Documentary film making – Nagrik

I recently completed a short course of documentary film making at OpenSpace. Attended the course for no reason other than learning a new and intersting skill. The course was good fun and I got a lot of info about film making.

Documentary film makers however seemed obsessed with a few things and seem to forget that films esentially are about the viewer liking them and not only about getting critical acclaim.

There was always an attempt to find a deep meaning in every little thing shown on screen. One of the discussions we had in the course was “Why were the tomatoes shown in a film so red. Was there some reason the director chose to show tomatos so red?”. Not much came out of the discussion, but we did eventually named the course googlegroup as ‘redtomato’.

For the practicals we were split into groups of 4-5 people and asked to pick a topic. My team’s documentary was “Nagrik : Documentary on public participation in solving problems faced by a city

Click here to view the documentary. Have lots more to write about documentary making. Hope to do that soon.

Sharing a part of me

Thinking about writing this blog regularly, I feel a little like Ginny Weasley from the Harry Potter series. She wrote into Tom Marvolo Riddle’s magical diary and shared a little too much of herself. Tom Riddle happened to be Lord Voldemort, the evil wizard who killed Harry’s parents.

Anybody who is writing a blog is essentially giving out a part of himself/herself. That makes it very interesting. Never in the history of mankind would (insignificant) individual lives have been so well recorded. If all these blogs survive for say a 1000 years, I wonder what the archeologist of that time wil do. The blogs will tell everything about how the world was in the 21st century.

So the biggest hole in history, that of having insufficient records, has been plugged. Everything right from the downright rubbish to the extremely useful is now recorded. There’s no escaping the blog.

Then again, someday down the line all data in the world could get corrupted due to radition or magnetic field created by a meteor hititng the earth or whatever else u might have seen on the Discovery Channel..And poof! everything’s gone. Back to square one.

Did anybody bother to take prints? 🙂

Gandhi Ad

Have you seen the Telecom Italia ad that has Gandhi in it? A nice cool ad though one wonders if its right to use Gandhi to sell mobile phones.

For anybody interested in the life of Mahatma Gandhi, the site is the best resource out there. Has text, audio, video and anything else about Gandhi that you can think of. I just had a look at Chapter 01(Early Years 1869 – 1892) of a 5 hour long documentary about Gandhi. The 34 kbps and 100 kbps options are particualrly useful as the 34 kbps stream will work fine even if you are on a dialup connection.

Buy Recommendations

My Buy Recommendations for AmazonOlympus VN-240 PC Digital PC Link Voice Recorder
Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Router
Sony DCR-HC32 MiniDV Handycam Camcorder w/20x Optical Zoom
Targus CVR600 Groove Notebook Backpack – Black (High Density Nylon)
Sony Mini-DV Cassettes (DVC) Premium series 60 Minute (3-Pack)
Sony LCSVA30 Soft Camcorder Carrying Case for DVD & MiniDV Camcorders
TDK MiniDV Tapes, 60 Minute (3-Pack)

TDK MiniDV Tapes, 60 Minute (3-Pack)

Listening to some of the biggest names of the 20th century

I am currently reading 3 books by three of the biggest names of the last century. Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Bill Clinton. Actually I am not reading Bill Clinton but more of listening to his autobiography. The other two books are:
> The story of my experiments with truth (The autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi)

This is perhaps my 3rd reading of Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography. I am not much of a religious person and unfortunately also have minimal knowledge about religious books. So Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography comes closest to a holy book for me.

Einstien has said “I believe that Gandhi’s views were the most enlightened of all the political men in our time. We should strive to do things in his spirit: not to use violence in fighting for our cause, but by non-participation in anything you believe is evil. ”

He further adds “Mahatma Gandhi’s life achievement stands unique in political history. He has invented a completely new and humane means for the liberation war of an oppressed country, and practised it with greatest energy and devotion. The moral influence he had on the consciously thinking human being of the entire civilized world will probably be much more lasting than it seems in our time with its overestimation of brutal violent forces. Because lasting will only be the work of such statesmen who wake up and strengthen the moral power of their people through their example and educational works.
We may all be happy and grateful that destiny gifted us with such an enlightened contemporary, a role model for the generations to come.”

Its truly unbelievable that Gandhi could think so differently and make a nation follow him. If only the politicians of today stopped using Gandhi for their own political benefit and actually applied a samll portion of his teachings we would be far better off.

Its ridiculous that riots started after Gandhi’s assassination or that in protest of a recent play that showed Gandhi in poor light, the party workers burnt the play organizer’s bus and tried to forcibly stop the screenings. These would have been the last things that Gandhi would have wanted. Also the silly uses to which the politicians have put Gandhi’s name, has led to the next generation in India being disillusioned and very few have regard for Gandhi. I too did not have high regard for Gandhi until I came across the Gandhi movie and then the books.

I could not believe what I saw and read. We are all genetically programmed to respond in a certain way to certain stimulus. So if someone troubles you, you fight him. That’s what would be our natural reaction. To bravely take the blow and have no hatred for the oppressor was unheard of.

Initially peaceful resistance was beyond my comprehension. However as I read more and let the ideas grow on me, they had a magical effect.

I have tried to adopt Gandhi’s teachings and have been successful to a certain extent. There’s a lot more to be learnt and adopted. The British may not still be ruling over Indians yet there’s so much wrong happening all around that needs to be changed.

> Discovery of India (Jawaharlal Nehru)

This book is a must read for any Indian. Unless you are well aware of your history you cannot understand or comment on the present. This is the first book by Jawaharlal Nehru that I am reading. It’s good to see that the freedom fighter and later Prime Minster of India was a well read, well traveled, erudite and sensible man.

Nehru takes you through Indian history right from the epics to Buddha’s time and gradually to the present. It’s a great journey. How I wish everybody read such books, as it would surely lead to a lot less social turmoil. Those trying to force things down people’s throats under the name of culture would see how cultures change and evolve over centuries. The role of religions like Buddhism,Hinduism and Islam in India’s past is particularly interesting to read. Actually the discussion on religion in Gandhi’s book is also thought provoking.

>> Bill Clinton Autobiography

Bill Clinton has surely been the most charismatic world leader in the recent past. I haven’t still got very far into the book. I have been through Clinton’s experiences at the time of Vietnam, how he met Hilary and how he became governor.

Will write more on all the books soon.

Aishwarya on Oprah

Just read /saw some excerpts from Aishwarya Rai’s appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show. She is a super ambassador for India and seems to have pulled off a great PR exercise for India.

One notable fact stated on the site is that “The movies made in Bollywood?India’s Hollywood and the film capital of the world?reach more than five billion people worldwide, twice that of Hollywood.”. The Oscars yet claim to award the best movies in the world and completley ignore Indian movies. The sorry part is that Indian producers keep running for recognition from the Oscars as if millions of Indian fans screming and cheering for them isn’t good enough.
Recently the Marathi movie Shwas was in the running for the best foreign film and so was Lagaan earlier. Both were good movies but the hype and drama surrounding their Oscar nominations was unbearable. The Govt. actually contributed lakhs of tax payer money to help them promote the movie.

If the Oscars really are fair awards, I wonder why the producers had to spend 1000s of dollars on introducing the movie to the jury and making them see it. Aren’t judges supposed to view all movies and judge based solely on the merits of the movie?

Harshad Number

I never knew that a particular type of numbers have been named after me.

A Harshad number, or Niven number, is an integer that is divisible by the sum of its digits in a given number base. The Niven numbers take their name from Ivan M. Niven from a paper delivered at a conference on number theory in 1997. All numbers between zero and the base number are Harshad numbers. Not that I understood much of this explanation, but it’s cool anyway 🙂 I haven’t as yet found the reason why these numbers as known as Harshad Numbers. Although my dad is very much a maths and stats person, as these numbers were discovered only in 1997, I can be sure that I wasn’t named after them. So I will presume that it’s the other way around 🙂