Movie Review : Garuda Gamana Vrushabha Vahana
Garuda Gamana (refers to Vishnu) and Vrushabha Vahana (refers to Shiva), appropriately named after two childhood friends who went on to become an underworld outfit of the city of Mangaluru (previously called Mangalore). Then there is a police officer who orchestrates the events during the latter part of the storyline and hence appropriately named Brahmaiah.
Internet calls this an exceptional and deep Kannada movie and highly coupled with mythological characters. It’s an exception, alright; I have no dispute there. It’s refreshing to see a good Kannada movie of an industry that is otherwise infested with mediocrity. However, I wouldn’t call it deep, though. It indeed uses directional trickery and intelligent script, but not very deep. Not shallow, that’s for sure, which otherwise is a stereotype of this industry. And the movie being in Kannada, well! Unless you have a close friend, who speaks the Mangalore Kannada dialect, you will not appreciate the quirks of the dialect.
I’m afraid I also disagree with the ‘mythological connection’. Hari, the supposed preserver among the trinity, hardly preserves anything. The Shiva, a pot-smoking destructor, can dance tandava upon his victim, and that’s where the comparison ends. Brahmaiah, on the other hand, is shit scared against these two, the thoughts of which makes him cry like a little kid even before the first over been bowled. I have known people from Hassan very well, and Brahmaiah hardly fit that frame. A little more grit would’ve been nice.
What worked for me:
- Outstanding acting, exceptional direction, a good script, excellent background score, bold deception of gore, keeping it simple, local quirks, use of language, cinematography, cultural depiction, clever use of Symbolism and so on and on.
- Special attention was given to make it local; be it underarm cricket, Navaratri tiger dance, gutting the fish and many more – all overwhelmingly Mangalorean
- The movie is utterly devoid of women unless it was absolutely a necessity. I am not saying it’s good or bad, but it’s an entirely different way of telling a story, unusual.
- The movie does not consider the audience as idiots, especially about Symbolism. A sweet Pan, sports shoes, the weight of a cricket bat all have meaning, and they convey the story collectively.
What did not work for me:
- I noticed the trinity did not have surnames. Let me remind you, all Mangalorean’s have surnames, which generally gives out clues on what language they speak, lunch they eat, and God’s they prey. It looks like the creators of the movie did not want to risk offending any community by assigning surnames for a Don, a hitman, and a toothless cop. However, they did not think twice before using hymns in the background of gory scenes, which definitely would risk offending someone. This is inconsistency or even probably a tinge of hypocrisy.
- Again, for a movie that is exceptionally local and highly specific for a region, the theme music is made at par with a James bond movie. This does not fit well at all.
- There is a clever use of a folk song, Sojugada sooju mallige, a version of which recently went viral. This was used as a background score when Shiva does a tandava. However, the dialect of this song is not Mangalorean. When creators have become purists in attire, custom, language etc., this song will seem force fit. It is a beautiful song, by the way.
That’s it – that’s my post. Now please go watch the movie. It’s a masterpiece.
Father of Surgery
This post is in continuation to the previous one titled Three stages of scientific discovery.
At this age, we have an abundance of information on the origin of plastic surgery or surgery in general. In fact, I do not even need to give you a reference to ancient Indian scientists who adequately documented surgical procedures, including cataract surgeries. Charaka and Sushruta, two famous doctors, earned great fame in their fields, even before the birth of some civilizations who are currently claiming the discovery!
The knowledge they discovered through the trial-and-error method was transferred from generation to generation through both inheritances and formal education. For example, the nasal reconstruction procedure (seems) to be a standard routine during medieval India. But it looks like it was totally unknown to the west during then. And you know how all these validations work? Until it appears in one of the western publications, the legitimacy can be questioned freely and even denied.
Luckily for Sushruta, the certification was issued after 2000 years of his death. It came in the form of a report published in 1794 in the Gentleman’s Magazine, which describes the surgery of one Cowasjee.
Cowasjee was employed as a soldier in the British army. Unfortunately, he was one of those captured by Tipu Sultan’s Army during the Third Anglo-Mysore War. Unlike modern India, where even caught terrorists get to eat Biriyanis in lock-up, the medieval world wasn’t so kind. The soldier was, among others, were severely mutilated.
Lieutenant of Cowasjee probably wanted him to fight another battle for them and make himself useful. This led to shipping him to Pune to a cobler whose name appeared in word-of-mouth endorsements. Remember this, he was a cobler and not a doctor or a surgeon. Stitching dead goat leather is one thing and fixing live human skin is an entirely different thing. Apparently, to everyone’s surprise, they were not that different during 1794. The doctor set his nose with the skin removed from his forehead in the presence of awestruck British scribes, soldiers and career bureaucrats.
Nasal reconstructions had been practised as a relatively routine procedure in India for centuries. This was driven by the common use of nasal mutilation in India as a means of punishment or private vengeance for various forms of immorality. The procedures are described in two well-known early Indian medical works, the Suśruta Saṃhitā, thought to date to the middle of the first millennium BCE, and the Aṣṭāṅgahṛdayasaṃhitā, believed to date from the sixth century CE*. By the nineteenth century the technique had been handed down through separate families in three different parts of India.
Rhinoplasty by transfer of skin flaps from other body parts had also been practiced in Italy in the sixteenth century, most famously by the Bolognese surgeon Gaspare Tagliacozzi (1545-1599). The Indian technique probably spread to Italy via Arabic scholarship – it is probable that the Suśruta Saṃhitā was translated into Arabic in the later 8th century CE on the orders of the Vizier Yahya ibn Khalid.
– a couple of paragraphs from a blog post named Britain’s first nose job from British Library.
It is adequately registered through various sources that Arab enthusiast had translated procedures discovered by Sushruta and Charaka’s. So, any Arab surgeon a Millennium later had ready-made SOP to start with.
Now, remember, we Indians, at least some of us, are still hold the mindset of “Nothing good came out of this sub-continent, we have invaders to thank for whatever we are”!
For these reasons , some of our history textbooks still point out to an Arab as the father of a Surgery!!
Three stages of scientific discovery
“There are three stages of scientific discovery: first, people deny it is true, then they deny it is important. Finally, they credit the wrong person” – Billy Bryson.
This quote is often credited to Alexander von Humboldt as well. That is an irony to the quote itself. If that were accurate, then we have an example right in the quote’s attribution it originally intended to call out.
Anyways. The quote is abundantly clear on the sad truth behind the crediting the discoveries and inventions are concerned. Although somewhat exaggerated, It seems broadly accurate, especially with the innovations that came out of India. Be it number system, mathematics, astronomy, medicine, Food, Yoga, Meditation and even board games, all went through the three stages quoted above. Some of these are presently struggling at the third stage – even after taking great pain of producing the burden of proof.
Stage 1 is being called a conspiracy theorist for having made any claim on the original discovery. I have written about it in a post named Conspiracy Theories, Russell’s teapot, and Breast Tax. Stage 2 is calling the discovery snake oil or placebo. I have briefly touched upon it in my post-Ayurveda, Clinical Trials & Capitalism. Let us talk about stage 3 – the wrong attribution.
There is a formal name for this third stage, it is called Stigler’s law of eponymy. It says that no scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer. Although it sounds like a gross exaggeration, you will be surprised to know how many scientific discoveries are wrongly credited to the scientist who discovered it at a later point in time or did not discover it at all. I am picking only Indian ones for now.
One example was Jagadish Chandra Bose, who was not credited for Radio wave communication instead of awarded it to an Italian Marconi. Among many others, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1910-1995) on his contribution of Black holes! Get this:
At the age of just 20, on his journey to Cambridge, he came with the idea that is now called the Chandrasekhar limit: the concept that above a certain mass, electron degeneracy pressure in the core of a white dwarf star is not enough to counterbalance the gravitational self-attraction of the star. Above the Chandrasekhar limit, stars explode or collapse into a neutron star or black hole.
But when Chandrasekhar presented his findings at the Royal Astronomical Society in London in 1935, he was publicly ridiculed by Sir Arthur Eddington, a world-renowned physicist who had until then acted as a mentor to him. The clash was between an internationally famous physicist and a young Indian student in a hostile environment. It set acceptance of Chandrasekhar’s idea, and by consequence, his career, back by years, and ultimately led Chandrasekhar to leave Cambridge in the hope of finding a better welcome elsewhere. In 1972, the first black hole was discovered, and Chandrasekhar’s theory was finally proven correct.
[Two Paragraphs and the image from the oxford-royale article Scientists Who Didn’t Get the Credit They Deserved ]
Traditionally, the Indian formal education system and mainstream media are designed to make us feel an inferior culture and did not contribute anything to the scientific world. Also, apparently, we have the west to thank for anything we have, which they brought to India on their civilization mission. Any attempt to dispute to this will face immediate and overwhelming ridicule in academic circles. This is how I grew up listening to how big losers we are with no hopes.
Things have changed, and truth had to come out eventually anyway. Now, get this, wikipedia a dedicated page for an extensive list of discoveries and inventions which finally attributed to Indians, after awarding it to a bunch of merchants, travelers and colonizers for centuries.
To be continued…
Siddis of Karnataka
How many of you knew of the existence of a significantly sizable African community of India? I am guessing not many. There is extraordinarily little awareness of their presence, their location and culture in media in general. That is probably because it is not a very influential community, and also, they don’t seem to participate in the any of socio-political discussions or noise.
BTW. I am referring to Siddi’s of Karnataka.
Siddi’s find their origin in the Bantu tribe of southeastern Africa, brought to India by Portuguese colonizers as slaves. That is right. It’s similar to but in opposite directions of Indian slaves’ communities built in Fiji, Guyana and West Indies etc. The only difference is Bantus made great soldiers and bodyguards to the royalty, where Indian slaves were taken for farming.
Once colonies and princely states collapsed, Siddi’s pretty much became redundant. Subsequently, they got assimilated into rural India and ceased being significant. Indian diaspora in Africa, on the other hand, kept appearing on stories. Be it Gandhi’s South African Chronicles or Idi Amin’s economic war on Indians. Even that Divya Bharati’s Saat Samundar had its premise set in Kenya.
Anyways, the first time I heard about Siddi’s was when I was a kid. An African community found their mentions among the Chronicles of Chhatrapati Shivaji when Grandmother narrated them. It goes like this – At some point in history, the Siddi’s gained control over a strategically important Janjira island fort located off Maharashtra’s coast. Shivaji’s Navy laid multiple sieges without any avail and largely remained unsuccessful. The Legend goes that Marathas even used monitor lizards to climb those walls but could not sustain the hot oil poured on them from the top.
It is hard to believe this warrior clan is now reduced mainly as farm labourers or foraging honey from the jungles of Karwar.
I have not personally met one, but based on what I know, they speak Indian languages, worship Indian Gods, dress like Indians. However, they still have retained small little features of African cultures through their collective memory. Have a look:
P.S. There was one attempt by the Government of India to train this community’s youth in Olympics sports. Despite initial success, I believe the program did not take off.