welcome to yet another edition of v!be.

issue #13

Now that this year's American Academy of Motion Pictures OscarĀ© awards are over, lets take a trip down memory lane in search of India at the Oscars. Though it is fair and true that our films do not require American "appreciation" to be judged as excellent cinema and that India has always had her ample share of awards at Cannes and other ceremonies, clinching an award at the Oscars doesn't harm oneself does it?


So lets begin with the winners-

1982 saw Bhanu Athaiya (along with John Mollo) win the award for Costume Design for GANDHI. She's also designed costumes for Lagaan and Swades among others.

It's 1991 and India's most respected filmmaker, Satyajit Ray is honoured with a special "Oscar" in recognition of his "rare mastery of the art of motion pictures, and of his profound humanitarian outlook, which have had an indelible influence on filmmakers and audiences throughout the world." Past recipients of this most prestigious award include Walt Disney, Orson Welles,Bob Hope, Charlie Chaplin, Fred Astaire, Cecil B. deMilles, Douglas Fairbanks and Sophia Loren.


Now from winners to worthy candidates.

Three Indian films have had the distinction of making it to the nominations for Best Foreign Film category - Mehboob's Mother India(1957), Mira Nair's Salaam Bombay(1988) and Ashutosh Gowarikar's Lagaan(2001).

An Encounter With Faces, by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, was India's first nomination in 1979 for the Documentary(Short Subjects) category at the Oscars. Vinod Chopra's documentary about Bombay street children received acclaim for the technique of the film: direct, unwavering conversations with children, neither patronizing nor pitying.

After a quarter century, The Little Terrorist, from director Ashvin Kumar, is the second Indian film to be nominated for an Oscar(2005) in the live action short film category.

As luck would have it, none of them emerged winners, but they did manage to garner international admiration and made all of us proud.

and more...

And then of course there has been no dearth of Indian born people laying a claim to the coveted prize. The biggest name among them is of course Ismail Merchant. Born in Bombay, educated at St. Xavier's University (Bombay) his films have created a whole new Merchant-Ivory aura and been nominated several times:

  • Nominated for Short Subjects (Live Action Subjects) 1960: THE CREATION OF WOMAN - Producer (w. Charles F. Schwep)
  • Nominated for Best Picture 1986: A ROOM WITH A VIEW - Producer at Merchant-Ivory
  • Nominated for Best Picture of the Year 1992: HOWARDS END - Producer at Merchant-Ivory
  • Nominated for Best Picture of the Year 1993: THE REMAINS OF THE DAY - Producer at Merchant-Ivory (w. John Calley & Mike Nichols)

Then our very own Mr. India, Shekhar Kapur wowed the world with his film Elizabeth which received 7 nominations (including best picture) in 1998 and landed a best actress award for Kate Blanchett.

Not to forget the whooping success of movies with India/Indians as themes like Sir Richard Attenborough's 1982 multiple-Oscar winner (including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Ben Kingsley) GANDHI and David Lean's A Passage To India (with 11 nominations and the best original score and best supporting actress awards)

All in all we have had quite a good track record at the Oscars; of course that proves/disproves nothing, we love our films and that's all that matters. Still it's good to see how "cinematic excellence" can cross borders and impress people from all over the world with their universal themes.


This week:

issue# 12

Just a month or so back I was discussing with my friends on the omnipotence of google; the power it has over our lives. I had commented on the way we no longer directly type in web URL s, but prefer google to lead us to them, even for frequently visited websites - we make no effort to remember the URL, and in fact often fail to even bookmark them, trusting google to bail us out each time.

As a specific example I had cited the Indian Railways reservation enquiry website, which I found most of us always went to by searching "indian railways" in the google search bar; and lo! and behold the google popular queries January 2005 from India ( http://www.google.com/press/intl-zeitgeist.html#in ) - "indian railways" ranks second to "tsunami"!

This deliberate forgetfulness and dependence on external entities for basic information ( rather than keeping them in your head ) has spread like a social alzheimer. Most of us do not remember the phone numbers, contact addresses of even those most important to us beacuse we can always bank on storage provided by our mobile phones or PDAs. If you stop to think for a while you will find innumerable such examples; and that raises such questions as "What if google goes paid?", "What if I lose my mobile and PDA, would I be able to remember even my home number?" and the most ominous question - "What if all this technology came crashing down?"

At one time, I was a strong advocate against cramming up data in your head- what are books and computers and stuff for if not to store such information? Having a weak memory myself, I would mock avid quizzers asking them why anyone would want to memorize the name of the capital of Latvia when you could get that on a world map! But now, I sometimes wonder, have we gone too far in giving our brains a rest and relying on silicon chips?

-suman datta

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issue #11

Hi, and wish you a very happy valentine's day. What more to say on such a day but live and love and enjoy these quotes on love.

If you have it [love], you don't need to have anything else, and if you don't have it, it doesn't matter much what else you have.
--Sir James M. Barrie

If you judge people, you have no time to love them.
--Mother Teresa

Love: Two minds without a single thought.
--Philip Barry

Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction.

He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals.
--Benjamin Franklin

Better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all.
--St. Augustine

Have fun.


issue# 10

I was really amazed at some of my friends' reactions when I asked them if they would like to contribute poetry dedicated to their lovers. All of them have a good grip over the English language and are quite creative too, but the very word "poetry" seemed to strike a deep fear into their hearts. Of course I won't dispute that poetry is a difficult subject - with such grave things as forms,metre,rhyme schemes and what not- but, we are not actually trying to become a Keats or Shelley here, just trying to organize our thoughts into a form that's appealing to the ears and the eyes.

So here are some quick tips to get a poem written. Try them out and if you like the result, please do send it to us.

Rhythm not Rhyme:
That's the first thing to take care of. Most people fall into the trap of writing a series of sentences, all ending in rhyming words which strip the poem of its meaning. In fact, people concentrate so hard on finding that rhyming word that they forget the subject of the poem. So, to save yourself from falling into the trap, I would advise you to forget about rhyming. Rhythm, however, is very important and that can mostly be taken care of by punctuation and line breaks - basically see that your sentences have a uniformity and are not awkwardly long or short.

The Refrain:
This is the oldest trick in the book to make your poems come alive. A refrain is a regularly recurring phrase or verse especially at the end of each stanza or division of your poem. Generally if you have struck upon a theme for your poem, you can easily construct a phrase based on it, use it as a refrain, and construct your whole poem around it.

For example, if you want to write about how you still remember your childhood sweetheart you might create a line like "but i still remember those days we shared" as a refrain and use it like:
`i have loved and lost and loved again
been around the world and back
but i still remember those days we shared...

i have had my share of joy and sorrow
but i still remember those days we shared...`

Inversion and line breaks:
Once you have written down the base of the poem it's time to recite it in your mind and try rearranging the words and sentences. One thing that comes in handy at such a time is sentence inversion. Change something like "my heart desires to see you once more" into "to see you once more, how my heart desires".

Another useful method is to insert line breaks at places in a sentence where it may not be logical but "sounds" good. For example instead of something like

"the sound of wind in the elm trees or the chirp of birds flying home for the night." split it into:

"the sound of wind in the elm trees
or the chirp of birds flying home for the night."

and then rearrange it to ignore the logical break up thus:

"the sound of wind in the elm trees or the chirp
of birds flying home for the night."

And there you are, replace some of the mundane words with flowery synonyms, throw in some splendid adjectives for the polish and you have your very own bouquet of words!

Check out www.rhymezone.com for quick access to synonyms, rhyming and related words

-suman datta

in today's issue:

poetry | shorts | relativity | critique

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