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Monday, September 30, 2013

Celluloid .....Movie Review

Crtain books and films open your eyes to certain true stories one would not have known otherwise .

Kamal is a sensitive senior Director in Malayalam films and he has made this film on J.C.Daniel who  made the first Malayalam film in 1930 albeit a silent one .
like anything in Kerala even creativity comes with controversy ,there were claims to the contrary saying that the film was silent and how could it be first Malayalam film ,the title of the film was vigathakumaran or lost child which is a Malayalam word ,the morons who raised the controversy should know that .
J.C .Daniel s a man with a passion for cinema ,trained in martial arts he hailed from Travancore kanyakumari dt ,he was bent on making the first Malayalam film and unlike movies of those time in Tamil and Hindi mostly mythological and   historical he wanted to make a social film and had a script with him of a child being kidnapped to Ceylon and brought up there and reunion in India when he becomes old .
Daniel travelled to Bombay and convinced Dada sahib Phalke a pioneer in hindi and Marathi films to watch him make films and learnt many techniques and intricacies of film making
he sold his landed property of his family to finance the film which would cost him four lakh British rupees those days a princely sum indeed .
He would bring an actress from Bombay for the heroines role but fed up by her demands would send her back he would select a scheduled caste girl called rosie to act as the upper caste Nair heroine in the movie .
with so much hardship he would somehow complete the film and on its day of release in capital theatre in Trivandrum eagerly await with expectation its results
Kerala has been called as not a single madhouse but a collection of madhouses by none other than Swami Vivekananda who was disgusted at the casteist divisions in Kerala society .
Its still a collection of madhouses today though for several other reasons .
the upper castes show their anger on a low cast Rosie acting in an upper caste role and destroy the theatre ,Rosie escapes to tamilnadu as her house is burnt and is never heard off .
Daniel loses his money and becomes poor but later he does dental surgery and starts earning money and fame as a good dentist .
he becomes rich again and once when PC Chinnappa the legendary comedian comes to him for a tooth to be removed asks him to take one more film again he moves to Madras where he is tempted to squander his money and sink into abject poverty .
his children drift off as they grow and the old couple Daniles are left alone in a decrepit house uncared by anyone
by then Malayalam had started making good films and was becoming a big industry but none knew of Daniel ,it was maker of Balan a later film who was considered as the maker of first Malayalam film .
A lone journalist searches for Daniel who with great reluctance parts with his tragic tale ,
nasta nayika by vinu Abraham is about P.K.Rosy the heroine of malayalams first film
Vinu tries to convince the kerala government to honour Daniel as the first Malayalam fim maker but absurd reasons are given to avoid this ,the final scene in the movie is the ceremony to honour Daniel posthumously some years back when his son climbs the podium to receive his fathers accolades ,he makes a touching speech of being the one who destroyed the film in its box as a child while playing with it and it getting burnt and apologises to malayalam film world for inadvertently destroying a valuable evidence and archive
Prithiviraj as Daniel and later as his son has excelled in his histrionics and at the same time downplayed it so subtly Mamta Mohandas one of my favourite actress as his wife was superb
Rosie with her innocence was enacted by a talent search newcomer
Kamal has done yeoman service to film history by this sensitive portrayal of J.C.Daniel
the movie is one that touches ones soul
of course one has to but mention the music by M.jayachandran who takes us back to the 30 s with his compositions

please don't miss this

Friday, September 27, 2013

Benda from behind a wall

East Germany ,
many youngsters would not have heard of this country nor would  they know much about the cold war period where the world was neatly divided into two one the soviet Chinese Communist bloc and the west dominated by the United states ,UK ,Japan and France .
This was an era of  ,double crosses and espionage where the CIA and the KGB played their deadly games .
Ian Fleming and his bonds were in real life too .
At the time to even think all this would end and the Soviet bloc would crumble and merge with the west was unthinkable .
but it was what happened in the eighties ,like a pack of cards the  communist countries saving China dismantled and embraced their sworn enemies .
East and West Germany were always separated by a wall in Berlin ,high with electric fences remote cameras and sharpshooting trigger happy soldiers . it was watched day and night and many died like flies as they attempted to jump from their dreary socialistic life into the capitalistic glamour across the wall
Erik honecker the East German communist party general secretary ruled with an iron hand and his country was a massive prison with starving workers leading a dreary life of rationed goods .
to think there were doctors and scientists in this atmosphere creating path breaking drugs was astounding .
but it did happen and this is what I am  going to write in this post   .
Of late Bendamustine is   making waves as an oncology drug with promise .

Even the very name reeks of history .
 when it came in the beginning after the Berlin war broke into smithereens in 1989 it was looked at with ridicule by the west which had a highly funded cancer Research programme going on for years .

In the west too it was trial and error that made new discoveries in cancer
it all began with the first world war where a chemical called nitrogen mustard was used and killed many and  on conducting autopsies of these bodies  a clever doctor found out that there was literally no lymphocytes or other white blood cells in these bodies so he guessed rightly that this could used for leukaemia's which was proliferation of these cells .

There are many more such stories behind the hi fi medical oncology therapeutics of today a multimillion dollar industry with monoclonal antibodies and targeted therapies holding the roost .

Bendamustine belongs to  the group of nitrogen mustard and is an alkylating agent

To make the story short FDA of USA the gold standard in drug acceptance has approved Bendamustine for lymphoma ,chronic lymphocytic leukaemia ,and research is going on for even some solid tumours like Breast cancer .

Suddenly Bendamustine is on every oncologists lips as they find that it is effective with minimal side effects compared to conventional drugs being used .

Thus a drug that hid itself behind a wall has been found out and is today being reborn .

it could rightly be called the bendamustine epic and so here is small ditty about Benda

Behind a wall


Behind the Berlin wall was East Germany

Where people were paid only in pennies

It was grey and dusky with concrete flats

And It was dull and old with faded mats


But there lived scientists who were brilliant

And In discovering drugs they were triumphant

They fought leukaemia’s and  lymphomas with a new drug

Called Bendamustine  which sounded more   like a rare  bug


And so the drug lay for years buried in the east

While glamorous RCHOP and RITUX  ruled the west

And then one day the Berlin wall was broken

That day onwards East Germany lay forsaken


The west looked at anything from the east with ridicule

And so they did with this too … this new molecule

Till  a clever doctor presented in lancet a landmark paper

Which showed that Bendamustine was  no clever caper


And thus ladies and gentlemen goes the Bendamustine epic

And how it was saved from  being  just a relic

it’s bound to becom a path breaking drug so tall

but remember how  it all began  just behind  a wall ……..


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The General with a smile

Kashmir the heaven on earth beckoned us from its lofty heights We the final year students of Kilpauk medical college had gathered at Central Railway station Madras ( now Chennai ) ,some amongst us were dragging thier suitcases on wheels which in 1982 was a rarity ! we sniggered at this sight calling it as a dog on a leash ! We were about 80 students I think both girls and boys and like any exited college bunch out on a big trip
chattering uncontrollably while we made ourselves comofortable for our long train ride in our reserved berths . It was the month of May and Delhi was like a furnace when we reached there after a couple of days . Even living in Madras known to be a hot place didnt prepare us for this hot oven ,we were taken by the tour operators to a south indian boarding hosue somewhere in Karol Bagh or near connought place I think one of the many nameless decriept places of course as students we couldnt afford Asokha hotel could we , we went for the Delhi sightseeing and enjoyed it . later I went to my uncle Maj . Gen P.E.Menons house in Rastrapathi Bhavan complex , he was then the military secretary to the Preseident of India at that time it was Shri Zail singh ,I was suitably impressed by uncles house and postion ,was looked after warmly had a royal dinner courted by uniformed military and Rastrapathi house retinue later with some friends we were taken for small conducted tour to the Rastraphati bhavan itself and the mughal gardens , a great honour indeed . We were all wide eyed at the spectacle and grandeur . Soon thanking uncle and family and promising to meet them on return from Kashmir we were off to Kashmir . Kashmir was delightful in both climate and beauty and we stayed for three or four days in a houseboat on the languid Dal lake ,we went to Pahalgam ,gulmarg visitd Sankaracharya temple threw snowballs and did some board skating ! at that time terrorism had not started rocking Kashmir and I found that the Kashmiri people were gentle pleasant broad minded secular and hospitable to all ,if such a place could be turned to a foutainhead of terrorism it was only because of the handiwork of Pakistan our neighbour . one of the tourist agents was an young Kashmiri college student who I remember fought for us with his own people when we he took us to the market to hire some beddings I kept correspondence with him for some time even after returning . so far just another college trip The fun started when we returned to Delhi . most of us had empty wallets by then when our limited stock emptied in our Kashmir sojourn and shopping after all we were going to get into the train and go back to Madras in a couple of days so why did we need much money But this is exactly what did not happen in the month of May there is a huge rush and trains are overcrowded we were pretty sure our reserved berths in the waiting lists would get confirmed by the time we came back to Delhi as told by our tour operator but on reaching Delhi station found out that not even one seat was confirmed . We appealed to the Reservation counter later the station superintendent and even went to rail Bhavan requesting them that as medical students it was imperative we return in time as if the health of Tamilnadu state depended on our return but we were ignored by the hindi speaking officials who looked on us as some south indian Madrasi students and asked to wait till we get confirmation . we pleaded that our currency situation was bad and most of were broke but they just looked the other way ,there was worry writ large in our faces suddenly someone piped up why dont we ask Harimohans uncle ji he seems to be a man who could make things work I also felt we could give it a try and so three or four of us went to uncles house again he invited us inside and asked us about our Kashmir foray etc We then confessed our predicament ,one of my friends even added "uncle please help us go back or else we might have to camp in your nice lawns ! the threat of a group pf studnets permanetly parking in his manicured lawans would have been unnerving to anyone but uncle needed no such threats he would have helped us even otherwise he simply smiled at us and took his telephone and I remmebr he called the Railway ministers PA and requested his help for us ,he then asked us to go back to the railway station ,it was just two hours for the Grand trunk express to leave Delhi , we thanked uncle and came to the station . We were thrilled that the whole situation had changed the officials were grinning welcome to us now we were surprised to find that some officals from Rail Bhavan was searching for us and that a seprate compartment was attached with our college name in the train and so we boarded it in style all along the way back ticket inspectors enquired on our comforts and thus we arrived regally back in Madras Thanks to my unclji uncle retired as a Lt Gen and as the Director of Assam Rifles later he passed away . my batch would always remember uncle for the day he helped us with a smile .

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