This is the first time I’m attempting to write about a movie. This post is not a critique or a review of the movie, but offers a perspective, perhaps, only seen by some.
Bahubali – The Conclusion is one of the proudest examples of Indian talent. Whether we agree or not, the revenue collections that the movie is grossing from across the world are a testimony to this. While it has inspired conversations about bringing out the Southern, specifically, Telugu talent to the fore, created discussions on the special effects that are a visual delight or the strength of each characters portrayed by the respective actors, it is being talked about widely.
Another interesting element that I have observed (after watching the movie twice) is how it revives certain stories in the Hindu mythology for the younger generations. The story encompasses a mix of sub-stories and plots from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, the Hindu epics.
For instance, the whole movie’s story has a base of Ramayana where the successor to the throne is assumed to be Amarendra Bahubali, the dearest son of Sivagami who is a great warrior, with good virtues, follows and abides by the Kshatriya Dharma just as Lord Rama in the Ramayana.
Similarly, Bhallala Deva, brother of Amarendra Bahubali, has been given shades and strength of the demon king, Ravana. Bhalla’s mass-slaughtering chariot that he uses while fighting against Mahendra Bahubali, son of Amarendra Bahubali, is the one inspired from Dhuryodhana’s in Mahabharata.
Devasena, the princess of Kuntala Kingdom, has inferences to Mihitla’s princess, Sita (of Ramayana) while her captivity in Bhallala’s Mahishmati kingdom is seen as one from Mahabharata Draupadi’s vastraharan. However, the violation of Devasena’s modesty is different, keeping her in bondage with chains.
Sivagami, who is Amarendra Bahubali’s and Bhallala’s mother, plays the role of Kaikeyi at one point while putting the reigns of Mahismati Kingdom in the hands of Bhallala, simultaneously asking Amarendra Bahubali to leave the Kingdom immediately. This is inspired from Rama’s departure to the forest, beginning 14 years of his Vanvaas.
While Kattappa’s role can be understood to be that of Lakshmana’s, Kumara Varma’s character can be equated to that of Hanuman’s from the Ramayana. Meanwhile, the war strategies shown in the movie have been inspired from the Ramayana when Rama fights Ravana.
Bijjala Deva’s role has character traits of Shakuni (mama), the cunning maternal uncle of Dhuryodhana who is the mastermind behind the Kurukshetra war in Mahabharata.
Similarly, the abandoning of Mahendra Bahubali as Sivagami dies and the infant being discovered by the tribals coincides with the story of Karna from the Mahabharata when Kunti gives birth to Karna, the son of Surya.
The scene in which Bahubali puts his foot on Kattappa’s head is also adopted from the Ramayana. It is the story of Mahabali, narrated by Vishwamitra to Rama and Lakshmana. Vishwamitra narrates this story of Mahabali who seizes earth and heaven while Vishnu is meditating. All the gods on Earth and in heaven troubled by Mahabali’s encounters approach Vishnu and ask him to save the Earth. Vishnu then takes birth as a Brahmin boy with great knowledge and power, physically a dwarf. He visits Mahabali and praises him for his achievements. In response, Mahabali asks him to ask for a gift. While the dwarf constantly refuses, Mahabali prods. The dwarf then says: “Give me a piece of land. Not more than what would be measured in 3 strides of my feet.”
Bali laughs at the dwarf and then pours little water from a vessel on the dwarf’s palm, sealing his promise. As soon as the water falls on the dwarf’s hand, he transforms into a magnanimous figure (Vishnu) covering entire earth with his first step, the second steps covers the heaven, leaving no more space. That’s when Vishnu asks Bali, where do I put my third step? And, Bali kneels and responds, “Here on my head, if no other space is available.” That is when Lord Vishnu puts his foot on Bali’s head, marking an end to the sufferings of gods on Earth and in heaven. That is where this scene has been visualised from.
This is the story of 18-year-old boy who loves music and wants to pursue a career in that field. He recognised his love for music much before he could make money out of it. However, his father wasn’t too happy with the idea of him pursuing a career in music. His father believed that music isn’t a serious (money-making) career and compelled him to pursue Chartered Accountancy (CA) because they come from a family of Chartered Accountants and also run a college that teaches CA to aspirants.
The boy’s mother, however, was supportive and stood by her child. But, she always had to balance her opinion with the husband and the son on the Opposite sides. This was also the time I met the father of the boy in the elevator at the AP Secretariat two years ago, with one of my senior colleagues. It was around 9.30 pm after work and I was talking to one of the senior colleagues who was complaining about his college-going son’s behaviour. During this time, the father of the boy who was in the elevator with us joined the conversation and began talking of son’s behaviour. We stood in the lobby and the conversation about his son’s interest in music began. I was talking to the father of this boy and trying to make him understand why it is important for him to support his son’s decision and allow him to experiment with a career in music. (I gave the example of a cousin whose father didn’t allow him to pursue music and his career is in ruins).
The father was dismissive and kept telling me about their family’s history of CAs. I stood my ground and said he was being unreasonable to his son. And, after an hour-long talk with the father, he was still not convinced.
A year later, the boy moved out of his house to stay with a friend and pursue his passion. Anticipating that jamming sessions would trouble the family, he made that wise decision. Despite the father not being convinced, that boy took the bold step with the support of his mother.
Again, a year later, I hear from his mother that he researched about the music courses he would like to pursue and got an admission into one of the German Universities he had applied for. This news gave me goosebumps and I was ecstatic. It was a great feeling to see how this youngster knew what he wants and eventually, convinced his family about his career.
The story of this 18-year-old boy from a Telugu family is a testimony to what this generation of youngsters can achieve. We are a more sensitive generation, growing up with information explosion, social media and everything “instant”. But, there’s not much we are doing to work towards what we like or care about.
Here, I would like to talk about the youngsters the Telugu states. In most Telugu households, the focus of the parents in terms of their kids’ careers has been limited to Engineering and Medicine. We are brought up with unnecessary “caste” conditioning, with the view that marriage is the only “happy destination”.
Our movies reflect that too. For instance: The only aim of a Telugu hero is to make the girl fall for him. That’s shown as his only achievement. Our craze for movies goes beyond the screens, it gets into our households, our castes and we obsess over them so much that we have different fans associations even hurting each other physically. (Love for an actor is good, but shouldn’t end up in fanaticism). We fight and troll other fans if they don’t subscribe to our views.
We need to realise that our parents might not have had the exposure that our generation has. Conversations with our parents are very important to keep them in the loop. They might not understand what you want but we can still make the effort. Our efforts and interest in pursuing what we like will gradually bring about a change in our houses, if we continue to exhibit consistency in it. We need to remember that friends will always be there to stand beside us, but once our parents understand us, they will support us in any given situation.
It is our generation that can learn and grow out of these limitations. Do not forget where you come from. But, grow out of petty thoughts; don’t divide each other on caste/religious basis; encourage each other to do better and impart your skills to others. This way we all grow and stay humble.
We need to develop a reading culture. The Internet is not only about social media and stalking other people. It gives us the opportunity to learn about numerous things and provides mind-boggling information if we use it wisely. It keep us well-informed and makes us progressive, not only in our thoughts and ideas but also in our behaviour.
Consistency and patience is the key. We are a generation that can make a large scale impact if guided, rightly. So, why not keep the promise of our generation to our parents and make amends to ourselves in order to dream big and achieve what we can, with what we believe in.
Planning a trip to a South East Asian country can be quite a daunting task. On one side you’re aware that there are popular places like Phuket, Krabi, Pattaya, Bali which are Indians’ favourite for a quick vacation and on the other, you want to explore the unexplored. That’s how Vietnam happened to me.
If there’s one thing I’ve understood about my travel pattern, it’s this – Experience the City/street culture, live close to the mountains/hills, plan a hike/trek/a physically challenging plan for a day or two, discover the countryside and the beaches/coast, explore other cities in the country’s interiors, end the trip again with the street culture.
Vietnam is a breathtakingly beautiful country which is still not on most Indians’ travel list. It should be. It leaves you with beautiful memories. It is exotic & is a mix of emerald water and islands, a surreal seascape, the mighty hills and limestone rocks and most importantly, warm people.
My friend and I started the trip with Hanoi, Vietnam’s Capital. It’s a busy city that wakes up early. Life begins at 7 am here. You’ll find the city buzzing with horns of cars and motorbikes (common mode of transport). Every shop/business establishment has a Vietnamese flag. The driving (left-side) and traffic are similar to that in India, where no traffic rules are followed and you can cross the road whenever you wish to. However, the population density per sq.km is very low. One of the most noticeable things about Vietnam is the number of women driving bikes.
We stayed in Central Hanoi. So, we got to experience the street culture at its best – from restaurants to tiny street food joints serving traditional Vietnamese food, apparel stores, stationary, tourist markets, etc. It was a colourful experience altogether. A walk around Hoan Kiem Lake will give you glimpses of Hanoi’s urban culture.
We had initial hiccups getting a hold of the local currency – the Vietnamese Dong. (A tip for travellers: Pay in local currency. Do not quote/ask in US Dollars). From Hanoi we headed to Lan Ha Bay which is about 4 hours from Hanoi by bus. This is the cheapest mode of transportation to Halong Bay or Lan Ha Bay. (We chose Lan Ha Bay over Halong Bay because it is much peaceful and there’s less pollution).
From Hanoi, we were put on a ferry to the Cat Ba Island which lies in the Lan Ha Bay. From there, another bus picked us up from the island and dropped us off at our hotel or (you can get off in Cat Ba Town).
The Lan Ha Bay is a peaceful place which has emerald waters and tiny fishing villages. You can go Kayaking in the Bay or just choose to go on a boat ride to the Monkey Island. The Lan Ha Bay is still not totally commercialised. Hence, there’s less crowd and less pollution. During the boat ride to the Monkey island and back, you’ll feel thankful to have made this trip in order to experience something so naturally beautiful and green. You cannot take your eyes off the limestone rocks and the water around. You will definitely find solace in the stillness around you.
On the other hand, Cat Ba Town is not commercially exploited yet. So, choose a place in the town that gives you views of the mountains around. Meanwhile, we got back to Hanoi in the same way. Hopped onto a ferry with the locals, experienced rain along the way in the bay, got to Hanoi Railway Station to catch an overnight train to Dong Hoi.
This was a not-so-comfortable train journey. Yet, we managed to get to Dong Hoi, the waterfront city. We chose Dong Hoi because we registered for the Hang Va Cave expedition which in the Phong Nha National Park, 45 mins from Dong Hoi. That whole day was spent in walking around the city, exploring the Dong Hoi local market, talking to the locals, exploring cafes and randomly sitting at the waterfront. This has been our most favourite city during our Vietnam visit.
Next day began with a journey to the Phong Nha National Park as we were preparing to go on the Hang Va cave expedition, organised by Oxalis adventures. Oxalis Adventures is the only agency in Vietnam that has the government’s approval and expertise to run these expeditions.
Hang Va cave is part of the world’s largest cave, the Son Doong Cave system. The caves were used by the Vietnamese soldiers to hide and protect themselves during the Vietnam war. The Hang Va and Nuoc Nut cave expedition is an unforgettable experience where you come across beautiful formations, enormous passage and an underground river.
This requires you to be physically fit and mentally strong. If you know swimming, that’s even better. After a brief swim through the cave, we trekked on the jungle path with a very bad/difficult terrain and sharp limestone rocks. The jungle campsite was located at the base of huge cliffs next to the entrance of Hang Va Cave.
This is a true jungle camp and a great experience with the sounds of water gushing through the caves on one side and the jungle noises on the other. Even the food prepared by the local chefs was a full-course meal with every type of meat on the table.
On the next day, we were given harnesses to wade through the slippery path before we entered the Hang Va Cave. This included walking most of the time in water flowing through the river passage, climb up and down, and squeeze between the rocks, falling and getting back up. It was about 5 hours of wading through the waters within the cave, which can be physically draining.
Apart from this, inside the cave, we were also asked to rappel using our harnesses from one rock to another to see the cone caves inside. The best part of the whole expedition was that the guide and the porters were giving us enough time, creating the perfect lighting to click pictures. After a strenuous inside-cave experience, we had lunch at the camp and took a different, difficult path to the exit. The way was paved by slippery slopes, river streams and blood-sucking leeches finding their way into our shoes.
The feeling of finishing the cave expedition was inexplicable. Feeling the sun on my face again, the fact that I could complete it and walk out, was just out of the world. Every problem felt small in front of it. The cave expedition taught me a great deal of things, for good. This has been the most memorable part of my Vietnam trip.
My friend and I spent the day feeling thankful to be alive. The feeling still hand’t sunk in and we celebrated our survival over dinner at the local pub called 27cm in Dong Hoi. The pub had no crowd and the owners were sweet enough to give us the freedom to play the music we wanted. That truly was liberating in another country.
We left Dong Hoi with a heavy heart as that was our favourite city. From there, we headed to Hue which is around 4 hours from Dong Hoi by bus. Hue has a history of witnessing one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War.
Hue’s main attraction is the Imperial Citadel which occupies almost half of the city. The Citadel was the home of the emperor of the Nyugen Dynasty. (You will need at least 3 hours to complete the tour of the Citadel). The City has a few parks and good urban life and attracts a lot of tourists.
We discovered an Indian Restaurant in this city – Shiva Shakti India Restaurant. A must visit if you’re craving for Indian food there. While this included our city visit of Hue, we lived in a resort built on a lagoon. This was the perfect way to end our holiday as we were surrounded by water and had to use cycles to move from one place to another.
On the last day again, we headed to Hanoi and spent the evening shopping on the streets of Hanoi. You can bargain well with them. So, if you have good bargaining skills, use them to the maximum. One of the major hassles we had while heading to the interiors of Vietnam was language. If you are using a local sim, Google translate will come in handy to interact with locals.
P.S. Our trip has been restricted to Northern Vietnam. We left out Hoi An and Danang in the north and chose Hue. Ho Chi Minh City, Mui Ne sand dunes, Phu Quoc in the South are traveller’s favourites too. Don’t forget to ask the locals to play some Vietnamese music on your way to different places. It’s melodious.(My favourite Vietnamese song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAzT3TjRnws)
On the whole, this trip has been an eye-opener for me in many ways. It has opened up several doors for me. Vietnam is a beautiful country that has to be on your list if you’re a nature lover. I hope to keep continuing this journey through different countries. Cheers!
This quote sums it all: “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living” – Miriam Beard
Here are some more pictures from the trip:
The past 2-3 months have been a period of deep self-introspection about personal life and career. From work stress to having “weird” thoughts, it’s been an emotionally wrecking journey. I have been at my lowest point in life and am gradually overcoming it.
During this period, I have realised that you need to fight your own battles, irrespective of who is with you or who isn’t. Even those who you think are your closest will not be able to support you because they don’t understand it. Whether you are single or in a relationship, whether you are married or not, you need to fight your demons yourself.
A lot of people in your life will tell you they’re with you, that they support you. But, they can’t because they do not even understand what’s happening inside you. It’s not their fault nor is it yours.
All you can do is, stay strong. Be patient. This is easier said than done. You need to have a great control over yourself to stay composed. During this period, you need to find something that will divert you from these thoughts that make you sad or bring you down. It’s an extremely tough task to do. But, you can.
Often, when we are in such situations, we rely on people we love. We share things with them. But, remember that their love for you is just a feeling they have for you. That doesn’t help them understand what you’re going through. They could as well forget about all this in the next 10 minutes and carry on with their lives, irrespective of their love for you.
Hence, you need to be strong from the inside, have faith in yourself. The most important of all, you need to stop relying on the other person/s to make you happy or make you feel good. Find a hobby or a task that keeps you engaged and stay positive, even if everything is working against you. Have faith!
This is for all those who go through this or have gone through this. You will emerge stronger. Believe in yourself. 🙂
P.S. This is easier to write. But, extremely challenging and difficult to go through. I’m also thankful for all those who’ve been with me in this phase.
Every now and then, I constantly hear of youngsters (including me) bragging about how they are unable to forward their careers or focus on what they want to do. These are youngsters who know what to do, are aware of what works for them and what doesn’t. Yet, they are all braggarts who, sometimes, come up with ridiculous reasons.
During my conversations with friends, colleagues, parents and others, I realise that if something isn’t working for us, we need to analyse what’s compromising our focus. Of course, we cannot have a grip on things outside our control, but most of us can surely look within ourselves and try to understand where we are failing.
Everyday, I see some of my friends telling me about their goals. That, definitely, is a great thing. But, from what I observe, these people have one thing in common – the lack of self-discipline. Yes, we are all young and we want to make the most of our times, and I might be sounding like a strict parent here. But, how we discipline ourselves reflects directly on the commitment to our goals.
Taking my example here: I have, at a few instances, tried to “fit into the young & happening crowd”, pretending to not care enough about my career. But, every time I did that, a fear of “What if I fail in my career?” always haunted me. That, in a way, brought me back to reality. I have been lazy and sometimes, I still am. But, by understanding myself and my ability to do things, I realise why self-discipline in our daily routine is very important.
If you look back and analyse the lives of every successful person, you will find “Self-discipline” as a common trait among all of them. By self-discipline, what I mean is, trying to understand yourself – this includes your daily wake-up time, exercise/physical fitness/meditation, work time, leisure/break time at work, hours of relaxation/reading or wasting time unnecessarily and most importantly, your bed-time.
This doesn’t not mean you shouldn’t attend a friend’s party or get sloshed at a lounge or spend time on long drives. With entertainment, come financial troubles. In these days, everything comes at a cost. Hence, what this entertainment means to you, will determine whether you are committed or you are compromising your career to short-term thrills.
For instance: If you are attending a friend’s party every weekend and getting sloshed till you puke, then you need to have a re-look at yourself and your priorities. Or if you are blowing up all your money on the liquor at a lounge on a weekly basis, then you need to question yourself about your priorities or your commitment towards your career. These are just a few examples of the most common things we do.
In fact, most youngsters will disagree on this. However, they do not realise the repercussions of these. For example: The after-effects of a hangover waste your next day. But, you must have planned to do some important work for the next day. And, because of your drinking, that task is postponed to the next day. And, here is where the procrastination begins. And, that “tomorrow” never comes.
Self-discipline means you need to plan your day to work towards your goals. This is the toughest task for any human being. It involves understanding unnecessary activities or exciting distractions that you waste your time on. Your wake-up time decides your day for you, whether you realise it or not. It will have an effect on your bed-time and your next day. Hence, understanding this is very important. Try to understand your “high priority” works for the day and do them at the beginning of your day. As the day progresses, keep the “low priority” works towards the end of the day. That way, you will not be stressing yourself when you want to relax for the day.
This is also called personal management. And, 97% of us lack that and live our lives without any clarity. It’s like we are trying to cross an ocean without a roadmap. Directionless and clueless.
Success is the result of persistent efforts. People like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Indra Nooyi, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs or even someone like Dashrath Manjhi – the Mountain Man, know the value of self-discipline in their lives.
Therefore, planning will save a lot of time, which you would otherwise waste, wondering how you would do a particular task. Making this a habit is definitely time-taking. But, once you start, you will understand its value and witness the change in your lives. It took me two years to understand this. It might take you longer. But, try it.
If this did not sound like a philosophy lecture, then you are on the right track!
Dream big, drive small, be socially conscious, help other humans and be the change.
P.S. This post is a tribute to Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam, my favourite of the few sensible leaders of our country.
The noise surrounding the demand for Special Status for Andhra Pradesh is getting louder by the day. The demand is being portrayed as the only solution for the new state. But, is this true? Let’s look at the demand since inception.
Special Category Status was promised by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the floor of Rajya Sabha, without making it a part of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, 2014. While the Congress conveniently got away with stating that it would help in implementing the Special Status promise, it cleverly skipped out that point in the Bill.
Meanwhile, M. Venkaiah Naidu and Arun Jaitley of the BJP only managed to get an assurance from the UPA government at the time of bifurcation but couldn’t compel them to include the Special Status provision in the Bill. However, the BJP made public statements about implementing the Special Status promise, trying to pacify the people of Andhra Pradesh who were seething with anger after unjust bifurcation.
During his election campaign tour in Andhra Pradesh, even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised that the BJP government would support the development of Andhra Pradesh and the construction of its new capital. Despite the people of the state believing that Special Status is their right, there is no legal basis to it because it is neither mentioned in BJP’s election manifesto nor in the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014.
The demand for Special Status in political circles crops up because of the lack of industries in the state, post bifurcation. With Hyderabad being a major industrial base before bifurcation, jobs and ancillary units have been concentrated around the city. Therefore, Andhra Pradesh remains stripped of such opportunities and is devoid on any major industries.
In addition, the new state of Andhra Pradesh started off with a revenue deficit of nearly Rs. 20,000 crore. In the 2015-16 Budget session, the 14th Finance Commission came up with a revamped policy of higher devolution of central tax revenues to the states and declared that it would allocate Rs. 22,113 crore to AP to fill the revenue resource gap over a period of five years (from 2015-2020).
Even considering this assistance from the Centre to AP, the state would still face a net yearly loss of thousands of crores when compared to other states with surplus revenue. This is one of the reasons why the state requires additional financial assistance for the next ten years to boost its revenues on par with other progressive states. (Clause 46 (2) and (3) of the Act).
However, this does not mean that Special Status is an answer to all of Andhra Pradesh’s problems. A glance at 11 states that have been granted Special Category Status (SCS) will help us understand that these states, despite being awarded SCS, are not been better off. The advantages that SCS states have are that 90% of the funds allocated as grants need not be paid back, concessions in excise and custom duties, tax concessions for I-T rates and industries.
Given that Andhra Pradesh is a medium-income, progressive state with availability of massive resources, a 972 km coast and good connectivity, it is imperative that the state demands for industrial tax concessions (Clause 94 (1) of the Act) along with implementations of all the assurances in the Act. Further, the state should also seek a royalty from the gas extracted from the KG basin on lines of states that receive royalty for extracted coal (Clause 92 of the Act).
While Andhra Pradesh does need the Centre to complete the Polavaram multi-purpose irrigation project (Clause 90 (4) of the Act) and other crucial projects in the Act, it also should also be able to work with the Modi government in attracting investments into infrastructure and transportation, energy, defence and aerospace, ports, food processing, higher education, electronics manufacturing, PSUs, marine and tourism sectors (12th and 13th Schedule of the Act).
This strategy will help in shoring up revenues of the state, create employment and help Andhra Pradesh gain momentum as an investment hub, apart from helping it offset revenue loss caused by bifurcation. In such a scenario, the Centre needs to be generous towards helping Andhra Pradesh by pumping public investments into the state. This will not only create a win-win situation for both, the Centre and the State, but at the same time, dismiss the demands of other states for Special Status.