Tag Archives: death

Don’t give up, say filmmakers from Singapore and Mumbai through their short films on depression and suicide prevention

Sex tape film
Sushant Singh Rajput

Sushant Singh Rajput

The recent spate of suicides in the wake of the pandemic-related lockdowns, especially in the film and entertainment industry highlighted by the alleged suicide of well-known Indian film actor, Sushant Singh Rajput, has stirred many filmmakers.

“The reason I wrote this script is that, before Sushant Singh’s death, there were two other actors who had committed suicide,” says Shipra Arora, writer and producer of the short

BTS still from Sex Tapefilm, Sex Tape. “Sadly, we are in a time where people are feeling alone, out of job, unable to take care of themselves. After Sushant’s death, I couldn’t wait and I knew I had to make something on this subject. The idea was that even if one person gets inspired by this film, I will consider we achieved something. That we were able to help someone.”

Together with her brother, Shivankar Arora, the film’s director, this short was  filmed in 11 hours!
S Arora

Shivankar Arora, the film’s director

“As far as challenges are a concern, due to the lockdown, we couldn’t have a team of people working with us,” says Shipra. “The film was shot in 11 hours with only 4 people on the floor (which was the house of the actress). So, from sound recording to spot boy, The job was done by this small team of 3 people.”

“This lockdown kept us thinking how can we utilise the time creatively and what can be done remotely,” says Gibu George, the director of MND. “The idea of MND was ignited during a phone conversation and we four (actors in the film) liked the concept of making a short film remotely with the concept of four childhood friends trying to connect back during this lockdown to cherish their memories and then unveils the most painful memory of their life.”

After releasing MND on YouTube, Gibu and friends decided to launch the prequel too.

Still from the film, MND“The idea of preqel was always there in the first as the storyline had the scope of making a prequel, we just wanted to make it into 2 shorts due to the length of the film and also want to give a different treatment from part 1,” says Gibu. “I was very clear on the characteristics of Aditya Das and his mental problems. He was basically introvert, weird, kind of psychic and depressed because of obvious reasons. His friends was the lifeline during his younger days but he was late to reach out his friends when he lost control over his life. The second part(Prequel) evolved based on this thought.”

Talking about his motivation behind making this film, Gibu said: “Being a socially active person I myself had to go though a lot difficulties during this lockdown. I was not able to copup the sudden changes in day to day life of being locked inside feeling, battling the stress of working from home without understanding the timelimits, etc which has an impact on my mental well-being , makes me realize the importance of staying connected to your loved ones, spending time with your family or the kind of mental imbalance could affect your well-being and how do you try to overcome such situations. The film was so timely and relevent when the Sushant Singh incident came as a shock to the whole industry, but it was purely conindence as the scripting and shoot was completed by end of May. It was indeed painful to know SSR case while we were in the post production.”

Gibu

Gibu George, director of MND

The filmmakers were quite clear about the messaging of the film – “Never miss an opportunity to spend time with your loved ones, you never know there tomorrow may never come” and in the Prequel – Depression is real, but could be hidden behind a smile, Reach out when in need”.

Because of the lockdown regulations and the actors being in different locations, it was not easy to make this film. “The actors, including me are all very close friends and we worked together for few Malayalam theatre plays in Singapore,” says Gibu. “The main challenge we had was during the post-productions, sorting and sending out huge number of rushes, reviewing each and every footages to identify the best one and remotely coordinating with editors on those changes on each drafts were little exhausting but we are glad that we could deliver this completely remotely made 2 films in 2 months of time with a very minimal technical resources and limitations.”

The whole team, it was a satisfying journey. “In fact, a very memorable journey and yeah, these memories will never die!” says Gibu.

CAGED

“Caged was made to bring out awareness about ‘Mental Health’,” says Shalima Motial, who plays the protagonist in this short film.

Cage“Depression is an unspoken, often unfathomable turmoil people experience in their heart & head,” she adds. “It’s a small initiative of Dream Catchers to shed some light on such an important issue which has become a ‘taboo’ to talk about openly. People find it hard to accept that they are going through “Depression”, so asking for help becomes even more difficult.”

Shalima says this short film is her team’s humble initiative to highlight the issue of mental health. The director of the film is her spouse, Himanshu Motial.

The film has the support of Tree of Life as its Mental Health Partner.

While Gibu and team are not full-time filmmakers, Shipra has 15 years of experience in TV and online Industry. After working as a Creative Director for 7 years on Indian TV shows like, ‘Kahin Toh Hoga’, Kasauti Zindagi Ki and many more, she shifted to writing and co-wrote shows like Uttran and Udaan, and then progressed to write Naamkaram, Sanjivani and many more independently.
Her brother Shivankar Arora worked as a cinematographer for 10 years in the TV industry. He also did award-winning films, entitled, “Silent ties” as a cinematographer & “Love Knows No Gender” as a Director.
Wanting to tell the stories that could make a difference, the duo started their own YouTube Channel, ContentkaKeeda. Currently, they both are working together, where Shipra writes and Shivankar  directs. “We fight a lot but it’s all worth it in the end,” says Shipra with a smile.

Girish Karnad, Colossus of Indian Culture Dies

 

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Veteran actor, playwright and multi-lingual scholar, director Girish Karnad(1938-2019) died on 10 th June, 2019. He was eighty-one. He passed away peacefully at his home due to old age. He is survived by his widow, Saraswathy Ganapathy, his son Raghu Amay and his daughter Shalmali Radha.

He was cremated quietly by his family.  No fanfare or rituals were allowed as per his last wishes. 

Prime Minister Modi tweeted that this great Jnanpith Award winner will be remembered for “his versatile acting across all mediums,” and his work “will continue to be popular in the years to come”. Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi wrote that India “has lost a beloved son, whose memory will live on in the vast treasure trove of creative work he leaves behind”. Read more

Short Stories: The Rescuer by Rebecca Otowa

TBASS

I figured I must have fainted and dropped the phone. Probably I got a bump on the head, and that was the cause of the change in my eyesight. I hurried to pick up my phone before anyone could step on it. I saw my arm reaching out—but somehow my hand couldn’t pick the thing up. I tried several times, thinking I had bumped my hand as well as my head and numbed it, like when you hit your funny bone. The feeling was different, though. Not a flash of painful sensation in my elbow or tingling in the wrist. Just—nothing. I was puzzled. How could I have hurt myself so badly that I didn’t even feel any pain?

Thinking I’d go and find some help, I stood up slowly, my feet on either side of the smartphone to keep it from being stepped on. That’s when I noticed that there was no one nearby. Turning carefully, I saw that a small crowd had congregated in front of a train which had stopped on the other side of the platform. The light and the colours were still blinding, but the sounds from the scene came up only gradually. I began to hear exclamations, and one or two women screaming breathlessly. Suddenly, a brilliant flash of white rushed past me—two men in white uniforms, with a stretcher between them piled with blankets. A group of policemen followed closely behind. Like the light and the colours, the movement of the men was so intense it made me dizzy. The policemen hustled the crowd aside while the men in white jumped down in front of the train and busied themselves with something there. Read more

Short Story: Kasim by Debraj Mookerjee

 

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By some existential quirk of fate it seemed I owed him money. Owed Kasim that is. Yes, deep down within I always felt I owed him money. I did not remember from when, or even how. Did I run up some losses for him in business? Did I take something precious from him that had to be paid for? I did not know then. I do not know now. But I felt then as I feel now, I owed him.

Kasim was generous. He never insisted that I pay. Not that he did mind when I did. In fact, he had a shrewd mind. He knew I would pay. When you owe someone money, and you are the decent sort, you do pay, don’t you? Kasim knew that. So he made it seem like he never really had his mind on the money. Why bring in money matters when you don’t need to? Well, in any case I paid him regularly. Somehow, the debt never seemed to get repaid. There was no cut-off date in our contract, it seemed. Read more

Remembering Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish 10 years after his death

(From The National. Link to the complete article given below)

In describing Darwish’s legacy and greatness, Ahdaf Soueif, an award-winning British-Egyptian novelist and writer, told The National: “Mahmoud Darwish is simply a great poet. He has the poet’s god-given ability to use language to trigger new perceptions and to create the aesthetic fusion that hits the listener or reader’s heart and mind at the same time.

“Add to this that he was Palestinian at a time when Palestine was ‘the cause’ for every native speaker of Arabic, and that he was committed to that cause and fought for it, that he was modest, and charismatic, and you have a superstar. Darwish filled stadiums when he read. You cannot overstate his legacy.”

Born in 1941 in a village in what is today Israel, he witnessed, and was often a part of, seminal chapters in the history of Palestine throughout the 20th century and the start of the 21st century. He was a refugee, revolutionary, nationalist, humanist – all chronicled in his poetry.

The writer ‘has to resist’

In 2008, Darwish was the first writer approached by Soueif and other members of the Board of the Palestine Festival of Literature (PalFest) to be one of the festival’s founding patrons. He accepted.

Darwish was due to participate in the inaugural festival but had to decline due to health issues. His address was a letter welcoming the group of international writers who had travelled to Palestine for the festival, and thanking them for their solidarity. Three months later, he was being laid to rest in Ramallah.

“Darwish was 100 per cent artist, he was also 100 per cent engaged with the struggle for liberation,” says Soueif by email. “In his address to PalFest in 2008, Darwish described his personal task: how the poet ‘has to use the word to resist the military occupation. And has to resist – on behalf of the word – the danger of the banal and the repetitive.’ It’s tremendously touching as well as instructive to read his work with an awareness of that constant struggle to make his work serve his cause and, at the same time, to allow his work to be true to itself, and to create a bit of space for the ‘literariness’ of his poetry.”

Read more at The National link here

V.S. Naipaul, a writer of many contradictions and obvious greatness

(From the New York Times. Link to the complete article given below)

V.S. Naipaul, the Nobel laureate who died at 85 on Saturday, had so many gifts as a writer — suppleness, wit, an unsparing eye for detail — that he could seemingly do whatever he wanted. What he did want, it became apparent, was to rarely please anyone but himself. The world’s readers flocked to his many novels and books of reportage for “his fastidious scorn,” as the critic Clive James wrote, “not for his large heart.” In his obvious greatness, in the hard truths he dealt, Naipaul attracted and repelled.

He was a walking sack of contradictions, in some ways the archetypal writer of the shifting and migratory 20th century. His life was a series of journeys between old world and new. He was a cool and sometimes snappish mediator between continents. Indian by descent, Trinidadian by birth, Naipaul attended Oxford and lived in London, where he came to wear elegant suits and move in elite social circles. “When I talk about being an exile or a refugee I’m not just using a metaphor,” he said. “I’m speaking literally.”

His breakthrough book, after three comic works set in the Caribbean, was “A House for Mr. Biswas” (1961), a masterpiece composed when Naipaul was 29. It has lost none of its sweep and sly humor. It’s about a character, based on Naipaul’s father, who begins his life as a sign painter in Trinidad and Tobago and improbably rises to become a journalist. The first sign he paints reads, in words the industrious Naipaul seemed to take to heart: “IDLERS KEEP OUT BY ORDER.”

The richest and most eminently re-readable books of Naipaul’s fiction after “A House for Mr. Biswas” include “In a Free State,” an intimate suite of stories concerned with colonialism and the vagaries of power. Set in Egypt, America, Africa and England, it won the Booker Prize in 1971. “Guerrillas” was called “probably the best novel of 1975” by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. It is Naipaul’s most propulsive book. Set in an unnamed Caribbean country where the air is thick with postcolonial British dominion, it offers a complex portrait of the manners and motives of third world revolutionaries. It is an uncanny meditation on displacement. You never quite know where the novel is heading. Its author would later say, “Plot is for those who already know the world; narrative is for those who want to discover it.” His last great novel, set in postcolonial Central Africa, may have been “A Bend in the River” (1979).

Read more at the New York Times link here

Countries in focus: Singapore: Book review

Book review of The Magic Circle by Charmaine Chan

Reviewed by Mitali Chakravarty

The Magic Circle

Title: The Magic Circle
Author: Charmaine Chan
Total number of pages: 302
ISBN 978-981-11-3996-3
Publisher: Ethos Books, 2017
Price: S$18.60

The Magic Circle is a memoir by Charmaine Chan written for her sister who died of cancer. This book was justifiably short-listed for ‘The Singapore Literature Prize, 2018’. According to Jennifer Chen, the editor of The Peak, it is ‘a breathtaking rumination’.

The book is an attempt to recreate the sister she knew for her niece, Yazmin, and to bring the youngster closer to her maternal heritage and culture. Elaine, the sister who dies of cancer, spent a major part of her life in New Zealand and eventually married a New Zealander; her daughter, born and bred in New Zealand, was merely six when the mother passed away. On the brink of death, Elaine made an impassioned plea to her globetrotting sister, Charmaine Chan, writer, journalist, editor, poet and former lawyer from Singapore. ‘Don’t let Yazmin forget her Asian side, make sure she knows all the Asian dishes I love,’ she whispered. ‘Don’t let her forget me…’

Charmain Chan kept her promise and spent a decade creating a perfect memoir for her niece. She writes, ‘For her (Yazmin), I have sealed them(memories of Elaine and her heritage)into black and white, preserved them in print.’

The book is poignant when it deals with sorrow and the impending death that looms over her sister. A skilful weaver of words, Charmaine Chan creates a tapestry of images and feelings that bring to  the fore a lively, vivacious woman cut off from her propensity to enjoy life by the throes of a lingering death, a loving family, grief, a childhood full of sunshine and youthful nostalgia about a sister who formed part of a ‘magic circle’. The three sisters born and brought up in Singapore eventually moved to different corners of the world and had what Chan called ‘a magic circle’, an invisible bond, which was sundered by the untimely death of the middle sister Elaine.

Read more

Lebanese Novelist Emily Nasrallah, 86

The quiet, firm Lebanese feminist author and activist Emily Nasrallah (1931-2018) — celebrated for her debut novel Birds of September — has died.

Born in the summer of 1931, Emily Nasrallah grew up in Al Kfeir, a village in southern Lebanon, before moving to Beirut to study and work as a journalist and teacher. Her debut novel, Birds of Septembercame out in 1962 and was later listed as one of the Arab Writers Union’s 105 best books of the twentieth century. It has been translated into German as Septembervogel by Veronika Theis, but not into English.

Journalist, translator, and author Olivia Snaije, in her brief tribute Wednesday, wrote that Nasrallah was “one of the first to write short stories, to write both about her village in the south and Beirut, during the civil war” and was “a real feminist, gracious, quiet, firm.”

Nasrallah’s other widely known work is Yawmiyyat Hirr (1997), a book for children that was translated into English as What Happened to Zeeko (2001), as well as into Thai, Dutch, and German. It describes everyday life during Civil War-era Beirut from the perspective of a tomcat.

Two other books by Nasrallah have translated to English. The first by Issa Boullata, as  Flight Against Time, and the second a collection of short stories, House Not Her Own, translated by Thuraya Khalil-Khouri.

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