Friday, October 16, 2009

Pazhassi Raja – The movie review


Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja was born in Kottayam Royal Family. Kottayam Kingdom covered the present day Wayanad and Manathavaday was the capital of this Kingdom. The British were at war with the world in the late 18th century, Americans had declared independence from British in 1776, In south Asia the Marathas and Tipu Sultan (Mysore) were fighting British (East India Company). Pazhassi Raja’s revolt against British started in the same time.  After Tipu left Malabar the British decided to collect the tax directly from the Kings and Nair Lords. The Tax raised by British was unreasonable and people didn’t have the capacity to comply. By listening to the people Pazhassi Raja stopped collecting the taxes.

On June 28, 1795 Pazhassi Raja challenged the British by stopping all tax collection and giving refuge to people who were considered revolutionaries by the British.  The 1797 saw a series of revolts resulting in heavy loss to the British and they were forced to withdraw. After losing his palace and moving onto Wayanad forest, Pazhassi started the guerilla war in June 1800. In 1802 Edachena Kangan and Thalakkal Chanthu captured Panamaram Fort and killed atleast 300 British soldiers. Thomas Harvey Baber came as a sub collector (in 1804) took direct charge of capturing Pazhassi Raja on November 1st, 1805.  On November 30, 1805 Pazhassi Raja was surrounded and killed by the British army. His body was taken back with respect by the British and was cremated with customary honours.  “He was our enemy, But he was a great man and a great warrior”. Thomas Harvey Baber – December 31st, 1805.
The Movie Review

The movie Pazhassi Raja brought the old team of Oru Vadakkan Veeragadha back. National Award winners – Mammootty, Director Hariharan and Script Writer MT Vasudevan Nair and the expectations were sky high – and the end result – they didn’t disappoint us. They created a well crafted movie at par with Hollywood movies. Now let us get into the movie details.
Mammootty plays the role of Pazhassi Raja while Sarath Kumar plays Edachena Kangan and Manoj K Jayan plays the role of Thalakkal Chanthu. Mammootty does a controlled act and plays the role of Raja to the perfection while Sarath and Manoj, Padmapriya (Neeli) and Suresh Krishna (Kaitheri Ambu) brings in a different dimension to the movie with their excellent acting and action scenes. Director needs to be commended for the excellent star cast and using the stars in their right strength. The movie runs in for 3 ½ hours, however with MT (Vasudevan Nair) at the helm of the script it flows smoothly.

The team did an excellent job in finding the right locations and some of them are breath taking. The camera work (By Ramanath Shetty) makes the movie a visual delight.  The music by the maestro Illayaraja is excellent.  The cinematography peaks at the time of war scenes. Of course, you can’t compare this (war scenes) with Braveheart or Gladiators but you can definitely put this at par with Kevin Costner’s Oscar Winner Dances with the wolves.

The king (Pazhassi Raja) with limited resources at his possession has to resort to guerilla war fare. The action shot especially the camera angles and the sound design by Oscar Winner Resul Pookutty is at par with Hollywood movies.  Even the friendly dual between Pazhassi Raja and Edachena Kangan is a treat to watch (lookout for the visual and sound effects). The sound effect of arrows from Neeli (Padmapriya) and Chanthu (Manoj K Jayan) brings the viewers right in the middle of the conflict.  The thunder storm and the heavy rain when the British hangs Chanthu makes the scene touching and memorable.  Pazhassi Raja’s solo entry into British camp to avenge Chanthu’s death is memorable too.  Another highlight of the action scene is the attack of the Panamaram Fort by Kangan (Sarath Kumar) and Chanthu (Manoj K Jayan). This is one of the best war action scenes by the Indian Cinema. The sound effects and the background score of the movie definitely deserve another Oscar.

There are lots of cinematic moments scripted by MT (Vasudevan Nair) – Pazhassi Raja (Mammootty) with his uncle Kurumbranaadu Raja Veeravarma (Thilakan), the climax with Thomas Baber (Harry Key), with Emman Nair (Lalu Alex) before the final conflict. Of course you can’t compare these with Oru Vadakkan Veeragadha but still Mammootty brings in his magical touch to these scenes. Another moment to cherish is Kangan's (Sarath) dialogues with Chandhu (Suman) on declaring the treaty as void. Excellent screenplay by the script writer giving ample scope for each actor to prove their strength.

Rest of the cast including Suman (Pazhayamveedan Chandhu), Jagathy (Kanara Menon), Nedumudy Venu (Moopan), Devan (Kannavathu Nambiar), Captain Raju (Unni Mootha), Jagatheesh (Bhandari), Kaniha (as Pazhassi Raja’s wife – Katheri Maakam),  along with British Actors Peter Evans (as Major James Gordon),  Linda Arsenio (Dora – Baber’s fiancee) and Harry Key (as Thomas Hervey Baber) did their part well.

The negative side of the movie.
The recreation of 18th century villages looks too new. It should have given more rough look to the fences, hut roofs, roads etc. Authenticity of the dressings of the tribal’s (checkout for the red band on Chanthu – Manoj K Jayan’s forehead) . The dialogue delivery of Neeli – instead of Padmapriya someone else should have dubbed for her – as she doesn’t talk Malayalam, her dialogues has an English slang. The key weakness (clean white dress of the tribals, sparkling white teeth of the tribal Neeli - Padmapriya) lies in the Art Direction. Some of the fight scenes (flying scenes - similar to Chinese movies Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Hero) should have been made more realistic.

Final verdict: Excellent movie with very high production quality, excellent acting and action scenes. It will be definitely one of the best movies from India.

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0

On a side note: Production cost of Pazhassi Raja is Rs 32 crores ($6.92 Million Dollars) compared to Braveheart $53 Million Dollars, Gladiator $103 Million, Dances with wolves $19 Million Dollars.

Malabar Days By Nick Balmer - Thomas Baber was Nick's great great great great uncle.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Hope

Today is a historic day not just for America but also for the whole world. Hope and the expectations from the new President elect Barack Obama will be enormous. We all hope he will make the CHANGE happen by rescuing the American economy (along with the Global economy) and change the global political landscape by bringing in peace and stability instead of blind aggression and wars.

Three years (in 2005) back I was sitting with one of my close friend Buck Kulkarni, in starbucks (Edison, NJ) sipping a hot  cappuccino and discussing about political landscape of two great democracies - USA the oldest democracy and India the largest democracy. India was ruled by Dr. Manmohan Singh, a Sikh Prime Minister, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam a Muslim President, a Christian (Sonia Gandhi) ruling party leader and L K Advani a Hindu opposition leader. Where can you expect something like that? Will America ever elect a woman or an African American as president? And we thought its going to take another 50 years for something like that to happen. How wrong we were.

Fast forward to 2008 - We got an African American, born to Muslim-Christian parents, brought up in Indonesia and then by his white grandparents in Hawaii - Barack Hussein Obama, The President of United States of America.

This is the second instance, which strengthened my belief in democracy. First when the farmers from India voted Congress back to power in 2004 when BJP’s India Shining theme gone down with the winds.

These events brings back the most famous quote from Abraham Lincoln – that this (USA) nation, under God shall have a new birth of freedom -- that government
Of the people
By the people
For the people
shall not perish from the earth.


Barack Obama's Victory speech

Monday, March 20, 2006

Wholeness – From Advaita Vedanta to Quantum Physics

Wholeness – Greeks, Vedas & Quantum Physics

The concept of ‘Wholeness’ or ‘Oneness’ is more than 2000 years old, from Greek philosophers in the western civilization to the Vedic scholars in the eastern civilization. So, the debate over mind (Consciousness) and matter is not new. These concepts were broadly classified under Monism (in Greek ‘monos’ means single) and Dualism.

Monism and Dualism from Ancient Greek Philosophers

The term monism was first used by a German philosopher Christian Wolff (1679-1754) even though the philosophies date back to Ancient Greek philosophers. Parmenides a prominent Greek philosopher proposed matter and mind as a single entity. According to Monism the ultimate reality is made up of matter or mind (Consciousness) or a third substance or a combination of all.

Based on these, Monism is further classified into three.






Ernst Haeckel




Rene Descartes

George Berkeley

Baruch Spinoza


Immanuel Kant

Bertrand Russell


G W Hegel

Thomas Hobbes



G W Leibniz


1.Materialistic Monism says everything in the universe is made up of just one substance ‘matter’, and mind is a by product it.

2. Idealistic Monism says everything in the universe is based on Consciousness (mind), and matter is an illusion.

3. Neutral Monism says that both matter and mind can be reduced to form a new substance or energy.

· Substantival Monism (“One Thing”) is of the view that there is only ‘one thing’ and God, mind and matter is part of this ‘one thing’. The 17th century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) proposed this view. Along with western philosophers eastern mysticism also encourages similar views.

· Attributive Monism (“One Category”) is of the view that there is only ‘one thing’ however it is made up of different things like matter and the mind. It disagrees with Substantival monism emphasizing that reality is not made up of ‘one thing’ instead it is composed of multiple things.

In Hinduism Advaita Vedanta subscribes to Substantival Monism emphasizing the atomicity of the mind and the matter while in Buddhism all things are part of a connected world. Creationist philosophy supported the belief where God (Consciousness) and the creature (matter) is considered as two separate entities and God is the supreme, and ‘Idealism’ is the only monism which is theologically acceptable.

One should know that nature is an illusion (maya) and the Brahman is the illusion maker

- Svetasvatara Upanishad


Monism & Dualism in Eastern Mysticism

(work in progress………… watch out this space….)

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

President Kalam's mantra for national prosperity

Following is an extract from the Indian President Kalam’s Republic Day speech echoing the same concerns I raised in the blog India in the year 2020.

Changing Pattern of Society

When the world was moving from the industrial to the information and knowledge era, we witnessed a changing pattern in the sectoral share of Gross Domestic Product and the number of people employed in each sector. The share of GDP percentage has undergone a considerable change. Contribution of agriculture to India's GDP has reduced from 39 percent to 22 percent during the period 1979 to 2004. During the same period the contribution of the manufacturing sector has moved from 24 percent to 27 percent and whereas the contribution of the service sector has increased from 37 percent to 51 percent. There has been considerable change in the employment pattern also. The percentage of people employed in agriculture has come down from 64 percent to 54 percent. Simultaneously, the percentage of people employed in manufacturing has gone up from 15 percent to 19 percent and in the service sector from 20 percent to 27 percent. This trend has to continue and by 2020 our employment pattern should aim at 44 percent in agriculture, 21 percent in manufacturing and 35 percent in service sectors. The displacement of 10 percent people from the agriculture sector has to be facilitated through skill enabling for undertaking value added tasks in rural enterprises so that migration to urban areas is reduced. Instead of person from rural areas going to urban towns in search of jobs in manufacturing and services sectors, PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) will facilitate creation of employment in rural areas. PURA achieves this by providing physical, electronic and knowledge connectivities to a cluster of villages thereby leading to their economic connectivity and prosperity.

National Employment Status

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Bill 2004 was tabled in Parliament in its last session to create employment opportunities in the rural sector. What is needed is coordinated planning and linking of the spirit of this Bill to productive and sustainable employment generation schemes for the unemployed youth. Now I would like to discuss the national employment scenario.

As per the estimates of the Planning Commission, the total number of people eligible for employment at present is approximately 400 million. Out of this, nine percent are unemployed which works out to around 36 million. In addition, there is a need to find value added employment for 10 percent of those employed in the agriculture sector in rural areas. Our attempt hence should be to find gainful employment for around 76 million people. This will add to our productivity and will ensure a sustained 10 percent GDP growth for the decade, which is an essential need for India to become a developed country before 2020.

Dear Citizens, a nation of a billion people that is capable of exporting foodgrains, a nation that is recognised for its software products and services, a nation that can build its own aerospace systems and nuclear power plants, a nation that is leading in the pharma and automobile industries, I am sure, will be able to put all its think tanks together and come up with many innovative wealth generating schemes for the productive employment of 76 million people.

The complete text of President A P J Abdul Kalam's address to the nation on the eve of the country's 56th Republic Day is available in this URL :

Friday, January 21, 2005

India in the year 2020

India's foreign reserve is around $131 (as of Jan-1, 2005) billion dollars. However, what is disturbing is our GDP and Labor force distribution.

GDP1 (Gross Domestic Product) Distribution.

- 25% is from Agriculture
- 30% is from Industry (of which 19% is manufacturing)
- 45% is from Services & Information Technology

Labor Force: 470 million

Labor Force Distribution

- 60% Agriculture
- 23% Industry
- 17% Services & Information Technology

Decline in contribution of agriculture towards GDP for the past two decades is in sync with the growth pattern of any developing countries. The share of agriculture in the GDP has shrunk to 25% in 2004 from 40% two decades ago, however the labor force reduction was only 10% i.e., from 70% two decades ago to 60% as of now.


































Services & Others









Labor Force

470 Million

700 Million

778.1 Million

146.5 Million

Public Debt2

59.7 % of GDP

30.1 % of GDP

62.4% of GDP


$57 Billion

$436 Billion

$714 Billion


$74 Billion

$397 Billion

$1.26 Trillion

GDP per Capita3





$3.033 Trillion

$6.449 Trillion

$10.99 Trillion

GDP Real Growth Rate5




The transformation in the GDP is typical of developing country experience. However, if you look at the labor force distribution, we find that 75% of the GDP contribution comes from 40% of the labor force.

All successful developing economies moved significant numbers of people out of agriculture as the share of agriculture in the GDP declined. Looking at the developed nations GDP (see US) shows this fact.

So, over here 60% of (Labor force) our population is dependant on Agriculture and imagine the chaos it will create when there is monsoon failure. Another misconception is that while China has become world’s factory India in the last 10 years becomes the world’s knowledge center – which looks better in paper. China did the right thing in the last 15 years to transform their Agriculture labor force by bringing in industrialization, and that is the natural progress (Agriculture to Industry to Service). Thanks to the liberalization of early 1990’s India did pretty well in the last 15 years. However, we did pretty well in the Service and IT (Information Technology) sectors, neglecting our Agricultural labor force. So, to bring our 60%s Agriculture labor force down to 15% – 20% (i.e., approximately around 220 million people), we need to create more jobs in our industry sector and we need to have good plan and commitment to do the transformation.

We (India) could become an economic giant in 2020 if we were able to move people from Agriculture to other industries. We need government's who could see into the future to do this transformation.

The question over here is –


1. GDP – Gross Domestic Product is the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year.

2. Public Debt – The cumulative total of all government borrowings less repayments that are denominated in a country's home currency. It should not be confused with external debt, which reflects the foreign currency liabilities of both the private and public sector and must be financed out of foreign exchange earnings.

3. GDP Per Capita - GDP on a purchasing power parity basis divided by population.

4. PPP – Purchasing Power Parity (2004 estimate).

5. GDP Real Growth Rate - GDP growth on an annual basis adjusted for inflation and expressed as a percent.