinoceros was once spread throughout the continents of Africa and Asia. By the end of the 20th century, rhinos vanished from everywhere in Asia except India, Nepal, Java and Sumatra. In India and Nepal, they remain confined to certain pockets of protected forests.

Poaching is the single biggest threat to the rhino today. Kaziranga continues to witness rhino killings by poachers occasionally. Although their numbers have increased over the years, the continuous activity of the poachers is a major cause of worry. The Javan and Sumatran rhinos are on the verge of extinction and if strong steps are not taken to protect them then we might lose them in this century. The illegal trade in rhino horn has been the biggest cause of worry here and it will not be over till the governments of various countries take steps to eradicate this evil trade for good.

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Fantastic Desi Dog

There is something unusually fantastic about the desi dog. It’s a dog breed we see daily out on the streets and everywhere else. Many people keep it as pets although it is not really seen as a classy option for a pet. But there is something absolutely fantastic about this breed of dog that makes it different from the rest of the imported breeds that we come across and makes it unique and special in its own way.

Speaking in more professional terms, the desi dog is known among pet lovers as the Indian Native Dog or the INDog. It is a species native to the Indian subcontinent and is a part of the worldwide family of pariah dogs who are the direct genetic descendants of wolves without any hybridisation. The Indian pariah dog is a part of the same global family from which belong some of the oldest surviving dog breeds such as the Canaan Dog of Israel and Dingo of Australia.

Desi dogs are often dismissed as street dogs or mongrels with little value as pets. They are not seen as a viable option by affluent pet keepers and are often ignored in favour of breeds imported from outside. Almost every dog breed in India apart from the desi dog is an imported variety. But desi dogs are unique in their own ways and are perhaps best suited to be man’s best friend as per the standards and conditions of India. They are rarely kept as pets among the rich and affluent but are widely accepted among the lower sections of society as good pets. The thing with them is that they are readily available everywhere and there is no breeding programme for them as is the case with the imported breeds. Anybody can pick up a desi dog from anywhere on the streets and keep it as a pet without having to worry for paying for it.

Nowadays many animal NGOs and pet foundations have organised drives for people to adopt desi dog puppies. This is a more systematic and proper way to adopt a desi dog instead of just randomly picking any one puppy from the street.

The desi dog has many advantages to its credit that the imported breeds do not have. India is a country with a largely hot and tropical climate. Most imported dogs are not suited for such a hot climate and hence extra efforts need to be taken to keep them confortable. This is not so with the desi dog. They are acclimatised to withstand hot temperatures and can easily survive in the hot Indian summer, something which is rather difficult for the imported breeds. The desi dog also has a thin fur coat which makes it a better survivor in a hot country like India. Their thin and coarse fur coats make it easier for their owners to maintain them as they don’t need much grooming. Bathing them just once a week is more than enough to keep them clean and healthy.

Speaking of the health part, these dogs are also sturdily built and are not prone to diseases. They are a hardy breed of dogs as they have the original hunter genes of their ancestors who directly descended from wolves which makes them very energetic by nature. Hence they do not contract many diseases during their lifetimes and live up to a long lifespan of around ten years.

The desi dog is perhaps one of the most intelligent breed of dogs in the world. They are very easy to train and can be very good guard dogs. They learn tricks fast and are ever alert. They have a strong sense of smell and have been very helpful in sniffing out explosives in the Naxal affected areas of the country. I come from a family that has always kept desi dogs as pets and our experience in training them has been very pleasant. They are loyal, level headed and very good when it comes to being watchdogs.

These dogs also make great additions to the family and are comfortable with people around them. They are fun to play with and can become a member of your family in no time.

Desi dogs deserve the love and respect that imported breeds normally get in our country. These are a species of dogs indigenous to our country and we should strive to making them popular among the masses and also globally as pets. They are the best suited pets for India as per climate and other standards. If you are planning to adopt a puppy in the future, go for a desi dog. I guarantee you will not regret it. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Biswanath Ghat, the abode of Shiva

Assam has many tourist gems which are not well known among the general public. One such gem is the Biswanath Ghat which is located near Biswanath Chariali town in the recently formed Biswanath district.

A view of the river beach along the Brahmaputra 

Located on the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra, the place is named after the ancient Biswanath temple. It is called Gupta Kashi, in comparison with Kashi during the golden rule of the Guptas. Going by popular sayings, Kashi was home to temples housing about 330 million gods and goddesses. The ghat has a cluster of more than 100 temples in the vicinity. A Shiva temple, which was the erstwhile Biswanath temple, was located at the confluence of Bridhaganga (Burigonga) river with Brahmaputra. But now what is left of it are just the stone posts, beams and other ruins. During the summer the temple remains under water. Only in winter, worship is done by constructing temporary shed which draws lots of tourists. 

Biswanath Ghat, though a religious place, makes for a perfect tourist destination during the winters. The water level of the Brahmaputra recedes with the coming of the winter and gives way to lush golden riverine sand beaches for tourists to explore. The lowered water level also brings most of the rocks in the small riverine bay out from below the water and they make a magnificent view.

A view of the riverine bay at Biswanath Ghat 

There is also an island is present nearer this Biswanath Ghat which is known as island of Umatumuni. This island is a tourist spot as it houses a tourist lodge and also some remnants of an old temple. Just on the opposite bank of the Brahmaputra lies the majestic Kaziranga National Park, and in the far distance, you can see the hills of Karbi Anglong. 

People are also highly recommended to visit the place during the festival of Rongali Bihu. The third day of the festival, known as Goxai Bihu, becomes a big affair here as devotees gather in large numbers to join in the festivities and take out a religious procession in the area.

The Bordol Temple 

The ghat has several temples and many of them are worthy of looking around. A new Biswanath temple was built in the village in the area and it is worth paying a visit to. There are several smaller temples in the area and it is said that there are many more yet to be discovered which lie hidden or remain submerged under the river. Perhaps the most magnificent temple to be seen here is the Bordol Temple built by the Ahom king Rajeswar Singha. This temple has the same architectural design of the famous Shiva Dol temple of Sivasagar and is a brilliant example of the Ahom style of architecture.

Reaching Biswanath Ghat is not a problem. Once you reach Biswanath Chariali town, you can either take a taxi or an autorickshaw to the place which about 30 minutes away from the town. There are also several options of hotels and lodges in the town as well.

Biswanath Ghat makes a great option to visit along with family and friends during if you in the mood for some exploration and adventure. The place’s picturesque beauty will leave you spellbound and will continue to haunt you to make another visit sooner than you will think.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Reliving the golden era of comic books

Reading comic books is a pretty much dead trend nowadays in India. The number of people who read comics today is quite miniscule to the number that used to exist about twenty years back. Our entire childhood and early teens went away in the pursuit of collecting as many of the best comic book titles that were available back then.

Comic book reading as a hobby thrived throughout the 90s decade and died a slow but gradual death in the 2000s with the advent of internet and wider medium of entertainments along with it. In the last one decade, I have not come across one child who reads comic books. The few ones who do only do so because they happen to have a few stray copies in their possession or they came across older issues that were preserved by their parents or older siblings. But in my opinion, active comic book reading as a hobby has pretty much died out in India. Comic book reading exists today among a small group of enthusiasts throughout the country. Most of these readers are familiar with American titles from publishers such as DC and Marvel. The yearly holding of Comic Cons in various metropolitan cities does help keep the spark alive. But it is no longer the rage it used to be.

Most of the classic comic book characters have died out from public memory and the newer generation is pretty much unaware of them. Characters like Phantom, Mandrake, Flash Gordon, Garth, Rip Kirby, etc used to be widely popular among the masses during the 70s and 80s due to the publications of the legendary Indrajal Comics. Once that brand died out in 1990, these characters faded away. Diamond Comics continues publishing Phantom and Mandrake issues during the 90s, but the others just vanished after that. Along with these, the advent of the 90s saw the death of certain comic book characters that were indigenous to our country. Two of the most popular characters in this category are Inspector Vikram and Bahadur. While the inspector’s adventures centred on combating dacoits in the notorious Chambal valley, Bahadur too battled dacoits and other forms of organised crime as well. It is safe to assume that because of the existence of these characters, we saw the emergence of more popular comic book heroes such as Nagraj, Doga and even Chacha Chaudhary in the 90s.

While characters from DC and Marvel may be the favourites during the 90s and today as well thanks to Hollywood’s current infatuation with them, back in the 70s and 80s, most of the Indian youth rocked to the adventures of the Indrajal heroes. These comics were the first foreign origin ones to be translated into vernacular languages such as Hindi, Bengali, etc. While famous cartoon characters like Tintin and Asterix also got translated into vernaculars around the same time, they never reached out to the mass readers the way the Indrajal heroes did. Their reach extended to far flung areas of the country and influenced youngsters into being a part of the greater pop culture that Indian youth was experiencing back then. In several areas of the northeast, Indrajal Comics sold like hot cakes upon their arrival. The English, Hindi and Bengali versions were big hits in the towns of Assam and most of the older generations who grew up in the 70s or 80s identify solidly with Phantom just as 90s and today’s youngsters identify with characters like Batman or Superman.

The effect of these comics in remote areas such as northeast was immense. Back in the 70s and 80s, communication was quite backward in most of the region. TV had not yet made a dent into the homes here and radio was widely popular but lacked in the visual medium. These comics became the source of entertainment for millions of youngsters who sought adventure and icons among characters such as Phantom and Mandrake. When I browse through the old issues of these comics, I find that there are several instances where letters of fans from states such as Assam, Manipur and Mizoram appear in the ‘letters to editor’ sections. This clearly shows the wide reach these comics did in even remote areas of the country. Sadly, this open indulgence of fans from India’s remote northeast quite vanished once Indrajal shut down shop in 1990.

These comics also began the trend of introducing their heroes in vernacular languages. The one character that benefitted the most from this translation game was Phantom, who became famous in most households as ‘Betaal.’ Most of the non-English reading masses made Betaal a cult figure that many of the older generations still remember. In the 90s, Diamond Comics translated most of the Phantom and Mandrake issues into vernaculars. Thankfully, Assamese made it to the list as well and we no longer had to do with the Bengali comics any more.

The comic trend that was kicked off by Indrajal in the 70s and 80s was picked up by other publishers such as Manoj Comics, Kiran Comics and most notably, Amar Chitra Katha, which reintroduced Indians to Hindu mythology and Indian history in illustrated comic format like never before. The AMC’s Tinkle comic book magazine was an absolute rage during the decade of 90s and it was a weekly affair for every child to covet the latest edition of the magazine.

The 90s saw the rise of the Indian superheroes with the advent of Raj Comics in the late 80s. Their characters such as Nagraj, Super Commando Dhruv, Doga and Tiranga ruled the roost in the 90s among Indian comic book fans. While there is no denying that most of these characters were just rip offs of some of the world renowned superheroes from the DC and Marvel comics, Indian comic book fans finally got a range of home bred superheroes. The Indian comic book superhero reached a stage of maturity where writers and illustrators did not shy away from showing matured content and complex storylines in their issues.

Diamond Comics also sparkled the 90s era with beloved comic characters such as Chacha Chaudhary, Sabu, Billoo, Pinky, Raman, etc. They also had their own range of superheroes such as Fauladi Singh, Agniputra-Abhay and Tauji. The brand became the only source for the older generations from the 70s and 80s to read Phantom and Mandrake comics in the 90s after the demise of Indrajal.

The deep rooting of TV throughout India during the early 90s and also the coming of cable TV brought Indians into newer avenues of entertainment. Children were exposed to various cartoons from foreign shores and also foreign comic brands like DC and Marvel began to aggressively push sales in a vast country like India. The onslaught of this foreign assault was too much to be borne by our Indian comic book publishers. The new millennium saw a spark in the sale of foreign comic books in comparison to the Indian ones. Characters like Batman, Superman and Spider-Man took centre stage among Indian comic readers rather than the home bred ones. Somehow I feel Indian comic book makers could not reinvent themselves to the needs of the changing times that the new millennium brought in with it.

While Raj Comics and Diamond Comics still continue to publish their titles, they are no longer the rage today anymore among the youngsters. Sadly, the comic book reading culture among young Indians has died out today after the advent of internet and various options available in the visual medium. Comic book reading is an almost dead hobby in India today, much like stamp collecting. Though a sizeable number of comic book readers still exist, they are nothing compared to the huge numbers that once existed throughout the country about twenty years ago.

Comic book reading culture saw a rising phase throughout the 70s and 80s and reached its golden climactic era in the 90s. The comic books we see today are but remnants of that bygone era that we have lived as children during the 90s. It is rather difficult for me to explain to today’s youngsters how important characters like Phantom and Mandrake mattered to young Indians once. Or how cool it was to own comic book issues of Indian superheroes such as Nagraj and Doga.

Today’s youngsters mostly call themselves fans of characters like Batman and Superman only after watching the movies or going through their animated series on the TV or internet. But most of them have sadly missed out the larger fun of picking up their comics and discovering them panel by panel in an illustrated comic book format.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

No Home for Leopards!

Guwahati is a unique city. While it is a hustling and bustling metropolis on one hand, on the other hand it is a city that has ample amount of unabashed natural beauty. The hills that surround Guwahati are special as they house some of the wild beauties that other city goers don’t usually get to see at such close quarters. And yet this natural beauty has been upset by the increasing urbanisation and encroachment into the forest areas. And the worst casualties in this mayhem have been the leopards.

Guwahati has been home to a sizeable leopard population that has thrived in its surrounding hills and the forest areas. Over the last three decades, Guwahati has expanded in all directions and this growing urbanisation has eaten up most of the city’s natural forest cover that has been a part of it since time immemorial. While the need to create houses for the increasing populace of Guwahati continues to exert pressure, the traditional leopard habitat has been hit hard with most of their homes been taken over by the concrete structures. This has resulted in increased man-leopard conflict over the past few years that has reached a worrying level today.

Once, leopards were found in almost all the hills in and around Guwahati. Over the last few decades, their habitats have been destroyed due to encroachment and destruction of forest covers over the hills. The city is no longer a safe zone for leopards as per most conservationists and experts and it is only a matter of time before the resident leopards of Guwahati go completely extinct. Leopards have already been exterminated from the main hill of Nilachal, the GMCH hill and the Nabagraha hill. Today most of the leopards in the city areas are concentrated in the hills at Maligaon and Pandu, where thankfully, the forest cover over the hills has also been largely intact so far.

But these habitats are also being threatened as more and more houses are being built adding more woes to the survival of Guwahati’s local leopards. Leopards normally live within rocky structures or caves where they rear their young. Most of such rocks on the hillsides are taken away and used up in the quarrying process for cement, leaving the leopard homeless. The loss of their habitat also means that they lose out on their natural prey due to the vanishing forest cover. As a result of this, they have to venture out into the city areas in search of food that brings them in direct conflict with man. The result is that we have had several news of leopards straying into the city areas and then being brutally put to death by a mob of panicked people.

The largescale encroachment of people into the forest areas over the hills has put the leopard population at stake today. What is surprising is that most of the encroachment has happened in the reserved forest areas of the hills as well but forest authorities are completely helpless in removing the encroachers from there. This is because of the political backing that these encroachers get due to vote bank politics and often we see violent resistance for any eviction drive.

The worst part is that the forest department seems to have no response mechanism to this growing threat of encroachment to Guwahati’s forest areas. There is no presence of any rapid action force in the forest department to look into immediate cases of encroachment. And it seems the government is not interested in forming strong anti-encroachment laws in the areas because of their rotten vote bank politics.

It is extremely important to save the leopards of Guwahati as they are the oldest residents of the city and not us humans. There should be strict laws whereby further encroachment should be stopped and strong mechanisms should be undertaken to empower the forest department to tackle the issues concerned. Translocation of the big cats should not also be ruled out and they can be taken away and resettled to other reserved forests where they can get ample food and shelter. It is still a better option than to silently watch these magnificent felines be killed due to mindless mob violence.

As per an estimate that is several years old, the total forest cover in the hills was just 13.60 percent. Today it is bound to be far less, given the ongoing encroachment, illegal logging and earth-cutting on the hills. Of the 7,023 hectares of hill land, about 2,642 hectares fall under reserve forests but a major part of even these protected forest covers lie destroyed and degraded due to encroachment and tree-felling.

Something needs to done fast in this regard before we have to experience the misfortune of lamenting the demise of the last leopard of Guwahati. Afterall, if you think deeply, it is we who have invaded their territory and not the other way around. 

The beautiful world of Pobitora

If you are someone who itches for a peek of nature and wildlife then there are lots of options for you since you are living in Assam. For someone in Guwahati though, the options are not bad considering that the Deepor Beel birds sanctuary is quite nearby. Also, there are several hills around the city that allow nature lovers a peek into some local wildlife. But if you are itching for a real safari experience then again you should be thankful for being a Guwahatian.

Not far from the city, about 48 kms away in the Morigaon district is situated the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. For those who feel that Kaziranga is too far away to fit in their hectic routines, a day’s getaway to Pobitora is a refreshing experience as it allows you to spend some time among the Great Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros. Covering an area of about 38.80 square kilometres, Pobitora is perhaps the other most prolific place to witness the rhino in its wild glory after Kaziranga.

Reaching there is no hurdle as it is just about an hour ride away from Guwahati. But yes, do take your own vehicle as there are no bus services till there. I had lived all my life in Guwahati, but got to visit the place only recently. The sanctuary is quite close to Mayong and even covers a small hillock in the Raja Mayong area. The area for effective rhino habitat is only about 16 square kilometres. So one good thing is you don’t to travel long distances within the sanctuary to catch a glimpse of the magnificent beasts.

Pobitora is quite an interesting place. It is surrounded from all side by villages and has a strict area boundary unlike Kaziranga where sometimes the boundaries blur with human settlements. There are reportedly about 93 rhinos within the sanctuary and if reports are to be believed, it has become overpopulated for the species. Most of the rhino grazing areas are near to the human settlements and the boundary is demarcated by a road running along the area. Cattle and livestock from the nearby villages roam carefree within the park area among the rhinos and other animals such as water buffaloes and wild boars. We went on a jeep safari ride and it was already late in the morning and we were surprised by the number of cattle present within the park area. The rhinos didn’t seem disturbed at all by the presence of the large number of cattle and livestock around them and peacefully carried on with their grazing.

The safari ride took us through a patch of area that had ample amount of shady trees that gave quite a picturesque look to the place. And on top of it you could see the cattle roaming in the area along with wild boars and rhinos in between. Pobitora is a beautiful place and some of the most picturesque locations if you are interesting in wildlife photography. But do remember to reach the place by 7 am if you want to enjoy an elephant ride safari.

Because of its comparatively smaller area to other sanctuaries, the problem of poaching is quite unheard of here, unlike Kaziranga where it is rampant. The rhinos have grown accustomed to the presence of humans and their livestock in their vicinity and hence peaceful coexistence prevails here. Apart from rhinos, the sanctuary also has a sizeable population of water buffaloes, wild boars and over 2000 varieties of birds and reptiles. There is no population of tigers or deer here. There are some leopards but their presence is only in the deeper areas of the sanctuary. Pobitora is a fine place to spot several species of birds, especially in the winters when migratory birds come in large numbers here.

Pobitora makes for a great day long getaway along with your family to witness the beauty of the wilderness in the presence of the magnificent rhinoceros. And the best part is it is quite close to a major city like Guwahati. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Batman v Superman: A missed opportunity!

Let me begin by saying that I enjoyed Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I’ve watched it twice so far. No plans for a third viewing though! The first time I watched it, I enjoyed it a lot although I could see some glaring loopholes in the movie. But I decided to go for a second viewing. Not because I loved the movie a lot, but because the internet had exploded with reviews and fights between the fans and critics. 

Nobody had anticipated such a wide divide on the movie and over the last week the movie fights escalated considerably on the internet. There were people who loved it. There were others who hated it. I enjoyed it, but I couldn’t ignore the fact that there were some major defects in the movie. The second viewing turned out to be rather interesting. I still enjoyed the movie, I’ll not lie. Especially the action, those scenes were magnificent. But the loopholes became even more apparent this time and I was left fuming over the phenomenal fuck up that DC and Warner Bros had done with their cinematic universe.

Let’s go back to the beginning. Back in 2013, when Man of Steel came out and kick started the DC cinematic universe. While that movie too faced a lot of criticism, I was blown away with what I saw. This was not just a good reboot, but it was also the most realistic take ever on the character of Superman. Credit goes to the great Christopher Nolan and David S Goyer, who wrote the story, and gave such a realistic treatment to the character of Superman. I quite liked the dark tone of the movie as I prefer DC comic movies to have darker tones than the others. They established a perfect origin story for the newer generations who had either not seen the old Christopher Reeves movies or were not much familiar with the Superman lore as we comic book fans are. Nolan and Goyer’s aim was to invest into the audience who had never read a Superman comic in their lives and hence we got a rich backstory into the character. I really did not mind all the destruction of Metropolis in the climax as so many people complained. Yes it did take me by surprise in the first viewing, but even back then I could understand that this was a raw and inexperienced Superman who was taking on a formidable opponent like General Zod. This was a Superman who was still coming to grasp with the full potential of his powers. He was a very conflicted character, which is why I did not mind him killing off Zod in the end. What Superman purists forget here is that Christopher Reeves’ Superman also killed Zod in the old Superman 2 movie, but I never heard anybody complain about it. That’s hypocrisy, bitches!

Anyway, I was quite happy with Man of Steel and felt that the DC cinematic universe was in safe hands with writers like Nolan and Goyer and a director like Zack Snyder. So when Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was announced two years ago, I was pumped up like hell even though I must confess I was a little miffed as to why they did not go with a Man of Steel sequel and further develop Superman’s character. But this is also where shit started to go down. Warner Bros could not contain their greed over the huge money that Man of Steel made and decided that it was time for them to compete directly with Marvel who had painstakingly established their own cinematic universe successfully. But DC decided to take a terrible leap without doing their homework and decided to bring a prelude to Justice League without going for any more movies to establish the characters of their cinematic universe.

I think this was also the reason why Christopher Nolan backed out of this project because he and Goyer had a specific vision and a process to establish the characters of this cinematic universe. I’m sure they wanted to develop Superman’s character with another movie before they push him into a frame with the other DC superheroes. DC’s decision to cram in atleast five different storylines resulting in a jumbled up mess must have prodded Nolan to back out although his name still remains as Executive Producer in the movie credits. Unlike Marvel, who decided to stick to most of the lore from their comic books, DC made a glorious mess by fusing so many storylines that could have made great standalone movies individually. I call it a glorious mess because inspite of all the shortcomings, it is still a good looking movie. The credit here goes to Zack Snyder. He is a fantastic visual director, but not a good storyteller. His previous films, which can be termed as good movies, are so because they were backed up with solid stories. 300 was fun to watch because Snyder copied the movie exactly frame to frame from the original Frank Miller graphic novel. Snyder’s Watchmen was also a fantastic watch because he gave out great visuals to a well written story based on a rather difficult graphic novel series.

But Snyder’s shortcomings as a storyteller become evident when we see movies like Sucker Punch. That film has some of the most amazing visual sequences I’ve ever seen in cinema. But at the end of the day, I was left wondering what the hell was that all about?! Pretty much the same thing happened with Batman v Superman. A shoddy script with several plotholes could not be saved by Snyder’s mediocre storytelling skills. The result is evident. The film’s story has got plots from several DC Comics story archs such as A Death in the Family, The Dark Knight Returns, Justice League: War and of course Death of Superman. The worst part is that while fans like us could get all the references in the movie for the different story archs, non-comic book reading people, who formed the bulk of the audiences, were left confused.

The nightmare sequence has left most of the audiences heavily confused. In that sequence, they teased the coming of Darkseid with the Omega symbol and the parademons in the movie, but how many from the audiences got that? They showed a grim and darker Superman who complained of a dead Lois Lane to Batman. Then immediately in the next shot in that same nightmare sequence, they showed Flash making a sudden appearance and warning Bruce Wayne to be careful of Superman and fear him. That was a direct reference to DC’s Injustice story arch. How many people in the audience got that? In a theatre full of, let’s say about a hundred people, there are a maximum of 30-40 die hard comic book fans who are familiar with all the story archs and can enjoy these scenes to the fullest. But what about the rest of the audience who were left confused as hell? Then there is another scene where Bruce Wayne walks past the suit of Robin which has the words ‘Ha ha! The joke’s on you Batman!’ written over it. This is a direct reference to the second Robin, Jason Todd, who gets brutally murdered by the Joker in the A Death in the Family storyline. But how many in the audience really got that?

I see it as a great disservice to the audience in general as the non-comic book reading folks are those who make up the bulk of the audience for these movies and DC has taken them for granted. Man of Steel set up such a rich origin story for Superman with even the movie’s first fifteen minutes dedicated to the events on Krypton so that audiences connect fully to the character’s background. Here characters are introduced from the middle without any explanation as to what led them to their current state? Bruce Wayne is quite a bitter man from past events and he has pretty much given up his moral code never to kill as Batman. This surprised many die hard Batman fans like me, but frankly, I really don’t have much problem with that. I never really could connect to the theory as to how you can fight some of the worst imaginable villains in human consciousness without killing off even a single one of them. This is exactly why I did not have problems with Superman killing Zod in Man of Steel.

All the good work of Nolan and Goyer, which had been achieved with Man of Steel, was undone in this movie. People got to see a good origin story for Superman, but they could not see his character grow with another standalone movie. In the movie, people are still divided over their opinion for Superman and it is quite evident from the TV debate shots that are shown in the movie. It’s only been eighteen months since the events in Man of Steel, most of the people in the movie are still coming to terms with the presence of a godlike character such as Superman, but what is strange is there is a huge Superman statue in the city as well. If there is such a strong division of opinion regarding the guy, who let such a big statue be constructed in the middle of the city that the fellow almost ruined eighteen months back? Makes no fucking sense! The last shot in the film that is shown of the general public is a mob burning an effigy of Superman. And when pretty much the same night, he gets killed by Doomsday, he becomes a hero in the eyes of the very same public? Makes no fucking sense!

Now I come to my biggest resentment in the movie. The death of Superman. This is the second movie in the DC cinematic universe, and they killed off Superman so soon! Seriously, in their haste to match up with Marvel, DC has ruined the character of Superman. No space was given for the character to grow and become relatable to the audience and believe me when I say this, nobody, I repeat, nobody could feel the full emotional extant that one should feel at the death of a character like Superman. Somehow I had suspected it beforehand when I saw Doomsday in the movie’s second trailer. I felt Doomsday was too early a character to be brought in the cinematic universe’s second movie itself. But I dismissed the idea of Superman’s death because it seemed too early to go that route. And boy was I wrong! Now that Superman is dead, there is really no point in making any more Superman sequel. Yes he will be resurrected, but they can’t kill him off again! That’s been done!

This is what has pissed me off so bad! They did not let the character grow, they killed him off so suddenly, and it’s pretty much certain that now his impact won’t be as it should have in the upcoming Justice League movies. And in the movie, they’ve teased Injustice, which means they’ll be turning Superman into a villain during the last phase of the DC cinematic line. They have ruined Superman in ways none could have fathomed. In their haste to catch up with Marvel, DC has suffered from a bad case of premature ejaculation.

Marvel had standalone movies for their major characters like Iron Man, Captain America and Thor before they came up with the first Avengers movie. The movie was a grand success because audience all over the globe connected with the characters as they knew their backgrounds from the previous movies. There was no such scope in this movie and none remains so for the Justice League movie. So when Superman died, it did not leave the impact it should have otherwise left on the audience. Marvel is coming up with Captain America: Civil War next month, and mark my words, the audiences around the world will give a reaction filled with emotions when a certain major character goes down in the movie.

I don’t want to delve into the details of the storyline of the film or discuss its plotholes as that has been done meticulously by critics. You can get those stuff on Youtube. I will though say that the scene where the other Justice League characters are introduced when Wonder Woman opens an email that Bruce Wayne sends her, feels completely rushed, badly executed and out of place in the movie. In that particular sequence, the files that contain the CCTV camera footages for the characters had the actual symbols of the characters from the comics. What should I call it? Lazy story writing? Bad direction? Or have the makers of this movie taken us audiences to be so stupid that they feel we should be spoon fed this nonsense. Why do the files have those symbols over them? Did Lex Luthor hire a team of designers and put those over the files that best fits each character? During my first viewing, when the scene came out, I almost blurted out loudly in the theatre, “That is so stupid!”

Another scene that left me fuming in anger was the one where Batman and Superman stop fighting after they discover their moms have a common name, Martha. This time I could not contain myself and actually said out aloud in the theatre, “Ok now this is fucking stupid!” Those were the exact words I uttered and a few people sitting around me laughed at my comment. Really DC, the audiences are not so stupid. Even the ones who don’t read your comics. Batman planned this attack on Superman for months and you expect me to believe that he would give up the idea of killing Superman just at that point? Pure case of lazy story writing!

Like many critics, even I agree that Lex’s motivation against Superman are unclear. Bruce Wayne’s motivations are established clearly in the film’s opening when he witnesses Metropolis’s destruction during Superman and Zod’s fight. But what were Lex’s reasons? Also I don’t understand why did he take that stupid approach to make Superman and Batman fight! He knew the true identities of both the characters and in my opinion, he could have either exposed them publicly or meticulously destroyed their lives step by step. But no! He came up with his half-baked plan to make them fight which had to fell apart. And then he created Doomsday as a backup plan, which I’m pissed about because the writers ruined Doomsday’s origin story and his character. I feel Metallo or Bizarro would have been better choices for a villain in the film’s scenario.

On a positive note, I feel delighted with Ben Affleck’s Batman. Like all, I would reiterate that he was the best thing in the movie and I am looking forward to his standalone Batman movie. Plus, at the end of the day I have no qualms over Batman killing bad guys. In fact I do prefer the brutal Batman now. Henry Cavill was good as Superman, but the writers did not give any space for his character to grow so it would be unfair to make any negative comments on him. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was also fantastic and her entry in the last fight had me roaring in applause with the rest of the audience. Jesse Eisenberg took a very odd take on Lex Luthor. But I won’t blame him because he did what he was told to do. I feel he would have looked much better if he had carried on with his cold and calculative business tycoon act from The Social Network. But I must say that the fight scenes in this movie were so good! Especially the one where Batman takes down Lex’s goons in the warehouse. That was brilliantly done. When I look at these delightful action scenes and then I compare them with the rest of the movie, I can’t help but notice that this movie is nothing but a huge missed opportunity.
In the end, I will not say like others that the movie could have been better. In my opinion this movie should not have existed without a proper Superman sequel in the first place. DC has fucked up big time with this movie. I don’t know how they are going to proceed with the other movies. They’ve ruined Superman and now there are really no stakes attached to that character for future. And sadly by teasing Injustice, they’ve hinted that they are only going to further deteriorate him.

Yes, this movie is making tons of money and I enjoyed watching the movie both times. But I can’t help lament over the mess that DC and Warner Bros have made with this movie. This is not really a rant. I am just expressing my concerns over a movie franchise that I really wanted to shine. I really wanted this movie to be good. I am a Batman fanboy and I was delighted with the new Dark Knight in the movie. But it somewhat hurt me to see Superman’s character being demolished so unceremoniously. Warner Bros tried to take on Marvel with this one, but the truth is they are not even half as smart as the bosses who decide the course of Marvel’s cinematic universe. It's not a bad film. But it's not that good either. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Before you buy a new Smartphone!

Everybody uses a smartphone today and India is undergoing the smartphone revolution right now which is transforming most Indians into techno freaks. More and more feature phone users are switching to smartphones and this has made India into the world’s second largest market for smartphone makers globally. As more and more buyers have emerged in the country’s growing smartphones so have been the vendors offering various devices with different features and on different platforms such as Android, iOS and Windows Phone. It is therefore very important that the prospective smartphone buyer must be educated about certain aspects of the device before buying it.

While it is true that small screen smartphones are largely a thing of the past, the standard size for a smartphone is normally around 5 inches. There are many smartphones on the market that have a screen size of almost 6 inches, but that is totally on the preferences of the customers. There are some key points that you should always consider while buying a new smartphone if you are planning to use for a period of atleast 2-3 years without much hassles.

RAM: A smartphone’s RAM is very important to determine how the device would fare in day to day usage and multitasking. Different devices have different ways of utilising their available RAM and hence going by today’s standards a smartphone should have a minimum RAM of 1GB atleast. There are many phones in the market that offer upto 3 or 4GB of RAM, but I’m talking mostly of those devices that come below the range of 10K pricing. If you can spend more than 10K than you will probably be able to afford a device with 2GB RAM.

STORAGE: Phone storage is a very important factor while buying a smartphone. The internal storage that is available out of the box in a device is important as it affects the performance of the phone greatly. Users get frequent updates for the apps on their devices and they tend to take up more and more space of the phone’s storage. Hence it is important that when you buy a phone go for a device that gives you atleast 16GB of internal storage. Anything less than that is nothing short of a compromise and it will affect the optimum usage you can derive out of your device. Also, it is highly advisable to go for devices that give the option of expandable storage such as Micro SD card or OTG support. In case of no expandable storage, try to go for a device that offers larger storage such as 32 or 64 GB, although for those you may have to dish out some extra money.

CAMERA: Camera is a very important aspect of a smartphone today. Most smartphone makers compete among themselves to offer good camera specs in competitive price ranges. Although the game of megapixels if rather overrated for me, I would say that the most acceptable camera specs among smartphones today would be a 13MP camera in the back and a 5MP camera in the front. If you can increase your budget beyond 15K than you can get even better specs for the camera on your phone. The best cameras however come in the extremely high price categories. But always remember that your camera should have HDR mode, optical image stabilisation and various shooting modes that enhance your experience in a rich way.

BATTERY: Battery life is very important nowadays. Most smartphone users complain of battery life as their device fails to take them through most of the day and they end up worrying about charging them once in every few hours. Today many devices in the price range of around 15K are offering a battery life of upto 3000 mAh. But if you don’t want to go upto that sort of price bracket then atleast make sure that your battery has no less than 2000 mAh juice in it. Also you can save up your battery during the day by minimising the internet data consumption and managing it in a more profitable way.

SOFTWARE: Though some do not attach much importance to the software of the Operating System (OS) of the device, I feel it is quite important as having the latest OS can give you a great experience on your phone’s platform. Be it Android, iOS or Windows Phone, it always advisable to have their latest versions as they always bring something new and fresh with them in their successive versions as it greatly enhances your overall experience. While it rather depends on your smartphone maker on whether they give you future software updates or not, it is rather better to start with the latest OS in the market in all purposes.