Saturday, December 24, 2016

Movie Review Dangal… A Must Watch for Every Indian

Movie Review
Dangal… A Must Watch for Every Indian
Syed Ali Mujtaba

I saw the movie Dangal, meaning wresting competition last night. My first reaction was Aamir khan has evolved as an actor from QSQT to this movie Dangal. Watching him in Dangal as aged, overweight ordinary Indian was a delight as it was doing so while watching the chocolate hero in QSQT in 1988.

Watch.. Aamir Khan in QSQT….

Watch….. him in Dangal…

Dangal is a movie that has an intense and griping plot and its emotional quotients are maintained all through the movie. It’s a serious film with little entertainment value; it holds the audience to their seats all through the film.

If Lagan was about cricket, Dangal is about wrestling. In the age of cricket, making a movie on insignificant sports like wrestling is a bold attempt and a welcome change to the viewers.

One thing emerges out clearly in this movie is that foreign locations and glamour looks alone cannot guarantee the success of the film. The story line, the narration, the acting and the overall presentation alone can help in the success of a movie. Dangal excels in all of such departments.

Well Aamir Khan has a habit of coming with something completely new and different in each of his movie. We have seen it in ‘Lagan’, ‘Three Idiots’ and ‘PK’, all of them had different plots. So is the actor’s panache of looking different.

In each of the movies his looks are different. So is the case with Dangal. In order to look aged and an ordinary man, Aamir Khan has increased his weight quite a bit in Dangal. In spite of looking simpleton and de glam, Aamir carries his weight in this movie. In true sense he is still the 'Raja
Hindustani,’ of India.

In the age of item numbers and skin shows and exotic locations, Dangal is placed in a totally different. The movie showcases a dirty village of Haryana and is successful in portraying a true reflection of a piece of Indian society and culture.

Everything about this movie is natural and everyone in this film tries to look dirty and de glam and yet has its own appeal. This is the unique selling proposition USP of the movie Dangal.

The movie Dangal has not only entertainment and information and education value but also has a mass communication quotient attached to it. It tries to give the message those girls too can do what supposedly men’s domain is i.e. wrestling.

As such the movie has a huge mass appeal. It’s targeted at the most ordinary Indians and therefore should be watched by every Indian.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Similarities and Distinctiveness of Christmas Celebrations in India

Similarities and Distinctiveness of Christmas Celebrations in India 
Syed Ali Mujtaba

Christmas festival, which marks the birthday of Jesus Christ, is celebrated in almost all parts of India. Christmas is a national festival and called ‘Bara Din’ or Big Day, courtesy the legacy of the British ‘Raj’ in India. There are many unique features about Christmas celebrations in India.

As the Christmas approaches, the entire country is in a festive mood and people from different faiths, ethnicity and backgrounds come together and take part in Christmas celebrations.

The Christmas celebrations in the cities of India are almost a replica of the global culture. The shops are decorated with Bells and Santa Claus that symbolizes Christmas marking the beginning of the festive season.

Christmas fairs and Christmas parades are the integral part of the Christmas festivities in the urban life. Christian’s houses are decorated with lights and Christmas trees.

During this time carol services are held in the churches and carol singers making appearances at the door steps during late night. During this time Santa Claus, th
e special character of Christmas is most sought after person by the children of all faiths.

In the rural India, the Christmas celebrations is little different. One of the special features of rural Christmas celebration is that instead of having traditional Christmas Trees, a well decorated banana or mango tree is kept in the house.

 This is because Christmas tree is not readily available in the villages. Some people use mango leaves to decorate their homes in rural areas during Christmas. The houses have ‘diya’ or candle lit at its entranced.  Village Churches are decorated with flowers and colorful lights and colorful candles are lit at its entrance door.

The major concentration of Christian populations is in the Southern Indian state of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and in the state of Goa on the west Coast. Northeastern states euphemistically called the seven sisters have the largest concentration of Christian population in India.

India's smallest state, Goa which is on the west coast has about 26% Christian population. Christian homes hang out giant paper lanterns, in the shape of stars, on top of their houses and as one walk
down the road, the stars float above you in rows. Christmas Trees are put up in every Christian house.

 Here people like to go carol singing around their neighbors for about a week before Christmas. The Christmas cake is baked with traditional rich fruit and lots of local sweets are also made during the Christmas festival in Goa.

In Southern state of Kerala where there are 22% Christian population. Like Goa, here too Christmas is celebrated with huge religious fervor. Traditional Catholics fast from 1st to 24th of December, until the midnight service. Every house is decorated with new variety of Christmas stars and has well decorated Christmas tree.  Here some Christians put small oil burning clay lamps on the roofs of their homes to show their neighbors that Jesus is the light of the world.

The northeast states of India; Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram have high Christian population. Over 5.3 million Christians live in Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Manipur, while there are a significant number of Christians in the other northeastern states of Tripura, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. One of the special features of the Christmas celebration here is Christian customs are mixed with the individual tribal customs.

The Western Indian metropolis Mumbai has one of the largest urban Christian populations. Many of the Christians in Mumbai have roots in Goa and so they follow the Christmas traditions of Goa like putting up the star lanterns and the depiction of the best of the nativity scenes at their homes.

In the eastern metropolitan city of Kolkata the annual Kolkata Christmas Festival (KCF) starts a week ahead with food stalls and live bands performing in the open space. The Christmas season begins with a fun-filled Christmas parade at Park Street whose decoration resembles the Oxford Street of London. There are other sots like Bow Barracks in Kolkata that comes alive during Christmas.

The rural space of central India which dominated by the tribal Christians mostly of the Bhil tribe has Christmas celebrations with its own local flavor which is more tribal in nature.  Here Bhils go out in nigh a week before Christmas to sing carols in their own language. They also tell the Christmas stories to the surrounding villages in singing and dancing format.

Anglo Indians are very unique Christian community in India.  They celebrate Christmas in very European style.  With jam session and all dancing Anglo Indians a English touch to the Christmas celebrations.  Cake, wine, dance and get-together are part and parcel of Anglo Indian Christmas celebration.

The Christmas celebration at Anglo Indian homes begins about 60 days before December 25 and continues for at least 12 days after it. Their customs are as bright and complex as a festively-knotted ribbon around their Christmas present.

On the Christmas Eve, the Midnight Mass service at the churches is a very important event and Christians attends it in large numbers. The families walk to the church for the midnight mass and when the service is over at the stroke of midnight, the church bells starts ringing and fire crackers are burst to announce that Christmas Day has arrived.

Some greet each other saying ‘Merry Christmas’ in English, others use the local expression in different languages spoken in India. The day that follows is Christmas and it is filled with massive feast that goes on with the giving and receiving of presents throughout the day.

The proverbial Santa Claus who delivers presents to children from a horse cart is integral part of Christmas festivity in India. He is known by various names in different Indian languages. In the Hindi he is called ‘Christmas Baba' or Father Christmas, in  Tamil and Telgu languages, he is  known as 'Christmas Thaathaa' or Christmas old man. In Malayalam he is known as 'Christmas Papa'. In Marathi he is called ‘Natal Bua' or Christmas Elder Man.

Christianity is the third-largest religion in India. With approximately 27.8 million followers, Christians constitutes about 2.3 percent of the total Indian population. Indian Christians have the highest ratio of women to men among the various religious communities in India.

Christians are found all across India and are visible in all walks of life. Indian Christians have contributed significantly to India’s development and are well represented in various spheres of life.  Indian Christians are Indian in language, dress, food habits, customs and tradition and are not European in any sense. This is the unique feature about the Christian community in India.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at