Sunday, June 26, 2011

Kung Fu Panda 2 - A Review

A dragon warrior has a higher calling. He must ensure that ‘kung fu’ does not become endangered. He must show China - and all the world - that kung fu is not dead! He must show this, in particular, to that horrible villain, Lord Shen, the slim and slimy, rude and ruthless peacock.

But can our dragon warrior, the panda called Po, and his band of brothers and sisters, the furious five, succeed? Can Po get the ‘inner peace’ he needs to overcome the aggressor? Can Po find out the secret behind a disturbing memory? Can Po confront the hidden truth about his parentage? Can he consolidate his strength from the memories of parents he had never seen? Can Po fulfill the prophetic statements of soothsayers, and free China from the evil? The answers to these questions lie in the movie - A movie with animation that I felt was cutely captivating, magically mesmerizing, and simply superb.

Using the latest technology that resulted from the invention of fireworks in China, the evil Lord Shen uses fire cannons to terrorize and subdue people, village after village, across China.

But, our reluctant hero, the loveable, cuddly, rotund, black-and-white bamboo-lover, the protagonist Po (voice of Jack Black) must now lead his friends as they traverse the mountains and lakes to meet their nemesis, and to end his evil plans. They must wade through dangers and perils unknown. And they must use kung fu to thwart the dark forces. This team, the furious five, who include Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie chan) and Viper (Lucy Liu), go on to show us the importance of realizing our destiny, embracing our responsibility and ridding the world of evil that mocks tradition and culture.

Like all typical Hollywood villains, specially from James bond movies, Lord Shen has the aspirations of ruling the whole world. He dreams of controlling the whole of China. But like all such villains, Lord Shen must be taught a lesson. Which is what Po’s ultimate mission is.

Like Po, who does not know how Lord Shen’s fire-cannons spew such venomous fire, I do not know how they make these animation movies. But I do know that the blending of music, visuals, and voice has resulted in this fascinating production called Kung Fu Panda 2.

With spectacular scenic beauty, stunning visual appeal, fast paced excitement, crispy, witty dialogues, this is a movie worth watching on the big screen. My children loved it. I loved it. I am sure you will love it too. But please go to the movie taking with you that wonder and awe, and that delight and joy, that a child has.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Government attack on Baba Ramdev - Wisdom or Folly?

In India, it’s yet another protest by fasting. After Gandhian leader Anna Hazare, we have now seen the famous yoga guru Baba Ramdev locking horns with the ruling Congress-led UPA government by declaring a fast unto death. But why was he fasting?

He had a few anti-corruption demands such as declaring black money stashed abroad as national assets, framing a separate law on national assets and enforcing strict punishment for the guilty. All his demands were obviously for the good of the country, and most people agree with him; especially, the millions of yoga enthusiasts who literally worship him for his teachings.

But his attempt at this ‘satyagraha’ was, however, brutally cut short by the Delhi Police who, on Saturday, in a late night crackdown at the Ramlila Maidan, tear-gassed his followers, evicted him from Delhi, transferred him to his ashram in Haridwar, and banned him from entering Delhi.

Why did the police suddenly do this? Well, they say, it’s simple. He was only given permission in that place in Delhi for conducting yoga classes and not for mass protests. Also, the permission was for only a few thousands and not for the tens of thousands that began assembling to encourage the Baba. A security threat would have arisen if the crowds kept increasing.

Now, this rapid action can only show us the wisdom, or the folly, of the UPA government, depending on our point of view. To be or not to be aggressive? That was a question the government must have contemplated much before sending its police brigade to confront the powerful guru; one who could direct the masses with his fingertips, just like he does with his various 'yogasanas'.

But why did the government take this enormous risk? If we backtrack a bit, we will see that the government’s top brass had met Baba Ramdev for talks, and later announced to the media that they had agreed to his demands and he had agreed to give up his fast. But he quickly responded by saying that he never said he would quit fasting, and that the officials were all liars. Maybe that was the last straw that broke the camel’s back!

And so, soon came the police. And apprehend him they did.  The government now says he has some other hidden political agenda, not related to corruption, because they had agreed to all his demands, and yet he wants to go ahead with the fast.

What repercussions this high-voltage drama will now have on Indian politics is something that only time will tell. And whether we call it wisdom or folly, one thing is certain - the Congress is definitely walking on a thin rope. And with actions like these, while it is performing its dangerous balancing act, instead of encouraging crowds to clap hands, it seems to be only encouraging them to throw stones.