Monday, December 5, 2022


Rick Riordan: A Review

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By Advvay Ahuja

Rick Riordan is one of many known authors. He writes mostly on Greek Mythology which is basically Greek myths. He has written several book series which are famous like Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus, etc. The series I like most is Percy Jackson.

In the series Percy learns that he is a demigod and he goes on quests to save his world from destruction. His fate is that he will reach 16 and destroy or save Olympus ( the city of the Gods) .

His books are always full of adventure and suspense. When you read them you just can’t put the book down. It always feels like something exciting is going to come next. When he was young he wrote a lot of stories so he was a good writer. He had a son who always wanted bedtime stories about Greek gods but Rick ran out of myths so he came up with his own myth. Rick Riordan implemented his own sarcasm and sense of humor on the hero Percy. 

I strongly recommend Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian. It’s about Percy going on a quest to be impenetrable. He then goes with his friends to Manhattan to fight the Titan Kronos’s army. He wins and manages to save everybody. Percy is a great character and is very brave. The passionate boy would do anything to save his friends.

It is a book full of excitement and stuff you would never expect. I know that many of my friends read the book and they all loved it. In my opinion the book shows a great sense of bravery and persistence. The book is written with great passion.

The Disciple – A Review

By Anya Daftary

I recently watched the Disciple, a Marathi movie on Netflix. The film was written and directed by Chaitanya Tamhane, and is only his 2nd film yet. The story follows that of Sharad Nerulkar, a student of Hindustani music. Set amongst the backdrop of Mumbai in the 2000s, the film depicts the eternal struggle and quest for a classical artist to find their worth. The process of the art is intrinsically woven into the fibres of a kalakar’s (artist) daily life, and their overall world.

 The film depicts a musician’s journey of age-old traditions in today’s dramatically different cultural climate. It depicts the tradition that somewhat survives like gurusisya parampara, attempts at riyaaz and devoting oneself wholly to music. While outlining Sharad’s story on its own, Tamhane showcases the changes and the adaptation of music through secretly recorded tapes of Maa an older musician with much gyaan to baato, a now-gone but seemingly influential musician — specifically on Sharad. Her recordings divulge into the art form, the focus, the discipline, the subtleties, the relevance of an audience and how beyond everything, this art form can only be understood by having a deep desire to understand it and only it. 

But, that still isn’t enough. While making reference to the purification that music underwent in a post-colonial rule. The part that resonated with me most was how today, for an artist, it is impossible to live and learn music, to unreservedly be submerged within the art form, the tradition and the internal struggle. As a student of the same, the ocean of knowledge is so extensive, deep and wide, that it seems futile to even attempt to set sail. Namita Devidayal, the author of Music Room and Vilayat Khan: The Sixth String, once in an article describes her own journey within the Jaipur Gharana, how after going all the way to Princeton, she returned to continue her music. However, after a year, she stopped. To practice the arts, one must become the arts. I once read a saying, I can’t quite remember who said it — something along the lines of — “If I can sing one sa correctly, my life and my journey in music would be complete. The strive for that one note, the one perfect shadaja, is all a musician can ask for. But, the changing cultural climate wrapped into the state of the economy forces artists to adapt and lead a drastically different life in a different dimension without one way or another, eternally stuck in the quest and the world. 

The arts have saved me, but I wonder if they will even survive long enough to save someone else. 

Scarcity of Diversity

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by Diya Barmecha and Aahana Khemani

The no doubt an influential and progressive country and citizens of the world are influenced by what it does . One of the means by which global citizens get to see U.S.and its nuances is through television. However, does cinema capture the diversity of the U.S? Do TV. shows and movies really show how open America is? Or is the diversity of America on television all a checklist that’s only purpose is to be ticked off? Is it censored? We think that some aspects of American diversity are not portrayed to its full potential through television. 

For people living outside the United States of America, the only representation of the U.S. is received from tv shows and films. They portray the culture and they are the closest many get to the states. In the past 15-20 years tv shows and films have worked hard to show diversity and modern thinking. However, is this really true? Does television have a diverse cast? Even though American television tries its best to show the LGTBQ+ community. A study conducted in Nielson, shows that women make up 52% of the US population but onscreen they are only shown 37.9% of the time. Many times shows try to come up with a perfect cast by making a checklist. They add a coloured woman to their cast and their diversity box is ticked. This might not be because it is necessary to  the story, but because it’s a box that needs to be filled. We don’t ask for there to be more diversity, because there is a lack of representation. We ask to show the reality of America in all of its diversity, not to tick a box but to mimic real life scenarios. Another problem tv shows and movies struggle with is the accuracy of the things they show. 

American tv and movie  directors want the audience to believe that the entire of America struggles with issues like teen pregnancy, drug abuse and many others that are constantly shown. Over time, it becomes very hard to differentiate between the real and the fictional. . The film makers are showing this because it becomes easy to use these as conflicts and derive a story from it . The repetition in the movie plot lines mainly occurs because of the limited variety of conflicts that are shown.. It’s not necessary to showcase the real U.S because of moral obligations but because showcasing America in all its reality can help the rest of the world see that no country  is perfect and what we see on TV is not always reality. 

Genuine diversity is extremely important. . People around the world are influenced by America, and the power of television can right multiple wrongs around the world. The US is in the top 3 Cultural Influence Rankings. American music, inventions, literature, media businesses have completely changed individuals around the world. It’s time for American Television to impact people in an optimistic way. It can give hope to people in countries where there’s not much hope, it can bring joy to people, it can encourage people, it can have a positive impact. By showing the true diversity of America, it can truly have good influence on people.  

US cinema has no doubt spread the vibe of America in some form, however, not completely. People around only get to see “the gay best friend” or “the woman employee” in American television, but isn’t America more diverse than that? Through removing the checklist and censorship of American diversity on American television, and genuinely incorporating American diversity into American television, people can actually relate to American diversity and be positively impacted by it. 

India of Light and Darkness

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by Diya Barmecha

The movie, White Tiger was released a few weeks back on Netflix, and  features the child of a rich businessman,named  Ashok played by Rajkummar Rao and his driver Balram played by Adarsh Gourav. In one short scene sitting, setin a small dhaba (restaurant) Ashok after living in the US said to Balram, “You know this is the real India.” However, Balram described India as something else. He said, “There is an India of light and an India of darkness” These two interpretations are made by characters that reside in India, they aren’t able to see India. So how do filmmakers or other viewers interpret India? 

Filmmakers try desperately to show the “real India” but they all end up putting forward the same things and miss out the land of diverse culture and exotic mysteries. The White Tiger, which was based on a 2008 book by Aravind Adiga may not have shown the real India, but at least it featured real Indians. This is one of the few Hollywood movies that was shot in India and comprises only of Indian cast. 

In the past, there have been movies where Hollywood or British actors paint their faces brown to pass as an Indian. For example, in “A passage to India”. Indian representation, however, has come a long way from those days.Even Steven Spielberg’s “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” which was supposed to be set in India, was shot in Sri Lanka. They showed the “savage” nature of our culture with people eating snakes and monkey brains. Even in the movie “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” there was a home for British expats in Jaipur. It may not seem feasible from the view of many Indians, but that’s how the filmmakers and movie industry have visioned it in various movies. 

To truly represent India in all of its truths, one has to live in India. All the films about India that have gotten international attention are film adaptations from books which are written in English. This would mean that the main audience would be international. Other mentions of India primarily the themes of Mumbai’s big slums and New Delhi’s big class divide. Isn’t the real India more than just these themes? Shouldn’t the filmmakers be aiming to capture India is all of its reality — good and bad?

Balram in The White Tiger was right to say that there is an India of light and an India of darkness, but what he failed to mention is that there is a big part of India that is in between the darkness and the light. The movie highlights the struggles of being a part of a lower socio-economic class and how they are pushed around. In the movie this was interpreted as a rooster coop. 

The roosters in a coop at the market watch as each one gets slaughtered and yet they do not rebel or try to break out of the coop because they have accepted their fate. Similarly in India, people watch as the wealthy and the powerful walk over the others and yet they are unable to do anything. Balram has the belief that the culture of a traditional Indian family makes sure that the rooster coop ways are kept alive. This exists because if a servant tries to disobey his master, the master will punish the servant’s family as well. Towards the end of the movie Balram has the realization that to break free from the coop one must be willing to sacrifice everything. Their morality, values, and even their loyalty to their family.

The real India as we can see is an India of light and an India of dark but what many fail to mention is that there can be a transition of many people from the dark parts of India into the light ones. These transitions as mentioned above require the letting go of morality, values and loyalty. The interpretation of real India lies hidden to people in foreign nations as well as people residing in India as well.

Intention or Imitation?

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by Diya Barmecha

There have been many articles and opinions about where the influence of movies can take viewers. A movie director’s main aim is to entertain and depict our current society. In doing so, some movies show things that people can get negatively influenced by. There are various Bollywood movies where drinking cigarettes and consuming alcohol, by characters, is shown off the top of my head such as Sanju among others . The warning declaring it to be injurious to health is always present at the bottom of the screen. 

However, the effectiveness of this disclaimer can be questioned. 

This is just one of many problems that arises —  there are many ideas that people, especially the youth of our society, can get influenced by. It doesn’t matter how many “no smoking” ads there are or what the package of the cigarettes says. In the movie it shows a person, with cigarette in hand and enjoying, clearly not bothered by the health complications that can be caused due to the cigarette.

 To see how much actions or things we see can impact us and our actions, an experiment was conducted by psychologist Albert Bandura.

“The Bobo Doll Experiment”. 

Bandurra  wanted to see if social behaviours such as aggression could be acquired from observation. He tested 36 boys and 36 girls between the ages of 3 and 6. Bandura along with Ross and Ross tested with a five point scale how aggressive the children were in the nursery. In the first stage 24 children were shown a video of an adult aggressively playing with a bobo doll. These children were then sent to a room and asked to play with a bobo doll. The next 24 children were shown a video where an adult played with the bobo doll without displaying any signs of aggression. Whereas the remaining 24 children weren’t shown any video and asked to play with the doll.

At the end of the experiment the findings of the psychologists were that the children who observed the aggressive video displayed  increased signs of aggression. Additionally, the children who were not shown any video showed no signs of aggression and played as they would with any toy. This proved that what we see influences the way we think and do things. We imitate what we see in our surroundings. 

An Ajay Devgn film, Drishyam was quite popular among the audience because of the unique script and the tendency to keep the audience on its toes till the very end. This film showed how a father disposes of a body and covers the tracks of the accidental muder committed by his daughter and wife. 

Suraj Harmalkar, a 34-year-old man killed his girlfriend, Amita Mohite and hid the body the same way it was done in the film. While confessing to the police in Boisar he also mentioned that the inspiration was taken from Drishyam the movie. Although the makers of this movie did not intend for this to be the case, there have been many such cases where people have been inspired by movies and imitated negative actions. . A similar case in Kerala’s Malappuram district occurred. A gang of four robbers went and made a hole on the floor and looted the bank of 80 kgs of gold and more than 50,00,000 rupees. They confessed being inspired by the movie, Dhoom.

Although these action-thriller movies entertain many people, do film-makers have to be mindful of their impact on real life?

Reel or Real Life

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By Diya Barmecha

Cinema, something that is used for pure entertainment has now slowly but surely changed its roots to educating and persuading. The Bollywood industry is known for its “masala” or pure entertainment movies. Many have even commented and joked saying you should watch these movies after leaving your brains at home. Biologically not possible but it is necessary to do this because some comedy movies make no sense but with blinds to our eyes we tend to believe it is true. However, there are many movies that educate the audience on what happens in our world. Movies like Panipat, Mary Kom, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and others show us what has happened in our world. 

Even though these movies aim to teach the audience and tell them a true story. The main reason for the movie to exist is to entertain. This is why movies say “Based on a real story” and never “A real story” There are many films that have added facts or hidden some facts to make the story more enjoyable. A recent movie Gunjan Saxena is one such example. This movie that aired on Netflix was the most popular drama movie in 2020, competing with other popular films and series like Masaba Masaba, Emily in Paris, etc. The movie followed the life of Gunjan Saxena as she went ahead to become a pilot at a time where it wasn’t common for women to be pilots. It showed how her aspirations and belief made it possible. It demonstrated her work for the Kargil war and other significant moments in her life. 

However loved this movie was by the audience, the film itself had many facts twisted and changed. This flaw was pointed out by many including the real Kargil Girl, Gunjan Saxena. Facts like she was the first girl in Kargil or that the gender disparity was so magnified were exaggerated. However, like the Kargil Girl said in real life, “The intention of the movie was to inspire people to chase their dreams with hope and positivity, the way I chased mine.”

The movie aimed to inspire and tell the story of a female pilot and it did just that. Hiding behind the creative license the creators of this movie are entitled to do as they please. Since this is a movie and said to entertain they can twist facts as they please even if they give misinformation. Historical movies like Panipat, and Padmaavat also have an exaggerated love story to it so that it intrigues and appeals to the majority of the audience. 

Like many have posed the question, I do so myself and ask, is this moral? Is it right to tell the story of another while twisting the facts? 

The most we as the public can do is to point these mistakes out. After pointing it out and posting about it on social media, the directors, actors, and producers can view your take on their creation. Hopefully, they can make changes accordingly. However legal it is to twist facts due to the creative license it is not right to do so. Narrating the story of a person is a great honour. However when facts are twisted it is not right. Blockbuster movies like Mary Kom and Pad Man have reached great heights and even if they portrayed the story with not much change, it would have had similar viewership. 

The power lies in our hands. At the end of the day, movies are made for audiences like you and me. The only way we will stop getting movies with twisting facts is when we stop watching movies like this. We are left in a world where we are doubting if this is real life or reel life.

Review of Soul

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by Arjun Mehrotra

The newest Pixar movie “Soul” is a really interesting one because it strays away from the popular “Children’s” plot that we find everywhere. You can watch this movie on Disney+

Soul follows the story of Joe Gardener, who teaches music in a middle school and whose passion is jazz music. He wants to become a jazz musician but his mother Libba Gardener, who runs a tailor shop, persuades him to take the band teacher job. He then finds that Dorothea Williams, one of the biggest musicians in the city, wants him in her band! Joe is very excited because this has always been his dream, but when he’s on his way to the gig, he dies…

Joe falls down a manhole and is taken to the “Great beyond” but Joe isn’t ready for death, he wants to get back to that gig because his life hasn’t started yet. So he escapes and is transported to the ethereal “Great Before” where souls are prepped to go to earth. He needs to find a way to escape and get back to earth and on his way, he meets 22. 22 is an interesting character because she’s the pessimist in this story, she doesn’t want to go to earth and says that earth is very dim and dull. Joe however has very differing views and exclaims “I can’t die! My life was about to begin!” and so Joe and 22 fall through the portal that sends souls to earth but during the rush of coming back, 22 is put in Joe’s body and he is turned into a cat. And so begins 22’s discovery of life on earth. In the beginning, she doesn’t understand how human motion works but by the end of their journey she begins to like earth, talking to a barber, and simply walking through the streets of new york. In the end, Joe manages to get his gig and 22 starts her human life. 

This movie is excellent because even though it talks about mature themes like death and the purpose of life, it conveys it all through a style that children will enjoy as well. In the end, it’s all about Joe’s quest to achieve his goal of being a musician, but the small interactions that he and 22 made along the way, is really beautiful. They discover that your “spark” isn’t just your hobby, it’s your way of life. There’s an amazing scene where 22 and Joe sit on a sidewalk and look at the sunlight while leaves float through the air. The look on 22’s face of discovering the warmth and joy of being on earth, really captures the theme of this movie. The moral is that Joe’s goal wasn’t the biggest thing about this movie, it was just about the joy of living. 

Angels And Demons – A Review

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by Tara Hebbar

A 616 page that took me 1 day to read. That sentence itself explains the gripping nature of the book by Dan Brown. Angels and Demons has a fast paced story line and it’s intriguing developments and characters are just some of the jewels in this thriller. Starring Robert Langdon, who is  the protagonist in many of Dan Brown’s books this book not only was a delectable story but also a mini encyclopedia into ancient beliefs and religious wars. 

Set at the CERN, one of the world’s largest physics centers in Geneva Switzerland, the story follows Robert Langdon who is called upon to investigate the mysterious deaths of one of the most reputable scientists at the CERN. Robert Langdon is an iconology and symbology professor at Harvard. While investigating, along with the scientist’s daughter, Robert Langdon gets pulled into a race with time as they look to save the Vatican City and the world’s popes from a  disaster. With near death experiences, kidnappings, threats, deaths, combat, it is almost impossible to put this book down. Each chapter leaves you with no choice but to turn the page. 

My favourite thing about this book is the inclusion of history with religious conspiracies and facts. The mixture of the two seemed so natural and flowed very easily. Together, it weaved the perfect storyline! There was never a moment when something seemed unbelievable and everyone one was to make an assumption, Dan Brown would be sure to disprove it within the next couple of pages. Hence, not allowing the reader to find the book repetitive or over extended by any means. It provided me with a fast paced thriller, but additionally provided me with tidbits of knowledge in a field of learning – Iconology which I don’t come across very often. It explains a lot of things we’ve heard in the past and the things we continue to see and experience in the present.

The only criticism I can give the book is the confusion on the readers part on what is and isn’t fiction. There are a lot of facts that seem real but aren’t. This is a problem I constantly faced while reading and after reading this book. It is hard to differentiate between the two, and with many facts that seem real turning out not to be. Therefore, if one is reading this book, I would recommend fact checking information as they go along. Not everything but facts that they think they will remember and use in the future.

All in all, I would highly recommend this book to those who enjoy a good mystery or thriller because this is the paragon of one. It leaves you dizzy with realization and thoughts, and makes you friends and enemies, according to the interests of the protagonists . The book has been written with so much detail and the scenes described so well that I felt as thought I had taken the flight with Robert Langdon, witnessed the murder, fought the antagonists and visited the Vatican myself. Hence, for all the above mentioned reasons, this is a book that would go on the top of my recommendation list for every avid reader.

Ariana Grande is Engaged!

Aahana Khemani and Ayraah Lodha

Ariana Grande, one of the biggest pop sensations of all time is engaged once again! Ariana has had great success so far, and has received several different awards and honours for her musical talent. Her debut album Yours Truly went No. 1 on the charts and the same year, she won the AMA award for Best New Artist. Her talent has allowed her to be asked to perform at the White House Women Of Soul concert. She has inspired so many, she even won the iHeartRadio Music Young Influencer Award! Not only does she possess a flair for music, but also for acting! She’s performed on Broadway, TV and even made an appearance in many role plays of late night shows. However, this article is not about her singing and acting history, but her relationship history. 

Ariana, known as “Ari” to her fan base of millions, was once engaged to comedian Pete Davidson, which came to an end after a messy break up. Ariana has mentioned him in many of her songs including huge hits such as, “thank u, next.” The song featured lyrics such as “Even almost got married, and for Pete I’m so thankful.” She had lyrics about all of the people that she had been with in the past. She also created a song called “pete davidson.”  Fans claim their relationship came to an end as their relationship was moving too fast, after being together for just 5 months, they were engaged, they were both also in serious relationships previously. Pete also 

stated that he began shopping for rings as soon as he met Ariana. However, this relationship came to an unexpected end. Ariana’s family did not approve of Pete, and Pete’s family didn’t approve of Ariana. Seemed like the relationship just wasn’t meant to be, and Pete wasn’t her “True Love.” 

Now Ari is engaged to real estate tycoon Dalton Gomez! After first being spotted making out in a bar in California, Ari confirmed her relationship with Dalton in her music video “stuck with you.” It is also guessed by fans that Ariana’s song “positions” is related to Dalton. However, post dating for approximately one year, Dalton proposed to Ari! Dalton proposed to Ariana with a beautiful ring that had a significant meaning. In one of Ariana’s 2018 social media posts, she posted a picture of a ring with a pearl. The tagline mentioned “nonna had a ring made for me w/ the pearl from grandpa’s tie pin. she says he told her in a dream it’d protect me. <3” The ring that Dalton gave her, had this pearl on it paired with a majestic diamond! 

To conclude,  it looks like Ari and Dalton are happy as can be and are “stuck with each other” forever. Let’s hope their relationship has no “problems.” All jokes aside, let’s hope that they have a strong relationship and are happy together!

Lie Tree Tells Us The Harsh Truth

By Tara Hebbar

Lie Tree, a book that follows 14 year old Faith Sunderly as her family moves to the male dominated Victorian Island, Vane. When her father is discovered dead under suspicious circumstances, Faith uses her femininity and disadvantages in her favour to keep secrets, that if uncovered could lead to disastrous circumstances. When I first read the blurb of the book, it didn’t strike me as an orthodox mystery novel, but as I sat captivated by each page, this book was so much more than a mystery. It holds several not so subtle messages regarding women in the field of science and the gender in general is made to hide their true wits.

Vane is an excavation site, dominated by male natural science who all share the belief that women have no place in the field of natural science due to their “ignorance and small brain size.” “Large people tend to have large heads. Men are no cleverer than we are, Miss Sunderly. Just taller.” Faith always wanted to tear apart from that stereotype, and had a hunger for knowledge that was discouraged by her family members. “There was a hunger in her, and girls were not supposed to be hungry. They were supposed to nibble sparingly when at table, and their minds were supposed to be satisfied with a slim diet too.” Faith’s mother was severely mistreated by both her husband and brother, who considered her only expertise in raising children and maintaining the household. As the book proceeds, we indeed see otherwise, as she rescues her family from dire situations and proves her quick wittedness more than once. On the island, there were several women, who all shared the same intelligence but were all forced to hide it, as not to anger their husbands. “Here in the drawing room, each lady quietly relaxed and became more real, expanding into the space left by the men. Without visibly changing, they unfolded, like flowers, or knives.” 

Now, we see our world much changed, a world where women actually can be considered as smart and the other gender. Earlier, anything remotely intellectual was considered the domain and territory of men. Faith had always had this scientific curiosity and talent, but this was never allowed to grow and be nurtured. As the novel begins near it’s ending, Faith proves herself to be smarter than most natural scientists as she takes on the most dangerous of them all and earns the respect of all the townspeople. “She felt utterly crushed and betrayed. Science had betrayed her. She had always believed deep down that science would not judge her, even if people did. Her father’s books had opened to her touch easily enough. His journals had not flinched from her all too female gaze. But it seemed that science had weighed her, labelled her and found her wanting. Science had decreed that she could not be clever… and that if by some miracle she was clever, it meant that there was something terribly wrong with her.” She is the paragon of a girl who is undermined but unafraid. Her sudden realisation of her place can resonate with us all, science the one subject she thought belonged to everyone, regardless of their gender suddenly wasn;t neutral. This is what happens to so many women when they venture out, and suddenly are shunned away from something that belongs to them equally. Hence, this book is a great read for all those, who need that extra affirmation that they can do whatever they please, and the other gender cannot stop them.

This book took me through a brilliantly remarkable journey and gave me the sad realization that though the battle is being fought, we still haven’t reached that level of equilibrium between the genders. In so many fields, women aren’t given their due credit or aren’t allowed to do what they have a passion for. And those who have broken these barriers successfully, haven’t gotten it easy in the least. Men dominate fields in which women would prosper equally well. We as a gender cannot take it quietly, we must all follow our passion and hearts no matter who stops us, for we all like Faith can outsmart anyone, no matter what anyone does or says.

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