Really sad to hear of the passing away of actor Vivek at the age of 59. He died due to a heart attack. He was more of a satirist than a comedian and his humour was laced with social messages and awareness. An adernt follower of Doctor A.P.J Abdul Kalam he initiated the Green Kalam project where he sponsored the planting of 2.5 million trees. He received the Padma Shri award for his social work. He was fondly called as Chinna Kalaivanar for his satire.
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The Tamil remake of the highly praised Malayalam movie Helen. It is an inhouse production of Arun Pandian who produces and acts in it as the father. However, the star of the movie is undoubtedly his real daughter Keerthi who plays the role of his reel daughter Anbirkiniyala, a happy go lucky yet responsible girl. She has only one aim and that is to fly to Canada and get a proper nursing job, so that, she will be able to pay the monthly due of their house. Anbu and Sivam are more like friends who share everything under the sun. However due to a misunderstanding she delays her return from her job and get trapped in an unusual situation. The rest of the movie is how she gets out the situation and, on the outside how her dad and her boyfriend try to find her. The movie is quite riveting and is a must watch. It can be seen on Amazon Prime.
Chennai girl Nethra Kumanan created history when she became the first woman sailor from India to qualify for the Olympics. The 22-year-old second year engineering student is also a trained dancer, singer, and a proficient painter as well. She said her six years of training in Bharatanatyam taught her hard work and discipline. She hoped her exploits would encourage more girls to take up sailing. She had tried her hand in many sports until she found her true love in sailing. Her coach has said that he hoped she learnt a lot from this year’s competition and was hoping for a podium finish in the next Olympics
Upenna (High Tide) is a Telugu movie starring Vijay Sethupathi, Krithi Shetty and Panja Vaisshnav Tej. The story is set in a fishing village near Kakinada where a young fisherman Aasi falls in love with Bebbamma the daughter of Raayanam the local zamindar who will go to bizarre lengths to protect his family status. When Bebbamma is forced to marry her cousin, she escapes and forces Aasi to take her away from the village. Pursued by Raayanam’s thugs they flee to Orrissa, then Kolkata and finally Gantok in Sikkim. This gives us an opportunity to see these beautiful places. In a twist to the story Bebbamma is found and taken back to her father who tells her a secret about Aasi. So, will she re-join Aasi or not. You can watch the movie on Netflix and find out. The movie touches on caste prejudice, honour killing and exploitation of the poor fisherman community. There is a standout debut performance by the young 17-year-old Krithi, a Mangalore born girl who lives in Mumbai. I think we are going to see a lot of her in the future. Vijay Sethupathi who is his menacing as the cruel zamindar however, he is known for his voice and modulations which is lost in the dubbed voice. Panja Vaisshnav Tej is a nephew of Chiranjavee and was quite apt for his role.
The Feral Nomad at Sri Lanka
It is six AM and we are out in the deep waters. Early bird catches the whales. Twenty nautical miles into the Indian Ocean we are on a mission to see the largest mammal in the world, the blue whale. A pod of dolphins surfed their way close to our boat. The energy these animals have is out of the world. After three hours of getting roasted in the morning sun, we finally saw it. A puff of air released on the surface of water. Unlike fishes, whales do not have gills to breathe. Equipped with lungs these marine mammals have to come to surface for a fresh breath of air. It took its final dive for the next hour. The classic whale dive. The tail flipped above the water and slowly sunk in. Content with our sighting, we turned back. The flying fishes raced along side our boats, soaring through the air with its wings spread.
The next afternoon the conditions changed. I was in an open jeep in the scrub jungle of Udawalawe. Deers, jackhals, peacocks, and crocodiles were some of our quick sightings. Soon enough we stumbled upon another gentle giant. The Asiatic elephant. A young male was gracefully munching on plants along the road. Though I am used to the elephants back home, I was astonished that I saw both the largest aquatic and terrestrial mammals in just two consecutive days. For a small island, Sri Lanka is a heaven for wildlife enthusiasts.
Apart from my travelling, I was excited for something else this week. It was the Tamil/Sinhala new year, the biggest celebration here in Sri Lanka. After our first day of lecture last Friday, we got a week off for the holidays. This is the most relaxing study experience I had ever had. Tasty feast and colourful clothes was to be seen everywhere on the new year day. I was at Ella, a small hill station. I hiked to little Adam’s peak at dawn and started my year with the sun rise on top of the mountain.
While my friends continued to travel, I returned back to Matara on the New year afternoon to be with my local neighbors on the special occasion. Teran, a local restaurant owner who has become close to me visited me at home to give me the special treats. Kevum and kokkis made of rice flour and coconut was the lunch for the day. I put on my veshti and visited my neighbors. They were happy to have me over in the evening. I dunked in more Kevum along with coffee.
After two depressing new years this is a special one to Sri Lankans. The bomb blast during the new year day of 2019 and the lockdown last year made the holidays mellow for two years. I finished my day with a special Asian dinner with my friends. It was a grand Thai-Filipino-Bangladeshi-Indian fusion celebrating my friend Irene’s birthday and of course the special day. This is what new year day in Sri Lanka is all about. Celebrating diversity and getting together for a new beginning.
Teran and his brother who visited us with the New Year Lunch
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