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Friday, September 19, 2008

Time is Running Out.................

Without even bringing one's self to deconstruct Mamata Banerjee's career graph in politics one will surely acknowledge that the basic traits that have defined her over the years have been her vehement anti-CPI(M) stance, populist appeal, sympathy for the suffering on one hand, with political vacillation, lack of vision and complete absence of policy gracing the other.

She has had her share of followers and political space, having the Union Railway Ministry to initiate the reform mantra being the high-point of it, but, today she needs to introspect deeply to salvage pride for herself and spare West Bengal the ignominy of being branded a
- 'Investor's Grave'.

Singur is a lose-lose situation for her now. Only she has to realise it.

Even if the Tatas pack their bags, lick their wounds, count their losses and go off to Karnataka in search of a favorable climate what have the unwilling farmers, the champion of whose rights Didi has modelled herself into, stand to gain ?

I reckon, "Nothing!"

The Land Acquisition Act forbids re-allocation of acquired land to its former owners. The State Govt. surely isn't going to amend an act so as to accommodate the political/moral victory of its opponents. To let the unwilling farmers have what they lost to the Nano will need Didi to come to power in the next Assembly Elections ( which I don't need to say seems ' improbable' to stay on the safer side). How realistic does that sound ?

Also having refused the compensation-cheques for their land the first time around and Didi thwarting their opportunity of grabbing onto the renegotiated compensation (which was a much better deal than the previous offer) the unwilling lot will soon find difficulty in making their ends meet. No wonder chinks have started appearing in their ranks.

Now is a good time to grab the maximum offered amount and have the Nano meet its deadline, rolling out of Singur. Serious ramifications, both politico-economic and otherwise can then be averted. Both for the Left Front and the Trinamool.

The Front will mobilise its publicity machinery and bludgeon Didi's fiery rhetoric to a whimper. She will cry herself hoarse on injustice being meted out and yet nothing will reach the people. The Left is too good at that. It will quietly count its losses, brain-storm, strategise and hand her a electoral debacle she will find hard to balance with both her hands.

Didi might not sense it right now but, the stigma of having driven a monumental opportunity for the state will haunt her in the future like nothing else. She will effectively alienate the 'upwardly mobile' middle class and garner few votes from the farmer-front torn between old and new loyalties. If the Singur plant is closed down it might well send the Agnikanya ( fire-woman) to 'cool it a little' in the unforgiving anonymity of political wilderness come the next elections.
It is now that she must decide if pride may well take its place before the eventual fall comes snapping at its heels.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

'Sweeney Todd' - Stylish Barber-ism for a Musical

With a strong cast of the finest actors available, one of them arguably the most versatile of all times,
Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street' engages, enthralls and intimidates its viewers all at the same time. Tim Burton achieves what Tarantino killed in the womb in 'Kill Bill'. Who could have thought that a blood-fest, a sheer torment to the sensibilities of the weak-hearted, an instrument to inspire dread in the sane and the meek could be moulded into a musical. Men have done it first on stage and Burton's done rightful justice to it on screen. Sounds frivolous but I assure you that none of the deadly vigor of revenge, none of the monstrous facets of gore and flesh has been trivialized or euphemised with the song and dance ritual typical of musicals.

Where the story revolves around the life of a wronged barber and his lust for revenge can murder be far behind ? Johny Depp delves into the skin of the title character with usual aplomb and gives a performance worthy of a standing ovation. Playing a man tortured for no crime he committed, he plays both a grieving husband and a longing father with no family to show his love to. So, he channelizes all his emotions into a frightful rage and in his own way justifies the murder of ones who never did him any harm. He becomes both the judge and the executioner, ironically driven to the task by a judge himself ( Alan Rickman).

Helena Bonham Carter
( as Mrs Lovett ), the accomplished actress that she is, seems to have found her footing with a substantial role after a long while. Mrs Lovett is a guilty accomplice to the crimes and also a aspiring woman, longing for love and family. She plays the complicated female to perfection, both vicious and vile, while on the other hand she is all caring and affectionate. She scintillates as a complex mixture, a woman torn between emotional extremes, marked by warm benevolence and selfless love to Toby, the boy rescued from a London workhouse, whereas she is an epitome of witch-like manipulation of the barber's mind in order to gain his attentions.

I saw 'Donnie Brasco' and 'Sweeney Todd' in something of a back-to-back Johny Depp double-whammy at home today and I found that this one had Depp in full flow. Hence, this review. If you have seen him in 'What's Eating Gilbert Grape' you won't recognize him here. If you have lately seen 'Edward Scissorhands' chances are you will. With a white streak of hair, more stylish than eerie he wields his wares with razor sharp dexterity and comes out with the goods.

The film has its 'moments of truth', as every film worth its salt should, and for me it was when Todd, the barber decides to murder all and sundry and justifies it by saying,

"It's man devouring man, my dear
And who are we to deny it in here ? "

True. Bloody true.

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