WHAT MADE TOM CRUISE PICK THE MUMMY 2017?

This is a question asked umpteen times ever since the movie hit theatres, a movie that is not just a reboot of a commercially successful series but also the launch vehicle of Universal’s Dark Universe, an ambitious sub-series by the global entertainment giant to tap into the ever-widening profitability net of comic book super-heroes (and super-villains), supernatural characters and obviously the all-eclipsing monsters.

Well, The Mummy of the previous generation was a bad movie series. It could work commercially because humour was an important part of this storytelling that the world is quite familiar with, palaces, kings, queens, princes, princesses, paramours, conspiracies, killings, tombs, mummies and pryramids.

And the natural inevitability – that how far can you go with a tellingly thin narrative – that any mummy is basically identified with Egypt’s Pyramids and some Egyptian royalty because of the controversial history surrounding them – so, a standalone chapter, or at best two can justify their arrival if they are given some good treatment. Even The Mummy’s previous incarnation had to look for other extensions beyond Egypt to keep the franchise lubricated beyond two but then it chose to suspend the movement beyond one more.

The latest Mummy has come to life after 2008, when the last movie of the series was released. The three previous Mummies were basically horror comedies to say best or if we say conservatively, they were action-comedy flicks which didn’t need star power but the treatment that could pull the viewer to the theatre. They were time-pass flicks running high on computer generated special effects. They didn’t need acting credentials for expressions or starry adrenaline for action sequences.

They simply needed a one point linear narrative that how to keep the viewer engaged for 100 minutes by producing a cocktail of commercial cinematic specs like comedy mixed with horror, special effects, good looking canvases and known mythological monsters. They were meant to entertain somehow. They were never meant to excel.

True, it can be argued that Tom Cruise is an entertainer and excellence in filmmaking is a reserved phenomenon. But he is certainly an actor who cannot, at this stage of his career, be associated with films that are meant to entertain somehow. He is a name. He is a star power. He is among the selected few names who are used to sell films.

So, the big question is, what made Tom Cruise pick The Mummy 2017, a poor reboot that fails to create the effect of its mediocre but commercially successful predecessors, especially when the film has failed to create box office magic? Reports say the film generated only $400 million against its overall budget of $250 million. And critical reception, well its flooded with all kinds of negative witticisms – plain, convoluted, satirical, humorous and even comical.

©SantoshChaubey

WHY MAHATMA GANDHI SAID NO TO FORCED SETTLEMENT OF ISRAELIS IN PALESTINE

The article originally appeared on India Today.

India and Israel established full diplomatic ties on January 29, 1992 and in the first ever prime ministerial visit to the nation, Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Tel Aviv from July 4 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the diplomatic ties. In these 25 years, Israel has emerged as India’s most reliable defence partner and India as Israel’s largest defence market, accounting for 41 per cent of its arms export.

But it was not like this always. In fact, if it took 45 years after the independence for India to allow Israeli Embassy in New Delhi, it was because of India’s principled solidarity with the Palestinian cause that was against the forced settlement of Israelis in the Palestinian territory. And the origin behind this principled stand can be traced back to Mahatma Gandhi, our Father of the Nation, who believed that Israelis could settle in Palestine only with the permission from Arabs and it was wrong for them to enter with the might of the British gun.

Writing in Harijan on November 26, 1938, Mahatma Gandhi says that his sympathies are with the Jews some of whom have been his friends since his days in South Africa. Thus, he knows about the age-long persecution of the Jews. He refers to the Jews as the untouchables of Christianity, like the untouchables of Hinduism and that religion is used in their persecution, as was happening then with the Jews in Germany.

But, he draws a line here saying his sympathy for the Jews cannot blind him to the requirements of justice.

He says in his write-up, The Jews, in Harijan, “The cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to me.” He says that “Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French and it is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs.”

Mahatma Gandhi says the settlement of the Jews in the Palestinian territory is akin to a religious act that rules out use of force, “The Palestine of the Biblical conception is not a geographical tract. It is in their hearts. But if they must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs.”

In this article written in 1938, before the organized massacre of the Jews in the German concentration camps began, Mahatma Gandhi argues that the Jewish people are the citizens of the world and they should be treated as such, a Jew born in France as French, a Jew born in Germany as German. He advises the German Jews to use the civil movement through non-violence to take on the German persecution.

Though, we can see a change in approach in the later writings of Mahatma Gandhi on German persecution of the Jews after the German concentration camps massacred millions of Jews, his stand on Israeli occupation of the Palestinian land remains the same.

In another Harijan article titled “Jews and Palestine”, written on July 21, 1946, after the Second World War and the German massacre of the Jews were over, he says, “I do believe that the Jews have been cruelly wronged by the world. “Ghetto” is, so far as I am aware, the name given to Jewish locations in many parts of Europe. But for their heartless persecution, probably no question of return to Palestine would ever have arisen. The world should have been their home, if only for the sake of their distinguished contribution to it.”

But in the next paragraph, he reiterates his long held stand on the forced Jewish occupation of the Palestinian land, “But, in my opinion, they have erred grievously in seeking to impose themselves on Palestine with the aid of America and Britain and now with the aid of naked terrorism.”

And he held this view on the Palestine-Israel problem till his death, blaming Christianity for singling out and wronging the Jews, “Their citizenship of the world should have and would have made them honoured guests of any country. Their thrift, their varied talent, their great industry should have made them welcome anywhere. It is a blot on the Christian world that they have been singled out, owing to a wrong reading of the New Testament, for prejudice against them. If an individual Jew does a wrong, the whole Jewish world is to blame for it. If an individual Jew like Einstein makes a great discovery or another composes unsurpassable music, the merit goes to the authors and not to the community to which they belong.”

©SantoshChaubey

INDIA’S HUGE VICTORY: PCB FORMS COMMITTEE TO PROBE PAKISTAN’S HUMILIATING LOSS IN CHAMPIONS TROPHY

According to ARY News, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has formed a three member committee to probe Pakistan’s humiliating loss at the hands of India in the opening match of the Champions Trophy on June 4.

Former Test cricketer Mudassar Nazar, Chief Operating Officer of PCB Subhan Ahmed and former Test cricketer Haroon Rasheed are members of the committee. According to the ARY report, “the committee would interrogate from the players as to what led to such a dismal performance against India. Then the committee would submit a comprehensive report to the PCB in the light of the investigation.”

Continuing its winning streak over Pakistan in the World Cup tournaments, India registered an emphatic victory over Pakistan in the first match of the Champions Trophy being played in England. India thrashed Pakistan by a huge 124 runs in a match where Pakistan was never seen performing. Post match stats tell only three Pakistani players could last more than 20 balls and the whole team was back to pavilion in just 34 overs in response to the revised target of 289 runs in 41 overs in a rain-affected match.

With this absolute victory, India retained its upper hand over Pakistan – 11 matches in a row in the World Cup and World Twenty20 tournaments. As expected, Pakistan’s defeat at the hands of its arch rival India was described as ‘shameful’ in Pakistan and its media is demanding a complete overhaul of cricket in Pakistan.

Its World Cup winning captain turned politician Imran Khan said that “it was painful to watch Pak being thrashed by India without putting up a fight” and demanded a “total revamp of Pak cricket structure”. Shoaib Akhtar echoed Imran’s words. He said “though the results were disappointing, now it’s time to revamp the structure for domestic cricket and the cricket board if we want to improve.” Former Pakistani captain Aamir Sohail blamed coaches for wasting Pakistani talent and taking Pakistani cricket to this low while Javed Miandad rued about poor cricketing infrastructure in Pakistan.

©SantoshChaubey

1971 WAR’S FOUNDATION WAS LAID TODAY

The article’s Hindi version appeared on iChowk.

Though the India-Pakistan war of 1971 was fought between December 3 to December 16, 1971, its ground was prepared on November 21.

The day is marked with history defining incidents that completely changed the geopolitics of South Asia. A nation was again divided and a nation was again born in this corner of the world and it gave Pakistan a sore point that it will have to survive with as long as it continues to be ruled (and riled) with the same mindset that its ruling military and political dispensation of the moment has.

We can rule out any change. It doesn’t look possible in the foreseeable future because Pakistan’s ruling elite including its military and feeble polity derive their sanction from the anti-India propaganda they propagate and hysteria they create.

The Bangladesh Armed Forces (its army, navy and air-force) was formed on November 21, 1971 and Bangladesh celebrates November 21 every year as its Armed Forces Day. It was a more organized form of the Mukti Bahini, the grouping of Bangladesh freedom fighters formed in March 1971.

The Indian Army and the Bangladesh Armed Forces (Mukti Bahini) formed an alliance against Pakistan on the same day, November 21, 1971.

The Indian Army, with the Mukti Bahini, had launched attack on strategically important Garibpur Village 7 Kms deep inside East Pakistan on November 21, 1971. India’s 14 Punjab Battalion and Squadron 45 Cavalry tanks faced Pakistan’s army and its tanks. And how hollow Pakistan’s big claims were can be gauged from the fact that India and the Mukti Bahini conquered the village only in two days, on November 23, while inflicting heavy damage on the Pakistani side. This unmatched bravery of the Indian Army and the Mukti Bahini is now known as the ‘Battle of Garibpur’.

And the rest – as we all know – is history. The Indian Army that was so far supporting the Mukti Bahini in its freedom struggle openly launched offensive against Pakistan and the whole war affair got over in just 13 days with the declaration of Bangladesh’s liberation on December 16, 1971 wiping out East Pakistan from geographical and geopolitical map of the world. The images are inscribed in history – Pakistan’s commander Lt. Gen. AA Khan Niazi along with 93000 Pakistani troops and civilians laying down arms and surrendering before India and signing the ‘Instrument of Surrender’ with India’s commander Lt. Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora.

That is the reason the final stage of Bangladesh’s freedom struggle of 1971, that began on an organized scale in March 1971 with the formation of Mukti Bahini, is known as the India-Pakistan war of 1971. Bangladesh celebrates March 26 as its Independence Day, the day on which it had declared its independence from Pakistan in 1971 while both India and Bangladesh celebrate December 16 as Vijay Diwas (Victory Day) – the day when Bangladesh won its freedom in 1971 – or we can say India won the freedom for Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is celebrating its 45th Independence Day and Victory Day this year and is planning to honour 1971 war veterans from India including the veterans of the ‘Battle of Garibpur’.

©SantoshChaubey

IT IS THE DEV DIWALI NIGHT

The sky is lit with countless lamps
Souls, bathed in light, shine bright
On the Ganga ghats and its ramps
The water breathes the eternal light

With multitudes, the Ganga flows
And the panorama weaves a night
Slowly, the evening bloom grows
Getting younger, holding us tight

It’s the day when Gods descend
And we all pray in aesthetic accent
Practising initially on a silent note
To go spirited then on a singing rote

It’s always an experience of a lifetime
With glowing diyas and their rhyme
Come and be there in Shiva’s Varanasi
Don’t worry
Gods lead us on the Ghats of Kashi

It’s again that annual Dev Diwali night
Infusing in us a transcending delight
As the water and air get heavenly
And as the identities are lit blissfully

dd12

IT IS THE DEV DIWALI NIGHT

©SantoshChaubey

DEV DEEPAWALI – VARANASI VIBES

INDIA’S OLDEST LIVING CITY – INDIA’S HERITAGE AND CULTURAL CAPITAL – AND THE WORLD’S SPIRITUAL CAPITAL THROUGH RANDOM CLICKS

DEV DEEPAWALI – FROM MY STOCK IMAGES

dd9

dd10

dd11

dd12

dd13

dd14

dd15

dd16

dd17

DEV DEEPAWALI

©SantoshChaubey

DEV DEEPAWALI – VARANASI VIBES

INDIA’S OLDEST LIVING CITY – INDIA’S HERITAGE AND CULTURAL CAPITAL – AND THE WORLD’S SPIRITUAL CAPITAL THROUGH RANDOM CLICKS

DEV DEEPAWALI – FROM MY STOCK IMAGES

dd

dd1

dd2

dd3

dd4

dd5

dd6

dd7

dd8

DEV DEEPAWALI

©SantoshChaubey

SO, BOB DYLAN IS NOT THAT REBEL OF 1960S..AND IT IS GOOD

So Bob Dylan is not rebel of 1960s and it is good for everyone – for Dylan, for Nobel, naturally for his fans and for people who think that Nobel should go beyond its ‘sometimes absurd, sometimes puritan, sometimes illogical and sometimes political’ nuances to actually serve creativity, especially in case of the Literature Nobel.

He respects the Nobel Committee’s decision. He, in fact, felt speechless when the award was announced for him.

Following is the press-release on the website of the Nobel Prize regarding this conversation:

Bob Dylan: “If I accept the prize? Of course.”

On 13 October, 2016, the Swedish Academy announced that this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded to Bob Dylan “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.

This week Bob Dylan called the Swedish Academy. “The news about the Nobel Prize left me speechless”, he told Sara Danius, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy. “I appreciate the honor so much.”

It has not yet been decided if Bob Dylan will attend any events during the Nobel Week in Stockholm in December. The Nobel Foundation will share information as soon as it is available.

Since the Newsroom Home section of the Nobel Prize website doesn’t mention any date for the release or for the conversation, except ‘this week’, we can assume it as a recent development.

Probably Dylan was left so speechless that it took three weeks for him to react on the news that makes for global headlines as soon as it broke. And it was that Dylan was in some isolation. He was getting regular inflow of greetings and admiration for his Literature Nobel. His website even acknowledged it (though the Nobel mention was later removed). Even the Nobel Committee had felt so frustrated on a restrained (or a controlled or a speechless Bob Dylan) that it had to formally announce through its website that it was abandoning its efforts to contact Bob Dylan for his Literature Nobel.

But all’s well that ends well. Now that Dylan has acknowledged his Nobel (in his trademark style) – the controversy should end there. Yes, the hangover of certain things remain in our lives – throughout. And with Bob Dylan, it may be his 1960-70s Counterculture years when he was one of the main rebel voices who shaped the Counterculture movement in some way.

So, again in his trademark style (of being rarely available), according to a ‘The Telegraph’ world exclusive, Dylan again puts it as ‘if he can’ – “Yes, he is planning to turn up to the awards ceremony in Stockholm. “Absolutely,” he says. “If it’s at all possible.””

©SantoshChaubey

AS IF DYLAN NEVER CARED FOR A NOBEL.

I broke the Literature Nobel to Bob Dylan news at my place and soon it got the traction that was expected.

The Nobel Prize ‏@NobelPrize Oct 13 – Stockholm, Sweden
BREAKING 2016 #NobelPrize in Literature to Bob Dylan “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”
bobdylan

Santosh Chaubey ‏@SantoshChaubeyy Oct 13
RESPITE!!
Santosh Chaubey added,
The Nobel Prize @NobelPrize
BREAKING 2016 #NobelPrize in Literature to Bob Dylan “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”

And it was a decision that sounded perfect – and it, indeed, was perfect – because Bob Dylan is a cultural doyen, a counterculture icon and a living legend not just in the US – but across the world. (We will happily forget those criticisms based on grudges and nudges of some who thought what Bob Dylan was creating could not be seen as literature). So the first reaction that came was:

As is natural to me, I wrote some pieces on Dylan, focusing on his India connect and the Literature Nobel for what he is. Being an Indian, I have had interest in knowing ‘why and how’ of the India connect of everyone who visits India more or less for similar reason – its spiritual treasure and the solace of nature it provides to such souls (like Sorensen, Leary, Jobs, Dylan or even Zuckerberg).

BOB DYLAN ABOUT INDIA
ROW OVER A JUSTIFIED LITERATURENOBEL TO BOB DYLAN: AND WHAT ABOUT CHINUA ACHEBE?

A Nobel to him again pushed me to know more about his India visit and connect, but despite best of my efforts, I could not get much – as would happen every time. What was different this time was the approach that I took. In an age of social media, I thought to get in touch with Dylan directly to see if I could some first-hand help from the person who was centre of my efforts. So I tweeted:

Santosh Chaubey ‏@SantoshChaubeyy Oct 15
@bobdylan Nobel 2u is a big respite.Ws tryng2find ur Kasar Devi visit India views.A 78 RollingStone i/v gives sm insight. Cn thr b mor luck?

But the luck didn’t smile. Anyway I had expected it. Maybe he or his team didn’t see it. Maybe he or his team was not interested in talking about it. Maybe he or his team just ignored it.

And then there is another angle to it. Though I know it is not even remotely related, I would like to feel so, because gives you a direction (even if it may be non-existent) :).

Bob Dylan has not acknowledged his Literature Nobel yet. The Nobel Prize committee after five days of consistent efforts abandoned its exercise but Dylan remained incommunicado (for them). While he held concerts and events where others lauded for him for his Nobel (but he looked like he didn’t notice it). He also unveiled his ‘permanent work of art for a public space’ according to a Daily Mail report.

As if he never cared for a Nobel. (Now may be different reasons for it that a reticent Dylan would never speak about.)

©SantoshChaubey

ROW OVER A JUSTIFIED LITERATURE NOBEL TO BOB DYLAN: AND WHAT ABOUT CHINUA ACHEBE?

Bob Dylan is only the second American to get the Literature Nobel in over 20 years. Before him, the world’s beloved American novelist Toni Morrison won the Literature Nobel in 1993.

But she was clearly a novelist who conformed to the notions of the Nobel committee on what was ‘literature’ as per its standards, something where even the great and rare African writer Chinua Achebe could not fit in.

So, obviously there would be controversies on Bob Dylan’s Literature Nobel.

Bob Dylan is a poet-songwriter first. Though he is a singing legend, there is more or less a unanimity that he is not as acclaimed a singer as the lyrics of his songs are that he himself writes (some find it even boring). But yes, he is a mass singer who has been one of the most important voices of the counterculture revolution of 1960s and 70s. Though he doesn’t like, he was the protest singer of those years when people used his words and tunes to mobilize and inspire sentiments and other people.

In a way, he is like Chinua Achebe, the great literary figure, who matters most in his sphere of influence – obviously here it is about bringing social change through creativity.

Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart’ remains the ultimate magnum opus of literature of a continent where human life began, but a continent which has been forced to lag behind on every development parameter – so much so that it now ranks last.

Though Dylan was never a solitary figure, nevertheless, he was an important contributor. Dylan’s songs motivated a generation that brought about the most vital changes in the modern US society through the counterculture movement of 60s and 70s that was aimed at fighting for civil rights and uprooting racial seggregation, US participation in the Vietnam war and even had a dislike for the Cold War.

And this generation achieved it with able support of people like Martin Luther King, Jr., Bob Dylan, Harper Lee and many others. A multitude was there to provide the leadership. And millions were there to follow, inspired, with songs, books and speeches.

And it was so black and white, even by the norms laid down by Alfred Nobel on ‘how a Nobel Prize recipient’ should be judged. He wrote in his will:

“..shall constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind..(he specified for the Literature Nobel).. one part to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction..”

“..the most outstanding work in an ideal direction..”..yes, that is what Bob Dylan has done..conferring the greatest benefit to mankind..and that is what Chinua Achebe did..again..conferring the greatest benefit to mankind..(through their literary works).

The problem is..the Stockholm Academy that decides on who will be the next Nobel Laureate..saw the norms laid down by Alfred Nobel as mere wishes..and did all sort of manipulations over the years..to declare many controversial names the Literature Nobel Laureate (something like with the Peace Nobel, though on a lesser scale)..all in the name of ethnic/geographic superiority (like only European writers can produce Nobel sort of work)..or in the name of superiority of language and not the content and it’s influence in writing (something that kept Chinua Achebe out)..or silly geopolitical considerations (like to award some anti-establishment author only because the global community is opposed to that establishment)..and so on.

Now that good sense has prevailed and Bob Dylan has been given his due, will there be some room for Chinua Achebe even if the Nobel Prize cannot be given posthumously. After all, it was not so before 1974 and Dag Hammarskjöld and Erik Axel Karlfeldt got their Nobel Prizes posthumously only.

©SantoshChaubey