Sunday, November 22, 2009

Movie ‘Kurban’ portray Islamic terrorism and the US

Movie ‘Kurban’ portray Islamic terrorism and the US
Syed Ali Mujtaba

Real life couple Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor comes together in a highly intense melodrama ‘Kurban’ centering around the global theme Islamic terrorism and the US.



Bolywood of late have been catching up with global terrorism and this one is the series on the same theme. While earlier release ‘New York’ tells about how Muslims were targeted in the post 9/11 America, this ones tells the seething anger and frustration that continues to burn in many hearts among the Muslims residing in the US.

The most fundamental statement the movie wants to make is about ones identity. It underscores the point that the debate on religion verses nationalism is still not settled. Opinions are divided on the issue and both sides are equally true in telling the truth.

Kurban’s story revolves around Avantika (Kareena Kapoor) a Hindu and Ehsaan (Saif Ali Khan) a Muslim. Both are working professionals, they fall in love, marry and move to the US.

All’s good, until Avantika discovers her husband works for a terror sleeper cell and along with others, is planning an attack similar to 9/11. She is put under house arrest by her husband and his associates and her only hope is a journalist Riaz Masud (Vivek Oberoi) a Muslim, who is also on a mission to take his revenge on the terrorists, who were responsible for the death of his girlfriend (Dia Mirza).


Riaz’s character breaks the clich├ęs that not all Muslims are terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims. He is firm believer that terrorism cannot be the answer to the Muslims problems rather it complicates and aggravates them. He also holds the view that national identity is as much important as religious identity.

Aided by a powerful screenplay, the movie has managed to keep the intensity level going throughout. Dialogues are very effective, especially those written for Ehsaan and Riaz Masud. Also there aren’t any unwanted scenes or excessive melodrama, due to which the pace remains very consistent. Although there is no much scope for music but the scores by Salim Suleman is of top notch, especially ‘Shukran’ and Ali Maula deserve mention.

The first half is extremely gripping. The second half though, does get a bit heavy with the cold-blooded characters involving themselves in well scripted plotline raises the pace of the movie.

Family audiences may not enjoy a few sequences because as the movie progresses, it does get too heavy and there is a decent amount of blood and gore into it. The climax is shocking and may not be universally accepted.

The most gripping scenes are when Avantika gets to know the ’shocking’ truth that her husband is a terrorist. The other one when Riaz Masud has to undergo the test to shoot the white chef at a burger shop. The goriest of them all was when Avantika cuts open the wound to remove the bullet off Ehsaan’s chest.

The much discussed love making scene featuring Avantika and Ehsaan has loads of skin show and has attracted the ire of moral policemen in India. The Shiv Saniks have reported to have sent ‘Sari’ to Kareena Kapoor to cover herself.

My pick is the last scene when Avantika asks Ehsaan his real name and was told its Khalid. In disbelief she walks back in dismay and agony and hears the gun shot. She realizes Ehsaan has killed himself and she kneels on the platform crestfallen.

Surprisingly, there are no Jhatkas and Matkas of the usual Bolywood style in this movie. In fact there not a moment of relief, till the credits roll on, a good 2 hours 40 minutes later. At the end all one carries is the debate whether those Muslim characters were right or the Americans in this movie?

What makes Kurbaan a must watch is the superlative performance from the entire cast, right from the lead stars to those FBI sleuths played by foreign actors.

Technically the film is brilliant. The movie is high on production value, and there are many action scenes that have been shot with great attention to every small detail.

Kurbaan tends to suggest the gap between Bollywood and Hollywood in movie making department is narrowing slowly. There are elements of truth about it while watching this movie.

Watching Kurban, one can get a feel of the pace of life in New York. This one excels all the Hindi movies that have so far been trying to portray this theme.

No publicity is bad publicity and has only helped raise the curiosity level about the movie. The Shiv Sen protest just before its release has added to it. Infact Saniks protest has worked in favour of the movie and the jam packed audience watching this contemporary global theme is a testimony to this fact.

Overall, Kurbaan is a fascinating film to watch. There is little to compare with earlier movie New York on the same theme. There absolutely no doubt that this one is much better!

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Watch the promo on U tube-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztpEWxQ5s7o
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Syed Ali Mujtaba is working journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com

Thursday, November 19, 2009

India: Environmentalists to Campaign ‘Ride A Cycle’

India: Environmentalists to Campaign ‘Ride A Cycle’
Syed Ali Mujtaba

As the campaign for climate change is gaining momentum and talks to cut down carbon emission is reaching its crescendo, a humble attempt is being made in southern India to push the cause of the good old peddle bicycle.



Come December 2009 and 70 cyclists will set off on a 900-km-long tour from Bangalore to the beautiful Nilgiris Mountains in Tamil Nadu, to promote the cause of environmental concern.

The Nilgiris are popularly known as the Blue Mountains in the Western Ghats of India. The Nilgiris are a set of 24 peaks located in the western parts of Tamil Nadu, and borders Karnataka and Kerala.

The eight-day tour of Nilgiris will beginning December 15 and pass through Bangalore, Mysore, Hassan, Mercara, Irupu, Sultanbathery and Ooty. The entire stretch is soaking in not just in natural beauty but also has rich dose of heritage, culture and cuisine.

'The success of the tour of Nilgiris in 2008 has ensured that more people want to go out for cycling creating awareness about the multiple benefits of commuting by the most humble mode of transport - the cycle says Ravi Ranjan (RR), founding trustee of the ‘Ride A Cycle Foundation’ - the NGO organizing the event.

As compared to the first edition of the tour of Nilgiris in December 2008 that saw 56 participants, this year 70 participants have been selected out of 300 entries received to take part in the event. Those selected come from various parts of the country, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai and even from the US.

The group will cover an average distance of 120 km a day. 'On some days because of the sharp inclines, the riding will be tough. But the challenge is worth taking up. Most people will cycle for about 7 to 10 hours a day, starting each morning at 6 a.m.,' said R.R.

'No one can ride beyond 4 p.m. Once it is 4 p.m., riders must wait where they are for the sweeper truck to pick them up and take them to the end point.’

Giving details of the kind of assistance being provided to the participants R.R said, a support team of 20 people will also be on the tour. A doctor, a fitness consultant, and a fully equipped vehicle to manage emergencies will accompany the cyclists during the event,' he said.

'In addition, every single hospital and police station along the route is being alerted about the tour. They would be intimated again a day before the cyclist will be riding through their neighborhood. This way the hospitals will be prepared for an emergency,' added R.R.

The journey will give riders not only a great deal of adventure and view of the breathtaking natural beauty of southern India but a chance to promote the cause of the environmental concern, says the Foundation.

‘Ride A Cycle Foundation’ is a Bangalore-based not-for-profit organization advocating the cause of environmentally friendly sustainable mode of transportation.

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Syed Ali Mujtaba is a working journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Oppression on Mobile, Email goes Unnoticed

Oppression on Mobile, Email goes Unnoticed
Syed Ali Mujtaba

For long mankind has known oppressions of various kinds. In the long list two more variety has been added in recent times. One is the oppression on your mobile phone and second on your internet mail box. Both of them have added a new dimension to word oppression but essentially in the tone tenure and character it remains the treatise that Karl Marx so laboriously built up in his magnum opus ‘Das Capital.’

Let me first talk about those telemarketing people who may call right at the time of some important meeting and try to sell the idea of home loan, easy finance, credit card, health insurance and some policies and plan. They have no concern at to what the person whom they are calling would be doing and they are least bothered to courteous enough to ask whether you are willing to spare some time for them. All they relish is to barge into the privacy of your tele-space and bombard you with their product and services. The mobile phone has really stated becoming an instrument of oppression and people are silently suffering from this menace.

Recently I traveled from Chennai to New Delhi to attend a conference for three days. To my surprise the telemarketers from Chennai doubled their efforts to bombard me with their calls. I was disturbing others in the conference halls who were listening to important deliberations on climate change. I had to keep going out to pick up the call to find out who was making the call. Since my profession demands to be accessible all the time I don’t switch off my mobile and the telemarketers taking advantage of such liberty for doing their business. Such menace has been reported in the courts and judgment has been passed against such practice but still there is no end to such unwanted calls. So far there is no mechanism evolved to check this menace and many like me are suffering from such kind of oppression is continuing unabated.

The other kind of oppression is through email box, again this is a big nuisance that’s developed since the internet e mail come in vogue. There are junk mails that could be filtered or deleted but then there are others that are unsolicited asking to answer them why I one is doing such thing and commanding what should one must do. Such characters do not have the audacity to identify them, nor to do they provide genuine address and telephone number and the kind of profession they are engaged. What they are interested is in shooting email demanding explanation for ones general conduct. Such characters are keen to pass judgment and issue character certificates. Such self righteous person wants their judgment to be accepted without making any whimper. This is the most oppressive kind of oppression that is making rounds on the cyber space and people like me are silently suffering from it.

People do have the right to express their viewpoint and are entitled to hold them to no matter how outlandish they maybe. If someone do not subscribe to them they may politely and due courtesy clarify their doubts. If still not satisfied have a choice to disassociate.

However, there characters that do not choose to do. They feel they are the only repository of wisdom and try to intrude into the privacy of the e mail box trying to tell what they feel is right and is wrong. Such oppression is continuing unchecked and it’s demeaning the goodness of the cyber space.

I am writing this because I moderate a intellectual forum called South Asia Contact on the Yahoo groups. Recently I have received an email from one reader who is not part of the group but who has taken upon the mantel to cast judgment on the activities of this group. He has collected e mails of some members of this group and has sent them personal emails tarnishing their image. In a mud slinging exercise this person has questioned the aim and purpose of this group and has tried to pass a judgment that are of his likings. This person has nothing to say about himself then his name. He has got some supporters who were expelled from the group since they were indulging in vilification campaign, degrading religious sentiments of the members of this group.

My take on this is there is no need to respond to such unsolicited mails as they are not worthy of comments. In this context, I may like to know if any action could be intimated against such kind of persons who are indulging in character assassination and sending mails to such effect. I would be happy to chase such characters so that they don’t harm others and if they do so, do not get away as free masqueraders in their self righteous campaign. Unfortunately I don’t know any such mechanism to check such kind of menace and as a result I am suffering from such kind of oppression in stoke silence. Notwithstanding, in a humble way I am trying to build the bridge of peace, among various sections of society, communities and nations in this strife torn world.

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Syed Ali Mujtaba is a working journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com

Friday, November 13, 2009

Climate Change -Time Ticking for Copenhagen Summit

Climate Change -Time Ticking for Copenhagen Summit
Syed Ali Mujtaba

It’s less than five weeks for the crucial Copenhagen summit for climate change. It’s a deadline for a deal to stop the climate catastrophe. The issue involved is developing countries won't join in a climate deal unless rich countries, which created the climate crisis, pay to fix it.

The Copenhagen summit will have more than 100 world leaders, including US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao. While the talk will be about the environment, the substance will be about money. Developing nations say that if rich nations want them to stop burning coal or cutting down forests, they should be willing to pay them.

The price tag of a fair, ambitious and binding global treaty is $150 billion a year in funding to help poorer countries to adapt and cut emissions. So far only a fraction of that is pledged by the developed country.

The finance ministers of the world’s 20 biggest economies are meeting prior to that to discuss these issues but its learnt the funding proposal isn’t even on the agenda for such meeting.

The Copenhagen summit could collapse without a funding plan as $150 billion a year is needed by 2020 to invest in low-carbon development and the green economies of the future

There’s no shortage of bold and practical ideas for how the funds could be raised. Experts suggest levies to close the tax-free loophole on aviation and shipping fuels or a charge on financial speculation could raise tens of billions each.

Activities are putting up ads and campaigns that Europe must raise their offer, and other rich countries need to join them. European Union must set a precedent by starting to put money on the table is said in the campaign.

However, so far the US has not pledged any funds to deal with climate issues. Although it’s going ahead to participate at the Copenhagen summit, but its still not clear how much funds it may pledge and on what conditions. Its learnt that US wants to put a rider for releasing the funds with which the developing countries are not so comfortable with. Its certain that if the US is not a party to the global treaty on climate change, the summit at Copenhagen would have no meaning.

As far as India’s stand on this issue is concerned its of the view that any attempt to address the problem of climate change must take into account the imperatives of poverty reduction and economic progress in developing countries and the responsibility of the developed countries.

New Delhi maintains that any long-term goal or conditionalities being set towards lessening the effects of climate change “should always take into account the centrality of the need of the developing countries in this regard.”

India's defiance on the issue of climate change came during U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton's visit to India in July 2009, when India's environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, publicly asserted that "India's position is clear and categorical that New Delhi simply is not in a position to take any legally binding emissions reduction."

There is no doubt that the world is sitting on the climate catastrophe. If the world has to be saved from this imminent danger, a consensus has to evolve how to fund this problem in a comprehensive way.

To me the entire debate on climate change is going on the lines of Gandhian campaign in India. There is a total disconnect between what is being preached and practiced.

There is north and south divide on this issue. The rich countries want the developing countries to adopt austerities measure to help save the planet, while they may like to continue with their pace of life. They may agree to some funds to the developing countries and may even allow some cheap technology transfer but are not willing to compromise on their lifestyle.

This means the developing countries should cease to develop and remain in poverty trap for years to come. It is one of the most complex puzzles that is being spun at the backdrop of climate catastrophe.

Within the rich countries there are differences, particularly between European Union and US. The Europe has one line of thought, the US has other. Within Europe there are differences as well.
Even the developing countries are not a unified house. There are urban and rural divide on this issue. The argument of the north is extended by the urban centers with which the rural centers are not so comfortable. Those living in the urban centers want the rural people to live in the primitive stage to address the issues of climate change while they may like to continue with their sedentary lifestyles. This is the most ludicrous part of the campaign on the climate change.

As the time ticking for the Copenhagen summit and even though there is a consensus on this issue that’s its extremely essential to sustain the campaign to save the planet from the perils of climate change but the camps are divided.

One school of thought led by the developing countries say “no deal is better than an unfair deal.” They want to abide by their agenda and not ready to compromise, a proposition that could spoil the deal.

“Seal the deal” is another campaign that is being lunched by the developing countries ahead of the Copenhagen Summit. It says if we have to move forward on the issue of climate change, a it’s essential to “Seal the deal”

Arguments and counter arguments are put forward before the Copenhagen summit. The house of hope and despair are equally divided. The skeptics’ view that this talk shop may fail to kick off for want of consensus, the optimist argue, it will roll on in fit and starts because it’s a question of survival of human mankind.

As largest-ever gathering of world leaders at Copenhagen gets underway, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appealed that there is an urgent need for collective action to save the planet. He has called upon the civil society, faith groups, businesses and governments to join forces to combat climate change.

The sliver lining in the black cloud is that India and China have signed a memorandum of understanding on the issue. It shows that the two world's major players are serious about finding an alternative path alongside trying to attain sustainable development.

Not withstanding, how this story plays itself out, the fact remains that Copenhagen summit on climate change is turning out to be a basket case of ‘now or never.’

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Syed Ali Mujtaba is a working journalist based in Chennai. He recently in New Delhi to attended a conference on climate change organized by International Federation of Environment Journalist. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com