Film review:Assassin’s creed-A total ‘paisa-vasool’ flick

This morning I decided to go and watch The Assassin’s Creed, not because I’m a big fan of the video game but because I didn’t have anything to do:)

Let us take a closer look at Assassin’s Creed, the film. Assassin’s Creed trailer

An Overview:

The story begins exactly the way stories like these usually do. A convicted criminal being rescued from prison (Fassbender) and learning that the organization which planned and executed the rescue (Abstergo Industries) is madly searching for The Apple of Eden (Now, that’s interesting:)) How these men (and woman as well) go about their business forms the crux of the story.

The Storyline:

The story could have been a bit tighter, but frankly, stories and films dealing with video games and stuff are pretty much ‘over the top’ action-packed entertainers and we want them to be that way. The best thing about the film is that it  succeeds in keeping the viewer hooked and guessing. It’s fast-faced and doesn’t give you an opportunity to blink your eyes. The film keeps you interested right from the beginning till the very end and its 2 hour run-time won’t appear long . The story loses pace on more than one occasions, especially post interval, but ultimately succeeds in delivering what it wants to deliver i.e. entertainment.

Rating:**1/2

Performances:

Fassbender is the star of the show, without a doubt. The film relies heavy upon Fassbender’s heroics and he has done quite a reasonable job. He’s quite similar to the protagonists we have in our typical Bollywood flicks. A guy with  a largely  shadowy past. Marion as Dr. Sophia adds glamour and charm to the film just like Katrina Kaif did in Ek Tha Tiger. The likes of Jeremy Irons and Micheal Williams have been given limited screen-space and you can expect that from a movie which is heavily dependent upon its lead pair.

Rating: ***/5

Music:

The director’s brother Jed Kurzel has composed the film’s music and it has to be said that the film’s music is one of the positives the film brings to light. Jed Kurzel, known for composing music for the highly acclaimed horror flick The Babadook has once again delivered the goods. The film’s music pumps up the viewer’s adrenaline and complements the entire setup. It adds that adventurous flavour to The Assassin’s Creed.

Rating ****/5

Direction:

Justin Kurzel has tried extremely hard to recreate the 15th century setup. The action sequences have been executed really well. The locations add authenticity to the setup. Most of the action sequences are extremely pleasing to the eye. The complexity of the entire plot has been maintained but the wafer thin plotline really leaves you with nothing except action sequences. the VFX team needs to be given a thumbs up for the effort they’ve invested.

Rating **1/2

Overall:

All in all, the film is meant for the sole purpose of entertainment. It is a perfect way to kickstart the weekend. If you’re a fan of Fassbender then you can definitely give it a go ahead. It would surely lure the video game and movie buffs in India as well as in other parts of the world as well. Assassin’s Creed has been made keeping in mind the younger audiences. It’ll do reasonable business (I would like to believe that) because of the popularity of the video game. Overall, it’s a fast paced,action-packed flick. Definitely a one-time watch.

Overall Rating:***/5

Advertisements

The aftermath…

Sexual assault destroys lives, both directly as well as indirectly. Sexual harassment as a crime can show its ugly head anywhere. It’s a crime which spans age, religion and even cultural backgrounds. A report published earlier this year shed light on the horrifying fact that nearly 80% ( i.e. 4 in every 5 women) have faced harassment of some form or the other in the public.

Sexual assault is one of those heinous crimes that are seen and experienced everyday and yet crimes as heinous as these manage to escape our eyes quite easily. It is perhaps because of the fact that a vast majority of victims believe that reporting sexual abuse would bring a bad name to the family. The trauma of isolation and the consequent decline in the degree of self-esteem the victim experiences also makes the entire process of reporting sexual abuse quite difficult.

Let us take fictitious example: Suppose in a country if 100 cases of rape and sexual assault occur. Only 30 out of those 100 would possibly be reported. Out of those 30, only five or seven out of those 30 would possibly lead to an arrest and out of those seven only 2 of the culprits would possibly be convicted.

Let us take a look at why do a majority of rape cases go unnoticed? It is the intense pain and the aftermath of the trauma which leads victims to refrain themselves from reporting sexual abuse. There are numerous after-affects of facing sexual assault. Stress, eating disorder, self-injury, declining confidence etc etc. These may continue years and years after the incident has occurred. Quite often, it has been observed that survivors feel the pressure to ‘come out’ of the ordeal.

The society needs to shift its perception of sexual assault survivors. The trauma is not only within the experience, but also within the entire length and breadth of the stigma and isolation a survivor goes through. So, instead of looking at behaviours that might come out as ‘pathological’ or rather demoralizing, we must encourage and appreciate the coping mechanisms the survivors have managed to scrape together.

Furthermore, victim blaming is still a harsh reality our society refuses to accept.Victim blaming still exists because it’s easier if rape were actually the victim’s fault. The bystanders and people in the vicinity would remain ‘innocent’ bystanders, rid themselves of the feeling of guilt and sorrow. Blaming the victim also ends up impacting our willingness to help.

A part of effectively addressing the problem is to ‘accept’ the victims as a part of our society. Acceptance holds the key here. Tell the victims they aren’t alone in this fight. Remaining silent and not supporting the victims is, as they say, a conspiracy of silence.

A survivor of sexual violence and assault experiences an array of strange feelings, right from anxiety to depression to shame. According to statistics, every 15 minutes, a woman is raped in India. The fact that, in some cases, victims are forced to drop the charges against the rapist  and in turn marry him also throws light on the sorry state of affairs when it comes to reporting the cases related to rape and assault. And above all, the low status of women in our society also adds up quite significantly to the entire problem. Daughters are considered a burden because of the need to pay a marriage dowry. Throughout their upbringing, sons are believed to be fed better than their sisters, are more likely to be sent to schools and have brighter career prospects.

To conclude, it’s really shocking to see women facing such problems that too, in a country where mothers form the heart of a family.

Decoding Ravi Ashwin…

The game of cricket has transformed by leaps and bounds. From cricket to 50 over matches and now, from 50 over matches to the bang-bang Twenty20 matches. Cricketers need to adapt. They need to perform well across different conditions and formats. Pressure of performing consistently has never been this high.Being a good batsman isn’t enough, you need to be an excellent fieldsman and a more than useful bowler as well.

The Indian National cricket team’s so-called ‘never-ending’ search for a genuine test all-rounder seems to have finally ended. The transformation of the tall and lanky lad from Chennai (Ravi Ashwin) has been nothing short of exceptional.  The thing that makes him one of India’s most valuable cricketers is the fact that the bowler in him can think like a batsman,anticipating what the opponent is trying to do. Furthermore,the batsman in him can think like a bowler, avoiding ploys and traps.

Ashwin has been appreciated by cricket pundits all over the world for his exceptional strike-rate of five wicket hauls. He has further gained appreciation for his ability to make valuable contributions down the order, but his inability to replicate this prolific run on foreign soils has been criticized.

ravichandran-ashwin-jamaica-.jpg. You can’t be called a complete cricketer just because you pile of the runs and pick wickets on your home-soil. Don Bradman, one of the hungriest cricketers to ever pick up the piece of willow, isn’t considered by some cricket pundits to be a complete cricketer for having played in only two countries.

Ashwin’s rise as a genuine all-rounder has a variety of reasons. First of all, his ability to stay firm at one end while batting. Secondly, his technique, which is quite okay (remember we are talking about a guy who bats at seven or eight). Thirdly, he is someone who has almost all the orthodox shots in his kitty. While he has the ball in hand, his variations make him a lethal weapon capable of destroying even the world’s best batting line up.

The key to understanding Ashwin’s value lies in unlocking the many successful transformations he has gone through. He started his career as a batsman who could bowl occasional medium pace. Now he has transitioned into one of the finest off-spinners the game of cricket has ever seen. He was the first one to realize that his physique isn’t built for speed. He won’t be able to beat most of his teammates in a sprint. He has spent considerable time ensuring he has a safe pair of hands when it comes to catching.

Ashwin has altered his bowling technique on more than one occasions. From the time he starts from the mark, builds the momentum towards the crease, then loads up, pivots up and releases one of his many deliveries. Ashwin does not merely live cricket, he loves it. And it appears as if the game of cricket is loving him back.

Talking of records, Ashwin is the quickest to reach 200 test wickets.Since January 2015, he has completed  five wicket hauls 14 times in 20 tests. That is sheer greatness.His all round displays are a case in  point. He has thus far won an identical six Man Of The Match and Man Of The Series awards in test match cricket this year. The man who seems to have perfected the art of bowling a ‘carrom ball’ does not believe in going after records. He keeps on dismissing batsmen and the records keep tumbling as well. Presently, Ashwin has 72 test scalps from 12 test matches he has been a part of this year, making him the highest wicket-taker this year.

Ashwin has already had some stellar performances to his credit. Considering his rising stature and the kind of form he’s in,  the best may just be round the corner. A long home season awaits Ashwin as he’ll be seen flexing his muscles against the mighty Aussies in the spring of 2017. We’re surely in for a tour de force or two from this prodigiously gifted and talented all-rounder.

Organ trade…

India can be rightly proud of its status as one of  the world’s fastest growing economies but there’s an infamous label that refuses to go away. Despite the country’s best efforts to destroy the black market for illegal organ trade, India retains its reputation as an easy place to buy organs such as kidneys and livers.

Earlier this year, I saw a Bollywood flick titled ‘Rocky Handsome’ starring the burly surly John Abraham. The film struggled to attract audiences, but threw light on the ever-so grave and serious issue of illegal organ trade. The film saw an organized organ mafia active in the Indian state of Goa. The liver was being sold to one district, the heart to another.

There are quite a lot of reasons for this. First of all, the very concept of organ donation is new in India. Furthermore, the western notion of removing organs from people who have already been declared brain-dead is even more unfamiliar. India is a huge country with around 60% of its population still living in villages, so it’s not possible for all of them to know about the practice of organ donation.

The next problem is that not all doctors know how to identify people who can donate their organs. Also, you need to have fairly good connectivity.Imagine that the donor is living in some remote part of Chattisgarh, now to bring him to Delhi and to take out that organ would be a huge challenge.

It is basically due to the lack of awareness. A lot of people believe that organ donation is prohibited in their religion which, in reality, is untrue. No religion prohibits organ donation. And then, there are several horror stories that are a powerful deterrent. Earlier, transplants were misused (they still are) and got a bad name for themselves so, people are scared as well. All of us must have seen it on news channels where patients are admitted to a hospital only to wake and find their organs have been removed.

In the Indian state of Goa, the tourists who overstay after the expiry of their  visas are targeted by  the loan sharks and are tricked into selling their kidneys. In 2016, reports also surfaced from Pandoli, a small community in rural Gujarat where villagers were allegedly pressured into selling their kidneys to solve their financial problems.

Diabetes is rife in India. Untreated diabetes leads to organ failure, necessitating a transplant, but there aren’t enough donated organs to go around. The Indian hospitals receive countless requests for organs from abroad as well.And so the underground trade persists.

Although such illicit rackets have been flourishing since the early 1990’s, the growth and the rising popularity of social media has catapulted the trade into a new direction. Harvesters are openly lurking on dozens of Facebook pages fashioned as Kidney and transplant support groups.

The widening hole between the demand and legal supply of organs is being filled by what is believed to be the world’s biggest organ market spanning across India, Nepal, Sri Lanka,  Bangladesh and Iran. Sri Lanka has become the epicenter of illegal kidney  transplants over the years.

To promote organ donation as a positive practice, the authorities are enlisting the help of Bollywood actors. Aamir Khan, for instance, has pledged to donate  his organs. Earlier this year Sri Lanka suspended all kidney transplants for foreigners after Indian police linked a kidney racket in India to doctors based in Sri Lanka, allegedly operating on Indian donors and recipients.

All of these practices and initiatives have had limited impact over the ever-so-growing business of illegal organ trade primarily because of the fact that trafficking in organ trade is an organized crime. The recruiter who identifies the vulnerable person, the transporter, the hospital staff, the medical professionals etc. The trade is rarely exposed because of the large number of people involved in it.

Societal taboos- Part II

Kahaani 2, the second installment of the ‘Kahaani’ franchise may have failed to recreate the magic which the previous one had created, but the film has thrown light on the ever so-sensitive issue of child sexual abuse.  Sexual abuse at home is a horrifying reality for Thousands of children. Right from a stray touch on the road to making obscene phone calls during the late hours of the night, Everything falls under sexual abuse.

On a personal note, I saw a middle-aged guy sitting in a car and staring un-apologetically at a group of college girls. I guess all of us have seen that at least once in our life. Only the faces and the eyes change, the situation remains pretty much constant. Among the numerous problems faced by women, this one happens to be quite common these days. All of us must have seen this quite, but instead of taking a step forward in order to stop the nuisance, we prefer to turn a blind eye towards it.

On a cold December morning, I saw Vidya Balan’s character Durga Rani Singh was seen screaming, trying to pent up her anger at the Diwans for molesting their daughter Mini. It seemed that someone had dug his nails on a wound our society refuses to accept. The film brilliantly showcased what other similar films had shied away from showcasing in broad daylight, that sexual violence inside the ‘warmth’ and ‘safety’ of our homes is as much a reality as it is outside.

I remember reading countless stories of adolescent girls who were sexually abused by their own cousins and it showcased a rather grim side of the entire problem. The first time these girls were ‘abused’ by their cousins they hardly knew what was happening. A girl, aged 21 narrated an incident which had occurred in 2003, when she was hardly 9 years old.

“While my body was still changing and we didn’t even have the slightest of ideas about anything happening around us. I was taken into the bedroom by my elder cousin who was 7 years elder to me. He slid his hands under my shirt, I lay motionless, having absolutely no idea of what was happening. It was a wintery evening in December and both of us were lying on the bed with a blanket rolled over us.It was years later that I realized the real intention behind those touches.”

This is just one of the many countless stories that have shown their ugly head and have yet managed to escape without anyone even noticing them. The worst part about suffering sexual abuse at home is that the perpetrator lurks nearby. You can choose not to interact with that person in particular, but you can’t just avoid him. You’ll meet him everytime you go to attend a wedding in the family, or perhaps when you go an attend your cousin’s birthday. It is something that leaves behind deep scars and these scars refuse to heal, no matter how hard we try.

Education shouldn’t just be limited to of text books mathematics and science. It should inculcate a sense of understanding among students. An understanding of what is right and what is wrong. While numerous ‘ethical’ dress codes and behavioral patterns are taught to women in order to avoid sexual abuse out there in the open, the fact that it can occur within the four walls of one’s house makes the issue even more serious and gruesome. And, the saddest part is:

”  These perpetrators are not monsters but normal human beings like all of us, and, that my friend, is the most shocking aspect of the entire problem, but it isn’t your fault. Faces can be extremely deceptive at times”